College Conference Names Suck

As we move deeper into the latest round of college athletic realignment, I am reminded that many conference names are bad. They suck, even. Not all, but many.

Take Conference USA, for example. Bad name. And the American Athletic Conference. Did no one tell them that AAC sound a lot like ACC? Or was that the point?

And why didn’t anyone tell the Big XII that the Big Ten had taken the word “big” already?

It’s branding, people. So let’s make some rules for naming (or renaming) your new/existing/picked over college athletics conference.

  • Don’t use “America” or “American” or “USA”. These are just too general and vague. They sound generic and so far have been used for generic conferences. They contribute nothing to the brand. I wouldn’t recommend “National” but I’d at least consider it.
  • Don’t use the word “Big”. It’s been used to death (literally, in the case of the Big East), and any conference using or considering it in the 21st century certainly isn’t the biggest conference.
  • Don’t use a number. The Big XII laughably has had fewer than 12 teams for the last decade, and the Big 10 decided that consistency was better than numerical accuracy. The Pac 10 (admirably) changed its name to the Pac 12 when it added two teams, but that makes me wonder if it’s gun shy about further expansion due to the hassle of updating trademarks and signage.

So let’s suggest new conference names, where necessary, starting with the most successful conferences:

  • Southeastern Conference (SEC): No change necessary. Doesn’t break any of the three rules.
  • Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC): No change necessary.
  • Big Ten Conference: Uses the word “Big” so I don’t like it. Some options:
    • Rust Belt: Geographically appropriate, but has negative connotations
    • Steel Belt: Outdated
    • Midwest Conference: Sounds like some other conferences
  • Big XII Conference: The other Big conference. Where do we go with this? Becoming geographically spread out.
    • Mississippi Conference: Kind of like calling it the American Conference without calling it the American Conference
    • Big Hat Conference: Shit, has the word “big.”
    • Great Plains Conference: Apparently Methodists have taken this name
    • Continental Conference: Hey, doesn’t have “America” in the name
  • Pac-12 Conference: Has a number.
    • Pacific Athletic Conference: Maintains the PAC. Basically a bacronym.
  • American Athletic Conference (AAC): Losing and gaining teams. Becoming more of a southern (including Texas) conference
    • Appalachian Athletic Conference: Shit, is taken
    • Gulf Coast Conference: I know, Gulf Coast Athletic Conference is taken. This might lead to a lawsuit, but hey, that’s what that Tulane money is for.
  • Conference USA (C-USA): Um …
    • No, I’m not avoiding you. I’m not avoiding eye contact. I definitely invited you to my party.
    • When the Sun Belt starts picking at your corpse, well, it’s over.

College Conference Names Suck