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SI: Big Ten is best conference in college football

The Detroit News
Big Ten powers Michigan and Ohio State resume their rivalry on Nov. 25 at Michigan Stadium.

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can help you earn the distinction of strongest college football conference.

Sports Illustrated ranked the top 10, and the Big Ten came out on top, nudging out the SEC.

“This list came down to two conferences vying for the top spot, and the Big Ten’s new behemoth of a TV deal gave it the nod over the SEC,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Joan Niesen.

SI also weighed each conference’s current depth of talent, recent postseason success and foundation for future growth.

Niesen: “Sure, (the Big Ten) had a less-than-impressive showing in the most recent bowl season (3-7), but having nine representatives make New Year’s Six bowls in the three seasons of the College Football Playoff era is a feat. Plus, the Big Ten has two of the best coaches in the game in Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, with guys like James Franklin and Paul Chryst on the right track to adding a few perennial national contenders outside of the powerhouses in Columbus and Ann Arbor.

“The Big Ten also has sent a steady stream of coordinators off to bigger jobs in recent years. … And look at the 11 Michigan players taken in this spring’s NFL draft to lead all schools, one year after Ohio State topped the list with 12; the league is producing pros at an impressive rate. More than anything, this comes down to money, and the Big Ten is minting it and will be for some time, which can only mean more exposure, better facilities, better recruits — and likely better and better football.”

The Mid-American Conference, with Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Central Michigan, is ranked eighth.

Here is Sports Illustrated’s top 10:

1. Big Ten

2. SEC

3. ACC

4. Pac-12

5. Big 12

6. American Athletic

7. Mountain West

8. Mid-American

9. Conference USA

10. Sun Belt