Election Month

By Ramzy Nasrallah on December 4, 2012 at 1:30p

The Big Ten, which deeply cares about getting its lucrative network placed on basic cable television tiers your opinion, has designated the entire month of December as a giant comment card.

I WANT YOU TO VOTE AND TO HATE MICHIGANVote. It validates your right to complain later.

Its questionnaire requesting your input includes all of the divisive issues of the day, including conference expansion, those silly naming conventions that were placed on each division when Nebraska's entry briefly created even sides, protected rivalries and essentially the future of the conference – as you see it.

Commissioner Jim Delany has been playing the role of Angry Old Testament God with the college football landscape, plucking Nebraska out of the Big XII (RIP) and Rutgers out of the Big East (DNR) while forcing other conferences to accept the dominoes he sends tumbling in their direction.

So naturally, Delany and the rest of the B1G brass are deeply concerned about what your thoughts are as their consumer. Your input is needed to shape the moves they're already empowered to make...and will probably make anyway.

That's why getting Big Ten Network solidified as a basic tier channel that comes as a standard offering in markets along the eastern seaboard where 37% of the US population lives is such a vital mission for the B1G: It's all about consumer choice

I voted as soon as I learned of the ballot's existence.  Here is how I voted, and why. 

1. My favorite school is _____________.

I chose Ohio State, though any school listed would be a fine answer as long as it isn't Purdue. No one's favorite school is Purdue.

Its flagship West Lafayette campus carries an enrollment of 33,000 Notre Dame enthusiasts. Purdue, even in the absence of 13 other choices, is the wrong answer.

2. My favorite school is in the ___________ Division. [Leaders, Legends, Not Sure]

The correct answer is Leaders, but this is a trap as well as an opportunity to rattle some cages, which means Not Sure is the best choice.

Perhaps this will result in the B1G renaming its absurd focus group monstrosities. (there's a chance to do this later on)

3. As the conference expands beyond 12 universities, should the Big Ten form completely new divisions, or just add each school to an existing division? [Start from scratch, Add Rutgers and Maryland to Legends & Leaders, Not sure]

The B1G was unnaturally chopped up the way that it was deliberately to create the potential of a television-friendly championship, like Ohio State vs. Michigan, Penn State vs. Nebraska or [NULL SET]. 

Go ahead and choose Start from Scratch, knowing your vote here will be as meaningful as that Close Door button in elevators. Both are connected to nothing and serve no purpose.

4. What do you think of “Legends” and “Leaders” as division names? [Strongly Like, Somewhat Like, No Opinion, Somewhat Dislike, Strongly Dislike]

Google "overbranding" and read any article that appears. Legends and Leaders is not only hackneyed and forced sentimentalism, it's actually damaging to the Big Ten's brand. They created a punchline where there previously was no joke.

Strongly Dislike. This is a conference that allegedly carries several of the best business schools in the world, and yet this amateurish marketing failure was allowed to happen. Hire more Big Ten graduates, Big Ten.

5. Should the Big Ten keep or change the Legends & Leaders names? [Keep the Names, Change the Names, No Opinion]

Question #3 about realignment was meaningless, but Question #4 about branding was not. Question #5 is where reconciliation occurs.

The Big Ten is not going to go East/West because  it's determined to manufacture the best conference title game for television (side note: Ask the ACC how many times Florida State and Miami have met in its championship game, which was the primary motivation behind how it carved up its divisions).

The names have to go, and it's a fair bet that they probably will – under the comforting guise of "oh, we're just reupholstering the divisions for the new additions."  Change the Names and the brace yourselves for more hyphenated titles that are no more helpful than Legends or Leaders.

6. If you think the division names should be changed, what should they be called?

Without any accurate geographical descriptors available, we're left to our creative devices. The Big Ten's focus group is comprised exclusively of robotic housewives from Schaumburg along with octogenarians from the Quad Cities whose jobs are to hang out in front of the barber shop. They landed on Legends and Leaders. 

The NHL, prior to sensibly going Eastern/Western, was comprised of the the Wales and Campbell conferences. Its divisions were Adams, Patrick, Norris and Smythe.

The Big Ten could reverse-engineer this precedent and will ultimately choose two-too many football legends and leaders...and hyphenate them. 

