Experts Disc. ... Is the Big Ten That Bad?
Posted Jul 10, 2008

Is the Big Ten really that bad, sub-question, do you mentally groan if Ohio State faces an SEC team in the 2009 BCS Championship?

Preview 2008 - Experts Roundtable

Part Eight - Is The Big Ten Really That Bad?

CFN is honored to once again get the thoughts and opinions on some of the hot topics from some of the most talented, influential insiders in the college football media, while getting to know a little bit more about them.

Along with
Pete Fiutak and Richard Cirminiello from CFN in the discussion are ...

- Charles Davis, NFL Network/FOX Sports
- Dennis Dodd, - College Football Columnist

- Bruce Feldman, - College Football Columnist
- Steve Greenberg, The Sporting News - College Football Columnist
- Teddy "Mr. Media" Greenstein, Chicago Tribune - College Football Columnist, Media Columnist
- Stewart Mandel, - College Football Columnist

- Part 1 What aspect of college football should you care about, but really don't?
- Part 2 Should a two loss LSU team really have won the national title?
- Part 3 How should college football be more like the NFL?
- Part 4
Your college football guilty pleasure
- Part 5 How/why did you get into covering college football?
- Part 6 How/why is the BCS better than a playoff?
- Part 7 I'm not buying into ...
- Part 8 Just how bad is the Big Ten?
- Part 9 Do you have any problems with Tim Tebow winning two Heismans?
- Part 10 Give the 2010 Rankings for: Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska & Notre Dame
- Part 11 How much do you care about non-BCS teams?
- Part 12 When Should Players Be Eligible for the Draft?
- Part 13 The Next Really Big Superpower Will Be ...
- Part 14 The Best & Worst Interviews You've Ever Done
- Part 15 Quick Hitters, Part 1: Greatest Players & Greatest Games

- Part 16 Quick Hitters, Part 2: The National Champion & Heisman Winner

2007 Roundtable Discussion  
- Part One The BCS, tweaks, and college football's biggest problem
- Part Two On-field and off-field changes, steroids and cheating
- Part Three Overrated, underrated, 10 years from now, & what fans don't understand

8. Is the Big Ten really that bad, sub-question, do you mentally groan if Ohio State faces an SEC team in the 2009 BCS Championship?

Stewart Mandel:
There's no question the Big Ten is in the throes of a down period. I was just looking at some numbers the other day -- 14-22 in bowl games over the past five years. Wow. It's not surprising when you think about it. The middle of that conference -- Penn State, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, etc. -- simply aren't that good. However, I'm not one to automatically pin Ohio State with these blanket generalizations everyone likes to make about the Big Ten. Ohio State has as much talent top to bottom as any team in the country. They'll probably have more players drafted next spring than even USC. But their conference definitely hurts them -- they don't get tested on a weekly basis.

I feel like we're in a very similar era to the '70s, when Woody and Bo's teams would beat up on the rest of the conference, then go to the Rose Bowl and get smoked by USC or UCLA. The good news this year is we'll get a very good read on Ohio State pretty early when they face USC. If they win that, nobody will be able to say they don't belong in the national title game, should they go 11-1 again.

Bruce Feldman: I don’t think the Big Ten is that bad. In fact, I think Ohio State has as good a chance as anyone to play for the national title. As for the rest, I think Illinois, Wisconsin and Penn State are all solid teams unfortunately I’m not sure anyone believes any of them are top 10 caliber right now while Michigan, which I think will be great again in about two years, is in rebuild mode.

