Five for Friday: Long-Term B1G Predictions
By Tony Gerdeman
The world of college athletics is in a state of upheaval, and the Big Ten is no different. With the ever-growing influence of television, and the tectonic shifting of expansion and realignment, the future of the Big Ten is almost unknowable.
Fortunately for you, I am here to clear away some of the cloudiness of what is to come. I have seen the future, and now I am putting it to virtual pen and paper. And then I am typing it out for you to read.
What does the future of the Big Ten hold? Wonder no longer, as I give you a glimpse into what is to come.
1. Maryland will become a power, once they get the right coach.
I tell as many people as I can that the Maryland football program is a sleeping giant. Maybe not a national championship "giant", but certainly a giant who takes New Years Day bowls from the likes of Michigan State or Nebraska. They have their own Phil Knight in Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, a former Terrapins football captain. They have a recruiting base that helped build Penn State into a football power, and now they have the Big Ten to sell along with it. Head coach Randy Edsall probably still has a couple of years left in him, but once Maryland decides to go in a different direction, the Terrapins could take off. Imagine the energy that would be brought with a guy like Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman after two more years with the Buckeyes.
2. Rutgers will be the cousin that nobody likes to talk about.
Imagine if you had a burrito franchise that you wanted to continue to expand. You've put one on this part of town, and that part of town, and every store has been successful. So now you want to move to the very best location in the city, but Chipotle is already there and they dominate the market. In order to make the move profitable, you would somehow have to damage Chipotle. So what you would do is hire somebody to come in and discreetly spread some E. coli around, making people sick for a month or so. Then, when the scandal is at a fever pitch, lease a building close by and advertise, advertise, advertise. You would probably also make mention that "Our burritos won't kill you or render you biologically gender-neutral like some", and then you'd have an arrow pointed in the direction of Chipotle. Obviously, this is decidedly not how you wanted to enter this area, and you are absolutely ashamed of what you had to do to get there, but you "had to do what you had to do". Well, that's how the Big Ten feels about adding Rutgers in order to get the New York market.
3. Barry Alvarez will pre-package his College Football Program-Building System and sell it late at night on the Big Ten Network.
I've long believed that any Big Ten football program can have Wisconsin-like success. The Badgers don't do anything cute, they don't have a tremendous recruiting base, they are never the most talented team. All they do is line up and play. Basically, anybody can do what they do. However, a lot of unsuccessful football programs "line up and play", and they don't do it nearly as well as Wisconsin has for the last 20 years. In the near-future, however, those lesser programs will be able to do things "the Barry Alvarez way" when he takes to the infomercial circuit to sell his 25 DVD teaching tool, "The Alvarez System for Football Excellence and Condescension", of which Bret Bielema was his first master pupil, or "Sith apprentice". The best part about Alvarez's system? He will also release it on VHS for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
4. Northwestern will keep on keeping on.
Pat Fitzgerald has got the perfect system going for his football program. It's a blueprint that has been followed by others over the years as well. Basically, when you live life as an undermanned football program, you have to even the playing field by going with an up-tempo spread offense. Then, defensively, you just do whatever you can to keep your offense within a score at the end. In the Big Ten, that's a recipe for 8-10 wins just about every year. With Northwestern being in the Big Ten West moving forward, they will be a threat to play for the Big Ten Championship at least 4-6 years every decade. That's not bad for a "smart school", even in the Big Ten. And even if Northwestern loses Pat Fitzgerald, they should still be able to follow the path set forth by Randy Walker.
5. Kentucky will make a fine addition to the Big Ten.
Kentucky is going to learn over the next few years that recruiting Big Ten players will only bring you success in the Big Ten. It does no good in the SEC. It's like taking your Disney Dollars to the Waffle House and expecting your mousey currency to be honored. So, with that in mind, Kentucky will petition to the Big Ten to be invited into the fold. Wanting to keep from looking like the holler-hating elitists that Gordon Gee pegged the Big Ten as, Jim Delany and the conference presidents will overwhelmingly agree to invite the University of Kentucky into the conference. "They couldn't possibly be any worse than Rutgers," Delany will say.
Bonus: Ohio State and Michigan will cost each other at least four playoff appearances in the next decade.
Together, they will cost Rutgers 10 playoff appearances over the next decade.
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