A B1G Mistake?

I'm going to go against my better judgment today and offer you the reader nothing but straight opinion. To be sure, you get a fair amount of opinion every day when you visit this site. It's sort of a guiding principle. Unfortunately Jim Rome coined the phrase, "have a take, don't suck" but with limited access to break news, it's always seemed like the best approach to me despite the fact that I loathe the culture surrounding Jim Rome.

I always have a take and I generally try not to suck by backing that take up with statistics, facts, or an attempt at objectivity. Not today.

I'm fired up on a couple of different fronts and I'm going to whine for a bit. Indulge me if you will.

--Darren covered the B1G unveiling of the B1G Ten logos, trophies and dvisions names yesterday but I still feel compelled to add my thoughts here. In short, the entire show rekindled all of the things I hated about the Big Ten as an obnoxious, naive 30-year-old.

I'm now an obnoxious, naive 31-year-old but I have a vested interest in liking the conference. Still, it wasn't long ago that I hated that the Big 10 benefitted from not having a conference championship game, for a style of football that was generally boring, and for holding itself in such high regard.

It's blasphemy to feel that way now that our Huskers are headed northeast. A championship game is in place and all the games, if still boring, will at least be on TV. But the intense pride--really the best thing about the conference now that we belong to it--still came across as off-putting.

How else to explain the redundancy of the new Big 10 wordmark? I actually like the "B1G" logo on its own. It gets the message across in a shorthand that seems built for Twitter (and even apears in Twitter/IBM/AT&T blue). That's a bold, forward-thinking move.

But the secondary "B1G Ten" logo proves that they just couldn't leave it alone. If you didn't catch it while noticing the blue 'I' and 'G' forming a 10 in the first word, the second word leaves no doubt. I don't need a nod to the fact that there are, in fact, 12 teams in the conference but I don't need the history of the name hammered home either. The conference's initial statement said it all in three letters. Trust us to figure it out from there.

The division names are even more troublesome. These aren't randomly generated words. It's not "Salt and Pepper," "Coffee and Cream," or "Black and Blue"--all of which would've been better options than "Legends and Leaders." It's impossible to get beyond the sense of exclusivity implied by those choices. If you're one then by default you're not the other and that's not true in any case. Indiana, for example, is neither a leader nor a legend in football.

But the conference thought they were nodding towards history and tradition with those choices. Instead they created a running joke. I want to ask if they used any focus groups in the development of this idea but the more alarming realization is that it wouldn't have mattered if they did.

The Twitter backlash is a fairly selective sample. How many of the 85,000 Husker fans who show up at Memorial Stadium each home game do you think are on Twitter? I can't venture to guess a percentage but suffice it to say that its a vast minority. The response there to the unveiling represents a very specific audience, one that likely doesn't represent this fact: the majority of people could care less what the conference logo looks like or calls itself.

And that's the larger issue. Bad ideas get perpetuated through simple indifference. Legends and Leaders is a bad idea, but most people won't spend the amount of time it took me to type this sentence--and I'm a fast and excellent typist--thinking about it. I'm not sure how to reconcile that truth other than acknowledging that it's a "me problem" and I shoud probably move on.

--We may never know the depths of Bo Pelini's dalliance with Miami but what did the mere notion of it say about the coach's relationship with Nebraska? I've often wondered whether or not Pelini truly likes it here and the idea that he could leave this early in his tenure seemed to confirm my fears. I've never been able to answer that question with a definitive "yes."

I don't think you can look at Bo Pelini and say that the constant pressure--the "fishbowl" as they say--isn't grating for him. The ordeal highlighted the fact that Nebraska had a pretty unique case in Tom Osborne.

One, coaches aren't given as much time to succeed as Osborne enjoyed. Given Nebraska's lofty preseason ranking year in and year out, Osborne essentially failed to meet expectations for 20 years before finally reaching the pinnacle of his profession. There's more to coaching than simply winning--or at least there used to be--and that's where Osborne's real legacy lies. Unfortunately that's gone today.

