7/25 Roundtable - 5 Thoughts On The Big Ten
Penn State QB Daryll Clark
Penn State QB Daryll Clark
Posted Jul 24, 2009

7/24 Roundtable - Five thoughts on the upcoming Big Ten season. It's the Friday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

July 24

5 Thoughts on the Big Ten.

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
7/23 5 Thoughts on the MAC

7/22 5 Thoughts on the Big East
7/21 5 Thoughts on the M-West
7/20 5 Thoughts on the SEC

5 Thoughts on the ACC
7/15 5 Thoughts on the WAC

7/14 5 Thoughts on the Sun Belt

7/13 5 Thoughts on the Big 12
7/10 M-West & the BCS
7/9 Guilty Pleasures
7/8 OU or OSU - Biggest BCS Bust
7/7 5th BCS Game
7/4 Should the SEC get a BCS break?
7/3 There should be a playoff
7/2 There shouldn't be a playoff
7/1 The unbreakable record
6/30 BCS on ESPN
6/29 Best non-BCS program
6/26 Rule changes
6/25 Why does the Big 10 stink?
6/24 Top 3 non-conference games
6/23 Coach on the hot seat
6/22 The No. 5 team is ...
6/19 Most underrated teams
6/18 Most overrated teams
6/17 BCS title sleeper
6/16 Do 40 times matter?
6/15 Is a Rooney Rule needed?
6/12 Should Bama vacate wins?
6/11 Should players be paid?
6/10 Recruiting hype
6/9 Your No. 1 draft pick
6/8 Where would you coach?
6/5 Who does the least with the most?
6/4 Who does the most with the least?
6/3 Sept. star players
6/2 Who'll generate early buzz?
6/1 The one coach you'd want
5/29 Tebow, McCoy, or Bradford?
5/28 Should the Big Ten expand?
5/27 Should the Pac 10 expand?
5/26 Chizik, Kiffin, or Mullen?
5/24 Heisman sleepers
5/22 Most interesting teams
5/21 Is Tebow the best ever?
5/20 When should polls come out?
5/19 The M-West & the BCS, Part 1
5/18 BCS or bust for Weis

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at twitter.com/CFN_Fiu and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Big Ten.

Alright you Big Ten haters who spend plenty of your valuable free time knocking America's biggest conference (not the best, the biggest) for being overrated, overexposed, and mediocre when tested, be prepared for your brain to melt this season.

The constant complaint from those who knock the league is that too much is made out of supposedly average teams who rack up great records. Whether that's fair or not, when you have Ohio State losing three straight BCS games and USC abusing the league whenever it gets a chance, it's hard to call the Big Ten one of the elite BCS leagues.

The Big Ten is rebuilding this year. Ohio State is loaded in several areas, but it's not as strong as recent years. Penn State has some major holes to fill on the defensive line and at receiver (though both areas should be fine), and Wisconsin and Michigan, two programs who need to be great to boost the league's reputation, should be mediocre again. Iowa, Illinois and Michigan State should be strong, but they're not exactly going to capture the nation's imagination unless they can do something splashy early on, and that's the problem; there's a limited number of chances for the Big Ten to show what it can do.

Ohio State gets USC in Columbus on September 12th in one of the Big Ten's most important regular season games in a long, long time. That's it for the league's statement games. Oh sure, there's the annual fun with Notre Dame, and Illinois plays Missouri, but is anyone going to cancel their plans for Illinois vs. Cincinnati? Iowa vs. Arizona? Minnesota vs. Cal? That's about it as far as the non-conference games, and to make matters worse, Penn State's non-conference schedule is against Akron, Temple, Syracuse, and Eastern Illinois, while the Ohio State battle is at home. That means the Nittany Lions will likely be 9-2 at absolute, fall-off-the-earth worst going into the regular season ender at Michigan State, and will likely be 10-1 despite having a worse team than last year.

Strength of schedule won't even matter all that much considering everyone in the conference should have great records. Wisconsin's toughest non-conference game is against Fresno State, and that's in Madison. Michigan has to play Notre Dame, but it's not exactly stretching its legs against Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Delaware State. Northwestern faces Towson, Eastern Michigan, Syracuse, and Miami University, Indiana plays Virginia, but it also plays Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan, Akron, and Michigan State plays Montana State, Central Michigan, and Western Michigan, along with Notre Dame.

That's not to say that several Big Ten teams can't be good and have fluffy schedules, but keep a very critical eye on the league throughout the year as the rankings start to boost the top teams higher and higher as the records get better and better. 

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Big Ten.

Is there a warrant out for the arrest for any top-flight, pro-caliber quarterback, who signs to play for a Big Ten school?

