cartoon of man in car heading east into snow

New Weather, New Foes, New Dictionary: The B1G Road Ahead

Our alumni association exec scouts the new conference, destinations, and adventures in spelling

By Raphe Beck Illustration by Bridgette Coyne   July 3, 2024

4 min read 

Welcome to the B1G league! For those of you unfamiliar with our new conference, I offer some helpful insights on the Big Ten.

The first thing to know is that all the cool kids write “B1G” instead of “Big Ten.” And don’t be fooled into saying “bee one gee” like you’re singing a Prince song at karaoke night. That is a total rookie move, although if anyone has extra tickets to the Ohio State game, I would die 4U.

For me, the move to a new conference is a homecoming of sorts because I grew up in Evanston, Illinois, in the shadow of the Northwestern Wildcats. My high school team was the Evanston Wildkits, and—I kid you not—we displayed a fighting kitten on our athletic jerseys. R4WR! (See what I did there, cool kids?)

Those of you from the Pacific Northwest may question why a school so far to the east is called Northwestern, but it was named at a time when Indiana was considered the center of the country, which was never. I hope this clears things up.

Please note that while they may sound like B1G teams, the following are not in fact part of the Big Ten: Penn, Iowa State, Ohio University, and the Detroit Lions.

The people who schedule the football season have a B1G sense of humor. With all the excitement about a new season, new conference, and new opponents, who do we play in our first-ever Big Ten conference game? That’s right: the UCLA Bruins, who we’ve played 1,876 times. And a team that, like us, is rushing to sew B1G logos onto their uniforms. We travel to LA in balmy September. Join us! The University of Oregon Alumni Association is throwing a B1G tailgate.

Away games in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Madison, Wisconsin, have been saved for late in the season when the polar vortex arrives from Canada. The fashion authorities who dictate Oregon’s fan colors for each game have declared both contests “Wear White for the Ducks,” presumably so that our fan base will appear deceptively large in the November snow. (B1G tailgates there, too. Bring your parka.)

Here’s a story: in 2021 when we last played THE Ohio State University (you know—the school whose name officially begins with an article?), my colleagues and I arrived in Columbus proudly wearing our Ducks gear. THE rental car booth man told us that local fans are always super nice to THE visiting fans. I asked if that had anything to do with THE visiting teams consistently getting shellacked and if he thought it would be different when Oregon won. He just stared at me, unsure how to respond. For THE record—final score: UO 35, OSU 28—we ran for our lives to THE airport after that game. We didn’t want to find out if THE locals remained super nice or not.

We’ll get visits from Illinois and Maryland this year. These teams were national football champions as recently as 1951 and 1953, respectively. Good seats still available. We also have an away game at Purdue. Note to self: look up the definition of “Boilermaker.” And “Terrapins.” And “Nittany” Lions, while we’re at it.

Let’s not forget those darned Huskies, our new-yet-not-so-new conference rivals. Our season will conclude in Autzen with this familiar foe and, we can be assured, a win. Right? I’m not N3RVOUS at all.

Some critics claim that former Pac-12 schools aren’t ready for their new conference. Others predict that the Big Ten championship game will be played by two teams whose names start with the letter O. Did you know that with the new playoff system, we could play as many as six games after Thanksgiving?  Woo hoo! More tailgates!

Whatever happens, I hope to see you at the games. I can assure you that we’re about to have a lot of F2N.

Raphe Beck is executive director of the University of Oregon Alumni Association.

Bridgette Coyne is a freelance illustrator in Bend, Oregon.

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