|SI.com Conference Power Index: Big Ten|
The Conference Power Index (CPI) is a compilation of each conference's rank (six points for first place, five points for second place, etc.) in the following categories: AP poll rankings, BCS record, other bowls record, nonconference RPI and NFL draft picks. AP poll and BCS record were weighted doubly. This study examined two five-year periods: 1) The 1998 season through the 2003 NFL draft; 2) The '03 season through the '08 NFL draft.
Fallen powers tarnish conference's reputation
In the late '90s and early 2000s, the Big Ten sat atop the conference pecking order. The league posted an impressive 17-12 bowl record, including 5-3 in BCS games (tied for first with the SEC), produced one national champion (Ohio State in 2002) and four top-five teams. Something went awry, however, as the Big Ten tumbled from first to fourth in the more recent five-year span, marked most notoriously by an ugly 14-22 bowl record, including 3-6 in BCS games.
So what happened? Two of the league's most prominent programs, Penn State and Michigan, experienced drop-offs. While the Wolverines were good enough to merit three Rose Bowl berths (2003, '04 and '06), they lost every game. The Nittany Lions, meanwhile, endured four losing seasons in five years from 2000-04. Iowa, following a 31-7 run from 2002-'04, has been mediocre since. And Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota all fired struggling coaches.