- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Big Ten athletic directors are still discussing how to realign the conference divisions, but one popular idea emerged out of last month's first set of meetings: restructuring the lineup based on time zones.
Such a plan would mean moving one of the eight teams in the Eastern Time Zone (Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue) over to the division featuring the six teams in the Central Time Zone (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois).
"It just makes logical sense to everybody," Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips told ESPN.com last month. "Let's try to make sure whoever we move over is the right institution, and it's good for them and good for their school, but it's hard to argue against that."
The four most likely schools to move are those that sit closest to the time-zone border: Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State and Michigan. League officials, however, have given every indication so far that they intend to keep Michigan in the east with Ohio State. That leaves the other three schools as the top candidates.
We've been hearing that Michigan State might also go into the eastern division, with Indiana a strong candidate to flip. But we'd like your take. Which of these three schools should go into the eastern division of the new Big Ten in 2014?
Indiana: Bloomington is pretty centrally located, and it's not like Indiana has had so much Big Ten success that a move west would cause an outrage. The league would have to come up with a protected crossover for the Indiana-Purdue game. We'd probably say goodbye to the Old Brass Spittoon as an annual event.
Michigan State: Putting Michigan State out west would mean the Spartans aren't in the same division as Michigan, and they would want a protected crossover to preserve that rivalry. But Michigan State is already grouped with several of the western teams in the Legends Division. Keeping the Spartans west would make the growing rivalry Wisconsin an annual series and potentially give more balance to both divisions.
Purdue: Moving Purdue brings up the same issue as an Indiana switch: preserving the Old Oaken Bucket game with a crossover. The Boilers are very close to the Central Time Zone and not far from Chicago, so they shouldn't feel out of place with such a move. They'd also be able to continue the Cannon game with Illinois every year.
Which of these three teams are best suited to play in a western division of the Big Ten? Vote now in our poll.