Deposing Leaders; Forgetting Legends

By Ramzy Nasrallah on December 18, 2012 at 3:00p

Last week the Big Ten doubled down on its election month outreach campaign by following it up with a survey asking you to choose from three realignment options.

TIME TO SCREW THIS UP AGAINB1G realignment: Drawing bad imaginary borders since 2010.

It was exciting...until you saw the "choices": 1) Leaders & Legends as we currently know it plus the two new guys; 2) East/West, which the Big Ten is not actually considering on account of limiting its ability to manufacture optimal television programming; and 3) Something called Outer/Inner which we will ridicule shortly.

And that was it. Either they're all out of idea guys in the Big Ten offices, or perhaps they're just not all that serious about involving consumers in this realignment decision. Since the Big Ten's own research shows that no really people just love Legends and Leaders this is probably another hoax designed to give us hope and generate pageviews.

It makes you wonder why the Big Ten didn't just pretend to have Morgan Freeman as a spokesperson to capture more attention for this fake initiative, since nothing galvanizes millions of people like a fabricated celebrity rant.

Regardless, Jim Delany will ultimately do what the voices in his head tell him to. But let's play along anyway.


If the conference is going to tweak the current alignment at all it could simply add Rutgers and Maryland to the Leaders side and move one program – like Wisconsin – to the Legends to create balance. Ohio State would say thank you.

They already did something like this ON PURPOSEOhio looks far more handsome with its ugly hat on Nebraska.

But aside from those pending moves, what you see here is another gerrymandered arrangement with the explicit hopes of a marquee December matchup in mind.

Note the state of Michigan's new location. If only this was possible.

Un-crippled Ohio State and Michigan teams are expected to hold up their end of this bargain in most years, but heading into 2013 that ratings dream still hasn't materialized. Still, the Buckeyes clinched their division in Madison with one game to spare, and once Michigan is capable of winning a challenging road game (it's coming) they should be able to do the same.


Since slicing the footprint East/West was very deliberately avoided the first time around, it's safe to say that a geographical split is not seriously being considered in Round Two.

The Big Ten's Troll-fu on display.Think of all the Outer Division t-shirts & visors they'll sell.

That's what makes the Inner/Outer proposition a joke to the point where it's almost offensive. This is not a legitimate proposal, yet two-thirds of the choices you're being offered are this and the East/West split that was already declined.

This cut gives half of the conference a nice advantage around limiting transportation costs and puts the furthest possible division roadie for fans at a very manageable six-hour drive.

And the downside is it does the opposite for the other half of the conference. Innie/Outie creates one nice, clean territorial division that's counterbalanced by an unnatural smattering of central time zone expanse and eastern seaboard neophytes.

It's kind of like what happens to the rest of the Rubik's Cube when you solve for only one color.


Here's an option: Just cut to the chase.

The Wisconsin vs. Penn State regular season finale was an intriguing matchup, but it only captured about a fifth of the audience that Ohio State hosting Michigan got that same Saturday – despite neither the Buckeyes nor the Wolverines playing in the title game the following week.

Buckeyes/Wolverines is the B1G's best-seller, and second place isn't all that close.

BONER TIMEOhio State vs. Michigan ten times in a row! BOING-G-G-G-G!

You know why ESPN is an insufferable geyser for Yankees-Red Sox chatter throughout baseball season? Because that classic matchup captures the most attention (and because ESPN hates you, but the two are mutually exclusive).

Put Ohio State and Michigan alone in one division and all of the other dozen schools in the other. Play The Game every weekend until its naturally occurring finale in November, and then have them play one more time in Indianapolis the first Saturday in December to determine the conference champion.

Nebraska could play Penn State in the undercard. The title game is held in Indiana, so maybe have some monster trucks crash into each other on the field before the football starts, or just schedule the IU basketball team to play [ANY TEAM] after the game. There's your sellout. <-- pun intended

The Game is the greatest thing in sports. It is also the catalyst responsible for a) this ruinous division alignment challenge b) the strong possibility of its departure from the regular season's final Saturday c) climate change and d) at least two of the previous things.

No, this isn't a serious proposal. But neither is Innie/Outie.