I generally don’t have a beef with the Big Ten. I love the tradition and the quality of play, so I have no intention of piling on or becoming a Big Ten basher. I don’t expect the conference to be the SEC, and depending on the cycle we’re in, it has every bit as much depth and talent as the Big 12 and the Pac-10…except at the most important position on the field.

Honestly, I don’t get it. Sure, the Big Ten was a little slow to enter the 21st century from an offensive perspective, but Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler don’t coach anymore. Everyone’s offense has opened up to a point where quality quarterbacks can be showcased, so attracting elite pocket passers shouldn’t be such a chore for the members of this league. Yet, how do you explain that 14 NFL Drafts have passed without a Big Ten quarterback taken in the first round? Tulane has single-handedly produced more first-round quarterbacks during that time. Ditto Marshall. Delaware, Miami (OH), UCF, Fresno State, and Syracuse have all birthed a top pick, while the Big Ten’s dry spell continues. And there’s no end in sight.

The trend is going to continue in 2010. The top seniors are Juice Williams of Illinois and Darryl Clark of Penn State, neither of whom is a lock to even get drafted next April. Looking out a couple of years, there’s no one on the horizon that looks like a slam dunk to reverse the league’s problems at the position.

Obviously, history has shown repeatedly that you don’t need a next-level gunslinger to win college football games. For a Big Ten that’s fighting constant criticism, however, it sure would help to have a couple of marquee, scout-attracting players at the most visible position on the field

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Big Ten.

: After his untimely turnover a year ago against Penn State, and his distracted, nervous, run-out-of-bounds-before-the-marker performance in the Fiesta Bowl against Texas, Terrelle Pryor—now a sophomore—should take the Big Ten by storm. He possesses the charisma and presence of an A-list leader, and with one season of experience behind him, this battle-tested and defeat-hardened youngster should display the poise of a veteran in 2009. If Pryor fulfills his immense potential, Ohio State should march to the conference crown that avoided the Buckeyes’ grasp last season.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Big Ten.

A: The poor Big Ten.  It has a team make the national title game two years in a row and three times in the history of the BCS and it’s called weak.

It gets two teams into the Bowl Championship Series in eight of the 11 years that system’s been in existence, something the SEC has done on only six occasions, and it’s labeled unworthy.

Ohio State nearly pulls off a huge upset of “should have been in the title game” Texas, losing on a last minute touchdown drive, and just because they scored fewer points they were labeled losers.

Michigan and Penn State make the Rose Bowl in all the wrong years and end up rewarded with a tilt against perhaps the best team of the BCS era.  And the Big Ten is said to be falling apart.

A few of its teams have gone out of their way to play marquee non-conference matchups, and yet all anyone can focus on is the weakness of the league slate.

It produces a consistent number of first round NFL Draft picks, and its fair share of NFL stars, and talking heads still shout about the lack of speed.

What exactly is the conference supposed to do?  It’s been head and shoulders above the Big East and ACC in recent years, and it’s probably deeper than the top heavy Pac 10.  Sure its teams have lost some primetime matchups to Big 12 and SEC teams recently, but they’ve done pretty well against the SEC in the middle-tier bowls.  However, it’s apparent now that no one is going to hand anything to the Big Ten.  Which means it’ll have to do it on its own.  On the field.  In the spotlight. 

There’s a big chance looming for the Midwest when those impossible Trojans visit Columbus on September 12th.  No better time to start earning some respect than then.

Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Big Ten.

A: This league is in a bit of a 'down' cycle. That happens in college football. Sometimes the SEC is hot, sometimes the Big 12, sometimes the Big Ten. It's not the Big Ten this year, as I don't think there are any elite teams. However, that doesn't mean there won't be a national championship contender. If Ohio State gets passed USC early in the season in Columbus, their schedule sets up well to win all of their games. They will have tests (at Penn State, Iowa at home late in the year), but I see it as a possibility because of the biggest difference maker in the league, quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Penn State has a very easy out of conference schedule and should win eight or nine games. Illinois will bounce back from last year's disappointing season, pushing nine wins again as well with arguably the best skill position talent in the league.

Iowa has a team that can contend in this league, but four tough road games (Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State) probably keeps them out of the title mix. Michigan State returns a lot of talent and will introduce new faces at quarterback and running back. Yes, Ringer is gone, but Michigan State didn't even average 4.0 ypc during Big Ten play last season, and QB Brian Hoyer took away just as much as he gave last year. I see five teams with a shot at the title, and Northwestern could have another 6-1 start. Minnesota is changing offenses, with more emphasis on the run as they transition to an outdoor stadium. Wisconsin figures to be 'meh' again for another season; how will that go over in Madison? Michigan has a shot at bowl bid, but they break in a new quarterback, again. The league isn't great, but it should be entertaining.