Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Dec 2010

The Big Ten Names Its Divisions

The Big Ten unveiled quite a bit this morning and early-afternoon. They have a new logo, which is fine, I guess. They have names for about 150 trophies and awards, and some of them are actually pretty nice. But then there are the division names: Legends and Leaders. I'm already going to have enough trouble remembering which teams are in which division ... but now I'm going to have to remember which teams are legends and which are leaders? Degree of difficulty: too high on this one. They over-thought the divisions, and now they really over-thought the division names.

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 13 Dec 2010

83 comments, Last at 16 Dec 2010, 12:17pm by parking_god


by andrew :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:41pm

I liked it when they were just the "X" and "O" divisions.

by Harmy G (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:50pm

Quick, in the ACC, name who is in the Atlantic division, and who is in the Coastal division. Answer: who cares?
I would have also accepted "all I know is Duke and UNC are in the same division."

I have a feeling that similar responses will apply to the B1G TEN. I will accept the answer "all I know is Michigan and Ohio State are in different divisions."

by T. Diddy :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:28pm

I don't care what their logo says, I'm typing it "Big 2en" from now on.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:37pm


by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:31pm

Also, VA Tech and Miami are in the same division, which has created a really stupid title game on at least one occasion.

by D :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:33pm

I know Florida St. and Miami are in different divisions because the ACC wanted them to be playing each other in the title game every year. Hasn't worked out quite as planned though.

by mickeyribs :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:57pm

Didn't the NFL have some oddball names for its divisions in the 60's? I remember reading something about Capital and Coastal Divisions, or something like that.

by Dr. Before My Time (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:30pm

For the 1967, 1968, and 1969 NFL seasons, the four divisions were Capitol, Century, Coastal, and Central.

by Mac (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:56pm

I prefer the "Industtial Hellhole Division" and the "Frozen Wasteland Division".

by Rocco :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:22pm

Which one is which?

by Whatev :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:45pm

Doesn't matter, every team is in BOTH divisions!

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:59pm

Legends and Leaders are pretty weak. And just wait for one of them to hit a rough stretch and see all the fun the talking heads will have with those.

But college football in general has lots of naming problems. Absolutely nobody has embraced the FBS/FCS change they made a couple years back. And whoever thought that accentuating "Champion" in the one when there's a perennial debate over whether the BCS actually produces a true "champion" should have their head examined.

by Eddo :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:02pm

Um, the Football Championship Series (FCS) is formerly Division I-AA. Unless you're trying to hint that the FCS playoffs don't determine a "champion".

by Billy Dee (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 10:21pm

"Hint?" He did all but draw a picture. That's absolutely what he's talking about. Um, you're kinda slow picking up on this stuff, aren't you?

by Eddo :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:15am

So he meant that the FCS (I-AA) playoffs don't determine a champion? OK, I guess I'm slow.

In case my hints aren't enough here... "FCS" is the same as "I-AA"; FCS has playoffs that determine a champion.

The most popular version of NCAA football - the one that includes Auburn, Oregon, TCU, and Wiconsin - is FBS.

by jebmak :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:44am

I think that you meant to type FBS.

At least that's how I read it.

by Eddo :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:29pm

Actually, I think I see the problem. Either I read his last sentence wrong ("FCS" instead of "BCS") or it was edited between my reading of it and my response.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:52pm

I'm not verified, so I can't edit, so it was your misread. Um, your bad. Glad at least one person was able to see where I was headed.

by LookOut! (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:02pm

These names are stupid and the logo is terrible. Hopefully they change both before next season starts.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:34pm

Agreed--it's absolutely insulting that they think fans are lowbrow enough to accept the changes. It's the Phantom Menace all over again--I concluded my piece (linked) saying, "just as I am willing to give George Lucas a mulligan for the Phantom Menace, I am willing to give the Big Ten a chance to re-do their divisions and logo. If they agree to start over, I agree to never mention this again. It will only make the world a better place."

by Turin (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:06pm

Someone must really want to see Michigan and Ohio State play two weekends in a row.

Also, so much for Wisconsin's rilvarly games with Iowa and Minn. =(

by Dennis :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:13pm

Wisconsin-Minnesota is a protected rivalry so they will play every year.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:13pm

Minnesota is Wisconsin's protected rival. If the Big Ten expands to a nine-game conference schedule and adds another protected school, I'm sure Iowa will be the other one.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:10pm

The logo is not fine. It's horrendous. It's a complete waste of money. It has a 1 for no apparent reason: even when you get to the part where they explain that the G is supposedly also a 0, thus incorporating 10, it still doesn't make any sense. "Hey, we used to have 10 members!" BFD. You also used to have 7 and 9 and 8 and 11. If you're not expanding any more, than put a 2 in the logo. We might understand that. Hell, go back to Western Conference, or make a trade with Texas' conference and use Big 12; let them use Big Ten.

