Back in 2010, when the wheels of realignment began to slowly grind college football's conference structure into the made-for-TV, geography-agnostic menu of fabricated rivalries, rumors abounded that the University of Texas would get the ball rolling by joining forces with the Big Ten.
Largely a Midwest conference at that time (In 2010, Penn State was the only Big Ten school that a geography teacher would've said is not in the Midwest.), the Big Ten would have benefited from Texas' clout, its cachet, its pretty good football, a new gateway to the South, and most importantly, more money.
Lots and lots of money.
As we know now, Texas' move never happened. After flirting with the Big Ten and damn near having sex with the then-Pac-10 (now Pac-12), Texas decided to stay put after the powers that be in the Big 12 allowed the school to create the Longhorn Network and keep all 300 million of its dollars to themselves.
Good for them. Too bad they suck at football now.
On Saturday, after a 38-7 win over North Texas in Week 1 of the college football season, the University of Texas Longhorns hosted the BYU Cougars in Austin, trying to run their record to 2-0 and really start off the Charlie Strong Era with a strong statement. Well, they accomplished one of those two things.
They didn't go 2-0 (not even close, they lost 41-7), but they did make a statement about the start of the Charlie Strong Era, and the statement is this:
"It's going to be a while before we are relevant on the college football landscape. Like a really, really long while."
The BYU game was emblematic of everything Charlie Strong is trying to coach out of this team -- the Cougars challenged the Longhorns' collective manhood, running the ball 59 times and collecting 248 yards in total, and essentially stealing the Longhorns' lunch money all night long.
It was truly men against boys. (No really, I think the average age of the Longhorns was like 19, and BYU was like 27, for real.)
Of course, the Longhorns should feel fortunate that they were able to field a team since it feels like Strong has turned the Longhorns' roster into his own personal game of Survivor, continually voting one or more Longhorns off of the island seemingly every week. (Last week, it was offensive tackles Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle suspended.)
Honestly, I think we are one season away from the Longhorn Network being transitioned into a slew of 24 hour webcams in each of the sororities.
The good news is, if the Longhorns want to reignite its game of footsie with the Big Ten, now might be the ideal time.
Consider this past weekend, the following Big Ten "accomplishments":
* In 13 Week 2 games (all non-conference), the Big Ten went a pedestrian 8-5 against a schedule that included five MAC teams, three FCS teams, two Sun Belt Conference teams, and one each from the ACC, Pac-12, and the independent ranks.
* Among the eight wins were a last minute 31-24 home win over McNeese State by Nebraska, a last minute 17-13 home win over Ball State by Iowa, and a 38-25 home win over FCS Howard by Rutgers. These should not even count as games, let alone wins.
* The Big Ten went an inexcusable 2-11 against the spread in these thirteen games, and even worse, the eleven teams that covered the spread against their Big Ten foes covered by an average of 16 points. As my man R.J. Bell of pregame.com would tell you, this means that those eleven Big Ten teams underachieved against expectations by 16 points on average.
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* In the two games that they covered the spread, Illinois won by eight against Western Kentucky at home (covering a 3.5 point spread) and Penn State won by 18 against Akron at home (covering a 14.5 point spread). The travesty in all of this is that Illinois' program is so bad they're only favored by 3.5 points at home against Western Kentucky.
* After the fallout from this weekend, the Big Ten was basically out of the national championship hunt on September 6, with all of its ranked teams having lost a game and Michigan State being its top ranked team at number 13 in the coaches poll. (The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that this is part of the reason Penn State was reinstated to postseason play on Monday. They're at least undefeated, for now.)
In short, the Big Ten is abysmal. Texas would fit right in.