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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A final thought on Legends, Leaders and logos

At the end of the day, I don't really care.

Yeah, I admit it: when the new Big 10 division names were announced and the latest logo was unveiled yesterday, I took to Twitter along with the rest of the college football blogosphere. Pumping out snide remarks and snarky re-Tweets as fast as I could. Like a cyber 8th grader making fun of the substitute teacher's ugly shirt, all of us trying to out-clever each other.

But as I sat down to write today's post, I realized I don't really care. And why should I, or anybody for that matter?

No, the logo didn't have anybody rushing to use it as their screensaver wallpaper. Yes, the division names are as pompous as possible. And the dual-name trophies - Delany trying so hard to be "sport-ically correct" by making sure everybody was equally represented even if their football tradition doesn't warrant it - feel about as forced as a mother-in-law's help over the holidays.

But so what?

Short of Michigan being placed in a division named "Bo," were there really any names folks who regularly read the myriad of Michigan blogs out there were going to embrace? Doubtful. That's human nature. We all love to bitch, even about the shit that doesn't matter.  Hell, every time Facebook changes their layout, people go apeshit, start all these "Keep the Old Facebook!!!" pages, until we all forget about it and go on with our lives 30 seconds later.

Because it doesn't really matter.

Same here.

Michigan football has much bigger problems as we head toward 2011 than the name of the division we're playing in next season.  Being in the Legends, West, Victory, Awesome or Buckeyes Suck Donkey Nuts and Lick Pheasant Ass Division won't help the defense play better, the kicking game improve, or the uncertainty hanging over the program end (Okay, okay: being in the Buckeyes Suck Donkey Nuts and Lick Pheasant Ass Division certainly couldn't hurt).

I'm was much more upset that Delany thought it was okay to put Michigan and Ohio State in separate divisions and move The Game earlier in the season (until fans from both U-M and OSU banded together to stop it).  I'm still concerned that there is no guarantee The Game won't be changed again after 2012.

Those are the sorts of battles worth fighting long term.

These names and logos?  They made for fun Twitter tirades yesterday.  They're still good for an occasional joke in the future.  And, personally speaking, they were (and are today) perfect post-season fodder for blogs in search of filler.

But that's really about it.


BaggyPantsDevil said...

I think that there are additional reasons besides pure aesthetics for all the ire towards the Big Ten’s division names and new logo. You made the point yesterday that Jim Delaney really hasn’t done such a great job steering the conference into the future. Delaney simply has the great fortune to have stewardship of a conference with such a large and loyal fan-base that pretty much anything he does will be successful. I feel this success is in spite of the latest changes to the Big Ten not because of these changes. As fans of all our respective schools, what choice do we have? I’d watch Michigan-Ohio State if they played it on the 4th of July. We all would.
What especially irritates me about this is that it’s the tradition and the legacy of the Big Ten’s past that ensures its success. Jim Delaney apparently realizes this since he does pays heavy lip service to Big Ten traditions. Unfortunately, he’s also willing to systematically dismantle any and all of those traditions in the name of generating more money. Next year, Ohio State’s final test of the season to determine which bowl game they go to will not be against Michigan—not that Michigan’s been much of a test lately—but against someone else—Michigan State or Nebraska, perhaps—the following week. The great moments that make up that test won’t happen in the Big House or the Horseshoe, but in a place called Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis of all places.
That’s 75 years of tradition wiped away by the man who then turns around and tries to sell us Legends and Leaders as division names. Make no mistake about this, people, the Michigan-Ohio State Game is getting moved to earlier in the season. The only reason they’re keeping it at the end for the next few years is because Michigan is bad and doesn’t have much of shot and making it to the conference championship. Once Michigan becomes competitive in the conference, the prospect of the profits to be made in a season bookended by Michigan-Ohio State games will be too much to resist. Then, we’ll all be watching Michigan and Ohio State play in September or October.
Another thing that irritates me about Jim Delaney and his sense of Entitlement and Greed—now those are some appropriate division names!--is his opposition to a playoff. There are, of course, reasonable arguments to oppose a playoff and I even agree with some of them. I just don’t like the pursuit of short term profit at the expense of on field success and Delaney’s opposition is all about the money and the Big Ten’s lock on the big money bowl games not the potential for any actual success on the field. As much as I love tradition, I actually favor a playoff, just not for the usual reasons. I like the idea of teams like Florida, LSU, and USC—who have long enjoyed the advantages of playing in bowl games in their home states—having to come up and play at Ann Arbor, Madison, or Happy Valley in December. Football was intended to be played in all sorts of weather, boys, it’s why games aren’t delayed or postponed because of rain or snow.
Now, I’m no communist and there is nothing wrong with profiting from the Big Ten’s rich traditions. The problem is that Jim Delaney’s methods are typically short-sighted. Sure, the first season that Michigan and Ohio State play each other twice will be immensely profitable for all involved. The problem is that over time that rivalry and all the other traditions that Jim Delaney is currently banking on will be diluted and possibly vanish all together. Then, the names Legends and Leaders will become especially meaningless. The Big Ten currently prospers because of the link to its traditions and its storied past but after 50 or maybe even just 20 years without those traditions, what will the Big Ten be? Another soulless generic conference? A pumped up, passionless Conference USA filled with teams with little connection to each other?
So, although the division names and conference logo are mostly meaningless, they do represent the hypocrisy behind selling Big Ten traditions while simultaneously destroying them.

