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Parity often another word for mediocrity/Paul Peterson

November 16, 2011
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

There are a lot of sports fans in this country who have misconceptions about the current football season.

One of those is that the Big Ten Conference still remains a power on the college scene.

Sorry to say, but the conference of coaching legends like Woody Hayes at Ohio State and Bo Schembechler at Michigan has fallen into total disarray.

Before the season, I believed that Wisconsin was the clear class of the league, with Nebraska, Michigan State and Penn State not too far behind.

But the Badgers, who thumped Nebraska early in the season, quickly lost games to Michigan State and Ohio State. The second of those defeats was clearly a stunner.

That left Michigan State to move into the favorite's role in the conference. But the Spartans (please don't call them Sparty) were taken apart on the road at Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers promptly - and inexplicably - then were defeated by a very pedestrian Northwestern team.

The result of all this will probably lead to a MSU-Wisconsin meeting in the first league playoff tournament in Indianapolis next month. That's unless Penn State is able to dig out of its off-the-field scandal and win a couple of big games on the road in the next couple of weeks.

Michigan, which has improved considerably this year under new coach Brady Hoke, will probably be left to play the spoiler in the overall picture.

Some media types are saying that all of this means that parity has arrived in the Big 10.

I think the word they're looking for is actually mediocrity.

There are some awful (Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois) teams in the Big 10, have no doubt about that. They probably would go winless in power leagues like the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 Conference.

Speaking of those leagues, the winner of the Big 10 tournament likely will get the "poisoned apple" reward, and get to face an Alabama, or perish the thought, an Oregon in a major bowl game.

MSU found out last year when it met Alabama in a bowl what a painful experience that can be.

This same kind of mediocrity exists in the National Football League this season.

Teams like Indianapolis (minus Peyton Manning), Washington, Miami, Seattle and St. Louis are just plain atrocious. The fact that all but Indy have managed to win a game or two speaks of just how desperate the overall situation is.

Make no mistake, the Green Bay Packers are clearly the class of the league in 2011. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is having a surreal season and is surrounded by plenty of offensive weapons.

But the Packers, who just might go unbeaten, have too many weak spots on pass defense to be considered one of the all-time great teams in the NFL.

That distinction belongs to teams like the 1961 Packers, 1972 Dolphins, 1985 Bears and 2007 Patriots - teams who had to face a much tougher road on the way to great success.

Green Bay has been able to overpower a watered-down National Football Conference this season without breaking a sweat.

That might not be the case should Green Bay reach the Super Bowl again and have to face a top-flight passing offense like New England.



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