Last week, the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announced that they are aiming for interconference scheduling agreements beginning in 2017.
While the partnership is for all sports, the most noticeable changes will be seen in football.
The two 12-team leagues are aiming to create a 12-game inter-conference schedule by the 2017 season that would have each school play an opponent from the other conference every season.
This type of agreement is not to be limited to football, but will exist for all sports.
Pete Thamel of the New York Times tweeted that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney had suggested a track meet to promote Olympic hopefuls, to be held in the LA Coliseum.
Notice a problem?
Nope, it’s not that the conferences can’t fill up a meet with Olympic hopefuls. The only returning athletes in either conference who made TFN’s recently-released top-ten US rankings are Mike Berry (Oregon, #7 in the 400), Cas Loxsom (Penn State, #6 in the 800), Emma Coburn (Colorado, #1 in the steeple), Shalaya Kipp (Colorado, #9 in the steeple) and Brigetta Barrett (Arizona, #1 in the high jump). The only athletes who stand much of any chance to make Olympic teams are Coburn, Barrett, and Oregon’s Canadian heptathlete Brianne Theisen. Not enough to stock a track meet.
No, the real problem is that the LA Coliseum doesn’t have a track anymore. Delany apparently either doesn’t know that it was ripped out back in 1993 (and, shockingly, no one noted the error), or thinks you can just put one in when you feel like it for a college meet that would attract, at the absolute most, maybe 5,000 to 10,000 spectators (and likely far fewer).
Should we be suprised? Heck no. Besides the fact that, in many ways, the entire Big Ten is living long in the past (its innovative Big Ten Network being a notable exception), the conference is totally out of it when it comes to outdoor track and field.
Don’t believe me? OK, trivia buffs, who and/or when was the last Big Ten team to win a national championship in men’s outdoor track and field? Would you believe Minnesota…in 1948. That’s right, Dewey defeated Truman more recently than the Big Ten defeated the nation’s track teams.
How does that stack up in the conference’s history? Very badly. Here are the most recent national champions in each sport of any note…
|Men’s Cross Country||2011||Wisconsin|
|Men’s Wrestling||2011||Penn State|
|Women’s Volleyball||2010||Penn State|
|Men’s Hockey||2007||Michigan St|
|Men’s Indoor Track||2007||Wisconsin|
|Men’s Basketball||2000||Michigan St|
|Women’s Cross Country||1985||Wisconsin|
|Women’s Indoor Track||never||(from 1980)|
|Women’s Gymnastics||1980||Penn State*|
|Women’s Soccer||never||(from 1980)|
|Women’s Outdoor Track||1970||Illinois|
|Women’s Swimming||never||(from 1968)|
|Men’s Outdoor Track||1948||Minnesota|
(for women’s indoor track, soccer, and swimming, the first-ever national championship is noted; for women’s gymnastics, Penn State is the only Big Ten national champion, although not a conference member at the time)
Aside from the juggernaut Wisconsin men’s distance programs (which won the ’97 title almost by themselves), the conference is, by the standards of Big Ten sports, absolutely atrocious in track and field.
What about runner-ups? The only Big Ten squad to be runner-up in men’s outdoor track since the Eisenhower administration is the ’93 Ohio State team, which relied heavily on footballers Butler By’Not’e, Chris Sanders, Aaron Payne and Robert Smith.
Another way to look at it…most recent men’s outdoor national championships by conference:
Big 12 2011 Texas A&M ACC 2008 Florida St SEC 2002 LSU Pac-10 2000 Stanford Southwest 1995 Arkansas WAC 1982 UTEP Big 8 1970 Kansas PCC 1958 USC IC4A 1957 Villanova Big Ten 1948 Minnesota
The Big Ten has the longest drought of any conference that has ever won the NCAA men’s outdoor track and field championships, including three that no longer exist (Southwest, Big 8 and Pacific Coast).
So, no wonder that if track and field were the Middle East, Jim Delany wouldn’t know hummos from Hamas.