Are you better off now than where you were a decade ago?

It’s a difficult question to answer for some. That’s usually a sign that not a whole lot has changed.

For a team like Ohio State, the 2010s began with such promise. Fresh off the heels of a top-5 season, Ohio State was set to begin the 2010 season with Terrelle Pryor back to lead the No. 2 Buckeyes. Surely we didn’t know what was ahead with TattooGate a year later, but OSU started the decade in extremely favorable position. Many would say that’s still the case.

For others in the B1G, though, there was uncertainty when the calendar flipped to Jan. 1, 2010. Maybe it was an ugly season in 2009 without much prospects for improvement, or maybe the head coaching situation was a major question mark.

Today, we’ll focus on the teams who overcame that uncertainty and put themselves in much better position to succeed today.

5. Purdue

Most would think Purdue should be higher on this list because of how much the program struggled during the early half of the 2010s. But actually that first year under Danny Hope in 2009 had its moments. Stop me if you’ve heard this before but a mediocre Purdue team welcomed top-10 Ohio State and pulled off a mammoth upset at Ross-Ade Stadium.

That game was part of a 4-2 finish to the season that included wins at Michigan and against Indiana for the Old Oaken Bucket. Even though Hope missed out on a bowl, there was reason for optimism in West Lafayette.

But compared to the confidence many have in Jeff Brohm, that’s not the same conversation. That’s why Brohm got a massive new deal after Year 2. The combination of him calling plays with 2 more years of Rondale Moore is why some believe the Boilermakers could have B1G West sleeper potential.

4. Indiana

Go back to 2009 and half-empty Memorial Stadium was a depressing place on a given fall Saturday. Two years removed from the magical post-Terry Hoeppner season, there was a growing sentiment that Bill Lynch might not be the one who was going to lead the program to new heights.

Lynch entered the fourth year of what felt and turned out to be a bowl-or-bust year. The program lacked any reason to think it could be any better defensively, which wasn’t exactly a reason for optimism for a team that went 1-7 in conference play in 2009.

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Compare that to now with Tom Allen. While Allen hasn’t been to a bowl game yet, you could certainly make the case that his teams have been more competitive and they’ve recruited better than those Indiana teams of old. There’s at least a belief that Allen has the right mindset to change the culture, which looked like it turned a corner under Kevin Wilson until his bizarre departure.

But don’t worry, Purdue fans. This isn’t my way of saying Indiana is in better shape than Purdue in 2019. Indiana was just at much worse place when 2010 started.

3. Minnesota

Like with Indiana and Purdue, some of this is just about believing that the right coach for the job is on board compared to who ran the program in 2009. Who was that for Minnesota? Tim Brewster. Need I say more?

OK, I will.

Sure, the Gophers made it to a bowl game in 2009. But that team finished the season 2-5 with one of those wins being a 3-point victory against South Dakota State. Adam Weber regressed in 2009 and with Eric Decker off to the NFL, the 2010 outlook wasn’t promising.

I’d say now with P.J. Fleck as opposed to then with a soon-to-be-fired Brewster is a much better place to be. And to be honest, yeah, a lot of that is because of what we saw from the Gophers down the stretch. Ending the streak against Wisconsin was a major hurdle, but it wasn’t just that. Including Purdue and Georgia Tech, Minnesota blew out 3 bowl-eligible teams after the first week in November.

With the way Fleck recruited, Minnesota now has the makings of a program on the rise with a young offense that seemed to figure it out late in 2018. For all the talk about Nebraska making a major push forward in the West, some would argue it’s Minnesota who stands to take the biggest leap forward.

2. Michigan State

Entering the 2010 season, here were Mark Dantonio’s numbers at MSU:

  • 3 seasons
  • 22-17 overall
  • 13-11 vs. B1G
  • 0 bowl victories
  • 1 top-25 finish (No. 24 in 2008)

At the time, there wasn’t really anything to suggest that MSU was going to be anything but mediocre with the occasional nice season. This was a program that to that point had just 2 top-25 finishes dating back to 1991. Even with Kirk Cousins back — some freshman named “Le’Veon Bell” had just arrived on campus — the Spartans were unranked to start 2010.

Compare that to now where MSU has one of the most respected, proven coaches in the country coming off a decade in which he racked up 6 seasons of double-digit wins with 3 B1G titles, a Rose Bowl victory and a Playoff berth.

Even if MSU isn’t necessarily a top-10 team to start 2019 — the Spartans could start unranked — that shows you how much Dantonio elevated the program since the start of 2010. The only reason they aren’t at No. 1 is because they’ve gone 3 seasons without a New Year’s 6 Bowl, which means the gap entering 2019 compared to where they were entering 2010 isn’t quite as significant as the top team on this list.

1. Michigan

Don’t give me this “oh, Michigan is exactly where it was 10 years ago because it still hasn’t won a B1G Championship.” Get outta here with that nonsense.

Do you remember where Michigan was when the 2009 season ended? Rich Rodriguez was fresh off a 1-7 season in the B1G that started with such promise. Tate Forcier stunned Notre Dame and the Michigan hype train was off and running.

Who could ever forget this?

The only problem was that was the peak of Forcier’s career.

That disastrous 2009 season marked the first time Michigan had losing records in consecutive years since 1963. And while Denard Robinson offered some hope that the offense might not be a total disaster in 2010, the RichRod era was crumbling in a hurry.

So yeah, that’s why I’d say life is a bit different now. Say what you want about the lack of victories against Ohio State, but Michigan just had its third season of double-digit wins in 4 years, and many will be picking the Wolverines to finally get over the hump and win the B1G in a post-Urban Meyer world.

And just in case that didn’t drive it home, consider this. RichRod won 6 B1G teams in his 3 years in Ann Arbor. In 2018 alone, Harbaugh won 8 B1G games.

Michigan is a clear No. 1 on this list.

And here’s why I didn’t include Maryland, Nebraska and Rutgers …

Because they’re all way better off just by joining the B1G and getting tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue checks from the conference.