Admittedly, the 2010-2011 bowl season wasn't kind to the Big Ten, whose teams finished with a mediocre 3-5 record. The fact that Big Ten teams were underdogs in six of the eight games in which they participated hasn't been mentioned much in the national media, which as usual have pounded on the venerable conference, calling it overrated, if not second-rate.
The Big Ten hasn't helped itself much in this regard either: The proposed names for the league's new divisions -- Legends and Leaders -- were tailor-made for parody, and readily morphed on the internet into Losers and Laggards, to the amusement of the league's many detractors.
But hold on a minute, SEC fans. Breathe deeply, Big 12 partisans. Chant a mantra, acolytes of the ACC. By one important standard -- sustained excellence -- one Big Ten football program, that of Ohio State, stands at or near the top. The fact that Ohio State's winning percentage since Jim Tressel took over the program in 2001 is 82.8 (106-22) is just the beginning. Only by comparing Ohio State's gridiron accomplishments over the last ten years to those of the other five programs with legitimate claims for alpha -dog status in the Football Bowl Subdivision -- USC, LSU, Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas -- can one really appreciate just what Tressel and Ohio State have done. Below are some telling comparative statistics for the 10 years from 2001-2010:
And the winning percentages? Ohio State: 82.8, USC: 81.4, LSU: 77.9, Oklahoma: 80.7, Florida: 75.4, Texas: 82.2