By Dave Wischnowsky–

OK, it’s taken a couple of days, but I’m finally on board with this whole new Big Ten thing.

The conference is bigger, it’s badder (and that’s just what they’re saying about our divisions!) and, thanks to all those new multi-name football awards, it’s also more hyphenated than ever before.

I-mean, after-all, who-doesn’t-love-hyphens?

Truth is, the hyphen could use some help. During the past few years, its use in the English language has been steadily declining. These days, instead of using a hyphen (which sometimes goes by its cooler nickname, “Dash”) more and more people are instead just putting an empty space between related words or simply combining them into one.

Heck, in 2007 alone, the sixth edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary removed the hyphens from a whopping 16,000 entries, including such time-honored hyphenations as fig-leaf (now fig leaf), pot-belly (now pot belly) and pigeon-hole (now pigeonhole).


But with the sickly hyphen in need of a boost – a Punctuation Stimulus Act, if you will – who would be magnanimous enough to step up and provide but the Big-Ten?

Er, excuse me, the B1G TEN.

In fact, I’m so impressed by the conference’s generosity that I’m proposing it take things a step further. We need to spread the joy of increased hyphenation to the Big Ten’s basketball teams, too.

I mean, why should only football players get to hoist trophies with such lyrical names of legends and leaders – or leaders and legends – as Butkus-Fitzgerald, Richter-Howard and Thompson-Randle El?

On a side note, I’m still hoping, by the way, that the Big Ten adds a Tony Mandarich-David Terrell Award for Biggest NFL Draft Bust.

To be awarded two years after leaving school, of course.

But that’s an issue for another day. Football has gotten more than enough attention this week. It’s time for the Big Ten’s basketball teams to get some hyphenated trophy love. So, let’s give it to them.

The following are 10 B1G suggestions I came up with for proposed Big Ten Basketball Awards. Feel free to add your own to my list. Just make sure they’re properly hyphenated …

1. The Robert Archibald-Mike Tisdale Award (for Most Foul-Out Disqualifications)
2. The Lucas Johnson-Brian Cardinal Award (For Premier Antagonist)
3. The Steve Alford-Bob Knight Award (For Warmest Mentor-Protégé Relationship)
4. The Lou Henson-Gene Keady-Dee Brown Award (For Best Hairdo)
5. The Clem Haskins-Kelvin Sampson Award (For Ethics in Coaching – to be sponsored by “Mr. Clean”)
6. The Calvin Booth-Eric Piatkowski Award (For Best Player At A Completely Irrelevant Football School – Talor Battle has this one locked up)
7. The Jess Settles-Evan Eschmeyer Award (For Sixth-Year Players)
8. The Dan Monson-Todd Lickliter Award (For Mid-Major Coaches Who Probably Should Have Just Stayed There.)
9. The Chester Frazier-Eric Gordon Award (For Friendliest Pre-Game Handshake)
10. The Bruce Weber-Chris Webber Award (For Most Common Fan Message Board Misspelling – to be sponsored by Webber, er … Weber Grill)

Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.

davewisch Wisch: The Big Ten, Its Hyphenation Nation!

Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at

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