Mike Lantry, 1972
Michigan loses a commit, Indiana loses two, and otherwise there isn't much going on this week. The most notable commitment is four-star DE Faith Ekakitie going to Iowa. Action since last rankings:
11-28-11: David Cooper decommits from Indiana.
12-6-11: Dante Blackmon decommits from Indiana. Northwestern picks up Andrew Scanlan.
12-7-11: Iowa picks up Faith Ekakitie.
12-8-11: Anthony Standifer decommits from Michigan. Nebraska picks up Thomas Brown.
12-11-11: Iowa picks up Kevin Buford.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg||Avg Avg^|
*ESPN doesn't rate JuCos, so they are counted as unranked recruits for the sake of consistency (trust me, it makes sense when you look at the spreadsheet).
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (aka the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
On to the full data, after the jump.
Six Zero here, proud to announce the glorious return of…
This feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog
and beyond. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get
to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on
their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF MGOPROFILE
(Scroll down to the MGoProfile section of the User-Curated HOF).
And now, my friends, I give you…
Man. Myth. Legend. Lloyd Brady.
I submit to you a young man, a seemingly random spectator who-- through no machinations of his own, mind you—found himself thrust into the spotlight of MGoBlog and beyond. Doing a simple search on MGoBlog doesn’t quite do it justice; this guy registers prominently on the search engine of your choice. The phenomenon now known as “Lloyd Brady” has, for better or worse, become a part of the common lexicon of the site and the fan base as a whole, and for all we know may go down in history with the jingling of keys and the term ‘Little Brother’ as part of the fabric of traditions that is Michigan football.
This week I was able to get in touch with arguably the most famous fan of the Michigan Wolverines, and rest assured, this is indeed legitimate. It’s my pleasure to bring you this MGoBlog exclusive interview with the one and only Lloyd Brady:
1. So first and foremost, in your own words—who or what is ‘Lloyd Brady?’
Lloyd Brady started as someone’s description of my appearances, but has kind of evolved into something more than what I look like. It has become me, kind of, as in that’s how people recognize me and people that recognize me as Lloyd Brady probably don’t know my real name so it’s me as two people in a sense.
Like, in a Bruce Wayne/Batman kinda way?
It’s hard to explain. But, when people see me and my expressions, it’s usually how they feel as well, I think. For example, last year at the Penn State game I was on TV with kind of a depressed look as we were losing and it seemed likely we were going to lose. People posted pictures and comment “This is how I feel,” and other things like that. Then, at another game that we won, I was captured on television with a huge smile and people were posting, “if Lloyd Brady is happy, Michigan must be winning”. So Lloyd Brady is me, but is also a representation of Michigan, and a feeling or sensation. I think that there is some Lloyd Brady in every Michigan fan, but I have become the representative figure of them all I guess.
Yes. You are the embodiment of Michigan Men everywhere. Whatever Lloyd Brady is feeling during any given play, we’re probably experiencing the same thing. And yet, none of uscan possibly imagine what it was like to be caught in the center of this phenomenon. Can you describe what it’s like to, well, be ‘Lloyd Brady?’
It is interesting. I didn’t really like it at first because it seemed a little weird seeing my picture and people making comments, but have learned to accept it and enjoy it now. It makes me happy to make other people happy and if meeting me or seeing me enhances someone’s Michigan experience, I guess that is what I like most about it. There are threads that people post their stories about seeing me on TV and telling their wives and kids, and now they look for me as well. It is just crazy how much attention it has gotten. I have progressed to a point that if it makes people happy, then that’s probably a good thing.
2. I’m sure we can all remember the day or at least week* when this whole thing broke. How did you find out about it?
I found out for myself actually when I was looking through MGoBlog after the game and clicked on the original Lloyd Brady thread and it was “woah, that’s me!”
As someone who wrote a little piece called “WifeDay,” I know what it’s like to have something blow up around here and grow beyond your control. At what point did you realize how big Lloyd Brady had truly become? Was there a point where you just threw in the towel and learned to live with it?
When did I realize? The Photoshop thread. I never denied it, it was just I think I took it the wrong way to start. It started as poking fun which I didn’t enjoy too much, but now it is completely different and I think I accepted it when Brian threw out something about it on the main page that he showed his support for me and that it was a good thing, not a bad thing.
Yeah, I think an epic 386-response thread would be hard to ignore. So you’re a reader of MGoBlog, then? After all this, I don’t think anyone would blame you if you boycotted us for the rest of your life. What are your thoughts on the site?
I have been a fan of MGoBlog before this started even. I love the breakdowns of Michigan sports and besides, the MGoBoard isn’t always just Michigan related threads; there’s others that keep me up to date on other sports related news as well.
I agree—even popular culture and news (like this summer’s northeastern earthquake, personally) has a way of breaking on MGoBlog for the loyal readers. So now we know, people—when Lloyd Brady needs an update on the Red Wings score, you know where he turns.
3. Does the ‘Lloyd Brady’ meme exist only as an online entity, or is it alive and well on campus also? And how has it affected you on a personal level in real life?
