|Introducing Rutgers into the Big Ten could be occasion for Jim Delany to rename conference divisions. (US Presswire)|
It hasn't exactly been a secret that the Big Ten has been considering abandoning its much-derided "Legends" and "Leaders" division names but until now conference commissioner Jim Delany has been somewhat coy about how seriously a name changed is being considered.
But Delany's comments to ESPN's Brett McMurphy Monday weren't all that coy, and suggested consideration would be quite serious.
"It's on the table," Delany said of the potential name change, a decision that could be finalized as soon as this coming June.
"I don't take umbrage to negative reaction," he added. "I don't necessarily change when I hear it. I think on the other hand, we said we would test-market it, and we have for a couple of years. We have the opportunity to look at it again. I'm sure we will.
"Whether or not we change or not is to be determined. I don't have any presumption that we'll change on it, but that doesn't mean we're not looking at it."
But while that might not sound emphatic, it's worth noting Delany has been distancing himself from "Legends" and "Leaders" essentially from their debut -- from boasting of their deep ties to the conference history and focus-grouped origins, to admitting he had heard the intense backlash from fans, to not ruling out the possibility of new names -- and continued to do so Monday. From McMurphy:
When deciding on division names in December 2010, Delany said the Big Ten "didn't have great options."
"We weren't going to go with 'Bo or Woody,' 'Black or Blue,' or 'Plains or Lakes,' " Delany said. "Obviously we got some acceptance [with Legends and Leaders], but not as much as we would have liked."
No one at Big Ten headquarters was saying they "didn't have great options" when "Legends" and "Leaders" debuted in 2010; "Legends" and "Leaders" were the great options, according to Delany. By changing the narrative to claim he and his league backed into the current names rather than seizing them with both hands, Delany is doing his best to sweep clear the path that leads to a name change.
In other words: with Delany already this noncommital, and the addition of Maryland and Rutgers (and resulting potential divisional realignment) offering the perfect opportunity to make the change, the days of "Legends" and "Leaders" have never seemed more numbered.