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Big Ten Conference officially realigns divisions for football

[ 0 ] April 28, 2013 |

The Big Ten’s Council of Presidents/Chancellors unanimously approved Sunday a recommendation of athletic directors to go to a new division alignment for football starting in 2014, as well as the addition of a ninth conference football game starting in 2016.

“We talked about a lot of exciting things about how we were going to divide it up, and the possibility of playing nine games in a few years,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said last week, before the final vote. “I’m really excited with the way it looks like it might shake out.”

Iowa will be joined in the West Division by Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. The East Division will be home to Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.

Reports of an impending decision had surfaced earlier this month.

“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,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement released Sunday by the conference. “The directors of athletics also relied on the results of a fan survey commissioned by (the Big Ten Network) last December to arrive at their recommendation, which is consistent with the public sentiment expressed in the poll.”

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz gave the proposed alignment a thumbs-up last week.

“With 14 teams in the mix, it makes perfect sense,” Ferentz said. “As far as the nine games, that’s been on the board for a couple of years now. I think we saw that as something that would be inevitable. The only downside would be the years when you would have five away games.”

Each school will play the other teams in its division, and two from the other division, in 2014 and 2015. Once the move to nine games is made in 2016, a third game will be added from the other division. The cross-division games will always include Purdue against Indiana as a protected matchup.

Starting in 2016, East Division teams will host five league games in even-numbered years, while the West Division will have five at home in odd-numbered years. Iowa will host Iowa State in the even-numbered years when it plays five league road games.

“Big Ten directors of athletics met in person or by conference call six times from December to March to discuss a new Big Ten football model,” Delany said. “The level of cooperation and collaboration was reflective of what we’ve come to expect from this group of administrators who have worked extremely well together on a number of complex matters over the past several years. We are all looking forward to ushering in this new era of Big Ten football.”

Barta also said last week that divisions for other sports remains in discussion.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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