Lloyd Brady started online, but there are people behind all those computers and many of them attend the University of Michigan (a lot of them go here) or attend football games or some of the other sports. Yes, it is on campus, I take pictures with people at parties, bars, games. On a personal level I don’t think it has changed me much; I don’t go and exploit it and say, like, “I’m Lloyd Brady” and try and get free shots at the bar or anything. I’ve had it happen, and it’s fun to see someone on campus that recognizes me: it usually leads to a conversation of Michigan sports which I am always up for talking about. Last year, people were calling out to me or taking pictures at the Gator Bowl. It also comes up at the basketball games, hockey games, etc…
Last week while at work one of my co-workers told me he was in California for the Ohio game and said at the bar he saw me on TV and some other random person at the bar yells “Lloyd Brady!” which is crazy to think about I think.
4. Yes. You are a national ambassador for the fan base and arguably one of our biggest fans. What is gameday like for the student section’s most popular face?
Gamedays. If you ask my roommates they may hate me, but I make sure they are up and ready to go. Usually for noon games I’m not allowed to wake them up until 7 am. And later games, 9 am. On gamedays, I naturally wake up around 6 or 7 ready to go. Shower, wake people up, then go and tailgate for a while. Tailgating at Michigan is extremely different than any other campus I’ve visited. I enjoy the campus atmosphere during gamedays a lot. After some tailgating, it’s time to go to the game, usually a little earlier than other students.
Especially for you. I’m sure there’s pictures to pose for, autographs to sign, babies to kiss. What’s your secret for getting so much screen time?
I’m not sure there really is a secret, I just go be myself and enjoy the games as much as possible cheering, celebrating, doing things simply. I don’t dress up, bring signs or do anything real extreme to get on TV. I guess it’s just location and it’s a lot easier to pick me out I guess because people are looking for me.
That’s true. Let’s see a show of hands out there—as soon as ESPN cuts to the student section, who doesn’t start scanning the crowd to see if you can pick out our boy Lloyd?
5. Let’s talk more specifically about the student section. And, well, Denard. You’ll be forever immortalized celebrating with him on the wall on national television after the UConn game last year. Tell us about that moment.
It was the first game of the season. We had some hype going into the season and didn’t really know what to expect since it was about time for Rich Rod’s offense to finally take effect. Denard came out strong and Michigan won, and everyone was excited for the time being as how things were going. After the game, the players came running over and Denard jumped up into the crowd, and then the moment that was captured was me pulling him up into the crowd. And with the angle the photo catches me at, I do look like a mix between Tom Brady and Lloyd Christmas. I was the starting QB for our state championship high school team, and back then people were referencing the “Tom Brady” look-alike appearance… but the Lloyd Christmas was definitely something new.
A former athlete, and now you’re obviously a UM student. One day you’ll graduate and be on the job hunt. What would you do if the ‘Lloyd Brady’ thing came up in a job interview?
If it ever came up in a job interview-- I would actually think of showing someone in an interview maybe, give them something easy to remember me by. But, if someone else brought it up, I think I would be excited and shocked. It would give me a larger perspective to how big Lloyd Brady is known and also how many people read MGoBlog.
6. And you will forever be a part of its lore. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I was born and raised to be a Michigan fan. I have been attending games since I was 2 years old. As a child I had a Michigan helmet and played one on one tackle football against my dad and somehow won every game on some dramatic play. My sister’s first words were “Bo Schembechler;” she used to pretend to be on the phone and when you would ask her who she was talking to she would respond, “Bo Schembechler.” I actually did some volunteer work with Bo during a cancer drive for former Wolverine Tom Slade. I’ve never thought of switching loyalties or ever considered being a Spartan. When applying for college, I received my MSU packet in the mail, my parents were excited for me (well, maybe not my dad because he bleeds maize and blue). But when they handed it to me, but I didn’t even open it; instead I said “Great, I’ll go to Arizona if I don’t get into Michigan.”
Arizona? I bet that’s much more ironic now than it was, say a month ago. Finally, who is Lloyd Brady’s all-time favorite Wolverine?
Lamarr Woodley. I’ve followed him for a long, long time and it was great to see him excel at Michigan and beyond. He was a great defensive linemen and super-exciting to watch since you knew he could always get to the quarterback on every play. That whole defensive line, though, with Woodley, Branch, Watson, and Jamison, was one of the greatest D-line groups in Michigan history. Also, I guess it would make total sense if I included Tom Brady on that list as well. There are so many people that I could list … and Bo would be right up there too.
Yes. Lamarr is one of my favorites as well. And right up there on the list of many others is a man known as Lloyd Brady. Thanks so much for sitting down with us, and can we expect to see you in the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome on January 3, 2012?
Yes, I’ll definitely be going!
*THE ORIGIN OF LLOYD BRADY
The original ‘appearance’ of Lloyd Brady, at least according to national television and Michigan football, is vs. UConn, September 4, 2010. The famous DENARDING of Notre Dame takes place on Sept. 11, 2010, and LB once again makes appearances during that game as well, and I think that’s when the meme truly grows wings and prepares to take flight. He then makes a famous local appearance during the remote Colin Cowherd show in Ann Arbor, and that's when heads really start to turn. The first concrete evidence of it truly blowing up isn’t until September 22, when Shredder posts this thread professing his nigh-offensive preference for the young fan, but at that point the name still has yet to drop. For the first week and a half he is referred to simply as Tom Brady/Lloyd Christmas fan or TB/LC Lovechild. The next day there is a post by Yostlovesme concerning Cowherd’s B1G road trip in which LB is referred to simply as ‘Lloyd,’ with regards to whether or not Michele Beadle actually threw him a t-shirt during the Cowherd broadcast. The next day (Sept. 24) Blazefire writes a charming Friday-morning lovefest for all things maize and blue in which LB is again revered in a post by Block M, yet he is still not officially named.
