Big Ten: Land Grant Trophy
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Can you feel the Big Ten love? But things aren't always rosy in this conference, especially on Jan. 1 in Pasadena (OK, bad joke).
Here are five things I don't like about the league.
Unbalanced schedule: I doubt I'll get much opposition on this one. It's hard to get a true gauge of a league when teams have two conference byes every season. With 11 teams and only one division, the Big Ten has the screwiest schedule in all of college football. There's really no way around it without adding a 12th team and splitting into two divisions. The latest genius proposal calls for 10 teams to play nine conference games and one team only eight. Huh?
The bowl-weather argument: I get that cold-weather football provides unique challenges in terms of scheme, strategy and even recruiting. But they're not going to move a BCS bowl game to Chicago, Detroit or Milwaukee. No one wants to visit those places in January. So when Big Ten teams don't perform in major bowl games, please stop whining about the weather. It's a futile argument used by those who struggle to accept reality. The Big Ten signed on to play in big-boy bowls and has done so more than any other conference. The players and coaches need to step up. End of story.
Playoff opposition: It's foolish to believe the Big Ten represents the sole resistance to a playoff system, but the league certainly plays a significant role. And the reality is the Big Ten doesn't need to budge on this. Despite increasing fan demand for a playoff and its own struggles on the national stage in recent years, the Big Ten remains an extremely powerful brand with an extremely powerful commissioner and an extremely loyal fan base that fills up extremely large stadiums. But sometimes it's important to look past the dollars and recognize what make sense for the good of the game.
Sissy scheduling: This doesn't apply to every Big Ten team, and it's certainly a problem in other BCS leagues (Big 12, SEC). And yes, I get the whole thing about the economy and the reluctance to give up revenue-generating home games, especially those played in mega stadiums. But it wouldn't take much to improve the league's nonconference scheduling. Why not play more teams from the Big East or ACC? Would it kill a Big Ten team to schedule a home-and-home against the SEC? Penn State steps up with Alabama in 2010-11, but don't get me started on the Lions' non-league slate for 2009.
The Land Grant Trophy: The funny thing is Penn State-Michigan State might soon replace Ohio State-Michigan as the premier game on the final Big Ten weekend. But the trophy the teams play for is downright lame. With all due respect to George Perles, I think some bowling league wants their trophy back. You could probably get something similar at a yard sale.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's rivalry week around most of the country, never more so than in the Big Ten. We kicked off our rivalry series today with a look at the Big Ten's four trophy games this weekend. Check back tomorrow for an item on The Game between Michigan and Ohio State.
In case you need a refresher on the Big Ten trophies at stake Saturday, here goes:
- Indiana at Purdue: Old Oaken Bucket
- Illinois at Northwestern: Sweet Sioux Tomahawk
- Michigan State at Penn State: Land-Grant Trophy
- Iowa at Minnesota: Floyd of Rosedale
Media days start next week and preseason practices soon afterward. I'll be blogging from Big Ten media days Thursday and Friday in Chicago. Should be interesting. It's an exciting time to be a college football fan, so enjoy the weekend. Here are a few items I'll leave you with:
- Former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin thinks Florida's Tim Tebow has a chance to join him as the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, David Jones writes in Florida Today. "I wouldn't be surprised at all because he handles the ball so much," Griffin said. "So he'll have a lot to do with the outcome of the games. He runs the ball a lot. He'll pass it. But he'll run it. He's a huge, huge part of that offense at Florida." Griffin also discusses playing noon ball with Florida coach Urban Meyer and why no one else has won the Heisman twice. For the record, Griffin only gets one Heisman vote despite taking home two awards.
- Ron Zook's recruiting romp continued Thursday, as Illinois picked up a commitment from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.
- If you didn't take advantage of the sweet deal offered by Lawry's The Prime Rib for the Ohio State-USC game, you're too late, the Los Angeles Times' Adam Rose writes on his blog. The famous restaurant was offering $300 packages that included a game ticket and a tailgate with a full rib buffet, lounge seats and TVs. Now it's all sold out. But look on the bright side: for $65, you can still go to the tailgate.
- Bleacher Report has come out with 30 fearless predictions for the season. The Big Ten forecast looks good for the Scarlet and Gray. Ohio State will beat USC, get back to the national title game and knock off Missouri. Beanie Wells will win the Heisman Trophy. Michigan will overachieve and get to the Outback Bowl. Wisconsin will get back to the Rose Bowl and receive the Big Ten's annual beat-down from USC.
- Missed this one Thursday from AOL's FanHouse, which is counting down 10 weird moments in Big Ten football history. No. 8 lists "The Ugliest Trophies in All Sport," including the Heartland Trophy, given to the winner of the Iowa-Wisconsin game, and the Land Grant Trophy, which commerates the Morrill Land Grant Act and is awarded to the Penn State-Michigan State winner. I've got to agree, the Land Grant trophy is pretty brutal.