Good evening, fellow B1G faithful. As we gear up for another season, it's best to engage in what has been broadly termed "expectation management" about the future of our dear old league. Of course, we all know the story of this season already. The Sparty Party (a Tea Party offshoot?) is sure that MSU has this sucker all cinched up. The OSU contingent is cackling, ready to send a Papa John's pie with extra sadness to every Spartan fan they know. Michigan is hoping that Devin Gardner throws the ball in a quarterbackish fashion with some regularity, and the Purdue rooters are really looking forward to Christmas. Maryland is waiting on the next season of House of Cards or something, perhaps? No one is quite sure what goes on east of State College, PA, and I suppose it'll stay that way for some time.
All the being said, debating the merits of the immediate future seems rather futile. One thing we all know for certain is that we're all in store for another four months of hearing how irrelevant the B1G is from other ever corner of the football universe (except the AAC...like Missourah, I refuse to recognize their existence). So, how did we get here? And when will we not be subject to these jabs? How did a conference which has appeared in three national title games this century become the butt of so many jokes, and a sacrificial lamb in bowl season? The answer is pretty simple: talent and the harvesting thereof. Specifically, the B1G as a whole is not good at that task. The even greater problem is that aside from two or three programs, no one seems to really be doing anything about it.
Now, before the Sparty Party burns me in effigy, let's be clear. We all know that Dantonio is a supposed talent alchemist who turns water into wine and walk-ons into Kyler Elsworth. What we're concerned about here is the big picture. The big picture is what matters in the talent casino, because while teams may get on hot runs, the odds always play out in the end. To that point, let's look at just how the B1G's recruiting situation stacks up.
At the end of the day, the B1G is underrepresented in talent by almost any measure. Again, there are certainly teams like the 2013 Spartans or the great Buckeye teams of the last decade, or a few notable Wisconsin squads. Talent can be nurtured and developed, and players can be found to fit the right system in the right way. In the aggregate, though, we want to have numbers on our side. Nineteen five-star recruits beats four any day of the week as a starting point for the creation of championship-caliber teams.
Here's hoping the investment in facilities, salaries, and recruiting across the league bears itself out in some form of parity in the near future. Otherwise, January may well be a bleak month for years to come.