The division names are stupid. Terrible.

I have no idea how much Pentagram made for doing this, but I could have done ten times better for half the price. Guaranteed. Anybody with Photoshop could make a decent logo in a relevant color (North Carolina's still in the ACC); hell, use the logo on the floor at the Big Ten basketball tournaments. It's actually pretty cool.

Division names? Try "East" and "West". What, the divisions aren't perfectly geographic? Who the hell cares? They aren't really neat in any sport, mostly because few leagues or conferences expand with only geography in mind. Michigan's in the West. We know. It's all right. We won't cry about it.

The NHL had the Norris, Smythe, Patrick, and Adams divisions in the Campbell and Wales conferences for decades. Was it great for tradition? Yes. Was it great for fans? No. I doubt one person in 100 on this site could match up teams and divisions; maybe one in five could get divisions in the correct conference. Now, if you say Atlantic, Central, Pacific, etc. in Eastern and Western Conferences, anyone can put those together.

Jim Delany acted like a complete moron, but then, in some respects, that is the Big Ten Way. It makes just as much sense as "We won't play in anything but the Rose Bowl."

MGoBlog suggests we rebel and use East and West. Let's do this thing.

by CDB (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:06pm

Without looking:

Campbell Conference


St. Louis


Los Angeles

Wales Conference


NY Rangers
NY Islanders
New Jersey



Checking wiki...

Got it right leaving out the early 90 expansion teams (San Jose, Ottawa, Tamp Bay).

What do I win?

by jebmak :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:48am

You forgot to use the template:

Leaders/Legends is clearly ...

Seriously though, I'm with you z.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:17pm

Agreed on all counts, zlionsfan.

by Lebo :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:39am

Why would the G be a '0' to represent 10? I thought that's what the 'Ten' part of Big Ten was for.

The logo is rubbish. It's not that hard to incorporate a 2 into the logo so that the logo actually represents the current number of members.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:11pm

Lgends and leaders? Names sound like major dork came up with them.

by billycurley :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:27am


As a Hawkeye, I really don't get why they overthink this. Who's in the ACC Coastal? How about the SEC West? Can you figure out why one is easier than the other? Is Minnesota/Iowa/Nebraska/Wisconsin/Illinois/Northwestern really that bad?

by parking_god :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:17pm

If you're a fan of Wisconsin or Nebraska, and you want their game to essentially be a conference semifinal 90% of the time, no, it isn't that bad. But for fans of Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and Ohio State, yeah, it is that bad.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:32pm

I know selecting two players would have created huge controversey, but I think the Grange and Nagurski divisions would have been good, since it would have covered both divisions, and those guys were later teammates in the NFL.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:44pm

If they were going to call one division Legends, they should have at least called the other one -Ary.

by mikegillnz :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 10:23pm


by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:40am

you forgot to add "wait for it.......ary"

by PS (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:49pm

The logo is actually better than the latter. But it should be only a 'B' and a 'X', nothing more.

The divisions:

Division BIG
Division TEN

Keep it simple. The whole problem is excessive effort...

by andrew :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:10pm

I liked the NHL when it had Norris, Smythe, Patrick, Adams divisions.... (side note - its too bad they didn't keep these until the Chuck Norris Meme came around)

We could have the Yost division or the Bierman division...

trouble is schools wouldn't like having divisions named after someone famous for only one school.

by Marko :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:11pm

I have no allegiance or particular rooting interest in any Big Ten team, but this strikes me as just idiotic.

Tney might as well have called the divisions "Legends" and "Losers."


Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan State, Iowa


Northwestern, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:35pm

Hey, not all of us are young, and even if we cannot personally remember it, we are aware of college football pre 1970! Until about then, then fightin' Golden Gophers had one of the best records of success in college football, and what screams "legend" more than epic tales of greatness from the mists of time?

by Marko :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:48pm

Will, I think you and I are around the same age (I am 46), and I tried to focus on historical success in listing the "Legends" teams. I think the first four teams are inarguable. Michigan State also has historically been a strong team (I'm thinking of their famous mid-1960s teams, and they have been a good if not great program for most of the last 25 or 30 years). That left just one slot for the Legends, and all of those teams (with the possible exception of Indiana) have had stretches where they were very good. Illinois was good in the Red Grange days, Minnesota had some very successful years as you mentioned, and Wisconsin has been good in the last 15 or so years (although they were wretched before Barry Alvarez took over the program).

