BIG TEN IN THE OFF-SEASON
May 13, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
Offseason Notes: The Big Ten expands to 14 teams for the 2014 season with the additions of Maryland (ACC) and Rutgers (American).
The idiotic division names of "Leaders" and "Legends" are out the window, replaced by simple "East" and "West" monikers. But by trying to stay true to the east/west geography, the conference wound up stacking stalwarts Michigan, defending champ Michigan State, and Ohio State in the East division. That's also where both newcomers got stuck.
The next major change on the horizon won't go into effect until 2016. That's when the teams will begin playing a 9-game conference slate with 3 cross-over contests and a round-robin division schedule. For 2014 and 2015, each team will play just 2 cross-divisional games.
Penn State is the only team in the Big Ten that will be breaking in a new head coach. The sanction-ladened Nittany Lions will once again be ineligible for the conference title or the bowl season, so new head cheese James Franklin (Vanderbilt) has his work cut out for him. Bill O'Brien (Houston Texans) was able to keep the program intact after the shattering developments of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that led to jail for Sandusky, the dismissal of legendary head coach Joe Paterno (and top administrators), and a 4-year NCAA probation for the program.