If we learned anything yesterday, it was that the B1G, despite its sense of self-worth, is still a step behind the rest of the Power 5. It wasn't just the fact that banner programs Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State got pasted. Although that definitely counts. Before primetime kickoff, Nebraska snuck by McNeese State on a last second dump pass. Iowa needed two 4th quarter scores to escape Ball State. Northwestern and Purdue were beaten by Northern Illinois and Central Michigan at home. Even the "good wins" (see Penn State 21 Akron 3) were unimpressive.
Aesthetically ugly is one thing, but being plain old bad at football is another. Purdue didn't have an off day. They were simply outclassed by a better Central Michigan team for 60 minutes. And the truth of it is, teams like N. Illinois and CMU have been better than Purdue for some time now.
Northern Illinois has gone 37-7 since the start of the 2011 season. After 11 wins in 2011, they strung together back to back 12 win seasons including a trip to the 2013 Orange Bowl. As a reward for their efforts, the Huskies will play their final four games this year on weeknights. And yes, I know #MACtion is fun. But so is playing Saturday night on ABC.
The Boilermakers went winless against FBS competition last year, and have won a total of 11 FBS games since 2011, a majority of these wins coming against the sludge of the B1G.
This isn't a hate Purdue movement in any way. The sludge I just mentioned spreads throughout the region. Indiana hasn't had a winning season since 2007. Illinois has 3 conference wins since 2011. These are the least competitive teams in the least competitive Power 5 conference.
Yet Purdue and their peers are reaping all the benefits of a B1G football school. Not on their own volition mind you, rather on the shoulders of the B1G banner teams like Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. What are they receiving? Aside from the lucrative B1G network and inclusive television agreements, bowl game tie-ins, and BCS shares, there is an unforeseen amount of money to be earned just by being a part of a Power 5 conference alliance moving forward.
And for what? Because once every 5 years, one team from the bottom of the B1G (NU 2012) will luck into a schedule that affords them 10 wins without playing a single top 25 team? That justifies B1G permanence? College Football is a business now. More so than it ever has been. The single justification for a team to play in a Power 5 conference, and reap the benefits, is that they belong on the field with the top 64 teams in the country. Any other reason is unacceptable.
The bad teams in the B1G are bad. The good teams in the MAC are good, and certainly continue to outplay the bottom quarter of the B1G. This seems unjust. Solution? Relegation.
The formula is rather simple. Finish last in your division in the B1G? Welcome to the MAC. Win your division in the MAC? Next year, you get to play in the B1G. Here's your sack of gold coins.
The justification for B1G/MAC relegation and promotion is twofold. The first is simple, it makes the B1G a better conference.
Given the field is already being diluted with the expansion to 14 teams, the existing marginal competition lessens the quality of play as well as the value of conference wins by the B1G elite. The addition of new, competitive programs playing in BCS quality bowl games and sending players to the NFL will help the league more than another 1-11 Purdue campaign.
The second obvious benefit falls to the current MAC schools. One year playing a B1G schedule, receiving a share of television and bowl money, and gaining the B1G program exposure would do wonders for any of the MAC programs. These are opportunities they will have earned, and perhaps privileges they will not squander like the bottom portion of the B1G continues to do.
By sustaining themselves in the B1G and avoiding relegation, MAC teams would be given the opportunity to excel at the Power 5 level, competing for B1G championships and playoff berths.
Now I'll open the floor up to questions and nay-sayers.
This is dumb. Northern Illinois couldn't win the B1G.
Fine. But that's not the point. Clearly, neither can Purdue or Illinois or Indiana. However, with the advantages that playing in the B1G provide, NIU may be able to raise their level of play to compete for a B1G title within several years.
Why are you punishing my team for one bad year?! We are only 14 years removed from a loss in the Rose Bowl!
Because your team is horrible. This is a sport and a competition. You have to earn the right to play in the B1G. By finishing last in a division with Wisconsin and [insert 5 below average teams] you have failed to retain that right. Try again next year.
Why are you doing this to the B1G? Why not the SEC?
Because top to bottom, the B1G is behind the curve. Competition in the SEC is the best in the nation. Aside from OSU, MSU, and Wisconsin, I'm not sure any other team in the conference would win the MAC.
Why does the MAC get into this little switch-a-roo?
Geographic convenience and its consistency in putting out a nationally competitive team as its champion.
MAC Stadiums are too small to host CRAZY Buckeye fans.
For now. Looking long term, the revenue from playing B1G games will allow for expansions and renovations across the entire program.
This sounds awfully European and that makes me uncomfortable.
Understandable. But believe it or not, even the Euros wouldn't reward a team the following year for finishing in last place without an FBS victory. Even the Euros.