LINCOLN, Neb. - Who really thought Legends and Leaders would stick?
The Big Ten conference announced on Sunday it's getting new divisions when Maryland Rutgers join the conference in 2014 – switching to the more traditional east and west, with a nine game conference schedule slated for the beginning of the 2016 football season.
"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 BTN last December to arrive at their recommendation, which is consistent with the public sentiment expressed in the poll.”
The new divisions means Nebraska will be in the west – avoiding other traditional Big Ten powers Michigan and Ohio State in the division standings – in theory an easier road to a conference championship game every season.
The Big Ten's current most recent team, Nebraska, was quick to react and put out a statement of their own on Sunday.
“First and foremost, our focus is on continuing to prepare for the 2013 season and the current divisional setup and schedule. Looking down the road, the Big Ten is such a deep and balanced conference that any way you divide the teams you are going to have two competitive divisions,” said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. “Geography seems to be a logical way to determine the divisions, and it should allow for easier travel for our fans. The nine-game conference schedule will help improve the strength of schedules across the board in the Big Ten, and I think everyone anticipates strength of schedule being a key component for choosing teams to participate in the new playoff system.”
Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst, who was not at Nebraska during their time of negotiations with the conference, also released a statement.
“Commissioner Delany and our conference Chancellors and Presidents have taken a strong and positive step in aligning the Big Ten Conference football divisions based on geography, in addition to implementing a nine-game conference schedule in future years,” said Eichorst. “These changes will have a positive impact on our great university, football program and Husker supporters. We are excited about playing more conference games closer to home and the ability to continue to schedule seven home games on an annual basis.”