In the world of conference realignment, no brand is safe from a bit of revisionist history. Sometimes the leagues market former players from the current schools in the league, even though those players never actually played in the conference.
ACC great Darrelle Revis. SEC legend Phil Bradley, who graduated from Mizzou 31 years before the Tigers joined the conference. The Big Ten celebrating Maryland's 2002 basketball national title game victory over an actual Big Ten team.
The latest example:
Heisman Winner ✔️— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 11, 2016
National Champions ✔️
NFL MVP ✔️
Super Bowl MVP ✔️
What a Year for #SEC ! #TBT pic.twitter.com/vwluq4F15b
Super Bowl MVP Von Miller played for Texas A&M before it ever joined the SEC.
The temptation to fire off a quick-twitch "Well, actually" Facebook comment is strong. You might be inclined to let everyone know how passionately you feel about retroactive claims and selective history rewrites, as though conference brass are gathered around a computer, twirling cartoon villain mustaches as their social media people hit send on the source of your ire.
That certainly is one way to spend your energy.
But the explanation for these kind of practices is a lot simpler.
Tony Dorsett (@Tony_Dorsett) Named to Class of 2015 ACC Football Legends: http://t.co/smDY44NVbM pic.twitter.com/gwc1sS7lFW— Pitt Football (@GoPittFootball) September 30, 2015
"You know, we got criticized early on when we did like a Big Ten Elite on Penn State from the '70s," the president of the Big Ten Network, Mark Silverman, told SB Nation. "'You know, they weren't in the Big Ten in the '70s.' Yes. We know that. Thank you. But you need to treat the teams, the schools and their fan bases like everyone else's teams."
The Big Ten Network knows some would prefer it to be extremely literal about when players and teams joined. But it's trying to cater to a bigger tent.
"Michigan may have been in the conference for 130 years, and Maryland may be in for two, we're treating them both the same. And we need to treat their fan bases the same," Silverman added.
Conference realignment, like so much else about modern college sports, is by its very nature about business.
These conferences and their networks know change is hard. But for the sake of the new fan bases, they aren't going to classify those schools as second-class citizens. They aren't going to ignore large portions of those schools' histories, either, especially when those adopted histories make the new conference look good.
Of course, like the example from the SEC Network above, it's not only about inclusiveness.
The ACC and SEC regularly lean into their branding efforts. Von Miller, Super Bowl MVP? Well sure, he's one of ours. Remember the time ACC greats Miami won all those national championships? We do!
Whether it's facilitating an image that gets you to tune in or, heck, is a way to sell the conference to athletes who might make you want to tune in down the line, it's OK to not get mad about it.
To assign deep motive to what amounts to an advertising decision isn't going make conferences do these things any less.