We turned to our own experts around the SB Nation network to see what the new B1G initiates should know about each school and the conference in general.
Also, in the comments, please let the new kids in on some more Big Ten wisdom. Campus restaurant and bar recommendations are always a plus.
School by school
Illinois: Jack Cassidy, The Champaign Room
We're an overzealous, angry bunch. There aren't many schools that fit our criteria, because every school as good as us has won a national championship. We require a certain level of accomplishment that we've rarely met in the past. It's all mixed up.
Indiana: Ben Raphel, The Crimson Quarry
We take our basketball seriously. Discussion of the team, recruiting, and schedule are year-round topics of conversation across the state, even at football tailgates. In fact, our football team even sort of plays like basketball, considering all the points we score.
A roadtrip to Assembly Hall will be a must for any Maryland or Rutgers fan. Terps fans: we're looking forward to getting revenge for Juan Dixon and the 2002 national title game next season.
One other thing: we don't play in the CBI.
Iowa: Ross Binder, Black Heart Gold Pants
We don't grow potatoes (that's Idaho) or assholes (that's Ohio). We do grow corn, which you'll be helpfully reminded of during every single Iowa basketball or (especially) football game you happen to see on TV (BTN and ESPN both love them some B-rolls of cornfields).
More importantly, when it comes to football, while we have some slow-of-foot-speed corn-fed boys who will be happy to maul you (what's up, Mark Weisman), you characterize all Iowa players like that at your peril. Damond Powell will be happy to set your defensive backs' jockstraps on fire if you let him.
Michigan: Zach Travis, Maize n Brew
The Wolverines have the most wins all-time in college football. Sure, a sizable portion of these victories came before the fall of the Third Reich, but dubious claims to long-past accomplishments is what makes college football great.
Michigan State: Pete Rossman, The Only Colors
It's Michigan "STATE." The "STATE" is not optional. Maryland fans, you'd be incensed if people called you "Duke." Rutgers, if people called you ... whatever your rival is. Just so long as you remember the "State", we'll be great.
And Terrapins, don't worry. The Big Ten Network only replays the Korie Lucious game about three times a year. At the most, four.
Minnesota: Chris Hachfeld, The Daily Gopher
A quick explanation of a few key University of Minnesota terms:
- Golden-I: An offensive formation in which three running backs stand in line behind the quarterback. It fits well within the smash-mouth brand of football the B1G is famous for. Formerly known as the Maryland-I until Jerry Kill adopted it his own. And no, Maryland, you don't get to have it back. I'm pretty sure you signed the rights away in exchange for some of Emperor Delany's sweet, sweet TV monies.
- Goldy Gopher: Minnesota's mascot. His ability to spin his head and his superior eye for colors sets him apart from the popcorn box-clad skunk from Madison.
- Minnesota Nice: Phrase used to praise Minnesotans for being really nice people. In reality it just means we're really passive-aggressive. Having a football team that gut punches your fandom repeatedly adds a fun layer of frustration to the psyche of many Gopher fans. Will you notice it? You betcha!
- Ski-U-Mah: Phrase used at Minnesota since 1894. Created by a rugby player as an interpretation of a Sioux battle cry (that would rhyme with rah).
- The U: How Gopher fans refer to the University. Some other school in a mosquito-infested swamp state also claims this moniker, but we attribute that to malaria-induced ramblings.
Nebraska: Jon Johnston, Corn Nation
Actually, the only thing you need to know about Nebraska is football. We obsess over it every day of the year (although this year's men's basketball team provided some much needed relief), and it is how the state defines itself. When it's going well, everyone feels great. When it's going bad, then the world might as well be coming apart.
Northwestern: Rodger Sherman, Sippin' on Purple
I can literally encapsulate everything you need to know about Northwestern sports in one sentence.
Here it is: "At a labor hearing in March, All-Big Ten honorable mention left tackle Patrick Ward claimed his engineering classes taught him how to use leverage as a blocker."
Ohio State: Matt Brown, Land-Grant Holy Land
Besides the fact that Ohio State is going to be partially responsible for keeping Maryland and Rutgers football in cycles of woe for the next 10 years?
Ohio State travels really well. Part of this is because the Buckeyes have large alumni bases in NYC and DC ... but there are Buckeyes everywhere (thanks, Ohio economy!). And if you let them, they will buy all of your tickets and turn your stadiums into Columbus East. We're a little bit like locusts that way. Be aware.
Penn State: Cari Greene, Black Shoe Diaries
We don't have a natural rival in the Big Ten, and with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, I don't see that changing much. They're just as likely to have a rivalry with each other as with the Nittany Lions, unless they can break the much coveted 25 percent win percentage against PSU. As the two schools have a combined record of 57-3-1 against Penn State, that percentage might take a while to obtain, especially with some of the states' best players looking to play for James Franklin.
Among non-trolling items, it's Thon. $13,343,517.33 raised in 2014. As a former volunteer and sister of a 2013 dancer, Thon is incredibly amazing and shows that not every young person is a self-absorbed ass all of the time. Other schools now have their own dance marathons (including Iowa and Ohio State, just to name two), and that's just awesome too. Anything we can do to help cure pediatric cancer, and help families in need of support, is something we should all be behind.
Purdue: Travis Miller, Hammer and Rails
Please, please, PLEASE don't call us Purdon't and think you're original. We have heard this thousands of times for decades, some of us to the point we're about five or six more from snapping and driving across the country in a Buffalo Bill van.
