Big Ten approves new division realignment, nine-game conference schedule
The Big Ten has approved new division realignment and a nine-game schedule for the 2014 and 2016 seasons, respectively, according to a Big Ten press release.
The new divisions will consist of seven teams each with MSU, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers making up the East Division while Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin are in the West Division.
The new divisions officially begin in 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers join the conference.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN.com the divisions mainly were determined geographically in the most recent conference realignment whereas the goal in 2011 was to protect rivalries.
All of the East Division teams are located in Eastern Daylight Time, or EDT, while all the West Division schools are located in Central Standard Time, or CST, with the exception of Purdue.
“It’s pure geography,” Delany told ESPN.com. “Last time, we were a combination of competitive balance and geography being last. So those names weren’t available to us last time. We didn’t have a lot of discussion on it.”
The conference also approved Sunday the move to a nine-game conference schedule. The Big Ten previously only has conducted a nine game schedule during the 1983 and 1984 seasons.
According to the Big Ten press release, the 2014 and 2015 seasons will serve as a transitional time period with the each team playing all six of their division opponents and two crossover games with the opposite division.
Starting in 2016, the East Division teams will host five conference home games during even-number years and the West Division teams will host five conference home games on the odd-number years.
The MSU football team recently finished its spring practice period and will kick off the 2013 season on Aug. 30 against in-state rival Western Michigan.