The expanded Big Ten conference announced the names of the two divisions that will compete against each other in the first-ever conference title game next season. It will be the Leaders division matching up with the Legends division when the first Big Ten title game is held.
“The Legends, not too hard in that we have 215 College Football Hall of Fame members, we have 15 Heisman Trophy winners,” remarked Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany to The Associated Press. “We thought it made perfect sense to recognize the iconic and the legendary through the naming of the division in that regard. We’ve had plenty of leaders in the conference, that’s for sure, but the emphasis here is to recognize the mission of using intercollegiate athletics and higher education to build future leaders.”
The conference expanded to two separate divisions following the announcement that Nebraska would join as the 12th member of the league, parting ways with the Big XII conference.
The Cornhuskers will be joined by Iowa, Michigan State, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern in the Legends division, while Ohio State, Penn State, Illinois, Purdue, Indiana and Wisconsin in the Leaders division.
Delany said that the conference considered a variety of names for the divisions, ultimately settling on two that they felt encompassed the mission of the Big Ten, both on and off the field of play.
“There will be people who would want us to be digitally correct with our name and our number, but I think we have 100-percent support of the people who have responsibility for these programs — in fact, it was a presidential directive — that we maintain our name,” Delany stated.
The Big Ten also announced that the championship trophy presented to the winner of the conference championship game would be named the Stagg-Paterno trophy.
It was a good season for the Big Ten conference in terms of college football, as they have two teams represented in BCS Bowl games in Wisconsin (11-1) and Ohio State (11-1). The Badgers will play TCU in the Rose Bowl while the Buckeyes match up with Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. The conference had a third member qualified for a BCS berth in Michigan State (11-1), but due to the rule in the context of the BCS, at most only two teams from each conference can be represented in a BCS Bowl game.
The Buckeyes have been set as the betting favorite on College Football betting lines over the Razorbacks, while the Badgers are in the underdog role against the Horned Frogs.