Big Ten Considering Changes to Divisions
By Mike Hlas, Reporter
After one of the lousiest news weeks in a long time (but not nearly long enough), it's good to go into the weekend yakking about something that's totally trivial.
So it is that I celebrate the coming end to what will be three football seasons of Legends and Leaders. This season will mark the third and final year with those division designations.
More importantly for Iowa, the Hawkeyes will be where they belong. Which is in the same division not only with Nebraska, Minnesota and Northwestern, but with other border-state schools Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as Purdue.
That division will be ta da! the West division. Because it's in the ta da! western portion of the soon-to-be-larger Big Ten.
Starting in 2014, the divisional format will be this:
East: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers
West: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin
When the divisions were set as they currently are, prior to the 2011 season, I openly complained about the fact they weren't divided geographically. The league insisted on having what it called competitive balance. So Michigan and Ohio State were placed in separate divisions. Which was dumb, because it created the possibility of that great season-ending rivalry game being diminished by an instant rematch the following Saturday in the league title-game.
That said ... now that Michigan has found its mojo again and Ohio State has skated past its bout with NCAA probation, the East will probably be stronger more years than not. Big deal. Someone from the West will be very good virtually every year, and the division format will save a lot of money and wear and tear on the teams and their fans.
In fact, there won't be a West division game that isn't reasonably driveable for Iowa fans. Purdue's a pull, but it beats driving to anywhere in the East division from Iowa City. Especially Maryland and Rutgers.
When the conference adds Virginia and North Carolina, or Virginia and Virginia Tech, or whichever pair of ACC schools it annexes, you just put those two in the East, and slide Indiana into the West.
The league has caught a lot of grief from people like me for its Leaders-Legends handles. Given the way the schools were separated, East-West, Lakes-Plains, and any other names that ordinarily would have made sense would not have worked. They also didn't want to go with names of famous Big Ten figures for fear of slighting all the schools who didn't get one of their icons chosen.
So the Big Ten folks went round and round on it, and finally decided "Legends" and "Leaders" were their best options. It was laughed at, but division names don't really matter much. However, "East" and "West" don't make anyone have to wonder who's where. Unless they're geographically challenged.
However, there is this little problem that remains. The chorus of Michigan's fight song, "The Victors," still closes with this line:
Hail! Hail! to Michigan, The champions of the West!