Charles Davis: No, no, no on the Big 10 question. Yes, Ohio State’s last two National Title losses have hurt the luster of the conference, and elevated the SEC, but upon closer examination, in the last 20 to 25 SEC/Big 10 match-ups, I believe that the record is awfully close to even. If the SEC is so superior, how did Michigan beat Florida in the Capitol One Bowl last season? Wisconsin in back to back years over Auburn and Arkansas? Penn State over Tennessee all time in bowl match ups? Didn’t Ohio State beat Miami for the National Title not that long ago (I understand that controversial call, but OSU also converted a 4th and 17 to keep the drive alive), and at that time Miami was better than any SEC team. I played in the SEC and believe it is the best conference in the nation, but the hype exceeds the reality in my humble opinion. That being said, if Ohio State does make it back to the BCS National Championship game and plays an SEC team, could you imagine the pressure on the Bucks?

Dennis Dodd: The Big Ten is definitely in a down period. Tom Lemming was right when he touched off a firestorm with that quote in the Chicago Sun-Times. Recruiting is definitely sliding. Pesky programs like Purdue, Michigan State and Iowa have fallen off. Michigan certainly isn't going to be a factor this season. Rich Rod is going to get it going but it's a square-peg, round-hole thing in 2008.

That said, Ohio State is on the cusp of a dynasty. Three national championship games in seven years ain't too shabby. Jim Tressel has proved himself one of the best coaches in the country and by the time it's all over maybe the best ever at Ohio State. The program has pumped out scores of NFL players.

The Bucks have been victims of a bad matchup in the last two BCS title games. That those games were against SEC teams only proved what all of us believe anyway: The SEC is best.

The bottom line in all this is that these past two seasons mean the Big Ten is dead set against expansion now more than ever. Why put an Ohio State out there against a sub-standard opponent and lose a shot at the national championship game?

But, yes, if I see Ohio State play against another SEC team for the national championship game I'm going to tear out what little hair I still have.

Teddy Greenstein: Is it possible to mentally groan? The Big Ten was down last year, no question. Just ask Appalachian State. Or Western Michigan, which busted a seemingly bowl-bound Iowa. Then there was the Rose Bowl, in which Illinois looked completely overmatched to a USC team that dominated the NFL draft.


I'd actually love to see Ohio State-Georgia for the national title. The disparity at the top of the leagues is not as great as the chicken-fried-steak crowd thinks it is.

Steve Greenberg: The Big Ten sure as heck isn’t overrated anymore; I can’t remember the last time I heard someone other than a conference coach or the commish say nice things about it. But it’s definitely right there with any other league after the SEC and, I suppose, the Pac-10. I’m tired of watching Ohio State in the title game, but the Buckeyes have earned all the good things they’ve gotten.

Richard Cirminiello: Just because the Big Ten can’t stack up with the SEC doesn’t mean it’s a “bad” conference.  Overrated and over hyped, especially this season, yes.  After Ohio State, there isn’t a ton of beef capable of contending for a national title, but the league is no worse off than the Pac-10, ACC, or Big East.  If there are mental groans over another Buckeye championship appearance, it won’t be coming from my direction.  For the same reason it was so delicious watching the Buffalo Bills get four straight shots at redemption in the 1990s, Ohio State vs. Georgia, for instance, would be flush with great storylines and sub plots.  That’s a match up you root to see. 

Compared to what? Compared to the SEC, of course. Compared to the Big 12, this year, yeah. Compared to everyone else, I’d still take my chances with the Big Ten from top to bottom. The league isn’t nearly as bad as it’s being made out to be, but it does need to come through with some splashy wins to change the skeptical public’s mind. Ohio State has to beat USC. Michigan has to get through a difficult early part of the season. Wisconsin can’t screw up at Fresno State. There also can’t be any total embarrassments like the Appalachian State incident at Michigan or Duke beating Northwestern.

No, I have no problems with Ohio State going to another national title game. By OSU’s own admission, it didn’t get on the bus for the Florida debacle, and it showed. It’s not like that Buckeye team was the first to think that it could just show up and win a national title (ask 2000 Florida State or 1986 Miami). LSU was the better team than Ohio State last year; the Buckeyes were supposed to lose. I think this year’s team can play with, and beat, anyone.



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