TROLL TUESDAY: An elegy for Leaders and Legends

Coming to terms with the end of the greatest era in B1G history.

Rather than wait for more mainstream columnists (or us, somewhat inadvertently) to deliberately bait you into further blind Internet anger, following the lead of the mothership, we believe it's our civic duty to set the curve ourselves – and do so shamelessly. On Troll Tuesdays, we'll attempt to construct tomorrow's blatant attempt at pageviews today, building the worst inflammatory argument possible one single-spaced sentence at a time.

Back in 2010, the Big Ten had a problem. A serious one. One that would require a fearless, groundbreaking and intelligent leader. A knight in shining armor, if you will.

Jim Delany answered the call.

Conference realignment was threatening to permanently loosen the Big Ten's stranglehold on the NCAA landscape. If Texas and Oklahoma had jettisoned the Big XII for those PAC-12 hippies, national supremacy would be lost. Forever.

Jim Delany kept his poise.

He invited Nebraska (and Bo Pelini's impressive sweatshirt collection) to his conference. They were honored, and accepted immediately. Who wouldn't?

For Nebraska – and later, for Maryland and Rutgers – Delany was a veritable Statue of Liberty, glistening in the wind, a beacon of hope, symbolizing a better future.

When Texas and Oklahoma opted to stay in the Big XII, Delany did not grow complacent. Ever the innovator, he understood that the Big Ten still needed a rebranding. Something that would keep recruits from migrating to warm weather schools. Something cool.

Enter Leaders and Legends.

With 12 (going on 14) prestigious universities, divisions were the next great frontier. To other conferences, divisions were just logistical necessities; nothing more, nothing less. To Delany, they were an opportunity to advertise his conference's excellence, both modern and historical.

Eschewing the geographical tedium of East and West, Delany demarcated the Big Ten by capturing its grand essence.

Leaders and Legends. What we have always been and what we will always be.

The names were elegant, sophisticated, groovy, and above all sexy. They resonated from the plains of Iowa to the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, and everywhere in between.

Leaders and Legends. Both in the classroom and on the gridiron.

They recalled the shimmering Amos Alonzo Stagg, Woody and Bo, JoePa and Tressel. Men of extraordinary integrity and style.

Leaders and Legends. An ostentatious celebration of our principles, yet a humble reminder of our roots.

They proved that for all the impropriety elsewhere in college athletics – slithery SEC boosters, voluptuous hostesses, Lane Kiffin – a conference could stand for something other than the corporate dollar sign.

Leaders and Legends. Concepts that non-B1G types will never be able to grasp.

And the kids loved it! Do you think it's a coincidence that Ohio State and Michigan vaulted to the top of the recruiting rankings as soon as the names were implemented? Of course not.

"That has more to do with Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke replacing Luke Fickell and Rich Rodriguez," the plebeian will respond. Rubbish! If you don't think Vonn Bell was titillated by the mere thought of playing in the Leaders division, you're out-of-touch with the younger generation.

Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin to be a Leader. Taylor Martinez was a Legend in his own right. Bill O'Brien was both, displaying tremendous Leadership in replacing the Legendary Joe Pa. That's the Big Ten for you.

All of this makes Delany's decision to eradicate Leaders and Legends from the Big Ten lexicon extremely perplexing. One might think he's gotten a little too friendly with Pac-12 commish Larry Scott over the years. Scott, feeling outclassed by the Big Ten's superior division names, must've asked him to rid the world of Leaders and Legends, evening the division-naming playing field for lesser conferences. Why else would Delany forever tarnish his previously unimpeachable reputation?

A sad story, indeed.

Yet the names will live on, in our hearts, in our minds, and in our souls. The Big Ten will recover, as it always does, but we mustn't forget the division names that served us wondrously for the past two years. Heroes are remembered, but Leaders and Legends never die.

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