Sure, we have all the trappings of any major city. You can find fans of just about any collegiate team here, and you can find at least one bar in the city that will cater to your sporting whim no matter what far-flung part of the country you hail from. In terms of sporting diversity, Chicago is up there with the best in the county.
But through and through, it's a Big Ten town. Take a run down any street in Lincoln Park or Wrigleyville or any of the suburbs, and you can see the damage: Michigan and Indiana and Ohio State and Iowa and of course Illinois, flags flying, sweatshirts soaking up middle-aged sweat, college kids with stickers on their cars. It's the geography of the thing. Chicago is the Big Ten's home turf.
But partisan though we may be, can we all admit one quick, basically irrefutable fact? The Big Ten is not as good as the SEC at football. As a matter of fact, it's not even close.
I'm not just talking about the recent BCS Championship drubbings, either. Those are bad enough, but they're not as emblematic of the overall conference's performance as some people would have you believe. Instead, I'm talking about common sense. The eye test, as it were. We need to be careful when we do eye tests, because they lead us to wrong conclusions about every sport under the sun (just ask so many baseball scouts). But when it comes to the SEC, it's hard to take a good look down the list of teams in both conferences and easily conclude that the SEC is better. Start at the top and work your way down, or move in reverse. Whichever you prefer. The SEC is going to take that battle just about every time.
In a way, it's a shame we can't hook up some sort of interconference competition, a la the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. It would be fun to prove (or disprove) this fact on the field more than once or twice a year. For now, we think we can all agree. Our hearts are with the Big Ten, but any reasonable head knows the SEC is the better conference.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.