Is this the "Dark Age" of the B1G?

Submitted by PeterKlima on October 25th, 2011 at 4:33 PM

We living in the lowest "down period" in Big Ten history during my lifetime.

How far has the conference fallen from the 2006 UM/OSU game that pitted #1 against #2 and had the two teams BARELY miss a rematch in the National Championship game (over an SEC team no less)?

Pretty far.

What happened:

For a variety of reasons, both OSU and UM have been the best programs at recruiting talent.  High quality talent is highly corelated with national titles.  The two schools usually finished first and second in the B1G and around the top 10-15 nationally in recruiting.  When the two teams were headed by Carr and Cooper/Tressel, they used that talent to each win national championships and keep in the top 5-10 in the rankings.  

Of course, we know what happened to UM with the coaching changes and vastly different schemes.  UM still pulled in talent, but the coaching may have been suspect and the transition was brutal.  It now seems to be turning itself around, but it lasted long enough for UM to have some of its worst seasons ever.

As for OSU, they kept winning the B1G and even getting national respect to be placed in the NC game a couple mroe times.  At least they got there and seemed like serious contenders prior to the final game.  I don't think that is something you can say about any other B1G team.  But now, we see the transition and struggles of sanctions and coach turnover at OSU.  Their high level recruits still need to be focused and "coached up."

And in the wake of the two generally most-talented programs falling (UM four year ago and OSU this year), who has filled the power void? 

How about Wisconsin, MSU and Iowa?  Teams that have steady, quality coaching during the transition periods of OSU/UM.  (Sorry JoePa, but you are not the PSU coach in reality.)  While those teams may have won a game or two against the OSU/UM teams in the past, they have enjoyed a lot more success lately.

But, those teams are obviously limted by the talent level on their teams.  None of them recruit like a national title contender.  There are few to zero "differenc makers" whose athletic talent transcends the system run by the school and who are clearly better than the other players on the field.  These teams seem to just bulk up the lines and plug in quality (but not dynamic in their own right) players in the skill positions.  Solid football, but nothing to make any of them a threat to legitimately contend for the National Championship.

IMO, you need both top-level talent and high quality coaching to be a nationally elite team (legit top 5 at the end of the year) in any given year.

Either MSU, Wisco and Iowa have to start recruiting like national powerhouse teams or OSU and UM need to find (or matintain) steady, high-quality coaching.  (I think the later is more likely than the former....and, of course, Nebraska could be a wild card in this equation).

Until that time though, a darkness has warshed over the B1G.



Indiana Blue

October 25th, 2011 at 8:24 PM ^

is the change in style that has occurred in the SEC over the last 6 years or so.  In the early 2000's everyone talked about the SEC's "speed" and now  Alabama is essentially playing "B1G" style football.  Face it  -  Saban was B1G, Miles played B1G under Bo ... and these teams are great at what ... DEFENSE.

The other part is the fact that they absolutely cheat on recruiting.  The oversigning and "medical" redshirts are now legendary and the SEC is going to do absolutely nothing about it.  So if the NCAA doesn't have a problem with it - then neither should the B1G.  Hell - the B1G let tsio cheat for years  -  finds out and then does nothing to them!  Jim "no balls" Delany is worthless.  The B1G should adopt a system where every team can medically redshirt 5 offensive and 5 defensive players every year / s.

Go Blue!


October 25th, 2011 at 8:47 PM ^

"... now  Alabama is essentially playing "B1G" style football."

Yes, but they're playing it *really* fast. It would be Big Ten style football only if their linemen needed to be timed with sundials.

EDIT: Intended as a response to Indiana Blue .....


October 25th, 2011 at 9:05 PM ^

A conference's perception of strength comes from 3 places:

 - September non-conference games,

 - Bowl games,

 - National championship games.

As far as September non-conference games go, this is becoming more and more meaningless.  Everyone is rushing to have 7-8 home games against squids.  There are simply less and less compelling home and home cross-conference games to judge by.

As far as bowl games, the B1G has not actually done that bad here.  Because we are a popular conference, we tend to play "up" a level since 2 B1G teams usually make it to the BCS.  That does not help the bowl record much, but we have had some streaks of success, especially against (surprise) the SEC.

As far as NC's go, the top of the ticket has really hurt us.  The B1G has been damaged by OSU losing 2 in a row in humiliating fashion.  It's not fair, but it feeds the perception of the top B1G teams being weak.  Reputation-wise, the B1G would have been better off if OSU had not played in those NCs at all. 

Let's see how the addition of Nebraska and the divisional alignment of 12 teams helps out.

It adds a national power and it has the top B1G teams playing competitive football into December.  Pushing the regular season-ending games back until after Thanksgiving will aslo help.  No more 40+ day layoffs until bowl games. 

When we play "up", there is now one more quality team to fill the gap.  Think Nebraska now instead of NW against Auburn on New Year's Day a couple of years ago. 
September is meaningless and there is not much we can do on the NC front given our damaged reputation until they come up with a true playoff.  But I do think the bowl situation can and will get a lot better.


October 25th, 2011 at 9:22 PM ^

It was hard to have perspective at the time, but it's pretty obvious that 2006 was sort of a mirage...the Big Ten had three pretty good teams (people sometimes forget that Wisconsin was 12-1 that year, including a close bowl win against Arkansas), but after that what did we have? I still maintain that if the bowl matchups were switched (i.e. Michigan had drawn Florida and OSU had gotten USC) the results would've been different. I'm not saying that either Michigan or OSU would've won in that scenario, but for some reason I don't think Michigan gets blown out against that Gator team. Florida was good that year but there's no way they were objectively 27 points better than OSU. That was honestly one of Tressel's worst single game coaching jobs IME, and Troy Smith spending the 50 or so days before the game on the Big Boy diet didn't exactly help. 

Oversigning aside, the SEC's recent string of national title teams has won them their current national reputation, and deservedly so. National titles have been rare for the Big Ten, and until the conference can win one again things probably won't change. The Big Ten hasn't been the premier conference since, what...1999? Either way, it's been a while. The reality is can any of us say with a straight face that any Big Ten team other than Michigan or Ohio State is capable of winning a national championship? Wisconsin's best chance in forever was this year and they've already blown it. As somebody else already mentioned, the disparity in coaching quality is just as big of a factor as oversigning of the concept of "SEC speed." 

The first step is just winning bowl games, period, and unfortunately I think things look pretty grim for the conference this year come bowl season. 


October 26th, 2011 at 9:44 AM ^

I actually thing this is a great year for the big ten. Yea ohio is waaaaay down but Penn State has solid D Msu is well, we saw, Wisonsin is looking goood and Michigan is better than expected. I think were doing just fine this year, but Espn will spin everything to the SEC...