The Big Ten held a noon press conference today to unveil the new Big Ten logo and division names. I was personally hoping to see the conference follow the trend of the current logo which features the conference name with the number of members visible in the negative space between the letters. This was not to be, instead we get a logo that features no mention of the actual number of conference members. While this means that the logo would not need to be changed upon future conference expansion, it gets rid of what I thought was a cool design feature of the old logo. The new logo incorporates a numerical ’1′ in place of the ‘i’ in “Big”, which combined with the ‘g’ gives the impression of the number ’10′ appearing in the logo. There are several different formats for the logo, a stacked version, a horizontal version, and a version with just the word “Big”. Each version can appear with the date of the conference’s establishment, 1896, below it. All the different versions can be seen here.
The new divisions will be named “Leaders” and “Legends”. The Leaders division will be Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin. The Legends division will be Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern.
The Big Ten has also announced a slew of new trophies that include trophies for the championship game winner, the championship game mvp, and vairous individual awards for each position. The trophies are named after former coaches and players in the conference and several Buckeyes were honorred in these names. Archie Griffin is one of the namesakes for the Grange-Griffin Championship Game MVP trophy. Eddie George (Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year), Jack Tatum (Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year), and Orlando Pace (Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year) were also honorred. Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler are linked together in the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year trophy. A full list of all the new trophy names can be found here.
Now that the news portion is out of the way, I would like to give my thoughts on these new additions to the conference. I offer the disclaimer that these are my opinions and they do not necessarily agree with those of Vico, Margie, or Michael. As I stated previously, I am disappointed that the new logo did not include a negative space number ’12′. The use of the ‘i’ and ‘g’ in “Big” to look like a ten looks good in the one word version of the logo but seems entirely unnecessary in the versions that spell out the full conference name; it almost looks like the conference name is the Big Ten Ten.
While the new division alignments were not what I would have chosen, I would have gone with a purely geographic East-West split, I could live with them. These new division names will be much harder to live with. I understand that the conference was trying to honor it’s history and tradition as being a top conference full of big name schools, these names are confusing and make no real sense. “Leaders” seem to imply that these are the top schools currently in the conference while “Legends” suggests that those schools are old, washed-up, and on the senior tour. In addition to being sort of insulting to some schools, these connotations do not even fit. It is hard to consider Indiana to be one of the “leaders” of the conference right now and while many of us would laugh at the thought that Michigan is washed-up and on the senior tour, I wouldn’t consider Iowa or Nebraska in that same category. Additionally when I hear the word “leaders” I cannot help but think of the line from the Michigan fight song “leaders and the best” and I frankly do not want Ohio State in anyway associated with anything that evokes thoughts of that song.
Finally we have all our new trophies. I personally do not think that we need named trophies for all of these, what is wrong with simply giving a place the title of “Big Ten Quarterback of the Year”? But if we must have a named trophy for all of these, I think they missed the boat by naming each trophy after two people. I understand that they are trying to honor as many people as possible, but what we now get is a list of awkward trophy names that nobody will remember. I also generally do not like name a trophy after a person who is still active in their career, hence it is too soon for Joe Paterno to show up in the Staggs-Paterno Championship Trophy. I would have preferred to see the conference wait until he retired to honor Paterno in such a way. I think the conference also was stretching on some of the individuals honored in the trophy names, Antwaan Randle El for example.
Maybe I am having trouble with these new announcements because I am a traditionalist and I tend to be hesitant toward change. Maybe the new logo, names, and trophies will grow on me. I guess time will tell.