Wisconsin Football: Bret Bielema Proposes Big Ten-SEC Challenge


Bret Bielema has an idea most Wisconsin football fans should be able to get on board with. During the weekly SEC coaches’ teleconference Wednesday, Bielema floated the idea of creating a “SEC vs. Big Ten Challenge,” a yearly game scheduled between teams from the two conferences.

READ ALSO: Badgers Had Weak Non-Conference Schedule Despite Alabama Game

It’s hardly unprecedented, and the Big Ten (in basketball) already has the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The move would require each conference to hold a week open during the non-conference schedule. As Bielema suggested, the actual pairings could be decided each year to pit teams against others of their calibre.

Here’s what Bielema had to say, courtesy of al.com:

"“Kind of like the basketball one where they have the ‘Big Ten vs. SEC Challenge,’ have some people rank them in the offseason. Let the best of the best play each other, and the lower ones play each other week-in and week-out. Just reserve a week every year, it would be a fun thing. People would get into that now. I’ve been in both leagues, and I have the utmost respect for both. It would be something kind of fun and it would eliminate the whole need for an FCS team. Then you schedule three other opponents that are FBS and go.You have to think outside the box. You really do see it come into effect with the rankings week-in and week-out. As coaches, we can’t really get into it too much during the season, but people talk about all the time, whether it’s on TV or on radio, it’s what’s made our sport at an unprecedented high. I think you have to think outside the box a little bit, either with what I just said or another non-conference game.You just have to find some constructive way to make it a little more balanced. To me, that’s a fun way to look at it.”"

The comments come ahead of a weekend that sees two SEC teams playing FCS schools and four others facing non-power 5 conference opponents. Known as “Cupcake Saturday,” the weekend’s match ups include Alabama vs. Charleston Southern, South Carolina vs. The Citadel, Florida vs. Florida Atlantic, Kentucky vs. Charlotte, Auburn vs. Idaho and Georgia vs. Georgia Southern.

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The Big Ten, too, is no stranger to cupcake games, and Wisconsin is just as culpable as the rest of the teams. Despite the Badgers efforts to schedule tougher opponents, Wisconsin’s schedule is still continually full of teams like Miami (OH), Troy and Hawaii, and that was just this season.

Yes, the Badgers have made an effort to schedule strong opponents. Wisconsin played Alabama this year and will finish a two-game stint with LSU next season. Outside of next year’s game with LSU, the upcoming Badgers football schedule is pretty light.

The trick is determining whether a loss to a good SEC team hurts you more in the rankings than a win against a poor non-Power 5 team. That’s what coaches and athletic directors across the country are pondering right now as playoff rankings are released each week.

If you look past the effect a loss has on the rankings, I think most coaches would want their teams to play against better competition, and I think most fans want to see their teams compete with the best. Setting up a conference vs. conference yearly matchup would be a win-win for both schools involved.

Next: Updated Big Ten Standings

So Badgers fan should be able to put their differences with Bielema aside and get on board with his idea for a yearly game between the two conferences. Only, let’s get this one straight, Bret, the Big Ten gets top billing. Start planning for the Big Ten vs. SEC Challenge.