If they're going to keep the divisions non-geographical with Ohio State and Michigan separate, just go with Hayes and Schembechler. Stop overthinking everything and for the love of God - stop pretending Nebraska has been in the conference for longer than 20 minutes.

7. If divisions are changed, what is the most important factor in determining divisional alignment? Rank these factors with 1 being the most important and 3 being the least important: Competitive Balance, Geography, Protect Traditional Rivalries.

This pairs with Question #3 on the bullshit meter, but let's play along anyway. Traditional rivalries can be protected independent of division alignments. Competitive balance is a fluid situation. Ohio State went 6-7 last year. Illinois went to the Rose Bowl five years ago.

You know what's static? Geography. East Division. West Division. 3, 1, 2.

8. How important is it for IN-STATE rivals to be in the same division? [Very Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important]

This affects Michigan/Michigan State, Indiana/Purdue and Northwestern/Illinois. The first will be protected regardless, the second is a basketball rivalry and the third only qualifies on a technicality (the Chicagoland area is like an island of humanity atop the dreck that is the rest of Illinois)

The conference claims to be clinging to guns (competitive balance) and religion (traditional rivalries). State lines don't have any bearing on either, especially if you have to split Indiana and Purdue in the East/West sanity scenario. Not Important.

9. How important is it for TRADITIONAL rivals to be in the same division? [ Very Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important]

It should be required. As important as it might seem to manufacture a conference title game that exploits a rivalry like Ohio State-Michigan, keeping those rivalries within the division – and at the end of the season – creates a play-in game scenario that is far more plausible and exciting than what the current gerrymandered scenario offers.

Very Important.

10. Currently, the Big Ten plays 8 conference games in football. Should that number increase?

[No, stay at 8 games (4 non-conference games; 4 home conference games; 4 road conference games); Yes, increase to 9 games (3 non-conference games; either 4 home conf games and 5 road conf games OR 5 home conf games and 4 road conf games); Yes, increase to 10 games (2 non-conference games; 5 home conf games and 5 road conf games); Not sure]

Eight seems like too few whereas ten will cost money, exposure and – possibly – bowl eligibility (Wisconsin replacing South Dakota and Austin Peay with a conference opponent threatens the almighty win total). Split the difference. Yes, increase to 9 games.

11. What is your preference on a Big Ten Basketball Tournament format? [Every Big Ten team qualifies (14 of 14); 5-day tournament; Not every Big Ten team qualifies (12 of 14); 4-day tournament]

This doesn't require much thought. Not every Big Ten team qualifies (12 of 14); 4-day tournament

12 & 13. Currently, there are no divisions for basketball. Should the Big Ten have divisions for basketball? [Yes, No, Not Sure] If No, Why?

Here's who has divisions in basketball: Big South, MAC, Ohio Valley, Southern Conference and the Sun Belt. [dramatic silence] No.

14. When people reference "B1G," do you recognize that as a nickname for the Big Ten Conference?

Yes. And as eye-rolling as it may have initially seemed, it's terrific branding that's only diluted by the lame division names. (I wanted to overthink the intent of this question, but couldn't)

15. With 14 universities now in the conference, should the Big Ten continue to keep the name "Big Ten?"

Yes. Because: 

16. Do you have any further comments about Big Ten expansion?

The final question on the survey is open-ended. I requested that above all else, the most important issue was keeping Ohio State-Michigan on the final Saturday of the regular season, forever. It's the one thing that unites us all.

Go vote! 


Comments Show All Comments

gosolow2000's picture

I voted a couple of days ago, and my answers are pretty similar to what your's were.

The_Lurker's picture

I needed no prompting to come up with the same answers. My response to the final questions was "We don't want Georgia Tech." In related news, we are SO getting Georgia Tech.

slippy's picture

Sort of like mine.  I simply chose to answer "STOP!"

JoshAlum's picture

haha. I put "do not pick up ga tech or Virginia. period. ND and Syracuse would be palatable".

dumpus's picture

New football division names: 
Woody Hayes Division
Bo Schembechler Division
if some douchebag programs like Wisconsin or Iowa or Ped State don't like it - fine, do your part to define BigTen football for decades to come and then you can have your say. 

Sean N's picture

Bo Schembechler won the same number of national titles as John L. Smith.

ElGato69's picture

Yeah, but Bo prolly didn't slap himself on camera nearly as much.  Don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing...

Bucksfan's picture

There were a couple of question I wasn't sure about.  I'm not sure about if Basketball should have divisions.  Just because only a few mid-majors do it doesn't mean it's a bad thing.  I also wasn't sure if they should keep the name "Big Ten."  The television network is frail and can't just change names at the drop of a hat.  It definitely needs to wait until it hits 16 teams if that's the penultimate goal, and then it needs to have a stable market.  OR, if the network feels it would be better off changing the name of the conference to something that is a new brand (the way NBC changed "Versus" to "NBC Sports Network"), then by all means.  But, make no mistake, the conference and the TV network are intimately tied to what gets them into as many homes as possible.  I'm not qualified to answer that because I'm going to purchase it no matter what it's called or how it's offered.  So, I answered "not sure."
I also answered that it was only somewhat important for traditional rivalries to be in the same divisions.  We have already demonstrated that it's not necessary for everyone.

741's picture

I voted a few days ago as well, and really only differed with you minimally.
Namely, in question seven my #1 choice is to "protect traditional rivalries" (i.e., Ohio State - Michigan of course).
Further, I'm not one of the purists who believe traditional rivals must be in the same division - I have no problem with there being two Ohio State vs. Michigan matchups in a season (The Game, and again in the B1G Championship). The two best teams should play for the championship - period. I would love to see two Ohio State - Michigan games in a season!

741's picture

My comments at the end of the survey: "If the conference adds two or more additional teams to the B1G please add teams that improve the competitiveness of the league on the field of play. Enough making additions just for perceived potential money making opportunities vis-a-vis the BTN or other television contracts. The SEC is unfortunately the best conference because of the quality and competitiveness of the product their teams bring to the football field. The B1G needs to devote some time, resources, and bargaining chips towards raising the level of its game on the field. We get it that the B1G Conference is winning in the board room and with its income statement and balance sheet - but that is not what we - the fans - want. We want championships."

buckz4evr's picture

My answer was basically the same. We need competitive teams to give us a shot at being a relevent football conference.  A competitve conference will  get them just as much exposure as having them in markets that nobody watches.  I also added I will be watching the BTN less frequently because I could care less about most of those other teams.  Adding 2 or 4 more will only dilute my viewing experience.  I will not be watching their shows like The BTN Football Report for an hour, only to see about 2 min for every team worth watching.  Who really cares what Maryland or Rutgers or any of those worthless additions do.  If they were competitve teams, I would be more likely to watch.  I know they don't care if we are not watching, but their sponsors do.

William's picture

You do realize that Rutgers was better than 7 of the teams in the Big Ten this year, right? You do realize that Delany doesn't give a rat's ass if you watch the BTN, and that he only cares if you're paying for it as part of a basic cable package? UMD and Rutgers were fine additions. They will boost the financial gains considerably, granting all schools exactly zero excuses when it comes to athletic success. Big Ten schools will be making far more than anyone else by 2017, Delany has effectively put the ball in the B1G's AD's courts. It's time to put up or shut up, he's given them the capital to succeed, it is on them to use it efficiently, not Delany. Also who exactly do you propose we go after? Texas? They'll go independent before joining a conference where they have equals. Notre Dame? See Texas. Oklahoma? Maybe, but I imagine that OK. State would be a package deal and the B1G doesn't accept oversized community colleges, I mean Hell, the only academic conference more prestigious than the B1G is the Ivy League. UVa/Va.Tech? Possible. UNC/NCSU? Possible as well. Ga.Tech? They're an option too. 
Also just about anyone that complains about the "ruining of tradition" is out of touch with reality, because if one is so hung up on tradition, then I have no idea how you can wear scarlet and gray when OSU's original colors were orange and black. 

ajbosu1's picture

One thing that gets overlooked is the fact B1G schools support a higher number of non-revenue sports than other conferences.
On the other hand we need to hire top tier head coaches (of course) but funding the assistant pool needs to increase...dramatically. 
What do you choose? 
I know there is room to increase the assistant pool but will Delaney demand it?

Doc's picture

Voted.  Glad to see we have a voice and that the Big Ten really wants our input on this very important decision.  /disengage sarcasm font.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

NYC Buckeye's picture

Honestly the names are ridiculous but of little importance to me... whats most important, and what I wrote in the open ended question, is starting from scratch on the division alignment, and putting Ohio State and Michigan in the same division.
1. You can't prognosticate competitive balance anyway, why even try. 
2. Having them possibly play twice, back to back weeks, decreases the significance of the rivalry.  You should only get one shot at winning that game every season.
3. Go ahead and re-name the conference or divisions after whatever cable company offers the highest bid, this is inevitable anyway, and will make up for the lost revenue of a possible second Ohio State Michigan game.

Dean's picture

Just failed at naming the division OSU is in.  I hope that will convince them that their names are stupid.  It's too much of a pain to remember which is which - it's easier to remember who is IN the division than the name of the stupid thing.


1. Ummmm, tOSU
2. Leaders
3. Start from scratch. Please
4. Strongly Dislike
5. Change them.
6. Red and Blue, Pink and Orange. hell, even Black and White are better than Leaders and Legends. Worst.conference names.ever. How about Sauerkraut and Weiners (Michigan's divison?)
7.  1 - Protect Traditional Rivalries (only chose this as amost important to protect The Game from getting cut by the B1G brainiacs); 2 - Geography; 3 - Competitive Balance
8. Not Important. I dont care about those people.
9. Very Important. PROTECT THE GAME
10. Nine is fine though I dont want to see The Game get axed. EVER
11. Not everyone qualifies.
12 & 13. No Divisions. Just gives the B1G an extra excuse to come up with even more lame division names like "Sonny" and "Cher"
14. It's an subliminal anagram for a future 16-team conference unfortunately (B16 = B1G). Thats what I see anyway
15. Yes, branding wins out over obvious mathematics
16. yes, stop the expansion. If Delany adds any more mediocrity the B1G might as well re-name itself Conference USA.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Baroclinicity's picture

I mentioned that the Ohio State-Michigan game should never be considered to be moved from the regular season finale.  I've heard rumblings about that changing. 
Over my dead body.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Denny's picture

Delany Reupholstered my Conference


GrayDay's picture

I hope B1G powers-that-be take at least some of this seriously.  As early as next year we could get an OSU-UM champ game one week after The Game.  If the B1G refuses to preserve the sacred role of The Game, I'd hope OSU and UM would consider leaving the conference for football and perhaps form its own football superconference with select schools (ND, Texas, Oklahoma, and a few others).  The Rutgers and Maryland moves will cost us (OSU) more than help us, in my opinion.

onetwentyeight's picture

BIG TEN EAST ---------------------(geographical LINE)----------------> BIG TEN WEST

onetwentyeight's picture

It's like if one day ordinary ole North Dakota woke up and decided it was sick of being the "boring" Dakota (no black hills!!11!!) and renamed themselves "The Dakota of LEGENDS" or some other more "SPECIALLL" s*it. SERIOUSLY. PEOPLE. 

Boxley's picture

Exactly what I submitted, keeps the name Big Ten in, and divides  the conference geographically, which sure as hell makes it easier to figure out what team is in what division. Like you said;
Keep it simple!

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

buckz4evr's picture

Division names:  Ohio State and Others

icbuck's picture

I went with "Big" and "Ten"
Big important schools in one division, ten schools in the other division.
You decide how they should be split.  New division names allow for the conference name to exsist without all the funny math, or counting jokes.
It also would help Mr. Delany find a few more big and important schools to add to the conference instead of adding the likes of Maryland and Rutgers. 
No more ugly rich girls, lets add some hotties. (Texas, Oklahoma, Notre Dame)

bcWEcouldn'tGOfor3's picture

I don't know if you caught this but wanted to get your thoughts about your answers to questions 6 and 9 (giggity).
I am never one to care about the feelings of Michigan or their fanbase...but if you put Ohio State and Michigan into the same Division, and those Divisions are named Hayes and Schembechler, one team is going to be pissed.
Associating Ohio State to the Schembechler Division or Michigan to the Hayes Division seems to be a stretch.

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Two Ohio State coaches from Ohio. No biggie.

Boxley's picture

Well played Sir, well played.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

sawesome's picture

My comments on the names:

Nagurski and Grange.  History and a throw back to two under-achieving programs?  Sign me up.
Get rid of Leaders and Legends.  They are milquetoast, namby-pamby names with no history behind them.  They're traditionless bolt-ons with no memories of leather helmets, crisp autumn Saturdays, or snow bowls. 
I guess the one downside of the names is that people would have a hard time figuring out what divisions different teams belong to:  but this is true of Legends and Leaders, as well, since they're hardly a proxy for geography.  But, frankly, geographical representation in a division is basically nonsense.  In-state rivalries are sacrificed on the altar of geographical convenienc.  So pick names with teeth (it's really hard to find a badder name than Bronko Nagurski; and Red Grange?  sounds like a worse form of gangrene).

I edited this one a bit, but that was the gist.  There were some paragraphs that were slightly more boring that followed, but they've disappeared into the Interether by now, and I wasn't able to retrieve them.  :(

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

For division names I put Urban's B*ithes and Urban's Other B*tches...

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

LadyBuck's picture

I just voted, but I voted almost the same as you. Hopefully they change the division names.

Dougger's picture

im voting again when i get home.

I like football

OSUBias's picture

I'm still voting for the following sequence of events: Add Louisville and Oklahoma. Then our divisions look like this:
"RED!!!!!!!" (Yes, I want the exclamation marks in there. All of them)
OSU, Wiscy, Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisville, and Nebraska
"not red" (lower case intended)
TTUN ,MSU, Iowa, NW, Purdon't, Illinois, Minnesota, PSU

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

Colorado Buckeye's picture

^^THIS^^ Love it!

Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever!

bgohio22's picture

Most of my answers were the same, too, but to me the number of confernece football games was the interesting question.  I would like to see a 10 game confernece schedule, but I voted to keep the 8 game schedule. 
A 9 or 10 game conference schedule gives the Buckeyes fewer home games per year and less flexibility in scheduling top notch non-conference games.  The cash hit of one less home game per year wouldn't bankrupt the program, but it would mean somewhere around $1 million fewer dollars in revenue.  Would you rather see the Bucks play Kent at the Shoe in September.  Or at Rutgers.  I rest my case.
As a Browns and Indians fan . . . I love the Buckeyes having every competitive and financial advantage.  I prefer to keep it that way.

ODEEZ330's picture

i voted as 11w reccomended lol

stark county football

Sean N's picture

RE: realignment of the divisions
I don't believe there should be permanent divisions.  I would like to see them shuffled up every two years in order to preserve all the traditional match-ups.  If some of the reports are to be believed, Rutgers and Maryland will be joining OSU's division. If that is true, the Buckeyes will play Maryland every year, but Wisconsin only about once every six years (or more likely twice every 12).  Things would somewhat improve if they add a 9th conference game, but still not that much.  This would at least mean that each team would play every other team a lot more frequently.

nickma71's picture

East and West as posted on Rittenbergs blog over and over and over. I wonder when he got tired of it. OSU and michigan are in the same division, there is no do-over. Check that, there shouldn't be a do-over. They always end the same way. Unless you are talking about the Big 12 North and how weak the confrence was during most of the BCS era.

nickma71's picture

I told them the truth. I will not watch "The Game" two weeks in a row. You don't plan for a year, then get a "do over". The Big Ten is like Washington DC. They are creating their own mess and we have to swallow it.

vidstudent's picture

I treated this largely like I treat my SEIs.  Not like most of *you* treated your SEIs, mind; I fill mine out.  I then take my sweet time on the free-form, though most of this didn't actually call for that; saying "East and West" is only three words unless you start adding expletives right around that time.  I think I avoided expletives.  (Note: with SEIs this year, I did not; ECE's answer to transitioning from a four-course sequence to a two-course sequence was that two courses did *not* equal one semester, but required redoing labs in two one-credit add-ons and tacking on a three-week sequence where 40% of the grade was two quizzes and the lectures online.)
The last free-form question, though?  I may have come off as a well-written hippie to them.  I do not care.  Their priorites are money and not the students, the athletes, the teaching, or anyone not them.  It had gone over the line long, long ago, and I hope a lot of people in suits are reading carefully.

Nicholas Eckert


Ann Arbor Buckeye's picture

I would rather see us get rid of divisions all together and just base everything on record.  That way the best 2 teams make it to the BIG championship game at the end of the season.

Yes there are two Buckeyes in Ann arbor on this site!

baddogmaine's picture

I voted for The Ohio State Division and The Second Place Division.