There is another way to drop a geographical split into a divisional spread while maintaining some semblance of historical competitive balance. 

Show-ers because putting Penn State in the "showers" division felt wrongNorth/South: Logical but still confusing & potentially upsetting.

A horizontal North/South cut does the job surprisingly well while separating Ohio State and Michigan in opposing divisions, keeping hope alive for the title game ratings treat that's causing this mess.

In this Cold/Colder arrangement, an eight-game conference schedule has the Buckeyes playing all of their, southerners while preserving cross-divisional protected rivalries with Penn State and Michigan, that latter of which is the status quo.

So that's just part of the issue with a North/South split: It forces half of the Big Ten to be in something called the South, which is only slightly worse than being called an Outie.

But it does carry the competitive, logical and equitable components of a divisional split so let's throw it in as column fodder anyway. People like having options. Everyone loves a buffet.


The method to remembering who is a Leader and who is a Legend: The I and P schools (Indiana, Illinois, Penn State, Purdue) are Leaders while the M and N schools (Michigan, MSU, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern) are all Legends. 

Then all you have to remember is that the O and W schools are Leaders too. Oh, and that Iowa is the exception to the I school rule. You see? It all makes sense.

Just like Rumplemintz and Peppermint Schnapps! [vomits everywhere]Your B1G Title Game: The ICE KINGS vs the GODS OF FIRE.

That leaves Rutgers joining the Leaders and Maryland preserving the M school rule by going to the Legends, unless they decide to give it the Iowa treatment. It's that simple.

There is a non-geographical solution to this: Have the Leaders trade Purdue and Penn State for Nebraska while taking on the two newbies. This creates a division of Reds (and remember, there are no yellow teams in the Big Ten – just gold, old gold and maize sun).

That leaves the non-reds and non-orange schools in the other division, and that's not only easy to remember, it's also a fairly equitable split where historical competitiveness is concerned.

If Minnesota's maroon is deemed more appropriate than Illinois' orange, that swap is negotiable. Anything to avoid a palette debate.


If you squint just right, the Big Ten map becomes a celestial body. Stop thinking of the conference as an affiliation of schools sharing academic and athletic bonds (that are being devalued with every round of expansion) but more as a collection of brightly shining stars.

DICK JOKE OVERLOAD! hahaha "load"The Chesapeake Bay makes it look like it's smiling at Bermuda.

This celestial sphere is another classic arrangement, not unlike that of Orion, Leo or Scorpius.

It's a B1G Dipper, if you will, pointing rigidly toward the Atlantic as if to say, "hey, baby – if we could expand any further in your direction, we wood."

The resemblance of the Big Ten's footprint to male reproductive organs is not only uncanny, it provides the most East/West-ish split possible without actually going East-West. The Michigan schools and Ohio State firm up the girth with help from its fellow eastern helmeteers, while Indiana and the rest of the west comprise the family jewels.

But what about Nebraska you ask? Well, Nebraska taint in either division.


Slicing the B1G down the middle takes us right back to square none.

WHAT A TERRIBLY SANE IDEAOr flip Northwestern & Purdue. No one will notice. Or care.

Sure it's boring and over-simplified. Sure it pits Ohio State and Michigan against each other as a virtual B1G title play-in game almost every year.

Sure it's easy to remember, creates a natural geography-based rivalry between divisions and contains transportation costs for every school. BUT OTHER THAN THAT, IT'S PERFECT.

Give it a shot, Mr. Delany. If East/West doesn't work out, you can just tweak it again the next time the conference expands, which will be in [checks watch] well, you'll know first.

But however you slice up this burgeoning money pie, you should not try to over-market the division names again. Legends and Leaders is a Harvard Business Review study in branding failure that's still being written. You can stop conducting fake research telling us this isn't the case.

Everyone makes mistakes. Just try not to make the same one twice.



bassplayer7770's picture

LOL.  Priceless.

Jhesse17's picture

The Balls and Shaft divisions really needs to see a doctor about all that strangely colored herpes.

stantmann's picture

NORTH/SOUTH is the way to go. Little change in current alignment, other than Wisconsin goes to North, when Rutgers and Maryland come to South.
I never understood why everyone is so obsessed with east/west. 

