The Big Ten is going strictly with geography for its proposed divisions and division names beginning in the 2014 season.
Pending approval from the league's presidents and chancellors, the Big Ten will scrap Legends and Leaders in favor of the more straightforward "East" and "West" for the new divisions when new members Maryland and Rutgers join the conference, sources have told ESPN colleague Brett McMurphy and myself.
The proposed Big Ten West division includes the six teams located in the Central time zone -- Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin -- plus Purdue, sources said. The proposed Big Ten East includes Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.
“Just take a ruler and a map [and split the 14 teams],” a source said.
As I reported last month, the only remaining debate with the divisions was whether Purdue or Indiana would go to the West. Purdue's campus is located West of Indiana's, so Purdue will join the six teams in the Central time zone.
The Big Ten presidents and chancellors are expected to vote on the proposed divisions and division names next week. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told CBSsports.com that they are expected to approve a move to a nine-game conference schedule beginning in the 2016 season.
So Legends and Leaders will remain for 2013, and the eight-game league schedule will remain for three more seasons.
The Big Ten announced in February that it would increase the number of league games. Although 10-game conference schedules were explored, the discussion quickly centered on nine-game models.
If the proposed divisions are approved, Purdue and Indiana will play the only protected crossover game. The current setup features protected crossover games for every team and features major rivalries like Michigan-Ohio State.
We'll have more on the proposed divisions, names and league schedules next week.