Divisional Balance in 2017

Submitted by jimmyshi03 on December 30th, 2016 at 2:08 PM

The SEC's overall record in bowl games thus far, as well as an interesting Bud Elliott tweet regarding the ACC's likely losses at QB next season, got me thinking about how the B1G will look next season, and specifically the balance between the two divisions.

Now the East was obviously stronger this season, and should be going forward, but next year could just an abomination. Wisconsin, a team that was clearly the west's best this year, but also clearly a step below the best three teams in the East. They seem to be the favorite to land ND transfer Malik Zaire as a fifth year transfer at this point, and even if they didn't would have the returning Alex Hornibrook. However, they will lose their top two running backs as well as a number of good specialists and potentially its best lineman.

But the teams below them all lose long term starters and don't have obvious replacements. Nebraska loses Tommy Armstrong, but probably has the best options, with a pretty highly regarded redshirt freshman competing with a transfer from Tulane who left because he wasn't a fit for the Willie Fritz offense. Iowa loses C.J. Beathard and Minnesota loses Mitch Leidner, and Illinois loses its primary starter, Wes Lunt. The best returning starter in the B1G west will almost certainly be David Blaugh.

Meanwhile, barring a major mistake by JT Barrett, the East will return primary starters at six schools (the only one losing its QB will be Maryland). If we thought their was inbalance before, next year really will take it to a new level, and I'm concerned the conference as a whole will be hamstrung by it. What do you all think?



December 30th, 2016 at 3:11 PM ^

I don't foresee the Big Ten flipping anytime soon. OSU, UM, PSU and MSU are the top 4 programs in the conference. I can't envision a circumstance in which Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa are the top three teams in the conference unless there are huge coaching changes.


December 30th, 2016 at 3:43 PM ^

MSU is done.  Cute run for an historically mediocre program but their shit facilities, meh tradition, and the return of big brother will ensure that they regress to their historical mean.

7-5 Sparty is back, and Dantorizellio won't be able to do anything about it.  Only so many midwest recruits that UM and OSU pass over to coach up that will pan out.  Great head coach, but minus Narduzzi and without UM crapping itself, the MSU gravy train is over.


December 30th, 2016 at 3:22 PM ^

Yes, but even back then, there was always the potential for Alabama, Auburn, and LSU to be good.  That was also before Texas A&M was added.  Those are four programs right there that are always going to have a high ceiling.  It could easily be argued at this point that Alabama's ceiling is higher than anyone in cfb.  There's no one in the Big 10 west that is anywhere near that type of ceiling.

Meanwhile, OSU, Michigan, and Penn State are all historically great programs that are going to be very good more often than not, whereas Nebraska is the only team in the west with that kind of history.  Unfortunately, recruiting seems to have shifted in a way that is going to make it difficult for them to get back there.  Wisconsin and Iowa are one bad coaching hire from dropping off the face of the earth because they don't have rich recruiting to fall back on.  Northwestern, Minnesota, and Purdue are all capable of having a good season here and there, but it seems pretty unlikely that any of them are going to start churning out one ten win season after another.  I'd honestly argue that Maryland firing on all cylinders has a higher ceiling than most of the western teams based on money and recruiting base.

Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised there's an odd season here or there where the west is close to the east, or at least produces one really good team that in a given season can compete with the best in the east.  But I'd say the odds of a shift happening that results in the west being consistently better than the east over the course of 5-10 years is virtually impossible.  Those programs in the west simply don't have the brand, finances, or recruiting base to consistently measure up to the east.

Michigan just had their worst stretch of football in the last half century.  Penn State just came off of probation.  Ohio State hasn't been bad for more than one season at a time since... I don't even know.  These programs aren't going anywhere.  The SEC comparison just doesn't work.


December 30th, 2016 at 5:55 PM ^

with north and south conferences. This would have provided more balances and every team could have kept their one rivalry game in each conference. Thus Michigan would still play OSU each season. But odds are we be playing OSU a second time in the championship game.


December 30th, 2016 at 2:16 PM ^

NW returns Justin Jackson, Solomon Vault, and Clayton Thorson. Yes they lose Austin Carr, but they could be the team to beat next year in the west. They only lose 1 starter on defense and only their RT on the o-line. 

King of the North

December 30th, 2016 at 2:21 PM ^

Why wouldnt barrett go? he's not going to play qb in the nfl as none of meyers qb's do. surely he knows this.  It would be in his best interest to leave now and get a head start on playing wr/rb a la pryor/miller. Adios!


December 30th, 2016 at 2:28 PM ^

Probably a big reason Miller got drafted when he did was because he played wr his last at OSU so the NFL had film on him at that position.  I'd be shocked if Barrett plays QB in the NFL,  After next year he might get drafted but I'm guessing it'll be in the later rounds.  I don't think too many teams want to risk a high draft pick on a player who is playing QB in college but will probably be a wr in the NFL.

Stringer Bell

December 30th, 2016 at 2:34 PM ^

I also think his potential as a receiver is low, much lower than Miller's.  He doesn't have great speed or size, and we have no idea how his hands, route running, etc. are.  He's an intelligent runner and a master at running the read option, but those skills don't suit you as a receiver. 

Stringer Bell

December 30th, 2016 at 2:59 PM ^

Ward was primarily a receiver/running back who played some QB, Barrett has only played QB. They're not the same.  But either way, Barrett isn't leaving early because he wouldn't be drafted, and he's not changing positions because OSU has no proven alternatives like they did when they moved Miller over to receiver.


December 30th, 2016 at 3:14 PM ^

No one is saying that (*except for the guy immediately above me)...I think they are trying to say that the cost of losing out on a national championship run while playing QB for a National Power is significantly higher than the benefit of MAYBE getting drafted and MAYBE developing into an NFL contributor.

1 percent

December 30th, 2016 at 3:21 PM ^


I really am saying that Barrett won't be an NFL football player any longer than the 3 years that Tebow was. He may get drafted, I'm not saying he won't. I'm just saying just that he won't fit into the NFL and will be rosterless, playing against Nojima Sagamihara Rise soon thereafter.


December 30th, 2016 at 2:26 PM ^

Same reason Denard didn't go after his junior year. Dude might want to play another year as QB at OSU, try to win the B1G/NC again and hope he shows enough that a team will take a flyer on him as a QB. If not then he can switch positions and play something else once his senior year is done. It's not like he'd be a high draft pick/a draft pick at all and lose out on massive dollars this year, so why wouldn't he take another year to build stock and enjoy what could be his final year at QB?


December 30th, 2016 at 5:24 PM ^

Are you removing all lost yardage from his total?  Not all of those were necessarily pass plays.

Moreover, some of his positive yardage came on scrambles, which wouldn't happen if he were strictly a RB.  For simplicity's sake, I'm just taking the raw totals.

Incidentally, here are Denard Robinson's YPC averages at Michigan:

2009 - 5.1

2010 - 6.6

2011 - 5.3

2012 - 7.2

This also includes sacks.  So Barrett's average is significantly lower.


King of the North

December 30th, 2016 at 2:34 PM ^

Because he would be playing another year at a position he has no chance of playing at the next level.  Someone brought up our own DR. He either should have switched positions for his final year or just went pro as an athlete. Staying for his final year as a qb stunded his growth and probably hurt his draft stock.  

Miller is in the same boat.

Whole Milk

December 30th, 2016 at 4:13 PM ^

The thing you aren't considering is that Barrett is a very good college football player. Not every decision is strictly based off of business. It's not like he is a slam dunk to be an effective NFL receiver, so why not come back and enjoy his last guaranteed year of successful football, take another shot at the heisman and try and lead his team to another successful year. 

I know it is wishful thinking, and I too wish he would go. But, this is the best example i've seen of a guy that business says he should adjust to an NFL position now, but there is just so much he would be giving up by doing it.


December 30th, 2016 at 4:19 PM ^

And he plays QB for the Schmuckeyes. He's an inconsistent passer. If anything his accuracy has declined since his freshman season. As we saw with the Pepcat, defenses have figured out how to defend the spread option with a diminished passing attack. The last few seasons, OSU has been bailed out with NFL talent across the board on defense, unwordly talent at HB or RB, and the general suckitude of the rest of the B1G. Go ahead, bring back Barrett. We've got years of film on him and Ezekiel Elliot is not walking through that door.


December 30th, 2016 at 2:20 PM ^

In rmy opinion, the imbalance in the Big Ten's divisions was there from the moment they went East / West basically, and it is being exaggerated by the successes of teams in the East in recruiting, among other things. It seems like we're headed towards a situation where the East will be very top-heavy and the West may be Wisconsin and a rotating cast of competitors battling it out each year, but in basically every meaningful metric, the West is the weaker division and it goes deeper than QB talent.