Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Big Ten Division Names, Legends and Leaders

The Big Ten has reemerged as a football power on the field this season, but what is going on at conference headquarters is a big joke. On Monday, the names of the divisions for football were announced: Legends and Leaders. Reaction to the division names has been overwhelmingly negative. A Chicago Tribune poll has 95.4% of voters disapproving, while 4.6% of voters approve of “Legends and Leaders”.
Legends: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern
Leaders: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
The new Big Ten logo. Notice the "10" formed into the "BIG".
These names are generic and pompous. Saying stuff like, “X team will win the Leaders,” or “the Legends is the tougher division,” just doesn’t sound phonetically right. The headers Legends and Leaders are not specific to the Big Ten as there are legends and leaders in every conference. Most suggestions coming from Big Ten fans for the new division names reflected the uniqueness of the central part of the United States. Popular fan suggestions were: Plains/Prairies, Great Lakes/Great Plains, and Heartland/Midwest. My submission to the call for suggestions for the Big Ten divisions on the ESPN Big Ten Blog was the La Salle Division and the Jolliet Division, named after two early explorers of the area that would later become Big Ten Country: Robert de La Salle and Louis Jolliet. That would have definitely been more unique than Legends and Leaders.
The Big Ten also announced eighteen new annual trophies and awards, all of which are named after two figures from Big Ten history. For example, the Big Ten title will now be the Stagg-Paterno Trophy. Why the favoritism toward the University of Chicago and Penn State? One school is no longer in the Big Ten and the other has only been in the conference seventeen years. Why should Alonzo Stagg or Joe Paterno be put on a pedestal above all of the arguably better Big Ten coaches? Then there’s the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year Award. Just because Woody and Bo had a good rivalry doesn’t mean either were the best coaches to ever lead a Big Ten team. Additionally, there are too many awards and trophies already in college football to keep track of. Add more and the existing ones become even more meaningless. NCAA football is becoming like Pop Warner football, where everyone gets a trophy for something, so no one feels left out.
Big Ten expansion has really been all about the money from the beginning. Sure, Nebraska has a great football program and volleyball program, but what else does it bring to the conference? It is way out on the west flank, 301 miles by car from its nearest conference-mate in Iowa City. Its academics are inferior to the current eleven members of the Big Ten, all of which are members of the Association of American Universities. The academic tradition of the conference was cast aside for athletic revenue, mainly in football. Why not take it a step further and name the divisions for the corporate sponsors willing to pony up the most paper?

No comments:

Post a Comment