Dear Diary Re-Names Divisions

Submitted by Seth on May 15th, 2011 at 8:22 PM


Dear Diary,

Before we start, do me this favor: Make a fist, then straighten your arm at about a 45 degree angle from your body. All set? Now say this with me:



It came out earlier this week that HC Carol Hutchins, along with Jenny Brundage and Bonnie Tholl, helped save a recruit's father's life in late April. Then on Friday and Saturday softball twice made Little Sister cry uncle (ie 8-0 mercy rule). Friday it took 6 innings in Ann Arbor; on Saturday it was a 5-inning no-hitter in East Lansing to take the Big Ten title outright. They're on to the NCAA Regionals starting Friday with a 51-4 record, 16-0 on the road, and feel like a team headed for the Golden Palace.

Aside: Unfortunately for Mark Dantonio, there's no mercy rule for in-state recruiting. Onward and upward!

I've been kicking this entry around ever since the stupid logo with the stupid names came out. As Six Zero noted at the time, there's a lot more that goes into a branding job than drawing something on Photoshop. However it's not the 20-page booklet explaining proper branding uses and sizes and colors that caused a region-wide facepalm.

Ever since the moment about 20 minutes after the unveiling when we realized this wasn't Delany et al. pulling a DeAnthony Arnett commitment hat dance, the Internet has taken it upon ourselves to propose something better. Brian suggested East-West as a throw-up-hands consensus just so we don't have to use the official ones – and since this is his blog you are instructed to do the same – but personally I hate the cardinal direction convention almost as much. Herein are a handful of those collected, plus a few of my own:

Leaders / Legends:


Reason to Like: None if you have a soul.

Reason to Hate: That such an idea ever got past an ESPN message board.

Awkwardness ensues when: National reaction to unveiling of names was "Ha ha; no really…"

What's the catch: Keyword is "surprising."

"I think we have enough experience with names, and expansion and development of divisions, to know that you never, rarely, get 90 percent approval rating," Delany said during the interview. "But to get a 90 percent non-approval rating was, you know, really surprising."

Now remember the people who were surprised by this reaction later said they're not going to make any changes this year in the hopes that the divisional names grow on us. Where have I heard this reasoning before? Oh yeah, that's exactly how I ended up playing clarinet for 5 years instead of 5 minutes.

West / East:


Reason to Like: It's simple and neutral, I guess. "Champions of the West" in the song means something again. Deep thought: While we're fixing fight songs, wouldn't MSU's be more accurate if "vim" meant "D.U.I.?"

Reason to Hate: Trite, boring, and inaccurate.

Awkwardness ensues when: I am Funnybot. Where can you get from Michigan to Wisconsin by going East? In the Big Ten! Awkwaaaaard.

What's the catch: Thankfully this is off the table.

Griffith / Palmer:

JohnLSullivan-22 palmer
Did you know: That guy's not Griffith

Reason to Like: History of the Big Ten 101: Griffith was the first commissioner, Palmer House was the venue in Chicago where the conference was founded.

Reason to Hate: History of the Big Ten 101 is a prerequisite

Awkwardness ensues when: Could have honored James H. Smart (the "brains" behind the formation of the original Western Conference) but whoever's not in the "Smart" division would raise hell.

What's the catch: The Gary Bettman-itude of the shirts who decide this means there's close to zero chance of division names that your typical Ohio State fan won't recognize. Meijer & Wal-Mart Divisions are more likely.

Great Lakes / Heartland (or Great Plains):


Reason to Like: Neutral and highlights regional nicks.

Reason to Hate: Completely interchangeable. Favored by Lynn Henning.

Awkwardness ensues when: Generations of young Big~Ten fans grow up sucking just as much at Geography as counting.

What's the catch: Either Nebraska and Iowa are not "Heartland," or Michigan and Michigan State are not "Great Lakes."

Black / Blue:


Reason to Like: Because the region is mostly in the footprint of the NFL's black & blue division. Or because we tend to have entire positional depth charts wiped out by injury by the time the conference season starts.

Reason to Hate: Think how tired this will get after the umpteenth headline featuring the conference getting bruised.

Awkwardness ensues when: In the conf. championship game, (Black Division Champ) Michigan fans take up the "Let's Go Blue" chant.

What's the catch: This isn't a trait the conference really wants to focus on.


Lakes / River:

Early French explorers brought back tales of the wonders of Michigan, plus some stuff.

Reason to Like: Best shot at a geographic split. Mich&MSU are surrounded by the Great Lakes, Minn, Neb, & Iowa have 1,000s of Lakes, and Northwestern's on the Lake; the other division's schools are in states (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania) either along the Ohio or Mississippi Rivers. Okay, it's a stretch.

Reason to Hate: Like we're the only place in the world that has lakes and rivers.

