Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 15, 2013

It seems the moment the Big Ten announced in 2010 that it would name its divisions ?Leaders? and ?Legends,? there was an outcry from people who found names are pretentious, arrogant and just downright confusing. Others preferred simple geographic names like, say, East and West.

Plausible. But isn?t the goal of a school-and a league-to produce leaders and legends? Get it? Plus, the names are unique and have some cachet and … ah, forget it. So is a change coming?

Big Ten
Conference Overall
Ohio State 8-0 12-0
Penn State 6-2 8-4
Wisconsin 4-4 8-6
Purdue 3-5 6-7
Indiana 2-6 4-8
Illinois 0-8 2-10
Conference Overall
Nebraska 7-1 10-4
Michigan 6-2 8-5
Northwestern 5-3 10-3
Michigan State 3-5 7-6
Iowa 2-6 4-8
Minnesota 2-6 6-7

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a recent interview with ESPN that the league will reconsider the Leaders and Legends monikers as it moves to a 14-team (for now) conference with the impending additions of Rutgers and Maryland in 2014.

"We weren't going to go with 'Bo or Woody,' 'Black or Blue,' or 'Plains or Lakes,' " Delany told ESPN. "Obviously we got some acceptance [with Legends and Leaders], but not as much as we would have liked."

To me, Leaders and Legends are reminiscent of the old NHL, which at one time named its divisions after famous league figures. Remember the Smythe, Norris, Patrick and Adams Divisions? There also was the Prince of Wales and Campbell Conferences. A neat way to pay homage to your history. But, maybe patterning yourself after the NHL isn't a good thing. Because, well, you know, it?s the NHL.

In that interview, Delany went on to say he was surprised by the backlash of the names. Join the club. (Remember, people who complain have loud voices; those who like things generally say nothing.). In fact, the names have grown on me.

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For those who still can't keep track:

  • Legends: Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern.
  • Leaders: Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin.

It wasn?t really that difficult to commit to memory. But, soon, that alignment will be altered, and apparently the division names could change, too. I wouldn?t be shocked if the Big Ten opts to follow the SEC?s and Pac-12?s lead and just use geographic division names.


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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