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Big Red in the B1G: Internet Polls and the Drive to Be Prom Queen

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 25: Running back Rex Burkhead #22 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers wins every poll he's in. That seems like reason enough to put his picture on this post. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 25: Running back Rex Burkhead #22 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers wins every poll he's in. That seems like reason enough to put his picture on this post. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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I try and follow as many B1G blogs, websites, RSS Feeds, SBN sites, etc. etc. Anyhow, one of the funniest parts of each one of these, at least to me, is how many sites have been doing fan powered voting for BEST EVER tournaments this month. While OTE decided to do an internal voting mechanism earlier in March when we broke down Best B1G College Town, almost every other site went the, "Let's let the public decide" route thusly turning it into a gigantic popularity contest and rendering the entire exercise somewhat silly. In fact, usually when this happens, all that we can expect is that one of the four major schools will mobilize their rabid fanbase to make sure that they win, right?

Anyhow, the major reason this even pinged my radar was when I read the WWL's B1G blog and their, 'Big Ten Champions Tournament' in which they ranked the Top 8 Championship teams of the past 15 years and had fans vote for who they believed to be the best (linky here). I'm not going to rip on Bennett and Rittenberg because I actually think they can give some really good insights and they compile links and interviews in bulk, but I felt like the outcome of this fun and games was interesting and says a lot about the conference and it's fans. At minimum, it provides a little insight into fans and their need to be the most popular.

To summarize, somehow #2 Seeded Nebraska made it to the finals (you know, because any time you can say Big Ten Champions and include Nebraska, you gotta jump on that) for their 1997 team against #1 Seed 2002 Ohio State. 3.5 Million votes later, Nebraska wins with an overwhelming 64% of the vote which is crazy talk on so many levels. First off, how in the world did they get 3.5 Million votes?!?!?! Were there even that many page clicks in the time the poll went up until close? Furthermore, how in the world did 2.24 Million Husker fans vote? Was this anti-OSU sentiment, pro-Nebraska sentiment, people in offshore datacenters getting paid by Husker industrialists to vote for the prestige of a blog's title? Who knows?

Don't get me wrong, I love the passion fans have. The reason I enjoy writing on OTE and commenting here and across the SBN ecosystem is because fans here are passionate, generally pretty smart, and they will blindly cheer for the team even when it seems like a bad idea. Still, 3.5 Million votes? All political candidates should start trying to figure out how to get turnouts like this! Then again, that's probably not going to change the fact that most of us wouldn't have the same passion for candidates like we do our sports teams. We like the idea of being associated with the most popular group, and generally we will stop at nothing to make sure that our respective school wins (unless you're Indiana... sorry about that. I'm sure somebody thinks you are the coolest kid at the dance, right? Maybe not... let's move on).

I guess my thought is this, even though this is all about some weird self-actualization exercise where we do what we can to make what we like the best, it still makes me happy to see there is this much passion and excitement within the conference. If this were the Big XII, Nebraska would've won that poll without having to mobilize the troops. Texas, Oklahoma, and K-State do not generate the same passion that Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, et al. do. It is really impressive that it took over 2 Million votes to win this one out, and even though I am sure it was a lot of linking back to the WWL site and thusly giving them way too much traffic, it proves that Nebraska is loving their new home, at least loving it enough to go vote down Ohio State. While these things never have an actual worthwhile conclusion (that is, there is no proof that 1997 Nebraska is empirically better than 2002 Ohio State), they are definitely fun and we all like the idea of ranking order of anything we can, especially popularity and dedication of various fans (because we have a stake in that).

AND of course I can't resist putting on OFF TACKLE EMPIRE'S MOST DEFINITIVE POLL EVER TO DETERMINE HOW AWESOME EACH TEAM IS because a) I think half of our readership will click on the poll before reading this and b) I am an instigator.