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Commentary: New Big Ten Logo a Big Zero

New Big Ten logo
The new Big Ten logo

Last spring theBig Ten Conferenceadded Nebraska, giving the league 12 teams.

So, what do you do -- change the name to the Big 12?  No, because that name's already taken by another conference -- which, naturally, now has ten teams.  So the Big Ten decided to keep its name -- and change everything else.   

To create a new logo, they could ask some corn-fed rubes like you and your friends, but you would probably do something stupid like draw on the Big Ten's 115-year history and come up with something simple, honest, and authentic.  Or you might just pay some art student a hundred bucks to make a new logo, like Nike did, and end up with some swoosh-looking thing, which no one remembers.

No, the conference hired the high-priced international image consulting firm of Pentagram Design- a “multi-disciplinary design firm with offices worldwide,” whose “culture of interchange…adds tremendous value to all creative thinking.”  After months of experimenting in their dust-free labs, Pentagram’s seven-person Project Team emerged to give us the word BIG over the word TEN. 

Pretty catchy, huh?  It's the kind of cutting edge, “outside-the-paradigm” thinking we Hot Pocket-huffing hicks could never have even conceived.   

Many fans thought they might try to sneak the number 12 into the logo.  But no, the high-priced international image consultants of Pentagram Design -- whose “core competencies” include “futurizing” -- didn't want to chain themselves to a number that might become outdated.  That's why they decided to chain themselves to a number that is already outdated.  Genius! 

The new logo turns the I in BIG into a 1 - following me so far? - and makes the G look like a zero.  Get it?  One?  Zero?  Put 'em together, and what do you get?  That's right: 10!  So, right below the number 10, you see the word TEN.  That way, you can never forget how many teams the Big Ten had from 1953 to 1992. 

Having come up with the perfect logo, it was time for brain trust of the Big Ten to work its magic on the names for the new divisions.  Now, you, being an domestic-car driving moron, might have come up with such prosaic titles as East and West, Lakes and Plains, or maybe even Schembechler and Hayes, who actually existed. 

Well, that just shows what you know, Gomer.  The People Who Know Better didn't name the divisions after familiar geographical features or even well-known people, but famous words: “Legends,” and “Leaders.”  Eureka! 

I myself am not a high-priced international image consulting firm.  I am just one person, armed only with a pen, a few cocktail napkins and a couple cans of cold beer.  So this is all I could muster, name-wise:

Rustbelt and Flyover….Euchre and Cornhole…Athlete's Foot and Jock Itch…And finally, “Lack of Institutional Control” and “Violation of Team Rules.”

So you can see the Big Ten was right to stick to their own names, which set up wonderful possibilities.  Thanks to them, you could be a leader in the Legends Division, for example, or one day become a legend in the Leaders Division. Or a leader in the Leaders, or a legend in the Legends – or you could play for Indiana, and be celebrated for your Legendary Lack of Leadership at All Levels.

After cleverly naming the divisions for nothing and nobody, they compensated by creating 18 trophies, and naming them after everyone.  That's right.  If you ever played or coached Big Ten football, chances are good you're one of the 36 legends - or leaders? I can't recall  -- honored on these awards, two per trophy.

Because, after all, the whole point of giving out trophies is not to recognize individual achievement, but to assert that no one's better than anyone else, and everybody’s great -- and so is every school they attend.  Provided it's one of the 12 Big Ten schools, anyway.   Everyone else sucks beyond measure.

If you're like me, you can only hope the high-priced international image consultants take the next step, and declare every conference member an Institution of Unequaled Excellence - and rename them all after popular shampoos.  It's called “branding,” you hayseed.

I, for one, think that would be great.  But what do I know?  I just live here.

Pass the corn. 

John U. Bacon has worked nearly three decades as a writer, a public speaker, and a college instructor, winning awards for all three.
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