Music, like sports, sparks debate, creates discussion and can even lead to heated disagreements.
But both are unquestionably a huge part of American culture. So Athlon Sports has decided to combine two of our favorite things — rock and roll with college football.
What if our favorite football programs were rock and roll bands? Every Power 5 team will be represented, so if you don’t see your favorite band or school here, keep your eyes peeled.
Here are the 14 Big Ten schools as rock bands:
A band that was at its peak a long time ago, delivering some of the greatest individual songs/athletes of its generation. But it also produced a lot of slow, soft crap and was basically dormant for about two decades until a bizarre resurgence in 2007. I am picturing Dick Butkus standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona.
A Midwest college throwback that really isn’t all that good — unless you are in college, then it’s awesome. It had one epically good, historically great song that nearly won a Heisman Trophy despite a bad supporting cast near the turn of the century. Antwaan Randle El was a "Crazy Game of Poker" for most defensive coordinators.
Iowa: Grateful Dead
This group is extremely popular but only within a small cross section of the country. It appeals to a very specific type of fan who travels to support their team extremely well. However, the product itself is much slower than you’d think and a lot of people just don’t get it.
A progressive, heavy metal-ish act originally from a different conference (Canada), Rush has had some seriously talented arrangements over the years. They’re on stage performance is as loud as their songs and their wardrobe is even louder (and, at times, stranger). This is an eclectic group with a quirky identity that has been solid for a long time and not always fully understood. There seems to be a lot of red and black involved too.
They’ve been around a long, long time and saw their biggest rise to stardom take place in the 1990s. They are massive, loud and really good but sort of sanctimonious (always) and basically hollow for the last decade. They are good enough to love easily but holier than thou from time to time.
Michigan State: Bruce Springsteen
Is there a more blue-collar program in the country that has been more successful riding the work ethic train more than the Spartans? This has been a quality product in many different decades and appeals to the hard-working, middle class. And both have produced some serious Hall of Fame tracks.
Minnesota: Talking Heads
This is an extremely well-respected group among critics and experts but not really by the mainstream younger generation. Everything about both screams underrated despite some elite-level success a long time ago. The city is underrated, the history is underrated and the general personality is underrated.
Nebraska: Dave Matthews Band
This group totally kicked ass in the 1990s and delivered as much success as any act in the history of the sport. It built a massive, committed and, at times, delusional, fan base that is as supportive of their boys as any in the nation. However, it’s been sort of boring and rarely relevant since about 2003.
Chicago-based intelligent Dad Rock who hates being labeled as such (despite how true it is). In fact, they are almost too smart for their own good. Both are led by frontmen who consider themselves the smartest people in the room (mostly, because they are) and will tell you about it. Neither ever has been as respected as they probably should be.
Ohio State: The Black Keys
The pride of Akron, Ohio, the Black Keys are the biggest and best rock band going today. They are No. 1 in the nation, the reigning arena tour of the current landscape. They are loaded with elite talent and led by a guy who doesn’t care what you think. He’s going to do whatever he wants, do it well and then laugh at the smoldering rubble he leaves in his wake.
Penn State: Jack White
One of Ohio State's/The Black Keys' biggest rivals in the industry today, Jack White is extraordinarily talented despite a big conference move (from Detroit to Nashville). They are both obsessed with a blue and white color scheme and, let’s be honest, both are a little weird while still sustaining elite-level success. The live performances are second to none in the entire industry and both have done some things that have revolutionized the sport.
Purdue: The Yardbirds
Like Purdue quarterbacks going on to the NFL, the Yardbirds did one thing really well: supplying better bands with killer guitar players. Drew Brees is the Jimmy Page of the Big Ten. And good luck trying to find many fans of either in 2015.
Rutgers: The Gaslight Anthem
Grungy, loud, abrasive Northeastern rock that sounds and looks the same all the time. Their success is fairly new and has been pretty solid for a about half-a-decade with some killer songs. Questions about the groups’ long-term upside should be answered in the next few seasons/albums.
Wisconsin: Foo Fighters
Extremely consistent since their early 1990s emergence. They are catchy, tough to beat, classic rock and roll that hasn't ever been bad for the better part of a decade. But this group has never really been capable of winning a national title despite plenty of conference championships.