As the postseason draws closer, Ohio State remains undefeated and is widely seen as the Big Ten's greatest hope for a national title. Michigan's two losses, Michigan State's faceplant last weekend and the refusal of voters to take Iowa seriously have anointed the Buckeyes as the sole banner-carrier for the conference. The more success Ohio State has, the better it is for the conference, and anything that benefits the conference benefits my team, or so I'm led to believe. They'll bring in more money for all the teams in the conference, they'll raise the profile of the conference causing more people to respect every team in the B1G, and they'll raise our profile to recruits, since simply having the defending national champion on the schedule is a major selling point to any recruit. Root for what's best for the conference! A win for the Buckeyes is a win for each and every one of you!
Ohio State won the national championship in 2002, bringing the multi-faceted windfall to the conference. Illinois proceeded to win 8 games from 2003 to 2006. Where was our forty acres and a mule? The Buckeyes won the national title last year, and now Illinois has a newly-minted president trying to direct the interim provost and the interim chancellor to meet with the interim athletic director to discuss the future of the interim football coach. Wasn't a free and elite Ohio State supposed to create jobs and enrich the community with all the capital we allowed them to keep?
(Sidenote: If you're going to claim that the benefit to Illinois was the firing of Tim Beckman, bear in mind that Urban Meyer supported Beckman, whose experience on his staff was one of Beckman's major credentials. Also, this claim implies that the benefit Ohio State imparted to Illinois last year was that Simon Cvijanovic's season-ending injury occurred against the Buckeyes, which in turn led to Beckman kicking him off the team, which led to his Twitter rant, which led to the investigation that got Beckman ousted. That is all true, but don't insist I should be grateful that you screwed up some kid's knee.)
Here Purdue sits, with a win against a struggling Nebraska team without its senior leader as the sole beacon of hope that Darrell Hazell can build a program. Here's Nebraska, in spite of a great win against MSU, sitting at 4-6 with a bewildered fanbase. Here's Indiana, losers of 5 in a row after starting 4-0. Rutgers and Maryland are worse off and Minnesota's head coach was forced into an early retirement. Tell me again how great it is for every team in the conference that Ohio State won it all. In the People's Republic of Midwestern Football, glory to the leader serves only to glorify the leader. Take up arms and revolt!
Having six ranked teams is indeed great for the conference as it shows depth, but Michigan State's loss at Nebraska was not a blow to the B1G. If anything, that game says that the B1G is truly competitive enough that although some teams are better than others, no team is complete garbage. Nationally, this has not been a unanimous conclusion. Of course, some will tell me that this perception will only change once Ohio State has won the national championship, and thus I should rejoice when this happens.
That has come to pass, and yet the Buckeyes sit behind one-loss Alabama and undefeated Clemson in the CFP rankings, and undefeated Iowa sits behind one-loss Notre Dame. Things were supposed to be different now! You promised us change! THANKS O(SU)BAMA!
Furthermore, as an Illinois fan, what do I have to gain from this? Am I supposed to root for Ohio State to improve the perception of the conference so that when Illinois goes 13-0 in two years they don't get left out of the playoffs? Is that really how I'm supposed to think? I chug the orange Kool-Aid by the gallon and I don't ever expect us to be in that position.
You're free to root for whoever you want at any time, of course, but know that the ruling class has lied to us before and they'll do it again. I, for one, will be in Champaign to cheer the David that is the Fighting Illini as they square off against the scarlet and gray Goliath, and should they lose, I'll take no solace in how great it supposedly is for the conference that OSU remains undefeated. Come bowl season, I shall not take up the banner for B1G teams solely because their victory supposedly enriches the beloved Orange and Blue. I refuse to adopt the ESS EEE SEE mentality and root vicariously through my rivals when my team is out of it. Join the revolution.
Go Illini, overthrow the ruling class (not your intended receivers), liberate Illibuck, and fight the machine!