(ed. note: This was initially published a year ago. As we watch another ACC/Big Ten basketball challenge unfold, it's fun to dream of what could have been)
Imagine if you will a world where athletic directors and conference comissioners are bold, fearless, and do what is best for their fans. Imagine a world in which conferences will put their manhood on the line and face off to see which conference is the best. That's right, what follows is a work of science fiction.
As we suffer through another Big Ten drubbing in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge (do we even win a game tonight?), imagine if ten years ago when that series was created the Big Ten entered into a similar series with the SEC - but in football. Yes, because football schedules are made so far in advance the series wouldn't begin immediately, as the Big Ten's basketball series did. Instead it would run for two years in 2009 and 2010.
The parameters were agreed to in an undiclosed location. Based upon the conference standings of the 2008 season, the SEC and Big Ten would match up their teams. The 7th Place SEC team would skip the challenge. Teams would get a home game and a road game and not play the same team twice. To make things more sporting, the SEC home games would be in the second weekend in September. The Big Ten home games would be in the second weekend in November.
As fate wold have it, 3-5 LSU was left out of the challenge. These eleven games were scheduled to take place.
|Nov. 14, 2009||Alabama||Penn St.|
|Nov. 14, 2009||Florida||Ohio St.|
|Sept. 12, 2009||Michigan St.||Georgia|
|Sept. 12, 2009||Northwestern||Mississippi|
|Sept. 12, 2009||Iowa||Vanderbilt|
|Sept. 12, 2009||Wisconsin||South Carolina|
|Nov. 14, 2009||Tennessee||Minnesota|
|Nov. 14, 2009||Kentucky||Illinois|
|Nov. 14, 2009||Auburn||Michigan|
|Spet. 12, 2009||Purdue||Arkansas|
|Sept. 12, 2009||Indiana||Mississippi St.|
I won't spoil the results of each game, but I will inform you that the SEC argued that they would have come away with the 6-5 series win "if the game in Minneapolis wasn't played in sub-human conditions." It should be noted that LSU faced Arkansas State and Idaho State on these two weekends.
Who knew that the outdoors would be the difference?
The matchups the next year proved just as intriguing.
|Sept. 11, 2010||Ohio State||Alabama|
|Sept. 11, 2010||Penn State||Florida|
|Nov. 13, 2010||Georgia||Northwestern|
|Nov. 13, 2010||Mississippi||Michigan State|
|Nov. 13, 2010||Vanderbilt||Wisconsin|
|Nov. 13, 2010||South Carolina||Iowa|
|Sept. 11, 2010||Illinois||Tennessee|
|Sept. 11, 2010||Michigan||Kentucky|
|Sept. 11, 2010||Minnesota||Auburn|
|Nov. 13, 2010||Arkansas||Indiana|
|Nov. 13, 2010||Mississippi St.||Purdue|
The SEC won 6 of the 11 games during the second challenge. Nowhere was the clash of cultures more pronounced than in Evanston, Illinois. "How can you not fill a stadium this small?" was the common refrain from the Bulldog fans which outnumbered the purple faithful.
H/T to Hayden Fry's Moustache Ride
It was a good series that ended in a two year draw. After it was done, the conferences walked away and went back to scheduling the Sun Belt and MAC teams that paid the bills.
Seriously though, how cool would it be to have something like this? If you prefer, imagine the same idea with the Big XII (sans 7th Place Kansas)...
|2009 Visitor||2009 Home||2010 Visitor||2010 Home|
|Penn State||Oklahoma||Texas||Penn State|
|Ohio State||Texas||Oklahoma||Ohio State|
|Texas Tech||Michigan State||Michigan State||Oklahoma State|
|Oklahoma State||Northwestern||Northwestern||Texas Tech|
|Texas A&M||Purdue||Purdue||Iowa State|
|Iowa State||Indiana||Indiana||Texas A&M|
It'd be a good deal for all involved. It's a shame it will never happen.