Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Big Ten doesn't suck (that bad)

If there's any positive in watching Ohio State win a bowl game (besides this), it's that I finally won't have to hear about how the Big Ten sucks and can't win anything meaningful blah blah blah. When you throw in Iowa's win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, Penn State's win over LSU in the Capital One Bowl and Wisconsin's win over Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl, it was a pretty good week for the Big Ten.

This is what I've been telling people for the last few years: The Big Ten really isn't that bad in bowl games. It seems like the Big Ten has done poorly because Ohio State has shit the bed twice on the biggest stage possible and USC has consistently kicked ass in the Rose Bowl, but the only really bad year for the conference as a whole was 2008-09 (a 1-6 cumulative bowl record). This year, the Big Ten went 4-3. Two years ago, that record was 3-4. The year before that, the overall record was 2-3 ... until Michigan lost to USC and Ohio State got destroyed by Florida. Those are the games people remember.

But for all the talk about SEC dominance, the Big Ten's head-to-head record in bowl games against the SEC over the past six years (since Ohio State won the national title) is 11-11, and the Big Ten's all-time record in BCS games is 10-11; that's hardly a disaster. Every columnist's favorite stat going into this year was that the Big Ten had lost six straight BCS games, but keep in mind that every loss in that time was to USC (three times), Texas (once), Florida (once) or LSU (once).

I don't have a problem acknowledging that Ohio State hasn't been quite as good Florida/LSU/Texas and that Michigan and Penn State haven't been quite as good as USC over the past six years. You could argue that nobody has been as good as those teams, so it's really nothing to be ashamed of.

But when people talk about the Big Ten in bowl games, nobody mentions the regular wins in the Capital One Bowl or the overall record; it's the epic BCS failures that are remembered. This will continue to be the case, of course -- it's just human nature to remember the most important games -- but it sucks that the Big Ten has had so many difficult matchups recently.

And when the conference finally gets a couple favorable matchups (a good but not great Oregon team and a verrrry mediocre Georgia Tech team), the wins will be immediately forgotten for the following reason: Between Tim Tebow's finale in the Sugar Bowl, the battle of unbeatens in the Fiesta Bowl and the this year's Game of the Century between Alabama and Texas, the Big Ten's two big wins have been talked about for a combined 14 seconds this week on ESPN (that's an approximate number). As surely as the conference's recent failures have been overplayed, the long-awaited big wins have been disappointingly overlooked.

I got a bunch of texts this week saying something along the lines of "Hey, at least the Big Ten should get some positive attention for once." It won't, especially if Alabama wins Thursday night; the only thing we'll hear for the next 12 months is that the SEC is the GREATEST CONFERENCE EVA!!!

I just hope that next year, when it comes time to talk about why the Big Ten is so bad in bowl games, people actually look back at this year's results and realize that the conference shouldn't be defined by Ohio State playing really poorly against Florida and LSU a few years ago. Zoom out, please.

No comments: