By Dan Bernstein–
Of course the names “Legends” and “Leaders” have been poorly received by fans and critics. The two new Big Ten division names are uninspiring and uncreative, at best.
And if you want someone to blame for them, look in the mirror.
I’m talking to you, Mr. College-fan Loon. You with the flag on your house and clipped to your car windows, you who would confidently wear school-logoed clothes to a wedding, you visiting message boards to follow the recruitment battles for giant children, you looking for any perceived slight from someone outside the borders of whichever state you inhabit. You the drunken undergrad, hilljack townie, and Volvo driver with the alumni-association-issued license-plate holder.
Jim Delany just doesn’t want to deal with you.
He knew exactly the eye-rolls and groans that would accompany the news of the lame new names, clearly opting for that that over the response any alternative would elicit.
Whatever colorful, interesting titles you had in mind would have resulted, somehow, in a storm of profane emails, angry columns from compromised small-town writers, and threats of bodily harm. That’s how college sports fans communicate.
Delany, the longtime conference commissioner, is no dummy. He has been floating trial balloons in phone conversations with athletic directors for months, and he’s aware that any name connected with any individual school –or even perceived to be — would have a commensurate negative reaction from sworn enemies. The AD’s themselves fought against any possible biases, mostly because they, too, wanted to avoid your outraged responses.
You on the lunatic fringe, using instant mass-media and protected by anonymity, have unwittingly created this kind of “correctness,” which is really no different from its political cousin you so often deride vehemently. Rather than cause a special-interest group to raise pitchforks, it’s safer to be boring.
And, don’t forget to give out trophies! New championship trophies! Postgraduate awards! Annual individual trophies! Eighteen in all, noticeably ecumenical in the inclusion of namesakes affiliated with all twelve conference members – they wouldn’t want to offend you, see. You’re all winners!
You complain that the new divisional names lack sizzle, and that there are enough awards to go around that the end of the year will resemble a tee-ball banquet. You are right on both counts.
But listen to what Delany is really saying in this response to a question from the Trib about avoiding specific biases. “We’ve been down that road before. The (Big Ten) Icons created a lot of controversies on campuses. And when I’ve tried to develop a Big Ten-type Hall of Fame, (school officials) ask ‘How many will I have? Who goes in first?’”
He’s telling you you’re not mature enough to handle such things properly, because there are too many of you who are tantrum-throwing babies.
You get what you deserve.