The Big Ten has long been under scrutiny for its lack of winning big bowl games at the end of the year. Yet, the ACC is 2-12 in BCS Bowl games since the current format has been created. Nobody ever talks about how bad the ACC is, how it’s a one team conference since Miami fell apart almost a decade ago, or how awful its basement is. The bottom feeders in the ACC (Wake Forest until recently, Virginia and Duke perpetually) are worse than the Big Ten’s usual suspects of losing (Indiana is the only one who consistently loses although Purdue is battling them for the title now) and ACC is in the more media friendly east coast. Sure, the Big Ten is in the Midwest and technically is part of the media hotbed but they get beaten brutally on Mondays.
When was the last time a Big East team played for a National Title? They get their BCS bid and usually lose to a team that is far superior SEC team (like this year). I can make a case that the WAC has had more success than the Big East in prime time bowls. Usually the Big East rolls out West Virginia or the likes and never has a chance at a National Title.
Ohio State usually loses big games. They blow it in National Title games with the whole world watching. But they do get there almost every year. That is more impressive than one may think. Florida has been great for four years. Ohio State has been doing it for a decade. Bob Stoops has lost more Bowl game and big games (in a row) that Jim Tressel has had a chance to reach. But Stoops has consistently been called a great coach with no one calling for his job in the football crazy state of Oklahoma.
The Pac-10 was “the deepest” in years this year. What that actually means is that USC wasn’t dominant and everybody had a chance. Oregon (Pac-10 champs) lost to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Arizona (a team with a shot to make the Rose Bowl) lost to Nebraska 33-0 in their bowl. Stanford lost to an injury decimated Oklahoma team and Oregon State got crushed by a Mountain West school.
Let’s take a look at the Big Ten this year. Minnesota lost by one point to Iowa State. Northwestern lost a wild game against Auburn. Michigan State played well but faded against a Texas Tech team that was united in its bowl. Wisconsin beat Miami, Iowa exposed Georgia Tech (don’t the Yellow Jacket’s jerseys look eerily similar to Navy’s since a certain coach came to school?) and Ohio State beat an Oregon team in a game not as close as its score showed. Penn State came back in a swamp to beat LSU. Three teams finished in the final top ten polls. Overall a pretty good year for the Big Ten. This was also without usual bowl invite Michigan, who missed their second bowl in as many years. Now, the Big Ten must do this consistently and win a National Title in the next three years. OSU, Penn State and Iowa are the most likely candidates. Besides beating up on each other, there is no reason the Big Ten shouldn’t have a team playing for the National Title every four years.
It is true I am a Big Ten fan. I also know the tough times the Big Ten has gone through in the last few years. With Michigan struggling and more teams missing bowl eligibility, its hurts our national picture. Every year, with the cupcake schedules some of these teams play, eight teams should be bowl eligible in the Big Ten. Eight out of 11 (or 12 soon enough) is very reasonable.
The Big Ten belongs with other schools and conferences and the perception that they are inferior is completely false. Most of the Big Ten will be much improved next season so it could get even better. Unlike the top heavy SEC or the one team Pac-10, the Big Ten has depth and actually staying power with passionate fan bases and talented players. With a twelfth team and a championship game with increased revenue and exposure, the Big Ten will become even stronger in the coming decade and show the nation how real college football is played.