Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Big Ten Loses Another Rose Bowl

I grew up in the Midwest and attended a Big Ten school (two of them actually) so take this for what it’s worth. But there’s a reason why I concluded decades ago that the Rose Bowl was the surest bet in sports—always take the Pac 10 team—and it wasn’t because I thought the Pac 10 was simply the better conference.

Put simply, the traditional Rose Bowl matchup pits a warm weather conference school against a cold weather conference in warm, ideal conditions. It’s also a home game for the Pac 10; literally for UCLA, more or less for the other schools. Arguably the likely worst weather locations in the Pac10 is better than the best weather locations in the Big Ten (leaving Maryland out of it). No surprise then that Big Ten teams tend to be of the run the ball variety while their counterparts out west are more balanced between run and pass.

And I would guess the differences are even more significant if we looked at high school football in the respective territories. Fall Friday nights in California, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington are a little more congenial than they are in say Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin. It would be astonishing if the pool of quarterbacks in the West wasn’t deeper than it is in the Midwest.

The point, if indeed I actually have one, is usually made on Sundays. After New Year’s Day the call goes out that Big Ten football isn’t very good. Then on Sunday, the Packers play and we are informed that no one wants to face them in the playoffs in Green Bay because January, Green Bay. If the Rose Bowl was played in say Soldier Field and The Polaris Bowl was played outdoors in Minneapolis on Jan. 1 we’d probably see the Big Ten winning more often.

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