First and Big Ten

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Big Ten Needs to Walk the Talk

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Kevin Paul

It's a broken record... the movie Groundhog Day in football form.  

The SEC owns the Big Ten.

The SEC owns college football.

Big Ten fans respond by grabbing a dull spoon and making a twirling motion towards their chests.

If you're a die-hard Big Ten football fan, then you likely dabbled in watching the Media Day coverage a number of days back.  Yours truly did.  And if you noticed, there was an intruder in the back room, with a southern accent, occasionally peppering questions that were borderline toying with that naughty three-letter word...

S - E - C.

If it wasn't for those Iowa Hawkeyes last season, the Big Ten would have laid the proverbial bowl goose egg.

Look forward to the future, a day where the Big Ten can become relevant again.  Instead of barking about how the conference has good teams, instead let the play on the field do the talkin'.

First off, get rid of the cupcakes.  Michigan not just scheduling Appalachian State, but losing to them, was a major hit for the Big Ten.  The Penn State 2009 non-conference schedule is one of the more popular topics of the year.  

To some degree this is a work in progress.  The Nittany Lions have Alabama in the very near future, plus Nebraska down the road.  Ohio State has USC again this season.  Heck, even Indiana had South Florida on schedule this year, but it had to be moved to a few years down the road.  But this needs to be more consistent - go out and flex your muscle, Big Ten.

Flex your muscle, and recruits will come.  There has to be a counter to the Sun Belt phenomenon.  Let's face it, a lot of kids feel the lure of sun, warmth, and girls.  I'm just sayin'.  But it's a known fact that recruits get excited by big time matchups and national TV audiences.  The Big Ten needs to schedule these conference powers, get on TV, and pepper it in with some history and tradition.

Focusing on the recruiting, I want to see the Big Ten focus more and more on bringing in the marquee quarterbacks.  Sure, the Terrelle Pryor's and the Tate Forcier's are here, but in this case, there needs to be quantity and quality.  Look at the quarterback position - it's the sexiest, most talked about position.  

What do fans talk about?  Quarterback.  

Who ends up the top pick more often than not in the NFL Draft?  Quarterback.

The Big Ten needs to focus on recruiting more big-time quarterbacks.  Heck, there hasn't been a Big Ten QB first rounder in nearly a decade and a half.  It's a joke.

And what's worse, the Big Ten needs to focus on giving its players the best possible chance to win the big-time bowl games in January.  This was the most popular topic at Big Ten Media Day - the schedule dipping into early December.

The majority of Big Ten teams feature a bye-free schedule that not only tires out its players, but also sends them on a six-week hiatus leading into Bowl week.

Teams like Wisconsin and Illinois have already began to adjust this schedule to give its players more of a fighting chance.  For example, the Illini have two bye weeks during the season, an open date on September 19th before traveling to Columbus and an open date on November 21st before its final two games, both non-conference, at Cincinnati on November 27th and vs. Fresno St. on December 5th.  The result - a shorter break.

Stemming off the early December games, Big Ten, let's close the door and work on the conference expansion.  What's the big holdup... seriously?  Can you not come up with a good enough design to have a sneaky image of a "2" within the words "Big" and "Ten"?  

Plain and simple: Conference championship equals more national exposure.  More national exposure equals more recruits, more visibility to the voters that matter, and so on.

The writing is on the wall.  The Big Ten still has talent, but it can have so much more.  

C'mon Big Ten - your bark has always been there.  Rip off that muzzle and let's see that bite.

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3 Comments

@kylebetts said:

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From a recruiting perspective, Ron Zook is building and SEC-like team in Champaign. All the guy does is recruit speed, especially at the skill positions.

Ohio State recruits speed too, but they are more committed to running the ball and developing TP2 right now. Michigan's offense will force them to recruit speed at QB, WR, and RB, but it will take some time.

What about the rest of the Big Ten? I'm not really sure what they're doing besides continuing to bring in "country strong, corn-fed" lineman. This is the same simple-minded thinking that is turning the conference into a joke. They need to break the traditional mold and compete with the SEC on their level: speed.

Speed is the name of the game. That's why the SEC dominates in recruiting and during the bowl season.

Kevin Paul said:

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Reposting the comment I left below, not sure if you get notified that I replied or not... so my bad for posting it twice... thanks for dropping by the page and talking football!

Speed is an important point Kyle. The Big Ten has done a lot to focus on adding speed actually. You did touch upon the Illini, who actually added Fason, UF transfer... straight from the SEC actually. Penn State has been adding more speed in recent seasons as well... it all started with Derrick Williams and Justin King a few years ago... two very athletic and fast players that forced Paterno's hand to even start them as freshmen... years ago, that would have never happened.

If you look at Minnesota, they also added a JuCo in Hayo Carpenter, who has 4.37 speed, and should definitely provide enough mismatches to take an opponent's eyes off of star WR Eric Decker.

Good to hear from you!

Kevin Paul said:

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Speed is an important point Kyle. The Big Ten has done a lot to focus on adding speed actually. You did touch upon the Illini, who actually added Fason, UF transfer... straight from the SEC actually. Penn State has been adding more speed in recent seasons as well... it all started with Derrick Williams and Justin King a few years ago... two very athletic and fast players that forced Paterno's hand to even start them as freshmen... years ago, that would have never happened.

If you look at Minnesota, they also added a JuCo in Hayo Carpenter, who has 4.37 speed, and should definitely provide enough mismatches to take an opponent's eyes off of star WR Eric Decker.

Good to hear from you!

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