The college football in the spring. The news hits hard for players that were working to follow protocols and give themselves a chance to play, for coaches that had poured in hours of preparation to lead their teams and fans who have made college football the burning star around which everything else orbits in the fall.on Tuesday, with hopes to play some semblance of
But for right now, there are still college football conferences and teams working towards holding some variation of a season this fall. So should you, the Big Ten fan, bail on college football entirely? We say no because the sport is too rich with intrigue and culture to ignore completely, even if your favorite school is on the sideline until 2021.
247Sports' Bud Elliott brought this idea to the forefront on Twitter on Tuesday night, and the wide range of responses got us thinking about providing a fan service with the Big Ten Fall 2020 Rooting Guide.
If you are a Big Ten or Pac-12 fan, which school are you adopting as your substitute team this year from the ACC, Big 12, or SEC?— Bud Elliott (@BudElliott3) August 12, 2020
We're playing the role of college football sommelier, offering suggestions to replace your order because we are very sorry to inform you that what was printed on the menu is no longer available.
The reasoning for the matches is as multi-faceted as college football itself, a sport that encompasses so many different styles and flavors it cannot be reduced to simple matches. We've also tried to spread the love around across the schools that are on pace to play this fall because it doesn't make for good content to just tell everyone to become an LSU fan.
|Suggestions: South Carolina, Virginia -- Historically close to .500, the bottoming-out seasons don't come around all that often and the breakthrough years are celebrated for decades. Though they lack in conference dominance, South Carolina and Virginia are competitive enough to keep things interesting on Saturdays and spring at least one upset (or near-upset) every single season. We can't promise anything as fun as Lovie Smith's beard, but Virginia's Bronco Mendenhall has been working on a grizzled quarantine look that could serve as a nice consolation.|
|Suggestions: Kentucky, Louisville -- There's some regional influence in this connection, for sure, but the suggestion extends beyond the idea of borrowing your neighbor's lawn mower when the spark plug craps out unexpectedly. Wherever basketball rivals or surpasses football in the hearts of fans, there is a unique relationship with the sport, particularly when you get into November and December. The unique wrinkle in that relationship in the present day is that both Kentucky and Louisville, like Indiana, have an upward trajectory with their football programs.|
|Suggestions: Pitt, Tennessee -- The rugged consistency that Iowa fans have come to understand as the Kirk Ferentz experience doesn't fit perfectly in many places across college football, but there's a whole lot of Big Ten inspiration in the way that Pat Narduzzi has built his Pitt program. Pair that with high floor-low ceiling expectations and you can also draw Tennessee into the mix as an option that should bring some familiarity.|
|Suggestions: Georgia Tech, West Virginia -- Expectations going into 2020 for Maryland fans had to be tempered, as they are going to be in the Big Ten East, but the work Mike Locksley has done led Terps fans to believe that there would be some steps forward. That's why we're going to point you to two other programs in Year 2 with new head coaches that are working on building something special from the ground up. Geoff Collins had to rework the entire offensive roster after Paul Johnson's exit and at West Virginia Neal Brown is looking to prove that the Mountaineers can attain Big 12 success despite Dana Holgorsen resigning with a 33-30 record in conference play.|
|Suggestions: Texas, North Carolina -- This pairing is all about the #brands because we know that few brands in college sports are more valuable than Michigan's, and much of its reputation across the country is carried by a general recognition of that value. The Wolverines share a Jordan Brand relationship with North Carolina, another iconic college sports brand, and Texas was ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the most valuable college football program in the country in 2019, carrying a $1.1 billion value according to their analysis.|
|Suggestions: Auburn, Oklahoma State -- There's a chip on your shoulder, and nothing gets under your skin quite like the "little brother" title. While Sparty's recent success against its biggest rival has been closer to Auburn than Oklahoma State, the experience of carrying that slight into every meeting is a shared experience that will make rooting for either relatable. Oklahoma State, in particular, enters the year with as much hype as we've seen in years. Might be a good time to sign a one-year fan contract.|
|Suggestions: Iowa State, Texas -- This focuses much more on the current coach, quarterback and team than overall football culture, making the move to adopt either Big 12 school a decision for what kind of expectations you want to carry into the 2020 season. Though their personalities and coaching histories differ, the young, offensive-minded profile applied to Fleck, Matt Campbell and Tom Herman have made them all names to watch in the coaching industry prior to their Power Five promotion. Fans looking forward to Fleck and Tanner Morgan can now choose between Campbell and Brock Purdy or Herman and Sam Ehlinger.|
|Suggestions: Tennessee, Florida State -- Looking to recapture the dream of the '90s, Husker fans should spend less time playing out conference realignment fever dreams and choose between either of these two former national champions to saddle up with the 2020 season. While Florida State has returned to the top of the sport more recently than Nebraska or Tennessee, the Vols are arguably a few steps ahead in that journey right now, though arguably facing a tougher road. Nebraska has to chase down Ohio State, Tennessee has Alabama (plus Florida and Georgia) and Florida State has Clemson.|
|Suggestions: Duke, Vanderbilt -- Sometimes it's too easy. Duke is probably closer to Northwestern in terms of current competitiveness, especially since both have a conference championship game appearance in the last decade, but Vanderbilt provides the kind of defense-forward playing style under head coach Derek Mason. You could throw Wake Forest in here, too, if you want, but you're a smart person and should understand what we're going for here. I mean ... you did go to Northwestern.|
|Suggestions: Alabama, Oklahoma -- You're used to being the frontrunner -- the class of the conference. No need to trade in that status just because the Buckeyes are on the sideline for a few months. There is far too much negative history with Clemson to ever suggest rooting for the Tigers, but I think enough time has passed since Baker Mayfield's flag-plant to jump on board with the Sooners and the Tide bandwagon is as national as Ohio State's.|
|Suggestions: Georgia, Florida -- Penn State is an elite program with rich history that, at the moment, feels right on the cusp of a breakthrough. That's why we're pointing you toward a pair of SEC East teams that have been similarly building with the hopes of reaching the mountaintop. This also allows you to choose one side of the rivalry and immediately hate the other, adding some fan value to the experience.|
|Suggestions: Oklahoma State, SMU -- The style of Purdue football has had its ebbs and flows across different coaches, but the Jeff Brohm era has brought an all-gas, no-brakes approach that should make rooting for Oklahoma State or SMU very familiar. Both teams are expected to field offenses that will rank among the most prolific in the country, and while neither has an individual playmaker as electric as Rondale Moore (should he have decided to play if the Boilermakers had a season) the experience of rooting for Chuba Hubbard gives you that All-American hook you would have gotten with Moore on the field.|
|Suggestions: Kansas, Arkansas -- Sometimes you move to a new school and it gives you chance to try out a new look, make some new friends and switch up your style. Unfortunately, we all have social media now and we know what things were like at your old school. The experience of fighting the uphill battle leaves Rutgers fans most familiar with the experience of Kansas or Arkansas.|
|Suggestions: Georgia, LSU -- Both of these choices, like Wisconsin, are rich in football tradition and rank among the top programs in the country during the College Football Playoff era. But they also, with the exception of 2019's supernova LSU season, have not been the Alpha of the league, falling one win short of a league title four times since 2014. But like LSU proved in 2019, a win against the league power and a breakthrough season might be right around the corner.|