Wisconsin: Mike Fiammetta, Bucky's 5th Quarter
Wisconsin does live up to various perceptions you'll hear nationwide. Atmospheres at Camp Randall Stadium and the Kohl Center are very much intense for anything close to a big game, the bar/beer scene is as good as you'd expect, and the people are nice. Homerish as that sounds, if you asked some neutral Midwesterner/Big Ten fans, I imagine the majority would agree with all three of those.
On the flip side, we saw one of the biggest myths about UW busted recently. As the Badgers rolled to the Final Four, they shed the "not athletic, but scrappy" label. Wisconsin took down some impressively skilled teams in the NCAA Tournament, including Baylor, Oregon, and top-seeded Arizona.
On the football field, UW's still a running back factory. The most notable recent NFL alums, though, are a quarterback (Russell Wilson, and yes, he's considered a Badger great even though he was in Madison for just a season) and a defensive end (J.J. Watt). Of course, the offensive linemen are still huge and very likely to end up playing at the next level.
But as a program that's played in three of the last four Rose Bowls and now put a team in the Final Four for the first time since 2000, Wisconsin deserves attention as one of the Big Ten's most elite schools.
Tailgating in Pasadena: the Big Ten fan's dream activity. Kirby Lee, USA Today
What about the B1G as a whole?
Mike Fiammetta, Bucky's 5th Quarter: Big Ten season really is year-round, perhaps never more so considering its football and basketball success. Big Ten hockey is also now a thing, and the amount of interest it's drawn might surprise you. Conference fans still love their tradition, perhaps more so than any other, but the sense is that a few bowl wins in football and continued basketball dominance could elevate the Big Ten to its historical peak.
Jack Cassidy, The Champaign Room: It's good. So, so good ... at basketball. At football, we'll trudge along and say we're worthy, although we know the truth. We're just okay. In hoops, though, the conference season grinds every great team down to a shiny nub. It's tough, so bring it, Rutgers and Maryland.
Chris Hachfeld, The Daily Gopher: Rivalry trophies. Maryland and Rutgers, you're each going to need one of these. Minnesota already plays for three awesome trophies (Floyd of Rosedale, Paul Bunyan's Axe, and the Little Brown Jug), one less awesome trophy (the Governor's Victory Bell), and had a trophy stolen by a cheating rival (the Slab of Bacon). If you aren't able to come up with a trophy on your own, the fans of Minnesota are graciously willing to let Maryland play Penn State for the Bell. Rutgers? We figure you know enough mobsters that you should be able to steal a trophy from a less fortunate AAC school.
Rodger Sherman, Sippin' on Purple: The road is tough, your spirit strong, driving on and on.
Close shave America, close shave Barbasol.
America, you're looking good, handsome, free, and tall.
Close shave America, close shave Barbasol.
Close shave Barbasol.
Travis Miller, Hammer and Rails: You must know how to tailgate. I don't mean how to set up a grill in a parking lot. I mean tailgate. I have seen full-out TVs with DirectTV hookups, generators brought in for margarita machines ... and I think Wisconsin fans last year brought a damn hot tub to tailgate in. Better step up that game, Jersey boy.
Is there anything better than battling for a pig trophy? Jesse Johnson, USA Today
Ross Binder, Black Heart Gold Pants: We play a lot of noon games and take nights off when the calendar flips to November, but the schedule isn't all bad news. The upside to all those noon games? They give you a perfectly justifiable reason to get drunk at 7 a.m. and leave you with plenty of time in the afternoon and evening to do things other than watch your team -- like drink.
Honestly, as weird as adding teams from New Jersey and Maryland to the Big Ten seems (and I'm pretty sure it's gonna feel weird for a while), as long as you like to get drunk and grill meat while watching sports, I think we'll probably be able to find some common ground and get along just fine.
Graham Filler, Off Tackle Empire: Maryland should know that our schools identify with the B1G closely. We mock and ridicule and fight, but we're all in this together. I assume we will ingratiate Maryland and Rutgers into this frat-like concept.
Zach Travis, Maize N' Brew: Everyone hates Michigan because of the wins record. Well, they don't really hate Michigan because it won all those games (even though there are some bad memories in there that add fuel to the fire). It has more to do with the fact that Michigan fans are quick to remind everyone else that Michigan has the most college football wins all time, and because of that Michigan is better than your school.
Feel that? That is a similar hate for Michigan growing inside you right now. Hating Michigan is as much a Big Ten thing as getting embarrassed in nationally televised bowl games against SEC teams is.
Pete Rossman, The Only Colors: It's in a state of flux. While most of the football rivalries have been maintained after the conference's second reorganization in less than five years, some potentially good upcoming rivalries (MSU-Wisconsin especially) have been derailed.
That said, if you're not happy about being in the same division as the Big Ten Champion Spartans, Ohio State (there is no "The," no matter what they tell you), Michigan, and Penn State, don't stress too much -- it'll probably change in a few years anyway.
Ben Raphel, The Crimson Quarry: One reason why I think Penn State and Nebraska have been such good fits for the conference is that their fans are knowledgeable, passionate, and respectful (for the most part). It may take stubborn fans a while to accept you guys, but act like you're excited to be part of the conference, and we'll treat you the same way. Welcome aboard.