Big Ten Football: What's in a Name?

Published on 24-Jan-2013 by J Square Humboldt

Football - NCAA    NCAA Football Daily Review

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Big Ten Football: What's in a Name?

The never-ending game of musical chairs in college football took a breath lately as two more conferences solidified their latest memberships by assigning them to newly-named divisions:    

                          Conference USA xxxx               Mountain West
      East Division West Division   Mountain Division West Division
      East Carolina Louisiana Tech   Air Force Fresno State
      Florida Atlantic North Texas   Boise State Hawaii
      Florida International Rice   Colorado State Nevada
      Marshall Tulane   New Mexico San Diego State
      Middle Tennessee State Tulsa   Utah State San José State
      Southern Mississippi Texas-El Paso   Wyoming UNLV
      UABirmingham Texas-San Antonio      

Numerous observations come to mind when reviewing these arrangements, and one of them is glaring:

Their division names sound like division names that actually describe the division!

This brings us to the Big Ten. The logic of its moniker lost all rationale as soon as Penn State was added. Maybe that's why it assumed no one would notice when Nebraska was added to the mix and it decided to give its newly-created division titles that could only have been inspired by team moms in a Pop Warner league.

Legends? Leaders? Really? Those are so limp, they might actually be the underlying reasons why Big Ten teams suck at bowl games.

Clearly stung, the conference is finally considering repentance and finding division names that would be welcome in the same setting as beer and bratwurst. But what to choose?

They can't follow the lead of the Mountain West and split up the conference name. The Big Division and Ten Division would be one of the absolute few downgrades from where it is now. The geographical solution exemplified by CUSA and others is out, as the current division alignments have no regard for location.

They could take a page from the pre-Bettman NHL and honor past luminaries. That league ultimately shelved the Norris, Smythe, Patrick and Adams titles and went geographic because it wanted to make sense to new fans with no exposure to its annals of history. College football has better overall recognition of past glories, two of the biggest being Red Grange (Illinois) and Bronko Nagurski (Minnesota). So why not use them?

You'd think today's players would be proud to bear the standards of football-tough names like those.

Big Ten football. Grange Division. Nagurski Division. With the image those descriptions conjure, no one would even care anymore that the league's administrators can't count.