Predictions, myths and hype are the side effects of a football drought. People start talking their team up, making bold predictions about incoming recruits and trash talking other schools. This is one of the things that makes college football so great—and hectic. This is not one of those articles.
Rather this is one of those articles that attempts to shed light on the myths that have been built around the Big Ten in the eventful, but always frustrating, offseason. Lets get started.
I say this not out of spite, but out of thoughtful observation.
Brady Hoke has done a fantastic job in the short amount of time he has been in Ann Arbor. The defense is playing well, he has put together an impressive recruiting class and has rekindled one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.
However, to say that his Wolverines can put together another 11 win season is wishful thinking.
The Wolverines open the season against the defending national champions at a neutral site (need I say more). They must somehow reverse their trend of losing to their in-state rivals in East Lansing, and must take on a rising Buckeyes team in Columbus. Tall order right?
On top of that, there are still questions revolving around Denard Robinson's passing ability. It also doesn't help that his favorite wide receivers depart for the NFL draft in a few months, as does an All American offensive lineman.
Michigan is back to being competitive, but lets not get carried away.
Yes, Urban Meyer is one of the most heralded coaches in the game today. Yes, the Buckeyes will be a lot better than they were last season. But will they win the division?
The Buckeyes must try and defeat Montee Ball and his Badgers, a rising Purdue team and a wounded, but not dead, Penn State team.
Furthermore, the development of Braxton Miller needs to be followed closely. While he had a good freshman year, there are questions regarding his decision making and accuracy. Urban Meyer certainly has done a fantastic job of making quarterbacks successful in his system, yet it is premature to compare Miller to the likes of Tebow or Smith.
The Buckeyes will be good, but not great.
This is one of the more prominent myths.
Yes, Russell Wilson was a fantastic player who was an integral part of an 11 win team, but the Badgers are not lost in the woods without him.
The Heisman favorite and leading rusher Montee Ball returns, as do 3/5 of the monstrous offensive lineman that started in 2011. Jared Abbrederis (leading receiver) and Mike Taylor (leading tackler) also will suit up for Wisky in 2012. The only question revolves around who will start at QB. While this is a good question, it is not one that will stump Bielema in 2012.
Wisky will miss Wilson, but look for them to continue more of the same in 2011.
There has been a lot of chatter that Mark Dantonio and Bret Bielema were simply stand-in faces for the Big Ten. People have made it a point of saying that Dantonio's ascension coincided with Rich Rodriguez's dreadful tenure, and that he and Bielema will simply fade away into mediocrity.
Dantonio is no John L. Smith, and Bielema is no wimp.
Bielema has guided Wisky to three 11 or more win seasons in his tenure (which began when Lloyd Carr and Jim Tressel were still coaching), has taken Wisky to consecutive bowl games and has produced some quality pros.
Dantonio took a dormant MSU Spartans team and has turned them into perennial contenders. Just ask the Georgia Bulldogs, an SEC team, if they are an apparition.
The arrival of Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke doesn't change a thing. These two teams, along with Penn State, will be just as competitive.
We all have heard it. The Big Ten is destined to return to the days of the Big Two, the Medium Six and the Little Four.
Since 1990, Northwestern, Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin have won or shared multiple conference championships. The conference hasn't been the "Big Two" in decades, and it will never be. There exists too much parity, too many outstanding head coaches and too few weak teams for that to happen.
The Big Ten will not automatically tilt in favor of Urban Meyer or Brady Hoke. And both will be greatly disappointed if they think it will.