Iowa seems to have been a solid program for most of the past 25 or 30 years, and they had some good teams in the 1930s (I'm thinking of the Nile Kinnick years). But if you want to swap Iowa and Minnesota, I won't object.

by joon :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:20pm

epic fail. OTOH, i always like it when i can feel smugly justified in not giving a damn about college football.

by wr (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:27pm

You can say whatever else you want about the SEC,
but at least they used meaningful division names (East, West).

by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:00pm

Well, the SEC divides nicely into geographic divisions that are more or less balanced as far as quality of teams. The Big Ten doesn't divide as geographically, although that doesn't excuse this marketing butchery.

by InTheBoilerRoom :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:30pm

I really wanted to see Man vs Beast.

Illinois Fighting Illini
Indiana Hoosiers
Michigan State Spartans
Nebraska Cornhuskers
Ohio State Buckeyes*
Purdue Boilermakers

*technically a nut, but also one from Ohio, not that there's a difference

Iowa Hawkeyes
Michigan Wolverines
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Northwestern Wildcats
Penn State Nittany Lions
Wisconsin Badgers

Any reason that wouldn't have worked? And you'd immediately know who was in which division.

by andrew :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:44pm

Hawkeye is not a beast. You're confusing Avengers and X-Men.

by JasonK :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:31am

What, the team isn't named after Captain Pierce??!

by Harris :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:32am

But Beast was an X-Man and and Avenger.


Hail Hydra!

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:47am

AND a Defender.

/Nerd Pwnage

by andrew :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:22am

Don't forget X-Factor....

by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:04pm

I love it. This would be about fifty times better than anything else.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:33am

I saw that your title linked to something. I thought it would be a link to something useful, like a press release telling us which teams are in which division. Instead, you just link to a blog where some other guy is whining about the divisions. Without providing any information whatsoever.

Why would I care about that?

by Fourth :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:05am

So an extra points blog post has a link to (and one paragraph summary of) another blog post. Outrage! This is about the names of the divisions, not the teams that comprise them. That bit of information was announced weeks ago. Here, http://lmgtfy.com/

by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:18pm

What a curious decision to defend.

Usually when the headline is given to us as a link, it links to something informative. Linking to some other guys rant? Uninteresting.

If you hadn't notice, in basically every other post on FO, any link provided by the headline goes to something informative. Clearly the FO editors think that there is some merit to this practice. It's not happening by accident.

Now, in the body of the article, there is a link to something informative. But why wasn't that placed in the most logical place, at the headline? Why was Joe Blogger given so many free hits to his web site for a random rant? The random rant provided no extra value over the comments section here.

Surprised that questioning the editorial decision results in such a knee-jerk response from you.

by gratif1 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:23am

Shouldn't Wisconsin and Michigan just flip? I'm sure the balance of power will shift over the next decade anyways, so why not preserve as many border battles as possible?

by RickD :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:21pm

Wild guess: they want Michigan and Ohio State to be in different divisions. With the hope that these two schools compete for the conference championship as much as possible.

by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:06am

Legends is lame, but Leaders is the absolute worst name for a division ever.

In honor of Tori Black I'll be referring to them as Tits and Boobs.

EDIT: Or should that be T1ts and Bo0bs? A 1 and a 0 for the number 10, get it?

by mansteel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:06pm

Nice. You came *this* close to making me laugh out loud in a rather inappropriate situation.

by young curmudgeon :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:46am

I think you're onto something. For the ACC (in honor of Jenn Sterger), "Knockers" and "Hooters" (also, a possible commercial tie-in, always attractive to college athletics.) For the PAC 12, "Bazooms" and "Gazongas." Split the Ivy League into divisions and respectfully name them "Breasts" and "Mammaries."

by JonFrum (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:19am

These names come out so lame because they deliberately don't mean anything to anyone. Yes, I said deliberately. When branding, companies are told to not be specific. Remember Kentucky Fried Chicken? After they were bought out, they changed to KFC so that they wouldn't be 'limited' to chicken by their name. What if someone doesn't like chicken? Pizzeria Uno became Uno Bar and Grill. The 'experts' tell them to remove the very thing that has made their names and identified them to their fans.

With 'Leaders' and 'Lunkers' or whatever it is, there will be no problem with geography, and no logical problem if they add teams or move them around in the future. There was never any reason why a team should be a 'Leader' in the first place, so why not move them?

by KentJohnson73 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:54pm

Yeah, well, they're still stupid names. Is that part of branding, too? Did they think there were bonus points for alliteration? How about something at least a little more interesting, maybe Bulwarks and Stalwarts. Or would be cool if one of them was called Union so we could talk about the "Union division." Ooh, or they could have had the Long and Short divisions: equally generic and meaningless. Or Raider and Joe.

by andrew :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:23am

Proposed solution:

Whoever wins the division can name it what they want the following season.

by Portmanteur :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:41pm

The East division would just be named, "The Dead Schembechlers" year after year.

by Dean :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:05pm

Unless a Penn State fan got to name it the Dead Milkmen.

