The last two seasons have dropped Penn State Football in the hierarchy of the Big Ten Conference. Penn State must start closing the gap.
Penn State Football has now been in the Big Ten for 31 years. Over these 31 years, the pecking order in the conference revolves around four teams; Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State.
These four teams have accounted for the last nine Big Ten Titles.
If you take it back even farther, these four teams have won a share of the Big Ten Title in 18 of the last 20 seasons.
Its’ been complete domination.
To make matters even worse, these teams have resided in the same division since 2014. The conference realignment discussion is one to be had on a different day.
It can be argued that Penn State Football is currently on the bottom of the pecking order.
There are several reasons for the current gap between the Nittany Lions and the other top teams in their division.
How can Penn State Football return to its place among Big Ten heavyweights?
The differences between these four teams are everything from schemes, in-game coaching, recruiting, and development. Penn State Football has advantages in some and lacks in others.
Closing the gap between Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State won’t be easy.
There is no singular aspect the program can improve to catch all three programs ahead of them. The program will have to improve in every way possible.
James Franklin will have to make hard decisions about his current staff, current and future recruits, facility upgrades, and his relationship with a new administration.
Franklin has proven that he can win the Big Ten. He has not proved that he can sustain that success. A down year has to evolve to where Penn State Football only finishes behind one of these programs.
The ultimate goal of this program is to be in the discussion for the College Football Playoff.
Sure, Penn State Football has looked the part at various times in several seasons, but here we sit without a Playoff appearance.
In the following days, we will look at how Penn State Football can close the gap against each Michigan State, Michigan, and Ohio State. If Penn State can execute these changes Penn State Football will once again rise to the top of the pecking order of the Big Ten.