The Big Ten announced its new divisional names for the 2011 football season: Legends and Leaders. Not the most stellar names, I think, but what is more significant to Northwestern fans is that two of the league's 18 new trophies are named after Wildcat greats.
The Graham-George Trophy is named after NU legend Otto Graham and Ohio State's Eddie George. It will be awarded to the Big Ten's offensive player of the year. Graham played at NU from 1941-43 and was third in the Heisman voting his senior year.
And coach Pat Fitzgerald was honored with the Butkus-Fitzgerald award, given to the league's best linebacker. Fitzgerald, a two-time Nagurski and Bednarik award winner from his playing days at NU and a two-time All-American, was humbled when he found out his name will be alongside former Illinois great Dick Butkus.
"It was a couple of weeks ago that [the Big Ten] reached out to me, and I laughed. I asked 'Are you sure?' " Fitzgerald said in a statement. "I grew up wanting to win the Butkus Award. I grew up wanting to be that kind of linebacker. Now to be side-by-side with a player like that and a person like that to me is an honor. To be representing the conference that way is an honor, too."
* NU kick returner Venric Mark was been named to Rivals.com's All-America freshman second team Tuesday.