Commentary: Keep potential Big Ten name changes simple
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 00:01
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said the conference is considering changing the names of its Leaders and Legends divisions beginning in 2014, according to ESPN.com. For the majority of Big Ten fans, including myself, this comes as a relief, and we collectively say, “Thank goodness.”
According to a Monday ESPN article, the decision to change the division names could be made as early as June, a little more than a year before Maryland and Rutgers leave the ACC and Big East, respectively, to increase the total number of schools the Big Ten houses to 14.
It seems college football will soon be comprised of four super conferences, which I am not a fan of. With that being the case, I hope Delany and his colleagues see this expansion as a second chance to get this naming thing right.
Two years ago — when the conference added Nebraska — they introduced a new logo and split the teams into the Leaders and Legends divisions. After I initially heard this news, I could not help but scratch my head. Originally I thought maybe the conference was just trying to promote how its members mold its student athletes to be leaders in whatever they choose to do after they leave school. Maybe their intentions were to honor such legends as Archie Griffin, Bo Schembechler and Bob Knight, who each helped make the history of the conference excellent.
Then I thought about it again and found the new names to be too different to be likable for the common fan like myself.
It is no secret that there are plenty of fans across the Midwest who do not care for how the divisions are named. It seems like Delany understands that, even though he said in the ESPN article that he was a “little surprised” about the responses that came when the names were released in 2010.
“I’m not sure it was a national survey (of people who didn’t like the names),” Delany told ESPN. “I don’t take umbrage to negative reaction.”
To me that means he knows fans currently are not supportive of how the divisions are named, but he knows no matter what is ultimately decided upon, not everyone is going to be happy.
For that, I agree with the conference’s commissioner, but offer this bit of advice: Just keep it simple. Conferences like the SEC, MAC and even Conference USA call their divisions East and West. The Pac-12 has a North Division and a South Division, and the ACC dubs its divisions Atlantic and Coastal.
I understand that the names mentioned above are easy to select due to geographic location within the boundaries of the conference, but I wonder why something similar in the Big Te cannot be done.
Theoretically, all schools that lie west of the Indiana and Illinois border could become members of a West Division. With the addition of Purdue to that side, this would leave seven members (Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers) to create an East Division, and keep many of the traditional rivalries within the conference.
Keep in mind the Big Ten could be looking to expand even more, with the potential of adding two more teams to bring the conference’s total to 16. If that does happen, having the names of East and West atop the divisions should have little to no impact on which division the new members join.
As long as Delany is seriously considering the change, then even if it fails, Big Ten supporters can be happy. It appears he knows how the bulk of them feel and understands what is right in front of him.
“We have the opportunity to look at divisional structure, branding, rivalries and geography all again,” he said. “Depending on what we do will probably influence exactly how we brand it.”
Geography makes the most sense in my mind, but that is why guys like Jim Delany get paid the big bucks and students like me do not.