Posted ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
ESPN.com's relegation draft is complete, and the Big Ten has been reduced to the Big Six. As for Purdue, Northwestern, Indiana, Minnesota and Illinois, yer out.
Esteemed colleagues Pat Forde, Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach selected six squads from the Big Ten as part of the 40-team new world order in college football. The Big Ten finished behind the SEC (9) and the Big 12 (8) and tied with the both Pac-10 (6) and ACC (6) for number of teams. Fan support did play a bigger role in the selections than I thought, which helped some Big Ten teams during a period where the league regularly gets trashed.
Here's how it went down.
No. 6: Ohio State (Maisel)
No. 7: Penn State (Forde)
No. 11: Michigan (Schlabach)
No. 18: Wisconsin (Maisel)
No. 27: Iowa (Maisel)
No. 34: Michigan State (Forde)
Feel free to mail Maisel a Hanukkah card (I know I will). Without him, the Big Ten really would have suffered in the mock draft.
Some quick thoughts on an interesting group of selections, which couldn't have been easy to make:
Like many of you, I was surprised to see Michigan go so low. The disaster of 2008 obviously remains fresh in our minds, but Michigan has and always will be one of the most relevant programs in college football. There's a strong case that Michigan should have been picked before Penn State, which is enjoying a renaissance since 2005 but has yet to establish itself as a consistent Big Ten power. Michigan dominated Penn State until last year, and the Wolverines do have a recent bowl win against Florida.
I thought Wisconsin would be selected, but No. 18 seems a little high. If the draft was done two years ago, the Badgers would have had a strong case as being one of the nation's top 20 programs. But Wisconsin hasn't matched its success from the 1990s and has seen its wins total drop in each of the last two years.
Michigan State's selection was somewhat of a surprise to me. The Spartans have disappointed their fans a lot during the last few years, but fan support seemed to sway Forde, who writes, "The Spartans have great fans, evidenced by their continuing to populate a 75,000-seat stadium during a fairly inglorious decade." He sees good things ahead for MSU, as do I.
Iowa seems about right to me, though Schlabach didn't agree, writing, "So our arguments are now being reduced to kicking a field goal to beat Penn State? Have the Hawkeyes done anything else this decade?" I'd say a 31-7 record between 2002 and 2004 counts for something.
Still don't understand all the love for Oklahoma, which went No. 3, three spots ahead of Ohio State. Both teams have amazingly parallel profiles during this decade, and Ohio State hasn't lost to Boise State in a bowl game.
I expected five selections from the Big Ten, so the draft actually exceeded my expectations. None of the Big Ten teams left out surprised me, though I was stunned that TCU didn't make the cut at No. 39 or No. 40. I'm glad I didn't have to make the picks.