Saturday, July 10, 2010

What's In A Name -- What Do You Call The New Big Ten?

By now you know the dilemma -- what do you call the new Big Ten? Can you really have a college athletic world in which conference names and numbers don’t match?

We do for now, of course, but is that the best way to go?

The Big Ten was really the Big Eleven for about 20 years after Penn State joined. Now, with Nebraska set to join in 2011, it’s the Big Twelve.

Except, of course, there already is a Big 12, but it now has 10 teams with the departures of Nebraska and Colorado. However, in a bit of foreshadowing, it has already claimed the name Big 14, which gives you an idea of where it’s headed.

Speaking of Colorado, it’s now in the Pac-10, which has 12 teams after it added Utah.

If you think this is just major conferences playing fast and loose with common sense, consider that the mid-major Atlantic 10 has 14 teams.

Some conferences, of course, have avoided this name-and-number problem. The SEC (Southeastern Conference) could have a hundred teams and not hurt its name. That’s also true of the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big East.

Speaking of leagues with “Big” in their names, there are six of them at the Division I level, but only the Big Ten and Big 12 have issues.

So this brings us back to our original question, which is what do you call the Big Ten. Yes, it has a recognizable brand name. Yes, it has been around in some form since the 19th Century.

Still, in this new college world order, maybe that brand is obsolete. Commissioner Jim Delany has said the name issue will be discussed, but that doesn’t mean anything will change.

Assume, for a moment, it will change. What would you call the new league? It would be better to do away with numbers because nobody knows how big the Big Ten will get.

You could try geography, maybe something like the Big Midwest, although Penn State stretches the limits of Midwestern borders and it will get shattered if, say, Rutgers someday joins the league.

You could try a concept such as Big Tradition or maybe just Big as in the Big Conference. For those with a whimsical nature, how about the Big Bad Conference.

OK, maybe these aren’t the best ideas. Maybe they stink. What do you think the Big Ten should do -- keep its name, change it and change it to what? We wish we could tell you the best name would win $100,000. And if we win the mega-lottery, we would make it happen. But until then, all we can do is offer you thanks and a forum.

How’s that for a dilemma?

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