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What On Earth Is The Big Ten Doing?

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As you've no doubt heard by now, the Big Ten will actually have twelve teams next season, while the Big Twelve will have ten teams. Read that statement a few times in order to help it sink in. . .and then keep it in mind when I tell you this.

That previous statement makes a whole lot more sense than what Big Ten officials came out with today. I'm not even sure if I know where to start with this, but I'll try anyway.

If you look in the upper-right hand corner there, you'll see the new Big Ten logo. Now, if you'll recall the old Big Ten logo, they managed to work a couple of "1's" in there to show that they were still mathematically challenged, having adopted that logo after accepting Penn State as the conference's eleventh member. Now, they couldn't work a one and a two into the logo for the twelve-team Big Ten Conference, which might be for the best. . .and I know that college football is all about tradition and everything, particularly when it comes to things like screwing the little guy so that the big boys can line their pockets. . .but did they even consider a different name? Did they attempt anything at all to try to reflect the state of the conference as it's aligned right now?

Then again, coming to our next point, maybe it's a good thing that they didn't make an effort to name anything.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Big Ten's two new divisions:

Leaders Division: Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers
Legends Division: Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Northwestern Wildcats

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the "Leaders" and "Legends" Divisions. Seriously, who did they consult for this naming convention? Gwen Stefani?

Look, I know that we don't want to potentially offend anybody by looking like we favor the "old" Big Ten schools over the "new" Big Ten schools or anything like that, but really. . ."Legends" and "Leaders?" Seriously, Big Ten football is incredibly rich in tradition. . .if you're not going to go with "East" and "West" or anything like that, why not tap into that history? Just think of names like Hayes, Schembechler, Nagurski, Butkus, Grange, Griffin, Paterno. . .honestly, would anyone have been angry or offended if the Big Ten was broken down into the Paterno Division and the Schembechler Division? Regardless if anyone would be angry or offended, it's a heck of a lot better than "Legends" and "Leaders," for crying out loud.

In addition to this, the Big Ten announced a bunch of conference awards that they're going to be giving out at the end of the season. Keeping with their apparent efforts not to make anyone feel slighted, they couldn't just name the awards after one player. . .no, they had to name all of the awards after two players. So, rather than something logical like the Dick Butkus award for the Big Ten's best linebacker, we get the. . .are you ready for this. . .the Butkus-Fitzgerald Award, named not only after Dick Butkus, but after former Northwestern linebacker (and current Northwestern head coach) Pat Fitzgerald.

What the heck is this? For crying out loud, I bet if you asked Pat Fitzgerald, he'd tell you himself that he doesn't belong on an award with Dick Butkus. With all due respect to Coach Fitzgerald and the good folks at Northwestern, when somebody says "Big Ten linebacker," the name Pat Fitzgerald does not immediately roll off of the tongue. . .but the name Dick Butkus certainly does. If you're going to name awards after Big Ten legends, then pick one and roll with it for each award. (You can see the rest of the award names and what they represent at the Big Ten Network's website.)

It appears, at least in the view of this writer, that in their efforts not to offend anybody, the Big Ten has managed to offend darn near everybody. The conference spent a lot of time and a lot of money to come up with these things, and it appears that it really wasn't a terribly productive investment. Hopefully the conference will give us an on-field product that will far surpass what they've given their fans so far.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.