One last time (until the bowl games)...
(one n per mid-major loss)
As I start this, the clock has just expired on one of the worst seasons ever for Big Ten football.
The season ended with another embarrassment for the conference, summing up a season of negative momentum and catastrophe. The 7-5 Wisconsin Badgers, 4-4 in the conference, are your 2012 Big Ten champions. Your Big Ten champions won the conference by showing up in the title game, and getting grouped in with two ineligible teams. Hurrah.
This game, one where the Badgers blew out the scoreboard and blew away a national television audience to other games, seemed like an appropriate end to it all. Sloppy football, in the most generic of settings, with every other option more attractive.
How did we get this way? A couple of reasons, all of which can be turned around.
First, there's Ohio State and Penn State's ineligibility. With these two banned teams doing so well, they essentially knocked off all the legitimate schools on their way to useless records. Since neither school counts in the BCS standings, the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions created a scenario where the talking point was constantly 'the Big Ten has no schools in the top 10/15/20...but would have one if Ohio State was eligible!'
Looking at the week-to-week polls, Ohio State's victories knocked Big Ten contenders out of the polls, and out of the national discussion in the process. In week 5, a Michigan State team that had dropped from 10 to 20 after a loss to Notre Dame faced Ohio State, and the Buckeyes' 1-point win dropped Sparty out for good.
The next week, Ohio State beat a 21st-ranked Nebraska team, knocking them out of polls for a month or so.
Meanwhile, Penn State struggled early (taking them out of any polls), but lit up the Big Ten schedule. Their 3-0 start inside the conference included Northwestern's first loss, a crippling blow in the rankings for the Wildcats.
If these two teams came out struggling in 2012, the perception of the conference is that of a strong conference with traditional winners and new blood, plus two longtime powers that will come back soon. But with their success this year, Ohio State and Penn State created wins that couldn't really be celebrated and losses that really made an impact.
Second, Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are 12-0, with two early wins over Michigan and Michigan State. Typically, both of our in-state teams can beat up on the Fighting Irish in at least one of the two games, and get a momentum-building win on a national stage. That didn't happen this year.
On top of that, both Michigan and Michigan State lost to Notre Dame before they became the nation's darlings. Notre Dame won in East Lansing as the underdogs, with a #20 ranking against the #10 Spartans. The Fighting Irish beat Michigan as the #11 team in the country two weeks later, just out of top-10 status. No honor to be gained at the time with those losses.
Third, all out-of-conference play killed the Big Ten.
It wasn't Michigan losing badly to Alabama. It was Michigan losing to Alabama after Wisconsin barely beat Northern Iowa. It was Wisconsin getting upset by Oregon State, despite that unranked Oregon State team going 6-0 to start the year. It was Penn State starting 0-2, Iowa dropping a couple early, and the week-to-week consistency of a surprisingly tough schedule beating the dregs of the conference.
Even though Louisiana Tech finished 9-3 and Illinois finished 2-10, it still looks bad for the conference at the time.
Even though Wisconsin lost to Oregon State and barely beat Utah State, two opponents who ended with great seasons, it looked bad in the national dialogue.
And having the flagship program, Michigan, start 2-2 seems to be a bad sign of things to come.
There aren't that many great games in September, so any kind of storyline gets beaten into the ground. And by the time conference play began, the Big Ten had a rough month through a stretch of shockingly tough opponents, with the effects showing all year.
Lastly, legitimate scheduling hurt the conference.
The vast majority of the nation's football fans only look at the top 25. When there's no Big Ten teams in the top 10, and barely any outside of the bottom, there's a bad perception. Sure, it's only perception, but that really is the only thing keeping this sport together.
By having a tradition-based conference where so many good teams play each other, teams are bound to drop a game or two. Of the top conference teams, here's who they lost to:
Nebraska - Ohio State
Michigan - Nebraska, Ohio State
Northwestern - Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan
Ohio State - None, but they're ineligible, so are always mentioned with a verbal asterisk
Penn State - Ohio State, Nebraska
Wisconsin - Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State
Of the top six teams, only one lost to a team outside this group, Wisconsin to Michigan State.
It was the same in the SEC, where the top three teams in each division went undefeated against everyone else.
Problem is, a loss in the Big Ten means that you're not as good as you thought. But a loss in the SEC means that the SEC is just a great conference that's so tough to win in. Perception, perception, perception.
Once again, when looking back, Big Ten teams played the toughest schedule. At the time though, it just looked like a weak conference.
All of these problems can easily be fixed next year.
It starts by taking care of business in September, and getting that momentum going for the conference schedule. In the second week of the season, Michigan hosts Notre Dame. One week later, Nebraska hosts UCLA. Those two potential wins, over 2012's most talked-about comeback teams, could set the tone for the season.
Next, having Ohio State come off probation is huge. The Big Ten needs to get teams in that BCS discussion when the time comes around, and the obvious candidates are Michigan, Nebraska, and either Ohio State or Wisconsin. The either/or is due to those two teams playing in late-September, knocking one out of the national championship discussion.
In a perfect world for the Big Ten, Michigan and Nebraska go undefeated for two months, both open up in the top 10 of the BCS, play a game with national implications, then end the season with Michigan aiming to knock off Ohio State, and Nebraska awaiting their potential shot after that. That's the best case scenario for the Big Ten, and it only happens when Ohio State is eligible.
Last (or first), the conference has to win some bowl games. If Wisconsin can upset Stanford like they upset Nebraska, it's good for the conference. If Michigan can take out Johnny Football, it's good for the conference.
Since everything comes down to perception, those wins to end the year can start some positive talk for the conference, or at least shut up the naysayers for eight months of offseason chatter.
This was a rough year for the Big Ten. Conclusively 4th out of the major conferences. Shut out of national title discussion. It was a perfect storm of suck.
But hey, next year starts tomorrow. And there's always basketball.
One last time (until the bowl games)...
(one n per mid-major loss)
We're not playing Johnny Football, just to let you know that
Not saying they will but the B10 could save alot of face in the bowl games.
Season isn't over just yet.
It's not looking pretty right now, I don't think one B10 team will be favored.
But they have one last chance.
The Big Ten lost two of its top three or four teams to probation. This jumps other teams up 1-2 slots in the bowls, meaning the #2 team is really the #3 team and the #5 team is really the #7 team.
Big Ten teams will be the underdog in every game they play against the SEC this year. While I would love to thump my chest and scream "bring it on," this bowl season scares the crap out of me.
I would be really, really happy with a "split."
It would be a lot different/better if the conference bowl tie-ins didn't have so much overlap with the SEC. No matter who is playing in those games, we're behind the eight ball.
Totally agree with everything you've written here... Although I think you're missing a blurb about the ridiculous amount of coaching changes and replacement of certain key individuals. There is no doubt that Wisconsin was bad to start the season, and a lot of their struggles came from a terrible offensive line coach (who was fired) and a terrible QB after Russell Wilson left. Watching them play their last 3 games - they are legitimately good.
Michigan State is suffering a little too - with Worthy in the NFL, their defense is not nearly as dominating as it was last year and Maxwell hasn't yet found chemistry with his receivers. I expect this to change at their bowl.
Iowa's coaching change took them from a dark horse to a dead horse - that's probably going to be corrected in the offseason.
All in all, I expect 2013 to be a power year for the Big 10. With a large number of contributors returning (and some RBs returning from injuries) in all teams and some coaches entering their 3rd years, it will be a very difficult conference.
Looking forward to it!
Regarding your comment about Wisconsin playing their best football, Wiscy lost the two previous games they played to a Penn State team that lost something like 14 players and an OSU team with a record that I believe was better than was the team. OSU struggled on defense all year, except, of course, when they played us in the second half last week, to the point that they had to move Boren from FB to LB.
I am very frustrated with the level of play that is going on with the B1G and it isn't getting better if bowl games are any indication. OSU is headed in the right direction and it seems that Michigan is also, assuming we get the skill players we need beyond QB. When you start going beyond a hand full of teams, the B1G is really not competitive. At some point, if this doesn't change, viewership and attendance will start dropping; it already has in several programs.
As for your grouping of opponents, other than Ohio, I think any of the teams in the top tier and middle tier could easily be juxtaposed, including Michigan and Nebraska.
