Special thanks to the Big Ten Chronicle for hosting this week's Big Ten Blogger Roundtable.
1. Every year we hear that the quality of play in the Big Ten is "down" and that the conference as a whole is "weak". This season most pundits would consider the Pac 10 or SEC as superior conferences. Give your best argument for the overall strength of the Big Ten and evaluated how your team would be doing if they were placed in either the Pac 10 or the SEC.
Gotta be honest, past the top three teams, and by top three teams I mean Ohio State, Michigan and Illinois, in that order, I'm not too thrilled with the conference this year. Michigan didn't help matters by going 2-2 and playing/losing to a D1-AA team. But D1-AA patsies were all the range in the conference this year so we did it too.
The Big Ten played 10 BCS out-of-conference opponents this season and went 6-4. The losses were to Oregon, Missouri, Duke, and Iowa State. The conference as a whole sports 4 wins over 1-8 Notre Dame and two wins over 2-7 Syracuse. There isn't a marquee win in there this season, period. Washington sure as hell doesn't count.
If you're interested in checking out a fairly good wrap up of the Big Ten OOC schedule head over to Simon Sports and take a peak. The information featured below is pilfered from his site:
All that being said, while I think the level of play may be a bit higher this year in the PAC 10, the Big Ten is still on par with both the PAC 10 and SEC.
In terms of the top five Big Ten schools, I firmly believe they are on par with any other conference. I put the USC/Orgeon duo a bit ahead of Ohio State/Michigan, but that's for obvious reasons. Wisconsin is Cal. Illinois is Arizona State. Penn State is UCLA. And so on.
The SEC, despite all the hoopla, has been lousy this year. There are only two (2) teams with less than 3 losses. Kentucky and South Carolina have faded into the background. Florida has three losses and got smoked by Georgia in a game they usually dominate. 'Bama wasn't supposed to contend yet is. Arkansas is as one dimension as physically possible, and is threatening to become a quantum singularity by its sole reliance on Darren McFadden.
Tennessee is a disaster that's still in the title hunt. Georgia beats Florida then makes it close against Troy. At Home. Auburn's probably the best team in the conference on defense but they lost to USF, at home. And by the way USF is now tied for last in the big East.
To borrow/steal shamelessly from MgoBlog:
Cal. Mississippi State, competitive in conference, is obliterated by
WVU. South Carolina struggles with awful UNC team. 'Bama loses to
thoroughly mediocre FSU.
This is not to say the Big Ten is better than either conference. I think they're all on par, with the PAC 10 being the best conference in the country right now. Big Ten/SEC is a push. Both conferences aren't all that impressive right now. Put Michigan in either conference and based on their offense and somewhat suspect defense, they'd probably be 2nd or 3rd in both.
2. Pick your team's Most Valuable Player to date and tell us why he should be in consideration for Big Ten Player of the Year.
Mike Hart. Michigan would be 4-6 without him. He is not only the most valuable player on Michigan's team, but the most complete football player in the country. I will yield the floor to the good folks at Hart4heisman.com.
3. Sure it's the time of year that has most fans looking ahead to Bowl games, but we covered that last week. Plus, basketball season has officially begun! If you plan on covering basketball, give a brief analysis on your team and how far they will go in this year's postseason (Final 4, Sweet 16, NIT, friend's couch, etc.).
This is a very young team. Very young. How the team plays and finishes will be the direct result of their youth and their coach. Beilein has already run off two players he felt couldn't cut it in his system and is demanding even more of the players he thinks can. His system is designed to get as many open looks at the basket as possible and he expects everyone to be able to knock down an open shot. That's something that's been missing from Michigan's repertoire for about 6 years now.
The biggest challenge will be cutting down on Michigan's obscene turnover ratio, something that after the first exhibition game is apparently not going away as fast as we'd hoped. There are a lot of young stars primed for break outs. Manny Harris is an incoming star. DeShawn Sims grew and has found some hunger after tragic events last year robbed him of his brother. Ekpe Udoh is your king. Bring him meats and cheeses.
The Basketball team probably won't make the NCAA's, but it's a goal. I expect a mid pack conference finish and an outside shot at the tourney. The NIT would be fine with me considering they've got the hardest schedule I've ever seen.
It's time again for annual "rip on the BCS" party! In your opinion, what is the best way for college football to determine its National Championship? Current BCS system, current system plus one, 16-team playoff, 4-team playoff, something totally cool I've never even thought of before?
I love the current system.If you're looking for someone to rip the system, it ain't going to be me. I love the bowl system. I love the current national championship system. Sure it has its flaws, but the alternative (a playoff system) is not one I ever want to see implemented in college football.
The arguments for a college football playoff are numerous, but they center around one definite champion, who earned it on the field. Fine. That's a noble goal. But to achieve that goal to have to sacrifice so much of what make college football special.
Take one look at the NFL and try to tell me regular season games matter to the cream of the crop or the bottom of the barrel. They don't. The best teams can drop 4 to five games any given year and make the playoffs. There's nothing else really riding on each individual game other than the outcome. You just don't get that sense that every single game matters. Because in reality, it doesn't. Seven losses and you've still got a shot at a championship. Sure it makes for an exciting finish, but doesn't render the previous 16 weeks moot?
What I love about the current system is every single game is important. There are 119 college football teams in the Bowl subdivision. There are five, perhaps six bowls of note. Think of the ratio. And every game for every team is important if they're going to play in one of those games. Did the Colts Patriots game last weekend even matter? We all know they'll make the playoffs. We know they'll meet again when it matters.
But didn't the Cal Tennessee game matter more? The winner was an early MNC contender. Remember the hype and the excitement? Virginia Tech LSU? USC Nebraska? All those games actually mattered, because they either kept a dream alive or squashed a dream for someone else. One loss you might be able to come back. Two? No way. Every game matters. There's no margin for error in college football and that's one of the things that makes it so exciting.
Besides, when there are 119 teams in the Bowl Subdivision and more conferences than anyone wants to think about, how do you implement a playoff fairly? Do you go to a two month long playoff? It's not like you can play one game after the next, people gotta rest. For a fair playoff system you'd have to include at least 16 teams. How do you seed them? Who plays where? How in god's name do you select those teams.
Ultimately, the same problems everyone bitches about in the BCS would come to the playoff. Who get's left out. Who got screwed. How did `Bama get a home game when Oregon had a better record and had to play on the road? Damn selection committee. Blah blah blah blah.
On top of that a playoff system robs us of one of my favorite parts of college football, the Bowls themselves. While my passion for the Bowls has diminished slightly by the spreading out of the games over a month long span, I still love waking up every New Years Day to watch my fill of football while lounging on my couch in sweatpants, eating cheetos. I love the Rose Bowl parade. I love the New Orleans flavor of the Sugar Bowl. Hell, I'll watch the Cotton Bowl.
I'm flexible on the issue of a plus one, but my preference is to keep things as is, because the same argument will come up over and over again. So and So beat team X, while team Y beat team Z and team Y won their bowl game by 20. Why is team W going to the plus one and not team Y? Sorry. Sick of it already.
Keep your cheetos and sweatpanted New Years games as they are and leave the month long playoffs go to college basketball. They've got it right, flaws and all, as it is.