Big Ten Faced with League Realignment in 2014

By Patrick Schmidt
Big Ten Could Add Maryland and Rutgers
Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten poached the ACC prior to Thanksgiving when the Midwestern conference reached the east coast by adding Maryland and bringing in Rutgers from the Big East, and while further conference expansion may be down the road, the pressing issue now is division realignment.

One of the worst kept secrets in college athletics is that Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney wants the conference to move from a 14-team league as it currently exists and to move to 16 teams, but before you can appease a 15th and 16th team, managing the new east coast members takes precedent.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez thinks the best way to approach realignment of the leaders and legends divisions–which also figure to be renamed–is to look at a map and have a west and east division.

What a novel concept, right?

That makes the most sense, and that way, fans will have a better understanding of which team is in what division after trying to remember if Wisconsin was a leader or a legend. In Big Ten country, those names for the conference’s divisions were met with consternation and were rejected from day one so this is a welcome change.

The big question remains whether Michigan and Ohio State will be in the same division or not, having them in separate divisions would set up the possibility of having the two rivals meet in the conference championship game in addition to their regular season matchup at the end of the season.

I personally like the thought of the two rivals being in different divisions as long as they still meet in the regular season, but that may not be an actuality, according to Mike Hall of the Big Ten Network.

I did not major in geography in college, but looking at a map the most logical alignment for the east division would be: Rutgers, Maryland, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana. That would leave the western division as follows: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa and Purdue.

If the conference wants to keep Ohio State and Michigan separated, then I would guess that Purdue joins the eastern division.

Stay tuned for the latest chapter in as the Big Ten turns, because further developments are likely to continue into the next year.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” on airing Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

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