Big Ten Conference Adds Penn State - Hello, Big Eleven? Can the Midwest Sports Conference of 11 Schools Hang onto Its Outnumbered Name? COLLEGE SPORTS ADDITION
Laurent Belsie, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
THE two teams are out on the field now. It looks like a great day for Big Eleven football."
Big Eleven football?
Well, something like that. On Monday, one of the most storied and stable college athletic conferences in the United States added an 11th member. Penn State University is now officially part of the Big Ten.
No one is quite sure what to call the new conference. The Big Ten college presidents have given themselves 60 days to come up with a new name. So far, "Big Eleven" isn't getting a lot of votes.
"It doesn't sound right, does it?" says Ron Smith, a Penn State professor of exercise and sports science and author of a book on the rise of bigtime college athletics. "I think it should still be called the Big Ten. Everyone knows the Big Ten."
The conference's official name - the "Western Conference" - doesn't help matters. Big Ten states (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa) haven't been considered "Western" since President Grover Cleveland's day. And adding a university from central Pennsylvania, which isn't Eastern, Western, or even Midwestern, further clouds the picture.
Started in 1895 as "The Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives," the conference was first called the "Big Nine" in print in 1899, Professor Smith says. …