by nuclearbdgr :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:39am

BTN watchers were hoping for "Ro-tel" and "Velveeta"

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:52pm

Post removed--redundant. See post 64 above.

by dbostedo :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:04am

Whoa...that just blew my mind.

by young curmudgeon :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:24pm

The Big Ten was totally ripped off by their consultants, Pentagram. There are many more effective names than "Legends" and "Leaders." Here are a few much better suggestions:

Scylla & Charybdis
Cain & Able
Gin & Tonic
The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea
Sam & Dave
Chad & Jeremy
Johnny Walker Red & Johnny Walker Black
Alphonse & Gaston
The Hare & The Tortoise
Six of One & Half a Dozen of the Other
Time & Tide

by Portmanteur :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:43pm

You forgot "Sid and Nancy"

Although "Six of One & Half Dozen of the Other" is awesome.

by J. Morse (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:02pm

Three Yards & A Cloud of Dust

by JPS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:17pm

The Old Man & The Sea
Thelma & Louise
Starsky & Hutch
Schembechler & Sons
War & Peace (Pieces?)
Simeon, Judah, Levi,...,Joseph, Benjamin

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:35pm

I think I may be the only one who likes the logo - or would like if there were still 10 teams in the conference. The division names suck; might as well call them the Lame-ohs and the Losers. I do like the Man and Beast, and T1t$ and Bo0b$ suggestions. Both far better than this. I think North/South would be better for marketing than East/West. North - Minn, Wisc, Mich, Mich St, Ohio St, Penn St. South - Neb, Iowa, Ill, NW, Ind, Purdue (that is, all the states that don't border Canada either directly or via Lake Erie).

by Spielman :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:11pm

I don't understand hiding a 10 in the logo. Hiding the 11 in the logo when they expanded to 11 teams, that was cool and made sense. But "an homage to the original ten members"? The frigging text in the logo already reads "Big Ten". Embedding a goofy looking "10" in there is redundant and makes it look like the Big Ten embraces 1337-speak.

It feels like they thought they had to do something clever with the hidden numerals because they had done it before, couldn't come up with a good way to hide a "12", and then just stuck the "10" in there and went home for the day.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:05pm

Agree 100%. The 11 hiding in the old logo was cool. This one looks like some freshman in high school put it together in Word. And "hiding" numerals that are already written out in text is asinine. Hey, I just found a secret code in War and Peace that when decoded reveals...the story of War and Peace. Clever. NOT.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:10pm

Click my name for a link to a logo that hides a 12 in the same manner as the old logo hid the 11. Maybe a tad forced...but I'd say it's better than what they ended up selecting.

by mansteel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:03pm

How about Long and Synthetic Divisions?

by DGL :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:20pm

Those living in the New York metro area think it should be the "Midwest" and "Midwest" divisions.

Except for those suffering from Extreme East Coast Bias, who think it should be "Midwest" and "Flyover".

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:06pm


by Bobby E (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:46pm

The logo tries WAAAY too hard at being clever. So, they replace the "I" with a 1...but the G isn't a zero, it's still just a G. It's like the Big 1.

by fmtemike :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:47am

Sometimes the easiest solution is the best. The 12 Big 10 could have simply paid attentio to the Illinois/Indiana state line and had two divisions that would make sense greographically, would keep traditional rivalries, and would have reasonable competitive balance today (since who knows what the balance will be like in 10 or 20 years). They could also have imaginative names like
EAST: Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue
WEST: Illinois, Wisconsin,Northwestern, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska
Is there something intrinsically flawed with that?

by Spielman :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:43am

Yes. It puts Michigan and Ohio State in the same division, which ends the dream of having them play in the title game.

Of course, Michigan's going to have to be better than the 8th best team in the conference for that to happen anyway.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:08pm

Farmboy Division:

Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin

Shuttered Factory Division:

Penn State, Michigan, Mich State, Ohio State, Purdue

Still having trouble deciding where Illinois and Northwestern would go, though.

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:48pm

Illinois (where I went) is the same level of "Farmboy" as Indiana. Wisconsin, located in the heart of Madison, is much less "Farmboy" than Illinois. In fact, it's probably less "Farmboy" than any Big Ten school except for Northwestern and Ohio State (and Ohio State is probably the most similar to Wisconsin in this regard, as they're both in capital cities).

I've never been to Minneapolis, let alone the Minnesota campus, so I can't offer a comparison there.

And Northwestern is the most urban of all the Big Ten schools.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 7:24pm

woh si siht gniht llits gnieb dellac neT giB? Conferebcne goign to have 12 temams in ocuple years. Ridicuous . It doesn't even amke any sennse. THought Nortwhestern was suposooed to be school of nerds. WE Buig ten school but Big Ten ghave 12 teams in it.