DarthSweaterVest's picture

Because East/West places OSU and TTUN in same division where they belong.

BED's picture

So much this.  Stop manufacturing championships that are less than 20% likely to happen.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

GoldenBearBuckeye's picture

Agree that the rematch argument is not great.  It is not going to happen often, and could be fun if it does.
Great article, with my only complaint being that the travel cost argument in today's multi-million dollar Big 10 is not a strong one.  How many games do we actually take by bus?  Once on a plane, the distance between Chicago and Lincoln is pretty irrelevant.
Other than the stupid names, the current split was not ridiculously stupid. So long as we play UM last game I do not care whether we are in the same division, but it does hurt us competitively versus teams that have patsy crossover opponents. I assume that splitting Chicago will be a top priority again, and that that type of thinking will make the separation of NY & Philly (Rutg/PSU) a priority as well.

KE's picture

Travel costs might not matter much to the revenue sports, but I'll bet it means a lot to the tennis team, the lacrosse team, and all the other non-revenue sports. Especially at the schools with athletic budgets significantly smaller than OSU's.

GoldenBearBuckeye's picture

Don't know that we would take the football team by bus to anywhere but Ann Arbor or Indiana schools and that will not change, or will change by 1 bus trip per year under any of the scenarios.  Cost of Nebraska trip may even be cheaper than Illinois trip despite the longer trip.
Should make very little difference in scheduling for non-revenue sports.  Trips to Maryland or Rutgers will be comparable to an extra trip to Minnesota or Northwestern.  The number of games will stay the same, because that is NCAA driven. Also, for the sports where there is uneven scheduling, we would still play UM twice in basketball for example (women's basketball for the sake of the non-revenue point), and just replace, for example a road trip to Madison with a road trip to College Park. 

NJ_BUCKEYE's picture

I respectfully disagree with your last point about Philly and NY markets.  Rutgers and Penn State is a rivalry game in the making for a while now if only they would play each other.  PSU tends to try and poach top NJ talent and as Rutgers continues to improve at a very brisk pace it will only become even more heated between the 2 schools.  Plus Rutgers is actually closer to Philly than PSU, and either way NJ is a shared market between NY and Philly.  In central NJ where New Brunswick/Piscataway is located is almost exactly half way between the two cities.  I live near Princeton and only 15 minutes from RU and I get all the local networks for both Philly and NYC.
I am also under the impression that Rutgers was all but promised PSU and OSU in their division.

GoldenBearBuckeye's picture

RU/PSU would be ideal for the crossover game then I would think.  And if Delaney all but promised RRutgers anything it would be because he agrees with your way of thinking.
While you are obviously knowledgable about your local teams, I'll stick to thinking that to the extent Philly has a college football team it is PSU and not Rutgers.

stantmann's picture

Think to the future with North/South. When GaTech and VA or whoever the B1G gets, someone from South has to go again (Purdue or Illinois) - Easy expansion. This is the way it will go, I am confident of it...

hodge's picture

The reason is because the Big Ten is geographically aligned in a horizontal distribution.  Therefore, splitting it with a vertical line (into East and West divisions) is the best way to keep division members (relatively) geographically close.
In an East/West Division scenario (specifically Ramzy's example above), the furthest distance separating two divisional teams would be Rutgers and Northwestern; separated by 776 miles, it's about a 12 hour drive.  In a North/South scenario (specifically Ramzy's above example), Maryland and Nebraska would be in the same division; necessitating a 1206 mile trip, or about 18 hours driving.  
The North and South divisions may work geographically, but you're still encountering the same travel issues that the "Outtie" division would have in the "Innie/Outie" example, except that both divisions would be having that problem.

nickma71's picture

Why are you obsessed with it not being that way? Mostly, you want certain teams in the same division. And east/west works. Except for that April Fools Joke about Rutgers and Maryland. The west doesn't look as strong. So what. They would never be evenly matched all the time.
• Ohio State
• Michigan
• Penn State
• Purdue
• Indiana
• Michigan State
• Nebraska
• Wisconsin
• Minnesota
• Northwestern
• Illinois
• Iowa

SuperBuckFan08's picture

Greatest. Article. Ever. Written.

