College football’s conference calls missed a few connections


Ohio State Coach Luke Fickell talks to reporters during Big Ten football media day in Chicago, with conference’s new logo looming over his shoulder. (Paul Beaty/AP)

It’s college football season, and that means it’s time to come up for new names for some old conferences that can’t seem to get it done themselves.

The Big Ten was long the worst offender, in that it had 11 members. Now it has 12. But it can’t have the “Big 12” moniker because that belongs to the actual Big 12, which has — wait for it — 10 members. Or nine, depending on what kind of mood Texas A&M is in on any given day. Then there’s the Pacific-10, which added two members.

But wait: The Pac-10 became the Pac-12! Finally, evidence that advanced mathematics is being taught on college campuses somewhere in this great land of ours. The Pac-12 did it right, stealing, er, adding Colorado and Utah and splitting into two divisions, sensibly named North and South. (Stay tuned for insensible division names.)

So that’s one problem solved. Let’s turn to the Big Ten, which has dealt with its counting problem by changing its logo to B1G. Yes, that’s a numeral 1 in the middle. What does it mean? Beats me. The B1G — seriously, I can’t type that without both laughing and hurting my thumb on the CAPS key — also divided into two divisions. Perhaps in order to take attention away from the ridiculousness of the Notorious B-1-G, the league named its divisions Leaders and Legends. No, really, that’s what they’re calling them. I’m surprised that wasn’t enough to drive Nebraska back to the plains, although in Lincoln they’re probably calling them Devaneys and Osbornes.

I wouldn’t change the B1G (Ten) to the Big 12, even if it were available, because I’m quite sure the B1G (Ten) isn’t done expanding. So I’d call it the Great Lakes Conference. Most of the states involved are touched by one of the Great Lakes. Yes, I know Iowa isn’t, but poor Iowa floods so much it could be the sixth Great Lake. That leaves Nebraska out, but so what? As the B1G will soon learn, Nebraska is an island unto itself.

After the conference name is changed to Great Lakes, then the divisions can become the Sailors and Pirates. (Yes, pirates once roamed the Great Lakes; you could look it up.) Plus it’s more fun and less ridiculous than Legends and Leaders. The division leaders could play for a cutlass, or an eye patch. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

That leaves us with the poor old Big 12. No one wants to come and play, and at least half those already there want out. It’s like a party at the Salahis. And although the Big 12 has virtually no pride left, it doesn’t want a used name like, say, the Big Ten, which is still technically in use by B1G anyway. Confusing, isn’t it?

After this season, or possible after I finish this clause, Texas A&M will be gone, leaving the Big 12 with nine members. Missouri could leave as well; it’s made more overtures than Tiger Woods. At that point, I’d throw out somebody — my gut says Texas, my heart says Missouri, but my head says either Texas Tech or Baylor — and go Old School: the Big Eight.

Of course, that would preclude the league from participating in the BCS, so that’s not going to happen. So the Big 12 will have to go begging. I wish they’d grab up South Dakota State — the Jackrabbits! — and North Dakota (nickname TBD). Then we can call it The Middle, because it would run right down the center of the country. Oh, except for Iowa State. Nuts.

The Middle, of course, would have zero appeal to the television networks, not like, say, Sailors and Pirates. So maybe we would have to call it the Great Plains Conference (motto: Pay Attention To Us, Or We’ll Stop Producing Your Food And Close Our Air Space!) Divisions could be the Reapers and the Sowers, or the Combines and the Plows.

Well, that needs work, but once it’s settled, our only remaining problem is Texas A&M joining the Southeastern Conference. Although College Station is certainly south of several SEC schools, and it is sort of in eastern Texas, so I say we let that one slide and save our strength. The next bunch of defections might not be any better, but they could be even B1Gger.

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