- By Marcus Hartman
Sorry to tell you, Big Ten, but it's over.
No more feigning disrespect when it comes to national college football discussions.
The era when you can claim not to get more benefit of the doubt than the SEC and ACC in the national rankings has come to a conclusion.
This much is clear from the USA Today Sports Information Direct— err, I mean Coaches Poll.
Ohio State is No. 2 (behind Alabama) with Penn State No. 6, Michigan ninth and Wisconsin 10th.
RELATED: Preseason Coaches Poll released
This shouldn’t come with great surprise, though.
The hype train has been gaining stream since James Franklin and then Jim Harbaugh were hired. Many influential media members have been begging them to raise the profile of the league regardless of who anyone they might actually beat.
It continued last year when Ohio State (fairly in my opinion) got the benefit of the doubt in the playoff rankings, but the Buckeyes did not exactly give the playoff committee cover with their 31-0 loss to Clemson.
The preseason coaches poll is lot more questionable (and admittedly less important).
Ohio State has a lot coming back on both sides of the ball, but the Buckeyes may or may not have fixed their offensive problems from last year, and the secondary will be very green.
SECONDARY QUESTIONS: Greg Schiano on defensive backs
Michigan and Wisconsin probably won't be as good as they were last year, when they beat nobody anyway. (Bangd up, early-season Penn State wasn’t anybody yet when they played Michigan.)
Penn State should be good. The ceiling for the Nittany Lions is unclear, but they have not risen as far as Michigan State fell in the past year.
The middle is still nothing to brag about, and the bottom stinks (as it does in most leagues).
Time will tell how things play out, but it's been amusing watching the narratives evolve over the years.
To be sure, the SEC has slipped a bit, but the Big Ten hasn’t done much to earn its newfound status.
The Big Ten has better coaches now, but the SEC still has better players.
This year they might even play offense down south thanks to a good-looking crop of quarterbacks.
I'm still thinking the ACC has the best mix of leadership and talent as 2017 dawns.
That league was already producing NFL players at nearly the rate of the SEC, and recent coaching hires have paid off handsomely.
After many years as a skeptic, I’ve become a believer in the ACC thanks to Dabo Swinney at Clemson and Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. Coaches in their second years at Miami (Mark Richt) and Virginia Tech (Justin Fuente) could be poised to raise those programs, too, while Louisville returns the Heisman Trophy winner.
But, hey, we’ll have 14 weeks to work it all out — and only four weeks until we get started.