Jim Delany says Big Ten needs to sell 'NFL weather' to recruits

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The BCS era wasn't all that kind to the Big Ten, and league commissioner Jim Delany seemed to acknowledge that earlier this week at the Big Ten Media Days event.

"I think it would be nice for the Big 12 or the Pac-12 or the Big Ten to win a national championship," Delany told CBS Sports. "The SEC -- hats off to them for winning national championships with four different teams (in the past eight years). For all of us, it's 'give us a glass of water in the desert.' So it's important."

Ohio State was the only Big Ten school to play in a national championship game during the 16 seasons of the BCS, with the Buckeyes going 1-2 in title games. The SEC had five schools win national titles in that span.

"We want to win a championship, there's no doubt about it," Delany said. "Our time will come. ... We have resources, we have good coaches, we have a fan base. We probably need to recruit more nationally."

To do that, Delany hinted, the league needs to sell its weather.

"Nobody has better weather than we do in August, September and October, and then you have NFL weather in November," he said.

In short, Delany seemingly is telling his coaches to sell cold-weather games in November to top prospects. Is that a viable solution? Heck, is there even such a thing as "NFL weather" when it comes to pro scouts?

Actually, there is -- with quarterbacks, at least, says NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks, a former NFL wide receiver and scout.

"While (weather is) normally not a big deal for position players, it's a huge issue when evaluating quarterbacks," Brooks said. "To play in Buffalo, Cleveland, New England and some of the other cities that are bombarded with bad weather down the stretch, you need to have a quarterback with a strong-enough arm to cut through the rain, wind, etc. Thus, (scouts) spend a lot of time watching them live to get an accurate gauge of their arm strength to determine whether they have the ability to put enough RPMs on the ball to make throws in any condition."

Brooks also said that while scouts "monitor if the weather impacts the performance and production" of running backs and receivers, "it's definitely not the priority when studying prospects in the fall."

Maybe Big Ten coaches are using Brooks' take when they recruit quarterbacks: In the past two recruiting cycles, Big Ten quarterback recruiting has noticeably ramped up. Using 247sports.com's consensus national recruiting rankings, Big Ten schools signed three of the top-15 dual-threat quarterbacks and two of the top-15 pro-style quarterbacks in the 2014 recruiting cycle and six of the top-15 dual threats and two of the top three pro-style passers in the '13 recruiting cycle. That's 13 top quarterbacks in two years. Those two classes came on the heels of a three-year stretch (2010-12) where Big Ten schools signed just 11 quarterbacks total that were considered top-15 pro-style or dual-threat quarterbacks.

Overall, though, Big Ten recruiting must get better. The Big Ten hasn't measured up on the field or during the draft. In the past five drafts, the Big Ten has had 154 players selected; that's the third-most among all the conferences. Still, it's 15 behind the ACC and 87 behind the SEC. And in terms of first-round selections, the Big Ten has had 18 in that span, fourth-most among conference -- and a staggering 32 behind the SEC, which has had 23 first-rounders in the past two drafts alone. The Big 12 has had 27 first-rounders in that span and the ACC 21.

Ohio State's Urban Meyer is a recruiting demon -- he has proved it with the Buckeyes and during his time at Florida. Penn State's James Franklin did yeoman recruiting work at Vanderbilt, and now has more to sell with the Nittany Lions. Of course, recruiting rankings don't necessarily translate to on-field wins; just look at Michigan State and Wisconsin. Still, recent history suggests if Big Ten teams want to play for national titles, they need better players, and that obviously means they must do better on the recruiting trail.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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