On Wednesday's weekly SEC conference call, Bret Bielema put on his TV programmer hat and threw out an idea too good to be true.
Because I'm a complete dork with no real life, I've spent plenty of nights with this exact thought as my only company. An SEC-Big Ten Challenge would be a publicity bonanza (as if these leagues need any help in that department), dominating the college football weekend it occupied so thoroughly the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 might as well take the weekend off.*
* Many people have lobbied for an SEC-Pac-12 Challenge instead, but SEC-Big Ten is better for a number of reasons. No leagues share more historical bluebloods, and the two regions they occupy have been at odds with each other since before the Civil War.
I've filled out a hypothetical SEC-Big Ten Challenge and scheduled it throughout a hypothetical college football weekend, with an attempt to satisfy each league's television obligations and giving each league seven home games.
at (7 p.m. ET Thursday, ESPN): If it's a major college football event, it simply has to begin in Columbia on a Thursday night. There is simply no other option. No previous meetings.
at (8 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN): Each league's lone private school must face each other. Northwestern leads all-time series 2-1-1.
at (noon ET, ESPN): Bret Bielema returns home to take on his alma mater. And, come on, it's not a college football Saturday without Iowa in the ESPN noon game. Iowa leads 1-0.
at (noon ET, ESPN2): Definitive proof the SEC's roster of name brand programs runs exactly one deeper than the Big Ten's. No previous meetings.
at (noon ET, ESPNU): Fans of both the Boilers and the Bulldogs are the true winners in this exercise. West Lafayette or Starkville? Starkville or West Lafayette? You can't go wrong with either! No previous meetings.
at (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC): Conduct a survey of SEC fans, coaches, players and administrators which conference foe they'd most like to beat and Alabama would be the clear winner. The answer isn't as clear cut in the Big Ten (most younger B1G folks would undoubtedly choose Ohio State) but we're saving the Buckeyes for another matchup for reasons that will become obvious. Series tied 2-2.
at (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Two second-level blue bloods that get talent-rich states all to themselves. Penn State leads 1-0.
at (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Call this one the Mirror Bowl because each team will see a reflection of itself standing on the opposite sideline - a program that dominated the 1990's and has spent the last decade and a half cycling through a handful of regimes in desperate, unsuccessful (so far) attempts to recapture the glory of days gone by. Nebraska leads 2-0.
at and at (3:30/7 p.m. ET, SEC Network/BTN): None of these four programs would be in their respective leagues if not for this existence of SEC Network and BTN, so we're sticking them in a doubleheader and simulcasting it on SEC Network and BTN. Maryland leads 6-0. Texas A&M and Rutgers have never met.
at (7 p.m. ET, ESPN): This home-and-home is already happening, except it's not really a home-and-home. The Badgers and Tigers opened the 2014 season in Houston and they'll meet next fall at Lambeau Field. The best part of this exercise is putting each league's best home field atmosphere back on their home fields. LSU leads 3-0.
at (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU): These teams played nearly annually from the late 1960's through 2005, but haven't played since. That shouldn't happen. Indiana leads 18-17-1.
at (7:30 ET, ESPN2): If Alabama and Michigan are playing each other, Auburn and Michigan State have to play each other, too. Auburn leads 1-0.
at (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Here's your obvious matchup. Florida hasn't left the south for a non-conference game since 1991 so, naturally, their first such trip in a generation is to face their ex-spouse in his new home with his new family. Florida leads 2-0.
So, there you have it. Now that your mind is teased with the possibilities of an SEC-Big Ten Challenge, take this idea and crumple it in your mind's garbage bin because some things in life are simply too good to be true.