The new narrative about the BIG and the SEC.

painterlad's picture
December 5, 2012 at 2:09p

It seems that, once again, the SEC’s self image has taken a front seat with the talking heads at ESPN and As we all know, Bret Bielema has left the job at Wisconsin for the head coaching job at Arkansas. Good for him, good for the BIG and good for third-place divisional teams everywhere.
While driving about town today, I listened to an ESPN radio host describe the transition from the Big Ten to the SEC. (I won’t mention who it was, but his last name rhymes with “cow turd.”) This person described Wisconsin as, right now, the best program in the BIG while Arkansas is the 6th best program in the SEC. The obvious inference is that the very best of the Big Ten is a middle-of-the-road SEC team.
Andy Staples, a huge SEC homer at, made the same point on his page. How embarrassing, he wrote, that the very best of the BIG was, at best, average in the SEC, and how much that says about how bad everyone in the BIG is. (To be fair, Staples would make the same statement about any other conference.)
Before I even begin to destroy the concept of Wisconsin being on top, let me ask this one simple question: Where was this when Meyer left Florida for Ohio State? True, Meyer had one year removed from the sidelines, but does anyone think that he wouldn’t have taken the job if he was still coaching at Florida? Of course he would, but that narrative doesn’t make money for the ESPN/SEC machine.
Ohio State is a stepping stone for no one. It is a destination job, period. Even the greatest football coach in history (Paul Brown) wanted to come back after his stint in the Navy but was declined by the university. No one has left for another job. Some got other jobs, but only after they were fired.
But back to the concept of Wisconsin being the best program in the Big Ten.
Put down the crack pipe and go out and get some fresh air.
I think people who don’t really follow the Big Ten look at how this Rose Bowl will be three in a row for the Badgers and conclude that Wisconsin is best. Using that logic, if Kentucky were to win three straight SEC titles, they would be the best program in the SEC?? Of course they wouldn’t!
Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl in ’10 because they tied with Ohio State and got the nod due to tie breaker. (Ohio State went to the Sugar and beat Arkansas, BTW.) Wisconsin went last year, even though they lost to OSU in a year when no one lost to the Bucks and when they had a QB that is now starring in the NFL. And this year? They lost once again to OSU and finished third in their division. And this makes them the best because…?
Listen, if you work for ESPN, I get it. ESPN has decided to become the World Wide Leader in Regional College Football and to get along you have to go along. No one moves up the ladder at ESPN by promoting the Big Ten (cough-cough-Herbie-cough) and most people want to make the big bucks where they work. Do what it takes, man.
But don’t pretend that a) Wisconsin can beat the best programs in the BIG on a regular basis and b) Bielema left for any reason other than money. The SEC pays its players, er, coaches more than most, especially their assistant coaches. Wisconsin is about the 4th or 5th best program in the conference and there is one easy way to prove it:
Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn St. and Wisconsin all have head coaching job openings. Which program does that top shelf coach pick?
That’s what I thought.

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DarthSweaterVest's picture

Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter or pamphlet

Unky Buck's picture

This is pretty much on par with what I've written on this site and talked about with various friends over the last day. Coaches like Bielema are a dime a dozen. Play good competition and he falters. Play poor competition and he looks amazing. Unfortunately most of the B1G has been piss poor for the last few years so his record appears to be better than what it really is. When he has a combined record (between B1G play and the bowl teams since most have been the SEC or Pac 12) of 18-22 against opponents not named Minnesota, Indiana, Purdue, and Illinois since he started coaching at Wisconsin then I'm going to say he's a pretty average to below average at best coach. To say the best team in the B1G lost a coach is a joke.
It's easy for them to say "Well, they won the B1G Championship so they are clearly the best team" because it fits their argument, even though they have a 9-4 record and finished 3rd in a division behind 2 teams with nothing to play for. These guys are going to end up saying things like this regardless. It feeds the haters and it keeps us listening. I usually try and steer clear of these types of rants because us b*tching about it won't change anything and makes us look like complainers, but I felt compelled to chime in on this one at least. He can move on and Arkansas can disappear into obscurity. Maybe this will be the first of a few bad hires in the SEC that start bringing that behemoth can hope at least.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

