Pentagram’s New Big Ten Logo Kind of Sucks

By Bob Marshall 

Before we get into it with this new logo and all of the weirdness the Big Ten has in store for 2011, we’d like to make it clear that the majority of college athletic conferences have terrible logos. It’s sort of an odd phenomenon really, and we don’t quite understand why it’s just so hard to make these things look cool. Granted, a power conference like the Big Ten is all about tradition, and change doesn’t come very easily for the oldest Division I conference in the country that’s been around in some form since 1896 . With the University of Nebraska joining the Big Ten next year, the conference jumps to 12 teams, making their old logo with the hidden “11” now make less sense than it once (kind of) did.


Expectations were high when it was announced that Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Michael Gericke would be called upon to design the new logo. Judging by Bierut’s redesign of The Atlantic a few years back and the firm’s approach towards cigarette packaging, perhaps this new logo (top) would be something daring and innovative. Alas, it’s just as crappy as the old one (bottom), if not a little worse.

Of course, with a logo that says “Big Ten” twice in two words despite the conference having 12 teams, the conference divisions would have to also have to make as little sense as possible. Because the powers that be divided the conference with no regard to geographical location, the two divisions now bear the title of either “Leaders” or “Legends,” which is going to be hard for ESPN to abbreviate. As a University of Wisconsin alum, I’m happy Nebraska is joining the Big Ten, as it will up the conference’s competitive level on the football field. However, the way I see it now, the Big Ten is one big mess.

Legends: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern

Leaders: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin