The Big Ten confirmed the rampant speculation about their new divisions, announcing the following setup tonight on the Big Ten Network (note: the names are just placeholders; they will be changed in the future):
Teams will play eight conference games, although nine are possible starting in 2015. The setup for the conference schedule is five games against teams in the same division, two games against teams in the other division and one protected game against a team in the other division. The Big Ten is calling this a 5-2-1 format.
Below are the protected crossover games.
Although Michigan and Ohio State are in different divisions, they will finish the regular season against each other in 2011 and 2012. The only other inter-division games scheduled for the last week of the season in those years are Minnesota-Illinois and Northwestern-Illinois. Other than that, the final week of the season will feature only games between teams in the same division. (For a full look at the schedules, click here.)
While there was a lot of hoopla involving the possibility of the Michigan-Ohio State game being moved, Jim Delany said moving the game to October was never considered. A mid-November matchup was looked at, but in the end they decided to keep the final game of the schedule the way it has been since the 1930s for U-M and OSU.
It should be noted that these divisions apply only to football. Jim Delany said it's possible for the basketball schedule to follow a similar format, but he mentioned that divisions may not be necessary. That will be determined at some point in the next year, as will schedules for all of the other Big Ten sports.
What's next for the Big Ten is creating a new logo and naming the two divisions, the trophies for each division and the trophy for the Big Ten championship game. The name of the conference will remain the same, but those other things will be taken care of over the next 90 days.