Like many other Big 12 fans, I’ve struggled with the question of whether Missouri should switch to the Big Ten Conference, if an invitation is extended.
In a flash of grammatical and linguistic obfuscation, I found my answer a couple of days ago. In Saturday’s Star, sports writer Blair Kerkhoff reported on e-mail correspondence between two Big Ten officials that shed light on where the Big Ten might be headed in its quest to expand from the current 11 schools. (I know its odd that the Big Ten has 11 schools, but the Big Ten is a brand name that probably won’t change, even if it ends up with 15 members.)
It was actually the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch that got its hands on the e-mails, and Kerkhoff properly credited the Dispatch. The e-mails were between Ohio State president Gordon Gee and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. In his message, Gee informed Delany that he had spoken to a University of Texas official, who had told him that if Texas was asked to join the Big Ten it would have a “Tech” problem. The problem, seemingly, was that Texas would be hard pressed to pull up stakes and leave fellow Big 12 member Texas Tech in the lurch.
Here’s where it gets interesting, and curious. Delany — remember, he’s the Big Ten commissioner — responded like this, and I’m quoting word for word, letter for letter: “We are fast-tracking it but need to know the $ and observe contracts. Also need to make sure we leverage this to increase chances of hr additions. Finally double chess # of moving parts including not harming brand as we executy.”
The first sentence, which is a sentence, is pretty clear. The second, although not really a sentence because it lacks a subject, is nevertheless decipherable. With “hr,” he apparently was referring to “home run” additions to the Big Ten, and Texas would fill the bill. But that last sentence — lacking both subject and verb — left sports writers throughout the Midwest scratching their heads.
Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune had this to say: “Is ‘executy’ a typo for ‘execute’ — or some altered version of ‘extra cutey’? And what’s with the chess reference? Either Big Ten power brokers have their own language, or Delany is all thumbs.”
Here’s my thought. One of the reasons that Missouri reportedly is interested in the Big Ten — besides an influx of money into its athletic programs — is that the Big Ten schools, which include, among others, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State and Illinois, generally are a cut above the Big 12 schools academically. So, you would expect the commissioner to be a pretty sharp fellow, wouldn’t you?
From his e-mail, however, he looks like a guy who butchers the King’s English and doesn’t edit his writing before hitting the “send” button. As a person who respects the nuances of language and grammar, I’ve always understood the importance of double checking what I write before hitting “send.” Of course, I’ve made mistakes and sent messages that I wish I could have back for further editing, but I don’t think I’ve messed up a message of great sensitivity, like Delany apparently did. It’s best to assume that any e-mail you send could end up in the wrong hands and could come back to embarrass you.
So, that does it for me: Missouri should stay in the Big 12 and avoid the lure of the league where the commissioner can’t spell and has trouble fashioning a complete sentence.