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B1G Uglies: 3 Hot Big Ten Topics
Posted Nov 23, 2012

At the conclusion of each week’s games, Phil Harrison, Bart Doan, and Terry Johnson discuss three hot topics on the minds of fans of the Big Ten. It’s three guys with three opinions that could change the course of human history--or at least add some clarity to football being played in the Midwest. It’s the weekly B1G Uglies roundtable.


(i) Does the new finalized playoff agreement and bowl structure help or hurt the Big Ten?

Phil H:

I like it, but it’s a mixed bag. In one sense, it definitely helps the Big Ten because it’ll be hard to leave the Big Ten champion out of the four-team playoff as long as they are undefeated or have just one loss (so this year would be a sewage spill). The Big Ten is also one of just two leagues (the SEC of course being the other), that looks to get an option for a second team in the Orange bowl (one of the big three). That’s similar to where things are today with the Big Ten getting two teams into the BCS in most years.

So now the negative--If the Rose Bowl is a part of the semi-final rotation, then any second Big Ten team (again along with the SEC) will more than likely end up in one of the lower-tired “access” bowls to make the game more attractive. It’s still a big-time bowl, but there doesn’t appear to be a chance to get two Big Ten teams into the combination of Rose, Sugar, and Orange like there is today.

Still, I see this as a pretty good thing for the Big Ten because it’ll get more opportunities to win a national title that isn’t there today. You have to like that aspect--all things being equal (though it’s not).

Bart D:

It helps. It’s hilarious. And it shows you what a farce college football is becoming. There’s actual language in it that says that when the Rose/Sugar are hosting the semi-finals, the B1G and SEC (read: TV ratings, money conferences) are omitted from playing in the Orange Bowl and must play in one of the “access” bowls to increase their worth.

So on the upside, the B1G is locked into probably more money, or being manipulated into games to increase their worth. The downside is, this is how you can expect college football to move forward with selecting a “champion.” Whoever makes the most money. I know Phil doesn’t like that, but it appears there’s a “scratch your hairy Wisconsin, cheese loving back” deal going where the B1G helps the smaller bowls with ratings, and the offshoot must be more loot in the process.

The other positive is more from an assumed standpoint. Though the Big Twelve was and is this year rated the best conference in the country by Sagarin, this playoff system was made totally with money in mind, which means you can expect that if a sexy named B1G team is in the running for that fourth spot, conference champ or not, they’ll be getting a little support from behind the curtain. I know that sounds a little X-Files for some, but the language is there that basically says “the B1G and SEC carry the checkbook” so expect that to play a role. No wonder Delany agreed on all this marklar.

Terry J:

This agreement is a huge win for the Big Ten.

Sounds like we are mostly in agreement here. Other than the SEC, the B1G is the only conference to have two bids to the “contractual bowls”. Sure, it shares the second bid with the SEC, but remember that bowl games are solely about money. Since Big Ten fans always travel well, that’s going to mean that the conference will get the nod more often than not.

However, I’ll have to disagree with both Phil and Bart here and say that there’s absolutely no downside to the new system. Yes, the location second bowl might fluctuate from year-to-year, but that only adds to the excitement for the fans. As long as the conference keeps sending two teams to the major bowls (and preferably, one to the four-team playoff), the Big Ten will have a leg up on everyone else.

How Jim Delany managed to pull off such a profitable arrangement during a down season is beyond me.

(ii) Where on the rainbow does Braxton Miller fall in the Heisman discussion?


As long as he doesn’t get his Lucky Charms knocked off again, it ends somewhere in New York with votes pending on how the players above him fare over the next three weeks. It’ll be a trite bit interesting if OSU is the only unbeaten team in the nation, because remember, the Heisman vote comes before the national championship.

Ergo, how will the voting committee look at Braxton? They’ve already shown they love them some revisionist history, taking awards away for NCAA penalty. But what if the penalty is already handed out?

Miller is 41st in the nation in pass efficiency, a far cry from where this was last year, and 15th in the country in rushing. Not for quarterbacks, for everybody. So it’s awfully hard to look at all those things and that brassy record Ohio State currently has and not consider him a front runner. Voters are fickle though, and the feeling is that there are enough that want anyone but a player from a team on a probation he had nothing to do with to win. The upside is, for him, that it’s impossible to overlook him with an objective eye.

So watch Collin Klein and Johnny Manziel. The call here is that the voters overall don’t have the cojones to pick a primarily defensive player, and if those two falter, it could benefit Miller. In other words, pour some Bailey’s in that coffee and hang out with the Leprechaun at the end of that rainbow. It could be awhile.


I agree that Braxton Miller could make it to New York this year, but he won’t finish any higher than fourth.

