It is essentially a bye week for basketball, which means no games as the players are off taking Finals. Because of this, the Big Ten decided to release the names of its new football divisions as well as the names of 18 football awards and a new logo. Judging by the initial reaction on Twitter, everything was terrible. My favorite reaction came from Sports Pickle, which said:
"North Korean state television envies the level of propaganda put out by the Big Ten Network." - SportsPickle
As a blogger, I am contractually obligated to pick apart these decisions, which now seem to be brought to you by the same people that came up with Makers All (now merely a myth when you look at anything associated with Purdue). I am not a fan of most of them, so let's look at everything one by one.
I don't think it is too bad. It is hard to work in a 12 like the beloved 11 we have had since Penn State joined. Some say the G looks like a six, hinting at a future expansion of four more teams. As much as I would hate this, I can see it happening with the eventual implosion of the Big 12 (10). As long as we don't add Notre Dame, which can continue to wither with its stubborn policies, I guess it is alright. I would rather add Wabash College, the University of al Qaeda, or Saddam Hussein Tech than Notre Dame. At least the name didn't change, especially since the name is more iconic than the actual number of teams.
The Division Names:
Legends and Leaders. This was a surprise. I am surprised they didn't name it what they were all thinking. Legends could have been, "Michigan plus five teams" and Leaders could have been "Ohio State plus five teams". We're led to believe that it is impossible for a conference champion not to be one of those teams, and if neither were in the Big Ten Championship game we could hold it at Warren Central High school with plenty of room. It seems like a cop out. I would have preferred Schembechler/Hayes, Plains/Lakes, or Rotel/Barbasol over Legends/Leaders.
The Stagg/Paterno Championship Trophy:
This is an interesting choice. Stagg was a coach at the University of Chicago, which hasn't played Big Ten football in decades. Paterno built most of his legend before being in the Big Ten. Again, the Schembechler/Hayes Trophy would have been more relevant.
Grange-Griffin Championship Game MVP:
I like this one, saluting the legendary Red Grange and the only two-time Heisman winner.
Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award:
I have a lot of respect for Kinnick, even if he was an evil Hawkeye and the Godfather for Our Most Hated Rivals. Ford is cool too, as the only Eagle Scout to be President. Therefore, this is appropriate.
Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award:
Dungy speaks for himself, but Thompson? I think Thompson should be associated with "Miracle of the Year" since he performed a near miracle by nearly winning a Heisman and taking Indiana to a Rose Bowl. Had he achieved both I think he would have been canonized even as a non-Catholic.
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year:
Meh. When I think of offensive superstars in these league I think of a bunch of names other than Otto Graham and Eddie George.
Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year:
Any chance we can name this one "The Kerrigan"?
Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year:
No one would complain if you switched this with the championship trophy name. They'd fit better that way, respectively.
Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year:
Something tells me the Clarrett was strongly avoided here.
Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year:
Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year:
Once again, our defensive ends get overlooked. I really hope the trophy has Bubbe Smith from his Polica Academy days.
Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year:
The best name on the list. Totally appropriate since we're the Cradle of Quarterbacks and these are the best two of many. I hope this sets up near permanent residence in West Lafayette.
Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year:
I like Dayne since he is the NCAA's all-time rushing leader, but why not Darnell Autry, whose out-of-nowhere season took northwestern to Pasadena?
Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year:
This is award #2 with a Purdue player, and a solid choice with Woodson. Conceivably you could win two Woodsons in one year, which is a little strange.
Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year:
No linebackers from Linebacker U.?
Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year:
How about Taylor Stubblefield, the NCAA's all-time leader in receptions?
Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year:
Dallas Clark has done more in the NFL than college, but he's a fair choice.
Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year:
Please tell me it salutes the old era of the single bar face mask. Morten Andersen always looked like he got his helmet from a Halloween costume for kids.
Eddleman-Fields Punter of the Year:
I have no idea who these guys are, Although Zoltan Mesko, Destroyer of Worlds (a.k.a. the Space Emperor) would have been a much cooler title.