OT: Nice demolition of the recent B10 logo/naming debacle by John Bacon

Submitted by wolverine1987 on December 17th, 2010 at 9:05 AM

John Bacon, who you may know wrote "Bo's Lasting Lessons," has a nice takedown of the recent B10 decisions on logo, conference names, and trophy's. I didn't get into his midwest rube theme, but the rest was good IMO. I liked this:

"After cleverly naming the divisions for nothing and nobody, they created 18 trophies, and named them after everybody. That's right. If you ever played or coached Big Ten football, or know of someone who did, chances are good you're one of the 36 legends — or leaders? I can't recall — honored on these awards. Two per trophy. This ensures every conference school has several hundred former players on some hardware somewhere."





December 17th, 2010 at 9:18 AM ^

I got the midwest rube theme, I grew up in Michigan and live in Indiana now and thought it was very funny. I think he is right on the mark. Delany should have had a contest in each of the schools for a logo, let the students of the Big Ten make thier own logo, pick the best and be done. Paying that stupid company money to come up with the junk it did is impressively stupid.


December 17th, 2010 at 10:01 AM ^

...for sure: Bacon didn't hold anything back in skewering the Big Ten. 

The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it is that the conference didn't go with Great Lakes and Great Plains. Not sure why it matters that the division names wouldn't be regionally accurate for some of the teams in a given division.  Those names would celebrate the geographic element of the region's cultural identity. 

Bacon's "Rustbelt and Flyover" would work as well, but the ironic self-awareness is likely too much.  I guess it would be too East Quad/RC-ish.


December 17th, 2010 at 10:16 AM ^

But wouldn't that be almost as ambiguous as the current names? Sure UM, Minn and MSU would obviously be in the Lakes division but Iowa and Nebraska?  And what about tOSU and PSU? They are more lake than plain. I guess this just goes back to if they would have made the divisions UM, MSU, Minn, OSU, PSU, and Northwestern for the Lakes and Iowa, Wisc, Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue for the Plains. That seems fine to me but I don't think they are going to go back and mess with the divisional alignment at this point.


December 17th, 2010 at 10:27 AM ^

...because they make reference to the conference's cultural identity (at the conference level, not the member school level) in a more concrete way than leaders and legends.

It seems to me that it's impossible to come up with names that perfectly embody every school so geographic names that are also symbolic work better than geographic names (East/West, North/South) that are simply inaccurate. 


December 17th, 2010 at 11:25 AM ^

Really, there's no good geographic way to do this:

We could mix and match. Michigan's division mostly straddles the corn belt (though that's pretty much true for all of the schools in the Big Ten).

Honestly, the more and more I go over this in my head, the more I come back to just Bo and Woody. After "Legends and Leaders" how upset can other schools really get? Can they deny that these two men were THE iconic division of the conference for an important part of its history?

Most people are going to remember the conference alignments in terms of "Michigan's conference has X, Ohio's conference has Y." Make it easy: the Bo conference has Bo Schembechler's team and its sub-rivals plus Nebraska and the other Bo; and the Woody Division has Ohio State and its rivals. Easy mnenomic: "W"isconsin is in the "W"oody Division.

Who else is on that level? Fielding Yost? He's the guy who left the Big Ten. Paterno obviously, except he (1) spent most of his career coaching an independent, (2) has what, one (?) Big Ten championship since joining, and (3) is still Penn State's coach. I mean, one day the SEC West will be the Saban Division but you can't do that while everyone else in his division is trying to beat the guy they're named for? Stagg? I mean...yeah, but why honor a school that folded its entire program over 50 years ago? Osborne never coached a single Big Ten conference game.

I understand that the Big Ten doesn't want to pay tribute to certain schools, which is nice way of saying the Little Eight are still sensitive about being made irrelevant for a generation by the Big Two. That shouldn't be a stumbling block, but evidenciary: the very reason some fans are resistant to it is because they remember 50 good years of one or the other or their direct successors beating their pants off. Hey, the South wasn't too happy about Lincoln on Mt. Rushmore either.


December 17th, 2010 at 12:05 PM ^

Even though it doesn't fit perfectly.  Don't make a statement with the division names.  The NFL division names don't always make sense either, but we don't care becauses it about the teams in the divisions, not some made-up ridiculous label.