Two, while Osborne had his well documented flirtation with Colorado he was tied here more strongly than Bo Pelini will ever be. This was his home state, the school that gave him a shot at the big time. Tom Osborne's stoic nature was as Nebraskan as it gets. Pelini isn't that way. He's better geared to the college football of today and that means more open to other opportunities.

I don't think it was a leverage play for the same reason I don't believe any of the various conspiracy theories that have floated around over the last month -- Bo Pelini is more straight forward than that.

Is Nebraska a destination job for him? I'm not sure destination jobs exist any more.

--The one good thing about playing Washington again in the Holiday Bowl is that we'll get a good test of the "Pelini owns bowl season" theory. This is a game where Nebraska has nothing to prove and that's very different from a team trying to prove it was on the rise the past two years.

Under Pelini, Nebraska has looked its best in its two bowl games. Clemson was a gutty win, Arizona a dominating one and both were vital stepping stones towards the preseason buzz that welcomed this season. That opportunity won't exist against Washington. The Huskers could win 48-0 and the nation would likely shrug its shoulders.

That's what makes this game interesting. Can Pelini turn out another stellar performance in the face of, despite what the players and coaches will say, is an all-together apathetic match up?

Nebraska likely won't make a splash this bowl season but if you look carefully they might just make their biggest statement of the Pelini era so far.

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Comments 21 comments so far

Not too keen on the division names or the hyphenated trophies, especially the “Griese-Brees Quarterback” trophy (which incidentally needs to be sponsored by Bronco’s in Omaha—it’s a nasty grease pit if there ever was one.)

The difference between the B1G and the Big X is that the former has listened to outright opposition to ideas, admitted mistakes, and made changes—and the latter thrashes about in fear when the winter bedsheets go above their head at night.

Let’s give the B1G time to figure this out.  At least they got the conference lineups and their first championship game location right…

Much ado about nothing.  I, for one, don’t really care what they call the divisions.  As for the bowl game, unless NU blows UW out early it will be embarassing for the program.  NO upside to this matchup for the Huskers at all unless they have a ton of kids in California they want to recruit.

For all the worries about geographical naming conventions for the divisions, it still would have been easier on fans than “Legends” and “Leaders” (and much more difficult for every other conference to openly mock).

Lest we forget, the St. Louis Rams are in the NFC West while the Dallas Cowboys are in the NFC East (despite Dallas being farther west than St. Louis). The Indianapolis Colts are in the AFC South. The Kansas City Royals are in the AL Central but the Texas Rangers in the west? And the Braves are in the NL East, even though they’re farther west than the NL Central’s Reds and Pirates.

Fans can learn the makeup of any division over time, but using West and East at least gives them a starting point, where obviously Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota are in the west, with Ohio State, Penn St and Indiana in the East. So Michigan/Michigan State and Wisconsin get flipped around - what does it matter? We remember that the Michigan schools are with Nebraska and Iowa. It’s not that hard to figure out East and West. Instead we have two essentially interchangeable names that tell us absolutely nothing about the teams contained therein.

Agree with Matt i.e., “Let’s give the B1G time to figure this out.  At least they got the conference lineups and their first championship game location right…”  Other than hoping they see t he light, breath deep, focus on building a team that has the muscle to win the B1GTEN and the speed to win a National Championship.

I understand them sticking with the “Big 10” name… for branding and future expansion purposes. But why even stick a “1” in there at all? Just leave it at “IG” By placing the “1” in the logo they are clearly referencing “their” original 10 teams. This makes me feel like Nebraska and Penn St. are on the outside looking in. I don’t like it. I think they should have left out any numerical references all together to show a more solidified conference. Every time I see that “1” in the logo it’s gonna tick me off. Their will be a bad taste in my mouth for years to come. They shoulda just left numbers out of it!

I disagree with portions of the article. 