btalbert25's picture

It's pretty transparent to see what they are doing right now.  The SEC is king right now, they have good teams, passionate fans, keep winning titles etc.  So, when Cowherd goes on the air with something this ridiculous he knows he's trolling.  He's going to get emails and calls of outrage from B1G fans, and he'll get support from the SEC crowd.  He's basically the Glen Beck or John Stewart of sports.  Facts don't concern these kind of personalities, because their job isn't about facts, it's about ratings.
Scott Van Pelt put it best.  He said we get beat up for talking about the SEC all the time, and maybe it does get over the top, but all I can say to other fans is, BEAT THEM.  BEAT THEM AND EVERYONE SHUTS UP.  Fast forward 5 or 6 years.  Meyer and the Buckeyes are playing elite football, Michigan is back.  Wisconsin makes a good hire and can beat teams with a pulse.  Purdue with Hazell is on the rise.  Boeckman has Illinois playing well.  Iowa will be due for another good run at that point as they seem to have a couple good years every 5 or so.  The B1G has a couple of titles under their belt and they are winning lots of bowl games an non conference matchups.  GUESS who ESPN is going to be trumpeting then.
ESPN doesn't have an SEC agenda, they have a ratings agenda, and the SEC's success right now gives them ratings.  The myth, though is that ESPN is only heavily invested in the SEC.  Couldn't be further from the truth.  Look up all the major conferences and see how their TV deals look.  ESPN is HEAVILY invested in college football Period.  They have billion dollar deals with all the conferences.  They just know playing the 2 biggest against eachother creates ratings, and money. 

Alhan's picture

He's basically the Glen Beck or John Stewart of sports.

That is the best description of Cowherd that I have ever heard!  Nice one BT.
I agree with you that the SEC getting so much attention can be cured by someone else winning.  It will happen one of these days, right?

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

btalbert25's picture

Honestly, I think he'd admit to that himself too.  He pretty much says the reason he talks about certain teams or leagues is because they are relevant nationwide.  Then he makes fun of the people who are always outraged at everything he says.  If anything, he's more honest about the character he plays than the other guys I mentioned.

45OH4IO's picture

Fast forward 5 or 6 years.  Meyer and the Buckeyes are playing elite football, Michigan is back.  Wisconsin makes a good hire and can beat teams with a pulse.  Purdue with Hazell is on the rise.  Boeckman has Illinois playing well.  Iowa will be due for another good run at that point as they seem to have a couple good years every 5 or so.  The B1G has a couple of titles under their belt and they are winning lots of bowl games an non conference matchups.

Hahaha. I love the optimism! 5 years from now I will be pooping rainbow sherbert. Everyone will own a flying car. 0 calorie bacon will be on the market. And they will make beer that cops can't detect. Chuck Norris will be president.
Seriously though. The only way the B1G will have a couple titles is if Urban and tOSU are doing the title-winning. Which I hope will be awesome and true!

btalbert25's picture

That's basically what I'm getting at.  2013 and 2014 look to be pretty promising years, though I doubt back to back will happen, I think there's a good shot at getting on in those 2 years, and who knows, maybe 2016 with Drew Barker at QB.
All it takes is one power to be winning though, and it's not too crazy to think Michigan, Nebraska, and Wisconsin could end up 2 or 3 loss teams every year.  Then if you throw in Purdue, Northwestern, Iowa, and Illinois as "middle teams" you have essentially what the SEC is now.  A really good top of the conference with a better 2nd tier than everyone else and a 3 or 4 dogshit teams at the bottom.

ODEEZ330's picture

the only thing i would say to that if i were  an sec fan is the B1G would have one team winning it in youre scenario(ohio st) while the sec had alabam, lsu, fla auburn during their "run".
SEC 4 B1G 1.

stark county football

USMC11917's picture

You might be right but even when USC was the only show in town in the Pac 10 that did not diminish the love they received from ESPN. They never failed to receive credit for their accomplishments. SEC fans can complain about our conference all they want as long as they are paying homage to the best in it. Go Bucks!


No way OSU is a middle of the road SEC team and no way Wisconsin is the best in the B1G. The Buckeyes may not win it every year but they'd do well in it and certainly wouldnt back down from anyone. ESPIN and SI need to keep in mind that Wisconsin's 3-year Rose Bowl run, for the most part, may never happen again. So they've hit their ceiling. OSU, even as successful as it was under Tressel, has not reached its ceiling yet even after a 12-0 season. Coach Meyer will make sure of that.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Buckeye1036's picture

The media loves to harp on the fact that Wisconsin is going to the Rose Bowl for the third straight time.  They love even more to ignore the fact that this third trip is based on technicalities.  They're the Leaders Division Champs** and the B1G Champs**.  One asterisk after each title for each school within the division that was unable to go to the B1G championship game because of post season bans.  Look at the conference records too.  Wisconsin (4-4) is 6th behind Ohio State (8-0), Nebraska (7-1), TTUN (6-2), Penn State (6-2), and Northwestern (5-3).

tennbuckeye19's picture

There are 2 ways you could look at this. If you look at schools in terms of which has had the most success in the last 3 or so seasons, Wisky would be right up there at the top in the B1G. BUT, if you are asking if Wisky is one of the best jobs in the B1G, I'd say it's probably the 4th or 5th top jobs in the league.
Arkansas IMO is probably the 6th or 7th best SEC job. (And yes, I am ranking Auburn and Tennessee above Arkansas.) 

D. Anthony's picture

Wisconsin is the best job in the Big 10 if you don't count. Ohio St., Mich, Penn. St, Nebraska...only an idiot puts Wisc ahead of these traditional powers. (Penn St is the the only one you can even debate, temporarily due to their issues)... has anyone ever heard of Wisconsin being on any coaches out-clause? It's well known that top coaches like Urban, Stoops, Miles and many others over the years have had out clauses for OSU, Mich, Penn St...never heard of any coach asking for a Wiscy out clause. I'm sure there are some in a MAC or Sunbelt coaches contract somewhere.

D. Anthony

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

If it's a better job, then why the pay raise? If it's truly that much better, would he not have taken it for about the same amount of money?

d5k's picture

Uhhh, what?

Poison nuts's picture

Ahhhe - I see...I had to think about that one for a minute though. But in college football, "better job" often equates to more pressure & higher expectations which then justify a larger salary. 
Regardless, I don't believe Arkansas is a better job than Wiscy. Actually they're quite similar to one another. Bert leaving for the SEC, to me, has more to do with money & fearing that things would only be downhill for him in the B1G after this year, where things can only get better at Arkansas. In short, he ran from Urban. And although, he'll have to deal with Miles & Saban now, that probably doesn't bother him because when he loses to them, it will have been expected.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

USMC11917's picture

I think you are better off asking Bobby Knight.

Buckeye1036's picture

That is amazing!

d5k's picture

There is a huge difference between best football team and best football job.  He was up against a glass ceiling at Wisconsin and caught lightning in a bottle with Russell Wilson and should've actually accomplished more.  There are 7 or 8 sec jobs better than Wisconsin but it is pure hyperbole to call Wisconsin better than the 4th best job.  It is closer to Illinois and Michigan State than it is OSU by far.
Wiscy : OSU :: Arkansas : Alabama
and it isn't a huge upgrade from Wisconsin to Arkansas.  basically like the 20th best job in CFB to the 15th.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

I wouldn't put the Michigan State job anywhere near Wisconsin or Illinois.  In terms of what kind of job it is I would say that it is just behind the conference superpowers and in the 2nd tier, still a quality job though.  Also Wisconsin is a better job then Arkansas is.  Arkansas has been to one bcs bowl and that technically never happened so i'm not sure where you would get the impression that it is a better job than Wisconsin.  Wisconsin being more than lightning in a bottle as they have been relevant and good for quite some time now.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Taking anything Cowherd says seriously is unwise. This is the same guy that took the time during highlights of Devin Smith's catch to bash the BigTen.

