Big Ten to reconsider division names

Updated: January 14, 2013, 12:08 PM ET
By Brett McMurphy | ESPN

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said his league will consider replacing the Legends and Leaders division names in 2014.

Delany I don't take umbrage to negative reaction. I don't necessarily change when I hear it. I think on the other hand, we said we would test-market it, and we have for a couple of years.

-- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany

A decision could be made by June.

"It's on the table," Delany said.

In 2014, Maryland and Rutgers are scheduled to join the Big Ten. The league must decide what divisions the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights will join and if it will have any current teams change divisions.

The Legends Division consists of Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern; the Leaders Division is Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

When deciding on division names in December 2010, Delany said the Big Ten "didn't have great options."

"We weren't going to go with 'Bo or Woody,' 'Black or Blue,' or 'Plains or Lakes,' " Delany said. "Obviously we got some acceptance [with Legends and Leaders], but not as much as we would have liked."

Delany said he was a "little surprised" by the backlash when the division names were announced.

"I'm not sure it was a national survey [of people who didn't like the names], but people who hit the 'send' button," Delany said. "I don't take umbrage to negative reaction. I don't necessarily change when I hear it. I think on the other hand, we said we would test-market it, and we have for a couple of years. We have the opportunity to look at it again. I'm sure we will. Whether or not we change or not is to be determined. I don't have any presumption that we'll change on it, but that doesn't mean we're not looking at it.

"I don't think when you try to build something, lead some organization, you don't want to be tone deaf. But it's not up for vote every week."

With Maryland leaving the ACC and Rutgers leaving the Big East, it gives the Big Ten a chance to revisit the division names and makeup of the divisions.

"We have the opportunity to look at the divisional structure, branding, rivalries and geography all again," Delany said. "Depending on what we do will probably influence exactly how we brand it.

"I honestly think building leaders and honoring legends is relevant whether it's a branding campaign or divisional names."

Delany said in the next three to four months, his league would look at the Big Ten's future bowl lineup, divisions, rivalries, branding and "a whole series of related issues."

"Whether or not we change division [names], I don't know," Delany said. "If [the divisions] are not geographic, we are not going to have geographic names."

A bigger question than the Big Ten's future division names is the Big Ten's future. Will the league stay at 14 members or is it looking to get to 16?

In November, Delany said the league was "inactive but alert" as far as future expansion. Delany explained that description last week.

"Someone said monitoring the landscape was a passive process, it wasn't descriptive," Delany said. "The fact of it is we were 'inactive' and 'not alert' for 22 years as we had 11 members, then we announced we were going to [expand] and that was a circus for months and months and upset a lot of people.

"We thought there was more risk in the status quo than in change, so we acted [by adding Maryland and Rutgers].

"The question is: Where are you?" Delany said. "We're 'inactive,' but is 'alert' different than 'monitoring the landscape?' I don't know, I can't make a qualitative difference. We study it and keep our eyes and ears attuned to what's happening in the real world. We're focusing on other things [than expansion] right now -- focusing on integrating Rutgers and Maryland into the league."

Brett McMurphy | email

College football reporter