Since it’s the off season, I decided to rank all the of football programs in the Big Ten. This has been a subject that has piqued my curiosity since I started watching football back in the 80s. It’s amazing to me how much some things have changed, and how much some things have remained the same. What makes this particular endeavor a little different is that I have never really dug much deeper than the top 4 or 5 teams in the Big Ten, as I was always more interested in how they stacked up with the rest of the country.
Right off the bat, let me say that even though these types of lists are a mini-obsession with me, I fully understand there is a certain amount of ridiculousness with them. There are so many ways to quantify how “good” a program is, and what an individual fan focuses on tends to be the strengths of the teams they root for. The same goes for how far back they go, and what weight is placed on history.
I’ll admit I am not above that. As my Buckeyes tend to be highly ranked in winning percentage over the years, that’s a stat I weigh heavily. They started to really come on the national scene shortly before the AP started polling college football, so that’s where I tend to start the journey. The Buckeyes hit stride in the 50s, shortly after the UPI started polling coaches, and I call that the “modern era”. The BCS and now playoff era have been kind to the Bucks, so of course this is “current” football to me. I fully understand how convenient that is, so I take those time tables with a grain of salt.
I would like to say I am 100% objective, but I know that’s a lie. At least I admit it.
The first thing I look at is winning percentage. All time, and then I go back 10 years, 20, 40, and 80. Then I look the following, in no particular order,
- Bowl Record
- Big Bowl Wins (Rose, Orange, Fiesta, Sugar, Cotton, playoff or championship game)
- Draft Picks
- NFL Hall of Famers
- Conference Titles
- National Titles
- How the AP ranked the teams over the years both during the season and their final rankings
Then I will throw some random stuff in there, like awards and historical markers if I need a tie-breaker. I also count what happens on the field way more than anything else. Draft picks and that sort of thing are more of a tie-breaker.
After looking over all of that, I ranked all 14 teams in the Big Ten. When it’s each team’s week, I will reveal their spot.
It’s Rutgers week, and it isn’t a surprise, at least to me, that they are 14th. I will say it was closer than I expected. One thing that shocked me was that they have been on a bit of a bowl rampage lately, and are 6-4 overall. That’s as many wins as Northwestern and Indiana combined.
The glaring stat that I could not get over was how many times Rutgers finished the season ranked. 4 times. To put that in perspective, the real Miami has done it 5 times. From a history standpoint, the Big Ten added the RedHawks, minus all the coaching legends. At least no one pretended it was about anything other than the East Coast market.