- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Legends and Leaders are here to stay, and Big Ten fans want it that way.
The Big Ten has completed its research into the division names, which were panned nationally after being unveiled last December. The league hired an independent market research firm to survey Big Ten fans during the 2011 football season, and the results show that most fans (57 percent) like the division names. Surveys were distributed to fans who came to the Big Ten's mobile tour, which displayed the new football championship trophy at 10 Big Ten campuses as well as in Indianapolis for the league title game. Surveys were completed online.
ESPN.com got the first chance to review the survey results earlier this week.
From the story:
The study found that fans warmed up to the names as the season went along and saw them as unique and reflective of Big Ten history.
It also found that despite strong awareness of the names -- 91 percent of respondents knew about Legends and Leaders -- many fans felt they were confusing. The confusion went away for some when the names were explained through public service announcements and other marketing ventures.
The chief complaint, even among some fans who liked the names, was that they didn't know which teams went in which divisions. Unlike other leagues, the Big Ten decided not to use directional designations, even vague ones like Great Lakes and Great Plains, because it created the divisions based on competitive balance rather than geography.
Seventy-six percent of respondents felt the names were unique -- including 65 percent of those opposing the names -- while 64 percent felt they honored the Big Ten's history. The problem: Only 41 percent said the names are easy to understand.
The best remedy to the confusion seems to be time. Powell tracked the approval of the division names during the season through two-week moving averages, which showed a gradual increase in approval from Week 1 to Week 12.
There will always be a portion of folks who don't like the names and would have preferred directional designations. I, for one, would have been fine with directional designations even if the teams weren't split geographically. The Atlanta Braves used to be in the National League West, remember?
The Big Ten must continue to address the confusion about which teams go where. The survey indicates that once fans have a greater understanding of the names and, more important, the actual division alignment, they're less upset about Legends and Leaders.
While the 57 percent approval number jumps out, it's not a huge shock to see fans warming up to the names over time. The initial reaction to new branding -- whether it's a logo or something else -- is almost always negative. I didn't see nearly as much complaining about Legends and Leaders as the season went along, although there still is a "vocal minority," as the report states, who don't like the names.
4dBrian Bennett and Josh Moyer