Commentary: Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game an Example of why Conference Championship Games are Terrible

Surely, anyone who watched the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday night knows that Nebraska doesn’t deserve the opportunity to play in a BCS bowl game.

I mean, sfter a 70-31 shellacking in the conference title game, it’s warranted that folks wad up the resume titled “Nebraska Cornhuskers – Football” and toss it into a waste basket, right?

As Lee Corso would say, “not so fast, my friend.”


Bo Pelini and the Cornhuskers got railroaded by Wisconsin on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship Game. But regardless of Saturday’s result, it was still Nebraska, not Wisconsin, that really earned the right to play in Pasadena. (Image source: B/R)

Saturday night’s embarrassment to the Big Ten Conference’s football legacy is the exact reason I find conference championship games absurd. Not because of what Wisconsin did to the Huskers on a national stage, but what the result meant.

Wisconsin finished the season with a modest 8-5 record (including the championship game), 4-4 in conference play. That was good enough for third place in the Big Ten Leaders division. Arguably the worst division in all of major college football this season. Meanwhile, Nebraska finishes the year 10-3 and 7-1 in the Big Ten, with the only loss coming against the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes.

And the end result?

Because of one game, the Badgers are headed back to the Rose Bowl as the only Big Ten team to represent the conference in the BCS this year.

What happened to the legitimacy of the regular season? Why does everything come down to one game?

I understand that money is the driving force in all of this, and greed rules all in the world of collegiate and professional sports, but at the college level, is it really fair to put the accomplishments of one team on the line in a single game?

There are many examples that I could use to prove that the college football conference championship game is flawed, but I will stick with this year’s Big Ten title game because it is fresh in everyone’s mind.

Nebraska did almost everything it needed to do to earn a trip to the Rose Bowl this year. Nebraska won its division outright, defeating everyone else in the Legends division. The Huskers even defeated Wisconsin earlier this season in a close game in Lincoln.

But after all the accomplishments of a great season and earning the right to call themselves the Big Ten football champions, the Huskers had one slip at the end of the season, and it cost them everything.

I guess you could say that the guys at Nebraska knew this would be the case. They had to take care of Wisconsin again or the Big Ten’s lone 10-win team (excluding the ineligible Buckeyes), would be left out of the BCS conversation.

But does it validate the weight of one game? Just because it holds the title “Big Ten Championship,” it overrides the success a team had in a season, all because of one game where Wisconsin got hot and Nebraska had no answer.

It’s not just the Big Ten that has the issue, it’s all over college football.

With all the conference expansion and teams joining major conferences, a championship game seems like the only feasible way to determine a BCS representative on a yearly basis. But it’s bogus. Why can’t we base success off of the regular season and allow the BCS, a money hungry system anyway, to develop a college football championship playoff system?

That’s what we all want in the end, anyway. And for those of you calling me a hypocrite, it would at least allow the teams who earned the right to compete for a national championship a chance to do so.

But it will probably never come down to the regular season ever again.

I suppose that’s just the way college athletics are these days. Work hard and be at the top by the team the season ends, that way you get the opportunity to compete for a conference title. It has little to do with what a team accomplishes during a season and more about ticket sales, concession money, and the number of programs sold at the “marquee event” held at the end of the season.

I guess there’s nothing left to do but to watch Wisconsin showcase its talents in the Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day and hope that they don’t completely embarrass the conference in Pasadena.

And if they do, just remember, it should have been the Nebraska Cornhuskers opportunity to do so.


  1. Dude, this was a very unusual situation that you’re attempting to use as Exhibit A. Under normal circumstances, it would have been Ohio State vs. Nebraska and nobody would be complaining about the winner going to the Rose Bowl. The bigger problem is that the loser of a conference championship game almost always gets knocked out of the BCS bowl games and the conference’s No. 3 team has a chance to get in instead (e.g., Georgia, Florida).

  2. Sounds like sour grapes

  3. Badger Fan99 says:

    Sorry…this wasn’t a “slip”….it was a full out crash and burn. I could (maybe) see complaints if it was a close game…The winner of the Championship Game goes to the Rose Bowl. That’s how it works. Get over it.

    • 1. Close game in Lincoln? Nebraska had to come from behind to win.
      2. Hypocrite? Yep. Only have look to the 18-1 Pats. By your logic the Giants… you get the idea. Or if you want to go to college, only undefeated teams should play in a national championship game.
      3. Terribly unusual year with 2 non-bowl eligible teams in the same division of a conference. In that circumstance, no championship game?
      4. Nebraska looked (and played) confused. They gave up 500 yds rushing!
      5. Maybe a better coach and/or team would have at least put up a fight. Pathetic performance by a team, not by the system.
      6. It’s naive to think money isn’t the ruling factor.

      • Badger Fan99 says:

        In 2011 the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl – they were the wildcard/sixth seed team that beat all those teams with the better records. Did they not deserve to be in the Super Bowl?

        • Dustin Schutte says:

          The Packers most certainly deserved to be in the Super Bowl. But they earned the right to play for a championship through the work of the regular season. Instead of having a middleman (conference championship) just have the best team in the conference compete for the opportunity for a national championship, don’t base that chance on a single game. I realize it’s impossible now with the growth of major conferences, but it would be nice.

  4. Golyadkin says:

    Look at C-USA last year to see why they are terrible. Houston was #6 and 12-0, poised to be the first C-USA team to ever play in a BCS bowl, and lost in the Championship to a Southern Miss team that earlier in the year had lost to perennially awful Marshall and UAB, and then this year went 0-12 (Houston was effectively playing without a head coach, as Sumlin was busy in College Station talking with A&M instead of coaching the team). Every other BCS buster had gotten in without having to play a conference championship.

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