Because I couldn't go for three.   -Woody-

onetakedizzle's picture

We are one Columbia, MO away from having a really impressive package there in option #7.

Send you to OSU Hospital / You'll need a buck nurse...

LouGroza's picture

The B1G should go with the balls and shaft divisions. Then when playoff time rolls around, really shove it in the SECs face. Just make sure they're awake and not passed out on a table or anything... 

Poison nuts's picture

I guess that comment was a little hard on somebody Lou - but I shot out a big long chuckle when I read it...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Poison nuts's picture

I don't know where to start...genius.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

albinomosquito's picture

Much thanks to Maryland and Rutgers for giving us that uncircumsized edge...

Doc's picture

"Nebraska taint in either"  I smell a Pulitzer. /pun intended as well.

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

AltaBuck's picture

The red dot could be bigger indicating an enlarged prostate. What's your diagnosis Doc?

I am Groot - Groot

Doc's picture

My specialty is teeth, but my wife says I'm a perfect ass.  So, I'll take a closer look.  Yes, yes.  The area Nebraska is in does look inflamed.  I'm guessing it is from a very large hemorrhoid.  I believe we are seeing the effects of Bo Pelini on Lincoln.

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

Rapping Bum's picture

It's a B1G Dipper, if you will, pointing rigidly toward the Atlantic as if to say, "hey, baby – if we could expand any further in your direction, we wood."


Help is on the way.

cdsperr's picture

What I would like:
Black: Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Nebraska, Rutgers, Purdue, Iowa
Blue: Ohio State, Michigan, PSU, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland
Reasoning: Can keep the OSU vs. Michigan game as last game of year without a rematch the next week in title game. With weak B1G and UM and OSU the best bets at a national championship the next few years, beating the other and then winning the B1G game is a nice 1-2 for making a case to be included in top 4 for playoffs even with a regular season loss. PSU is going to sink into mediocrity as sanctions/scholarships take hold so having those 3 historic programs in same division isn't as big a deal as it may appear. MSU and Michigan can have a cross-division rivalry game. In other division, allows for Wisconsin to keep recent rivalry with MSU and also build a rivalry with Nebraska. I'm a big believer in Hazell and NW could be dangerous every now and then.

Doc's picture

I agree with your reasoning, but why Black and Blue?

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

cdsperr's picture

I think the best division names are "Woody" and "Bo", but that would only work if OSU and scUM were in different divisions. Black and blue not only contains the two colors in the B1G logo but also is an homage to the physical style of play associated with Big 10 football

Doc's picture

Thanks for the clarification.  No matter what they pick they are going to be D. U. M. dum.

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

Alhan's picture

Or maybe Red and Rainbow (based on the color of the dots on the maps).

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

BuckeyeinSavannah's picture

The NAACP might not like the black part.

Nkohl13's picture

I dont like the blue part. 

BeijingBucks's picture

Is it cause i's black?



None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton


Wasnt Balls & Shaft the name of that preppy Republican underground frat in the movie PCU? Yeah, let's not go with that one LOL

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

slicksickle's picture

I love dick jokes.

Nappy's picture

I was firmly in the North/South split until the saw the Balls/Shaft divisions.  Then I was more firm.  I'll see myself out.

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

buckeyeme's picture

I do enjoy the twig and berry divisions.  The Team in last place can be called the hanger and the last place in the other one gets the shaft.

AtlGABuckeye's picture


"Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

Menexenus's picture

Hey Ramzy, I'm curious why you have Nerdwestern in your Eastern division in the last graphic?  Shouldn't it be Indiana instead (if we are going strictly geographical)?  Just wondering...
P.S. Minnesota should definitely be in the Red division, not Illinois.

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Pure selfishness. I like going to Chicago.

OSUNeedles's picture

He just wanted to make the map look like a side-boob with a purple nipple...

Doc's picture

At least with the innie/outie division it has the "real" b1g teams in the innie.  I would change the name to Originals and Late Comers, but that's just me.

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

BoFuquel's picture

LEADERS & LEGENDS 2 is pure perfection.GO BUCKS! (as soon as posible)

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

B1G 10 Buckeye Stuck in SEC Country's picture

I still vote for an Ohio State division and an everybody else division..It would allow EVERYONE else at least a glimmer of hope at making the conference championship game... 

" Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid." - John Wayne 

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

East/ West makes the most sense, with IU or Purdue instead of Northwestern in the East (preserves the great Land of Lincoln trophy game going every year).  Granted with this, the "competitive balance" isn't as good.  West good schools: Neb, Wisc.   East: OSU, Mich, PSU, MSU (with the latter two being meh). 
Also, Reds vs. other colors works fairly well for competitive balance reasons (Minnesota instead of Illinois; maroon is a red I suppose).

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!

45OH4IO's picture

Hilarious article, but I think division creation should be done with an eye to the future expansion. I dont want to have to shift divisions every time two more teams are added. 
So of all the ideas, I like inny outty and north south best because im assuming the next additions will be south of the current footprint. Those two ideas seem the most adaptable. 
The balls and shaft alignment seems a bit too nutty to me.

VintonCountyBuck's picture

Balls and Shaft Divisions is classic!! Especially considering its oriented towards the east coast where, in regards to Rutgers and Maryland, the B1G will be delivering the money-shot in the near future. What about Traditional and Delany? In one we would have the traditional schools with well-established rivalries. In the Delany Division we could place the newest members of the Conference, as well as allow for future expansion.
   Traditional                                    Delany
1. Ohio State                                 1. Nebraska
2. Michigan                                    2. Penn St.
3. Wisconsin.                                 3. Rutgers
4. Mich St.                                    4. Maryland
5. Iowa.                                       5. Notre Dame
6. Purdue.                                    6. Texas
7. Illinois.                                       7. Georgia Tech/North Carolina
8. Indiana.                                     8. Virginia/Florida State
9. Minnesota.                                 9. Virginia Tech/Boston College
10. North Western.                       10. Missouri/Kansas
Its just like its Manifest Destiny or something

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

Bucksfan's picture

Wouldn't mind North South or East West.
I still wish we'd have no divisions and just have the teams with the 2 best records meet in Indy.  I realize this is not allowed by the rules, but it's should be.

BuddhaBuck's picture

Growers & Show-ers???!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA... 
I'm still laughing outloud. 

Don't text while driving.

Et_Tu_OSU's picture


"The revolution will be televised."

t-hane's picture

Every other west to east
Div. 1                                  Div 2
1.NEB                                  1.Minn
2.Iowa                                 2.Wisc
3. Illinois                               3.NW
4. Purdue                            4.Mich St
5. Indiana                            5.Mich
6. OSU                                6.PSU
7. MD                                 7.Rutgers
Cross over games 

GoldenBearBuckeye's picture

What would you say to the argument that Nebraska gets Minnesota and MSU gets every year while we get UM? That's the part of the crossover that I don't like.
Also, you should consider reshuffling a bit so Indiana gets Purdue and MSU plays UM

alust2013's picture

Got a kick out of the balls and shaft divisions. But seriously. I like the East/West, although, I would possibly trade Sparty for Indiana or Purdue

...and Michigan still sucks.

popeurban's picture

"The method to remembering who is a Leader and who is a Legend: The I and P schools (Indiana, Illinois, Penn State, Purdue) are Leaders while the M and N schools (Michigan, MSU, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern) are all Legends. Then all you have to remember is that the O and W schools are Leaders too. Oh, and that Iowa is the exception to the I school rule. You see? It all makes sense."

acBuckeye's picture

If Delany was ever replaced by Adam Sandler, he'd definitely go for the Cock and Balls divisions. 

BuckeyeVet's picture

Dear God, Ramzy, you had me laughing my ass off. Too many puns, innuendo, sly winks, and double-entendres to enumerate, but the "You win the internet today" moment has to be: 
But what about Nebraska you ask? Well, Nebraska taint in either division.
How many people know the origin of the word tainted, and get the significance of your strategically placed Nebraska?

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

"The possible recipient of Oyster's ONLY down vote".

BeijingBucks's picture

and here i thought the off-season and a pedestrian Winthrop outing would reduce the 11W output.
Enter Ramzy: stage left.
Comic Gold.



None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton