The B1G List: State Flags of the Big Ten

By Johnny Ginter on June 3, 2013 at 4:00p
49 Comments

Flags.

Everybody wants a flag. Schools, cities, townships, states, countries, whatever. People want a flag because it's a physical representation of what the people from whatever is being represented want you to think about then you're visiting. Sometimes they want you to know that they figured out how to make text effects in PowerPoint. Sometimes they want you to know that they are having an epileptic seizure (looking at you, Maryland). Other times it's that they want you to know that they're okay with being a flyover state, and the flag is really just a vehicle for their state logo, which we all know is really where the sausage is made.

Anyway, for whatever reason people get seriously attached to their state flags, even if in the back of their minds they have a sneaking suspicion that their state flag actually sucks. That can be rough, so this week I've decided to not just do my usual rankings, but also provide a handy, three step guide for people not in the B1G footprint to objectively determine if their state flag indeed sucks. I can't pretend to be definitive, but if your state flag meets two out of the three criteria, there's a decent chance that it sucks.

For anyone still unsure after reading this post, spoiler alert: it probably does.

11. The State flag of Illinois

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? YES.

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? YES.

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? YES.

The Illinois state flag is complete BS for many, many reasons. If you looked at it from more than 10 feet away, it's pretty likely you'd mistake it for the soiled bedsheets of some unfortunate bed pooper at summer camp. Perhaps enticed by that insane idea for a state flag, if you looked at it from less than 10 feet away, you'd notice that it's not poop, just a very poorly rendered bald eagle.

What the bald eagle holds in its beak is what makes the flag (and state seal) truly, madly, deeply awful. The ribbon reads "State sovereignty, national unity" and if you know anything about US history, you know that those two things were diametrically opposed to each other in the 1850's. Illinois' solution? Write "sovereignty" upside down. YEAH THAT'LL SHOW EM!

10. The state flag of Minnesota

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? YES.

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? YES.

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? YES.

It's... it's just so beautifulThey go pretty well together!

The state flag of Minnesota looks like someone chewed up a bunch of crayons and then spit them out on blue construction paper. The half assed attempt to make the thing look like a sheriffs' badge really reinforces the idea that it was thrown together by a 3rd grade class in Minneapolis right before naptime. Bad.

9. The state flag of Nebraska

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? YES.

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? YES.

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? YES.

The only thing that makes Nebraska's flag marginally better than Minnesota is that if I saw it, I wouldn't say to myself, "Wow, that is a horrible abomination of a flag and only serves to make the other flags around it look better by comparison." Instead, I'd probably say something along the lines of "Check it out, it's one of those Magic Eye things, except the hard part is already done for you!"

Look, the North American Vexillological Association knows their stuff, and though I don't rank the flag of Nebraska quite as low as they do, I think it shows that I've created some pretty solid criteria here.

8. The state flag of Michigan

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? YES.

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? YES.

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? YES.

Let's this this out of the way first: yes, I am aware that "tuebor" is a legitimate Latin word, and that it means something fairly noble in that it says "I will defend." Cool, great, except that "tuebor" sounds and looks like the name for a 1950s robot from the planet Neeglrr hell-bent on ripping the clothes off unsuspecting co-ed astronauts.

The rest of the flag is your standard state seal on a blue background, although I've rated Michigan's state seal on a blue background slightly higher than the other state seals on blue backgrounds because this state seal on a blue background has a moose in it. Also, it's not technically the state seal, it's a coat of arms, but really that would just start me down a whole monarchists rant that no one really wants me to go in to.

7. The State flag of Wisconsin

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? YES.

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? YES.

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? YES.

Same crap, different state, BUT I can't deny that I am a total sucker for dates on flags. Hypocritical, I know, but as a history teacher I just get inherently giddy over anything that indirectly teaches a historical fact about something. Really, if they just ditched the coat of arms and made the entire flag just the number "1848" on a Holstein-spotted background, there probably wouldn't be a person in this country who didn't know which state it was talking about.

6. The state flag of New Jersey

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? YES.

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? YES.

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? YES.

Three yeses, but hey, woah, what's this? A buff colored flag? A horses head for some reason? A toque?!? SOLD.

5. The State flag of Pennsylvania

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? YES.

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? ...Maybe?

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? YES.

One of the reasons I'll give the state flag of Pennsylvania a semi-pass is that the coat of arms that, naturally, appears on a blue background is actually blown up to the size in which you start to think that is something the state is actually proud of, rather than a dumb coaster that someone stuck on as an afterthought. Not that the coat of arms actually makes any sense whatsoever ("Horses! A boat! Some wheat despite Pennsylvania not actually producing much wheat at all!") but screw it, this is the first flag on this list to actually have some effort put in to its presentation. Congratulations on being barely mediocre!

4. The State flag of Iowa

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? YES.

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? Nope!

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? Probably, but that may be the point.

I secretly like the state flag of Iowa for one very specific reason, and that is because it seems to be a secret slam on the French flag that is closely mirrors. My thinking is that the flag is part of an elaborate ruse by the Iowa tourism board to convince French tourists that Iowa is a really French-friendly state. "Oui! Such a beautiful flag!" they will exclaim, before coming closer and BAM! Giant bald American eagle right there in the middle, don't you feel stupid? Why would you even go from France to Iowa in the first place, God you're dumb.

3. The State flag of Indiana

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? YES.

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? No.

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? Somehow no!

I really enjoy the state flag of Indiana. Yes, it still has that obnoxious text that reminds people looking at it from 10 inches away that it is the state flag of Indiana, but in reality it doesn't really need that. The torch and the unique arrangement of stars around said torch are recognizable enough, and maybe if they hadn't stuck with the yellow on blue motif I'd have them at number one (absolutely not).

All in all, it's a pretty cool flag for a pretty uncool state, cool enough that it might actually convince a 6 year old kid to spend several futile minutes asking his parents to go on vacation there. That's not a bad accomplishment for Indiana!

2. The State Flag of Maryland

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? No

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? No way.

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? Not in the least.

Pro style. This is how you make a state flag, kids. I guess if you were a major hater you could say that it could double as a stress test for epileptics, but the truth of the matter is that it sticks out more than almost any other state flag, is colorful, and best of all, doesn't represent an embarrassingly racist and secessionist past that would bring shame to all those who live under its banner today.

OR DOES IT?? Yeah, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that neat red and white cross? It was used by Maryland Confederates during the Civil War as their state symbol. I guess the flag makes up for it by also including the black and yellow Union state symbol, but (to paraphrase a great man) do you want to be a winner or the opposite? Then drop the cross, throw up deuces, and step on it.

1. The State Flag of Ohio

Criteria #1: Is there text somewhere on the flag? NO.

Criteria #2: Is the flag just a lazy vehicle to show off the state seal? NO.

Criteria #3: Is the flag completely unrecognizable outside of the state that it represents? NO.

One of the easiest calls to make out of all the lists I've done (assuming that I'm not just ranking Ohio number one every single time for the hell of it). Ohio, as you probably already know, is one of only two flags at the state level or higher in the known universe to be pennant-shaped. Its brother is the flag of Nepal, an awesome flag in its own right, but let's be honest: the Ohio flag is head and shoulders above nearly every flag everywhere.

What's remarkable about the Ohio state flag is how much symbolism they managed to pack in to a relatively simple design. The "O" obviously stands for "Ohio" but it's colored in such a way as to resemble a Buckeye nut. The five stripes are symbolic of Ohio being one of the five Northwest Territories, the 13 stars on the left represent the 13 original colonies, and the other four show that Ohio was the 17th state admitted to the US.

See? Ohio can be deep, man. You just have to look a little closer at us.


And that about does it! Ohio dominated this one, easily, and I am also confident that the Buckeye state will somehow find a way to the top spot of next week's list, when we tackle the best television show set in each of the B1G states. See you then!

The B1G List: State Birds | State Mottos | State FlowersState Songs | State Fossils

49 Comments

Comments

brandonbauer87's picture

I'm actually a little afraid of next week. I'm not sure I can honestly say that The Drew Carey Show is better than Home Improvement. I hope you have something else in mind. 

NoVA Buckeye's picture

My guesses for the others:

Illinois: Family Matters (AKA The Skinny Mark May Show)
Indiana: The Middle
Michigan: Home Improvement
Pennsylvania: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Maryland: The Wire
Minnesota: Little House on the Prarie?
Ohio: Glee?
Iowa & Nebraska: You got me. Were any good shows filmed there?

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

Geraffi's picture

Ohio: Family Ties. Alex P Keaton. Totally #1. 

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Family Ties > Glee. Did not remember that one. Tried to do it off the top of my head.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

VintonCountyBuck's picture

No way..WKRP in Cincinnati was way better than Family Ties.
 

 

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

Geraffi's picture

I stand corrected. Forgot about that one. 

harleymanjax's picture

"As god is my witness I thought Turkeys could fly!".................Les Nesman
 
One of the funniest things ever shown on TV!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

Johnny Ginter's picture

hahah you are so, so wrong on some of these

Johnny Ginter's picture

na na nanana naaaaa

alright alright

na nanana na naaaa

NoVA Buckeye's picture

As expected. I have no confidence in my TV knowledge of the 70s-90s

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

3rdGenBuckeye's picture

You seem to have forgotten New Jersey, which will probably be represented by "The Sopranos"

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

3rd rock from the Sun was also set in Ohio.  Probably not going to represent us, but still a pretty strong honorable mention.  Looks like there are quite a few good TV shows set in Ohio.
 
 

hart1123's picture

Here is my opinion on the TV show rankings.
11. Nebraska = The Young Riders
10. Maryland = The X-Files
9. Michigan = Home Improvement
8. Indiana = One Day at a Time
7. Minnesota = The Mary Tyler Moore Show
6. Iowa = American Pickers
5. Ohio = Family Ties
4. Wisconsin = Happy Days
3. New Jersey = The Sopranos
2. Pennsylvania = The Office
1. Illinois = ER

gwalther's picture

Ohio = Family Ties.

Class of 2008

thePhilipJFry's picture

Minnesota should be coach.  It had a great theme song anyway http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpTXTDUEbYM

DJRoss926's picture

Indiana: The Middle

You misspelled 'Parks & Recreation.'

hail2victors9's picture

I loved Home Improvement, but Freaks and Geeks deserves some love, based in Michigan.
 

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!
~Bo Schembechler

Nicholas Jervey's picture

This happened on the Drew Carey Show. The Drew Carey Show is so, so much better than Home Improvement.

Ceci n'est pas une signature.

Michael Citro's picture

Plus, Krista Miller in her prime >>>>>>

Geraffi's picture

Hilarious, historical, and totally awesome!  I think Urbs and his band of recruiters should start using your top ten lists as ammunition on the recruiting trail. 
So, Jabrill, how does it feel to have committed to the school which only boasts the 8th best flag in the B1G?  Awful, I'm sure! Just awful. 
 

JasonOSU_UNI's picture

I think "Third Rock from the Sun" was set in Ohio, but it's still doesn't beat "Family Ties".
 
Good luck finding a show set in Iowa.

hart1123's picture

Iowa = American Pickers

Denny's picture

Once again (as in the cursing rankings that recently surfaced), I'm proud to have grown up in Ohio and then moved to Maryland for my graduate work.
Also, DC has a pretty bitchin' flag, too.

Taquitos.

RedStorm45's picture

Johnny, a bit disappointed here...Ohio's flag is not a pennant.  It is a burgee.  (http://new.oplin.org/ohiodefined/flag.htm)  While many think it is pennant-shaped, the two sides do not actually make a point.  They bend back in towards the middle of the flag.  A swallowtail shape.
 
I believe less official symbolism of the red and white stripes represent the 5 major interstates through the state (70,71,75,77,90).  Actually, from the designer himself:
"The triangles formed by the main lines of the flag represent the hills and valleys as typified in the State Seal, and the stripes the roads and waterways. The stars, indicating the thirteen original states of the Union, are grouped about the circle which represents the Northwest Territory; and that Ohio was the seventeenth state admitted into the Union is shown by adding four more stars. The white circle with its red center, not only represents the initial letter of Ohio, but is suggestive of its being the Buckeye State."
 
Also, it would be cool to link the other ones you've done in weeks past, as I'm just now catching on to this series.  I guess sort of what Vico does in BKaB for lack of better description.

Johnny Ginter's picture

kinda weird that in 1902 john eisemann would incorporate the highways of the state into the flag when they wouldn't be constructed for another 50 years or so, but whatevs

also done and done on the links to the other lists. i'm sure you will find them as factually stringent as this one was

RedStorm45's picture

I didn't mean anything by the burgee/pennant comment.  I just did a project on it way back when and almost everyone calls it a pennant.

Johnny Ginter's picture

i'm just messing with you a bit, no harm no foul

bukyze's picture

Gonna be hard to beat The Wire.  Johnny, if you come at the king, you best not miss.  WKRP is our only hope - Loni Anderson in her prime.

Johnny Ginter's picture

next week is going to make a lot of people mad

BuckeyeChief's picture

CAN'T WAIT!

 

"Damn I miss El Guapo"

Buckeyes_Terrapins's picture

The flag of Maryland, based on the matriarchal and patriarchal heraldry of George Calvert, First Baron Baltimore, predates the Civil War by over 250 years.  We can't help that some assholes co-opted it for their douchebaggery.
 
Scuto bonæ voluntatis tuæ coronasti nos.

Maffro's picture

Hey so, as a Maryland native and OSU alumnus, I'm stealing your picture because it's incredible. Just figured I'd let you know.

Buckeyes_Terrapins's picture

Glad to be able to share :) Love the Mr. Boh!

Hovenaut's picture

Flag Day is Friday, June 14th kids.

Not celebrated on Neelgrr.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

Maffro's picture

Maryland has the best flag in the nation and it's not even close. I own a tie and a shirt with the flag's design because we're awesome. People ridiculed UMD's various uniform designs that incorporated the flag, but I thought they would've looked fine had they alternated the sections like our flag actually does.
(Disclaimer: I love my home state, but the University of Maryland can kick rocks. Go Bucks.)

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

The Ohio flag is pretty cool and does go with 'Ol Glory pretty well!  The picture of those two just looked great. 
Got to admit though that the Maryland flag is pretty cool.  I'm also not a big fan of just putting the state seal on the flag and calling it a day.  I like that some states get creative. 
Go Bucks!!

CC's picture

Aside from Ohio and Maryland I would add Texas, Tenn and S. Carolina to the good flag list. Honorable mention goes to Alaska.

AC1972's picture

Colorado's flag meets all the key criteria for coolness. Colorado has to be up in the rankings. 

OSUNeedles's picture

Unless you decide that The Simpson's is in Springfield, Ohio (despite the claims that it is in based on Springfield, OR... lame), I'm afraid that Ohio may come up short next week...

theobi's picture

Pennsylvania must have the best 1-2 punch in TV shows with It's Always Sunny and the Office

droessl's picture

You know a flag sucks when they have to put the name of the state in big, bold letters at the top.  Looking at you, Wisconsin. 

Lincoln Linworth's picture

If I'm being completely objective, I move Michigan way up the list for putting Sasquatch on their flag.

hail2victors9's picture

I'm predicting a huge backlash once the TV show list comes out; riots even.  Couch-burning (Sparty), cow-tipping, car flipping riots!  Heck, half of the comments in this thread are already about a list that's yet to come out.
Honestly, Ohio has no chance at winning the TV battle, right?  The Office, Home Improvement, ER >> Family Ties, WKRP, 3rd Rock.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!
~Bo Schembechler

IBleedSandG's picture

I think Nebraska's flag wins the award for ugliest flag. Jeeeesh... those colors...

"You pick up the rifle and go as hard as you can possibly go."
-UFM

buck414's picture

I've been a regular 11W reader for 2 years now and the need to post about this series is what finally prompted me to create an account.  Great mix of factoids, made-up factoids, and humor.  Keep up the good work, Johnny - it makes the offseason ever-so-slightly more bearable.

Johnny Ginter's picture

thanks, and honestly by august my goal is to have lists that are 100% purestrain BS

harleymanjax's picture

Still waiting for the State Tree list...........I sense a Buckeye victory there!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"