Has the BTN taken the luster off the Big Ten??

Submitted by Hair Raid Offense on October 5th, 2013 at 12:18 AM

It's been 6 years since the Big Ten Network first started broadcasting and I feel that is a long enough sample size to look at the long term results. Whether the evidence in connected or not there is no doubting that since the 2007 season that the B1G has fallen well below the SEC, PAC-12, and ACC conferences.


Is it a coincidence? Or has the limited market of the BTN affected the national perception of the conference? To me, almost all BTN televised games have the feeling of it being amateur hour. Whereas I've never had that feeling watching a couple of middling ACC teams go at it.


It just seems like those old school bruiser games like Wisconsin vs Minnesota have been marginalized. They used to be top tier Big Ten matchups but are now relegated to filler between nacho dip commercials


Don't get me wrong, the proof is in the pudding. The B1G still has to beat top opponents. But I can't help to think that the BTN's constant coverage and commercialization has hurt more than it has helped as opposed to schools that always have ESPN airing their games.




October 5th, 2013 at 12:34 AM ^

Recruiting sites are pretty accurate. Maybe the SEC is just getting better players? Peppers committed and it's not like his rankings dropped. Stop being a homer and look at the big picture, SEC had won the last 7 championships. Quality players lead to quality teams ultimately leading to championships.


October 5th, 2013 at 1:09 AM ^

I think he means that the media and recruiting sites are pushing talent to the SEC schools, not that they are biased in their rankings.

When all you hear about year in and year out is SEC SEC SEC on ESPN it has an effect on recruiting. The SEC hasn't done shit it's been Alabama, LSU, Florida and (until recently) Auburn doing the heavy-lifting. The conference bias at ESPN is getting ridiculous.


October 5th, 2013 at 1:30 AM ^

I don't know.  ESPN has always been kind to Michigan and Ohio State and still is.  ESPN mostly controlls the game times now and we're more than getting our fair share of prime time games.  I think we will see a bias in the future towads the ACC though.  You just listed off 4 differenct SEC team national champions over the last 7 years.  You would have to go back to 1966 to get to the 3rd team that last won a national championship in the big ten. 


October 5th, 2013 at 8:46 AM ^

 "The SEC hasn't done shit it's been Alabama, LSU, Florida and (until recently) Auburn doing the heavy-lifting."

Do you not see the humor in your above statement?  What four teams in the B1G have done the heavy-lifting in the last decade?  You'd be lucky to count to 2.  Short of OSU and Wisky ( 3 straight Rose Bowl appearances), no other teams have really done anything to help bolster the B1G's reputation.



Toasted Yosties

October 5th, 2013 at 9:38 AM ^

winning eight National Titles in a decade?  We're pretty fortunate to get one a decade, and it's been Michigan or Ohio State.  Our league champion is known for going to the Rose Bowl and losing, while the SEC's champion goes to the Title game and wins, save LSU in the rematch against fellow SEC member Alabama.  By playing in a conference, it's going to be impossible to have every team with 10+ wins, some have to lose for others to do so, it's the nature of a conference, and the SEC does not get a pass on this.  Until our conference teams can play better in the big name OOC games (thinking Nebraska and Wisconsin), play better agains mid-level opponents (Michigan, Penn State, Purdue, and others), and start pulling in bowl wins against big-name teams and National Titles, the perception will remain, and deservedly.


October 5th, 2013 at 1:09 AM ^

Did you know that before the Big Ten Network SEC fans claimed ESPN had a Big Ten bias? Put aside the "those fans are crazy" dismissals because I don't think anyone feels that way now.

ESPN is the evil empire of sports media. They are entitled and are known to play games with people. Delaney poked the big bad bear with this network idea (especially since he partnered with Fox) and coverage of the conference has been less favorable since. The link is pretty clear to the naked eye.

Meanwhile, it could not have been better for the SEC's relations with the World Wide Ledaer.

I Like Burgers

October 5th, 2013 at 8:55 AM ^

What does ESPN have to gain by downplaying the Big Ten? They have an expensive contract with the conference and spend much of their Sundays covering the conference. So it's in their best interest to game that conference be good so ratings are as high as they can be.

Or you know, there's your half baked tinfoil hat theory. I'm sure it's really the media illuminati that's conspiring to control the quality of the conference.


October 5th, 2013 at 12:25 AM ^

A program like Michigan will never have it's games on ESPN3, but just think of how many Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana games wouldn't even be televised. It might have a negative impact for a program like ours, but it's a blessing for others. Not to mention all the basketball games that get televised as well non-revenue sports.


October 5th, 2013 at 12:30 AM ^

and if Minnesota-Iowa isn't on the BTN, it's probably only on espn3 or something. The conference's ineptitude has nothing to do with the BTN and everything to do with sub-par talent and mediocre coaches

Hair Raid Offense

October 5th, 2013 at 12:31 AM ^

I guess what I'm saying is that my conclusion is that the BTN has turned the B1G from a national power to a regional, mid-west super power. Great for some schools/sports but not so great for some others. And it really effects Michigan and the perception of B1G football.



