Legends and Leaders could become a thing of the past in the Big Ten by 2014. Penn State athletics director Dave Joyner says the Big Ten is currently discussing a number of options for the future of the conference once Maryland and Rutgers join the Big Ten to create a 14-team conference.
''I have a feeling it will be more geography-based,'' Joyner said in a recorded interview shared on Penn State's athletics website Tuesday. He was referring to the divisional format, one of many topics that have been discussed between athletics directors over the phone. ''There seems to be a lot of sentiment for that.''
This would likely mean Penn State will be in the same division as Maryland and Rutgers, as expected, but what other teams end up in the division may still be up in the air. It is expected Ohio State would remain in the same division as Penn State.
A division format based on geography would be more important for non-football sports with significantly smaller budgets. The Big Ten will be presented with recommendations for division formats and other recommendations when the Council of Presidents/Chancellors meets in June.
The Legends Division is currently comprised of Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern. The Leaders Division is made up of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin. The current division line-up is loosely based on geography, but a shift to more geographically focused division could lead to some schools switching divisions.
The most logical division format for the Big Ten to institute may be a simple East-West concept. With the conference looking to establish an eastern presence with Maryland and Rutgers, that appears to be the direction the conference is heading. Placing traditional powers Ohio State and Michigan in the eastern most division would ensure the New York and DC markets are guaranteed to get the Buckeyes and Wolverines every year. In the world of TV, that is a no-brainer if the Big Ten hopes to capitalize on these markets.
Here is a look at how it might look:
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
- Penn State
The Big Ten is also reviewing the idea of a nine-game conference schedule. Previously the Big Ten backed off the nine-game schedule concept after a scheduling deal with the Pac 12 fell through. In addition, the conference is also discussing the idea of a ten-game conference schedule, which would leave just room for two non-conference games. The 10-game plan may be nothing more than just an idea, and may not be a realistic plan unless the NCAA ever allows for a 14-game regular season. In that case a ten-game conference schedule would make sense and allow for the usual non-conference scheduling for most schools. For now, the nine-game conference schedule remains a likely possibility despite some of the issues it provides, including unbalanced scheduling.
What happens if the Big Ten goes to 16 teams? Let us cross that bridge when we get there.
Kevin McGuire is a national college football writer for Examiner.com and the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Follow McGuire on Twitter and nominate him for a Shorty Award. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.