Awkwardness ensues when: The rule of silly recruit names means we'll eventually have a kid named Lakes representing a Rivers school playing a kid named Rivers representing the Lakes Division.

What's the catch: Like "Lake Michigan" somebody will get offended when something's named after the Ohio river.

Bo / Woody:*

Unless you went to one of these schools, this apparently wasn't important.

Reason to Like: Is perfect.

Reason to Hate: If you're Michigan or Ohio State: none. If you are not Michigan or Ohio State: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!

Awkwardness ensues when: Michigan State wins the Bo Division, burns the trophy, and replaces it with another piece of schlock from Forwards in West Branch.

What's the catch: The newer members won't care as much – Penn State and Nebraska are two proud programs with history and tradition that rival M/OSU - but the years and years of being one of the "Little Eight" are not fond memories for the rest.

Where's Wisconsin? / Why Do We Have Wisconsin?:


Reason to Like: ha ha, yer funny.

Reason to Hate: Hey, these division names recognize a school that isn't mine! WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!! (just kidding, guys. Could you imagine if we were like that?)

Awkwardness ensues when: Wisconsin thinks we're playing peek-a-boo and keeps yelling "I'm right heeeeeeere!"

What's the catch: Levity is underappreciated in formal settings.

Like one more than the other? Take the poll.


Asterisk_black Hello, elephant in the room. If I may address you for a moment.

The minute the Big Ten announced it would have divisions, fans of 9 other schools* immediately screamed "Don't call them Bo and Woody!" This is because the most obvious binary convention in the conference are two iconic coaches who for a tenth of the conference's history were the Big Ten. When people talk about the Big Ten it's not how Randy Walker and Joe Tiller revolutionized passing from the Spread, but how Hayes, Schembechler and their acolytes did things that are manly. The two schools account for over 45% of the conference's football championships, and that number's over 50% when you stop counting the Purdue and Iowa's with 2 losses in the early 1900s who claimed one anyway in those Wild Western Conference days.

Without intervention, this would be the organic standard. Obviously Michigan and Ohio State fans (of which we are many) are leading this charge, but Nebraska fans and non-Big Ten followers seem to also be coming around to a split of "The one with Michigan & its rivals" and "The one with Ohio State & its rivals" since that's the most natural way to remember it. As for placating the other schools, I recommend we rename all the trophies:

  • Champion: Paterno Trophy
  • MVP: Red (Grange) Award (can certainly have some fun pouring red paint on the MVP each year, right?)
  • Coach of the Year: Osborne Award
  • Kinnick Award: To the Big Ten player who shows the greatest combination of outstanding athletic performance, sportsmanship, academic achievement, and service to his community, as embodied by Nile Kinnick
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg Award: To the player or coach who makes the greatest contribution to Big Ten football (through outstanding innovation, service, or play).
  • Offensive POY: Randle El Trophy
  • Defensive POY: The Bucking Bronco (Unfortunately Nagurski's taken by the NFL for the same thing)
  • Special Teams POY: Biggie Munn Award (so we can tell both Minnesota & Michigan State they got two)
  • Best Passer: Griese Trophy (highlights them as Cradle of QBs)
  • Best Back (QB/RB/FB/WR/TE): Paddy Driscoll Trophy
  • Best Lineman (Offense or Defense): Big Joe's Slab of Bacon (Since they play for an Axe now, we could repatriate the old Slab for the best lineman. Big Joe is Joe Thomas)
  • Best Defensive Back or Linebacker: Webster Trophy (I totally had to Wikipedia this one -- you try to find a Spartan football player other than Kirk Gibson or Plaxico whom anyone outside of Michigan can name!)
  • Bo Div Champ: Schembechler Trophy
  • Woody Div Champ: Hayes Trophy

* Nebraska was still too giddily checking out the house like Little Orphan Annie to care. Plus their online community is, for the internet, pretty level.





Above, that's Michigan's Solar Car Team's 2010 build, which won the U.S. solar car race thing. Below: that's Michigan State's entry in the same race. These are from Bronco648's (short) must-read diary UMsolar and the FSGP, which includes pics of M's even sleeker 2011 car apparently en route to Australia for the international competition. Before you rip on Sparty just remember which one you'd rather find in your basement years later when you're desperate for a beer pong table.

NOLA Blue did a comparison of Michigan's 2011 opponents and returning starters. The concept's there but then he kind of inexplicably ignores backfields and how good the players are, just listing number of returners at OL, TE, DL and LB as his basis for predicting games. This is the classic Charlie Weis-era Notre Dame mistake: Returning Sam Young again doesn't make you better.

As for the Diary of the Week, it's Part I of one man's journey from Pee Wee Hockey in Ontario to (hopefully) Yost Ice Arena.