Bigasshammm said...

Good arguments all around but the conference has needed a championship game for years upon years.
If nothing else but it gives the Big Ten champ an extra game and practice time to go on to a potential national Championship game instead of sitting on their keester while the other teams keep playing.

The names of the conferences just open the BT up to even more criticism. Is there any other conference that has named divisions? Is the BT that arrogant that they named the conferences Leaders and Legends? Please.
I support the stance at Mgoblog that should be adopted internet wide.
Michigan is in the WEST and tUOS is in the EAST.
Nothing more to be spoken on these Le...... names.

Mikoyan said...

I can go for east and west. Growing up, the East were the bad guys...The Soviets and all their pawns and the West was the good guys US, Britain and some other countries. Therefore Ohio State belongs in the East especially since one of their colors is red. Red? How's that for your commie lovin' teams.....

Yost said...

BPD, I agree and think we're saying basically the same thing, though in a slightly different way.

I believe the M/OSU game is being DESTROYED. And the first time they play twice in a season, that will become very apparent.

I mean, imagine this...

It's 2011 and either a rejuvenated RR or new coach JH turn Michigan back into the traditional football power that it was. They somehow put together an amazing run, capped in the Big House on the final weekend of the regular season by U-M's first victory over Tosu in 8 years...only to have to do it again seven days later at Lucas Oil Field?!?!

That's why, while I don't completely agree, BAH, that we "needed" a champ game, I do understand why we have one now. But what I still and will never understand is why JD put Michigan and OSU in the same division, potentially harming the greatest rivalry in the game, and definitely the one that defines the conference.

BaggyPantsDevil said...

I’m not completely convinced a conference championship game was what has been missing, plenty of teams have suffered and been knocked out of the Mythical National Championship after being upset in an otherwise unnecessary conference championship game. Although I totally understand the impossibility of it, I’d rather everyone be forced to play as many conference games as is feasible, finish out their seasons with their chosen rival, and the best record be declared conference champion (with a logical and fair system for breaking ties). I mean is there an AFC Eastern Division Championship game?

What has been missing is Michigan being competitive in the Michigan-Ohio State game. I think much of whatever perception there is of the Big Ten as weak comes from Michigan’s recent struggles, both the underachieving in Lloyd Carr’s final years and the more recent awfulness under Rich Rodriguez.

Michigan used to be one of the apex predators of the Big Ten and Michigan’s prowess on the field help ensure that teams like Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Penn State never went to a bowl game they were under-qualified for. Now, instead of facing the ultimate test to get into the post season, Ohio State finishes out its regular season with the equivalent of an overmatched MAC team.

The SEC handled the Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama the right way and the Big Ten should have treated Michigan-Ohio State the same way. A few decades of The Game being moved around the schedule and being superseded by a rematch in Indianapolis will indeed destroy the value of the rivalry.

Oh, and here’s another nightmare scenario for 2011. Michigan defeats Ohio State in convincing fashion behind an amazing effort from Denard Robinson who—unfortunately—is mildly injured. A week later, with Denard Robinson not yet cleared to play, Michigan loses the rematch to Ohio State in a close game. The only upside to this, Robinson is cleared to play in the (Capitol One) Citrus Bowl.

Mikoyan said...

I'm in agreement with you guys where Michigan and OSU should have been in the same division. That way The Game still has the same meaning it's had in the past...the Big 10 Championship. If they keep the current situation, the Game will lose its luster because both teams may have their place assured and wont have to win the regular season game. I mean how many meaningless NFL, NHL or NBA late season games do we have to watch to see that? The only professional sport where you don't have that is baseball but it sounds like Selig is seeing dollar signs and will ruin that one too.

BaggyPantsDevil said...

Mikoyan (where's Gurevich?),

I can't believe you can cite baseball as not having meaningless games. They play, what?, three thousand of them in a season and can lose half of them and still make the playoffs. San Fransisco had a winning percentage of .568. In baseball that's good enough to pave the way to becoming the world champion, in college football it might get you into the Little Caeser's Bowl. For the record they played 70 meaningless games because that's how many they lost.

And, nope, I don't like baseball any more than Jim Delaney.

Mikoyan said...

When I say no meaningless games, I mean for the teams that are in the playoff hunt. Most of the playoff hunt comes down to the wire as none of the divisions have an overall leader (except maybe the AL East). Even the addition of the wild card hasn't changed that.

Contrast that to the NFL where most of the teams have their playoff spot sewn up with 3 or 4 games to spare. Or the NHL where as long as you're breathing, you're in the playoffs.

And as for Gurevich..>he's out and about.....And I think you're one of the few people to get the origin of my name here...:)

Yost said...


I'm with you on this one: I think baseball is the PRIME example of a sport where the regular season doesn't mean crap. Benny, who's a big dbball fan, and I always used to debate this.

Same with basketball and hockey: who really cares if the Wings lose a game or two here in December?