From the reaction after the Big Ten Conference's announcement of football division names, fans don’t like the Big Ten calling its football divisions as Legends and Leaders after the conference grew to 12 schools with the addition of Nebraska last summer. Instead of having some fun or going with geography, the Big Ten went serious or inspirational. Or little league. Gauging the reaction, it didn't work. Critics thought it was an arrogant move, elementary or just lacked any enthusiasm to define two divisions of a rugged college football conference.

From the reaction after the Big Ten Conference's announcement of football division names, fans don’t like the Big Ten calling its football divisions as Legends and Leaders after the conference grew to 12 schools with the addition of Nebraska last summer.


Instead of having some fun or going with geography, the Big Ten went serious or inspirational. Or little league. Gauging the reaction, it didn't work. Critics thought it was an arrogant move, elementary or just lacked any enthusiasm to define two divisions of a rugged college football conference.


"We're hoping they resonate and the people understand the conference has a great legacy of leaders,'' said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. "It's a tipping point to the past and an inspirational view of what we can do going forward.


"It's in the eye of the beholder. There's nothing like it out there. People use names or directional signals. We hope that if people don't embrace it in the first hour out there, maybe after the first 24 or 36 hours they get a chance to feel it and think it.''


Beginning this fall, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin will play in the Leaders Division. Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern form the Legends Division. Divisional alignment was announced earlier in the football season.


The conference presidents strongly wanted to retain the Big Ten name because of the power of the brand, Delany said.


The Big Ten also unveiled a new logo that will be used starting next fall with a block letter Big Ten where a 1 replaces the I. It also failed to receive positive early views. The league announced 18 trophies to honor titles, coaches and players of the year, splitting the name of each award with two players from the past.


The Big Ten never showed a desire to build or name the divisions on geography, and Delany reiterated the league's desire to create competitive balance between the two divisions. The conference has no plans to use the divisions in men's basketball.


The SEC, Conference-USA and Mid-American conferences use east and west divisions. The ACC went with Atlantic and Coastal. Of course, conference names are getting haywire with the Big Ten having 12 teams and the Big 12 retaining 10. From newspaper websites across the Big Ten footprint, the critics had a field day with the Big Ten's divisional names, such as:


"I could see a pee wee league using names like these,'' said one critic, capturing the sentiment of the day.


Of course, there were plenty of suggestions, from the thoughtful (Great Lakes and Great Plains) to funny (Shirts and Skins) to off-the-wall (Meat and Potatoes).


The logo also failed to generate an initial buzz, unless the negative pub is worthwhile. Delany said the 1-G in Big Ten logo is a tip of the hat to an old Big Ten mark that showed the Big 10. But the G may appear like a 6.


"Now that you mention it, it's possible,'' Delany said.


But, hey, the league already said it wasn't aggressively pursuing more expansion, so this isn't a hint that it might become the Big 16.


The league's 18 trophies include the Stagg-Paterno conference championship game trophy and the Grange-Griffin championship game MVP award.


The Illini's past is also associated with the Butkus-Fitzgerald linebacker of the year and Eddleman-Fields punter of the year awards.


John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.


 


Big Ten awards/trophies


Championship game trophies


Stagg-Paterno championship trophy: Amos Alonzo Stagg, Chicago, and Joe Paterno, Penn State


Grange-Griffin championship game MVP: Red Grange, Illinois, and Archie Griffin, Ohio State


Post graduate awards


Ford-Kinnick leadership award: Gerald Ford, Michigan, and Nike Kinnick, Iowa


Dungy-Thompson humanitarian award: Tony Dungy, Minnesota, and Anthony Thompson, Indiana


Annual awards


Graham-George offensive player of the year: Otto Graham, Northwestern, and Eddie George, Ohio State


Nagurski-Woodson defensive player of the year: Bronko Nagurski, Minnesota, and Charles Woodson, Michigan


Hayes-Schembechler coach of the year: Woody Hayes, Ohio State, and Bo Schembechler, Michigan


Thompson-Randle El freshman of the year: Darrell Thompson, Minnesota, and Antwaan Randle El, Indiana


Rimington-Pace offensive lineman of the year: Dave Rimington, Nebraska, and Orlando Pace, Ohio State


Smith-Brown defensive lineman of the year: Bubba Smith, Michigan State, and Courtney Brown, Penn State


Griese-Brees quarterback of the year: Bob Griese, Purdue, and Drew Brees, Purdue


Ameche-Dayne running back of the year: Alan Ameche, Wisconsin, and Ron Dayne, Wisconsin


Tatum-Woodson defensive back of the year: Jack Tatum, Ohio State, and Rod Woodson, Purdue


Butkus-Fitzgerald linebacker of the year: Dick Butkus, Illinois, and Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern


Richter-Howard receiver of the year: Pat Richter, Wisconsin, and Desmond Howard, Michigan


Kwalick-Clark tight end of the Year: Ted Kwalick, Penn State, and Dallas Clark, Iowa


Bakken-Andersen kicker of the year: Jim Bakken, Wisconsin, and Morten Andersen, Michigan State


Eddleman-Fields punter of the year: Dike Eddleman, Illinois, and Brandon Fields, Michigan State