Two former Big Ten quarterbacks, New England's Tom Brady and Seattle's Russell Wilson - from Michigan and Wisconsin, respectively - will meet on Feb. 1 in the Super Bowl. After Ohio State's win over Oregon in the national championship game behind former third-team quarterback Cardale Jones, this is another timely reminder that a) the Big Ten is more relevant than many believe, and b) football is a tough, physical sport and not a video game.
Two former Big Ten quarterbacks, New England's Tom Brady and Seattle's Russell Wilson - from Michigan and Wisconsin, respectively - will meet on Feb. 1 in the Super Bowl.
After Ohio State's win over Oregon in the national championship game behind former third-team quarterback Cardale Jones, this is another timely reminder that a) the Big Ten is more relevant than many believe, and b) football is a tough, physical sport and not a video game.
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It takes more than a good quarterback to win a Super Bowl or a college national championship - the Buckeyes consistently dominated along the line during their run to the title - but Big Ten quarterbacks have had trouble getting their due with so many dazzled by those point-a-minute offenses in the South and West.
The past five Heisman Trophy winners were quarterbacks - Auburn's Cam Newton, Baylor's Robert Griffin III, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota - and none of them will hoist a Super Bowl or national title trophy this year. So much for the mocking the Big Ten endured in December leading up to the bowl games.
Someone should probably catch up with Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman - who told a Lansing, Mich., TV reporter before a 42-41 loss to Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl that "We don't watch any Big Ten football. … It's not interesting" - and tell him there is more to "interesting" than scoring (and being scored upon) like an arena football team.
Even more "interesting" than seeing how the crow-eaters react to the Big Ten's recent success will be seeing where it leads.
Jones' decision not to enter the NFL draft and instead enter a three-way competition at quarterback with former Heisman Trophy candidates Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett promises to make that (and not a Southeastern Conference free-for-all) the most watched story in college football this summer.
It is already being watched by recruits, notably Ohio State commitment Torrance Gibson. The quarterback visited Auburn last weekend and told AL.com he is still committed to OSU and "would have no problem redshirting, but sitting two or three years - that's not what I have to do. I want to come in, get a fair opportunity to play quarterback."
That Gibson didn't immediately decommit probably says a lot about the value of a national championship. Like all high-profile recruits, he wants to play as soon as possible, but it's harder to let go when the program is favored for another one.
But again, this is the real world of college football and not a video game.
"I sat in Gus Malzahn's office, and he told me I'm his guy," Gibson told the website. "He wants me to come in and get a fair opportunity at playing quarterback. That's what he told me, and I believe him. Look what he did with Cam Newton in one year and Nick Marshall in two. Imagine what he could do with me in three."
Or Gibson might imagine stepping in for an injured Jones or Barrett and winning a national title the way Jones did. That would have seemed like an outrageous notion a month ago. It is part of the conversation now.
With or without Gibson, Ohio State is on a roll. Ridiculous as it seems, fans who follow recruiting would probably rather have the
No. 1 recruiting class than the No. 1 team; either way, the Buckeyes will be the latter, at least for a while.
The Big Ten mostly healed its damaged reputation with OSU's title, Michigan State's win over Baylor and Wisconsin's Outback Bowl win over Auburn. But there's still a lot of work to be done.
Since the first Bowl Championship Series title game in 1998, the Buckeyes have played in the title game four times, winning two and losing two. No other Big Ten team has made it there.
The other stuff helps, but the league needs another national champion. Until that happens, it will never get SEC treatment as the nation's best conference and the story is going to be more about Ohio State than it is about the Big Ten.
Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.