Power Five conferences ranked by the intricacy and overall appearance of their logos
Mannion McGinley | Friday, October 1, 2021
The ACC, SEC, Big 12, Pac 12 and Big 10. Schools from each of these Power 5 conferences are ranked every week in things like their sports, their academics, their social life, and their alumni network.
In all of these conversations, the schools are represented by their logos, an ever present, easily recognizable symbol for each one. The problem is, as my roommate and I discussed while Notre Dame faced off against Wisconsin, some of them are just so boring.
From worst to best, here are the Power 5 conferences ranked by the quality of their logos. The rankings will be based on intricacy, individuality and the image holistically. Points are added and taken away from a total of ten. If a school is not mentioned, it was not problematic enough to lose a point.
As an aside, Fighting Irish fans, the ND logo is only exempt from this because Notre Dame is independent. The logo is cool but it has space to improve too.
No. 5 Big 10. 2/10
Helloooooo Big 10. One massive letter in one—maybe two—of your school colors is not a logo. Eight of the 14 schools have this.
Michigan may be the Big House. But, that does not mean that a massive yellow ‘M’ is any kind of logo. Nor does it make sense for them to be the Wolverines then if they’re going to only use the M in marketing or press related representations.
Similarly, ‘O’ may bookend ‘O-H-I-O’ but Buckeye fans and alumni, if you have to write Ohio State across your ‘O’, it’s not a helpful logo. Especially not when you could easily combine the image of a buckeye and an ‘O’.
All in all, we just shouldn’t claim a letter in a slight variation of the “varsity” font (you all know what I’m talking about) is anything more than just that: a letter. These eight schools lose one point each.
The Big 10, also, places last because they’ve declined in overall intricacy. Northwestern and Maryland used to have the Wildcat and Terrapin mascots in their logos in addition to their full name or a large letter, but have since iced those designs.
This conference’s leaders in logo design are Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa and Indiana University. The first three because they use their actual mascots, although no lettering at all. A half point for each of their logos. The last half point comes from IU because interlocking letters are somewhat innovative (a totally unbiased opinion of mine).
No. 4 Pac 12. 4/10
With only three plain letter logos, the Pac 12 is already in a much better position than the Big 10 out.
Minus one point for Oregon and Washington.
Arizona’s is a bit more creative so it doesn’t lose any points.
They falter after that though because three of the California schools use cursive in their official logos. Down three points for unoriginality between the California schools, with the exception of Stanford who is one of this conference’s saving graces, earning a positive point.
Washington State earns two more points on its own for the yelling cat formed by their letters.
The last couple of points shook out through Utah and Arizona State based on overall visual. Utah’s is questionable at best, problematic at worst so they lose a point.
The ASU trident on the other hand is well done, bringing the point total to four.
No. 3 Big 12 6/10
The great part about this conference is that there isn’t a single stand-alone letter. Already, 2 points there. There are mascots with school shirts on, mascot profile shots and silhouettes.
The problem, again, comes in regard to individuality.
Iowa State fell into a similar trap as Ohio State. An ‘I’ with ‘State’ in front of it is not an effective logo. There are four ‘I’ states. That’s confusing. Minus one.
Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma chose to use their two letters overlaying each other. That’s interesting to look at if nothing more. They all did it the same way though: the letters go from top left to bottom right, no mascot in sight. Minus three for the lack of originality.
Texas Tech, on the other hand, took the interlocking idea and spun it their own way, one point there.
OSU, Kansas and TCU take the cake with this one. The logos are original, intricate and multidimensional earning them each a point.
One more point for UT and Kansas State for their mascot logos. They each got a half like the Big 10 standouts.
No. 2 SEC 7.25/10
The SEC has only two single letter logos in Tennessee and Georgia. They lose the conference two points.
Another half point falls for Mississippi State being another stand alone ‘M’ with ‘State’ across it. It only loses half though because there is a bit more to the ‘State’ design.
The only other place the SEC loses points is a quarter of one for being almost too detailed. Some of these have a lot going on and that can just be difficult to put on merchandise or use in other designs outside of this one logo. LSU and Florida fall into this group.
The Alabama, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Auburn logos are the saving grace of the conference though.
No. 1 ACC 8/10
The ACC barely eeks out a win over the SEC and this is a slight win.
Right off the bat, the Florida State logo loses a point. Despite the school’s relationship with the Seminole Tribe, that does not mean it should be their blatant logo.
The second point is lost, half to Miami (FL) and half to Syracuse because they both have stand alone letters. Here is why it’s only half a point lost rather than two full, allowing the ACC to beat the SEC and not the other way around.
Syracuse is working with what they have. They are the Orange which is not exactly a flexible mascot. However, as the Orange, having one giant orange ’S’ is accurate.
Miami just marketed really well. Yes, they are still called the Hurricanes or the ‘Canes and that should be in their logo but they have become ‘The U’. With students, fans and alumni throwing their hands up, thumbs connected, Miami’s logo can’t ever change. It is a part of their history and their culture on campus now.
The rest of the logos are individual enough from both each other and those of other conferences. Even (for argument’s sake) including Notre Dame in the ACC—as it is for some sports—the only other completely interlocked lettering is UNC. They bend the ’N’ to match the ‘C’ and create a visual that differs significantly enough from the Fighting Irish ND.
Any past, present, future iterations of the logos across these conferences will be adored by the people they represent, but these are the changes and points I would consider if I was in the design room for any of these logos.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.