PARK RIDGE, Ill. and UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Big Ten Conference office announced football division alignments set to begin in 2014 and nine-game conference schedules set to start in 2016. The changes were unanimously recommended by conference directors of athletics and supported by the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors.
"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," said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. "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."
The new division alignments will feature Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers in the East Division and Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin in the West Division. All schools in the East Division are in the eastern time zone and all schools in the West Division are in the central time zone with the exception of Purdue. Each school will play the other six schools in its division plus two teams from the other division in 2014 and 2015, which will serve as transitional years in which the schools will still be playing eight-game schedules. Beginning in 2016, each school will play three teams from the other division as part of its nine-game schedule. The cross-division games will include one protected matchup on an annual basis between Indiana and Purdue.
With the start of the nine-game conference schedule in 2016, teams from the East Division will host five conference home games during even-numbered years, while teams from the West Division will host five conference home games during odd-numbered years. As a result of the nine-game conference schedule and the Big Ten’s schedule rotation, every student-athlete will have the opportunity to play against every other team in the conference at least once during a four-year period. The Big Ten is returning to a nine-game conference schedule for all teams for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons.
“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.”
“We embrace the new divisional alignments and are excited to begin playing our East Division opponents starting in 2014,” said David Joyner, Penn State Director of Athletics. “We feel these new alignments and the upcoming nine-game conference schedule will continue to build on the tremendous interest and enthusiasm in Big Ten football among Penn State and college football fans.
“We are really enthusiastic about renewing our rivalries with Maryland and Rutgers, starting in 2014, and we welcome them to the Big Ten,” Joyner added. “We have a long history with both institutions in football and numerous sports and are looking forward to resuming our competition as conference colleagues. I have heard from many Penn State alumni and fans who are excited about being able to easily drive to see our teams play at Maryland and Rutgers.”
Penn State has played Ohio State annually since starting Big Ten competition in 1993 and the teams have met 28 times. The Nittany Lions and Michigan State played annually for the Land Grant Trophy from 1993-2010 (also 28 total meetings) but the teams have not met the last two seasons. Penn State and Michigan first played in 1993 and have met 16 times, but not since 2010. The teams will meet Oct. 12 for Penn State’s 94th Homecoming game. The Nittany Lions and Hoosiers also first met in 1993, with 16 overall contests, and have been divisional rivals since 2011.
Penn State and Maryland first met in 1917 and have played 37 times, with the most recent meeting in 1993 in College Park. The last meeting in Beaver Stadium was in 1992. From 1960-93, the Nittany Lions and Terrapins played every year except 1976, 1981 and 1983. The Nittany Lions and Rutgers first met in 1918 and have played 24 times, with the most recent contest coming in 1995 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The last meeting in Beaver Stadium was in 1994. From 1977-95, the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights played every season except in 1980 and 1981.
The Big Ten will hold the 2013 Football Media Days and 42nd annual Kickoff Luncheon on Wednesday and Thursday, July 24 and 25, at the Hilton Chicago, featuring all 12 head coaches and some of the nation’s top returning players. The 118th season of Big Ten football kicks off Thursday, Aug. 29, and culminates with the third annual Big Ten Football Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 7, to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and televised by FOX.
Coach Bill O’Brien’s Penn State squad returns 16 starters and 38 letterwinners for this season, its 21st in the Big Ten. Season tickets are available for the 2013 campaign. The Nittany Lions will host five bowl teams from 2012, including three teams that finished in the BCS Top 25: Michigan (Oct. 12-Homecoming), Nebraska (Nov. 23) and Kent State (Sept. 21). Purdue, Illinois, UCF and Eastern Michigan also will visit Beaver Stadium this fall.
Penn State opens the season Aug. 31 vs. Syracuse in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Nittany Lion Club members can order tickets for the Syracuse game starting at 10 a.m. May 3 at 800-NITTANY.
For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.GoPSUsports.com or call 800-NITTANY from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.
Penn State Athletics is on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pennstatenittanylions) and Twitter (http://www.gopsusports.com/ot/socialmedia.html).