As for who is TRULY responsible for the name, it’s hard to say, but Brian himself has admitted that he feels he is responsible for coining the nomenclature, and there is archived materials to support this. One thing is certain: It officially goes supernova on September 30. He is officially recognized by Unverified Voracity in a front-page post in which Brian starts off calling him “TomBrady/Lloyd Christmas fan, and even posts video in which he claims to see him (‘I’m saying there’s a chance at 2:02’). Just after the video, Brian refers to him as LLOYD BRADY, and throughout the rest of the thread multiple posters embrace the name, starting chronologically with LoyalBlue15 at 10:03am, who ironically calls for yours truly to design a Lloyd Brady shirt. At 10:46 mdoc answers Brian’s seemingly innocent call to begin photoshopping LB into historical situations like the stunned Okie fan meme. Not long after at 10:50am, Aquaman2342, already using it as his avatar, posts a full-size image of the Lloyd Brady Time Magazine cover which sets off the feeding frenzy. Mdoc drops another mash-up job at 11:04, thus inspiring megalomanick to start the now-legendary OT Lloyd Brady Photoshop thread at 12:30pm.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Lloyd Brady. The meme really has taken on a sort of mythical presence, and it’s easy to forget that there’s an actual guy out there who wakes up and goes to classes and lives his life when he’s not in glorious High Definition in every one of our living rooms on Saturday. As he himself said above, it’s almost like an alter-ego, except in a maize tee and blue base layer instead of a cape.
Let’s face it, Lloyd Brady is something of a celebrity within our fan base, and it’s been fun for all of us to be in on the joke, along for the ride. But it hasn’t always been fun for him—at its birth, this whole spectacle was ridiculing and almost cruel in nature before gaining an air of respectability. It’s a testament to this guy that he took it as well as he did, and even found a way to claim a sense of ownership over something that he originally had no control over.
With that being said, Underground Printing and MGoBlog are pleased to announce a new partnership with the man behind the face, and are proud to release the all-new Lloyd Brady Collection at the MGoStore. These three new designs celebrate the phenomenon of Lloyd Brady and are now available for order:
CLICK THE ABOVE IMAGE TO ORDER!
Bigfoot. Santa Claus. The Loch Ness Monster.
Little green men from Mars. And Lloyd Brady. If you believe with all
your heart, then he must be real, kids. THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!
CLICK THE ABOVE IMAGE TO ORDER!
Because, you know, he is. For all of us.
WHERE IN ANN ARBOR?
CLICK THE ABOVE IMAGE TO ORDER!
Designed as an homage to Carmen Sandiego, it’s everyone’s favorite
pastime between the whistles. Searching for Lloyd Brady is more
than a gametime activity, it's a new Michigan tradition.
Lloyd Brady looks great in the student section and even better on your HDTV… but he’ll never have looked better being worn on your chest, or even under the Christmas tree for your favorite Michigan fan. Order now before they’re gone!
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND GO BLUE!
|Michigan Hockey: Michigan State Preview|
|12/9/11 Michigan State (10-5-1) at Michigan (8-8-2) 7:35pm (FS Detroit)|
|12/10/11 Michigan at Michigan State 6:35pm (BTN)|
It has been an uncharacteristic season in the college hockey world so far to say the least. Ferris, Ohio, and WMU are doing awesome and the MSU team who was supposed to be Bowling Green awful is about to join them in the rankings. Michigan State started the season with major question marks in all areas, but the biggest was how a team down on talent would respond with a coach who isn't really a coach. They started the season how everyone expected (2-4) and I stopped caring, they proceeded to go 8-1-1 with a sweep of WMU and a 1-0-1 series vs #2 Minnesota.
This is almost the same group we saw last year. Reimer and Wolfe are playing outstanding hockey and Mike Merrifield has broken out, scoring more points this season (13) than he did the last three combined. MSU is very deep at forward, which isn't always a good thing for them. Having fourteen forwards on the roster allows them to go deeper into the benches during games, but it has also yielded a lot of ugly +/- ratings and not very much scoring.
Althought the Spartans have outstanding numbers they are not perfect, outside of the top line the defense is not good at all. Maybe it is a result of playing with tired defensemen but it is weird to see a guy like Perlini sitting at -2 with his scoring numbers. The game will be decided by how well each teams second and third lines play, we could see Reds coaching experience be the difference here.
As well as Anastos has done with the rest of the team, Rick Comley really left him with a bare cupboard here. With Sturges being a reserve that leaves them with five defensemen and Chelios, who is listed at both forward and defense. It's great to see Sturges' hard work has payed off, as he is back on the ice after missing the last two seasons.
We should all remember Torey Krug, since he is the above average player who turns into a Norris trophy level defensemen every time he plays Michigan. He leads the top pair with Shelgren, but outside of them they see a huge drop off. Crandell and Buttery have been solid players in years past but it seems that the increased workload is to much to handle. The key to this matchup will be keeping them moving, the harder they have to work the faster they will wear down.
