Was it a down year in the Big Ten this year? Kind of depends on your definition of down. I'd agree that the top three-UI, UM, & OSU aren't as good as the top three in past years. However, I would say the conf. is as deep as I've ever seen it. Infusion of good coaches the past 6-7 years along with the title IX schollie limits has really leveled the playing field. I've seen the same thing happen in the Pac 10 in the last couple of years and I think you're starting to see it happen in the SEC. The gap between UF & UT and the rest of the conf. is not as big as it has been the last few years. Your second half of the season run & win in the championship is evidence. IMO, it's going to be tough to win NCs for these conferences compared to Big 12, ACC, and Big East where bigger gaps still exist between the haves and have nots.