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Monday, November 19, 2012
Report: Illini to Legends, new clubs Leaders

By Brian Bennett

Maryland's president told the school's board of regents that the Terrapins and fellow Big Ten newcomer Rutgers would play in the Leaders Division, with Illinois switching to the Legends, ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy is reporting.

That makes sense, since Maryland and Rutgers would then be in the same division as Penn State. The two divisions would then be split pretty close along East/West geographical lines, though not exactly. They would look like this:

Leaders

Ohio State
Wisconsin
Penn State
Indiana
Purdue
Maryland
Rutgers

Legends

Nebraska
Michigan
Michigan State
Minnesota
Northwestern
Iowa
Illinois

You'd really have to wonder about competitive balance, especially if Penn State takes a step backward when the NCAA sanctions fully kick in. On paper, at least, it looks as though Ohio State and Wisconsin would have a huge advantage over the rest of the Leaders Division.

That would also require a change in some of the permanent cross-over rivalries, as Illinois and Northwestern were protected rivals. One or both of those schools could become a protected partner with Maryland or Rutgers, which will have no natural rivals in the other division.

None of this is set in stone, and we're basing it off what Maryland was supposedly told by the league. Conference officials could decide to rework the divisions as they see fit before the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights came aboard in 2014.

We sincerely hope that the Big Ten takes this opportunity to rename the divisions, since Legends and Leaders still inspire mostly snickers and jokes. Big Ten presidents and athletic directors will discuss the division names eventually, but it should be much lower on the priority list than making sure there is competitive balance between the divisions.