On Friday, Big Ten Conference commissioner Jim Delaney announced that the much maligned Legends and Leaders divisions will mercifully go away for the 2014 season. Legends and Leaders will be replaced by simple, geographically oriented divisions known simply as “East” and “West”.
Not only was the original idea of splitting the conference up by non-geographic means ridiculous, the Legends and Leaders names were confusing – I guarantee there are passionate Big Ten fans out there who could not name the schools in their division, let alone remember if they were a Leader or a Legend. But what bothered me the most was how incredibly arrogant those names sounded for a conference that already has a very strong “holier-than-thou” stigma.
I was in touch with one of my contacts at the Big Ten offices (a janitor named Rusty) who was kind enough to grab some of the rejected alignment maps out of the trash can, and send them over to me.
Here are the divisional alignments that were considered, but ultimately rejected:
Reds & Rainbow
Schools are divided by their primary school color, with the red teams in one division and the other colors of the rainbow on the other side.
|Ohio State||Michigan State|
*Yes, I know Minnesota’s colors are maroon and gold, but I needed seven in each division and maroon was the closest to red of the remaining schools.
Much like the “logic” used by Delaney when Wisconsin was initially sent to the Leaders division, you’ll going to have to cut me some slack on some of these as I work to get seven teams in each division.
Haves and Have Nots
The schools are split based upon their football ticket revenues. (Much thanks to the Cedar Rapids Gazette for the numbers)
|Cash Cows||Charity Cases|
*As a private school, Northwestern did not have to submit their ticket revenue numbers, but you would have a tough time convincing me that they beat out any of the top seven teams.
Animals & Others
All schools with animals for mascots versus the schools with people, tree nuts, and other unknown things as their mascot.
Take the teams, sort them A through Z (or I through W), and then divide down the middle.
|I – M||N – W|
Does your early game start at noon or 11 am? Rumor has it, this is how Delaney stumbled upon the East/West split that was ultimately selected.
*Technically, Purdue is in the Eastern Time Zone, but since Indiana has a lengthy, bizarre, and often confusing history with their time zones and acceptance of Daylight Savings Time, it is fitting that one Indiana school goes Central and one goes Eastern.
Football or Basketball?
Fans of most colleges usually consider their school to be a “football school” or a basketball school. While a team may have success in the other sport (such as Kansas going to the Orange Bowl in 2007), they will always be known by their primary sport.
Lots of potential arguments here. Northwestern is a football school only because their hoops program is at a level known as “Nebraska bad”. I don’t consider Rutgers a basketball school, but their modest football success does not bump any of the others (even Iowa) off the list.
Football Program Strength
Part of Jim Delaney’s logic for the original Legends and Leaders divisions was to distribute the football powers (Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State) among the two divisions. A similar concept here: who are the strong programs and who is at risk of losing to a MAC team.
|Bowl Eligible||Bottom Feeder|
*No I do not consider Penn State to be a “bottom feeder”. But their probation means they are not currently bowl eligible. Plus, I’d definitely argue that Northwestern has been better than PSU over the last five years.
Capitals and College Towns
Where is the school located? Are they in a state capital or a humble college town?
|College Town||State Capital|
*Anybody who passed fourth grade geography will know that College Park, Maryland and West Lafayette, Indiana are not the capitals of their respective states. Since there are only five B1G schools located in a capital city, I had to reach a little bit (okay…a lot).
The University of Maryland campus in College Park is less than 10 miles from the United States Capitol building. And West Lafayette is roughly half way between the state capitals of Illinois (Springfield) and Indiana (Indianapolis). Hopefully nobody pulled anything stretching that far…
Notable Trophy Games
The Big Ten loves it some trophy games. Paul Bunyan’s Axe, Old Brass Spittoon, Floyd of Rosedale, Old Oaken Bucket, etc. Since some schools care more about preserving their rivalry game than anything else, we’re going to put them in one division where they can battle for things that you and I would donate to Goodwill. The other schools, who are either involved in a lesser known trophy game (Purdue Cannon) or a forced rivalry (Heroes Trophy, Land Grant Trophy) can go to the other side. Who knows, maybe that Illinois – Maryland rivalry will really take off.
|Trophy Game||Forced Rivalry|
*According to Wikipedia, Illinois has three trophy games (Land of Lincoln, Illibuck, and Purdue Cannon). But really, could you pick any of those trophies out of a line up? Heck, the last two sound like fancy names for Monopoly tokens.
**As for Ohio State, while they are half of the conference’s marquee game and premier rivalry, no trophy is on the line when they play Michigan. OSU’s participation in the Illibuck game doesn’t make the cut over some of the more famed trophies.