Eh, well the whole "Penn State lost 14 players" thing is kind of overplayed - They only important starter they lost was Redd (which is a big loss) but Zwinak came and did pretty well... I think number 2 RB in the conference. If you're going to say Penn State was without its best player, then you should also include the fact that Wisconsin was without 3 of its best players (who they got back in this championship game) including Borland, who was an All-American last year.
At this point you're just going along with the media on your perception of the Big 10. It is definitely true that the level of play was quite bad in the first 4-5 games for basically everyone. There's no excuse for Michigan to play that poorly, but Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan State do have a rationale for this. The thing that people don't realize because "Oh the Big 10 is shitty" is that those teams all improved vastly to this point in the season.
If that Wisconsin team (fully healthy) were to take on @ Oregon State @ 2 AM EST, they would take them behind the woodshed and clobber them. It wouldn't be a 7-9 loss like in the OOC schedule simply because their offensive line *actually works* now and they have a QB that can actually throw the ball... not to mention that they would have Montee Ball this time (he was suffering from injuries from an assault and was not up to full speed by the Oregon State game).
I think your argument is sound, but I think it's relative. Yes - the BIG improved over the course of the season, but I think most teams did too. Granted, you can always point out a couple exceptions to the rule - like USC for example - but by and large most other conference improved at the same rate.
I honestly don't think many of those games at the beginning of the season would have much of a different outcome. Maybe we win a few more, but maybe we lose a few more. For example, I could easily see BSU beating MSU if they played again; I could see Iowa lose to Northern Illinois; etc, etc, etc.
It's an unfortunate but fundamental fact: For a host of reasons, the BIG has signficantly declined. I'd like to say we are in a position to catch up quickly but I honestly don't know. I think Hoke and Co. can produce great squads, but I don't know if we will ever be able to compete with the likes of Ala, FL, USC, etc. because we may not cut the same types of curves they are willing to do.
"...I am very frustrated with the level of play that is going on with the B1G and it isn't getting better if bowl games are any indication. OSU is headed in the right direction and it seems that Michigan is also, assuming we get the skill players we need beyond QB. When you start going beyond a hand full of teams, the B1G is really not competitive. At some point, if this doesn't change, viewership and attendance will start dropping; it already has in several programs. ..."
You could have made this same post 10 years ago, and it would have been just as valid then.
SEC is money-driven and the geographic territory is responsible for most of the great collegiate and professional players we see in modern football. B1G is not money-driven and basically just fights over kids from Ohio and Pennsylvania - which isn't as big as Texas, Florida, and everything in between. Bottom line? B1G is not the SEC. Stop comparing the two. And, some school outside the SEC and B1G are always going to challenge by dominating in certain recruiting markets (Oregon, Stanford, Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma, Texas).
As Popeye says, "I ams what I ams." Why must their constantly be hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing over "the state of the B1G." 3-4 teams in the Top 25. Lose just over half our bowl games in most years. I just watch and enjoy the football.
B1G is not money driven? I'd say it is more money-driven than any conference out there.
$$$ > Quality
I think the conference would actually be better top to bottom if it dropped some dead weight and called itself the Big 8.
I was implying that recruiting in the B1G is not money-driven.
"Iowa's coaching change took them from a dark horse to a dead horse - that's probably going to be corrected in the offseason."
Iowa has already announced Greg (GERG) Davis is coming back next year. Which is the heart of why the Big Ten sucks, overpayed middling coaches sticking with bad assistants
Greg Davis didn't look like an idiot when he coordinated Texas to a championship and annual BCS games.
Neither did Gerg
Gerg was only there for one season (which he miraculously parlayed into a head coaching job at Syracuse).
A: He had Vince Young and then Colt McCoy to work with.
B: Iowa is never going to have the base talent that Texas does
C: Did you watch Iowa football this year? They were the epitomy of what everyone says about the Big Ten. Horrible Offense, whether it was running out routes shy of the 3rd down conversion or running on 3rd and long. They're regressed hard this year, and things aren't getting better. Him and Ferentz aren't going to click, and if Iowa has to choose between Kirk's buyout or Davis', that's easy to decide money wise. And I doubt Ferentz has the guts to go away from his traditional offense
Let us never forget that things were so muddled at one point that Kirk Herbstreit picked Purdue to win the B1G.
on this sites weekly podcast that their opponent was thought to be Indiana at one point
I really think this is the year that broke me. A lifetime of caring about this conference, wanting to watch every game, caring about how everyone is doing and how it impacts Michigan's bowl game and all of that...