Make no mistake about it: Miller has played like a Heisman-caliber QB this season. He ranks 15th in the nation in rushing, second in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, and third in the conference in passing TDs. He’s also led the Buckeyes to an undefeated season, which is something that many of the other top contenders can’t say.

Despite these superlatives, Miller doesn’t even have a puncher’s chance to win the trophy. As Bart correctly pointed out, Miller’s biggest problem is that some people won’t vote for him since Ohio State is on probation. Due to this backlash, there’s simply no way that he’ll have enough votes to finish in front of top contenders Collin Klein, Johnny Manziel, Kenjon Barner, and Manti T’eo.


Like the other two, I agree there’s a very good chance he’ll get an invite to New York, but it’ll be more of the sightseeing variety than as a major player in the Heisman ceremonies. There are a couple of problems with Miller’s chances. First and foremost, Ohio State is a team in purgatory. It likely wouldn’t matter if the Buckeyes played the reincarnation of the ‘85 Bears and Braxton Miller went off for over 300 yards through the air, and over 100 on the ground to pull out a narrow escape. The fact is, it’s so hard for a player on a team that is ineligible to get a strong look in these proceedings.

The second issue with Miller Time, involves his numbers. They aren’t eye-popping because the passing stats aren’t there. There is no question that Miller is a dynamic runner who can make tacklers miss in an elevator, but he’s yet to develop a deft touch throwing the ball. When potential voters stack up other QBs versus the guy running the show for Urban Meyer, they just don’t pop out to you on paper.

Bottom line: This has been a very, very good year for Braxton Miller to splash onto the national stage, but it’s probably just the opening act to better prospects in 2013.

(iii) Was expansion with Maryland and Rutgers a good move or bad move for the Big Ten? Why?


This is a terrible move by the Big Ten, choosing the almighty dollar over common sense and reason.

Make no mistake about it: that’s exactly what happened here. The only reason to make this move is to establish a Big Ten presence in the massive DC and New York City markets so that the conference could pick up more revenue. After all, adding Maryland and Rutgers doesn’t make the league any stronger, as it will take each school a couple of recruiting classes before they’re ready to compete for a Big Ten title.

Which begs the question: what else is Jim Delany up to? As we saw with the last Big Ten expansion, everyone thought that the conference was going to select Missouri, and then Delany pulled a rabbit out of his hat with Nebraska. Was the addition of these two schools the first in a series of moves to make the Big Ten stronger?

Let’s hope so. Otherwise, the only thing that B1G schools gain from this move is one or two guaranteed wins each season.


Oscar Mayer bologna. If we believe that the end goal was to make money (and you better believe it is), then this thing is a slam dunk. Say what you will about how nonchalant fans are on the East Coast about college football, or how poor the two institutions are at today’s game. Just don’t tell me that this won’t make a load of money for a conference that already pulls down the most revenue of any other conference--including the SEC.

With Maryland and presumably Rutgers, the Big Ten has elbowed its way into some serious television markets and an eventual windfall come time to negotiate a new television contract. We can safely assume that the agreed upon deal with be the richest in conference television deals since college football has been played.

And let’s not go all knee-jerk crazy on these two teams not being any good with the oblong shaped ball. how many times have we seen lesser teams join a new conference and get better? There will be more money, and with more money means better facilities, better coaches, and potentially better recruits from areas that have plenty of talent to choose from. All in all, this is a good move, once that gets to the end goal of expanding into more markets for the Big Ten. Delany is one sneaky cat.


In the words of Jackie Chiles: it’s lewd, lascivious, salacious, outrageous. It also goes against the whole “it’s about quality over quantity” quote from Jim Delany in 2011. After pulling the whole thief in the night act with Nebraska when everyone thought it’d be Missouri, this makes no sense.

I understand the argument, and I’m always reticent to call out a resident genius like Delany, but it holds no water. Market value? Look, I understand Rutgers is reasonably close to New York, but it has more Notre Dame fans there than RU fans, and that argument makes zero sense. Large cities typically...typically...aren’t huge college football loving areas.

And Maryland? The program is in the red, and that’s with all of the Under Armour backing. I used to think the Terrapins would become Oregon-east, but I wonder at this point. But neither team has any significant history of football success the way a Nebraska did, and whatever is being added in terms of additional market size really is a bit inflated.

This is a huge whiff for the B1G in a season of such. The thought that New Jersey is a desirable college football market is hilarious, and both programs are treading in quick-sand in basketball, the other cash cow sport. Somewhere along the line, quantity kicked quality out of the party. And quality got pulled over for a DUI on the drive home.

Follow Phil on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN, Bart @Bart_CFN, and Terry @TPJCollFootball