(Mark Snyder/Detroit Free Press Sports) - It's official: the Legends and Leaders are in their final season.
Spurred by the addition of Rutgers and Maryland in 2014, the uncomfortable Big Ten football division names will vanish after this season, replaced by East and West.
There will also be with a reshuffling of schools, then a nine-game conference schedule for the 2016 season, approved by the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors today.
"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 released statement. "The directors of athletics also relied on the results of a fan survey commissioned by BTN last December to arrive at their recommendation, which is consistent with the public sentiment expressed in the poll."
As previously reported, the East will have Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers with Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin in the West Division.
To try to combat the imbalance of schools playing five home games one season and four the next, the conference will have five home games for the teams from the East in 2016, then teams from the West in 2017. The only cross-divisional protected game will be between Indiana and Purdue.
For the two years in between while the eight-game schedule is still intact - 2014-15 - each school will play its divisional opponents each year plus two teams from the other division.
This will be the first time since 1983 and 1984 that the Big Ten will have a nine-game conference schedule.
"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."