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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Big Ten to need new name?

The 11 schools of the Big 10 conference are thinking of expanding.

Speculation centers around some obvious candidates: Rutgers, Pitt, Missouri, with Syracuse, Cincinnati and Louisville being outside chances and Notre Dame desirable, but vanishingly unlikely.

Even more unlikely would be the University of Chicago reinstating big-time football and rejoining the conference. But there's a classic Second City skit about this prospect: http://www.torrentz.com/advanced?q=%22Alan+Arkin+%26+Severn+Darden+-+Football+Comes+to+the+University+of+Chicago.mp3%22+6580856

Having an odd number hasn't worked out so well, so the thought is that they'd add one or three.

The name "Big 12 Conference" is already spoken for, and adding 3 school at one time is a stretch, so they will need a new name.

"Western Conference" is what they were called long ago. I think that's why the phrase "The Champions of the West" occurs in the Michigan fight song. That fits an older conception of geography.

"Midwestern Conference" seems such a small name. Besides, the name is already taken by a group of high-quality small colleges http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midwest_Conference including the Lake Forest Foresters, the Beloit Buccaneers and the Knox Prairie Fire.

"Big East", "Big Sky", "Big Ten", Big Eight", "Big 12" are OK, but "Big Midwest" is just silly.

"The Rustern Conference" describes the state of industry hereabouts, but seems a bit of a downer.

"Great Lakes Conference" seems limiting long term, and doesn't apply to Iowa or potential member Rutgers.

Until 1987, the official name of the conference wasn't "Big Ten", but "Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives". They could re-use that name, if they wanted to be completely boring.

Math aside, they could stick with "Big Ten". There have been 11 teams in it for nearly 20 years, since Penn State joined in 1990.

They were also known as the "Big Nine" at various moments in the past (when Michigan dropped out for a few years, and then when Chicago withdrew permanently).  Going back to that name with an expansion to 12 schools would show a certain "Je ne sais quoi."