First off ‘Leaders and Legends’ are unique and different from what was expected.  Generally a backlash happens when something unexpected and different happens.  I think as time goes by it will be a brilliant move because of how unique it is.  The B1G is always marketing.  Think about it.  The big 10 leaders champion versus the big 10 legends champion.  That is a whole lot of positive words in one sentence about one conference.  Subliminal messaging at it’s finest.

Secondly I’m not for sure you can deduce that Pelini doesn’t like Lincoln/Fishbowl/Nebraska.  The dude was fired by us and came back.  Apparently he likes something.

Thirdly winning the bowl game is big.  An 11 win season is still a big deal, no matter what program you support.  Heck Mizzou claims only 4 TEN win seasons.  Let’s spank the lady huskies and stack our win total.  Thank you very much you joke of a conference, which by the way is the new marketing name produced by Dan Beebe and associates.  The Big 12 - 2 = The Joke

I like the division names and the logo, so I am not sure what all the fuss is about.  I bet a year from now we won’t think twice about the names.  They’re innovative and have a ring to them that I think will grow on the public and the media over time.  Go Huskers!  Go B1G TEN!

Sorry, this is petty but I must comment… “and I’m a fast and excellent typist” and then this follows “and I shoud probably move on.”  Maybe you SHOULD slow down a bit?  Good article by the way, and I agree - I hope this is a good conf. marriage.  GBR!


Not petty. That’s a good catch. I’m an excellent typist but a terrible speller. (Not true, it was just a typo.)

I enjoyed reading this article, but a lot of the comments left me shaking my head.  I do like the B1G part of B1G TEN, but I just can’t wrap my head around Leaders and Legends.  Maybe like Dave P said, in a year or so it will grow on us, but I’m hoping that something happens and they chose different monikers.  All that aside, it really amazes me that no one really seems to realize just how many injuries that we had in key areas this year, and if we can avoid most if not all those key injuries in 2011, We WILL WIN not only the B1G TEN, but the National Championship.  GO BIG RED!!!!!!!  (my thought on divisional names—- Us and Them[haha-jk] GBR!!)

I don’t like the division names.  Two name that are better that I heard yesterday. 

Legends and Icons (keeps with the current theme) or Plains and Lakes.  As people above said nobody really cares about the geography of the divisions, but the division names are epic fail.

/face falm

The division names mean nothing.  The conference needs to keep it’s identity by continuing to call itself the Big Ten.  Nebraska will be one of the Big Ten:  Not because we have a history with Northwestern, Indiana and Purdue, but because we will be found near the top as a competitor and a member institution.  It won’t be long and the math in the name won’t matter, only the points on the scoreboard.

Doesn’t matter. Most people will refer to the divisions as East and West.

Being a branding designer, I have an idea of how this probably played out.

1) Pentagram presented this chosen concept amonst at least 3 or 4 other strong options. This concept was probably only the “B1G” without the “TEN.”

2) Boardmembers had concern that it didn’t actually say “TEN” and asked that it be tacked on.

3) Frankenstein design concept is chosen.

I agree that the “B1G” mark on its own is quite nice. It is a shame to see it watered down by the redundant version. It would have worked quite well as a TV lower third bug. Think A&E, AMC, TBS, and even the new Comedy Central logo. Simple and bold works best for these applications.


That was my thought as well.

As for the logo. Your way off. The B1G part isnt to reference a 10. Its designed so that it will be easy to make the G look like a 6.

Get it? The Big Ten is planning for a 16 team league and sesigning its logo to anticipate that.


I really dont care for the new logo but I like the division names…. I will like the conference alot better when we start play and get out of the crappy 12

    Leave Bronco’s outa this mess.. A little grease is good for ya.

Here is a professional designer discussion about the new identity, in case anybody cares:


“The Kansas City Royals are in the AL Central…?”

Why is a team in the center of the US being in the central division bad?

.. the cluase is that Osborne doesn’t sing him to sleep with Kum-by-Ya after an outburst.  He plays the Cardinal Mooney fight song backwards.

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