The Big Ten has 14 teams and commissioner Jim Delany knows that makes no sense.
It made no sense when the conference added Penn State as its 11th team in 1990 and when Nebraska came along in 2011 to make it 12. Now that Rutgers and Maryland will become official members in July, Delany has no plans to ever change the conference’s name.
“The name represents a series of characteristics. Brand characteristics,” Delany said Wednesday at WWJ-AM’s Business of Sports luncheon in Detroit.
According to Mlive.com, Delany recalled a time when ex-Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe called him with a proposal.
“He said ‘you’re now at 12, we’re now at 10, having lost Nebraska and Colorado. Could we become the Big Ten, and you become the Big 12?’
"'I thought, ‘I don’t think so,’” Delany said.
Delany did say, however, that when Penn State joined the conference he tossed out the idea of changing its name to the Big 11, but he was shot down.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon spoke alongside Delany at the luncheon and agreed that the name should not be changed for the sake of the conference’s brand.
“In the world of branding, you build what’s called brand equity. If you look at the Big Ten Conference, you’ve got brand equity that’s been built over decades and decades. The Big Ten means something,” Brandon said. “The Big Ten stands for more than just a descriptor of the number of teams in the conference. It stands for the legacies, the traditions, the histories. It defines an organization, an institution.”
With 14 teams in the fold, the Big Ten's divisional alignment will switch to an "east" and "west" format. Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers will compete in the east division while Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin duke it out in the west division.
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