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A Dissenting View From a Fan on the Big Ten's New Divisions

Most people seem to like the new divisional alignments in the Big 10, but not one particularly incensed Iowa fan.

Bluford Potts in this file photo, inspecting his prize tomatoes
Bluford Potts in this file photo, inspecting his prize tomatoes
John Messina

Although the response to the new Big Ten division arrangement has been generally positive, we did receive one strongly worded dissent. In the interest of balance, we here present the opinion of one Bluford Potts, resident of Boone, Iowa.

"To whom it may concern,

Once upon a time in this fair land of ours, we valued a little something called tradition, a little something called respect for the old ways, but I see now that these values have fallen by the wayside in favor of our new values: Novelty and Newfangledness. For all of my life, I have known two constants: 1) That the Big Ten is composed of twelve teams, stretching from Nebraska to Pennsylvania, and 2) That those teams are divided into two proud groups, the Leaders and the Legends. Now I must reconcile myself to a shocking new reality that casts those hallowed traditions aside.

When I awoke from a thresher-induced coma in December of 2010, the television in my hospital bed announced glad tidings: the Big Ten Conference would be dividing itself into two new divisions. Having no memory of my life prior to the accident, I wondered at what this news could mean, and as I returned to everyday life, I followed the developments of this great conference closely. After long study, I memorized that the Leaders were composed of Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, and taught my young nephews to remember this proud group by the simple mnemonic: "Old Smelly Pete Shovels Peat With Ira and Ida". For the Legends, I used "I must make my morning-star incredibly non-symmetrical" (I won't insult your intelligence by telling you what teams those words stand for).

But now I see all my mnemonic creation has been for naught, as the conference has rejected the old, evocative terms of "Leaders" and "Legends" in favor of the sterile, descriptive terms "East" and "West". When I read the words "Leaders" and "Legends", the image of figures such as Red Grange and Tom Harmon came to mind. When I read "East" and "West", I'm just reminded of the sad fact that the conference now includes New Jersey. New Jersey! As for Maryland, well, they can keep their weird accents and wobbliness in the Civil War to themselves.

And what of our proud divisional rivalries? No more will we see the Wisconsin Badgers battle their eternal rivals the Indiana Hoosiers on the verdant gridiron of Memorial Stadium. Nor will we see Penn State in their annual grudge match with Purdue. I and all the countless fans in Ross-Ade Stadium will be much sadder as a result this fall.

For shame, Jim Delany! For shame! For tossing aside years of Big Ten tradition as if it were a cheap rain poncho that you just got at the gate for free and don't really want anymore because it is of poor construction, for favoring brute practicality over poetry and tradition, and for expanding the Big Ten from its natural size – 12 teams – to the bizarre and ungainly number of 14. You can rest assured that I will never watch another game from this monstrous new "conference"; forever in my mind the Big Ten will be as it always was in my memory – that is, from 2010, when I awoke from a thresher accident, to 2013, i.e. right now – a proud confederation of twelve Leaders and Legends.



Bluford L. Potts, Jr.

Boone County, Iowa

29 April, 2013"