This is your typical MSU team, they will move the puck around the blueline, crank a shot, and crash the net. Keeping pressure on the puck is a must.
We were introduced to Will Yanakeff last season after the Big Chill. Starting his first game on a really bad MSU team, he played an outstanding game to give MSU a victory. Although it was aided by Hunwick's shenanigans he played lights out and is starting to push Palmisano for the starting spot. At this point they are still splitting so expect to see both goalies this weekend.
|Phil Di Giuseppe||8-6-14||50||+10||7||12|
Not much is changing with our forwards from week to week. They have maintained an elite scoring unit all season long, but dropped from 3rd to 6th after this past series. Im starting to worry about Zach Hyman, maybe we took draft status to much into consideration but the expectations were higher for him and he has not met them yet. Also noticeably absent is Luke Glendening who has a solid +/- rating but has not been able to find the scoring touch so far.
The key match up this weekend is going to be Michigan vs Friday and Michigan vs Road game. Neither has been kind to us this season and we need to reverse that trend to have any kind of success this weekend.
I'm not sure what to think anymore, I keep telling myself that it will get better and every week it gets worse. It's just frustrating to watch such a talented group looking so lost no matter who the opponent is game after game. The offensive strength of MSU is putting bodies in front of the net and capitalizing on rebounds, that is what we are terrible at defending. All season a lose puck in front of the net has been going in favor of the other team, and we seem to never get the 50/50 pucks. It's something that I can't explain, but I know that not having Jon Merrill isn't the reason why our veteran blueliners suddenly lost their on ice awareness.
The key to this matchup is who can control the front of the net. If Michigan can keep the Spartans off Hunwick and limit rebounds we can be alright. This is a rivalry game so it will be physical and we have seen before that one bad penalty can be the difference in the game.
Still the same as before. Nothing on film tells me that Hunwick is to blame, when he starts slipping ill be the first to say it. The key matchup is Hunwick vs himself. The Spartans are going to get after him because they know he pushes back, it cost us a game last year and they haven't forgotten.
It's hard to not predict a sweep for the Spartans, we have not preformed well on Fridays or on the road this entire season. That being said it is a rivalry game and the team who is favored doesn't always win, last years Michigan team split the season with MSU 2-2. I think we can take our first real Friday win at Yost before falling at Munn on Saturday.
In an effort to combine a playoff with the current BCS system and historical norms, I present you a format for a three week and eight team playoff that I believe will find a clear and relatively indisputable champion while maintaining the importance of regular season play both in and out of conference.
The part that will appease advocates for a +1 model:
The top four seeds according to the BCS rankings automatically qualify.
1. LSU (SEC)
2. Alabama (SEC)
3. Oklahoma State (Big 12)
4. Stanford (Pac-12)
The part that will appease fans of non automatic-qualifying/BCS conferences:
The four remaining spots will be filled by conference champions that are inside the top 14 of BCS rankings.
5. Oregon (Pac-12)
10. Wisconsin (Big Ten)
*If there are any remaining spots, the next highest team in the BCS ranking advances provided they are not from a conference already sporting two tournament teams. In this instance, it would be:
7. Boise St. (MCW)
8. Kansas State (Big 12).
Boise St., here is your chance. The Big East and ACC would not have a representative for their conference champions were not in the top 14 and nor did they have members in the top 4 otherwise.
The part that will appease fans of traditional BCS bowls:
The Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, and Orange bowls will remain with historical ties intact and will be the first round of the playoffs.
*As there isn't an ACC team available for the Orange Bowl, the highest seed available becomes the home team. That would be 2 Alabama.
The rest of the matchups are determined by first avoiding rematches and secondly by traditional tournament seeding with the highest ranked home team playing the lowest ranked at-large and so on. Two teams that are in the same conference that did not play in the regular season or conference championship are eligible to play each other immediately.
Rose Bowl (Big Ten v Pac-12): 10 Wisconsin v 5 Oregon
Sugar Bowl (SEC v ?): 1 LSU v 8 Kansas State
Fiesta Bowl (Big 12 v ?): 3. Oklahoma St v 4 Stanford
*Orange Bowl (ACC v ?): 2 Alabama v 7 Boise St
The ACC forfeits their right as an automatic qualifying conference by not producing a team that can reasonably be expected to compete for the national title. #10 Virginia Tech and #15 Clemson have 2 and 3 losses respectively.
The Big East similarly failed to produce a team ranked in the top 14 that could reasonably be expected to compete for the national title, as their highest ranked team was #23 West Virginia with 3 losses and the shared winner of the conference, Cincinatti, wasn't ranked. If West Virginia wanted in they should have taken out 1 LSU when they had a chance in out of conference play, or scheduled better teams in victory than 6-6 C-USA Marshall, FCS Norfolk State, or 2-10 ACC Maryland.
The second round, like the first, would again try to first avoid rematches and secondly reseed pairing up the highest ranked team with the lowest down the line. This means that if LSU were to play Alabama or Oregon again it'd have to be in the finals.
Assuming all favored teams win: 1 LSU v 3 Oklahoma St and 2 Alabama v 5 Oregon. In this scenario, the no rematches rule was invoked and LSU would neither face Alabama or Oregon.
