Big Ten vs SEC : The North - South divide
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Big Ten vs SEC : The North - South divide
BallHype: hype it up! Wednesday, December 5, 2007
"Big 10 football is having a very down year, and they're living in the past to gain respect today."
I've officially been accused of being a pompous Northerner despite growing up in the West. But that's for another day.

There has been numerous accusations about the Big Ten living in the past and not modernizing like the SEC is in terms of upgrading their middle to lower tier teams. Teams like Mississippi State and Kentucky, perennial punching bags early in the century have now risen to respectability in the SEC and because of the "you're as strong as you're weakest link" type of argument, the SEC must therefore be tough if their weakest teams are now mediocre.

But teams like Illinois and Indiana very much the equivalent of the Midwest version of Kentucky and Mississippi State for years have become bowl eligible for the first time in years with wins against ranked opponents. Illinois even came close to knocking off Missouri which was ranked number 1 entering the last weekend of the season. But you have to admit, Ohio State's drubbing by Florida last year definitely left a foul taste for the Big Ten in the rest of the country. With the Buckeyes almost running the table again this year, it only seemed to give critics more firepower because a team that was humiliated last year by Florida is once again dominating the conference up north.

That's understandable, but not ultimately not reasonable. Any of the Big Ten's strengths only appear to be weaknesses through those Southern beer goggle lenses. Buckeye fans can point to their top ranked defense, but will only be met with laughter from SEC fans who claim the Big East is slow and inept on offense leading to that inflated statistic. To claim that playing away at Washington, Spartan Stadium, Beaver Stadium under the lights and Michigan Stadium in a rivalry game and walking away with dominating victories is tough will lead to screams of blasphemy and how Death Valley, the Swamp, Neyland and Sanford stadium are so loud, they could blind deaf players. So honestly, who are we kidding here. You're better off convincing me to send my kids to Michael Jackson's summer camp than SEC superiority. Though, don't get me wrong, I have the most respect for the SEC other than the Big Ten. There is no conference outside this Northern-Southern bloc that even comes close, even during the years USC is paying the entire offensive line of the New England Patriots to play for them. How many fans are realistically excited about their bowl matchups against the Pac 10 or the Big 12. Yeah, wins against them would be great, but won't earn you as much pride and berate the other conference as much as the Big Ten - SEC matchups. Its just a shame these inter-conference matchups aren't scheduled more frequently during the regular season.

To claim the SEC is having a great year of parity is one thing, to berate the Big Ten and call them weak is another. They might not be as flashy on offense, or take Les Miles type risks on fourth down, but that is just a different brand of football, and not necessarily a worst one. The Big Ten and the SEC are not just two conferences, but two ways of life. The Northern conservatism and the Southern chest-thumping don't always see eye to eye. And that is what makes the intersectional bowl matchups so exhilarating. This is why the BCS works. Even if Michigan defeats Florida and Illinois gets pounded by USC, we shall never know who would win in a Florida - Illinois matchup. And what's more conducive in stirring far greater passion than uncertainty. And how is passion not great for college football?
posted by Nittany White Out @ 10:24 PM  
  • At December 6, 2007 at 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Am I to understand that Big Ten fans don't drink beer and hence do not have any beer goggles? ha!

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