I literally do not care anymore. An expanding conference with schools I care almost nothing about, if not totally loathe. A subpar TV network dominating every decision coming out of the conference offices. Divisions I can't remember to save my life. Messed up rivalries, stupid trophies, and a championship game in Indy. Programs who can't run a clean enough program to stay eligible for the postseason allowing a 5-loss team to waltz into the Rose Bowl.
It's all garbage. And I'm done. I will continue watching Michigan and caring about what Michigan can control to determine their annual destiny, maybe I'll watch MSU and Ohio if the mood strikes, but I'm done with this conference.
The most painful thing when I watch the other Big Ten games is the poor quarterback play. I like watching good quarterback play, which is why I have found Pac-12 games more intriguing over the past couple seasons (Barkley, Luck, Hogan; heck, even Hundley, Mariota, etc.). And I don't really count Braxton Miller, because I hate Ohio State and don't like watching them, anyway. But Purdue used to have decent quarterbacks, Iowa's had decent quarterbacks, Daryll Clark at PSU, etc. Caleb TerBush, Robert Marve, James Vandenberg, Matt McGloin (even though he put up decent numbers), Andrew Maxwell, and all those guys are just kind of painful to watch.
So what explains the poor quarterback play?
Is the raw talent there, just developed poorly? Or has the Big Ten become a conference to avoid for highly-recruited QBs?
Well, Purdue did better at developing quarterbacks when Tiller was there. Michigan has obviously gone downhill in that department since Lloyd Carr left. Wisconsin has never produced great quarterbacks, but Wilson was a one-year improvement last year. Iowa obviously didn't do a good job of developing Vandenberg. Penn State recruited quarterbacks poorly - Bolden, Newsome, etc.
It's a different reason at every place.
The B1G went from a conference with some quality QBs to a bunch of underperformers (Maxwell), torpedoed by coaching (Vandenburg), to wiped out by injury (Denard, Stave). It's not the league runs crappy or strange offenses that high school kids don't like. Seems like recruiting, coaching, and time to mature are the path to fixing the problem. The Nelson kid at Minnesota looked pretty good, but he needs some time. But, when you have a bad QB play, you have the makings of a bad team and this year, wow, another perfect storm hit the QB position, too.
I wonder how many other fans feel the same way. I'm not quite with you yet, but it's getting closer. Last night's B1G championship game was a joke before it even started, and when it was over, it was an even a bigger joke.
Since last weekend and the additions of awful Rutgers and Maryland I've been trying to sum up, in my head, how I feel about Michigan football. You captured it perfectly. Seems our once proud BigTen tradition is being recklessly sold for market share. I am sort of numb. I'll probably be passing on the bowl trip this year. It seems that college football as a whole stinks. Almost all the games of yesterday were barely watchable. College football is in a sad state.
Right now, the Big Ten is in a rebuilding stage. The conference still has all the history, tradition, big stadiums, etc. that you could ever want. There is no guarantee that it will stay this bad forever.
Good luck improving the B10 bowl record with built-in disadvantages with the major tie-ins.
"Expect things to go poorly, and learn to live with misfortune."
I was expecting it to be a rant and was pleasantly surprised. Thanks
Yes, and Iowa inflicted the only loss on Northern Illinois, 18-17, which weakened the perception of Iowa at the time. Bowl mis-matches should not be as bad as usual, with only one BCS team, Nebraska might be close to a push, or a slight underdog. It will still be uphill.
They will be worse because of Ohio State and Penn State being ineligible.
In a season where computer-based predictions and polls were all the rage and Nate Silver ruled the day, the computer-based rankings of Jeff Sagarin confirm the widely-recognized perception that 2012 Big Ten football was totally craptastic - fourth and last among the four major BCS conferences and well behind the Big XII, SEC and Pac-12. (There’s only small comfort in seeing that Sagarin’s early season college basketball rankings show the Big Ten far ahead of all other conferences and with four of the top 10 ranked teams, including Michigan at seven.)
It’s probably way too early to predict where Michigan (or any other B1G teams) will land in the 2013 pre-season football rankings - rankings that have become especially unreliable in recent seasons, unless you project at least four SEC teams, a Pac 12 team and a Big XII team finishing in the top ten.
