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Countdown to 2012: Three Big Ten National Titles Since 1970! (Why The Rose Bowl Sucks)


The 2012 season has nearly arrived! Just three days left ‘til Nebraska kicks off against Southern Mississippi.

Today we're celebrating the Big Ten's three national titles since 1970. Why 1970, you ask? Because it's since that time since Nebraska won FIVE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS. Think about that for a minute - Nebraska, by itself, won five national titles during the same amount of time the entire Big Ten won three - Ohio State in 1970, Michigan in 1997 (split with Nebraska) and 2002 Ohio State.

The 1970 national title was split between Nebraska (AP vote) and Texas (UPI vote), but the National Football Foundation awarded Ohio State a national title. The Buckeyes claim it as one of seven, despite losing the Rose Bowl to Stanford. That was back in the days when votes took place before the bowl games (and you thought the BCS was bad).

Why so few national titles for the Big Ten? One easy answer - the Rose Bowl.

During the 1970s, the Big Ten won a single Rose Bowl, in 1974 when Ohio State defeated USC 42-21. The 1980s were better with the Big Ten winning three. During the 1990s, Big Ten went all crazy and won six. Out of eight tries during the 2000s, the Big Ten came away with three wins.

Since 1970, the Big Ten is 12-26 in Rose Bowls, a .316 winning percentage.

And it wasn't as if the Big Ten didn't have their shots at national titles. Ohio State was heavily favored in 1970 but lost (and ironically still claims a national title). The 1971 Michigan team went into the Rose Bowl undefeated and lost to Stanford. The 1975 Ohio State Buckeyes were widely regarded as Woody Hayes best team, went to the Rose Bowl undefeated and heavily favored and lost to UCLA 23-10. 1979, same story a few years later - Ohio State undefeated, losing to USC 17-16.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

There is nothing alluring or majestic about the Rose Bowl. One would have hoped that when talk about a real playoff system finally came along, the Big Ten would have fought a little harder for home field advantage, or at the least, a bowl game that could be played in the Midwest. One would hope that after this charade of a playoff begins that Nebraska skips playing in the Rose Bowl altogether unless it's a destination on the way to a shot at a national title.

Alas, the Big Ten capitulated, and the conference is stuck with the same old cruddy scenario that's always been. Jim Delany, known as one of the most powerful men in college football, opted to keep the Rose Bowl intact, espousing tradition while once again being all about the money.

Over the past few decades, Big Ten coaches have been asked about their goal for the season. The response, long since a mantra, has been "to get to the Rose Bowl". It's an asinine response; the proper response all these years should have been "to win the Rose Bowl".

Bottom line - Husker fans shouldn't buy into this garbage about the "grandaddy of them all" just because the rest of the conference is accustomed to losing the big one. Nebraska's highest goal remains the same as ever - to win a national title.