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Delany defends new Big Ten division, trophy names

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Teddy Greenstein
December 14, 2010
— Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany can only hope that “Legends” and “Leaders” is an acquired taste.

Judging by the initial reaction to the league’s new division names, the public and media think they were served rotten eggs.


“If people don’t embrace it in the first hour, then maybe after 24-36 hours ... or in a couple of years,” Delany said. “Any time you have something new, it takes some getting used to.”


The Big Ten on Monday also unveiled new logos and announced the creation of 18 trophies for various awards in 2011, when Nebraska joins the league.


Let’s break it down by answering a few of our own questions:


So who’s in what division?


Legends: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern.


Leaders: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.


Why on earth were these names chosen?


Delany said the Big Ten looked at what leagues such as the NHL, NFL and Major League Baseball had done and then “looked at ourselves.”


Geographical names such as “Great Lakes” and “Great Plains” would not have been accurate. Delany said league officials felt that names such as “Hayes” and “Schembechler” or “Grange” and “Griffin” would not have been “inclusive” to all 12 schools.


Did Delany sense that or did officials from any schools actually express that?


“We’ve been down that road before,” Delany said by telephone. “The (Big Ten) Icons created a lot of controversies on campuses. And when I’ve tried to develop a Big Ten-type Hall of Fame, (school officials) ask: ‘How many will I have? Who goes in first?’ I know us. I think what we did was right.


“Legends and Leaders could be seen as overly broad, but we wanted to connect to our past and the future.”


The reaction has been ...


Akin to announcing that a Nerf ball will be used for all future Big Ten football games.


According to an unscientific poll on ChicagoTribune.com, 6 percent believe Legends and Leaders “represent what the Big Ten is all about,” and 94 percent say, “You have to be kidding ... is this the best they can do?”


Similarly, 93 percent of those responding to a midwestsportsfans.com poll voted for either “terrible” or “it makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon.” Others opted for “awesome” (2 percent) or “indifferent” (5 percent).


A sampling of responses on Twitter: “Leaders and Legends are the names of conference rooms at an airport Marriott.” “Nebraska just heard new division names and is trying to see if it can return to Big 12 North.” “Legends and Leaders? Really? What was the second choice—Boring and Also Boring?” “We are officially the cheesiest conference in NCAA football!!!!!”


OK. And how about the logos?


They’re about as popular. Some likened the font to something from the Atari generation. Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star Tweeted: “The Big Ten could have asked my 12-year-old son’s art class to come up with a logo and received much more bang for the buck. Wow.”


The “I” in “BIG” is shaped like a “1” and the “G” looks a zero. Delany said that’s an ode to the league’s past. You know, 10 teams, so “B10.”


But why no hint of a 12, like the cleverly burned-in 11?


“Every one of the professionals we interviewed from the West Coast to New York said we needed to move beyond that,” Delany told the Tribune. “The notion was that it distracts. The ‘11’ was seen as transition, a little bit of a gimmick. It’s no longer about the number. It’s about the values and characteristics that the schools represent.”


Delany even said that the man who designed the “11” logo, a Clarke College professor named Al Grivetti, recommended the Big Ten try something new.


The “G” kind of looks like a 6. Is that a hint?


Not at all, Delany said: “We were thinking 10, not 16. You were looking into a fire.”


Delany said the league is currently “out of the business” of expanding and has gone from a phase of “acting to monitoring.”


Delany would not specify when the league would re-evaluate, but it has typically done so every five years.


Asked if he believes Notre Dame will join a conference for football in the next 5-15 years, he replied: “No. I think it is their destiny to remain independent because it reflects their brand and who they are. I might have thought differently at one point.”


He added: “I’m not going to judge their judgment.”


What would it take for the Big Ten to inflate?


Delany, in an April e-mail obtained by the Columbus Dispatch, told Ohio State President Gordon Gee that the league was seeking “hr additions.”


So will it take a home-run addition, Jim?


“I think someone once used that in a text message. I’m not sure what it meant,” Delany joked. “The question is, can you maintain your tradition and values and still grow? To do that, you need great institutions that fit.”


What else did the Big Ten announce?


Refreshingly commercial-free names for its Big Ten Championship game trophies and annual awards.


The Big Ten title winner will receive the “Stagg-Paterno” trophy, named for Amos Alonzo Stagg and Joe Paterno. Red Grange and Archie Griffin have their names on the title game MVP’s trophy.


Illinois’ Dick Butkus and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald tag-team on the annual award for best linebacker.


Others include the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year award and the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year award.


By handing out 18 annual trophies/awards and selecting two names for each, the Big Ten included at least one representative from all 12 schools.


