The Big-10 Football Conference, once a prestigious and worthwhile grouping of respectable teams, is now the laughing stock of the BCS. Named a “Top Five Power Conference” because of past accolades, the Big-10 has a horrible chance at getting into the first-ever National Championship Playoff. One of the moves that the conference made was the discouragement after the 2014 season to play no more games against FCS opponents. Commissioner of the Big-10, Jim Delaney, decided that the non-conference schedule needed a serious upgrade so that teams can stay in the hunt when being considered for Bowl Games without losing credibility for playing the smaller schools.
My first attack is on Purdue, Indiana, and Northwestern. These three teams have failed to even be competitive consistently through the last 30 years. Purdue would not go .500 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Indiana has been lousy since Anthony Thompson was their tailback in 1990. Northwestern had a recent wave of success, but I can’t block out the memories of them being 60-point underdogs from my childhood. They are back to being Northwestern, the double-digit underdog again.
On the second weekend of the 2014 season, the Big-10 was horrid. Michigan State played well for three quarters against Oregon before being slapped around in the fourth quarter. On the same weekend, Ohio State was outplayed by Virginia Tech. Those same Hokies lost to East Carolina the following week. The Buckeyes rebounded playing angrily against Kent State. Interestingly, Kent is a representative of the mighty MAC Conference, ranked 16th in the power conference polls, right behind #15 Missouri Valley (the FCS teams).
Mr. Delaney… I can understand you wanting to schedule tougher non-conference opponents. Do you understand that you have to win a few of those games against “tougher” opponents for any of this to translate positively? It is great seeing a .500 team like Minnesota get to a Bowl Game. It means more money for the conference, I get that. But Minnesota played a couple of non-conference cupcakes to get to that vaunted level of mediocrity (aka “bowl eligible status”). So go ahead and throw a couple of SEC teams against Minnesota in a couple of years. I hate to break it to you, because I am not part of the committee, but winning four games and losing nine or ten will not get you qualified for much except revisiting playing FCS teams again.