The Big Ten previously asked its fans via web survey what it should do with its unpopular division names, among other issues related to the additions of Rutgers and Maryland. And, as of Thursday, the league is back with another question for its fans: what should those divisions look like?
The Big Ten Network offers respondents three options for the conference's divisional alignment once Rutgers and Maryland join, one an extension of the current Legends and Leaders and two new geography-based proposals:
Two things immediately jump out about the survey:
1. None of the three options represents the initial report following the Maryland/Rutgers announcement, which was that both East Coast teams would join the Leaders Division with Illinois jumping to the Legends. The Big Ten appears ready to either split up the Scarlet Knights and Terrapins or go for a thorough geographic overhaul.
2. The names "Legends" and "Leaders" don't appear anywhere on the survey, with the disclaimer "Actual Division Names TBD" taking their places. It's never seemed more likely the Big Ten will actually call a retreat from the much-derided monikers and look for something more easily remembered -- particularly if the redrawn divisions align according to geogrpahy.
As for those alignments, both of them have their pluses and minuses. The "Inner-Outer" would seem to have more competitive balance but features the obvious silliness of throwing the farthest eastern and western schools into the same division; the "East-West" plan limits travel and makes the most common sense but features three of the league's four most traditionally powerful programs (and its current three best-recruiting programs, full stop) in the same division.
Still, either one would be an improvement on the current situation. The Big Ten is, of course, under zero obligation to pay even the slightest attention to the results of the survey -- but that they're at least making some effort to listen is another positive step in the direction away from the misstep of the current "Legends" and "Leaders."