The population shift argument is nonsense.
The big ten states have more population than the SEC SEC SEC states.
More importantly, There are more high school players in the BIG ten states than there are in the SEC SEC SEC states. The SEC leads the way in total number of kids signed, as well as a higher per capita of blue chippers (by a wide margin), but the total number of kids belongs to the Big Ten. I'd wager not many people knew that cold frosty Ohio has more kids playing HS football than sunny FLA.
the difference is cultural. whether that be focus by the kids (starts with their desire), coaching (stronger fundamentals and weight programs), spring ball (more games), funding (feed the beast), etc. they get more out of their kids than we do. if at least one other populous big ten state could elevate their football near Ohio's standards, the Big ten would easily jump to the second best conference. heck if ohio produced as much as fla the big ten might see the same bump.
On the bright side, we signed NJ and Maryland to the conference. they produce a nice amount of top end talent. the big ten schools need to recruit that area hard.
Here is where I got the total numbers from:
it's a cached article written in 2011 by Rivals. titled: Talent pool: Where the DI signees come from