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‘L’ is for Legends, Leaders, logo and LAME

The new Big Ten logo. The lettering includes an embedded numeral “10” word “BIG” which enables you see “BIG” “10”

The new Big Ten logo. The lettering includes an embedded numeral “10” in the word “BIG,” which enables you to see “BIG” and “10” in a single word. The conference will begin using the new log in the 2011-12 season.

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Any curious person performing a Google search for information regarding the unveiling of the Big Ten’s new logo and divisional names yesterday afternoon probably had a hard time ignoring the first returned result.

“New Big Ten Logo Looks Like it Took 25 Seconds to Make,” it read.

Sadly, this is not a hyperbolic or please-read-me headline. It’s the ugly, awkward, blue-and-white truth.

Equally sad is the fact that the conference has selected divisional names that take even less than 25 seconds to improve upon.

Seriously, “Legends” and “Leaders”?

They both start with ‘L.’ As in lame. As in the opposite of a ‘W.’

‘L’ as in “loss.”

Which is what the day was.

But still sadder is that this underwhelming effort was the culmination of untold hours of work, planning and money spent.

Serious men in collared shirts emerged from their think tanks and decision-making rooms and announced with straight faces that this, THIS is the best they could do.

Guess what?

The Big Ten deserves better.

It’s the conference of Red Grange and Alonzo Stagg. The conference of Fielding Yost and Nile Kinnick. The conference of Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes.

Why not, and this is crazy here, name the divisions after two of these legends and leaders of men?

Were these suggestions the first ideas presented? Was the decision so rooted in alliteration that they couldn’t be knocked from their perch atop the boardroom whiteboard?

There’s an episode of “The Simpsons” in which a television producer suggests the name of a cartoon dog.

“The rest of you writers start thinking up a name for this funky dog,” he says. “I don’t know, something along the lines of, say, Poochie ... only more proactive.”

As soon as he leaves the room, one writer asks his colleagues in the room if “Poochie” is OK with everybody, to subdued and universal agreement.

Perhaps this is what happened.

Perhaps this design, these names were placeholders --- things to be replaced when the better ideas came along. And for whatever inexplicable reason, they never came.

Granted, all of this off-the-field stuff really doesn’t matter a great deal. It’s not going to change the most indelible parts of the conference. Michigan is still going to wear the winged helmets. They’ll still dot the “I” in Columbus.

Where it does matter is in the pride department.

The Big Ten fights a constant battle for a respect -- at least in its own mind. It wants to be seen on par with the quality of play in the SEC, despite recent head-to-head bowl evidence belying that notion.

Coming off the embarrassing, Eleventh Hour end-zone situation at Wrigley Field last month, the conference could have used a P.R. victory here. Hell, even something less widely mocked and criticized would have been nice.

People obviously aren’t the most receptive to change. No matter what alterations were made, there would undoubtably be a faction decrying the awfulness.

Additionally, there was no logical geographical separation to fall back on. And that’s fine. Ensuring fair and balanced divisions supersedes antiquated regional distinctions.

But one can’t help but wonder if naming the divisions after anything surrounding the conference’s legacy would have ruffled any feathers. What about something like “Lakes” and “Plains”?  Maybe a little trite and bland, but nowhere near as pretentious as the names decided upon.

It was not a crowning moment for the conference. It was not legendary. It didn’t exhibit cutting-edge leadership.

It wasn’t three yards and a cloud of dust, because it didn’t gain anything.

And now, when we see that feel-good commercial extolling the far-reaching accomplishments of Big Ten graduates, it will be complemented with that Microsoft Paint-inspired logo.

Neil Armstrong, a Purdue alum, was the first person on the moon. Gerald Ford, a member of the Michigan football team, was this country’s 38th president, it will say.

Then will come the chintzy design.

Not exactly ending on a strong note.

Again, the argument that these changes won’t be significant could be made.

But let’s see if it holds water when phrases such as “Leaders division leader Wisconsin” and “Legends division leaders Iowa leads Leaders division leader Wisconsin in the standings” get thrown about.

That’s right. Look forward to sentences brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

If this is the best the Big Ten can do, that’s sad. Because it should have done better.



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