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Posted on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 12:16 p.m.

Big Ten names two divisions the 'Legends' and 'Leaders'

By Pete Bigelow


The new Big Ten logo.

Big Ten officials knew they could not name its new football divisions after players or coaches, because that would alienate people from schools not represented.

Commissioner Jim Delany said the idea of directional names “went out the window” because the conference’s new two-division format was not sorted by geography.

By the process of elimination then, Big Ten officials chose the rather generic names of “Leaders” and “Legends” for its new divisions, the league announced Monday.

Delany said the names were a nod to the conference’s history of 15 Heisman Trophy winners and 215 members of the College Football Hall of Fame, as well as its future.

Initial reaction to the names was underwhelming - and perhaps that’s putting it kindly.

In the first 600 votes on an informal poll, 68 percent of respondents said the new division names were “terrible,” while 27 percent voted for “shrug.”

Elsewhere, people skewered the names and the conference’s boxy new powder-blue logo on Twitter and Facebook.

Delany conceded it would take time for fans to adjust to the changes.

“Maybe if people don’t embrace it in the first our that it’s out there, they get a chance in the next 24 or 36 hours, or maybe over the mid-term in a couple of years,” he said. “Any time you have something new, whether it’s a mark or trophies, it takes some getting used to.”

Big Ten officials did not use focus groups, survey studies or test markets for the changes. The new logo was developed by the international design firm Pentagram.

Division names and the new logo were some of the last details of the conference’s expansion push to be finalized.

In addition, Delany announced the creation of annual conference trophies, which honor Big Ten players position-by-position and outstanding performers in the new championship game.

But the Leaders and Legends names made the biggest splash - and caused the greatest concern.

Early in the three-month process, fans suggested names that honored some of the legendary players and coaches from the conference, including the “Bo” and “Woody” Divisions, in honor of Michigan’s Bo Schembechler and Ohio State’s Woody Hayes. Others suggested the “Grange Division” and “Griffin” Division, nods to Illinois legend Red Grange and Ohio State’s Archie Griffin.

“Any time you looked at it, it just seemed to be too exclusive,” Delany said. “At that juncture, we started looking at a variety of concepts.”

Delany said conference officials look at the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and other college conferences for ideas.

Asked if the generic names and logo inadvertently diluted the history of the conference they were intended to represent, Delany said, “I think it’s sort of in the eye of the beholder.

“There’s nothing like it out there, because people use names or directional signals. Maybe people were looking for those, but we felt that through the trophy process, we’ll be able to get honor some of the real legends and leaders.”

The Michigan football team will play in the Legends Division, along with Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern and Nebraska, which joined the conference earlier this year.

The Leaders Division is made up of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

Pete Bigelow covers the Michigan football team for He can be reached at (734) 623-2551, via e-mail at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.>



Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 11:24 p.m.

The logo, and the colors of it, are awful. That shade of blue, along with the white, reminds me of UNC and URI. Surely they can do better than that?


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 11:01 a.m.

If RichRod doesn't win at the Gator Bowl they can create a 3d division. The Losers Division.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 12:14 p.m.

Well boys and girls I think every boy and girl should have one good belly laugh every day and we all just got ours okay now, 1, 2, 3, Ho, Ho, Ho Merry Christmas Big Ten fans you have officially given the rest of the country a good laugh for the coming New Year.

Tom Teague

Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 11:13 a.m.

Sports writers who file character- or word-limited stories are probably groaning: Unlike other sports divisions that can be abbreviated or shortened -- ex: ALC for American League Central -- these will have to be spelled out every time because they begin with the same letter.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 9:11 a.m.

I actually like these changes. I think they uphold the HAhahaha can't do it, can't even type it with a straight face. :)


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 8:48 a.m.

The only thing dumber was the halo around U of M stadium. Just go with East and West. It doesn't really matter where the team is located.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 8:41 a.m.

Awful names.

The Ben

Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 7:39 a.m.

I think we should just ignore the "official" names and call the divisions East and West. If everyone does it, maybe it will even catch on in newspapers and the media. Those are the closest-fitting directional names, and directional names are the best. People like geography. People relate to geography. Why try to re-invent the wheel? The ONLY way to screw this up was to avoid the things that have proven to work in EVERY other sport/league/conference. Lets do this. Grassroots campaign. Call them East and West, and never let these ridiculous names be spoken by anyone other than the Big Ten bigwigs.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 7:12 a.m.

