Okay , I will begin this latest entry with a very simple but inflammatory statement ; of the six BCS conferences the Big-10 is by far the most overrated conference. I said it, it and it needed to be said by someone. Okay, let that statement soak in and then read on with an open mind. The Big 10 has 11 universities which have large alumni bases, huge non-alumni following, tradition, money and their own network. Many cities, outside of Big-10 country, have an alumni chapter of some Big-10 school, and these are towns far from Big-10 country, for instance Las Vegas, Albuquerque and El Paso have alumni chapters of Penn St and Michigan St.. If you run into a drunken, oops sorry, impaired alum of a Big-10 school they will swear to you that their school is head and shoulders above yours, (which may be true in my case, I am an alum of a WAC school (where they get schloshed not just drunk ). Truth is however; no conference has more delusional fans than the Big-10.
College football fans answer this question honestly; is there a Big-10 team that you absolutely need to see? Is there a game that you circle on your television watching schedule involving two Big-10 opponents? Has there been a game involving a Big-10 program, besides Ohio St that you were willing to log couch time to watch, and are you watching Ohio St or the other team? The first game on ESPN (10 MST, 12EST) time slot is usually occupied by a Big-10 team playing, are you sitting down to watch that game or are you getting your lawn mowing, grocery shopping, spouse or significant other time out of the way, in order to watch some other game? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, you are not alone. The Big-10 is a conference filled with fan bases that have been fooled into thinking they are better than they actually are and have convinced the average college football fan into believing the same, yes I am aware that Big-10 school alums usually are captains of industry and are the common man’s Ivy league graduate, so when they argue that the Big-10 is a superior conference they usually will have some reasoning that harkens back to the days of Bo, three yards and a cloud of dust, and Woody, or even how great Big-10 programs record have been over time, even though no program has done anything outside of the Ohio State being handed a championship after a mystery pass interference call vs the “U” earlier this decade.
The casual fan is spoon fed a diet of; Ohio St. is great, and Michigan, Penn St, Wisconsin and Iowa are solid programs that are worthy of being mentioned as championship game contenders yearly in fact look at this year as an example; Michigan beats UConn and fans are ready to pronounce them as back, Penn St. rolls Youngstown St and Ohio St. beats Marshall and at this point fans are ready to gulp 11 flavors of Big-10 kool aid, and do the Hokey pokey with the Iowa fans. I bring this up because this weekend’s slate of games features Miami vs Ohio St and Penn St. vs. Alabama, which at the conclusion of that day should bring out its share of Big-10 apologists who will have ready-made excuses locked and loaded for Saturday evening’s post mortem of Penn St. and Ohio St. To say that this weekend is a big weekend for the credibility of the not so Big-10 conference is an understatement, should Penn St. get rolled by the “Tide” and The “U” go to “shoe” and cane the Bucks what would that say about the conference. In fact I hope it does happen just to hear the spin from fans of Big-10 apologists.
Big 10 programs have made a living knowing that their fan bases only really care about a few things; beating your rival, going to the Rose Bowl, and finishing with a winning record. So the reality of Big-10 programs is you line up the Akrons, Toledos, Northern Iowas, Eastern Michigans, and Temples, the lower end of the Pac-10 or Big East and then navigate your Big-10 schedule; claiming all the while that the Big-10 is a war from week to week to pacify the fan base when they are not in contention for the Rose Bowl, but all the while finishing 9-3 or 8-4. Those records get your program to a warm weather destination in December or January , which satisfies boosters and alums, and keeps that annoying alum (or semi alum) of Purdue, Indiana or Iowa who lives down the street flying his flag and proclaiming his school is better that yours.
I am wondering what Sunday will bring for the fan bases of Big-10 programs should the two heavyweights lose and the conference is seen as down, what spin will we hear? Don’t know but it should be entertaining.