The staff at Baseball America, Aaron Fitt and John Manuel to be exact, have handed out grades to programs from eight conferences (.pdf file). They used the six BCS conferences plus noted baseball conferences Conference USA and the Big West. The boys at BA ranked the programs on the basis of seven categories: National Impact, Competitiveness, Fans & Facilities and Academics. Using this criteria, BA also gave an overall baseball GPA to each conference.
The good news for the Big Ten? The conference was the only one of the eight that got an "A" in Academics. OK, The Big East did land an "A-". Is this cool? Absolutely. Unfortunately, though, this was a "baseball" GPA.
I'll let you read the report card yourself for the specifics, but overall the Big Ten didn't fare well. The conference's GPA? An underwhelming 1.82. Individually, no Big Ten program received better than a C grade. Worse, four got F's.
My initial reaction to such negative press is to defend the conference. However, it's simply impossible to argue with the conference's overall performance. On-the-field, Minnesota and Ohio State have been left to carry the load for the entire conference for much of the last twenty years. Yes, Michigan has re-joined the elite in recent years, but their return to success as been short-lived.
Off-the-field, the Buckeyes have gone it alone. OSU's commitment to facilities ran unrivaled in the conference until Penn State's new ballpark opened last season. Yes, there is a wave of new or renovated buildings on the docket, but they will all arrive over a decade after the folks in C-bus made the move.
While the future of Big Ten baseball looks bright, Baseball America's rankings were based on recent history, which isn't quite as attractive. Hopefully, if BA revisits this in five years, the Big Ten's renewed commitment to baseball will yield a much higher grade.