Where does the Big Ten go from here?

Marc Morehouse
Published: June 8 2011 | 12:54 pm - Updated: 2 April 2014 | 6:18 pm in
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Ohio State students Curt Stine, left, and Matt Parker hang a sign on their porch near campus in support of former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, Monday, May 30, 2011, in Columbus, Ohio. Tressel, who guided Ohio State to its first national title in 34 years, resigned Monday amid NCAA violations from a tattoo-parlor scandal. (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

It might be some time before the other cleat drops in Columbus. The Ohio State University's date before the NCAA committee on infractions is Aug. 12, but that could be juggled in light of potential mess after mess being unearthed on what seems like an hourly basis with the Buckeyes.

The final verdict might not come until October. But like the rumble of a train, an impact is coming and Ohio State has stalled on the tracks.

The question is how long will the Buckeyes be out of commission? OSU is could be looking at a bowl ban, scholarship reductions, vacated victories and who knows what else. Remember, former OSU coach Jim Tressel hired a lawyer for the Aug. 12 appearance before the NCAA. That says he intended to fight. Last week, he made the decision to cut and run. Or Ohio State admins made the decision for him. Either way, you could read that as OSU officials looking at their case and thinking, "Let's cut our losses."

Who knows what Terrelle Pryor's exit will shed light on. ESPN has reported that he received between $20,000 and $40,000 for signing items. SPORTSbyBROOKS.com has reported that Pryor, 31-5 as OSU's starting QB, left a paper trail for the NCAA to follow.

Boom goes the dynamite.

There is no arguing that Ohio State has been the Big Ten's banner carrier for all of Tressel's 10 seasons. The 2002 Buckeyes won the national title. When it was time to matchup with the SEC, Ohio State was shoved to the fore. Ready or not, and most often it was not. Florida and LSU took turns pounding Ohio State in the 2006-07 national title games.

The Buckeyes' six consecutive Big Ten titles tell you they were in a class by themselves in the conference.

So, assuming the dynamite goes boom, what does the Big Ten look like in 2011 and for however long Ohio State is wearing an orange jumpsuit and picking up Subway wrappers on the interstate?

First, remember that "competitive balance" principle that guided the thinking during the making of the Legends and Leaders divisions? If Ohio State is an exhibition squad, that kind of goes out the window.

The Buckeyes were (are?) expected to compete with Wisconsin for the Leaders Division crown this fall. You can make an argument for Penn State having a say in the Leaders, with Illinois and Purdue looming in the shadows. Indiana is still trying to figure it out.

Penn State seems like an every-other-year kind of an outfit right now. Good one year, 7-6 the next. That said, if the Nits get it together, you could see them in Indy this year.

A depleted Ohio State sets up very nicely for Wisconsin and coach Bret Bielema. The Badgers are built for hammer ball, with an O-line that should be on par with last season's juggernaut. Don't expect a lot of departure from this formula. If UW can restock the OL and big back, a lot of the pressure will be taken off the QB, be it transfer Russell Wilson or Jon Budmayr.

The Legends Division would be more competitive, with Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Iowa butting heads and Northwestern looking for its moment in the sun.

Michigan certainly would stand to benefit. For whatever reason, the Columbus Dispatch keeps track of the days since Michigan has beaten Ohio State on its BuckeyeExtra.com site. It's 2,755 and counting.

New Michigan coach Brady Hoke will only refer to Ohio State as "Ohio." He has a deep "awareness" of the red, eschewing the color during previous coaching stops at Ball State and San Diego State, where red is part of the color scheme.

What Big Ten school benefits most from a damaged Ohio State?

(polls)

Let's swing this to the Hawkeyes, that's why I'm here. Because Iowa is in the Legends (hammer that into your brain, BTW) and doesn't face Ohio State for the next two seasons, there is no immediate on-field bump. Key word here is "on-field."

In August, Iowa will have 10 Ohioans in camp, including six potential starters (corner B.J. Lowery, DT Steve Bigach, DE Lebron Daniel, free safety Micah Hyde, LB Anthony Hitchens and fullback Brad Rogers). OT Andrew Donnal and TE Ray Hamilton will likely get a shot at starting in their careers.

Secondary coach Phil Parker, an Ohio native, has set up shop. Offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe also does business in the Cleveland area.

Remember in 2005, when Notre Dame and Illinois were going through major transitions and Iowa raided the state of Illinois for big names (hey, Tony Moeaki worked out)? There could be that kind of bump, but there will be plenty of competition.

Michigan State's Mark Dantonio coached at Youngstown State, Ohio State and Cincinnati. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is from Youngstown and was a co-captain free safety for the Buckeyes in 1990.

So, let's hear it. Who do you think will get the biggest bounce if/when the dynamite goes boom at Ohio State?

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Is there other feedback and/or ideas you want to share with us? Tell us here.



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