Assuming all upsets: 7 Boise St v 8 Houston and 10 Wisconsin v 4 Stanford.
In the end, even the lowest-ranked team would have to secure three consecutive victories against highly ranked, BCS bowl eligible teams. This year, Wisconsin would have to take out 5 Oregon and at least 4 Stanford and 8 Houston. If they were to have done that in the regular season you can bet they'd have earned at least a top three ranking, even with two losses.
I believe that this format would please the most people. What are your thoughts? Who is left unhappy? Are there doomsday scenarios that I haven't envisioned? Any rules I should relax or implement?
Ten teams in the Big Ten are bowl eligible: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin. Only Indiana and Minnesota failed to make bowl games; Minnesota finished the season strong while Indiana – not so much.
It’s time to look at the fourth quarter of the season report card for Big Ten teams; the regular season is over, heading into the bowl season. The report card will factor in each team’s success (or lack thereof) offensively and defensively, while keeping their win-loss record in mind. In the event a team is playing in a bowl game, it will be noted.
Note: No predictions were done for the conference title.
Readers have suggested I reference the previous quarters’s report card; those grades will be duly noted. To see the first quarter report card, click here. To see the second quarter grades, click here. To see the third quarter grades, click here.
To see articles like this and more, visit my website at Before Visiting the Sportsbook (note the new web address; content is updated daily).
Illinois – Projected Record: (8-4); Actual Record: (6-6)
Total Offense: 358.17 yards/game; 86th.
Run Offense: 171.17 yards/game; 42nd. Pass Offense: 187.00 yards/game; 91st.
Total Defense: 291.75 yards/game; 7th.
Run Defense: 132.67 yards/game; 42nd. Pass Defense: 159.08 yards/game; 4th.
Notes: The Illini started off the season on fire, starting 6-0 with an average MOV of 16.8; since that time, Illinois was 0-6 with an average MOD of 11.3. The six game slide led to the Zooker being canned. The Illini’s potential candidates include Tim Beckman (Toledo), Dave Doeren (Northern Illinois), Ron English (Eastern Michigan), Hugh Freeze (Arkansas State), Butch Jones (Cincinnati), and Pat Narduzzi (D.C. Michigan State). Illinois will travel to San Francisco to play UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Illinois is led offensively by QB Nathan Scheelhaase (2485 total yards, 63.6% completion, 18 total TDs, but 7 INTs), RB Jason Ford (600 rushing yards, 3.9/carry, and 7 rushing TDs), and WR A.J. Jenkins (1196 receiving yards, 14.2/catch, and 7 receiving TDs). Illinois made it to a bowl game, mainly because the Big Ten has numerous bowl tie-ins, but also because Illinois draws more fans than other potential candidates, which isn’t saying much. The Illini have non-conference games against Western Michigan, at Arizona State, Charleston Southern, and Louisiana Tech. Winnable home games exist against Indiana, Minnesota, and Purdue; unfortunately for Illinois, all of the road games could be losses, with trips to Wisconsin and Michigan on back-to-back weeks, then visits to Ohio and Northwestern later in the season. Don’t expect Illinois to be bowl eligible in 2012.
Wins: Arkansas State (33-15); South Dakota State (56-3); #22 Arizona State (17-14); Western Michigan (23-20); Northwestern* (38-35); @ Indiana* (41-20).
Losses: Ohio* (7-17); @ Purdue* (14-21); @ #19 Penn State (7-10); #24 Michigan* (14-31); #17 Wisconsin* (17-28); @ Minnesota* (7-27).
Current Grade: C-.
Indiana – Projected Record: (3-9); Actual Record: (1-11)
Total Offense: 360.42 yards/game; 85th.
Run Offense: 161.00 yards/game; 58th. Pass Offense: 199.40 yards/game; 80th.
Total Defense: 458.67 yards/game; 109th.
Run Defense: 243.67 yards/game; 118th. Pass Defense: 215.00 yards/game; 51st.
Notes: The Hoosiers had their worst year since 1984, when they were winless. Coach Kevin R. Wilson’s first year couldn’t have gone any worse, as their average MOD in Big Ten play was 24.4. Indiana’s three best conference games might have been against Penn State, Purdue, and Ohio. QB Tre Robinson (791 total yards, 59.7% completion, 4 total TDs, but 2 INTs) is the third quarterback for the Hoosiers this season. RB Stephen Houston (577 rushing yards, 5.2/carry, and 6 rushing TDs) and WR Duwyce Wilson (217 receiving yards, 12.8/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) lead the Hoosiers offensively. The Hoosiers have lost 29 of their last 32 conference games, dating back to the 2008 season (Hoosiers went to a bowl game in 2007, went 3-5 in the Big Ten that year). Indiana’s goal for next year? Winning a conference game? Winning two games total? You decide. (In case you were wondering, Indiana’s last winning record in conference play was in 1993 – 5-3 that year – under Coach Bill Mallory). The Hoosiers have non-conference games against Indiana State, at Massachusetts, Ball State, and at Navy. There are potential wins, in conference play, against Illinois and Purdue, both on the road. Indiana will exceed their 2011 win total, in 2012, though it may not be by much.
Wins: South Carolina State (38-21).
