Morelli OnLion: What was the Big Ten Thinking?

We waited months for this?

The Big Ten unveiled its divisions and new logo on Monday. All we can say is wow.

In today’s edition of Morelli OnLion, we’ll take a closer look at the Big Ten’s latest gaffe and examine Penn State’s 7-5 campaign that landed the Nittany Lions in the Outback Bowl.

Let’s start with the big news in the Big Ten.

What was the Big Ten Thinking?

On Monday, the Big Ten brass announced the names of the conference’s two divisions – Legends and Leaders. The Legend Division will feature Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern. The Leaders Division will feature Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany explained the conference’s alignment.

“When we announced football division alignments in September, other associated decisions had not yet been made. We wanted to take some time to listen, carefully consider, and make choices that would best honor our history and traditions, reflect our core values and characteristics, and tell our story,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “We involved many thoughtful, dedicated professionals and we listened to many ideas from our member schools, alumni and fans.”

I don’t have a problem with the alignment. What I do have a problem with is the name. Legends and Leaders? Really? That’s the best you could do, Big Ten? Just about anything would have been better than Legends and Leaders. How about something simple like East-West? North-South? National-American?  Big-Ten?  If you’re trying to pay tribute to the conference’s history, how about the Hayes and Schembechler Divisions?

But Legends and Leaders is weak.

Delany knows he’s going to take a lot of heat for this one. In fact, he tried to issue a pre-emptive strike yesterday, explaining the names of the divisions.

“‘Legends’ is a nod to our history and to the people associated with our schools who are widely recognized as legends – student-athletes, coaches, alumni and faculty. ‘Leaders’ looks to the future as we remain committed to fostering leaders, the student-athletes who are encouraged to lead in their own way for the rest of their lives, in their families, in their communities and in their chosen professions,” Delany said. “We’re proud of our many legends and even prouder of our member institutions that develop future leaders every day.”

As if the division names weren’t bad enough, the Big Ten also unveiled its new logo. It’s even worse than the division names. The new Big Ten logo is absolutely hideous. It has been reported that designing a typical collegiate logo costs between $25,000 and $30,000. What a complete waste of money by the conference. The color of the logo is Carolina Blue, which also makes little sense.

The new Big Ten logo was developed by Michael Bierut and Michael Gericke of the international design firm Pentagram.

“The new Big Ten logo was developed to symbolize the conference’s future, as well as its rich heritage, strong tradition of competition, academic leadership, and passionate alumni,” said Gericke. “Its contemporary collegiate lettering includes an embedded numeral ‘10’ in the word ‘BIG,’ which allows fans to see ‘BIG’ and ‘10’ in a single word. Memorable and distinctive, the new logo evolved from the previous logo’s use of negative space and is built on the conference’s iconic name, without reference to the number of member institutions.”

The Big Ten's new logo is absolutely hideous.

The new logo also provides the flexibility of multiple versions which can be used horizontally, vertically and within new media.

“The new Big Ten logo provides a contemporary identifying mark unifying 12 outstanding institutions,” said Delany. “It conveys some elements from the past while simultaneously introducing new features. We think the new logo is fun and has something for everyone.”

Is it April 1? Because this seems like a bad April Fool’s Day joke.

OK With 7-5?

If you’re a Penn State fan who is headed to Tampa for the Outback Bowl, then you’re OK with 7-5. Let’s face it, 2010 was not a good season for the Nittany Lions. But the fact of the matter is, 7-5 was as good as it was going to get this year. Losses to Alabama, Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan State were pretty much expected. The loss to Illinois was the lone head scratcher when the dust settled on the season.

For the Lions, the problems began before the season even began. Somehow, someway, the PSU braintrust settled on true freshman Rob Bolden at quarterback. Losses to Alabama and Iowa proved that he wasn’t ready for the spotlight. However, coach Joe Paterno stuck with Bolden, who self-destructed in a 33-13 loss to Illinois on Homecoming.

Paterno finally came to his senses as the Nittany Lions fell behind 21-0 against Northwestern. Matt McGloin took over and saved Penn State from what would have been an embarrassing defeat. The Lions went on to win that game, 35-21, and McGloin was anointed the new starting QB. Let’s face it – had McGloin not been inserted into that game, the Lions would have lost another game and the season would have spiraled out of control.

Instead, McGloin salvaged what he could. Although he failed miserably in a 38-14 loss at Ohio State, he played well enough to direct the Lions to an 8-4 record. The loss to MSU occurred because the Lions fell behind 21-3. The defense stumbled and bumbled early in that one and even McGloin couldn’t rescue them.

With Paterno coming back for another go-round, expect more 7-5 seasons. With the brutal schedule looming in 2011, 7-5 sounds about right.

Chris Morelli is an award-winning writer/editor who lives in Centre County and covers Penn State athletics. He is also a regular on “Sports Central,” which airs on ESPN Radio in Altoona and State College. E-mail him at Also, be sure to check out Morelli OnLion on Facebook!

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One thought on “Morelli OnLion: What was the Big Ten Thinking?

  1. aluf

    Come on Chris. If you want readers to read your column you have to do your homework. I might even say a little disrespect on your part. One part in your article you wrote “Paterno finally came to his senses as the Nittany Lions fell behind 21-0 against Northwestern. Matt McGloin took over …” Matt played the whole game. You make it sound as if he took over for Bolden which he did not. The defense was crummy but if they scored 21 points so could have we.
    You also say “he (McGloin) played well enough to direct the Lions to an 8-4 record (they had a 7-5 and of course you know it). Now if you meant IF he played the whole season that is not clear at all from the article and it looks like another ploy for an exciting article by “massaging the facts”.

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