INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana and Purdue will continue to play for the Old Oaken Bucket for years to come, but it won’t have any divisional implications as it has the past two seasons.
When the Big Ten adds Maryland and Rutgers to the conference for the 2014 season the two rivals will be in opposite divisions as the conference announced its plans moving forward in football.
The names “Legends” and “Leaders” will be ditched in favor of more traditional “East” and “West” with seven teams in each division.
“Big Ten directors of athletics concluded four months of study and deliberation with unanimous approval of a future football structure that preserved rivalries and created divisions based on their primary principle of East/West geography,” said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany in a statement released by the conference. “The directors of athletics also relied on the results of a fan survey commissioned by BTN last December to arrive at their recommendation, which is consistent with the public sentiment expressed in the poll.”
Indiana will be in a competitive East Division with Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers. Purdue meanwhile will join Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin in the West Division.
Both will remain in the Leaders Division for the 2013 football season along with Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin.
“We looked at lots of data and discussed multiple options. The east/west split seemed to make the most sense as long as the Bucket game was protected,” said Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said in a statement released by the school on Sunday. “It is just easier for everyone to remember. In addition, we have taken steps to enhance scheduling by adding a ninth conference game beginning in 2016.
“This will create some challenges to nonconference games already scheduled and we will be working on this issue in the days ahead.”
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass didn’t seem to have a problem with the new alignment, even if it placed the Hoosiers in a tougher division. On ESPN’s Big Ten Twitter account, Glass was quoted as saying: “We’re glad we’re in the big boy division. We’re going to embrace that.”