Everyone knows that one of the best things about being a sports fan is to discuss and dissect more (and less) the important questions in the sports world with your friends. So, we’re putting that into the LGHL pages with our favorite column: You’re Crazy.
In You Nuts, two LGHL employees will take different sides of a single question and argue their opinions enthusiastically. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to decide who’s right and who’s crazy.
This week’s topic: What if the Big Ten went down?
Josh: Illinois is out, MAC Champion
When Jin jokingly stirred (but also with fatal serious intent) back off pod last week – In response to the discussion of the reorganization of the conference – I was immediately on board. I respect the heck of my co-host, but I can’t remember another idea he had before this one. It was the best idea he had ever had, and he would probably never outgrow it. Relegation and/or promotion would be the most exciting thing to happen in college football since the introduction of the triple option.
There are a lot of programs or teams in CFB that stabilize; Content with collecting and cashing unearned or guaranteed paychecks. 3-9? Who cares, did you see the number of zeros in that stub of our TV deal? Now to be fair, not every program can compete at the highest level. The disparity will increase with loose transfer rules, none, etc… But there are still dozens of programs that retain lame duck trainers, refuse to invest in sports facilities, make no effort to improve the student-athlete experience, and so on. These teams should go, or at least go down a level, as they feel comfortable swimming at the shallow end.
On the flip side, you have programs that just want to compete with the big guys on a regular basis. Even in the event of defeat, their teams prepare for the opportunity, the fans travel well and support the team, and there is real excitement. That’s what college football or any other sport should be about: competition, effort, passion. If a team consistently wins at a lower level, give it the best chance. This is where the upgrade comes in.
I got a little creative with my choice(s)…or you could say I’m avoiding the question by not picking a specific team for promotion, but that’s a default, so give me a break!
The team I would like to take off the Big Ten is Illinois. Are they the worst team? Not always… Are they second or third worst on a regular basis? Yes, most of the time they are. But I don’t turn them away just because of their track record. Bad Illinois And the Boring. And they have been for a decade. They don’t have juice, nobody likes Brit Bilima, and I don’t know what they bring to the table.
If you want to argue that they took over the Chicago market, try again. Northwestern has a more relevant football team. Furthermore, NU gets national attention (due to its competitiveness) from time to time! So if Fighting Illini doesn’t appeal to viewers, can they at least scare away some of the biggest teams sometimes? Eh, you could probably say that. They defeated Penn State last season, but the Nittany Lions were more than a paper tiger. 6 Wisconsin was a good win in 2019, but that was an anomaly. In most cases, Illinois are taken to the woodpile by good teams. for example, Ohio State He has defeated them by a combined score of 135-31 in his last three matches.
Fighting Illini doesn’t get into much of a fight. They might sneak into a ranked team every now and then, but they never run very relevant. NU recently won the B1G West title, Indiana was scary for a minute, and the Rutgers had at least Greg Schiano. Illinois needs to make room for a more interesting and exciting option.
So which team will I promote? I don’t want to partner with another Power 5 team, because I don’t see that as a real upgrade. The Big Ten is better than the ACC, but attending a school like North Carolina would be just a straightforward reorganization of the conventions. I want to reward a lower level team with a bigger and better chance. That being said, how about some MACtion!?
I want the MAC winner to be promoted to the Big Ten for the next season – even if that means a new team every year. Winning the conference would spur competition (not that Al-Mutawa and Al-Qadi need any help in this department), and provide a non-Power 5 team with a very exciting opportunity. If I want to get real wild, I’d suggest that with a potentially one-year window, this hypothetical MAC team could take it all in on the transfer portal or questionable NIL deals, and try to win the Big Ten – and thus stay in the conference ! Because that’s the only exception for me…if the previous MAC team wins the Big Ten, they’ll have to stay for at least a few seasons. Then Rutgers or Northwestern were also exiled.
Finally, it makes sense geographically. I’m a traditionalist, so I prefer the way it was before. The Big Ten schools are in the Midwest, the Pac-12 teams are on the West Coast – you get what I’m saying. I find it ridiculous for a team from the New England area to end up in the Big 12 or the Mountain West Conference. CFBs will probably have completely different levels of play, split into four or five great conferences, but that’s a different conversation for a different day.
To sum up my argument: Sorry Illinois fans, your team is out. Nobody will miss them. And get ready for some hot and dirty MACtion in the Big Ten!
Elgin: Maryland Out, Pete In
Like my podcast host Josh, I love the college football regional area and am a bit sad to see it slowly fade before our eyes. Conference titles don’t mean nearly as much as they used to, like the Biggest Five Power difference between the likes of Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, etc. They all set their sights higher in the college football game. As a result, winning the B1G or SEC feels like a necessary step towards making the post-season rather than an achievement in itself. But I digress…
While I can concede that some of the sport’s regional areas are fading away as I watch teams like BYU and Cincinnati with plans to travel south to join the Big 12, that doesn’t mean I can’t do my best to restore order in the Midwest given this hypothetical scenario. I think landing in the Big Ten would be great, especially since not all of the conference’s bottom feeders are competitive. With Josh taking over Illinois, I’m left to choose between some of the other less important teams in the bottom half of B1G to get the metaphorical boot.
In a realistic relegation scenario, the end of the 2021 season will likely see Indiana drop the wedge after scoring 0-9 in the conference. However, the Hoosiers were at least interesting and competitive enough under Tom Allen for me to keep them. Nebraska and Northwestern both went 1-8, but as Josh said, the Wildcats have competed for the Big Ten titles on more than one occasion, and while relegating Scott Frost would be funny, I wouldn’t make the move. My real decision here is between Rutgers and Maryland, and with the Crimson Knights at least starting to recruit a little better under Greg Schiano, I’ll fire the Terps.
Even with Tua Tagovailoa’s brother in the middle, Maryland was uncompetitive under Mike Locksley. Their 3-6 mark in the conference included victories only over Illinois, Indiana and Rutgers, and they were never close to any of the top-tier B1G schools. Against the four top ten teams they played in the conference, Maryland was defeated by a total score of 216-70. Nor is it in their interest that they are so far away from the geographical footprint of the Big Ten. Unlike Rutgers, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of positive trend for the program or any signs of improvement anywhere on the horizon, so for me, Terps are cut short.
In my opinion, getting rid of one of the conference’s individual East Coast teams allows for some easy exchange here with the ACC. Being “relegated” to another Power Five conference isn’t exactly a punishment here, but I think we can all agree that the ACC is at least a step or two without the Big Ten – and the TV contracts will reflect that. So, to satisfy my territorial cravings, sending Maryland to the ACC makes a lot of sense here, and somewhere there could be a team located at least in the neighboring Big Ten-country with some positives: Pitt.
Now, the Panthers aren’t the best team in the world by any means, but I’m not looking to turn the Big Ten into a great conference here. However, Pete is coming off a phenomenal season, winning the ACC title after finishing the match 7-1 – including a 27-17 win over Clemson – and defeating Wake Forest in the ACC Championship game to claim the conference crown. While they’ve been doing some pretty steep slopes this season after Kenny Beckett left for the NFL and Jordan Addison was out for USC, I still think they make more sense in the Big Ten than Maryland.
I think in the end I ended up going down the path of reorganizing conferences rather than purely relegating. I don’t just want the Big Ten-ACC pipeline here, because you’ll quickly have the potential for teams like Clemson and Miami (Florida) to become part of the Big Ten, making less geographical sense than the Terps. However, in more than one landing and doing scenario, I think sending Maryland to the ACC and bringing Pete to the Big Ten makes a lot of sense.