By Shawn Muller–
In 2008, the Big Ten Conference launched a series of public service announcements with the theme of, “Big Life. Big Stage. Big Ten.”
One thing we know for sure. The PSA’s were not made to promote the current standing of Big Ten football on the national landscape come bowl season. Heading into the 2009 bowl season, the Big Ten Conference had not tallied a winning record since 2002. Between 2003-2008, the conference combined to go just 15-28. These horrendous post-season performances just don’t cut it for a conference as steeped in history and tradition as the Big Ten.
The 2009 bowl season, however, was a breath of fresh air for the Big Ten.
Last year, Wisconsin beat Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl, Penn State upended LSU in the Capital One, Iowa clobbered Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, and Ohio State took out Oregon in the Rose Bowl. The four wins over ranked teams (all in the top 15 in the BCS) was the most by any conference. In the three losses suffered by Northwestern, Minnesota, and Michigan State, the total combine deficit was just 14 points. It is no wonder folks around the country were impressed with the performance of the Big Ten…it was impressive.
But remember, this is the B1G Ten during bowl season that we are talking about, so it is no surprise that the luster of 2009 wouldn’t take long to wear off.
2010 has been a flat out embarrassment for the entire conference.
Heading in to the leagues’ final bowl game tonight, the Sugar Bowl between Ohio State and Arkansas, the B1G Ten Conference has managed to…once again…lay a complete egg on the big stage. The conference will finish the 2010 bowl season with another losing record, making that seven out of the last eight years in doing so.
Everything got off to a great start for the conference in the last week of the 2010 calendar year. On December 28th, the Iowa Hawkeyes surprised the 12th ranked Missouri Tigers 27-24 in the Insight Bowl down in Tempe, Arizona. The following day, the University of Illinois blasted the Baylor Bears 38-14 in their Texas Bowl meeting down in Houston, Texas. The B1G Ten found itself sitting at 2-0 to start the 2010 bowl season off with a bang.
When the calendar flipped to 01/01/11, however, the B1G Ten was served with a nice dose of reality.
The new year began with Northwestern falling just short of Texas Tech 45-38 in the TicketCity Bowl down in Dallas. B1G Ten co-champion Michigan State looked like they would have rather of been anywhere else than Orlando, Florida for the Capital One Bowl against 16th ranked Alabama. The Crimson Tide rolled the Spartans 49-7. The 42-point loss would be the largest margin of defeat for the B1G Ten this past Saturday, but it would be the only blowout. The other B1G Ten school from the state of Michigan wound up being taken to the woodshed in a similar fashion to the Spartans. The Michigan Wolverines, bowling again for the first time since 2007, fell to the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 52-14 in the Gator Bowl.
Are you seeing the trend here B1G Ten Fans? Good, because we aren’t done yet.
Joe Paterno and his Penn State Nittany Lions, out gained and out played the Florida Gators in the Outback Bowl, but Paterno’s boys still managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory, losing to the Gators 37-24. Penn State out gained Florida 350-279 in total yards, but quarterback Matt McGloin tossed 5 picks in the game, including an 80-yard return for a touchdown by Florida DB Ahmad Black with just under one minute to play, sealing the victory for Urban Meyer.
Perhaps the most anticipated bowl game outside of the national championship game, was the Rose Bowl between the Wisconsin Badgers and the TCU Horned Frogs. The Badgers also failed their test miserably. The Badgers missed a costly field goal in the closing seconds of the first half, and trailed TCU 14-10 heading in to the locker room. In the second half, TCU led 21-13 before Badger running back Montee Ball scored from four yards out, cutting the TCU lead to 21-19 with just over 2 minutes to play. But in true B1G Ten fashion, the Badgers would do their part to ensure the embarrassment was firmly set in stone. Wisconsin went on to fail the two-point conversion, and, you guessed it, the Horned Frogs would hold on to beat the Badgers 21-19.
I guess one could say that Ohio State has the chance to redeem the conference somewhat in the Sugar Bowl if they manage to beat the Arkansas Razorbacks (which would be their first ever win against an SEC school in a bowl game). But, in my eyes, the damage has already been done. Finishing up 2-6 or 3-5 won’t matter because the conference‘s image is already damaged again.
“Big Life. Big Stage. Big Ten.”
That little slogan is quickly becoming an oxymoron. B1G Ten and Big Stage said together couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in Chicago for 7 years. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and just recently received his certificate in radio broadcasting in October of 2010. Sports have always been a passion of Shawn’s. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, “Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24.