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Report: Maryland, Rutgers to join Big Ten Leaders Division

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer
Rutgers could play host to Penn State every other year starting in 2014. (US Presswire)

Finally been able to remember which Big Ten teams are in the Legends Division and which are in the Leaders? Good for you! Now you'll need to forget it again.

The additions of Maryland and (almost certainly) Rutgers have caused a minor shakeup in the league's divisional setup, with both East Coast schools reportedly slated to join the East-leaning "Leaders" half of the Big Ten. Per ESPN's Brett McMurphy, Maryland president Wallace Loh told the university's regents that the Terrapins and Rutgers would join Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue in the new seven-team Leaders.

But adding two teams to six and coming up with a total of seven means another team has to move, and that team is reportedly Illinois, which will join Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern in the Legends.

However, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany vehemently denied the report Tuesday, saying "we have not had discussion one about that."

Nonetheless, uniting Maryland, Rutgers, and Penn State in one division makes too much sense to expect anything else to happen--the three schools are more geographically similar with each other than they would be with any other Big Ten program. Maryland and Penn State have enjoyed an on-again-off-again "rivalry" which has been played 37 times. (Why the scare quotes? Because Maryland has won one of those 37 games.) Rutgers and the Nittany Lions also have some level of history, with the teams having met 24 times. (Penn State has won 22 of those meetings.)

Illinois's switch, however, would end the annual series with Ohio State for the "Illibuck" trophy, awarded every season save two (2003 and 2004) since 1925. The Buckeyes' only permanent cross-division rival will (no doubt) continue to be Michigan.

But fans hoping for the "Legends" and "Leaders" monikers to also become casualties of the expansion might be disappointed -- despite the Legends being more of a West division and the Leaders an East division than ever, there's no indication as of yet any name change is on the horizon.

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