With Maryland and Rutgers off to the Big Ten, the conference had the opportunity to revisit the ridiculous Legends and Leaders divisional alignment. For those hoping that the Big Ten would realign the divisions to make some sense, you'll probably end up disappointed.
Maryland President Wallace D. Loh told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that both Maryland and Rutgers will join the ... looks it up again ... Leaders Division, while Illinois, no doubt based on their on-field success on the gridiron, graduates from being just a leader to legendary. The future Big Ten Divisions will look like this:
The new divisional alignment makes a bit more geographic sense. Maryland and Rutgers will be added to the "eastern leaning" Leaders Division while Illinois shifts to the Legends, reunited with in-state Northwestern. It isn't perfect by any means, but gets the conference as close to geographically appropriate as Delany can get short of including Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State all in the Leaders Division.
I maintain that those programs should all be in the same division, especially when adding football lightweights Maryland and Rutgers, but I understand the reasoning for separating Michigan and Ohio State. I don't, however, understand the Big Ten tempting the college football gods by keeping The Game on the final weekend of the regular season.
But those division names? Still awful. Awful, awful brands. Fans of non-Big Ten programs couldn't even begin to tell you which programs are in which divisions because the division names make no sense. That the conference will be adding new programs just four years into the divisional experiment gave the Big Ten even more reason to ditch these stupid monikers.
You know what other league has nonsensical division names? The ACC.
If I had one piece of advice to give to Commissioner John Swofford, it's to slow play this next round of expansion. Due your due diligence and find the best program that satisfies a majority of the league's membership. Connecticut and Louisville will be there a week from now. The ACC nabbed Syracuse and Pitt and later (non-football) Notre Dame. The Big 12 plucked West Virginia and TCU. And now the Big Ten takes Maryland and Rutgers. There's only two Big East programs left of any worth and three different power conferences passed. Take your time, Commissioner.
The other piece of advice I'd give to Swofford is to ditch these ridiculous division names. There's little brand equity in division names that don't make sense to outsiders and we've been doing this thing now for eight seasons. What good is a division name that no one can remember? At what point does the conference admit that "Atlantic" and "Coastal" make no sense and scrap the division names altogether?
The ACC and the Big Ten are the only conferences left with division names that don't make any sense. So once you settle on a 14th program, Commissioner, it's time to rename these divisions. This is just one way you can get back at Delany by leaving the Big Ten holding the "unbelievably awful division names that don't mean nothing" bag?
Fortunately -- or unfortunately, if you are Virginia, I guess -- the only division of the conference that makes any sense is North / South. That means a reunion of sorts for all us Big East folk and leaving Tobacco Road to hang out with Tobacco Road.
It's probably as good a time as any to walk away from those division brand names and start fresh. I hope the conference realigns the divisions to make sense and ditches "Atlantic" and "Coastal" once they reload with a Maryland replacement. It's time.