The Big Ten is a part of the “Power Five” conferences, which include the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big 12 Conference, the Pac-12 Conference and the Southeastern Conference.
These conferences dominate college football rankings due to their notoriety and schedules. University of Alabama, from the SEC, has been a top contender for the National Championship for the last decade. It has trampled opponents and consistently found itself atop the rankings.
The SEC has been seen as the best football conference for awhile now, with schools like Alabama, Louisiana State University, Auburn University, University of Georgia and University of Florida.
They have built a reputation for themselves within the conference, and are rewarded with rankings, national attention and more.
The Big Ten used to be seen as a powerhouse, but has been disappointing the last few years. Last week, University of Wisconsin was ranked No. 6 before being upset late by a field goal to unranked University of Illinois. Following the loss, the Badgers fell out of the top 10, leaving Pennsylvania State University and Ohio State University as the only teams from the conference in the top 10.
It may sound weird, but if one’s school is in the Big Ten, they should root for the conference to do well. The better the conference does, the more benefits are available to conference members.
For example, Purdue fans should root for Penn State to win out this season and make the playoff. If the Nittany Lions did, the Big Ten suddenly looks stronger to recruits, sponsors and even perspective students.
However, the Big Ten is no SEC right now, and needs some changes.
Rutgers University, a Big Ten school, plays Liberty University on Saturday. Liberty is not a part of a Power Five conference, and its schedule is nowhere near that of one. Its strength of schedule is 125th in Division I-A football. Two of Liberty’s losses come from St. Francis University and Kennesaw State University. Rutgers is also paying close to a million dollars to Liberty in order to play the game.
Paying another school to play is common when one school is much smaller or would be a underdog in the game.
Rutgers is paying Liberty, yet oddsmakers in Vegas have Liberty favored by -7.5, meaning Liberty is likely to win by more than a touchdown.
That is an embarrassment for the Big Ten and devalues the conference as a whole. The saying goes that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and Rutgers has proven year in and year out that it is the weakest link.
It isn’t alone, though.
The University of Maryland and Illinois have seemed to consistently sit at the bottom of the standings year after year in the Big Ten. They do not provide much of a threat toward the conference and almost seem to offer free wins to whatever team plays them.
Illinois recently beat Wisconsin, but it was a fluke. Illinois had previously been winless in the conference, and the last season wasn’t much better.
The Big Ten needs to drop the schools that cannot increase the value of the conference. Iron sharpens iron, and playing Rutgers, Maryland and Illinois is not making the other teams better.
Although every conference has weaker teams, the Big Ten’s just seem worse. When the SEC is talked about, Alabama, LSU and Auburn get brought up, never Arkansas or other weak SEC teams.
The Big Ten seems to be associated with cake teams, which hurts the conference’s image — a frustration to the rest of the Big Ten.