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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