Who Can Fill the Big 10 Void the NCAA is About To Create?

The bombshell that dropped on Memorial Day will forever resonate with Ohio State fans. The news that Jim Tressel, a coach with an 82% winning percentage and a coach who won or shared the Big 10 title for 7 consecutive years, has resigned amid allegations of rampant player misconduct. The Assistant Dean in the Big 10 is now gone, and the destruction that will be left behind is something only the future can know. Will the NCAA crack down? Will Ohio State get USC’d, so to speak? The Buckeye Nation will be on pins and needles until judgement has been rendered.

It has become clear the Ohio State leaders were ignorant (at best) to the goings on in Columbus, and the NCAA generally doesn’t take too kindly to such things. There are too many unknowns for me to essentially guess at what will happen to Ohio State, though I think we can all agree that the Buckeyes will feel the wrath of the NCAA at some point, it’s just a matter of how severe the wrath will be.

One thing that is for certain is there will be a massive void left when Ohio State takes their inevitable decline (spare me your crap, Buckeyes; you don’t go through what Ohio State is about to go through and not step back). This decline might not necessarily happen this year, though, as Ohio State is still the most talented team in the conference. The news of an independent investigation into star quarterback Terrelle Pryor could change that, however. Should Pryor be suspended for the season, or miss more than the 5 games he was previously suspended for, Ohio State could be in deep trouble, with options being a Joe Bauserman, a 6-foot-1, 233 pound (seriously?) senior with little experience, or the hot shot true freshmen Braxton Miller, a duel-threat quarterback with no experience and only 185 pounds on him. No matter how good Miller may be, starting a true freshmen at quarterback is never a good thing.

So not only will Ohio State be without one of the best coaches in Big 10 history, but they may (and right now it’s just that) be dealt with having a first-year head coach (Luke Fickell) AND a new starting quarterback. Yikes. With a schedule that includes Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan State, Penn State, Michigan and Miami, that’s a lot to ask.

With that said, who can step into the void and fill the mighty shoes of Ohio State while they giants are on their knees? The good news for the Buckeyes is that, frankly, the Big 10 is lacking in talent right now. This isn’t the SEC where an Alabama can get knocked down and Florida or LSU will simply fill the gap. Every team in the conference has major questions, some of which are too great to think that the programs can capitalize at all. You can rule out Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota. No offense to those fan bases, but Ohio State avoiding NCAA trouble was never what was stopping them from Big 10 greatness.

That leaves us with 6 teams that can capitalize on Ohio State’s predicament: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin. Each team on this list has less talent than Ohio State, but the gap is different for each one, and that will play into why certain teams are higher than others. What will also be a key factor is what divisions the teams are in. Teams in Ohio State’s Leaders Division will be much happier than those that aren’t. Which teams have the most to gain? Let’s take a look.

1- Wisconsin: The Badgers are at No. 1 because they are the second best team in the conference in my opinion and they live in the same division as Ohio State. With the conference going to a divisional format, getting the Big 10 title game is paramount, and if your chief divisional rival is in hot water with the NCAA, life is good. The Badgers also have a style that is conducive to consistency. Recruit big lineman and pound the rock. They do have a big question mark at QB as well as OL for this year, though I doubt the latter will be an issue going forward.

2- Penn State: While Penn State doesn’t have the talent of Wisconsin, they do have a solid program that won’t be rebuilding forever. They, like Wisconsin, live in the Leaders division alongside Ohio State. If Penn State was ever going to challenge the top dog, it would be when the top dog was hobbled. Penn State could also benefit from Ohio State feeling vulnerable, and losing their sense of conference invincibility. Like it or not, Buckeyes, but that feeling will fade throughout this process.

3- Nebraska: The first team outside of the Leaders division is the Cornhuskers. Perhaps more talented at Wisconsin, Nebraska was given a tough road to hoe in it’s first two seasons in the Big 10, drawing both Ohio State and the Badgers. However, without Jim Tressel and perhaps Terrelle Pryor, things are looking up for Bo Pelini and Co. The thought of a true freshman or untested senior quarterback coming into Lincoln must make Pelini a happy man.

