Big Ten Football: The Legends and Leaders Are as Good as Dead

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterJanuary 14, 2013

LINCOLN, NE - JUNE 11: Big Ten Conference Commissioner James Delany, flanked by University of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osbourne(R), inform members of the media that the university has accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference June 11, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The university will begin integration immediately and start athletic competition as soon as 2011. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

You might remember a while back that the Big Ten poked around for fan feedback on conference realignment once Maryland and Rutgers are in the fold in 2014. The survey seemed pretty straightforward, but one minor detail stole the show: In every single realignment scenario, the Big Ten said that the division names had yet to be determined. There was no mention of Legends or Leaders whatsoever—not even in the closest thing that the Big Ten had to a status quo.

If you took that as a sign that the Big Ten was ready to divorce itself from its ridiculous division monikers, today is your lucky day. According to Brett McMurphy of, the Big Ten has put a change on the proverbial table:

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said his league will consider replacing the Legends and Leaders division names in 2014.

A decision could be made by June.

"It's on the table," Delany said.

In 2014, Maryland and Rutgers are scheduled to join the Big Ten. The league must decide what divisions the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights will join and if it will have any current teams change divisions.

Now, if Delany actually comes out and says a change is "on the table," what he really means is that the change is effectively done. We don't know how swiftly decisive Delany is in real life, but we do know that he projects an image of one-way movement in action. That's just how Delany operates, and it works well for him.

That said, Delany and the Big Ten aren't stupid, and they can tell when a decision is being opposed by a great deal of the fanbase, and that's exactly what happened with the division names. Here's more from Delany's talk with McMurphy:

"Obviously we got some acceptance [with Legends and Leaders], but not as much as we would have liked."

Delany said he was a "little surprised" by the backlash when the division names were announced.

"We have the opportunity to look at the divisional structure, branding, rivalries and geography all again," Delany said. "Depending on what we do will probably influence exactly how we brand it."

This mirrors what we said at the Big Ten Blog back in December. We're just sayin'.

The toughest aspect of the Legends and Leaders isn't just that the titles are hokey. It's that even if you like the names, they have no way of indicating who's in what division. A team in the Legends Division is not inherently more legendary, nor is a team in the Leaders Division capable of greater leadership. And even if they were, how would you even be able to tell?

So really, the only thing that the Big Ten needs to accomplish with its new division names is just to make them logical and descriptive of how the teams are divided. The conference was split more-or-less geographically the first time around, and that's unlikely to change in 2014. Given that, an "east/west" or "north/south" designation for the divisions is only natural.

It's possible that Delany overthinks his decision and selects divisional names that again aren't referents of the teams that populate said divisions—though it's important to note that Delany listed off some names like that ("Bo and Woody" and "Black and Blue" being specifically mentioned) and said they weren't serious contenders, so again: He's not stupid.

And yet it's just as possible that Delany decides that getting creative with division names isn't really what a Big Ten Man does and just goes geographical. Then our long regional nightmare will be over, and the only thing left for the Big Ten to fix will be the state of the football programs, and that...well, can we argue about division names some more again instead?