The offseason (and we're talking football and basketball here) can be a quirky time to say the least, but one constant seems to be the debate as to conference supremacy. It usually falls along the line of the SEC is the best... The Big Ten is a sinking ship... yada, yada, yada. We've heard the arguments over and over, time and again and that's not what we are here for.
Instead, the debate should really be if you are a fan of Team X should you be rooting for team's A through Z in your conference. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats, right?
On the other hand, why the hell should Wisconsin fans give a crap if Indiana or Purdue are winning some mediocre bowl game against another MAC opponent? It's a good debate to be sure, but those of you who know me also know that I run Bloguin's Big Ten blog The B1G Time and you can guess from there where my flag is planted.
Yes, I'm a fan of the Big Ten conference, but with a rooting interest based off of my coverage and fandom for the Badgers.
Unlike those in the SEC who seem to jump on whatever ship is doing well and ride their coat tails of success at all levels (do we need to go over the S-E-C chants that pop up every time a school wins a bowl game or a NCAA Tournament game?), the Big Ten needs to be smarter than that, and let's face facts.... we all know who the giant of the academic world is between the two... It's not even close.
That said, being a Wisconsin fan as you are most likely if you are reading this, here is our guide to rooting for the rest of the Big Ten should you chose to root on the league that houses the Badgers.
Illinois: Go for it. Seriously, what harm can it do to root for them to be a bowl eligible team at the very least? When it comes to the postseason you bet you can done some orange and navy (o.k., maybe that's a bit much) and cheer for the ILL-INI. Let's face it, they aren't going to challenge Wisconsin's supremacy in football for awhile if ever in my lifetime again... Basketball, go for it in non-conference and when it helps the Badgers in the B1G, there's no harm in it either.
Indiana: Umm... uh.... ok, cheer for them if you want in football. Hell, any time this team makes a bowl appearance it should be celebrated big time by anyone who's a fan of the Big Ten. Kevin Wilson has his team on the right track and after this year they aren't in our division anymore so root away should you chose, there will be no issues here. On the basketball court though... HELL TO THE NO.... Especially with Mr. Class, Tom Crean, at the helm of the Hoosiers. Hey, at least we know as long as Crean is there they ain't beating UW. 11-0 baby!
Iowa: ABSOLUTELY NEVER!!! O.k., maybe not absolutely never, but never unless it benefits the Badgers to do so. These guys are a pain in the ass in basketball and that whole Jarrod Uthoff transfer fiasco still reeks worse than an Iowa pig farm. When would you ever want to willfully cheer for the Hawkeyes, our rivals for the Heartland Trophy? These guys are always the enemy and you should refuse at all costs to root openly for these guys. Even when it benefits UW to have them win it should be done in the most muted way possible. A polite thank you for the help and go about your life, forget you ever had to do it. I'm getting all sorts of creeped out just thinking about it.
Michigan: Here's where I come down on this one and I'm sure this will be a debated topic to say the least... GO FOR IT. Why? Well, UofM isn't in our division for football now or in the next realignment. Should we get to play them at all it would be a good thing to see them near their best. I'm sorry, but the Big Ten is better when one of it's marquee names is competing at the top of the conference. Not only that but a win for UW over Michigan means more if they are better. I don't have any issue rooting for the Wolverines when they aren't playing UW, nor should you. On the basketball court the same thing goes.
Michigan State: Two words should tell you all you need to know: HAIL MARY. There's no circumstance I will ever.... ever openly cheer for these guys in football nor basketball. Finding a fan of Sparty that is able to be rational about their team is harder than finding Jimmy Hoffa's remains. In terms of basketball I don't mind Tom Izzo all that much, he deserves respect for what he's done at MSU, but man are those games hard on the heart. However, there's a difference between having respect and putting your rooting interests in them. That's a line I just can't cross and nor should you.
Eastern Dakota: #$%&&$%%^$%^^$$^$#&%$# NO.... What are you insane? Under zero circumstances ever are you to root for the golden rodents. That's just not right on any sort of level. Unless you are rooting for them to accept you as a safety school, then I guess that's acceptable - after all, we all have to have a fall back should the UW system not accept us for some strange reason.
Oh and for good measure:
Nebraska: No doubt about it, there's a budding rivalry here with the Huskers and now that we're likely foes for the West division title on a nearly annual basis for the foreseeable future I'm not sure where to come down on this one. On the one hand, most Husker fans I've met are actually nice people, on the other hand logic tells me you never root for your rivals. Unless this becomes bitter I say for UW's sake it would be smart to have these guys doing well on the football field and the basketball court. We don't want another Penn State happening - you know a team you can really forget about on an annual basis. The stronger the conference from top to bottom the better every win you get looks.
Northwestern: A trip to Ryan Field isn't exactly a fun one for the Badgers football team, but I'm sorry, it's really hard not to root for a guy like Pat Fitzgerald. Additionally, for the sake of the West Division this team being competitive and a constant third team in the division would be a welcome sight. All it would do is add to the point I made a few weeks ago about the realignment not being that out of whack competitively. Besides what happens with UW's visits to the shores of Lake Michigan, what's the harm in rooting for the underdog? I say go for it.
Ohio State: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA..... Do I really need to break this one down for you? I will never, NEVER cheer for these guys. 90% of their fanbase are giant a-holes (and I've been lucky enough to know a few in the other 10% thankfully), not too mention the whole last four years of football back-and-forth between the two of us or that infamous "spitting" incident that has NEVER been proven. Excuse my language, but the Buckeyes can kiss my ass.
Penn State: Bert Bielema attempted to make this into a bitter rivalry, but for me it never really took. I respect what they've done on the football field over the course of college football history and really have no reason to hate these guys. Games have been competitive and important as of late, no doubt. However, there should be no reason why you shouldn't root for these guys in the non-conference and postseason in any sport.
Purdue: Yep, root, root, root away for the Boilermakers. In fact the better they are in terms of finding a way to win 8 games or more on a pretty regular basis in football the better off the Badgers division and therefore their strength of schedule will look. Win all the games you want against everyone you can (except against UW of course). I have zero against Purdue, but apparently their fans have a lot against us. Sorry, UW fans have bigger fish to fry here at the top of the heap for the third straight year. We can revisit this when you're actually relevant again (if that ever happens).