The Big Ten's division splits are a great addition to the conference...except for the names, best described as simply "Losers". (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
One of the biggest impacts of Nebraska's move to the Big Ten Conference was the divisional split to support a Big Ten Championship Football Game. The conference championship game is a big revenue generator for the conference, and also makes the Big Ten a meaningful part of the final weekend of the college football regular season. To split the teams, the Big Ten went back to history and tried to split the teams to even things out to try and have some parity. To that extent, the Big Ten was successful. People don't have a big issue with how the conference was divided.
People have an issue with the names of the two divisions. Most conferences have used a geographical reference. The SEC goes East/West. The Pac-12 goes North/South, as did the Big XII, back in the day when they actually had 12 stable members. But Jim Delaney and the Big Ten thought better. They hired an agency to help with the branding and rolled out Legends and Leaders.
It sounded good in the board rooms, but fell flat in the real world. Nobody has a reference to what makes a team a "Legend" or a "Leader". Most schools want to be both. To this day, people still ridicule it...and most don't even understand it. To this day, I still have to look it up to remember that Nebraska is in the Legends division. Enough is enough. Nobody likes it; nobody understands it. So from this day forward, CornNation no longer recognizes the "Legends Division" or "Leaders Division".We've unofficially done it ever since it came out. We've used "Us & Them", "Winners & Losers", "Dungeons & Dragons", but other than a few laughs, none of those really work. What does work is geography. It's not perfect, but it's not perfect in the other conferences either. Missouri is in the SEC East, for crying out loud!
In recent weeks, we've adopted the East/West designation unofficially. The Big Ten is the most diverse on the east/west dimension, stretching from Pennsylvania to Nebraska. The "Legends" teams generally are west of the "Leaders" teams, so it makes some sense. It's not completely accurate, Wisconsin is apparently a "Leader"...but they aren't really an eastern team. Same thing with Michigan and Michigan State; they're east of Illinois.
But it's close enough. And nobody has complained. In fact, we've received compliments. People understand it; they get the concept even if it's not 100% accurate. Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota are west of Penn State and Ohio State. It works.
Some have suggested a North/South split instead. I tended not to go that direction because I've never thought of the Big Ten in that fashion; it's fairly narrow on a north/south basis. But it does actually work better if you draw a line from the Michigan border with Indiana and Ohio, then arc it south of Chicago towards the Iowa border with Missouri. Only Wisconsin is the exception here, but you do have to think about it a little more.
No matter which way you prefer, either is better than "Legends/Leaders". The ACC has the same problem; nobody remembers who's in the Atlantic or Coastal divisions either. So from this way forward, we're not using Legends/Leaders anymore. It's kind of like the 55 mph speed limit; technically it was the law of the land, but nobody abided by it. And eventually, the law changed. Same thing here: as long as we keep using it, Jim Delaney and his minions can claim that people are accepting it.
We're not accepting it. We've stopped using it, and now want to take this to the next level. If you share the same distaste for the "L & L" labels, then stop using it as well. The only question is what to use as the alternative. Our first thought is to use East and West, but we can easily be convinced to go North and South. Or something else, as long as it makes sense.
So what should the Big Ten's divisions be named? (Please, no Bo & Woody references either; while they are nice memorials, they have the same problem that "L & L" have.) The main thing is to have a general consensus that we move forward with.
What should the Big Ten's divisions be called?
East / West (470 votes)
North / South (48 votes)
I still like Legends / Leaders...that's what the people in charge want. (82 votes)
Something Else (141 votes)
741 total votes