Evidently, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney hasn't taken too kindly to the many analysts and columnists that are discussing the SEC's recruiting dominance this offseason. The main source of his ire appears to be a Sun-Times article entitled "Big Ten needs to find new talent pool - fast". The article suggests the conference must lower admission standards and look more to the Deep South for recruits in order to keep up with the SEC.
Delaney has posted an open letter, "To Fans of the Big Ten and College Football" on the league's website in which he acknowledges the blogosphere (go us) before pointing out that talking heads should hesitate to compare conferences based on one recruiting class. He also pointed out the following interesting nuggets:
- The Big Ten was 2-1 vs. the SEC in this past season's bowl games.
- The Big Ten is 8-6 vs. the SEC in bowl games over the last five years
- The Big Ten is 13-13 vs. the SEC in bowl games over the last decade.
- Over the last nine years of Bowl Championship Series games, the Big Ten leads all conferences with 15 berths while ranking second with eight victories. The SEC tops all leagues with nine wins and ranks second to the Big Ten with 13 appearances.
- In the last 10 years the Big Ten has produced two national champions compared to three for the SEC.
- In the last 15 years the Big Ten has produced five Heisman Trophy winners, more than any other conference. Over that same time span, the SEC has claimed one Heisman.
- While the SEC ranked first among various recruiting rankings, the Big Ten ranked second or third nationally with four to five programs rated among the top 25 recruiting classes.
- The Big Ten has a history of developing players - the most recent Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith, was one of the last players to receive a scholarship from Ohio State.
- The Big Ten has slightly less than 300 players in the NFL while the SEC has slightly more than 300; Sixteen former Big Ten players earned Super Bowl rings with the Indianapolis Colts earlier this month.
I don't think admission standards vary that much between the two conferences, but his head-to-head numbers are strong arguments for the now. It will certainly be interesting to track this over the next 5 to 10 years and truthfully, it's a little cool to have this growing regional/conference rivalry. It's a good thing for the game.