“These are names,” Delany said, “that will resonate.”


CHAMPIONSHIP GAME TROPHIES

Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy: Honors University of Chicago coach (1892-1932) Amos Alonzo Stagg and current Penn State coach Joe Paterno (1966-), the winningest major-college coach ever.


Grange-Griffin MVP: Honors legendary Illinois RB Harold “Red” Grange (1923-25) and Ohio State RB Archie Griffin (1972-75), the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner).


POSTGRADUATE AWARDS

Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award: Honors former President Gerald R. Ford, a Michigan graduate and player (1932-34), and Iowa’s Nile Kinnick, the 1939 Heisman winner who was killed in a fighter-plane crash in World War II.


Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award: Honors Minnesota QB (1973-76), NFL coach and television commentator Tony Dungy and Indiana RB Anthony Thompson (1986-89), an administrator who also serves as a pastor at a Bloomington, Ind., church.


ANNUAL AWARDS

Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year: Honors Northwestern (1941-43) and NFL QB Otto Graham and Ohio State (1992-95) and NFL RB Eddie George, who won the Heisman in 1995


Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year: Honors Bronko Nagurski, a three-time All-America and all-around athlete at Minnesota (1927-29) and Michigan (1995-97) and NFL CB Charles Woodson, the first primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy in 1997).


Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year: Honors Woody Hayes, the Big Ten leader in conference wins (205) in 28 seasons as head coach (1951-78) at Ohio State, and his protege and former assistant, Bo Schembechler, who was 194-48-5 at Michigan from 1969-89.


Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year: Honors Minnesota (1986-89) and NFL RB Darrell Thompson who led the conference in rushing his first year and Indiana QB and NFL WR Antwaan Randle El, the first player in NCAA Division I to pass for 40 touchdowns and also rush for 40 in a career (1998-2001).


Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year: Honors Nebraska (1979-82) and NFL OC Dave Rimington, who won the 1982 Outland and Lombardi awards, and Ohio State (1994-96) and NFL OT Orlando Pace, who was the Outland and Big Ten offensive player of the year awards in 1996.


Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year: Honors Michigan State (1964-66) and NFL DE “Bubba” Smith, a two-time All-Big Ten first-team selection, and Penn State (1996-99) and NFL DE Courtney Brown, the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year in 1999.


Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year: Honors Purdue (1964-66) and NFL QB Bob Griese, a standout for the Boilermakers who won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins, and Purdue (1997-200) and NFL QB Drew Brees, who led Purdue to its first Rose Bowl since 1967 and also guided the New Orleans Saints to the most recent Super Bowl title.


Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year: Honors Wisconsin (1951-54) and NFL FB Alan Ameche who won the Heisman Trophy in 1954 and Wisconsin (1996-99) and NFL RB Ron Dayne, who won the Heisman in 1999.


Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year: Honors Ohio State (1968-70) and NFL DB Jack Tatum, a consensus All-America in 1969 and ’70 who was among the top five vote-getters in the 1970 Heisman race, and Purdue (1983-86) and NFL DB Rod Woodson, a three-time All-Big Ten selection who twice won Super Bowls and was named to 11 Pro Bowls during his pro career.


Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year: Honors Illinois (1962-64) and NFL LB Dick Butkus, a two-time consensus All-America who went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Chicago Bears, and Northwestern (1993-96) LB Pat Fitzgerald, the first player to win two Bednarik and Nagurski awards (1995-96) and is now the head coach at his alma mater.


Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year: Honors Wisconsin (1960-62) and NFL all-around athlete Pat Richter, an All-America selection in 1962 who after playing eight years in the NFL also served his alma mater as athletic director, and Michigan (1989-91) and NFL WR Desmond Howard, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1991 and was the MVP of a Super Bowl.


Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year: Honors Penn State (1966-68) and NFL TE Ted Kwalick, a two-time All-America who also was a solid performer for the San Francisco 49ers, and Iowa (1999-2002) and NFL TE Dallas Clark, a former LB who made the move to TE before the 2001 season and ended up winning the Mackey Award as the nation’s best at the position in 2002.


Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year: Honors Wisconsin (1959-61) and NFL K Jim Bakken, a solid contributor for his hometown Badgers who played 17 seasons as a pro, and Michigan State (1978-81) and NFL K Morten Andersen, an All-Big Ten player who kicked what is still the Big Ten’s longest field goal (63 yards) and played in the NFL from 1982-2007.


Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year: honors Thomas “Dike” Eddleman who was a three-sport star at Illinois (1946-48), starring in football and also being named the Big Ten’s MVP in basketball, and Michigan State (2003-2006) and current NFL P Brandon Fields, a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2003, 2004 and 2006 now playing for Miami Dolphins.



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