Big Ten Chooses Logo, Divison Names

The Big Ten announced new division names and debuted a new logo Monday afternoon, but the choices haven't been met with open arms so far. Commissioner Jim Delany explained the rationale between the new choices in a teleconference.

The Big Ten's long awaited new logo and division names were released Monday, but the discussion about the names and choices will likely continue for a while.

The new logo features both a horizontal and vertical version of the name "Big Ten," with the "I" and "G" resembling the number "10" in a nod to the conference moniker the new 12-team league will not shed.

But perhaps the more controversial decision was naming the league's divisions "Legends" and "Leaders." After eschewing geographical names – mostly because the league did not split along such boundaries – the Big Ten also chose to put the names of the conference's iconic figures on a spate of new postseason awards honoring excellent football play, leaving generic titles for the division names.

The names were hit with instant criticism in the social media world among league fans, and Delany was asked about the feedback on a teleconference after the announcement.

"I think that it's sort of in the eye of the beholder," he said. "Maybe if people don't embrace it in the first hour that it's out there, maybe in the 24 to 36 hours they'll get a chance to feel it."

Delany also seemed surprised by a few observations made by media members on the call. When asked whether it was a bad sign that both division names began with the letter "L" rather than "W," the longtime commissioner said, "I really can't say that I've thought about it that way."

Also, some conspiracy theorists immediately noticed that the "I" and "G" could be changed easily to make the number "16" should the league expand further.

"Now that you mention it, I guess it's possible," Delany said, "but we were thinking 10, not 6."

Those were among the immediate criticisms of the announcement, but the names will stick regardless. Ohio State will begin the 2011 season in the "Leaders" division, placed in a grouping that includes Illinois, Indiana, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern will comprise the "Legends" side.

"We didn't feel like we could do geography," said Delany, noting that the league didn't split that way to begin with and that there were no geographic names that fit the results. "Then, I think, to get more specific on the divisional names like associating them with a coach or a player, we have a treasure trove of legends and mythical figures and leaders. Anytime you looked at it, it just seemed to be too exclusive.

"At that juncture, you're looking at a variety of ideas and concepts," he added. "We looked at what (other sports) had done … and then we really looked at ourselves and as we looked at ourselves we really believed that the core of who we are, our traditions and our heritage, are really people. In many case they're legendary people. We wanted to recognize those people in a generic way."

The Big Ten did, at least, seem to hit the nail on the head as far as competitive balance when splitting the divisions in August. Ohio State's Leaders division included two of the league's three co-champions as well as two other bowl teams. The Legends division included co-champion MSU as well as four other bowl teams if one includes Nebraska.

As for the logo, it was developed by Michael Bierut and Michael Gericke of the design firm Pentagram, one of seven designers the Big Ten considered. Pentagram submitted a handful of mockups to the Big Ten before it chose the end result, which features a bold font and the color blue.

"Its contemporary collegiate lettering includes an embedded numeral ‘10' in the word ‘BIG,' which allows fans to see ‘BIG' and ‘10' in a single word," Gericke said in a press release. "Memorable and distinctive, the new logo evolved from the previous logo's use of negative space and is built on the conference's iconic name, without reference to the number of member institutions."

Delany noted that design firms advocated against embedding the numeral "12" in the new logo, as the old logo featured a sublimated "11" as part of the letters "G" and "T".

In addition, 18 new awards were created and named after league football legends, two of which will be awarded in conjunction with the new league championship game. The Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy, named after the University of Chicago's Amos Alonzo Stagg and Penn State's Joe Paterno, will go to the team that wins the annual event.

The title game MVP will win the Grange-Griffin Championship Game MVP trophy, which is named after Illinois legend Red Grange and OSU's two-time Heisman Trophy winner, Archie Griffin.

Four other Buckeyes shared awards. Woody Hayes' name joins that of Michigan's Bo Schembechler on the new coach of the year award to be voted on by the league's coaches. In player awards, Eddie George's name joins that of Northwestern's Bronko Nagurski on the league's offensive player of the year honor.

Jack Tatum and Purdue's Rod Woodson share the top DB trophy, while Orlando Pace's name is on the top OL award along with that of Nebraska's Dave Rimington.

Ohio State's five trophy honors are the most in the league, with Michigan and Wisconsin next with four.

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