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.