Yep, the Big 10.
It's not pretty if you happen to be a fan of this fledgling conference, especially after posting a 1-6 record during the bowl season. (The) Ohio State University had a chance to capture a moment of salvation for the conference, but that chance was elusive as Texas' Colt McCoy and Quan Cosby. The Buckeyes' 24-21 loss to the Longhorns was a microcosm of what the Big 10 now represents to college football.
Good, but not great.
The Big Ten posted a 32-12 record against non-conference schools with the help of an 8-0 record against Football Championship Subdivision Schools. I'm sure Michigan is thankful Appalachian State opened its season at LSU and not at Ann Arbor. To compound matters, the conference went 9-4 against Mid-American Conference teams, which isn't going to win you any r-e-s-p-e-c-t from pollsters out there.
In search for a cherry on top?
How about the Big 10's pretty respectable 5-5 record against BCS schools with wins against Syracuse and Duke, which only would matter if the wins came during basketball season.
Since winning the 2002 national title with the help of some questionable pass interference calls, when was the last time tOSU won a big out-of-conference game? No doubt Jim Tressel is a hell of a coach, a hell of a quote and a hell of a recruiter. But realize that The Sweatervest is winless in his last three BCS games. I'm sure he's thankful for the whooping the Bucks put on Charlie Weis' equally disappointing Notre Dame team.
So what happened to the once proud conference? It is not as if the talent that spans the region has dissolved into thin air. It is not as if the talent is trying its hand at badminton, extreme frisbee or going to class full-time.
Nope. Instead, like the birds in the winter time, the talent has headed south.
Understand that tOSU, Michigan and Penn State were once upon a time the places to be during football season. That chapter has ended and a new book starring sun-kissed bodies of girls from Florida, Georgia and Texas have grabbed the attention of these corn-fed midwesterners to the point where the cupboard is left bare for Tressel, Rich Rod and JoePa.
While all six of the school mentioned in the above graph are among college football's elite programs, only the ones south of the Mason-Dixon line hold the tie-breaker of warm weather and warm-bodied co-eds.
Oh, and before I leave out the left coasters, Pete Carroll has done a magnificent job in recruiting each inch of U.S. territory and beyond.
I figure the only way for the Big 10 to stay with the times is hope that global warming equals the playing field. But I'm not sure risking the health of Earth for a silly game of football is something you would want to wish upon a star.
Big Ten should not be judged by bowls alone [Detroit Free Press]