ESPN has spent this entire year talking about how awful the BigTen has been. They've downplayed Ohio State's perfect year because of the BigTen, and supposedly the lack of pressure because of the bowl ban. Talking heads constantly call Ohio State "cheaters" while largely ignoring the current trouble that Auburn, Oregon, and Miami are in. Heck, Alabama, and Auburn have been in trouble in the past, yet you never hear them labeled as "cheaters".


That's no necessarily true. When SEC teams wins BCS games(or any other bowl game), it's because they have superior athletes, coaching, cheerleaders, mascots, and because it's the SEEEEECCCEEE. When the SEC teams have lost there's always an excuse. When Bama lost to Utah it was because they didn't care about the game. When Ohio State beat Arkansas(contrary to what they want you to believe, the Buckeyes did play in that game) it was because Arkansas didn't do this or that. Oh, and it didn't count because Pryor shouldn't have been playing.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Amonk13's picture

All i can say is Bravo Sir! i could not have said it better myself!

-Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results- Albert Einstein

doodah_man's picture

It's all a plot by the B1G to infuse their coaches into the SEC...a process of dilution, while B1G adds top name coaches. Perfect solution to the SEC national championship monopoly. Bwahahahahaha....

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

Buckeyefan9973's picture

Awesome, just Awesome.  Well said Sir.  Bret left for three reasons, Pope Urban, money and the stafff of 11w's weekly Big Ten Review.  That was a well thought out, and excellent post.

jthiel09's picture

I've given up turning on any type of ESPN College Football programming and hoping OSU or even the B1G as a whole would get something positive said about them.


billy04's picture

The B1G doesn't deserve any love. Seriously, until this conference does anything besides masturbate all over itself and get pummeled in big out-of-conference affairs, people will make fun of it.  The blatant homerism and constant whining is so lame.  It's like a bunch of fifth graders crying to the teacher about the bully who is dominating dodge ball.
Hopefully, Urbz will lead us out of the darkness and into the light.  But until then, stop crying.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

The difference between the SEC and the rest of the country is simple. Line play.  We (B1G) used to dominate college football through the 90's.... so what happened. We went to spread passing attacks and in a sense softened our line play by not pounding the ball.  I know I'll take hits for this, but let me ask you this... How arethe teams in the SEC that are dominating getting it done??? Thy are doing it the old fashioned way. POWER RUNNIG!  It's simple.  We do it from the shotgun, Alabama and LSU run double tight, and Stanford does it the old fashioned way. The teams aren't just winning because of pure talent. It's a philosophy. Run the ball, run play action, control the clock and tempo, play great defense.  It's so simple. Why does the B1G mostly suck, everyone is in 3-4 wide sets, clock stops for incompletions= tired defense in 3rd and fourth quarter.
Why did Wisconsin destroy Nebraska??  Because the Huskers run a jank ass offense with a sporadic passing game, they go 3 and out... the defense gets tired of giving up 4-5 yard runs.... then they get worn down and those become 8-9 yard runs. It's easy if you are Wisconsin to defed the pass with a comfortable lead.
Simply put, the dominant SEC teams every year (Alabama, LSU, Florida under Urban) are commited to running the hell out of the ball. The B1G has become a dink and dunk conference, and whats left of the BigXII is all high powered offense with piss poor (tired) defense.  I'm not sure as a conference how we lost our way, I'm comfortable with Urban making us a dominant run team, as for our competition who knows??  I look at what happened to Michigan, and how the Hell Stanford with 2-3* talent becomes a PAC12 power in a few years and the answer seems quite clear. Or just look at Kansas State who pretty much runs with a tough QB, and almost runs the table with less talent. 
It's also important to remember that so many more HS teams run spread offenses. IMO spread offenses typically produce softer lineman. They aren't used to smashing heads and having numb forearms for an entire game. They get used to engaging defenders, and keeping their arms down to create passing lanes, so it's never a surprise when they need to run the ball for 1 yard, they struggle.   Sorry for the rant.... I despise spread passing. 

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.