The Big Ten conference has been struggling lately. While I’m an avid devotee to the conference, having grown up in Big Ten country, and love the football that it produces on a weekly basis, it suffers in the national spotlight. There’s teams like Indiana that struggle to get .500 seasons. There was the shot heard across the world- Michigan losing to Appalachian State. At home. And I’ll admit…Ohio State, usually seen as the head of the conference has struggled with out of conference games, like USC, Texas and those two National Championship games. (One of which I didn’t want to be in anyway. We were only there because we lucked into it.) The conference was left looking for respect on the national stage.
But things HAVE been turning around this year. The conference started it off with a great bowl season, and then the expansion, gaining an amazing program in Nebraska with amazing traditions and devoted fan bases. The football season was competitive, with great players breaking out and three teams landing in the top ten in the polls at the end of the season.
And then in a single moment, it all went away. I turned on my computer this afternoon to a Twitter feed overrun with mentions of the Big Ten- both people from Columbus and the rest of Ohio, and many sportswriters. Even the ones that I follow because they’re NASCAR writers. All talking about the Big Ten and their announcement this morning. New logo, division names, and a LOT of trophies- with names. And it wasn’t pretty.
Speaking of not pretty…
I’m not a graphic designer. I struggled in the design class I took. The logo I had to create for myself wasn’t anything special. But I’m convinced a child could have come up with this. Actually…judging by the color choice, maybe one did…and I see what you did there with the hidden ten. Very clever. Just like the 11 that was hidden in the old logo. And very redundant. But FYI: it looks more like 16. So way to squash the expansion rumors with that.
And then the names for the division: Legends and Leaders. Oh and don’t make the same mistake I did. Ohio State ISN’T in the Legends division. Michigan is…Won’t get into that. And so is Nebraska. And while they do have an impressive history…it just isn’t in the Big Ten. They did lead to some entertaniment on Twitter this morning with some writers I follow coming up with names for divisions in other conferences (Pac-10 went with Dude and Sweet, ACC went with BBQ and Crab Cakes and the Big East is now split up into TCU and Them according to ESPN’s Ryan McGee). I’m okay with it not being North/South or East/West. But it could have been better. Other suggestions included Lakes and Planes, or a little more patriotic with Liberty and Freedom (which, yeah…I dislike just as much). But Leaders and Legends just sounds too…cocky. Which doesn’t help with the national reputation. A lot of people think that the Big Ten is all talk and unable to follow up with it when playing out of conference games.
As far as the trophy names, they don’t bother me. I’m all for honoring the league’s greats. And yeah, most of them are still alive. Why do we have to wait for someone to die to honor them? The only one I have issue with is the QB award. Because like Mark Titus (ClubTrillion) mentioned…it’s the Greasy Breeze (Griese-Brees) trophy.
Also, I really like that none of them are linked with a corporate sponsorship. As an avid NASCAR fan, it shouldn’t bother me as much as it does…but for some reason they really bother me in college sports.
I don’t think that today’s announcement is going to be a lasting black mark on the Big Ten. Commisioner Jim Delany said today during a teleconference that “any time you have something new, whether it’s a mark or trophies, it takes some time to get used to.” And that might be true. At minimum, it gives fans and media alike something to talk about until the bowls start up. Hopefully then, the conference’s performance then, and next season, is something that demands respect, no matter what the logo looks like or what the conference names are.
And to be honest, I won’t care about the logo until the next time I buy a piece of Big Ten Championship memorabilia. And I’m going to be referring to the divisions as “us” and “them” anyway, as I have been since the split was announced. So it really has no impact on me. I just needed a new blog topic. So I guess the Big Ten did me a favor…
ETA 12/17: From ESPN: Jim Delany says Big Ten may reconsider division names.