B1G has prime chance to overtake SEC as nation's premier conference
Ten bowl games, two potential College Football Playoff games and dozens of potential recruits stand in the way.
In the way of what, you ask? Those are the factors that can prevent the B1G overtaking the SEC as the nation’s premier conference.
I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t five teams in the top 14 — compared two for the SEC — prove the fact that the B1G is the better conference?
Well, it proves that the B1G’s elite teams had a better regular season than the SEC’s elite teams, but that’s about it. None of that will mean anything unless the B1G asserts its dominance this postseason.
But for once, the opportunity is there for the taking.
Four matchups will pit the two conferences against one another. Those will obviously have a major say in whether or not the B1G is considered the new premier conference at season’s end. But this goes beyond winning one individual bowl series.
This is about a changing of the guard. It’s about the B1G being so loaded that it boasts three teams worthy of the Rose Bowl instead of one. It’s about the B1G holding the top two spots in the 2016 recruiting class rankings. It’s about teams outside of Michigan and Ohio State being the bullies.
Michigan State obviously has the most prime opportunity to vault the B1G into the top spot. Nothing solidifies a team or its conference quite like beating almighty Alabama. Just ask Ohio State about that.
The last thing the Spartans are worried about is having the pressure of making the B1G look good. But the truth is, if they get trucked by Alabama, it’ll be hard for those engrained opinions to change. As long as the SEC’s best is better than the B1G’s best, college football pundits won’t feel the need to change the narrative.
SEC-bias or not, nobody can deny the fact that the SEC has seven of the last nine national titles. Nobody can deny the fact that the SEC lands more four- and five-star recruits than the B1G. Those two metrics are more important than any in terms of conference perspective.
Well, that tide is already changing.
Michigan and Ohio State currently boast the top two 2016 classes in the country. The B1G hasn’t had the top two classes since recruiting rankings became a thing at the turn of the century. Already, the conference already has 14 more four- and five-star recruits than last year.
Recruiting rankings obviously don’t guarantee wins on the field, but they do guarantee talent on the field. Talent level is why an SEC team can lose five games and still be in the top 25 at season’s end. The B1G has to establish a recruiting culture before it’ll be viewed as the nation’s top conference. If five-star recruits like Rashan Gary and Isaac Nauta commit to B1G schools, that will only help.
But conference staying power is about more than locking down some key recruits before National Signing Day. Reputations are built on the complete package.
It’s winning bowl season, it’s winning recruits and it’s winning 11-plus games year-in, year-out. It’s boasting the top coaches in the country and having them become household names. It isn’t necessarily because they need to say or do anything outside of their personality, but they need to win primetime games that bring national fans in.
With the year the SEC had, now is the time for the B1G to change the power structure in college football. No longer do we need to hear bellows of S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C! dominate bowl season. It’s up to the B1G to capitalize on the first potential conference power shift in the last 10 years.
Six weeks will determine if the B1G is the premier conference of the present and — most importantly — the conference of the future.