The 2013 Wolverines will be without one of the most dynamic offensive performers in school history, Denard Robinson, and a wide receiver, Roy Roundtree, who honored his legends jersey by making two of the most memorable catches in program history. Fitzgerald Toussaint, the returning starter at tailback (if he’s even able to return), will be coming off a mediocre 2012 season and a serious leg injury. The offensive line may include four redshirt freshmen. The focus of Michigan’s 2013 offense might have to be "The Devins" and lots of "brunettes on the beach."
What became the nation’s 12th ranked total defense in 2012 will, in 2013, be without two starters in the backfield – its spiritual leader, Jordan Kovacs, and a much improved J. T. Floyd, plus two starters (Craig Roh and Will Campbell) from a decent, though not spectacular, line and an inside linebacker, Kenny Demens, who might’ve made the most important tackle of the Wolverines’ 2012 season.
While Jake Ryan returns to lead "The Hunt for Maize and Blue December (in Indianapolis)," the 2013 Michigan football team’s pre-season ranking could just as easily be outside the top 25 as inside the top 25.
The perception of the Big Ten was shaped by:
Michigan getting eviscerated by Alabama, something at least 3 of the SECs teams managed not to do.
Nebraska getting shelled by UCLA, the third best team in the PAC10
ND sweeping three teams.
OSU almost stumbling to Cal
PSU losing to Ohio and Virginia
Wisconsin losing to Oregon State
We collectively, as a conference, beat 4 BCS teams in the preseason, and three of those were NW. The best win may have been MSU over a non-vintage Boise club, or NW beating a middle of the pack Vanderbilt.
The SEC had wins over Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, Arizona State, Mjchigan, and Washington. None were particularly close.
That's not perception - that's fact.
I wouldn't count Gerogia Tech (6-6 team) as a major victory.
Clemson and Florida State are major victories and maybe Michigan too though as other posters have said we have had an average season so far. If we beat the SEC in a bowl game it will be a markedly better season.
Heres a question, why don't poll voters look at the entire teams schedule before voting that week. I'll just pull out the example with Oregon State, " It was Wisconsin getting upset by Oregon State, despite that unranked Oregon State team going 6-0 to start the year."
Why couldn't the voters neg Wiscy to begin with but as they see the Beavers going 6-0 reassess and say, "Wow Oregon State is a decent team, that Wiscy loss at the beginning is understandable" and give us less of a hit for it. This of course will be in lieu of just looking at last weeks Top 25 who won and lost and adjust accordingly which doesnt look at a full body of work. I would be ok if they only did the full reassess at the middle of the season (~week 7) and after the championship games. I think it would give everyone a clearer picture of the power of each team/conference.
I still maintain it goes back to coaching and the unwillingness of most B1G schools to open their wallets and spend some of the all-important B1G network money when it comes time to hire an HC. If you compare the SEC to the B1G you'll see that the schools in our conference generally go on the cheap when it comes to hiring (Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, soon to be Purdue I'm sure) versus the SEC generally spending whatever is necessary to get the best of the best. Getting Chris Peterson from Boise cost Arkansas a lot of money but they stepped up and paid it. If you look at the B1G who paid the most for the shiny new HC last year? OSU and the results were pretty impressive in year one of Meyer's regime.
IMO until the B1G is willing as a conference to go after the best coaches available and not just the cheapest ones they can hire this will continue. It all starts at the top and at least as of now we've decided to not compete for the best coaching talent available.
The mid-tier schools have a tougher problem though because the best way to ensure long term competitiveness is coaching stability and if the Purdue's, Minnesota's and Northwestern's pursue top coaching talent with big contracts, they'll still be faced with replacing that coaching star should he become successful because the bigger schools will coming a-poaching with big contracts, bigger reputations, etc...
MSU and Iowa probably have taken the only realistic approach that mid-tier conference programs, hire a guy who can develop 2 and 3 star talent into a competitive team. Will you be NC contenders year in, year out? No. But you might compete for a conference title every 4 or 5 years and make a bowl game most years. Honestly, how much more can you expect if you're Purdue? Hiring a Chris Peterson might give your program a brief shot in the arm, but you'll never have enough to offer to keep a guy like that around for 10 or 20 years to build a dynasty, so you're always shuffling through new coaches.
Besides we rolled the Brinks truck up for Rich Rodriguez and that didn't work out for us. On the other hand, paying big money for Mattison has been better than we could've possibly hoped for.
Two years in a row we may face the defending national champions early in the season. Next fall I will look forward to welcoming them into the Big House one last time. Maybe this time we won't be too afraid of getting our qb hurt to gameplan to our strengths.
Elsewhere in the comment section, Bando captured my thoughts on the B1G perfectly. However, it's also an issue with the sport itself. A 5-loss team waltzes into the Rose Bowl because the NCAA and B1G don't have balls big enough to have just thrown a meaningful punishment the way of Ohio or Penn State.
Of course, an automatic death penalty for NCAA infractions is out of the question. One could also argue that this year was a perfect storm that is not likely to ever happen again.... Or will it? The pressure to "just win, baby" is greater than ever, which led to Tattoogate and (one could argue) the Penn State cover-up. The amount of money involved has never been more excessive, which is why we have Rutgers and Maryland joining us, despite not a single fan at ANY conference or school supporting the move, it seems. The bad decisions just seem to beget worse.
Back to the NCAA and punishment. I believe that the idea of a "post season ban" should simply be abandoned altogether. Because it exists, we have Wisconsin. So, the "penalty" on Ohio and Penn State clearly didn't have the intended effect, and was probably worse for the nation's perception of the B1G than either of those two schools. Both schools still got TV coverage, regular season dollars, exposure to the hot recruits, etc.
If the death penalty is truly out of the question (and I'm not sure - at least in the case of Penn State it should have been) then a just-short alternative could be that the games could still be played in the regular season with the following caveat: they don't count for the duration of the punishment period. I mean not at all; neither in terms of wins or losses, for either team that plays. Schools with teams like Ohio or Penn State on the schedule would be given an option to not play the game or schedule an alternate (likely Baby Seal U). That would put an incentive on the part of all teams to cancel the games with the team that has been punished for infractions, and have the effect of the death penalty but perhaps even a greater stigma attached.
the B1G should have had the balls at the beiginning of the season to say the top 2 schools regardless of division play for the B1G championship if either Ohio or Penn State win the Leaders Division.
I am only a B1G fan because I'm a UM fan. Outside of UM I could care less about the B1G. I only want the B1G good to make UM look good. But, I will never want a good B1G if that means promoting OSU. There is only one scenario I want OSU good and that is when UM beats them. I may get negged for this, but I am being real. I cannot and will not root for OSU under any circumstance. I know that is not the sentiment of a lot of others who believe OSU being good is good for UM. But, I'm sorry, I've seen UM lose to OSU too much, they have too much in-state talent, and they compete with us so much for recruiting that I never want to see them good at any level. They will be good at every level regardless of what I want, so any time the world throws me a bone and slams OSU down (ala sanctions) I will take it with the giddiness of a school girl...sorry. So, I'd rather the B1G not have a highly ranked team than one highly ranked team if that team is OSU!
Sure there were a lot of circumstances this year that made the B1G look bad, but the ultimate issue is that the conference needs to improve its quality of football. Period.
I think the addition of teams to the confrence is going to bring on worse results than we saw this year. The B1G will become more watered down on the field.
I thought this diary was going to document the sorry state of B1G fullbacks (FB). Long live the Joe Kerridges of the football world.
I agree with knickerbocker24. + Rutgers and Maryland? Really. I do understand the Rutgers was a major player in College Football in 1869 but give me a break.
I do care about B1G but only because of the traditional rivalries MSU, OSU, Minnesota (was big, back in the 1920's) but at this point I would be happy if Michigan became independent in football. I know it's not going to happen, but that is how I feel. I don't agree with the money-grabbing folks in charge in the big ten. I know, I am a luddite.
Penn State was a good addition. Rutgers, Maryland make some sense- GT and Virginia make even more sense...the B1G needs to grow its recruiting area to improve or die. Yeah, TV too. Virginia and Atlanta do that; the DC and east coast areas will help.
OTOH it was Nebraska that really didn't make much sense- much better deal for Nebraska than it is/will be for the B1G. Very few new recruits in that area, small TV market, with one more football powerhouse to divide the exisiting recruiting terrttory up with. If the B1G likes the TV exposure that outsized brands like Nebraska (or ND, Oklahoma, etc.) bring, the B1G should have just 'strongly encouraged' (incentives?) for non-conference games with them.
...........bad B1G season.
Nebraska, with a win in the B1G CCG, could have erased the memory of it's loss to UCLA, pitting an 11-2 Nebraska team against an 11-2 Stanford team, one just inside the top ten, and one just outside.
Instead, Nebraska lays the biggest egg of any team all weekend, promoting a five-loss Wisky team verses Stanford.
I agree with the posters who mention Ohio and PSU as hurting the perception of the B1G this year, as well. OSU won all it's games, while the other B1G schools beat up on themselves, resulting in "meh" records for most other teams in the conference. Most of those "meh" records were due to poor OOC play, against decent to good competition.
OSU - won all their games, but weak OOC scheduling helped
PSU - If they had found their stride at the start of the season, instead of partway through, wins over Ohio and Virginia would have propelled them to a 10-2 season. Much better.
Nebraska - The loss to UCLA hurt worse than people realize. If they show up and win that game, an 11-1 Nebraska team is playing for the B1G, likely ranked inside the top ten. Show up for the CCG, as well, and even a much closer loss looks better for the B1G. As well, it might have allowed for them to still play in a BCS bowl, if the other B1G teams had taken care of their OOC schedules better.
Wisky - Beat OregonSt., and they are 8-4 playing in the CCG, going 9-4. A nine win team in the Rose Bowl doesn't look nearly so bad as an 8 win team, especially given their circumstances, lucking into the situation as an unbeaten OSU and 10-win PSU were ineligible.
MSU - MSU actually fared ok in OOC play. It's unlikely, given their history, that they would breeze through that unbeaten again, since ND is on their schedule. They had the "misfortune" of losing to the rest of the decent B1G schools.
Purdue - Played pretty good in OOC play. If Hope was better coach, they win that ND game too, and are 7-5 at the end. Four of their five conference losses came at the hands of four of the top five teams in the B1G, including the game at Ohio, which again, if Hope was a better coach, they could have and should have won.
NW - A good year OOC, winning all of their games. And a competitive in conference season. They couldn't have helped any more with the perception of the B1G.
Iowa - Lost two OOC games, even as they beat a BCS team. Beat IowaSt., and Central Michigan(a team that MSU destroyed), and they are 6-6 and going bowling. Both OOC losses hurt the conference image, especially when they then open the B1G season with two wins, one being a blowout of Minny and the other being a close win at MSU.
Minny - Weak OOC schedule, even though they won them all. Much like NW, they couldnt' have helped the perception of the B1G any more.
Illinois - The poorest team in the B1G also was blasted the worst in the OOC portion, getting blownout by both ArizonaSt. and LaTech.
Indiana - Lost two in OOC play, both nailbiters. Win both of those, and they end up being 6-6, especially as both of the games they lost, to BallSt. and Navy, were against middling mid-major teams.
Us. Michigan. Well, we played what turned out to be the top two teams in the nation at the end of the regular season. I don't think we could have fared any better against Bama, as our D, although they played well, was still finding itself. The offense, under Borges, could have shown up better, but this was a likely loss going in. We all knew it.
It was the ND game, though, that we should have won. How many turnovers was it? 6? And we did move the ball up and down the field against them. Some of those they turned into points rather easily, even though their offense was sputtering against our D. Take care of the ball, and we win this one. 9-3 instead of 8-4. Still not BCS worthy, IMO, but looking better against any bowl matchup.
The B1G. As a whole, the conference looked terrible because of play in OOC. Win the games they should have, and all but one team in the B1G is at 6-6 or better. And the only OOC game the B1G would have looked terrible in was our own loss to Bama from the SEC. At the beginning of the season. The B1G likely would have had 1 more team ranked in Wisconsin, at the end of the season, in the BCS poll, and probably two of them, us and Nebraska, ranked inside the top fifteen. What's more, in the AP poll, that likely would have gotten the B1G 6 ranked teams, including a top-five OSU, and another top fifteen team in PSU. At that point, the B1G doesn't look nearly so bad, even if we only got one team in a BCS bowl.