If you're college football fan enough to read this post, you already know about -- and in all likelihood have already made some kind of joke about, bitterly complained about, printed up a crude-but-effectively-hilarious t-shirt about, etc. -- the Big Ten naming their new six-team divisions the "Leaders" division and "Legends" division. It was a decision as clumsy as it was stupid, and his approval of those disasters must rank amongst league commissioner Jim Delany's biggest missteps ... if not squarely at the top.
But to give Delany some modicum of credit, he hasn't simply turned a deaf ear to the torrent of abuse sent in his and his conference's direction since the announcement. Speaking to Chicago radio station WGN yesterday (with some quotes transcribed here ), Delany admitted that the league will "revisit" the "Legends" and "Leaders" after the holiday season:
"We've had enough experience with names and expansion and development of divisions that we know that you rarely get a 90 percent approval rating," Delany told WGN AM-720. "But to get a 90 percent non-approval rating was really surprising. It showed that we didn’t connect with our fans in a way that we wanted to ...Given that the "90 percent non-approval rating" is an overstatement unless we're talking about "approval rating amongst Big Ten executives," the revisiting really ought to result in a rebranding; the ACC has played six seasons now following their 12-team split, and a big chunk of college football fans (this blogger included) still struggle to remember which teams are Atlantic Division teams and which are in the Coastal division. Delany can talk about "Legends" and "Leaders" representing the Big Ten's rich history, but to the college football world at large, they're not going to represent a thing other than confusion.
Eventually, we’re going to have to address the issue of whether or not it’s sustainable, but I don’t think that’s a decision for today. We have to listen and we have to be humble about the reactions we’ve gotten ... We’ll try to do a little education, let it breathe a bit and then probably revisit it after the first of the year.”
That rebranding would be costly and embarrassing, and for Delany to even consider it does show some measure of necessary humility. But unless he issues the order for full retreat, abandons "Legends" and "Leaders," and spearheads the effort to come up with something, anything more accessible, he's not going to be humble enough for his conference's own good.