October 5th, 2013 at 8:13 AM ^

There were the Big 2 and little 8. OSU and Michigan were frequently in the mix for the AP national championship but more frequently lost the Rose Bowl. They weren't construted to defend against west coast offense.

Later we added QBs would could like throw AND Mo allowed them to. And we would win a Rose Bowl on occasion but ND would mess up an NC run now and then.

Then 1997 ....

Meanwhile OSU looked like the conference power but lost to Michigan every year ... no NC for them.

Along the way Penn State joined up, and then Nebraska. Both of these moved improved the national football aura of the Big Ten until Penn State covered up Sandusky.

For a while OSU seemed a perennial power but lost embarrassingly to SEC teams (like the old annual Rose Bowl failures).

The 07 Rose Bowl and BCS NC Game embarassments after the high of the 2006 Game and The Horror ...... then the Coach Who Shall Not be Named and sanctions at both Michigan and OSU.

The bottom line is most of the B1G are regional teams who have a few good years and while the two powers have improved bowl records and we have not been that successful either staying undefeated into a NC picture or in Ohio's case, beating the SEC once there.

The ACC looks up to us in football and down in hoops. The Pac rightfully points to Rose Bowl records. The Big 12 talks a bunch about being better in football. The SEC just chants SEC, and we've done nothing to put our conference I fair matchups against them in quite a while so the perception is amplified.


October 5th, 2013 at 8:38 AM ^

They point to Rose Bowl records, sure. But I don't put a lot of heft to them... bowl games are fluky -- matchups divorced from the season's context or rhythm, with oft-aberrant or unexpected results. And frankly, there is a good deal of legitimacy to the whole "it's a home game for them" meme. Bring those cowards from the warm climates into the frozen North on Jan 1 for an outdoor game, see how easy it is for their players to adjust to a radically different climate. It's not the distance, the cold or the heat objectively, but the radical change in temperature relative to what one team is adapted to that creates a disadvantage.


October 5th, 2013 at 8:27 AM ^

Couldn't disagree more. For as mediocre as Michigan has been for much of the last several years now, they still get enormous and disproportionate coverage from ESPN. If this wasn't "Michigan", you'd better believe we would have had a lot less coverage.

And I'm sure some will take offense to my use of the word mediocre, but lets be honest with ourselves and what our standards should be.

I Like Burgers

October 5th, 2013 at 12:45 AM ^

The Big Ten is bad because they have bad teams. The teams that were good 5-10 years ago are bad now through their own bad decisions. Teams like Penn State and Iowa used to win 9-10 games a year. Now? Not so much. Even teams like Illinois and Minnesota have gone from mediocre to awful.

The BTN has given them plenty of money to hire top tier coaches but they won't do it. It's bad athletic directors, not too much exposure that's bringing the Big Ten down.


October 5th, 2013 at 1:14 AM ^

I don't think it's bad ADs as much as administrations who are stingy or just want the money placed elsewhere.

Do you really think most Big Ten ADs believe that the MAC is some mystical fountain that will produce the next great midwestern coach just because Bo and Woody came from there generations ago? Or is it attractive because the salaries aren't competitive and they can stay within the financial parameters set for them by the school?

But I agree that the Big Ten is its own worst enemy. You'd never know they were rolling in dough with how cheaply they do things.

I Like Burgers

October 5th, 2013 at 9:04 AM ^

Bad may have been a poor choice of words. I think ADs in other conferences - especially the SEC - are more devoted to football and making it the best they can. Big Ten ADs outside of Michigan and Ohio State don't seem to have that mindset.

For example, There's no reason a school like Illinois can't be a good program. Good amount of in state talent to work with. But they hire shit coaches. And that's hurting the conference as a whole.


October 5th, 2013 at 12:44 AM ^

it's only a few % points of . . . delustering?

The B1G (and perhaps a bit of media hype) is responsible for it's own poor reputation on the field of play.

I will second the above comment that the BTN isn't exactly doing the conference any image favors.  
It does need to upgrade it's production values, announcers, etc.  Hell even the sponsors could use some further improvement.  We made Rotel Bowl jokes for a reason.


October 5th, 2013 at 12:33 AM ^

The truth is that if you look back to the post WWII era, relatively few NCs were claimed by B1G teams.

But I don't think the BTN has hurt the image of the conference. The BCS NC games have set the stage for marginalizing all of the conferences that go without an NC.

I also think that the BCS has had a negative effect on the college game, but that's another matter.


October 5th, 2013 at 12:40 AM ^

Let's not confuse the recent history of the B1G in football with the advent of the BTN.  There is not a causal link to be found between the two.  It is coincidence only, and it will change again.


October 5th, 2013 at 1:07 AM ^

There is one primary reason why the Big Ten has fallen:  there are fewer top tier football recruits in this footprint (due to population shifts, increased access to sports and increased recruiting exposure for southern athletes, etc).  Period, end of story.  The best players are in the southeast, Texas and California.  That's really it.

