Apparently, I am the only one bothered by the fact there are 11 teams in the Big TEN Conference. So, I decided to make it public:
As if it would actually suffice, someone decided to include a hidden "11" in the conference's logo (see above).
In 18 years, since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1990, that was the best idea?
The truth of the matter is this:
It's time for the oldest college athletic conference in Division I to join the rest of the country. The day of running through the tackles, "North to South," black and blue, leather helmet-wearing football is dead.
Go dig it up in a graveyard in the middle of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Ask Michigan, (3-8), about Appalachian State.
Ask Ohio State about Florida, LSU, and USC.
There are fantastic coaches and unbelievable talent strewn all through this conference, no different than the others. Yet, changing the style of play is not the only thing in need of change to bring this conference back to the elite status that embodies the Big XII and the SEC Conferences.
The mission, should they choose to accept it: bring in a 12th team, establish a conference championship game, and return to prominence.
Wait, I know. I know. I can already hear the complaints.
"What about the name, the 'Big Ten', when you have twelve teams?"
"What about replacing that 12th team in the conference they came from?"
"Won't adding a championship game on to the end of each season ruin rivalries, such as Ohio State vs. Michigan?"
These are great questions and arguments, but here are better answers and options:
1) First of all, you ruined the name of the Big Ten Conference when you added the 11th team.
So, just call it the "Midwest Conference" and move on.
2)There are several options of obtaining a 12th team and replacing them in their old conferences. Remember, the ACC recently stole Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami from the Big East to solidify their conference and establish a championship game.
The shifting after that was simple.
The Big East replinished itself by taking teams from the C-USA. The C-USA went out and found teams from other conferences. And, the trickle-down effect continued.
Today, there is a reason why College Football is so "crazy" these days with all the upsets that we're witnessing. That type of shifting creates new rivalries with new scheduling, a stronger and more equal balance through out the football footprint, and we see a rise of certain teams because of it.
It's about building programs, watching the WAC take down the Big Ten, and giving teams, coaches, and student athletes opportunities they never had. Change can be good, after all.
If you don't like it, go join the Big Ten in the middle of their graveyard shift.
Here's a hint: You'll find them in Ann Arbor.
In reality, the dream option would be, of course, to have Notre Dame join the Big Ten. Unfortunately, this will never happen because the Fighting Irish have it made far too well with all of the publicity, notoriety, and funding they receive from being "Independent." (Look it up. It's ridiculous).
They are college football's, the BCS', and the founding fathers' favorite son, and always will be, even if it hurts daddy to watch them during their poor performances.
So, instead, here are your options:
Take Iowa State from the BIG XII and move them into the new and improved "Midwest Conference". They are the school out of that conference with the best location to satisfy the former Big Ten. Plus, I don't think the Big XII will really miss them, do you? This established 12 teams in the former Big Ten, the new "Midwest," creates a championship game, and adds a little spice to the in-need-of-improvement Iowa vs. Iowa State rivalry.
Back in the Big XII, you have your choice. Since Utah, BYU, and TCU like to have good looking records without having to play anyone of importance to get there, take one of them out of the Mountain West Conference and force them to play some tougher competition. Besides, you already have Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M in that conference as it is, why not add Texas Christian?
A number of teams from the Mid-Major conferences would be fine candidates to replace the old team in the MWC. So, let the trickle-down effect begin and watch these forgotten conferences begin to matter even more.
Note: I would mention taking Pittsburgh out of the Big East as an option to re-create the old rivalry of Pitt vs. Penn State, but I think the Big East deserves to be, and needs to be, left alone for awhile!
3) Now that you have created a better balance, what happens to the state of the new "Midwest Conference" with the added championship game at the end of the season and the inter-conference rivalries?
Well, Iowa vs. Iowa State now matters outside of Iowa.
Michigan vs. Michigan State might even start to matter outside the great state of Michigan.
Remove the headstones, and there might be some playable turf left.
If you're a proven team, you won't mind playing for your own conference's title, no matter if you're in a BCS, or a playoff, format. That extra game will help to solidify your presence at, or near, the top of the charts.
And yes, Ohio State vs. Michigan is the greatest rivalry in all of College Football, and one of the greatest in all of sports.
No one in Ohio, Michigan or the rest of the country wants to disturb that and diminish it into what the rivalry between Oklahoma and Nebraska has turned into.
Yet, losses against Florida, LSU, or USC like Ohio State has had, or losses against Appalachian State and Toledo like Michigan has had, is actually and truly what will diminish a program, a conference, and a rivalry.
So, follow my simple and easy instructions to reconstruct yourself into a powerhouse of a university and conference, and here's to the future.
Until then, dot the "I," "Hail to the Victors," and enjoy the best rivalry in college football this Saturday at noon.