New Big Ten Logo: Could It Get Any Uglier?

Ryan FallerAnalyst IDecember 13, 2010

The new Big Ten logo, by any stretch of the imagination, is, um, interesting.

That’s a bland and unassuming adjective, and it should be used by those whose preference is to refrain from stating what they’re really feeling.

For those who don’t care, any joke, phrase, riddle, haiku, euphemism and/or epithet can be used in its place—and any given one would be accurate.

There is nothing good to say about the Big Ten Conference’s new logo, which was revealed to the world Monday in Chicago.

Alas, its creators seem satisfied.

"The new Big Ten logo was developed to symbolize the conference's future, as well as its rich heritage, strong tradition of competition, academic leadership, and passionate alumni," said Michel Gericke, who designed the logo with colleague Michael Bierut at Pentagram, an international design firm headquartered in London.

"Its contemporary collegiate lettering includes an embedded numeral '10' in the word 'BIG,' which allows fans to see 'BIG' and '10' in a single word. Memorable and distinctive, the new logo evolved from the previous logo's use of negative space and is built on the conference's iconic name, without reference to the number of member institutions."

I understand the brand name and nostalgia behind the Big Ten name. That’s why it worked when league officials opted to cleverly craft the number 11 into the current logo, though it came at the expense of a fangled letter “T.” The idea of messing with tradition was not an option.

I also get why, as of this very moment, people in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Illinois are printing out copies of the new logo and using them as toilet paper.

There’s no way Monday’s proceedings can sit well with Big Ten fans, which also included the unveiling of the names given to the conference’s newly formed divisions: Legends and Leaders.

On a side note: The gist is if you’re in the Legends Division (Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern), you’re, well, a legend, but your time has passed, rendering you unable to be a leader. If you’re in the Leaders Division (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin), you galvanize others, but your substance will never be the stuff of legend.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the logo.

The new logo looks like the name of a Saturday morning cartoon. The font reminds me of the meaningless doodles the girls used to cover their Trapper Keepers with in sixth grade. And the pastel blue color makes me hungry for cotton candy at a country carnival.

Plus, are we to assume that the logo’s creators and the Big Ten think we’re a bunch of underdeveloped Neanderthals who need an excessive amount of visual stimulation to be satisfied?

I would argue yes. Why else would they devise a logo at which we have to stare to find a damn zero, like we’re waiting for some alien spaceship to jump out of one of those 3D paintings? Only in this instance, the spaceship never arrives, because the number 10 in Big Ten is actually not a number 10 at all.

Rather, it’s the number one, which should be an “I,” followed by some oblong shape that looks like an upside-down ladle and is made up of lines that never meet.

It’s an abomination that will threaten to cheapen the atmosphere at every Big Ten stadium, arena and field.

For those who detest the new look, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany would appreciate your patience.

“Like anything new, it’ll take time to get used to,” Delany said on the conference’s television network.

He’ll have to specify the whole “time” part. For some, the process may take a while.