Big Ten Sports
Legends and Leaders. Seriously?
By Tony Gerdeman
Legends and Leaders. The “West” and “East” of a new generation.
As you now know, Monday was a B1G day for the Big Ten. The Conference unveiled their new division names, as well as logos and new position awards named after people you've never heard of before and people who may not even have their degrees yet.
And everybody watched.
That's the great part about having a network that needs content—this type of announcement becomes a huge thing. The downside of having a network, however, is that THIS TYPE of announcement becomes a huge thing!
The logos were the first to be unveiled, and they were widely panned. Then came the divisional names and, frankly, people were too stunned and puzzled at first to even remark. However, once they came to, it was galactically laughed at. Then came the postseason award names, which were like a dessert of embarrassment after just being force fed mud pies in front of the hot chick in school.
And trust me, there's no outliving something like that.
The good thing, however, is that the further we got from the unveiling of the logos, the better they seemed. Use of negative space is good. The logos, overall, are fine. No, they aren't as cool as the Pac Ten's logo, but cool isn't something you really want in branding. (What's that? Cool is EXACTLY what you want in branding? Since when?!) My biggest complaint with the logos, however, is the continuation of Smurf Blue as the conference's color of record. I don't like it. It's too cold. How about something warmer, more inviting? Maybe the color will change during the next round of expansion.
Until today, I always had faith that the Big Ten was smarter than I was. Whatever they did, I assumed it was the right choice given the information they had on hand. After Monday's events, however, my faith has waned like ice cubes under running water.
Leaders and Legends. Seriously?
By the way, I'll bet that the very line I wrote directly above was said by about 85% of you after you found out about the news.
About the only way I could have disliked the names more was if they named the divisions after Joe Paterno and Tom Osborne.
How can you sit in a room with a bunch of other common sensers and come up with Legends and Leaders?
It's just so corporate and phony. It's like a Six Sigma thinkstorm that has since justifiably been downgraded to a topical depression.
The only way this could have come about is with a group of like-minded suits throwing out similar suggestion after similar suggestion. Were “Zenith” and “Pinnacle” too corporate?
Why not “Pedestal” and “Also Pedestal”?
Rest assured, there will be a grassroots name change for these divisions. The Man might like Legends and Leaders, but The People don't. If a newspaper man can coin “The Big Ten”, there's no reason the divisional names have to come from the suits in Chicago.
Seriously? Legends and Leaders? Those aren't divisional names. It sounds like the name of a Zig Ziglar convention.
Those are wings in a hall of fame, not divisions.
It's almost not even worth getting upset about, because the division names aren't going to be used by actual people.
“That's quite a race going on in the Leaders, ain't it?”
That conversation will never happen. If there are no alternative names brought forth, people will simply refer to them as “Ohio State's division” and “Michigan's division” because nobody's going to take the time to learn who is in which plastic division.
It's too bad the horror doesn't end with just the divisional names, however. There's also the naming of 18 new postseason conference awards. Having position-specific awards is perfectly acceptable, but the Big Ten couldn't decide who to name them after, so they went with an old great and a young great, or at least relative greats.
This isn't the MLB All-Star game—not everybody needs to get a nod here. Does Courtney Brown really deserve to have an award named after him? He is one-half of the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year Award, the other half being Bubba Smith. On what planet is Bubba Smith unable to uphold an award on his own? Has the Big Ten ever even seen a SINGLE Police Academy Movie?
Do you know who Ted Kwalick is? He played for Penn State and apparently he is the greatest old-tyme tight end in Big Ten history—even though he never actually played in the Big Ten. He's one-half of the Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year Award. If this award was simply named “The Dallas Clark Tight End of the Year Award”, are people really going to get up in arms about how Ted Kwalick got the shaft?
No offense to Pat Fitzgerald, but you are not the best linebacker in the Big Ten over the last 40 years or so. The Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year Award would be just fine with Dick Butkus' name on it, and this is actually a proven fact.
About the only thing the conference brains got right in all of this was the fact that Penn State wasn't represented in the linebacker award.
One of the great things about the Big Ten is how it never felt the need to kowtow to anybody, and yet here were are now with awards being named after two generations of players when one would have been plenty.
Does former Spartan punter Brandon Fields REALLY deserve an award named after him? He played in 2006 for crying out loud. Shouldn't you have to be out of the game for a while before you get a trophy named after you?
The biggest slap in the face with these trophies is Joe Paterno getting his name on the conference championship trophy, which will go to the winner of the conference championship game. Meaning, the trophy will go to the OUTRIGHT Big Ten Champion. Do you know how many times Joe Paterno has won an OUTRIGHT Big Ten championship? Once. In 1994. What were you doing in 1994? That's how long ago Paterno won what he is now lending his name to.
Here is a list of coaches who have also won the Big Ten outright since Penn State joined the Big Ten and are therefore just as deserving—and in some cases MUCH more so—of having this award named after them: Gary Barnett; Barry Alvarez; Ron Turner; Lloyd Carr (twice); Jim Tressel (thrice).
You can put a sandwich board on me with “Leaders” on one side and “Legends” on the other, and I will march proudly up and down High Street if we could just get Joe Paterno's name off of this award. It doesn't fit. It's like renaming the Oscars the “Nic Cages”. Yeah, he was good a long time ago, but lately he just ain't cuttin' it.
Overall, it was not a good day to be a fan of the Big Ten. Every time a team struggles from here on out, outsiders will mumble “Legends, eh?” Or, “Leaders of what? Sucking!” and then high-fives will commence.
Nobody was done any favors today.
You can sit back and say, “Well, maybe all of this will grow on me”, but just because something grows on you doesn't mean it's something you want. Skin cancer grows on you too, you know.
But who am I to question what hundreds of thousands of dollars bought?
I'm just one person, and I'm not a black belt in anything.
Still, I have to wonder, did anybody speak out against any of this? How do you get a job as a yes man these days? What does the resume of a yes man look like? Is it just a blank sheet of paper with “mold me, I'm yours” written on the back?
Legends and Leaders?
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