Back in December 2010 the Big Ten unveiled the new divisions in its conference, naming the divisions "Legends" and "Leaders." As you'd probably expect when a conference creates new divisions and gives them names that aren't "East" or "West," there was quite a reaction to the announcement. Most of which was negative, be it by people who just didn't like the names, or people mocking them.
In fact, the reaction was so universally negative, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said that the conference would "revisit" the names it had selected for its divisions.
The Big Ten did just that, as the conference hired an independent research firm to survey conference fans throughout the 2011 season on their feelings for the names. Turns out, that initial response to the names that was so negative has lost a bit of its momentum as time has passed. In fact, the names are actually proving to be pretty popular.
Of the 516 fans surveyed, 57 percent either liked the division names "somewhat" or "very much." About 35 percent disliked the names somewhat or very much, while only 8 percent were neutral.All of which means that it looks as though the Big Ten will have a Leaders Division and a Legends Division for the forseeable future. So if you were still carrying a torch and pitchfork demanding that the conference change them, it's time to find another cause.
The study found that fans warmed up to the names as the season went along and saw them as unique and reflective of Big Ten history.
It also found that despite strong awareness of the names -- 91 percent of respondents knew about Legends and Leaders -- many fans felt they were confusing. The confusion went away for some when the names were explained through public service announcements and other marketing ventures.
And that's fine. Personally I felt the names were silly when they were first announced, but not as silly as the reaction I saw to them. At the end of the day they're just division names. It's not as if they have any impact on the football being played at any school within the conference. Yes, it would be easier to remember which schools are in each division had the Big Ten gone with geographically based divisions, but it didn't. It decided to go with competitive balance.
Using that formula, it'd be even more confusing if Wisconsin were in the "East Division" while Michigan played in the "West Division" anyway.