Will the Big Ten stand up in 2009?
by: Jonathan Hood-ESPNCHICAGO.COM
1-6 in the 2008 post season.
The Big Ten has to turn it around in 2009 for recruiting and for the good of their conference. Every year, Big Ten fan tells me how strong their conference is and if the bowl games were played in cold weather, the fortunes of the Big Ten in the post season would be different.
I say, if you are an excellent team, no matter where you play, you show up and you thump the other team.
Just look at the carnage in the 2008 bowl games:
Champs Sports Bowl- Florida State 42- Wisconsin 13.
Mediocre season for the Badgers at 7-6. Had instability at QB.
Alamo Bowl- Missouri 30-Northwestern 23
Good game, looking forward to the Cats improving on their 9-4 record.
Insight Bowl- Kansas 42-Minnesota 21
The Gophers limped into the bowl game after playing the little sisters of the poor in non-conference and getting whipped against NU, Mich, Iowa and losing a heart breaker vs.Wisc.
Outback Bowl- Iowa 31- South Carolina 10- (win)
I really like Hawkeyes QB Ricky Stanzi managing each game; had solid games against Penn State, Purdue and Minnesota and rolled the Gamecocks for the only Big 10 win in the post season.
Capital One Bowl- Georgia 24-Michigan State 12
RB Javon Ringer and QB Brian Hoyer led the Spartans to their bowl game with a 9-4 record. Did they lose confidence by losing to Penn State 49-18 in their last game going into their meeting against the Bulldogs?
Rose Bowl- USC 38- Penn State 24
The Nittany Lions record of 11-2 is impressive. But they didn't play anyone on their 2008 schedule the caliber of USC. Have you seen their 2009 schedule?
Fiesta Bowl- Texas 24- Ohio State 21
Jim Tressel losing a big game? Noooo! Their beatdown at the hands of USC should have been an indicator that they weren't going to win their bowl game.
Why does the Big Ten fall apart during Bowl season?
"When you look at the defensive line and linebackers in the SEC, they're trimmer and faster," said Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN college football expert. "I'm not saying that the SEC is fast and the Big Ten is slow. I'm saying the Big Ten can run equal to the SEC when it comes to skill. In the trenches is where I see a noticeable difference."
I think conferences like the SEC, the Pac-10 and even the Big 12 have surpassed the Big 10 as far as roster depth and overall talent over the past few years.
For example: as good as QB Troy Smith was for Ohio State in 2006 against the Big Ten, when he faced Florida it was an entirely different story.
Last season, Florida's defense held the high octane offense of Oklahoma to 14 points in the BCS title game.
It's not even close.
Is the Big 10, the Big Sky conference? No. However, I'm wondering which Big Ten team is going to step up this year and carry the banner for the conference? For those of you that watch your favorite Big Ten team at 11:00 am cdt, I suggest you keep the television on at 2:30 pm and then again at 7:00pm and compare your favorite Big Ten team to other conferences and then ask yourself, why does the Big Ten fall short in big bowl games each year.
One last thing, if you are a high school standout defensive lineman/tackle in the Midwest and you are recruited by teams in the Big 10, SEC, Big 12 or Pac 10 which conference would you choose? Obviously, if you play college ball, you hope to be drafted by an NFL team or put yourself in a position to ready yourself for the real world.
Minnesota Gophers head coach Tim Brewster told Lindy Sports, "the hardest thing to to recruit in defensive tackles. They are the hardest to find in college and the hardest to get in the NFL."
LSU, USC and Texas combined to have 7 defensive lineman in the 2009 NFL Draft. 5 were drafted from the entire Big Ten.
Since 2004, 16 defensive tackles have taken been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. None from the Big Ten.
The last DT to be taken in the first round was Jimmy Kennedy in 2003 from Penn State.
The Big Ten coaches and recruiters have some work to do.