Let me start with this. There is definitely a Bigger Red right now. Wisconsin is lightyears ahead of Nebraska's football team. This is not a matter of semantics. This is not a matter of maybe or maybe not. This is just a cold hard fact. I get that. I agree with all that has been said about our defense this year. I agree that Taylor Martinez cannot throw a football. I agree that the B1G might be difficult to win this year. With that said, Nebraska is not the worst team in the B1G. I’m feeling a little better about my knock on Minnesota at the beginning of the year. I didn’t mean to completely offend a good group of fans, and pouring on now feels bad, but wow… tough year. Anyhow, far be it for me to not acknowledge the absolute beating that was applied by the current Sherriff, Bucky, and the smooth operation that Mr. Wilson seems to be running right now. I understand that history would suggest that Wisconsin will lay an egg at an inopportune time this year (say… Illinois? I don’t know, they seem to have a bag of tricks up their sleeves this year), but as much as I would like to blame Nebraska’s new favorite defense, "Allow-WR-To-Run-Past-You-Every-Time", Wilson and Co. might be legit.
I am sure to hear, "Welcome to Big Ten Football," for the next twenty years from all corners of the Big Ten, and each win for a while will only be because the other team was down. I have already been told by some people, "If you would have been here in [Insert Year], [Insert Best Team ever] would have crushed you." Kind of like if Nebraska’s 1995 team was here, they would have rolled, right? Anyhow, I am still staying the course that this is way more fun than the Big XII. There is one tiny problem I am having, though. It’s nothing I would have noticed before I got here, either. For years, I have listened to Big Ten enthusiasts whine about national perception and all that jazz. I have rolled my eyes when I hear that the media is out to get them. Usually, I don’t think the media is out to get anyone; they’re out to get everyone. Now that I am a part of this machine, I kind of get what you’ve been saying. No one likes the Big Ten.
Before I get yelled at, which I’ve gotten good at doing here on OTE, let me start by saying that I do understand the Big Ten is the best football conference this year. In fact, as a whole, it’s maybe fourth or fifth depending on how good Michigan, Nebraska, and Illinois really are. Yes, the SEC, Big XII, and PAC-12 are better overall right now than the Big Ten. Argue all you want, but one fourth of the conference is awful, half of the conference is okay, two or three teams may actually be good, and Wisconsin looks amazing. So that’s my frame of reference going in. Still, after spending a weekend as a full-fledged Big Ten member, I realized that winning National Titles is going to be pretty damn difficult. In a world where Boise State gets more respect than Wisconsin nationally, you know this is could be an uphill battle.
Between Finebaum’s hit-piece on the Big Ten, and Musburger and Herbstreit’s discussions about how Wisconsin cannot win a BCS title on their own merits, I realized that a lot of the national media doesn’t think twice about the Big Ten. It’s a conference that is respected because of its business pursuits, high academic standards, and history, but nobody takes the football being played here seriously. Even in the Big XII, there was much more respect for the football being played than here in the Big Ten. When KU and Mizzou were fighting their way towards a magical season, people respected them. There was even talk about titles if they won the Big XII CCG, which they didn’t. Throughout the second half of the Nebraska game, Wisconsin fans were basically told their team didn’t stand a chance to make it to the BCS Championship game. Anyone and everyone would make it in first.
So why does any of this matter? That’s a good question. I mean, this is the way it’s always been, right? Well, it matters because it should matter. I think the B1G ten line towards other conferences has always been about stuff that’s not on the field. The integration issues, arguments about cheating or not cheating, talking about style of play, being from the cold plains of the Midwest versus the muggy swamps of Mississippi, and everything in between. That hasn’t done anyone any good. Now that the Big Ten has a team that looks the part of a contender, nobody is talking about them. How ridiculous is that? So here is my secondary goal for the year: Pimp out Wisconsin as title-worthy until they lose. I’m not sure of a name for this campaign, yet, but someone needs to do it in addition to the Wisconsin fanbase (they should be all-in on this premise already). The conference needs to start helping itself. Also, this Legends and Leaders stuff doesn’t help with the hate either. I’m officially ditching them from my B1G lexicon. Those commercials may be the worst things for PR ever. Is there a petition circulating to get rid of that? If the CyHawk trophy can get destroyed, surely those conference names can. I may be the new guy who is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but this needs to happen. If Boise State can get media attention, then surely Wisconsin can.
Quick Nebraska-Related Thoughts (If you don’t want to read them, stop here)
- Wisconsin is really good, and Nebraska’s secondary is really bad… I am interested to see how Wilson and Co. look against a real defense.
- Kudos to Camp Randall. That, "BIG TEN FOOTBALL" chant was pretty amazing. I was sitting in my living room in absolute despair and heard that… I didn’t think I could be more depressed by my football life at that moment, and you made it happen. It was just clever enough to make me appreciate it, and definitely asshole-ish to make me hate you.
- I am excited to see Ohio State visit Lincoln. I think any Buckeyes travelling to town will enjoy the trip. Memorial isn’t quite as rowdy as Camp Randall, but it’s still a beautiful stadium and a lot of fun. Should be fun… you know, minus having to watch your offense verse our defense.
- I forget which paper I saw it in, but a note to whoever tried to put an advertisement in the comments section of the Omaha World-Herald for their Madison sausage shop should probably stop being a cheapskate and buy a real ad. Trying to sound like just another commenter and then talking about how Nebraskans don’t understand meat was really lame.
- The Pelini to OSU campaign is interesting to me. I know that it’s his Alma Mater, but is it a better job? He’ll listen if they call, but it would have to be pretty enticing $$$. I still think Meyer goes there. I’ll be interested to see how his offense will work in the B1G.
This Week: Ohio State - The game that people thought would be interesting, and more Big Ten self-loathing. I love this game!