4- Michigan: The talent gap between the two teams is comical, but when your No. 1 rival is in the position that Michigan’s finds itself, things are looking good. With a new coach and a new sense of excitement around the program, Ohio State coming back to the field is the best thing that could happen to the Wolverines.

5- Michigan State: The Spartans, to me, always seem like they aren’t as good as they think they are. Last season was a perfect example of that. Yes, they went 11-2, but outside of a win against Wisconsin, their season was lacking in quality wins, but it did have two terrible losses (a combined score of 86-13). The Spartans get Ohio State first in in 2011 as far as Big 10 teams are concerned, and I have to think that’s a good thing for Michigan State, even though the Buckeyes own Sparty. Long term I’m not sure Michigan State can be the team that competes for the Big 10 title consistently, but they have a good shot at doing so in 2011 with what they bring back.

6- Iowa: Iowa won’t be affected by Ohio State’s troubles directly in 2011 as they avoid them on the schedule, but teams they play will get a weakened Buckeye opponent, so that will be tough. Iowa will never be a consistent league winner, but they will always be a solid team. They are the least affected by the Ohio State mess as they won’t play the Buckeyes until 2013 unless the two meet in the Big 10 final, so they won’t be as thrilled as the rest of the league with this news.

It’s not a given that any of the above teams will capitalize on Ohio State’s misfortunes, but  I wouldn’t bet on the Buckeyes running through the league like they usually do. Losing a coach the caliber of Tressel is a tough blow, and if they do in fact lose Pryor that will make 2011 doubly difficult. The schedule gets that much harder for Big 10 teams with the new divisional format, and the odds of Ohio State absorbing the coming storm without a step (or two) backwards is unrealistic. The Big 10 teams will all say they feel for Ohio State, but behind closed doors there are fist pumps galore and the booze is free flowing. Goliath is weakened, and his cries of pain can be heard from State College, Pa., to Lincoln, Neb.

 

29 thoughts on “Who Can Fill the Big 10 Void the NCAA is About To Create?

  1. It has become clear the Ohio State leaders were ignorant (at best) to the goings on in Columbus, and the NCAA generally doesn’t take too kindly to such things.

    unless your jim calhoun and can just blame it on your assistants, right?

    One thing that is for certain is there will be a massive void left when Ohio State takes their inevitable decline (spare me your crap, Buckeyes; you don’t go through what Ohio State is about to go through and not step back).

    spare me the crap that you know what the punishment is going to be.

    The Badgers also have a style that is conducive to consistency.

    then why aren’t they more consistent?

    While Penn State doesn’t have the talent of Wisconsin, they do have a solid program that won’t be rebuilding forever.

    /looks at PSU recruiting

    that’s rebuilding?

    However, without Jim Tressel and perhaps Terrelle Pryor, things are looking up for Bo Pelini and Co.

    sure are…there’s a better job right there in the home state! then again, considering how stagnant brasky was against hideous big XII defenses, im not especially worried.

  2. the funny thing to me is that even though all this shit is going down, I still think OSU is going to be competitive or even able to win the conference next year.

  3. keep in mind this is talk radio i’m sucking on, but i just heard someone casully throw out ‘drugs being given away’ to recruits as part of the developing story.

    you heard too?

    /don;t tell me to read up

  4. I’m looking forward to spencer’s article on this business… later today!

  5. Spencer, they’re going to get hit hard with lost schollies. You need to accept this.

  6. ive accepted this and it’s not going to matter…why? because, since 2006, osu has only gone over 20 players in a recruiting class twice.

    no matter how apocalyptic you try and make this sound, OSU football will continue to exist next year and exist well. and im not taking offense to that as much as im taking offense to your reasons that other teams that aren’t very good are going to suddenly rise up and beat the team that’s won or shared the past six conf titles.

    considering they’re losing two people you yourself said were holding the team back, you of all people should see the bright side in this.