"This is the biggest game of your career so far, their captain, like you, is also one of the best players in Ontario. If we win, people will say you're better than him. We always support you, but if we lose, people are going to blame you and say that he's better than you. Do you want that? Get to sleep early tonight, make sure you eat lots of carbs, protein tomorrow, and drink water all day. When I talk to your teacher, I want to hear from her  that you were asking to go to the bathroom all day."

I was 8 years old.

Part I tracks JimLahey's journey from top Ontario prospect to waiting for a scholarship to Michigan or heading to the OHL. FTR he's not Caporusso so stop guessing he's Caporusso. Caporusso Mention Rule still applies:



May 16th, 2011 at 7:47 AM ^

Being exciting but I don't remember ever thinking that he could singlehandedly win a game.
<br>I think there should be a Replogl Family Trophy that honors the most siblings on a big ten roster. This would honor iU tradition.
<br>Bill lynch trophy for farthest gum throw.


May 16th, 2011 at 8:18 AM ^

Maybe not singlehandedly win a game, but Randle-El was one of the scariest players to watch (when you were rooting for the other team).  I saw him against Michigan and remember thinking he was like Anthony Carter, except he got the ball on every snap.

Watching Denard, I have often thought of the same comparison and wonder whether other teams feel the same way about him.  In my mind, Randle-El was scarier (probably as a senior) against a good defense (as Michigan's must have been at the time) than Denard has been against the better teams.  However, with better support and more experience/confidence, I am hoping Denard rises to that level.  I also hope that whatever Borges does with the offensive scheme it does not limit DR's ability to terrify.


May 16th, 2011 at 8:47 AM ^


Randel El's problem was he didn't have the supporting cast that Denard gets. They rotated off our schedule for his later years, but when he was Denard's age he almost beat our '99 team. Despite a terrible offensive line, Randel El finished his sophomore season 18th in passer efficiency, one spot behind Senior Tom Brady!

That '99 team is instructive for us:

  1999 Indiana 2010 Michigan
Record 4-7 7-6
BT Record 3-5 3-5
Rush Offense 19th 13th
Pass Offense 57th 36th
Scoring Off. 57th 25th
Rush Defense 101st 95th
Pass Defense 91st 112th
T.O. Margin 54th 109th



May 15th, 2011 at 8:49 PM ^

You'd still giving in to Delaneyism by naming the championship trophy after Paterno. Paterno has been a Big 10 coach for 17 years. Won it thrice, only once outright. Carr (5), Tressel (6) and Alvarez (3) won as many or more. Also, since Penn State joined the Big Ten, they have won the conference as many times during that period as ... Northwestern. 


May 15th, 2011 at 10:06 PM ^

Pattern should be the Coach of the Year award. Because of his all time greatness as coach, and frankly he'll have coaches in the Big 10 longer than anyone else when he dies at the age of 118.
<br>Then you'd have to find a place for Nebraska, but I'm not sure why we need to honor guys who have never been involved in a Big Ten game. What are we going to do, create a new award for each school if we expand again? I guess we could name the all academic team after Nebraska...maybe it would convince them to get their shit together as a school out of embarrassment.


May 15th, 2011 at 9:18 PM ^

As a graduate of a little high school in N.E. Michigan (before, you know, collecting degrees at our favorite university), I am both amazed and thrilled to see a passing reference to Forward's, even though you mention the one in West Branch, not the one at the M-33 exit in Alger.  My family moved up there (to the not very impressive town of Atlanta) from Detroit in the early 70s and Forward's was litterally the last stop off the freeway before entering the north woods. 

Forward's is nothing special, I guess, but there are a lot of memories for me -- including explaining to my future wife (who grew up in liberal Ann Arbor) that the boxes on the shelf behind the counter at Forward's contained "ammo."  I can also imagine the Paul Bunyan trophy being sold there (although I could imagine it at a lot of other northern Michigan stores also).

So, Misopogon, what is your connection?

P.S. I am a strong proponent of Bo/Woody.  "Why WI?Where's WI?" cracks me up.


May 15th, 2011 at 9:32 PM ^

I figured everyone who grew up in Michigan has been to one of those Forwards one time or another. It's like the quintessential Michigan off-ramp restaurant, complete with those shelves of "woodsy" art schlock that end up in peoples' cottages. West Branch or Grayling is my family's official "Last Pee" on the way up to Charlevoix.

It is my stated goal to start an Internet myth that the Paul Bunyan statue was bought at Forwards by a past Michigan governor, and became a rivalry trophy when his wife declared that thing ain't going in her house.