Losses: vs. Ball State (20-27); Virginia (31-34); @ North Texas (21-24); Penn State* (10-16); #19 Illinois* (20-41); @ #4 Wisconsin *(7-59); @ Iowa* (24-45); Northwestern* (38-59); @ Ohio* (20-34); @ #15 Michigan State* (3-55); Purdue* (25-33).
Current Grade: F.
Iowa – Projected Record: (8-4); Actual Record: (7-5)
Total Offense: 379.17 yards/game; 70th.
Run Offense: 142.83 yards/game; 77th. Pass Offense: 236.30 yards/game; 56th.
Total Defense: 387.58 yards/game; 68th.
Run Defense: 159.50 yards/game; 64th. Pass Defense: 228.08 yards/game; 66th.
Notes: Iowa will be in their fourth straight bowl game and 10th in the last 11 years. With that said, this year hasn’t been a good one for Iowa, they have posted their lowest win total since 2007, when they missed a bowl game. Iowa draws #14 Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl. The Hawkeyes have been led by Junior QB James Vandenberg (2806 passing yards, 59.4% completion, and 26 total TDs), RB Marcus Coker (1384 rushing yards, 4.9/carry, and 15 rushing TDs), and WR Marvin McNutt (1269 receiving yards, 16.3/catch, and 12 receiving TDs). Since missing the 2007 bowl game, Iowa’s recruiting rankings in the Big Ten have been 8th (2008), 10th (2009), 5th (2010), and 3rd (2011). Currently, Iowa has four-4 star verbal commits. After a soft non-conference schedule this year, Iowa plays Northern Illinois (@ Chicago, IL), Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Central Michigan. Nice to see Iowa picked up their rivalry with Northern Iowa again, right? Iowa faces tough home games against Penn State and Nebraska. Tough road games exist at Michigan State and Michigan. Iowa has a great shot at topping seven wins in 2012.
Wins: Tennessee Tech (34-7); Pittsburgh (31-27); Louisiana-Monroe (45-17); Northwestern* (41-31); Indiana* (45-24); #15 Michigan* (24-16); @ Purdue* (31-21).
Losses: @ Iowa State (41-44 OT); @ Penn State* (3-13); @ Minnesota* (21-22); #17 Michigan State* (21-37); @ #21 Nebraska* (7-20).
Current Grade: C.
Michigan – Projected Record: (8-4); Actual Record: (10-2)
Total Offense: 423.08 yards/game; 34th.
Run Offense: 235.67 yards/game; 12th. Pass Offense: 187.40 yards/game; 90th.
Total Defense: 317.58 yards/game; 18th.
Run Defense: 129.08 yards/game; 35th. Pass Defense: 188.50 yards/game; 16th.
Notes: Michigan has their highest win total in a season since 2006, when the Wolverines finished 11-2, starting 11-0 before losing to Ohio and USC in the Rose Bowl. Michigan also knocked off Ohio for the first time since 2003. Michigan also made their first BCS bowl since 2006, facing #11 Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. QB Denard Robinson (3219 total yards, 56.1% completion, and 34 total TDs, but 14 INTs), RBs Fitzgerald Toussaint (1011 rushing yards, 5.8/carry, and 9 rushing TDs) and Vincent Smith (296 rushing yards, 6.0/carry, and 2 rushing TDs) led the Wolverine ground attack. WR Junior Hemingway (636 receiving yards, 19.9/catch, and 2 receiving TDs) and TE Kevin Koger (235 receiving yards, 11.2/catch, and 4 receiving TDs) led Michigan’s aerial attack. Michigan finished undefeated at home this season, the first time since 2006. The Wolverines were third in recruiting in the Big Ten in 2011, picking up six-4 stars, including DB Blake Countess, RB Justice Hayes, and DE Brennen Beyer. To date, Michigan has the top recruiting class for 2012 in the Big Ten (and one of the best in the country), with one-5 star (OL Kyle Kalis) and ten-4 star recruits (including OL Blake Bars, WR Amara Darboh, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, OL Erik Magnuson, and DE Tom Strobel), all verbals. Michigan’s non-conference schedule next season is among the toughest in the Big Ten, if not the entire country; games against Alabama (@ Arlington, TX), Air Force, Massachusetts, and at Notre Dame provide Michigan with three possible losses. Michigan State and Iowa at home could be tough, as well as road games against Nebraska and Ohio. If Michigan can come anywhere near their ten wins this season, next year, it would be shocking.
Wins: Western Michigan (34-10); Notre Dame (35-31); Eastern Michigan (31-3); San Diego State (28-7); Minnesota* (58-0); Northwestern* (42-24); Purdue* (36-14); @ Illinois* (31-14); #16 Nebraska* (45-17); Ohio* (40-34).
Losses: @ #23 Michigan State* (14-28); @ Iowa* (16-24).
Current Grade: A-.
Michigan State – Projected Record: (8-4); Actual Record: (10-3)
Total Offense: 390.38 yards/game 60th.
Run Offense: 142.92 yards/game; 76th. Pass Offense: 247.50 yards/game; 44th.
Total Defense: 272.69 yards/game; 5th.
Run Defense: 104.31 yards/game; 12th. Pass Defense: 168.38 yards/game; 11th.
Notes: Michigan State has their first back-to-back nine or more win seasons for the first time since 1965-1966. The Spartans have been a different team at home than on the road, though. MSU is 7-0 at home with an average MOV of 26.1, but 3-2 on the road with an average MOD of 1. Outside of last season, when Michigan State also was 7-1 in conference, the last time Michigan State was as strong on conference play was 1999, when Michigan State was 6-2, under Coach Nick Saban. 1999 was the last year Michigan State beat Ohio, Michigan, and Notre Dame all in the same season. Michigan State’s 42-39 loss in Indianapolis to Wisconsin knocked the Spartans out of the BCS. Michigan State will face Georgia in the Outback Bowl, in a battle of conference runner-ups. Senior QB Kirk Cousins (2735 passing yards, 64.3% completion, 21 passing TDs, but 6 INTs) RBs Edwin Baker (624 rushing yards, 4.0/carry, and 4 rushing TDs) and Le’Veon Bell (794 receiving yards, 5.4/carry, and 10 rushing TDs), and WR B.J. Cunningham (1125 receiving yards, 16.8/catch, and 9 receiving TDs) led the Spartans offensively. After a mediocre non-conference schedule this year, Michigan State opens up with Boise State, at Central Michigan, Notre Dame, and Eastern Michigan. The Spartans welcome in the Buckeyes and the Cornhuskers, while visiting the Wolverines and Badgers, on back-to-back weeks, nonetheless. Expecting ten wins with a new quarterback and #1 wide receiver will be extremely tough.
Wins: Youngstown State (28-6); Florida Atlantic (44-0); Central Michigan (45-7); @ Ohio* (10-7); #11 Michigan* (28-14); #6 Wisconsin* (37-31); Minnesota* (31-24); @ Iowa* (37-21); Indiana* (55-3); @ Northwestern* (31-17).
Losses: @ Notre Dame (13-31); @ #14 Nebraska* (3-24); vs. #15 Wisconsin* (39-42).
Current Grade: A-.
Minnesota – Projected Record: (3-9); Actual Record: (3-9)
Total Offense: 310.33 yards/game; 109th.
Run Offense: 160.00 yards/game; 59th. Pass Offense: 150.30 yards/game; 108th.
Total Defense: 403.08 yards/game; 77th.
Run Defense: 186.42 yards/game; 93rd. Pass Defense: 216.67 yards/game; 52nd.
Notes: When we last checked in, Minnesota had just beaten Iowa. Excluding the win over Iowa, Minnesota was 0-3 in conference with an average MOD of 39; they had been double-digit underdogs in five of their eight games this season, through that point. Since that time, Minnesota went 1-3, being outscored an average of 27-19.25. QB Marqueis Gray (2461 total yards, 50.7% completion, 14 total TDs, but 8 INTs) and RBs Duane Bennett (639 rushing yards, 3.8/carry, and 3 rushing TDs) and Donnell Kirkwood (229 rushing yards, 3.6/carry, and 3 rushing TDs) led the Golden Gopher offense. Minnesota was ninth in recruiting in the Big Ten last year; as it stands right now, Minnesota is at the bottom of the Big Ten for recruiting heading into next season. Coach Jerry Kill will need to bring in more help if he wants to turn the Golden Gophers into a bowl eligible team, and eventually and Legends Division contender. The non-conference schedule for next year is very favorable, as the Gophers travel to UNLV to open the season, then host New Hampshire, Western Michigan, and Syracuse. Minnesota hosts Northwestern and Purdue, both of which are winnable games. Minnesota also has potential winnable games on the road against Iowa and Illinois. Don’t be surprised if the Gophers are bowl eligible next season; if they aren’t, they should be very close.
Wins: Miami (Ohio) (29-23); Iowa* (22-21); Illinois* (27-7).
Losses: @ USC (17-19); New Mexico State (21-28); North Dakota State (24-37); @ #19 Michigan* (0-58); @ Purdue* (17-45); #13 Nebraska* (14-41); @ #17 Michigan State (24-31); #18 Wisconsin* (13-42); @ Northwestern* (13-28).
Current Grade: D.
Nebraska – Projected Record: (11-1); Actual Record: (9-3)
Total Offense: 390.50 yards/game; 59th.
Run Offense: 223.92 yards/game; 13th. Pass Offense: 166.60 yards/game; 103rd.
Total Defense: 350.67 yards/game; 36th.
Run Defense: 161.58 yards/game; 66th. Pass Defense: 189.08 yards/game; 17th.
Notes: Nebraska entered the season as favorites to win the Legends Division. Nebraska laid an egg in their opener, got thrashed at Michigan, and, in between, lost at home to Northwestern. The Northwestern loss snapped an eight game home win streak. Nebraska accepted an invite to the Capital One Bowl and will face #9 South Carolina. QB Taylor Martinez (2810 total yards, 55.9% completion, 21 total TDs, but 7 INTs), RB Rex Burkhead (1268 rushing yards, 4.9/carry, and 15 rushing TDs), and WR Kenny Bell (408 receiving yards, 14.1/catch, and 2 receiving TDs) led the Cornhuskers offensively. Nebraska was second in recruiting in the Big Ten last year, netting 11-4 star players, including RB Aaron Green and QB Jamal Turner. The ‘Huskers play Southern Miss, at UCLA, and Arkansas State in non-conference play, with one game left to be decided. Nebraska does have tough games against Ohio, Michigan State, and Iowa on the road; Nebraska has tough home games against Wisconsin, Michigan, and Penn State. Nebraska has a good chance to at least equal, if not exceed, nine wins in 2012.
