The following e-mail conversation took place organically earlier this week and was in no way staged for a truly original format for a sports column:
From: Matt Sussman
To: Nicolas Lewis
Subject: Big Ten.2
So Nicolas, did you hear about the news that the Big Ten is thinking of expanding from 11 teams to 12? Isn't that a ridiculous idea? What's the added advantage?
Subject: Re: Big Ten.2
Well, Almighty Bearded One, I most certainly did hear about it, and it is of utmost interest to me having grown up in State College under Joe Paterno's watchful nose — er... eye. I don't know that I would call it ridiculous as much as cumbersome. Anyone who has kept up with the topic thus far has read that that the primary motivation is about keeping up with the Joneses.
The Ohio State-Michigan game typically rounds out the Big Ten season, and that takes places a couple of weeks before everyone else is done playing. Maybe it's irrelevant, since undefeated is undefeated no matter when you finish.
On the other hand, that's two extra weeks for other teams outside the Big Ten to stay in the forefront for voting (on both polls and awards) and that extra game would give the two best teams one last shot to work their way back up the rankings. To some people that doesn't matter, but to Barry Alvarez and Joe Paterno it probably does, and... well, they're kind of a big deal in that conference. I get this sinking sense that you are not going to storm this castle with the rest of the Big Ten faithful.
Is that because you're upset over your Bowling Green boys traveling to Idaho for a road bowl game, or do you have legitimate beef?
Subject: Re: Re: Big Ten.2
You leave the legendary Humanitarian Bowl out of this. Do you realize that people would kill for an Idahoan excursion in December?
Well, yeah. Out of sight, out of mind. Finish before Thanksgiving, and when conference championships roll forth with excitement in the wee advent days of December, people aren't exactly thinking of Ohio State and Iowa.
But ... people WERE thinking of them! Well, the people that matter, at least. The Eyes of Buck and Hawk both got BCS games, despite resting on their cranberries and doorbuster sales. And, quite honestly, neither deserved anything more than what they received. Iowa was lucky to sneak into the Orange Bowl simply because the next best option was Virginia Tech, and at that point, why split hairs?