cocknfire is co-editor of Team Speed Kills, SB Nation's blog covering all things SEC.
So the B1G finally decided to join the superconference era? It took you long enough -- the SEC is about to play its 20th season with 12 teams -- but we're used to waiting for y'all to catch up. But you finally found a great team not named Notre Dame to add to your ranks.
Of course, there are some ways in which the B1G has actually been innovative, and you deserve all the credit in the world for that. By the way, congratulations on the success of the B1G Network. We have a network too. Perhaps you've heard of it -- ESPN? (Actually, we have two, but mentioning CBS requires us to explain what "CBS" is to everyone under 70.)
But my good friends here at Off Tackle Empire asked me here not to talk about the SEC, per se, but the B1G from an SEC perspective. So in that vein, I'm going to try to explain one of the main reasons there is a gulf between our two conferences. And I'll try to do so slowly to make sure you can keep up.
One of the things that often gets asked of SEC fans is why we hate the B1G so much. I would love to give some answer about how we despise you over the Civil War or some age-old animosity stemming from y'all being Yankees and everything. But it's really Jim Delany.
I'm not saying that we would be best buddies if Delany were to realize that his true calling was running a too-big-to-fail bank or the Libyan Army. But Delany is certainly the root of the most recent bad blood between our two leagues. After all, after one of your teams got mercilessly bashed by one of our teams in a BCS bowl (it's getting hard to keep them all straight), Delany responded by drawing on old stereotypes and calling us all stupid.
I love speed and the SEC has great speed, especially on the defensive line, but there are appropriate balances when mixing academics and athletics. Each school, as well as each conference, simply must do what fits their mission regardless of what a recruiting service recommends. I wish we had six teams among the top 10 recruiting classes every year, but winning our way requires some discipline and restraint with the recruitment process. Not every athlete fits athletically, academically or socially at every university. Fortunately, we have been able to balance our athletic and academic mission so that we can compete successfully and keep faith with our academic standards.
Again, this is from a man that spent years referring to an 11-team conference as the Big Ten, then added another team and still called it the Big Ten. Or the B1G2N, or whatever y'all call yourselves now.
But that's not all. When Jim Delany isn't blaming the B1G's problems on Southern universities being stupid, he's busy threatening to take his ball and go home. Trouble winning baseball games? Don't encourage your schools to do what's necessary to get better; instead, tell everybody they can't hold baseball games until the B1G wants to. If that doesn't work, secede from the rest of the country and form your own baseball tournament. (Trust us when we say secession doesn't work. We have a bit of experience in that area.)
Of course, baseball isn't the only sport where the B1G is willing to rope itself off. In the world of college hockey -- which, granted, we in the SEC don't care much about -- the B1G decided to create its own league and blow up the sport's existing structure because it can.
We're talking about football here, of course, but how long before Jim Delany's proposal to split the Football Bowl Subdivision into two pieces becomes a way of protecting the B1G from the SEC? Maybe a snow subsubdivision and a non-snow subsubdivision?
Enough of the hatred, though. How do I, as a Southerner, see the B1G shaping up this year and in the near future? Very slowly. Again, I think the Nebraska pick-up was a solid one, and the addition of a championship game, along with the acknowledgement that football is played after Nov. 15, will help you in the long run.
Championship games, as you're now probably discovering, add a new dimension to the football season. First of all, divisions give you twice as many races to follow and ensures the conference championship isn't decided until the end of the season. They also allow you to make fun of one of the divisions when it's terrible. (We all laughed at the SEC East -- even South Carolina fans, who were ecstatic that it was finally mediocre enough for us to win it.)
Secondly, it allows your football teams to play again between the week before the Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. I don't believe in the 50-some-day layoff effect, but it doesn't hurt for the pollsters to see one of your elite teams defeating another of your elite teams before they cast their final votes.
Those of us in the SEC are all for that. After all, we need someone to beat in the BCS National Championship Game.