Sources are telling ESPN.com’s college football reporters that the Big Ten is going to rename and realign its whackity-schmackity divisions. The conference will abandon the Legends and Leaders divisions; geographically muddled, aggravatingly alliterative, they were unpopular from the word “huh?” Now with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, the Big Ten is following the SEC's lead and going plain ol' East-West beginning in 2014.
Perhaps hastening the demise of the Leaders/Legends branding was the subsequent Ohio State tattoo fiasco and the Penn State years-of-child-rape-coverups fiasco. Both of those stains on the Big Ten’s reputation originated in the Leaders division on their way to living forever as nefarious legend.
As this affects your college football Saturdays, we now appear to have a top-heavy Big Ten East and a more balanced Big Ten West. The likes of Ohio State/Penn State/Michigan/Michigan State historically are shoulders above fellow East schools Indiana, Rutgers and Maryland. Out in the West, Nebraska and Wisconsin are the class of late, while Northwestern, Iowa, Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota have their moments.
The beauty of this alignment: If you have a map, or even a fifth-grader’s grasp of American geography, you can figure out which teams go where. Legends can be leaders. Leaders can be legends. Or neither, since now coaches and players can flaunt NCAA regs and basic human decency without subverting the conference’s hubristic branding. Now the standards our college sports programs must live up to are simpler. Some must be from places over thataway. And others must be from places over yonder. This much, they can handle.
Photo credit: AP