Big Ten Football: What's in a Name?
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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|
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.