Reusse: Big Ten produces little football talent

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 2, 2013 - 11:57 AM

Few conference football players went high in the NFL draft. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

hide

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was drafted as a receiver

Photo: Tony Ding, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Big Ten has been providing a second-rate football product for some time, which was reaffirmed in last week’s NFL draft. You can start with the fact the Big Ten came within one reach by the bumbling Jerry Jones of getting shut out in the first round for the time since 1953.

There were 12 teams in the NFL then. Bernie Flowers, an end from Purdue, was the first pick in the second round (14th overall).

There are now 32 teams. The Big Ten was 0-for-30, until Jones and the Cowboys went for Wisconsin center Travis Frederick. The SEC had 12 players taken in the first round.

Other facts that tell us Big Ten football in its current state is a fraud:

The 12-team conference had 22 players selected, the lowest since an 11-team conference had 21 selected in 1994. The Big Ten is now on a five-draft streak without having a player taken in the top 10.

There were 78 skill position players taken and five came from the Big Ten. This included Michigan’s Denard Robinson, who was drafted as a receiver, not as a quarterback.

The numbers that guarantee the Big Ten’s decline is not a short-term trend are the home states for the draft choices: California 28, Florida 27, Texas 25, Georgia 19, South Carolina 13, Louisiana and Ohio 11, Pennsylvania 9, Alabama 8 and New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina with 7.

Two decades ago, when the Big Ten was admitting Penn State, Ohio and Pennsylvania still had reputations as elite states for producing football talent. Michigan and Illinois also were offering solid numbers of players.

Now it’s not only Florida producing many more recruits than the big states of the North and Midwest — it’s the rest of Dixie. South Carolina (1 in 363,000), Louisiana (1 in 418,000) and Georgia (1 in 522,000) are raising NFL draft choices at extremely high rates.

It’s culture. In the North, mom and dad are worried about concussions and pointing their boys toward soccer and lacrosse. In the South, the old man still is pounding on his boy’s shoulder pads and saying, “Get out there and smash ’em, son.”

All that heat and vitamin D from the sun are making the young males of the South stronger and faster, and dad is making them tougher.

The strongest, fastest and toughest of those sons of Dixie have two big dreams: to play in the NFL, and before that, to play in the second-best football league in the world … the SEC.

Commissioner Jim Delany and other Big Ten apologists can schmooze as they choose, by citing attendance figures and numbers of households for the Big Ten Network, but the huge competitive gap between his league and the SEC will only increase in the years ahead.

The SEC improved itself in football when it went to 14 teams by adding Texas A&M and Missouri a year ago. The Big Ten is lessening itself in football by going to 14 teams with Rutgers and Maryland a year from now.

Rutgers had seven players taken in last week’s draft. I’m sure Delany is giddy over that. Except those were recruits brought in by Gary Schiano, now with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Schiano was replaced by an assistant, Kyle Flood. Does the name John Gutekunst ring a bell?

Rutgers will come winging into the Big Ten known more for the scandal of an abusive basketball coach than anything it offers as a football attraction.

The Scarlet Knights’ bowl history consists of appearances in the Garden State, Insight, Texas, International, PapaJohns.com, St. Petersburg, New Era Pinstripe and Russell Athletic bowls.

And Maryland? The Terps’ four bowl games since 2006 have been Champs Sports, Emerald, Humanitarian and Military. Maryland has had so many clunkers lately that Gophers fans are correct to be pleased that former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall turned down Minnesota and later wound up with the Terps.

Delany’s announcement this week of the East-West football alignment that starts in 2014 will include “parity” scheduling — meaning more games for a traditional mutt such as the Gophers against Maryland, Rutgers and Indiana, rather than Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State.

Get those tickets as soon as possible when the 2014 home schedule comes out. Maryland, Rutgers and Indiana are sure to pack the joint.

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. • preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 114 FINAL
Portland 120
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 4 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
NJIT 78
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite team in the NCAA men's hockey tournament?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close