You can argue about some other reasons (none of which is the Big Ten Network), that might add some small impact, but the pool of recruits is 95% of the reason.

OSU and MICH can work around that to some degree because they recruit nationally, but the depth will just never be there in the conference as a whole anymore. 

It is what it is, but you take the good with the bad and even with the writing being on the wall for the longterm prosperity of the conference's football programs, at least you root for Michigan instead of schools where they think its funny to scream "fag" at theater majors and have a deeply ingrained history of overt racism.




October 5th, 2013 at 1:19 AM ^

The Big Ten hasn't fallen.  You can read the post Rose Bowl articles from just about any major newspaper in the 1970's about how the Big Ten is a dinosaur league that can't compete with the athletes and the modern concepts of (mostly) the Pac-10. 

Michigan has won half a national title since the late 1940's.  OSU has won one national title since the late 1960's.  The SEC has won how many in a row?  Nobody is working around shit. 

And acting like depth is an issue is ridiculous.  The rest of the conference has done nothing but improve since the days of the Big 2 and the Little 8.  Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Iowa in the mid 2000's have been as good as they've ever been in school history.  The league still stinks.


October 5th, 2013 at 9:22 AM ^

You make good points.  While UM, OSU, and ND have recruited nationally only ND really has backed it up in the past 4-5 decades with multiple national championships.  One could argue UM has caused OSU to fail at this (happily) a few times in the Cooper era since undefeated teams went into the Game, only to be dispatched with 1 loss.   But in the Midwest OSU and UM have not kept up their part of the bargain despite consistent top 10 recruiting classes almost yearly for decades.   I have also been disappointed in Penn State since joining the Big 10 - I thought they'd be a perennial contender for the title (i.e. a legitimate chance to win it all 3 out of 5 years) but speaking of paper tigers.

In the 70s you had Oklahoma, Alabama, USC and Notre Dame winning big

Early 80s through early 90s was Miami, ND, and Penn State 2x (but before they joined the Big 10)

90s began the rise of the SEC big time, but also Nebraska (UM its one NC of late)

2000s heavy SEC with the OSU NC early in the decade, and USC.

In terms of national championships, the Big 10 is 5th the past 4 decades behind the SEC, Big 12 [8] (Oklahoma and Nebraska at the time...also one from Colorado), Pac 12 (USC with 1 from Washington),  and "the independents (ND + PSU+ Miami* at the time)

*Miami was in the Big East in the early 90s.

To the general point of the OP - all the BTN has done is hide some of our very bad teams from networks that might be seen in other parts of the country.  If anything the money the BTN generates should be helping. 


October 5th, 2013 at 1:37 AM ^

This, so many times over.

If we're gonna talk about network coverage, then let's take a look at Network Coverage for the presently deepest conferences in football and basketball: the SEC and the B1G respectively.

Which TV station exclusively contracts certain SEC football games? CBS. Which TV station exclusively contracts certain B1G b-ball games? CBS.

Correlation is not causation, but the national level of exposure offered by CBS will work wonders for a conference. CBS, as far as I know, does not "black out" certain regions of the country like ESPN will do. ESPN and ABC will show different games in different regions at the same time. CBS shows one game to the whole country. CBS vs. BTN is even a greater discrepancy.

It does make a difference for exposure. It helps recruiting. It builds fans. It builds support and loyalty.

I'm taking this from an article on why the SEC is considered the best conference in football. It was not really a professional or scientific argument, but it made a lot of good points, and this was one. Exposure makes a difference.

I Like Burgers

October 5th, 2013 at 12:54 AM ^

The Big Ten gets the majority of its exposure through its deal with ESPN. Because of that deal the whole country has to witness horrors like Iowa v Purdue.

The BTN is still mostly a regional network you have to pay extra for. And the people that are paying for it already know the conference is fairly weak these days.


October 5th, 2013 at 12:54 AM ^

The Big Ten has sucked compared to the other big conferences for 50+ years by any objective measure.

Letting America watch an awful battle for Paul Bunyan's axe is not going to make them all forget our record in bowl games.


October 5th, 2013 at 12:57 AM ^

The recent struggles by Ohio and Michigan are the biggest issue with national perception. If/when those two programs are in the NC hunt people will change their views of the conference, regardless of the performance of the rest of the teams. It works the same way with Duke/UNC and the ACC in basketball.


October 5th, 2013 at 1:05 AM ^

BTN's abysmal production values can't do much for the perception of the league to outsider fans who see it. The operation is clearly done on the cheap.

Bando Calrissian

October 5th, 2013 at 1:09 AM ^

All I know is it's going to be real weird to watch these BTN "Forever Big Ten" shows about athletes who played for Rutgers and Maryland, because you can forever be a part of a conference you never even played in.

BCC: Nebraska


October 5th, 2013 at 1:40 AM ^

Maryland has won a national championship in basketball more recently than any other school in the conference.  AND IT HAPPENED MORE THAN A DECADE AGO!!!  Unless you want to keep hearing about how fantabulous Mateen Cleaves was, "The Juan Dixon Story" sounds like a most pleasant programming change.