The Big Ten Problem

Jonnferrell's picture
October 21, 2013 at 11:14a

      It is the elephant in the room, and it’s not invisible.  It is pointed out by bloggers on the internet, and talking heads at ESPN.  The Ohio State University Buckeyes, in its current state of being undefeated for 19 games in a row, is almost relegated to undefeated Boise State/Utah status whenever a BCS National Championship game is mentioned so far this year.  The old “strength of schedule” is cited, even though teams in other conferences have similar non-conference opponents.  What is constantly implied in one way or another is that the Big Ten is “weak.”  OSU is begrudgingly given a partial pass because of its history, combined with the fact that we have Urban F. Meyer, and a supporting cast of coaches and players that any team or conference would take as their fantasy team—and the little fact that we win, and have been winning for years.  That doesn’t mean that the road hasn’t had some bumps here and there.  A BCS championship in 2002 put us in the elite, while dropping two later championship games to Florida, and LSU helped feed the elephant.  OSU has kept the elephant from totally taking over the room by winning other bowl games, most notably defeating Oregon in the Rose Bowl and smacking the Bertless Arkansas team in the mouth in the Sugar Bowl a few years back. 
     Other Big Ten teams have done more to feed the elephant—the hapless TTUN in the Alabama game last year was an embarrassment to the conference.  Other bowl wins by the Big Ten versus other major conferences have been few and far between—although the Wolverines did manage to dispatch an Urban Meyer coached Florida team, Northwestern defeats Vanderbilt, Iowa defeated Georgia Tech in 2010, and Michigan State beat Georgia and TCU the last two years, but the year before were demolished by Alabama 49-7.  Bert-led Wisconsin did nothing to help us in their sad Rose Bowl record of recent times.  Nebraska is an institution with quite a tradition, but they have lost their last three bowl games. 
     This year is one for the ages, as this is the final year of the BCS.  While it is an unlikely scenario, OSU may win out and they may still not get to play for the National Championship.  There is not a lot that can be done if the higher ranked teams go undefeated.  My main question is, what steps should the Big Ten take this year to be considered a truly elite conference once again?  What keeps it down, both in reality and in perception, and what can be done to move the conference back to level ground with the others?  As a side question, what is reality and what is fiction when considering the overall strength of the Big Ten versus the other major conferences?

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