CHICAGO (TSN-WSAU) The Big Ten on Sunday announced a new divisional alignment for football, set to begin in 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers join the league.
The names of the divisions were also changed from the sometimes ridiculed "Legends" and "Leaders."
Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers will play in the East Division, while the West Division will feature Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin.
For the 2013 season, the divisions will remain: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin in the Leaders; Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern in the Legends.
"Big Ten directors of athletics concluded four months of study and deliberation with unanimous approval of a future football structure that preserved rivalries and created divisions based on their primary principle of East/West geography," said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany in a statement. "The directors of athletics also relied on the results of a fan survey commissioned by (the Big Ten Network) last December to arrive at their recommendation, which is consistent with the public sentiment expressed in the poll."
All of the teams in the East play in the Eastern time zone, while all the West participants -- with the exception of Purdue -- are in the Central time zone.
Under the new 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 conference schedules. Beginning in 2016, each school will play three teams from the other division as part of its nine-game league slate. The cross-division games will include one protected matchup on an annual basis between Indiana and Purdue.
The Big Ten is returning to a nine-game conference schedule for all teams for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons.