Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Miscellaneous Minutiae, 11/20/12

This is the first one of these in a while. With school winding down for the Thanksgiving break, I should be able to get a few things up this week leading up to The Game. 

60 Minutes piece. In case you missed it (and you probably didn't), Michigan was featured prominently Sunday in a 60 Minutes spot on the state of college football. Nothing "new" was presented --yes, college football has always been about the money, even when it supposedly wasn't-- but it was interesting to see Michigan chosen as one of two representatives of the industry of collegiate athletics:

I would be lying if I didn't say that, on the heels of Saturday's smashing victory, that the part of the brain that sends out neurotransmitters telling you to be SO PROUD weren't firing as I watched Michigan run out under the banner, Kovacs make a Kovacsy tackle on the edge and the Big House crowd going wild. I honestly have not delved too much into the reaction to the piece, but I imagine there was some hemming and hawing about Dave Brandon saying the things that Dave Brandon is wont to say.

All I'll say is this: I have been generally supportive of Brandon, and plan on being so until something truly egregious happens. No, uniform experimentation, Legends patches and all the other mildly annoying but decidedly ancillary things that Brandon has engineered do not fall under this umbrella. My only criticism is his point that playing games in places like Dallas generates fan interest for games at home. Even I, the endangered species that is the DB supporter, cannot get behind this byzantine logic.

Again, this is nothing new, but it's hard not to feel a little bit queasy (okay, a lot queasy) at the mere notion of what college football actually is, outside of the boundaries of standard platitudes about the mythical student-athlete and all the other things that we like to think exist but don't. Unfortunately, Pandora is out of the box, and it's not going back in.

Speaking of the industry...via Kyle Meinke, Brady Hoke has dropped down to the 12th highest paid coach in college football, down from 8th. He is "only" making $3,046,120, down a couple of hundred thousand from last season. During the 60 Minutes piece last night, Nick Saban was asked whether or not he is "worth it" (re: his ridiculous salary).

Saban self-deprecatingly answered "probably not." I wonder what Hoke's response would be? "Wellll there's no question that cheese pizza is the best food that you have and in no way should chicken come into the equation and those great kids in the Michigan community that eat that pizza know what the tradition of cheese pizza means to this university and the fans and past eaters of cheese pizza." 

Obligatory expansion ire. So, Maryland and Rutgers. If anything in sports would inspire a lukewarm at best reaction, it would be this.

On the bright side, at least the Big Ten will finally tap into the college football haven that is New York City, where Rutgers University is in fact located. What's that? *Checks map.* Ah, I see.

This puts the conference at 14 teams, two away from attaining superconference status. If these acquisitions confuse you, just wait until the Big Ten makes the now seemingly inevitable move to 16 teams.

GIFs, Ohio State edition. Just in case you needed reminding, Ohio State is our rival and we do dislike them to a certain extent. Here's a GIF of David Boston looking like he's in a game of Fight Night (via Eleven Warriors, HT mgoblog), from the tremendous time-space known as "1997":

Good, good. Let the hate flow through you.

Big Ten basketball is not terrible hey let's talk about it. I haven't gotten into the college basketball season yet in earnest due to time-related reasons, but here's a very brief roundup of the Big Ten's performance thus far to give you a vague outline of how things have played out:
  • Michigan: 4-0. Best team in the history of organized sports. Will win every game by no fewer than 84 points. The Wolverines take the floor at the World's Most Famous Arena Wednesday night against Pitt. 
  • Iowa: 4-0. Hasn't played anybody of note, but this is a team that could make some noise this year. Roy Devyn Marble and now sophomore Aaron White are averaging 15.5 and 14.8 ppg, respectively. 
  • Indiana: 4-0. Like everyone else, they've taken care of business against a bunch of nobodies. They were tied with Georgia at the half last night but pulled out a 66-53 win. As expected, they can definitely fill it up (#1 in ppg as a team coming into last night's game). The question that lingers from last season is whether or not they can actually play defense. 
  • Nebraska: 3-0. Good start for the Huskers under new HC Tim Miles. Did have a close 2-point victory against Valparaiso, which is at least a known mid-major brand. 
  • Purdue: 1-3. Easily the biggest disappointment of the conference to date. This is not a vintage Matt Painter Purdue team to say the least. I'm not sure where the points will come from with this roster during life after Hummel/Lewis Jackson. The Boilers have losses to Bucknell, Villanova (in OT) and Oregon State to their name already. D.J. Byrd as your leading scorer with 11 ppg is fairly grim. 
  • Ohio State: 3-0. Again, early season caveats, but the Buckeyes did beat Washington to win the Hall of Fame tourney, so that's something. The Buckeyes do have a date with Duke coming up on the 28th. 
  • Wisconsin: 2-1. 2012 is the year that will prove once and for all whether or not Wisconsin can really Wisconsin around and somehow go .500+ in the Big Ten without really having a point guard. Swing offense, yeah! Anyway, the Badgers took a pretty ugly loss on the road at Florida in between blowouts of Southeastern Louisiana and Cornell. The Badgers take on a ranked Creighton team on the 23rd.  
  • Penn State: 2-2. Lost to NC State by 17 (who just got destroyed by Oklahoma State) and got bludgeoned by Akron in Puerto Rico, 60-85. They do still have Tim Frazier, so hopefully he will continue to enjoy doing everything, all the time. 
  • Illinois: 3-0. The John Groce era is off to a nice start, if you ignore the fact that the Illini had to battle back from a 16-point second half deficit to beat Hawaii in overtime, 78-77. 
  • Michigan State: 2-1. The Spartans took a tough loss to UConn on the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany (Read that sentence again...welcome to sports in 2012!) The Spartans bounced back to knock off Kansas in their next game, though. 
  • Northwestern: 3-0. Same song here: three games, three blowouts. The only currently ranked team left on Northwestern's non-conference schedule is #24 Baylor. Given the Wildcats' struggles in the conference schedule, anything less than 10-2 in the non-conference probably means another year without a tourney invite for Carmody's 'Cats. 
  • Minnesota: 4-0. Four meaningless blowouts. They take on Duke on Thursday before traveling to Florida State on the 27th. Oh, also, Rodney Williams Jr. is shooting a ridiculous 73.5% from the field. 
So, there you have it. Nothing of note so far other than Purdue looking like it could be very, very bad this season. Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State are, as the rankings would indicate, the class of the conference, and Michigan State will of course be in the mix as well. Wisconsin is probably in for somewhat of a down year, but a tournament appearance should still be in the cards, as I'm sure they'll find a way to somehow win 10 Big Ten games.

More? DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK.  "On the latest Sports Retort, how do Big Ten traditionalists make peace with the new, less-pedigreed teams headed for their conference, which now includes miles of Atlantic coastline?" AHHHHH. "How does the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry compare with that of the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers?" AHHHHHHH. 

Apropos of nothing, the line for the Iron Bowl currently sits at 'Bama -31.5 (I probably didn't need to include the "Bama" part). Auburn fans, welcome to Michigan football circa 2008. 

BHGP on Saturday...I know that feel, man. 

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