Garry ChristmanContributor INovember 5, 2008

 Is it time to proclaim the Big 12 the greatest football conference EVER???


After reading about and hearing all the bashing of the Big 10 going on, right along with many folks calling the Big 12 the best thing since sliced bread, I think it’s time we go ahead and name the BCS champion now. 


Good idea?  So, here they are ladies and gentlemen, your BCS champions for the 2008-2009 college football season:  the OKLAHOMA SOONERS!  Forget actually playing the game, who needs that?  According to a bunch of you “experts”, we might as well go ahead and crown the Sooners champs. 


After all, there’s no conference in football as good as the Big 12, is there?  They’ve got all those Heisman candidates: Harrell, Daniel, McCoy, Crabtree, Bradford.  They’ve got some of the best coaches in the game; Stoops, Brown, Pinkel, Leach.  We can just go ahead and name a champ, can’t we?  Well, NO, we CAN’T.


I was born and raised in eastern Pennsylvania.  I’ll say it proudly; I follow Penn State football with a passion.  I’ll be the first to admit if Alabama, Texas Tech, and Penn State all win out, the Tide and Red Raiders should play in the title game. 


If Penn State wins out, and either Alabama or Texas Tech or both lose a game, the Nittany Lions are going to the BCS title game.  If, by some chance, a one-loss team would be selected to go to the title game over an undefeated Nittany Lions team, I pray that JoePa doesn’t find the idiot that came up with the idea of the BCS.


For all you singing the praises of the Big 12, check out these stats.  Since the start of BCS games back in 1999, these are the conference records in all BCS bowl games:  ACC (1-9), Big 12 (6-8), Big East (6-4), Big 10 (8-9), MWC (1-0), Pac 10 (8-4), SEC (11-4), WAC (1-1), Ind (ND) (0-3).


Hats off to the SEC at 11-4; LSU is 4-0, Florida is 3-1.  Hats off to the Pac 10; USC is 5-1.  The 6-4 Big East is led by 3-1 Miami (FL).  Shame on you ACC at 1-9. 


The mighty Big 12 is only 6-8?  Can it be?  Yes, it is.  And check out who’s been the biggest loser in BCS games for the Big 12; the mighty Sooners of Oklahoma at 2-4. 


Yes, they did knock off Florida State for the national championship, but look at the games they shouldn’t have bothered to show up for. 


Totally outplayed by LSU for the national title, not even close in losing to USC 55-19 the next year for the title, first team to lose to a “BCS buster” team when Boise State upset them in the Fiesta Bowl, and then having their lunch stolen and eaten by West Virginia last year.  Still think the Big 12 is such an outstanding conference?


How about some other outstanding teams from the Big 12?  Well, I’ve got to give props out to Texas Tech.  They did knock off the No. 1 team in the nation.  They did wipe out Kansas in Lawrence. 


But overtime against Nebraska?  At home?  Now check their non-conference schedule; Eastern Washington, Nevada, SMU, Massachusetts. 


Hats off to Texas (10-gallon hats, that is).  They rolled through a pretty difficult schedule before that last-second loss to the Red Raiders.


But they haven’t played a football game outside Texas since Oct. 4 at Colorado; in Dallas against the Sooners, home against Missouri and Oklahoma State, in Lubbock against Texas Tech, and next at Baylor. 


Does the SEC have some outstanding teams?  Sure they do.  Florida has played some great football against some good teams. 


Before we claim they’re the best, remember they did lose to Mississippi.  At home.  31-30.  After leading by 10 at halftime.


How about Alabama?  They’re ranked No. 1 in all the polls right now, but outside of winning at Georgia, who’ve they beaten?  They knocked off Clemson, who turned out to be highly overrated.  Other non-conference foes they had; Tulane, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State.  Not exactly high strength of schedule.


Let’s go ahead and discuss USC and the Pac 10.  Of all the one-loss teams that might get looked at for the BCS title game (if a one-loss team goes), the team that may have the strongest case is USC. 


The Pac 10 isn’t as strong as the Big 12 or the SEC, but look at USC’s out of conference schedule; at Virginia (who’s playing much better), wiping out Ohio State at home, and Notre Dame at home later on.  However, they lost to Oregon State in a game that wasn’t as close as the score reflects.


Now to the conference I enjoy more than others, the Big 10.  Plain and simple, stop bashing Ohio State for their play in the last two national championship games.  They did get blown out by Florida two years ago, but we were pretty close to having a Michigan-Ohio State rematch in the title game.


They did get blown out by LSU last year; they just did not play well.  But in BCS games, the Buckeyes are 4-2, which is nothing to be ashamed of. 


This year is unusual in that teams that normally do well are having down years, with Wisconsin and Michigan being the biggest disappointments. 


The Badgers haven’t played up to expectations, but look at the last five teams they played; Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State.  Combined record: 34-12. 


That may not be the “murderer’s row” that Texas went through with Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech, but it sure ain’t shabby. 


Michigan wasn’t expected to do much this year.  New coach, new system, give them a year or two and they’ll be back at the top.


Now, of course, let me finish with my beloved Nittany Lions, currently the class of the Big 10.  Their non-conference schedule may not have been the best in the nation, but they’re not playing creampuffs either. 


They pummelled Oregon State, a team that took USC out to the woodshed.  Just look at the team and stats.  Top 10 defensive team, top 10 offensive team, balance running the ball or throwing it, outstanding skill players, and leadership throughout the lineup. 


Think you can run the ball against them?  Look at Beanie Wells stats against them; 22 carries, 55 yards.  Terrelle Pryor’s stats, 9 carries, 6 yards. 


Can’t run the ball against the Nittany Lions?  Go ahead and try to pass on them.  24 sacks, 17 turnovers recovered.  Think your defense can stop Penn State?  Evan Royster is averaging over 7 yards a rush. 


If you flush Daryl Clark out of the pocket, he’ll tuck the ball in and take off.  Give Clark time to pass and he’ll hit one of the outstanding receivers he has; Derrick Williams, Deon Butler or Jordan Norwood. 


Just when you think everything is OK, you kick or punt to Derrick Williams, who turns around and burns you for a touchdown. 


And who do you have leading all this talent?  One of the greatest coaches in football history, Joe Paterno.  On top of that, go to the Rivals.com website and see how they rank the coaching staffs. 


Of head coaches, JoePa is ranked eighth.  Offensive coordinator Galen Hall is ranked second in the nation; defensive coordinator Tom Bradley is ranked first in the nation.  Still think Penn State doesn’t deserve that high ranking?


With so much time left in the college football season, it’s too difficult to even guess who’ll make the title game. 


Alabama has LSU and possibly the SEC championship game; Texas Tech has Oklahoma State and then travels to Norman to take on the Sooners. 


Penn State goes to Iowa, never an easy place to play.  If Penn State should win out and make it to the title game, many will complain that the Big 10 was weak and they don’t deserve to go. 


That’s fine, think what you want.  No matter who they would play, you give me this Penn State team, the coaching staff they have, and top that off with JoePa, the best bowl game coach in history.  All I have to say is this;  WE ARE…..PENN STATE!