Earlier this week at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Arkansas head football coach Brett Bielema tossed out the idea of a Big Ten/SEC Challenge. A former Big Ten coach himself at Wisconsin, Bielema knows and thing or two about both conferences, and would like to see them go head-to-head each year on the gridiron over a two-weekend span.
“I thought it was just so cool to see crossover games at the beginning of the year,” Bielema said. “Let the commissioners come together and decide who’s playing them or an outside source. Have the Big Ten and the SEC go together on two different weekends, seven teams … It would be an awesome thing for everybody involved.”
If this were to happen, it would present another tough game on Kentucky’s schedule outside of Louisville and the eight SEC games.
Here are some of the probable match-ups for the Cats:
This is the obvious choice and the most likely of the bunch. A Big Ten/SEC Challenge would allow UK and IU to renew the football rivalry that began in 1893. Once called the “Bourbon Barrel Game,” the two teams played every year from 1987 until 2005, with several other meetings way before that.
The Hoosiers lead the series, 18-17-1.
Unless Mark Stoops turns thing around in a hurry, neither conference would pair Kentucky up with Iowa, a team that went undefeated in conference play last year. The Hawkeyes would draw one of the SEC’s better teams, no doubt.
But it would be nice to watch Stoops coach against his alma mater. He played at Iowa from 1986 to 1988 and returned as a graduate assistant in 1990 and 1991.
The two teams already share players and coaches, so why not settle it on the field? Since coming to Lexington, Stoops has already taken Nebraska transfers Braylon Heard, Courtney Love and Greg Hart. Not to mention, Vince Marrow, who left Lincoln to join Stoops’ staff. The Cats almost landed Husker transfer Kevin Williams just last month, too.
On-field performance has also been about the same in recent years. It’s too bad Bo Pelini is gone or the game could’ve been billed as the “Battle of Cardinal Mooney.” Stoops, Marrow and Pelini all attended Cardinal Mooney High in Youngstown.
Vanderbilt and Kentucky can flip a coin for the Big Ten’s two bottom-feeders. Or better yet, make one team for each conference with players from both programs on each side, and have those two teams play each other.
Screw it. Let’s punch up. Kentucky is making noise on the recruiting trail in Ohio, so let’s go ahead and take on the Buckeyes on the field. Loser can only target five Ohio high school prospects a year. Change the game.