I was hoping it would be, as nekm1 has suggested, the Great Plains and Great Lakes divisions. It sounds good, at least better than Legends and Leaders, and emphasizes the Big Ten's geography. I also wonder how much the Big Ten paid the design studio to create this logo, something that I probably could have created on Adobe Illustrator in about five minutes. And is that powder blue or Honolulu blue?


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 9:39 p.m.

The version of the new logo on Pentagram's site, is a little better, but not much. I really liked the previous logo and was hoping for something equally innovative. The division names are terrible. Where's a focus group when you really need one?


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 7:36 p.m.

I'd even nominate Gary Bettman (worst NHL commish ever) to take over Delaney asap.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 7:30 p.m.

Jim Delany has been watching too much golf on TV. My past, present and future choices for the division names are: Bo and Woody or Big Brothers: UM, Neb, OSU, Wisc, Penn St and Iowa. Little Brothers: Illini, Indiana, Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota and msu sparties. Well, I'd even choose Theo212 over Leaders and Legends anytime.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 7:16 p.m.

This is a poor reflection on Michigan, not just the Big 10. Now, the opposition will have the ammunition to say, "Michigan, legends in their own mind". Worse, if we apply the division groupings retroactively to the 2010 season, Michigan came in 5th out of 6th in the Legends division. And the Legends division came in second to the Leaders division. (based on BCS final regular season rankings)

The Fan

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 6:55 p.m.

I think they should name the conference "The Conference". The divisions could be called X's and O's. Anything is better than "Legends and Leaders".


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 6:20 p.m.

I don't see any way the Big Ten doesn't change all of this before the '11 season. The logo, the legends and leaders, it's all just terrible. Although I can't wait for the UMich vs Nebraska rivalry to start. P.S. I don't think "Leaders" means the teams that are good "now", pretty sure Illinois, Indiana, Penn State, and Purdue aren't winning any BCS bowls this season.

Dog Guy

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 5:43 p.m.

So U of M is a legend--folklore from the misty past. Does it get to be a leader if it wins some games?

Sean T.

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 5:29 p.m.

I could live with the "Legends" and "Leaders" but we should have gotten more out of the Conference Title.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 5:26 p.m.

I don't think it's an accident that Michigan is in the "Legends" division. Being in the "Leaders" would have hit too close to home for the rest of the big ten. In fact, I'm suprised they used a "leaders" division at all, given our most famous saying. Delany knows who's boss, and gave us an under cover nod. Seriously, the names are stupid, and the logo is over simplified.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 5:13 p.m.

LAME?? There were intelligent people working on this for a long, long, long time spending lots and lots of money. They at least deserve a yawn.... or probably a "yeah whatever." The "new" awards are interesting. They are an attempt to include all of the teams "LEGENDS" with todays players (new 'LEADERS'). Ho Hum... BTW What else happened to day? :+}


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 5:03 p.m.

So a conference called the Big Ten that actually has twelve teams doesn't want to use directional names to their divisions? Give me a break. I find it amusing that the Big Ten network thought this was so important that they texted me to "tune in" for the press conference. Sorry Jim, but the naming of your division has no meaning to me. Sop the Big 12 has 8 teams, the Big Ten has 12. Hopefully the future leaders with brains will see the stupidity of this.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 4:33 p.m.

Macabre...sooooooooo painfully true!!! LOL


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 4:10 p.m.

What amateur came up with that logo? Oh that is embarrassing. The MAC has a better logo. But the names are even worse. Legends and Leaders? What the heck? Dictionary definition: Leader = a person or thing that leads. (thus the teams and schools in that group lead the other teams and schools) definition of legend = 1.a non historical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical. 2.the body of stories of this kind, esp. as they relate to a particular people, group, or clan: the winning of the West in American legend. 3.a collection of stories about an admirable person. 4.a person who is the center of such stories: She became a legend in her own lifetime. This has nothing to do with the group of schools in the "Legends" category. They should have run a contest for names and logo among 3rd graders...they could have done much better.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 4 p.m.

LOL Macabre!!

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 3:52 p.m.

We were promised we'd love this in 24 or 36 hours. Three hours in, and I'm still thinking the names are better suited to a 60-and-over bowling league.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 3:48 p.m.

What awful choice of titles for the two division conference.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 3:43 p.m.

