A Big Ten fan base that every SEC team should welcome with open arms for 2020
I have a lot of friends in the Midwest who are hurting right now. A lot.
No fall football. Spring football is a distant, perhaps unfeasible vision. Fall as they know it is empty.
(By the way, it’s OK to feel that way whether you support the cancelation of the fall season or not. I’m guessing if you’re reading this, most of you probably aren’t in that group? Regardless, the point remains.)
But what’s the Southern thing to do? Be hospitable. Welcome a new fan base along for the ride.
Who cares if it’s “jumping on the bandwagon” or whatever. If there was ever a year to allow that, this is it.
So, I’ve got a Big Ten fan base that every SEC team should adopt for this season:
Big Ten team to adopt — Wisconsin
The default answer here is Ohio State because they’re the Alabama of the Big Ten. But this isn’t just about who you share the most similarities with. Think about this as a Wisconsin fan. You know your team always has that ceiling that’s just short of the Playoff/national championship. Wisconsin fans would do anything for that 1 year when they could truly feel like their team is national championship-worthy. Let the Badger fans, who are now dealing with a cold fall without college football, have 1 year of feeling like their team can win it all after being on the brink of elite for so many years.
Big Ten team to adopt — Rutgers
What’s the old saying? Misery loves company?
Big Ten team to adopt — Ohio State
What’s the other old saying? The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Shoutout to Dwight Schrute. It seems like if there’s something of interest to Ohio State fans in 2020, it’s hoping that a team like Alabama or Clemson, or even LSU, doesn’t look like a juggernaut. This is a year when an elite program like Ohio State wants madness. The Buckeyes should be rooting for one of those chaotic Auburn years when it takes a Hail Mary or 3 to win a national title. Ohio State fans, just be aware. Chad Morris is not Ryan Day.
Big Ten team to adopt — Michigan
When these 2 schools inevitably meet again in a bowl game in a year or 2, it’d be nice if their fans could have the common ground of talking about the time they rooted for the same team. Lord knows there are already plenty of Michigan graduates in the state of Florida. Actually, Michigan graduates are everywhere. And why do they always feel the need to wear multiple pieces of Michigan apparel at the same time? We get it, guy. Also, if this is the year that Florida beats Georgia, Michigan fans can just tell themselves it’s like they finally beat Ohio State.
Big Ten team to adopt — Michigan State
First of all, I bet Mel Tucker is already planning on rooting for Georgia this year. That’s an obvious connection. But Michigan State prides itself on smash-mouth, run-stuffing defense. That’s exactly what the Dawgs embrace. And while I don’t know what’s in store for Todd Monken’s version of the Air Raid offense from a production standpoint, I do feel like Michigan State fans deserve to treat themselves to a modern attack on that side of the ball after how rough it’s been in recent memory. Plus, if Georgia can prevent Alabama from winning another national title, maybe it’ll make Spartan fans avoid thinking about Nick Saban as the one who got away. It won’t matter? OK, moving along.
Big Ten team to adopt — Iowa
This is really two things, but it’s sort of one. For starters, Iowa fans can root for Mark Stoops, a former Hawkeye. Duh. Stoops is a bit like Kirk Ferentz in terms of how he prides himself on developing the under-recruited player and turning him into a legitimate NFL draft pick. It’s blue collar. It’s letting the offensive line do the talking. It’s sound tackling. It’s a natural fit. It’s too bad it’s a year late for Iowa fans to root for former Hawkeye basketball player Ahmad Wagner, who spent 2019 as Kentucky’s pass interference-forcing, big target receiver.
Big Ten team to adopt — Purdue
Again, this isn’t about “which program is most similar.” We’re talking about adopting a fan base. Purdue fans are accustomed to a high-flying, explosive offense. Who just put up the most points of anyone in college football history? LSU. I can guarantee that Jeff Brohm and Co. would salivate watching the Tigers spread teams out and light up scoreboards. Gone are the days of Danny Etling. Hey! See what I did there? Even if they don’t do that at a historic pace in 2020, Purdue fans will still get treated to a dynamic, well-coached offense. And, hey, Boilermaker fans would love to know what it feels like to be in the national title hunt.
Big Ten team to adopt — Minnesota
Think about it. Gophers fans need an excuse to wear all of that maroon in their closets. Boom. Minnesota fans embraced P.J. Fleck, who’s a quirky guy who doesn’t care if he upsets those in his coaching fraternity. Call me crazy, but that sounds a bit like a certain Mike Leach. They’re just a couple of offensive-minded coaches who go to the beat of their own drums and admit that they’re not for everyone. Gophers fans anticipated a high-octane passing offense with Tanner Morgan and Rashod Bateman that was ripped out from under them. They’d settle for watching Leach air it out 55 times every Saturday.
Big Ten team to adopt — Illinois
Play nice, you two. I know there’s some animosity between the fans, but it’s somewhat rare that there’s geographical crossover between an SEC fan base and a Big Ten fan base. That should be embraced in a time like now. That doesn’t mean they need to talk baseball or anything like that, but they can enjoy one another’s company and talk about how weird it is that they’re both in the Midwest but somehow in different Power 5 conferences.
Big Ten team to adopt — Maryland
I will not make this a DJ Durkin thing … I will not make this a DJ Durkin thing … I will not make this a DJ Durkin thing … oops. Maryland fans who don’t want to think about that angle could instead embrace the start of the Lane Kiffin era, which will feature one of the DMV’s finest, Demon Clowney (Jadeveon’s cousin) suiting up for the first time this fall. Maryland fans are certainly familiar with being at the basement of a loaded division while also rocking some sweet uniforms in the process. At the very least for Terps fans who have felt all sorts of frustration in the latter half of the 2010s, there are worse things to hitch your wagon to than The Lane Train.
Big Ten team to adopt — Indiana
Poor Indiana. This was supposed to be the program’s best year of the 21st century. While someone like Tom Allen is probably rooting for Ole Miss (where he coached for 3 years on Hugh Freeze’s staff), let’s think about what Indiana football fans need. They need a team that can entertain early but will be out of the hunt by the time that basketball season starts. South Carolina shouldn’t have any problem doing that. Maybe they can have that random game against a contender that they push to the brink. These are things the Hoosier faithful are familiar with. And rooting for a team with a coach with an in-game heart rate of 190 beats per minute won’t be anything new.
Big Ten team to adopt — Nebraska
Y’all can just relax and talk about how great the ’90s were. Weren’t they awesome! You could just hand-pluck talent from the West Coast and compete for national championships every year. Back when the shoulder pads were massive, the neck rolls were poppin’ and the jerseys somehow couldn’t hit the belly button. Man, simpler times.
Big Ten team to adopt — Penn State
A seamless transition from the Big Ten East is the SEC West. These teams aren’t that different if you think about it. Both make a habit of dominating lesser teams, they recruit a ton of talent, they play in front of over 100,000 fans in non-pandemic years and they struggle a lot more against the elite teams than the average fan probably realizes. If this is the year that the Aggies get over the hump, if there’s any fan base that can appreciate that, it’s Penn State, which didn’t even get to represent the Big Ten in the Playoff in 2016 when it won the conference title.
Big Ten team to adopt — Northwestern
Because when the game inevitably becomes lopsided, it’d be nice to have someone to talk to who’s on the same intellectual level.