The Big Ten conference at one point was seen as a perennial football powerhouse. I say at one point because it seems like it's been a very, very long time since we've been there. Now the conference has a tendency to see a good, but not great, Buckeyes team steamroll through a so-so conference slate only to either fall in the polls because of the laughable opposition or to be scarified to the SEC on the national scene.
Of course we also have a few other staples, namely solid years from Wisconsin and Michigan State and Michigan continuing to look like a shell of it's former self. Past that, though, and we're left with a varying level of mediocrity and flat out bad football. That's been the case for a while and so far in 2014 it's looking like more of the same.
As bad as week two was, and it was very bad, it shouldn't of been a surprise. We had two teams lose to MAC schools, Illinois needed a fourth quarter comeback to beat W. Kentucky, Nebraska almost blew a lead against FCS foe McNeese State, Ohio State dropped a home game in prime time to Virginia Tech (thanks to Bad News Barrett) and then Michigan got shutdown by Notre Dame. But what happened should have been relatively predictable based on the first week when we had Purdue scrape by Western Michigan, Illinois and Iowa having to mount fourth quarter comebacks versus FCS teams, Ohio State struggling with Navy and then whatever Northwestern was doing out there.
But alas, there's finally some hope in week three. We have several teams that lost playing absolutely horrid MAC schools, we have a Big Ten showdown in primetime and every potential loss would have been expected prior to last week (here's to you Purdue and Illinois).
That leads me to my question, what would it be like if the Big Ten's basketball programs were as bad as the football teams? There's been plenty of questioning and finger pointing as to why the football side of things is such a mess, with the coaches within the conference getting the blame (or maybe it's the fact that the basketball coaches are just that good). Either way, could you imagine the fall and winter months if the conference we all love followed up several months in the fall as a laughing stock with more of the same in the winter?
Of course the biggest difference is losses are expected and inevitable in basketball, meaning when teams beat up each other in conference play there's usually less finger pointing and murmuring of "these teams suck," making it harder for a conference to get picked apart as long as it starts off strong and has a modest showing come March. It has been a while though since the conference has won it all, with Michigan State being the last Big Ten team to do so and that was in 2000 (excluding Maryland as they were an ACC member at the time of winning). However, the lack of winning it all hasn't hurt the overall strength of the conference. Not to mention conference realignment crippling the powerhouse Big East only cleared the way to the throne for the Big Ten.
But yeah, could you imagine if we were treated to months of basketball as bad as the football side of things. I can already see it now, two or three nationally recognized teams and a bunch of teams already out of the running. Michigan getting crushed by 40 points against SMU, Purdue losing to Chaminade and Wisconsin running the table only to get killed in the title game by a SEC team by 50 points.
Regardless of the quality of the football teams it ultimately means very little when you realize how much each team is worth or how much each school makes off of TV revenue.
With that being said, let's hope for a better weekend for the Big Ten. It can't get any worse...can it?