The Big Ten's Pregnancy
By Adam McCoy
By Adam McCoy
That’s what my father use to say. Okay, my father has never said that but I have always wanted to say that my father said that so I can say that my father said that.
The Big Ten collegiate conference obviously has never bumped into my imaginary dad. The conference recently added another team to increase its number of teams to 12, with another possibly on the way. Does the conference really think they will catch up to other dominate conferences by adding teams. Nope, it will just confuse you and me. This equation’s sum is a negative number.
Major collegiate sports, college football and basketball, are similar to Major League Baseball in it is viewed as a very classic, historically old game. That old fart that lives next to me would say, “you can’t add instant replay, it will soil the game.” Under his breath he mumbles something about new-fangled this and that.
And yet, the Big Ten still has more than 10 teams and is still expanding. Oh yeah, the Big 12 has ten teams. What madness.
It’s like the Big Ten is pregnant—who knows what it will look like in 9 months.
In some minds, the theory is the addition will make the Big Ten the power conference it should be. Well, it has been one of the super-conferences, however it will remain just so and not supersede the big boys.
Those big boys I speak of are the Southeastern Conference boys in college football and Big East Conference gentlemen in college basketball. They will dominate as usual and most of the Big Ten will look up at powerhouses Michigan State and Ohio State and whimper.
The top-heavy, Midwest-centered Big Ten is a backwards conference. I mean, what conference has 11 teams but yet calls themselves the Big Ten? The Big Ten will welcome the Lincoln-Nebraska Cornhuskers July 1, 2011. Nebraska moves from the Big 12, which actually has 10 teams as mentioned before. Really, the Big Ten will turn into the Big 12 which will be the new Big 12 which is confusing me. Which…what? In addition, Notre Dame has been pondering their Big Ten future or whether to remain an independent. I would argue that the classic, old-fangled thing to do would be to stay true to your name. Big 13 anyone?
Besides being backwards, over the years, the Big Ten in college football has been characterized as big and slow. In contrast, teams from ACC, SEC and Pac-10 are known for, well, their team speed. I like being fast, how about you?
The Big Ten in college football is also known for their defensive-oriented teams like our own Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin is a perfect example of a typical, stereotypical Big Ten team--a defensive powerhouse that can’t score. Your typical ESPN commentator would say defense wins championships, but hey, not if you can’t score. In fact, the Big Ten’s top five teams last year were outscored by the top five teams of the ACC, Big 12, Mountain West, Pac-10 and SEC. Cornhusking isn’t going to help them change that.
Nebraska will fit in beautifully as they had one of the top defenses in college football last year only allowing an average of 10.4 points per game according to CFBstats.com, so it is more of the same. Notre Dame hasn’t exactly been the team to beat either. They have won a combined 16 games in the last three seasons including a three-win season in 2007 and six wins last year.
The Big Ten has had success with Ohio State and Michigan but the SEC has been dominated of late, especially with the Florida/Tebow franchise and Alabama’s emergence. The SEC has been to the National Championship game six times since 1998 including making it to and winning the last four titles.
Outside of the numbers, Big Ten football is just boring. Must be all that cornhusking (too much high fructose corn syrup isn’t healthy either)! Because of the new team movement some critics have argued that the Big Ten network, a cable channel devoted to Big Ten conference sports, will become more appealing and profitable for everyone involved. Nebraska is arguably a historic team, but come on. How big is that Nebraska market? Can you get Comcast in Potts, Nebraska? Notre Dame is currently independent and a national team. They are historically significant and would be a great add for the Big Ten network, but it isn’t a done deal quite yet.
Last year in college football, Alabama and Florida battled for a chance to play in the BCS National Championship game and the consensus was that the winner of the SEC Championship would ultimately win the National Championship game. The critics were right. And, the SEC’s Florida Gators won the year before that. The SEC is just better.
Michigan State has been the class of the Big Ten in college basketball and the Big Ten’s top teams dominated throughout last season including three teams with nearly 30 wins and one with nearly 25. However, the Big East has been the class of college basketball including sending eight teams to the NCAA tournament, more than any other conference. The Big Ten sent five teams. The big surprise is--Nebraska sucks at basketball too. They couldn’t husk their way out of the basement of the Big 12 conference last year with a pathetic 15 wins. Notre Dame did go to the tournament, but lost their first game.
Don’t get me wrong, the Big Ten has some great history, teams and moments. This has been a great conference and one of the super—conferences, but the team addition won’t add much to the conference because the Big Ten conference, network forgot about the one thing my dad didn’t say.
Quality over quantity.