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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 05 2013

Kolpack: Big Ten's arrogance is laughable

Fargo - The mailing address for the Big Ten Conference office is 1500 West Higgins Road, Park Ridge, Ill., 60068. Lately, it’s also central headquarters for AAA – Arrogance in American Athletics.

The following quote from the commissioner on his philosophy of playing FCS teams is almost comical in its immaturity:

“They’re from another division,” Jim Delany told the Associated Press. “They have 20 less scholarships. It’s like a junior college team playing against a high school team or a high school team playing against a JV team.”

Good one, Jim. Are you here all week?

To try and refute those claims on behalf of the little guy is almost useless. It’s sort of like expecting a bully to suddenly be nice. But the two principal reasons for the Big Ten’s stance are increasing the league’s strength of schedule and getting better TV ratings.

Delany has a point in both of those – to a point. And here’s where the struggle with my inner George Will comes in when it comes to these better TV matchups: It’s logically confusing.

Every FBS vs. FCS game, Jim, is not Wisconsin vs. Tennessee Tech.

Viewers of the Northern Iowa at Wisconsin game last year, which went to the final minute, perhaps remained tuned until the final minute. Illinois had to hold on for dear life to defeat Southern Illinois last weekend. Fox Sports 1 thought enough of the North Dakota State at Kansas State game to put it on nationwide prime time.

So it’s all about FBS vs. FBS? Yes, I’m sure Michigan’s 58-9 win over Central Michigan a week ago was a ratings hit. And you know everybody will be making their macho nachos before the kickoff of the Minnesota at New Mexico State game on Saturday.

The Big Ten is creating these poor matchups themselves. Minnesota is hosting Western Illinois next week, not Northern Iowa, South Dakota State or NDSU.

The FCS is made up of the haves and have-nots, just like the FBS. The Big Ten vs. anybody from the Sun Belt, Mid-American Conference or half of Conference USA is no more appealing than the Big Ten vs. the top 25 to 30 teams in the FCS.

This is America, Jim. We like the underdog story. (See NCAA men’s basketball tournament).

The positive in this Big Ten mandate is there will be no penalties if a league school schedules an FCS team. Moreover, this hubbub will simply go away because 60 percent of the Big Ten has no chance of winning a national title in the next 50 years and only Ohio State has a legitimate chance of making the four-team College Football Playoff that starts in 2014 in the next five years.

Enough said about the strength of schedule argument. Try to get your six bowl-eligible wins and don’t worry about reaching the Final Four, it’s not going to happen. Most of the Big Ten will continue to schedule what they consider winnable FCS games because, well, they are winnable.

And if that means scheduling some JV team from the FCS, so be it.


Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia