Without physically moving (to our knowledge), Purdue football will be part of the "West" in Big Ten land for the 2014 football season. At the Big Ten expands its footprint into New Jersey and Maryland, a geographical map of the conference puts Purdue in right about the middle. Reportedly, there was discussion over whether IU or Purdue should be in the West -- given that Purdue's campus is West of Bloomington, the decision sort of made itself.
For 2014, the divisions will be this:
East: IU, Maryland, Michigan, MSU, OSU, PSU, Rutgers
West: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin
But for one more year, they'll remain the nonsensical (in terms of name or geography) this:
Legends: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern
Leaders: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State,
One thing this does is put (or keep) some of the conference's historical rivals together. OSU and UM are obvious, though it does mean those two can't face one another in the Big Ten title game, something that was touted by some as a good byproduct of them being in separate divisions. Also in the same division are Iowa and Minnesota as they play for that slab of beef or whatever it is, as well as Michigan and Michigan State, who play for... I don't know, a barrel of auto oil or something.
You'll note that Purdue and IU are no longer going to be division mates. An interesting tidbit here is that the Old Oaken Bucket game will now be the only so-called "protected" rivalry going forward (or until further expansion necessitates three divisions or something). Obviously, the white-hot slap fight that is the Iowa-Purdue matchup does not need to be protected, as division rivals will all play each other every year. Also of note, now that Purdue-IU Big Ten Championship Game meeting can happen. I know we can all sleep better knowing that.
So after playing Nebraska once in their first three years in the league, Purdue will suddenly find themselves in Lincoln a whole lot more than they'd probably like. Same for Northwestern and Purdue, who are currently heading into their third consecutive year of not playing each other. Presto! Division rivals!
I've seen some Purdue fans on twitter noting that "I'll take it" in reference to ducking OSU, UM, MSU, etc. Well, if you've watched sports for a while, you know things run in cycles and Michigan was recently down -- wayyyy down, like losing to Purdue at home down -- and that Purdue seems to actually have OSU's number, despite being as unable to close the deal this past year as Boilerdowd in Cary Quad with future Mrs. Boilerdowd, circa 1995.
And let's be sure to remember something else -- right now, the members of the future West division are seeing Purdue and thinking the same thing: "Yeah, that works! A win!"
Let's hope by the time 2014 gets here that they're wishing Purdue was in East Lafayette.