December 17th, 2010 at 9:02 PM ^

Except for Wisconsin, but they're getting used to being jerked around.

Of course the ideal solution is to actually align the Divisions to East-West geography, then it won't be such hard work to try to align geographic names to the Divisions. 


December 17th, 2010 at 10:43 AM ^

Would solve all of this. The divisions would still be even and the rivalries would make more sense.
<br>Then you could very logically do great lakes / plains or north south would work as well.
<br>The B1G decision on Wisconsin is screwing these division lines and consequently names up.


December 17th, 2010 at 11:05 AM ^

I normally like Bacon's contributions, but this one was worthy of the writers at another no-to-be mentioned newspaper. Bacon tries to take a different approach at slamming the Big 10's decision, but essentially just repeats what the football/basketball writers have already been crying about.

The Big Ten wanted to link their expansion back to their history and their perception of being a unique and elite conference. They are the oldest, the best collection of academic schools of all the major athletic conferences (D1 - FBS). So I'm sure when they hired Pentagram (interesting name by the way), they stressed to them what they wanted to see. They wanted to preserve and emphasize brand name (and by the way - was their ever such an obvious link to future expansion as this logo) and have something flexible. So to blame Pentagram is silly, they were creating a logo and marketing based on what the Big Ten wanted to sell.

Bacon can play the treatment of us as rubes by the big international marketing firm, but the reality is this - with costs to run athletic departments going up - you constantly need to expand your market! Therefore, you look at marketing efforts that move beyond just the dedicated, mgoblog reading football fan and move into a realm of the occasional fan, the art student who went to Michigan who normally could care less about sports. Because to grow your market, your branding has to catch someone's attention. While I love the Pac10 logo - it looks great on a jersey, it still is hard to translate into any medium, whether it be on a web site, part of an animated design, on a basketball court, a water bottle, etc. The Big Ten logo wasn't designed to look good on a jersey, but to be quickly placed on any medium used today in the sports and marketing world. 

What Bacon really screws up on is the whole trophy naming. There are 18 trophies and 36 names! Its not saying everyone is elite. Really? Where did Bacon get this. If he did any analysis, while all of the schools are represented (including one school no longer a part of the conference athletically in Chicago), the majority of the trophy name designees are from Michigan and Ohio State. There was no attempt at making it even. So his argument there is just poor, kinda like something you'd see in, well, you know what fish wrap. Besides, winning an award that links past greats is actually pretty cool. 

And finally, enough with the Schembechler and Hayes divisions were never going to happen. Remember, it's a twelve team conference, not just Michigan and Ohio State. 

STW P. Brabbs

December 17th, 2010 at 11:29 AM ^

How are we going to keep up with the Joneses without a logo that can be put on jump drives?  Nothing really sets a conference apart quite like cheap shit with a periwinkle logo that can be given away to people who don't otherwise care about sports very much.  Business 101.

Branding, motherfuckers.  You bring any, any motherfucking medium up to Jimmy D - even if it's a kinda skinny medium that won't accommodate a stubby-ass Pac-10 type logo - and Jimmy D's gonna brand the motherfucking shit out of that medium.

Then - profit.


December 17th, 2010 at 5:08 PM ^

Bacon nailed it.  As for Schembechler and Hayes, they WERE the Big Ten for a long time.  Michigan and OSU have more "tradition" in football than anyone in the conference, and the other teams really don't have any leverage to complain if the divisions were named after these two great men. 

If the other teams want a division named after one of their coaches, maybe they should try having a great one first.  Joe Paterno almost qualifies, but he has never dominated or co-dominated the Big Ten for any period of time.  A lot of his best work was done before PSU joined the BT. 

I detest OSU, but Hayes and Schembechler did more for the Big Ten than anyone in the last fifty years. 


December 17th, 2010 at 11:43 AM ^

Well, if we can't do Bo and Woody, maybe we should name the divisions "Lake Michigan" and "Ohio River." Or even better, just Lakes Division and Rivers Division. That fits every school except Nebraska and Wisconsin, but is generic enough to work anyway.

Is anyone else surprised that Delany didn't float the idea of naming the divisions after corporate sponsors? Seems like the sort of thing he would try. Although the Ford Division and the John Deere Division do have a certain ring...