Big Ten Realigns; Ditches Silly Names
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Wisely letting geography be their guide, the fourteen Big Ten institutions of higher learning officially rolled out their new divisional configurations.
While their respective math departments continue to remain unconsulted, the conference went vanilla with the new monikers as time zones -- Indiana aside -- ruled the day:
The conference still intends to join the Pac-12 in moving to a nine-game league schedule, thus assuring more programing insularity for its mega-profitable Big Ten Network. Existing contracts with non-conference schools will delay this move until 2016. Until then, each team will meet its divisional rivals plus two clubs from the other division. The latter category will increase by one team after that on a rotating basis. The special exception will be Purdue and Indiana, who will meet annually.
The assumed 'strength of schedule' that the nine-game league slate will provide plays to the considerations of the College Football Playoff due to replace the BCS in the 2014 season. The other side of that move is that teams from perceived 'lesser' conferences will have fewer opportunities to boost their own rating with more challenging non-conference games. And perhaps some minnows will take a budget hit by having fewer early-season games to serve themselves up as glorified scrimmages that count in the record books, but few fans will regret the passing of kajillion-point spreads. (Of course, there's always a payday at an SEC school looking for an easy win.)
So, 2013 is the final year to snicker at Legends and Leaders, which only really applies these days to the Big Ten's financial clout. Still, given the latest seismic shifts in the college conference landscape that the Big Ten set in motion with the addition of Nebraska for the 2011 season, that is clout where it counts.