The Big Ten took a slide backwards last year when the conference failed to reach everyone’s expectations for the season. Ohio State and Penn State were surprises, but the rest of the conference had a major down year.
For the Big Ten to return, key powerhouses have to return and the conference needs to fill all of its bowl allotments. It failed to do so in 2012.
A number of other keys will help this conference return to national prominence in 2013.
For the Big Ten to rise, it has to follow this script.
Ohio State did the unexpected last season when it went undefeated through the regular season. NCAA sanctions that were levied against the Buckeyes made it impossible to challenge for a Big Ten title or go to a bowl game in 2012.
This year the Buckeyes will hope to have the same success. In 2013, they will be eligible for the postseason and will be looking to challenge for a national title.
If Urban Meyer can get his team to the winners circle again, like he did in 2012, it will be a leader for the Big Ten as they rise back onto the national stage.
Bill O’Brien became one of the hottest names in coaching last season as he led the Penn State Nittany Lions to a surprise eight-win finish.
Penn State is going to struggle in the next couple of years to field a solid squad, but the team has a shot at having one more year of solid success in 2013.
The Nittany Lions have become one of America’s new favorite teams. After the Sandusky ordeal, the team was left to pick up the pieces that remained, and the country appreciates the hard work and adversity these players are facing.
If the Nittany Lions can have one more solid year on the field, they will help the Big Ten push back onto the national stage.
The Northwestern Wildcats have become one of the country’s new favorite teams. The Wildcats won their first bowl game since the 1940’s this past bowl season and are set to return to the postseason in 2013.
The Big Ten used to have Purdue or Iowa win games consistently, but there has been a fall off from those programs as of late. Having Northwestern rise is huge for the conference, and it needs to continue.
This Wildcats team is led by an energetic coach in Pat Fitzgerald and has a bright future ahead in the Big Ten with the talent on roster, and proven coaching staff.
Kirk Ferentz is the sixth-highest paid head coach in college football according to a November Sports Illustrated report.
At this point, he is the most overpaid coach in college football for the results that the Hawkeyes are putting on the field. According to the report, he makes $3.85 million a year leading the Iowa program.
The last 10-win season for Iowa was in 2009, and the last Big Ten title came in 2004. The Hawkeyes have been 6-4 in bowl games under Ferentz, another major underachievement.
To be the second-highest paid coach in the Big Ten, Ferentz is underachieving. If he can get Iowa on track this year, it will help the Big Ten rise back to where the conference belongs.
Nothing discredits a league like a conference title winner not having at least 10 wins under their belt. That happened this year to the Big Ten, which sent an eight-win team to a BCS bowl game.
The Big Ten is struggling to find consistency among its top teams, and producing a title winner that is barely bowl eligible is not where this conference wants to be.
If the Big Ten places its title winner in the Rose Bowl, it's disappointing that the title game was missed. This year, however, it was a blessing for Wisconsin to land in Pasadena.
For this conference to make it back, it has to have a conference title winner that is a national stage challenger. Anything less is a disappointment.
The Big Ten failed to meet its bowl allotment in the 2012 season. The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl was filled by a Sun Belt squad instead of a Big Ten team, losing revenue for the conference and advertising time for a Big Ten team.
For the Big Ten to have a resurgence in 2013, the conference has to field teams that can fill out the bowl tie-ins.
The conference can’t continue to lose revenue by missing bowl games. NCAA sanctions have already gutted Penn State and kept Ohio State from the postseason a year ago.
This year, filling out the bowl field is a must for this conference. If not, they will fall short of expectations for the second year running.