Earlier today, the Big Ten formally ratified the new seven team divisions beginning in 2014, and the nine game conference schedule beginning in 2016.
Also, the new division names are East and West, which means 'Leaders' and 'Legends' is dead. Long live Leaders and Legends.
Your East and West divisions are:
Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers
Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin
Overall, it's much better alignment, with much better division names. In the East, Ohio State and Michigan are now in the same division, and there is now no possibility of a re-match one week later with a conference championship on the line. The East also seems a little bit more top heavy than the West, with 4 of the 6 most recent power programs (OSU, Michigan, Michigan State,
Ohio Penn State) residing there.
The West sees a reunion of the Upper Midwest Triangle of Hate, as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa are all reunited and will play each other every year. Wisconsin and Nebraska seem to be the two perennial favorites over there, so thankfully, we'll never have a repeat of what happened in Indianapolis last year, because Wisconsin just scored again.
All eastern division schools are in the eastern time zone, and western schools are in the central time zone, with the exception of Purdue.
In a press release, the Big Ten explained the scheduling format:
Each school will play the other six schools in its division plus two teams from the other division in 2014 and 2015, which will serve as transitional years in which the schools will still be playing eight-game schedules. Beginning in 2016, each school will play three teams from the other division as part of its nine-game schedule. The cross-division games will include one protected matchup on an annual basis between Indiana and Purdue.
With the start of the nine-game conference schedule in 2016, teams from the East Division will host five conference home games during even-numbered years, while teams from the West Division will host five conference home games during odd-numbered years. As a result of the nine-game conference schedule and the Big Ten’s schedule rotation, every student-athlete will have the opportunity to play against every other team in the conference at least once during a four-year period. The Big Ten is returning to a nine-game conference schedule for all teams for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons.
Overall, I like the setup, and I think the even-odd split is about as good as one can expect with seven team divisions. The only rivalry that could've been affected was The Old Oaken Bucket, but to the conference's credit, they made it an annual cross-protected rivalry.
So now it's officially official, and most, if not all, of the issues we had with the original divisional split, have been alleviated.