I saw on the Big Ten Network last night that the conference is strug-uh-ling to come up with a name for the two football divisions it will start when Nebraska comes on-board in 2011. This would have been a no-brainer if officials had just broken up the teams by geographic area--putting all the schools in the Eastern Time Zone in one division (the Big Ten East) and those in the Central Time Zone in the other (the Big Ten West). But instead, the conference higher-ups decided it was more important to try and jerry-rig an Ohio State-Michigan championship game instead--so the geographic names will make no sense.
The initial idea floated and supported by many fans was to go with the Hayes and Schembechler divisions--honoring the two coaches who dominated the Big Ten for the 60's, 70's and 80's--Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler--each of whom won 13 titles. According to those on BTN, conference officials are dismissing that idea, claiming it would be a "slight" to the other ten teams whose coaches would not be honored in such a way. I guess I understand--seeing as how there won't be Don Mor(t)on or Tim Brewster Divisions. How about if we just put Michigan in the Hayes Division and Ohio State in the Schembechler Division--ensuring that everyone hates the names equally? (Bonus points for creating a plaque or trophy in the images of the coaches--forcing OSU to put Bo's face in their trophy case!)
So that leaves us with "made up" division names. One idea that could work would be the Great Lakes Division (Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio State, Penn State, Illinois and Indiana are all in Great Lakes border states) and the Prairie Division (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State). Okay--there's not really any prairie in Michigan--but I'm not the one who put them in a division with the western schools for pointless reasons!
Or we could pay homage to the main industries of many of these states by going with the Cow and Pig divisions. (Wisconsin would obviously be in the Cow Division--Minnesota and Iowa in the Pig Division). If those names are too "blunt", we could always go with the Milk and Spam Divisions. You're telling me watching the Cornshucker players hoisting a giant Spam Can after clinching the division title (Iowa-Minnesota have already stolen the Pig Statue idea) or Wisconsin's offensive linemen chugging 2% like they do in Victory Lane at Indy wouldn't get fans fired up?
All of this talk of division names is not even the top title concern for the conference. How long are you going to call a conference with 12 teams the Big Ten? Haven't we "insulted" Minnesota long enough--since they are obviously the "little one" not included in the 11-team conference name? (SNAP!!) Until their recent renaissance under Bo Pellini, Nebraska would have fit in nicely as "not-so-big number two". The Big 12 won't be using that name anymore--feel free to pick it up. Unfortunately, the Midwest Conference is already taken--as is the Great Lakes conference. I like the ring of the Heartland Conference--but some division two schools have already taken that one as well.
I guess that leaves us with the obvious "We Ruined Tradition For Money-Grubbing Greed Conference" as our only alternative.