Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Big Ten Is Better than You!

The Big Ten counted to infinity- twice.
The Big Ten CAN slam a revolving door.
The grass is always greener on the other side, unless the Big Ten has been there. In that case the grass is most likely soaked in blood and tears.
The Big Ten fought Chuck Norris and...well it lost, because he's Chuck Norris. Nobody beats Chuck Norris, except himself.

So the Big Ten can't defeat Chuck Norris, or lately teams from other conferences in major bowls. But you know what? The Big Ten is still great, it's still valuable, and it's still as good or better than any other conference in the country. Do not pity the Big Ten, because the Big Ten does not need it. Yes, the on-field product needs to improve, and I believe it will sooner rather than later. There are nine potential bowl teams this year (everybody except the Indiana schools), with as many as four having a shot at knocking off Ohio State (Penn State, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan State) for the Big Ten title. The conference has the best group of QB's outside of the Big 12, as well as two of the best wideouts in Illinois' Arrelious Benn and the U's Eric Decker, the usual bevy of quality tailbacks, and the defensive talent is good as always.

But what makes the conference truly great are the fans, who for some reason don't seem to get the same respect as those from the SEC. Sure, the conference doesn't have as many rabid fan bases as the Southeastern Conference (I would say 10 of the 12 in the SEC have fans who eat, sleep and breathe college football 24/7/365), but there's strength in numbers for the Big Ten that can't be matched even by those south of the Mason Dixon line.

Want proof? The only conference comparable in revenue is the SEC, and not only is the Big Ten's TV money (both with their own network as well as deals with ABC and ESPN) comparable to what the SEC is getting, but according to a story's Stewart Mandel posted on Monday, they're about to equal the SEC in New Year's Day bowls by adding an agreement with the Gator Bowl. They already send the conference champion to the Rose Bowl (aka the best bowl on planet earth), send their #2 team to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando (vs. the SEC), #3 to the Outback Bowl in Tampa (vs the SEC again), and now they're all but set to announce that #4 will play in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville against the ACC's third best team. The fifth team would go to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona (who are bumping up their payouts for increased exposure) and it's rumored the sixth would go to the recruiting hotbed of Texas for the Houston Bowl in, of all places, Houston.

When the announcement is official (Mandel says in his piece that if/when the deal goes through the Big East, who are getting booted from the Gator Bowl, will announce they're going to send their #2 team to the Champs Sports Bowl. Well guess what the Big East announced on Tuesday?)
this will help the Big Ten keep pace with the SEC for the best and most valuable football conference in the country. Now all that's left to do is start winning those Big Bowls they get invited to. And it would help if Ohio State could beat USC Sept. 12th. It would help a lot.

Still, sponors, TV execs and the Bowls don't seem the least bit worried about the state of the Big Ten, because they're falling all over themselves to get a piece of it. So don't hate on the Big Ten, because The Big Ten does not sleep. It waits.

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