May 15th, 2011 at 9:59 PM ^

Okay, I'm in.  As a matter of fact, now that you mention this theory, I realize that it is the truth.  I believe it was Soapy Williams, who stopped by Forward's in 1958 on his way to open the Mackinac Bridge.  This is all so likely that it has to be true. 

btw, Grayling is also an excellent last stop.  Congratulations on having a place in Charlevoix -- a beautiful town and Lake.


May 16th, 2011 at 12:08 AM ^

Apparently playing the three notes to "Misty Mountain Hop" doesn't give you the full brain-enhancing effect of the clarinet.

Neither does purposely breaking your last reed with your teeth so you wouldn't have to play. That or finally getting my parents to relent and switching to guitar ruined whatever effect it had.


May 16th, 2011 at 5:19 AM ^

I don't like Leaders and Legends but I honestly haven't seen anyone come up with something better (something that seemed so easy to do) that made sense. I think in a lot of ways people are making too big of a deal out of it just call them something stupid like the X and O Divisions and be done with it.


May 16th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

What about Rust Belt and Fly Over?  A little regional self-deprecation wouldn't do any harm and those names would definitely stick in people's minds.


May 16th, 2011 at 12:49 PM ^

I'm not as dumbfounded as I was when this was news, but it still does not sit right with me. I even like the idea of "x" and "o" better as one of the boys upstairs suggested. Something generic is just fine. Sucks that the Big Ten/Eleven/Twelve is being laughed at for coming up with names that 90% disagree with. Delaney did this like a Dilbert cartoon, behind closed doors with a consulting firm and plenty of 'staff meetings.' Rivers/Lakes, X/O, Power/Endurance, whatever, Leaders and Legends are not suitable to most people.


May 16th, 2011 at 1:55 PM ^

Before you rip on Sparty just remember which one you'd rather find in your basement years later when you're desperate for a beer pong table.

Misopogon stole my line!


May 16th, 2011 at 3:22 PM ^

Great write-up Misopogon. Hopefully the "We Hate The B10 Divison Names" movement keeps its momentum through the summer and the 2012 season, so Delany is forced to come up with something even only slightly less ludicrous/pretentious/all-out terrible.

Admittedly, the 'B10/G" logo has grown on me, and no longer inspires anger every time I see it, which is what I fear will happen if we don't continue to remind ourselves how terrible the divison names are. Thankfully, I noticed that this diary is linked to in Rittenberg's Big Ten Lunch Links on ESPN--separately from the other Michigan material I might add--so hopefully this helps continue the momentum*.

*Irony of ESPN Blog linking to Mgoblog Diary hating on ESPN message board aside

[ALSO: Love that UM Solar Car, AND the Softball team's continued dominance (particularly against Sparty--Congrats!) get featured by piggy-backing on the Division Names issue.]


May 16th, 2011 at 5:41 PM ^

I found this through the above mentioned ESPN Big Ten Lunch Links.  Thought it was very funny but also well done.  Here's another I would add in the same format.


Athletics / Academics
Reason to like:  It focuses on the two main reasons for the Big Ten Conference.  Plus we're slapping the SEC in the face because we care about both.  
Reason to hate: Boring, simplistic, not a complete representation of the impact money has had on expansion.
Awkwardness ensues when: The Big Ten decides to rotate the division names every year to really emphasize the importance of both pursuits over all of the schools.  No one remembers which division they are called this year, so they decide to stop changing names every year.  Unfortunately Northwestern ends up in the Athletics division and Ohio St. in the Academics division.
What's the catch: The 2 divisions were established based on competitive balance.  So having either Illinois/Indiana/Purdue or Michigan St./Minnesota/Northwestern in the Athletics division is a bit misguided.


May 18th, 2011 at 12:28 PM ^

First of all, I like what you're doing here.  You've thought through some good options, gave good analysis.  Well done.  It sparked my thinking on the topic and had a couple ideas to throw on the pile:


COLOR theme, based on the team's primary color; a bit like the blacks and blues split

Red Division: Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, OSU, Michigan State  (the B1G powers that be could claim actual color-blindness on that last one)

Black-and-Blue Division: Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue, Michigan, Penn State


ANIMAL KINGDOM theme, based on the mascots

Man Division: Cornhuskers, Fighting Illini, Boilermakers, Hoosiers, Spartans, Buckeyes  (I told my 2-year-old son about this and said it didn't quite work because the Buckeyes are a nut, to which he said, "No nut" ... amen, son, amen)

Beast Division: Hawkeyes, Gophers, Badgers, Wildcats, Wolverines, Nitany Lions

You could also call the divisions "Warriors" and "Beasts", but that's about as bad as "Leaders" and "Legends".


Speaking of which, how did the B1G powers-that-be decide on a terrible logo AND come up with division names that are both incredibly pompous and hokey at the same time?  I mean, I didn't know that latter was even possible.  But, congratulations, they did it.