Steve Spurrier's View Of The Big Ten: Truth Or Fiction
Steve Spurrier had some choice words for the Big Ten during the SEC Media Days. He pontificated that “playing East Carolina is probably tougher than playing one of those bottom-tier Big Ten teams.”
Was he right?
Yes, but that's because East Carolina is a solid football team. That was not the point Spurrier was making, and we all know that. He was taking a jab at the Big Ten and its perceived weakness — a perception that has caught on over the past decade or more.
The top tier of the SEC has dominated college football over the last decade. It has given us seven of the last eight national champions. However, the bottom tier of the SEC has been as weak as most other conferences around the landscape of college football.
Just last season, Arkansas went winless in the SEC, and one of its out-of-conference defeats was a 28-24 loss to Rutgers, which enters the Big Ten as one of its bottom-tier teams.
Beginning in 2014, the Big Ten will begin to change the perception of the conference. The Big Ten East is the second-toughest division in college football behind the SEC West, and several of the teams in the West are also trying to making national waves.
Traditionally, bottom-of-the-barrel teams, like Indiana, are making improvements. The Hoosiers bring in one of the most fun offenses in the country, Minnesota is beginning to regain some of its luster under Jerry Kill, and Illinois is rebuilding its program almost entirely from the ground up.
Big Ten Football may see some of the nation's best play at quarterback in 2014.
Ohio State's Braxton Miller will be a Heisman front-runner early on, Connor Cook will attempt to lead Michigan State to a repeat of the Big Ten title, Jake Rudock will attempt to put Iowa back in the national spotlight, and Christian Hackenberg is coming off a very successful freshman campaign for Penn State.
The SEC is replacing Georgia's Aaron Murray, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Alabama's A.J. McCarron and Spurrier's own Connor Shaw at South Carolina. From top to bottom, the Big Ten is closing the gap on the SEC. It's QB play this upcoming season will highlight just how close the two conferences are to one another.
Spurrier took the easy punchline. He went after the low-hanging fruit. However, should South Carolina have to battle another Big Ten team this bowl season, he will know he has a battle on his hands. He knows how much the conference has improved.
Soon, the rest of the nation will as well. This will be a big year for the Big Ten.