Really? What the heck was wrong with "Six of One" and "Half-Dozen of the Other"? I recommend we embark on a grass-roots east/west or north/south campaign.. Keeping track of which is Leaders or Legends will be more difficult than remembering what we're supposed to call 1-AA these days.

DaLast word

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

The logo must have been designed in 5 minutes, maybe they had a highschool design contest. How about The "National" and American" divs or The"BIG" and the "TEN" division. Black/Blue...."Earth"/ "Wind"... Warriors/Gladiators....."mens"/ "boys"


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 3:27 p.m.

Delaney has just kicked RR off of the top rung of the "Who Made the Big 10 The Laughing Stock of College Football for 2010" award with these names and logo!! Amazing!


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

Is that the best Madison Ave could come up with? Does "legends" stand for old news? And "Leaders" stand for now?


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

How about using the Great Lakes and Great Plains Divisions? The other is el lamo.....


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 3:18 p.m.

Okay so MMMINN and WOPPII it is. Don't have to call it what they say to call it. I'll probably call it Michigan and Not Michigan division.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 2:52 p.m.

Legends and Leaders? Ehhh, whatever. Better question is, why in the heck is it still called the Big Ten?! Awful logo by the way.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 2:14 p.m.

It would have been hard to screw this one up... but they did.

Angry Sasquatch

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 2:11 p.m.

Legends, Leaders & logo... epic fail!


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 2:07 p.m.

Actually, I can live with the division names. They're admittedly lame, but you are going to be stuck with something like that once there are no clear geographical north/south or east/west splits. Even some "forced" geographic split names like Atlantic/Coastal for the ACC seem screwy. On the other hand, the logo is spectacularly underwhelming. This is the result of three months work? Wow. I'm having a hard time controlling my apathy.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 2:03 p.m.

No, not a good choice on the names of the divisions. Logo is OK, we all will get used to it, like the previous one. I do like the names for the awards. That was well done


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 2:02 p.m.

I think they ougtha go back to the drawing board and just call them Division A and Division B.

Brian Bundesen

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:55 p.m.

A camel is a horse designed by a committee.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:50 p.m.

Naming-by-committee at its most ridiculous. The most telling excerpt from the AP story: "Delany said the conference had considered naming the divisions after coaches, players, commissioners and faculty but it was too difficult to single out just two." Because that wouldn't be worse than this?


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:39 p.m.

Bad choices for names and logo. The blue looks a little too much like Honolulu Blue.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:30 p.m.

The logo is horrible, it looks like something a first year graphic design student put together in 5 minutes.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:25 p.m.

Wow, these division names and the logo are bad, really bad. The old logo, with the hidden in plain sight 11, was awesome. Where is the hidden 12? I've seen amateur versions of the logo that were able to include it. Did somebody get paid for this?


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

I just don't get these names. Lame IS the best word. I guess this is what we get when they didn't use too much logic in figuring out the divisions. If they had simply put Michigan, MSU, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Minnesota, and Purdue in the Northern Division, and all the rest in the Southern Division, that would have made sense at least.

Brian M.

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

Shameful. Couldn't be much worse. Laughing stock of the country.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:12 p.m.

*would FEEL dumb. Also re: logo, a little sad they didn't try to work in a 13 in the negative space but I can understand them not wanting to have to tweak that every time a team is added to the conference. The '10' in 'BIG' is much more noticeable in the horizontal format, and when they make the 'B' a different color. I can live with it.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:11 p.m.

Perhaps they should have been named "Six" & "Half-dozen". There will be critics no matter the choice.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:08 p.m.

Couldn't they have gone with something more logical, North/South divisions? No one is going to use these names when they refer to the different divisions. They are incredibly lame and if I had to utter them aloud I would dumb. "Leaders and best" people, c'mon!


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 12:54 p.m.

Jim Delany ought to lose his job over this. Delany has really brought it and made the big ten seem arrogant and a laughingstock at the same time

David Briegel

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 12:46 p.m.

What does the term "student athlete" mean anymore? Leaders and Best? Best and Brightest?


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 12:45 p.m.

on second least they didn't name the divisions after corporate sponsors. I was expecting the "John Deere Division" and the "Pepsi Division"


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 12:44 p.m.

Those names are lame.....


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

Where does "Leaders and Best" fit in all this?


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

I can hear it now.... "I want to be a legend,... I want to be a leader....They're not a legend, We're the leaders.. I'm better than you...nah nah na-na-na"