For the past decade, the Big 10 has had as much parody as ever. Eight different schools have won at least a share of a Big 10 title since 2000. This is the same conference where from 1968-to-1993, just five teams won the conference, with the 1970s being dominated by Michigan and Ohio State. The Buckeyes haven’t won the Big 10 since 2009 and Michigan hasn’t since 2004. But it is starting to look like the pair of arch-rivals will soon be dominating once again.
The key to prolonged success is consistently having good recruiting classes. Ever since Brady Hoke came to Michigan and Urban Meyer took over Ohio State, both coaches have had great success at recruiting. In each class, 2012 through 2014, Ohio State and Michigan have been ranked No. 1 and 2 in the Big Ten. This will almost surely repeat in 2015, as both programs have already won commitments from some blue chip recruits in that class. When two teams top the conference in recruiting four seasons in a row, it sets them up to dominate for a long time. Recruiting is all about momentum and both Michigan and Ohio State are gaining plenty of it right now.
One of the biggest reasons they have had success in the recent past, is their ability to recruit the south. Meyer has been able to do so with great success, landing 10 recruits from below the Macy Dixon Line in 2013 and already three in 2014. Much of this is thanks to Meyer’s prior connections from when he coached at Florida. Hoke has begun to be able to recruit in the south, landing the top 2013 running back out of Virginia (Derrick Green) and the top 2015 athlete out of Florida (George Campbell). The south is the most richly populated region in high school football talent and if just two Big Ten teams have access to it, that’s a major advantage.
Is the Big Ten facing another 10-Year War, where Michigan and Ohio State battle for Big Ten titles every season? That is a very possible outcome, considering how recruiting is going.
You can follow Alex Dale on Twitter at @alexdaleCFB .