The menu is set for this week's Big Ten football media days.
The main dish for the powers that be: a heaping helping of humble pie.
This high-brow conference has invited the national media to come inspect it in Chicago on Thursday and Friday during an ugly low point.
All four schools identified as Big Ten “cornerstones'' — so named upon adding Nebraska as a 12th member a year ago and splitting into divisions — are on NCAA probation.
Penn State, besides the fines and scholarship reductions revealed Monday from the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal, now is under watch for further bad deeds through July 2017.
Ohio State is on point through December 2014 because of player payments in Tattoogate and fired coach Jim Tressel's withholding of information.
(Both PSU and OSU are ineligible for postseason play in 2012, leaving the Leaders Division with only two-thirds of a full-field race.)
Michigan has to stay clean through November 2013 after ex-coach Rich Rodriguez decided that he wanted to practice far more than the time limits allow.
Nebraska, though many have forgotten, is on self-imposed probation through February 2014 for a scholarship textbook misunderstanding that also led to a $38,000 fine. Yes, it's a small-time offense, but it still counts as a violation.
More worrisome to NU fans and the Big Ten is that the Huskers are in, what for them, is a slump, looking for their first Bowl Championship Series berth in 11 years and first conference title in 13.
Adding to the general football woe is that three other Big Ten schools have fired their coaches in the past two years for poor performance (Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois).
Now comes the cherry on top:
Michigan star running back Fitz Toussaint was suspended Monday after a weekend arrest for driving while intoxicated. He may not be reinstated in time to play against defending national champion Alabama in college football's showcase game of the opening weekend.
“This is not a proud moment for the Big Ten Conference,'' Iowa President Sally Mason said Monday, responding to the Penn State case with words that could apply to the league as whole in recent years.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, often busy skewering the Southeastern Conference, took time Monday to sound contrite over the Penn State matter.
“There is pain. There is frustration ... and concern,'' he said. “We're hoping out of this that we will get better, and that everybody will take a lesson.''
That lesson, Delany said, is wariness over a concentration of power.
“It's a combination of strong personality, lots of success and some celebrity that comes together in a way that challenges the control of the sports programs and undermines the controls that are in place,'' he said.
Good answer. Checks and balances are mighty important.
Too bad there apparently weren't any a couple of years ago when Delany helped argue for five ineligible Ohio State players — including quarterback Terrelle Pryor — to play in the 2011 Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.
Just think. This is the league that we learned last week had briefly considered giving Delany emergency powers to fire personnel at individual schools for egregious acts. Could he have canned himself for the Ohio State decision?
The point here is that the Big Ten has been bucked off its high horse.
It's time to stop snickering at the Big 12 for its perceived woes and quit making excuses about failure to match up with the SEC and call off the haughty acts like naming divisions Legends and Leaders.
With legends and leaders in apparent short supply right now, it's time for the Big Ten to clean up its own kitchen after the humble pie is served.
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