  7. I think a loss of schollies hurts them a few years down the road, but no one knows what’s actually going to happen.

    If they make the right hire for the head coach, they’ll be fine.

  8. Also, Wisconsin has won 9, 7, 10 and 11 in the last 4 years. That’s pretty good.

  9. /looks at PSU recruiting

    that’s rebuilding?

    two years ago they had the conference’s best class and last year’s was rather small…

  10. considering they’re losing two people you yourself said were holding the team back, you of all people should see the bright side in this.

    Holding them back from winning a Natty, not the B10. Hrs clearly the best option at QB for OSU. That’s not in question.

  11. Also, Wisconsin has won 9, 7, 10 and 11 in the last 4 years. That’s pretty good.

    SSS.

  12. USC will be the basis of how harsh the punishment on Buckeyes.

    Can’t imagine death penalty being the sentence to be used in Columbus.

  13. Your face is a SSS

    all im saying is if you want to prove that wisky is consistently good and will be good despite replacing most of their OL and their QB, then pointing at a 7 win season is not the best way to prove that.

  14. all im saying is if you want to prove that wisky is consistently good and will be good despite replacing most of their OL and their QB, then pointing at a 7 win season is not the best way to prove that.

    I’ve never thought they had staying power as a top team, fully expecting a 9-3 season here, possibly 8-4…Chris Borland will have to return to glory in order to help make up for the loss of Watt and someone’s got to play quarterback

  15. Good god, Spencer. Quit acting so god damn butthurt. 3/4 years they were 9 wins or better, yet you single out the one bad year.

  16. first off…i think i have a right to act butthurt, all things considered. and i don’t think any terms of enrampagement have been accorded yet…im actually rather calm.

    second…it’s not singling out anything. say no tressel and pryor costs the bucks two games they’d normally win, they still average the same amt of wins as the top contender. you hedged your bet nicely at the end, but the fact remains that OSU still has a stable of four extremely highly recruited RB’s who all have playing experience behind a pretty damn good OL and a defense that’s still the best in the conference by a large margin.

    pardon me if im not buying into the scare.

    third…3/4 years they were 9 years or better, sure, but i single out the 7-win year they didn’t have a seasoned QB or OL continuity for a reason…and that’s not even mentioning JJ watt leaving.

  17. Wisky has ?? no doubt, but you’re trying to minimize them. Also, a coach like Tressel is worth more than 2 wins, no?

  18. but the fact remains that OSU still has a stable of four extremely highly recruited RB’s who all have playing experience behind a pretty damn good OL and a defense that’s still the best in the conference by a large margin.

    this is the reason for comment #2.

  19. OSUs defense may be better than NEB’s, but it’s not by a “wide margin.”

  20. Wisky has ?? no doubt, but you’re trying to minimize them. Also, a coach like Tressel is worth more than 2 wins, no?

    a coach like tressel might be worth more than 2 wins, but a more aggressive coach who’s better at x’s and o’s would probably win that one game tressel lost every year because of a limpdick gameplan.

    OSUs defense may be better than NEB’s, but it’s not by a “wide margin.”

    sorry, im not used to nebraska being in the b10.

  21. I’d argue that Penn State should have a good defense this year too. The secondary should be better than it’s been in years, the linebackers will be excellent, the ends are question marks and the tackles should be okay though they’re thin on the line

  22. sorry, im not used to nebraska being in the b10.

    You and me both. I think NEB is in for a rough year, though. I can’t see a team walking into a league that actually plays defense and winning it, or even contending for a title, in year-one. I see a 9-3/8-4 year for them.

  23. sorry, im not used to nebraska being in the b10.

    Their inept offense will allow them to fit right in.

  24. Their inept offense will allow them to fit right in.

    Touche. Much better than shitty ass Kansas though.

    /all I’ve got
    //the offense is an abortion

  25. Touche. Much better than shitty ass Kansas though.

    /all I’ve got

    //all you need

  26. Terrell Pryor could win games for us, but there were a ton of games the dude cost/nearly cost because he was unable to throw a pass under 15 yards to save his life

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