Wins: Chattanooga (40-7); Fresno State (42-29); Washington (51-38); @ Wyoming (38-14); Ohio* (34-27); @ Minnesota* (41-14); #11 Michigan State* (24-3); @ #12 Penn State* (17-14); Iowa* (20-7).
Losses: @ #7 Wisconsin* (17-48); Northwestern* (25-28); @ #18 Michigan* (17-45).
Current Grade: B.
Northwestern – Projected Record: (7-5); Actual Record: (6-6)
Total Offense: 432.75 yards/game; 31st.
Run Offense: 176.17 yards/game; 36th. Pass Offense: 256.60 yards/game; 35th.
Total Defense: 407.58 yards/game; 80th.
Run Defense: 185.42 yards/game; 90th. Pass Defense: 222.17 yards/game; 58th.
Notes: Northwestern has one game left in the Dan Persa era, before, presumably, anointing Kain Colter as the starter. Persa’s tenure has been a successful one. He made a bowl game in each of his four years behind center. Northwestern had never made a bowl game in four straight years, and has only been to a bowl game ten times. Northwestern draws Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. QB Dan Persa (2163 passing yards, 74.2% completion, and 17 passing TDs), all-purpose player/QB Kain Colter (1703 total yards, 67.1% completion, and 16 total TDs) and WR Jeremy Ebert (1025 receiving yards, 14.4/catch, and 11 receiving TDs) led Northwestern. Now Persa has one record left to shatter – Northwestern’s bowl winless streak. Northwestern hasn’t won a bowl game since the 1948 Rose Bowl! Only Coach Pat Fitzgerald has been a part of more of Northwestern’s bowl games (played in the 1995 and 1996 bowl games; coached in 2003 and 2005; head coach in 2008, 2009, 2010, and this year’s bowl game). In Fitzgerald’s tenure at Northwestern, the ‘Cats have finished in the bottom third in terms of recruiting in the Big Ten every year; simply put, Fitzgerald has found a way to do more with less. Northwestern’s non-conference schedule next year is forgiving, with a visit to Syracuse, and hosting Vanderbilt, Boston College, and South Dakota. The ‘Cats have winnable home games against Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois; there are winnable road games against Penn State and Minnesota. Northwestern has a great shot to improve on six wins, provided the defense improves. Six wins seems a good starting point for 2012, for now.
Wins: @ Boston College (24-17); Eastern Illinois (42-21); @ Indiana* (59-38); @ #10 Nebraska* (28-25); Rice (28-6); Minnesota* (28-13).
Losses: @ Army (14-21); @ #24 Illinois* (35-38); #12 Michigan* (24-42); @ Iowa* (31-41); #21 Penn State* (24-34); #14 Michigan State* (17-31).
Current Grade: C.
Ohio – Projected Record: (9-3); Actual Record: (6-6)
Total Offense: 319.75 yards/game; 107th.
Run Offense: 195.67 yards/game; 27th. Pass Offense: 124.10 yards/game; 116th.
Total Defense: 328.58 yards/game; 24th.
Run Defense: 142.42 yards/game; 52nd. Pass Defense: 186.17 yards/game; 15th.
Notes: Entering the season, Ohio, Penn State, and Wisconsin were virtually equal favorites to win the Leaders Division. Coming down the stretch, all three teams were alive; then Ohio lost to Purdue. In fact, Ohio lost their last three games, by an average of 29-24. Ohio is in the midst of their worst season since 1999, 6-6, then-Coach John Cooper’s second to last season. You have to go back to 1988, when Ohio last had a losing record, 4-6. Ohio faces Florida in the Gator Bowl. Freshman QB Braxton Miller (1692 total yards, 50.0% completion, 18 total TDs, but 4 INTs), RB Carlos Hyde (549 rushing yards, 5.4/carry, and 6 rushing TDs) and TE Jake Stoneburner (193 receiving yards, 13.8/catch, and 7 receiving TDs) led Ohio offensively. Ohio has now made 12 straight bowl games, last missing a bowl game in 1999. Urban Meyer takes over in Columbus; he will have recruits from the 2011 class at his disposal, including 5-star LB Curtis Grant. Meyer currently have verbal commits, for 2012, from 4-star players RB Warren Ball, RB Bri’onte Dunn, LB Josh Perry, DB De’Van Bogard, WR Michael Thomas, and DE Adolphus Washington. The Buckeyes have made some scheduling changes for the 2012 season. The non-conference schedule is Miami (OH), UCF, California, and UAB, all at home. The Buckeyes open Big Ten play at Michigan State and travel to Penn State and Wisconsin later in the season. Ohio does have tough home games against Nebraska and Michigan. Ohio should be able to exceed six wins, easily, next season; the Buckeyes should open as the favorite to win the Leaders Division in 2012.
Wins: Akron (42-0); Toledo (27-22); Colorado (37-17); @ #16 Illinois* (17-7); #15 Wisconsin* (33-29); Indiana* (34-20).
Losses: @ Miami (Florida) (6-24); Michigan State* (7-10); @ #14 Nebraska* (27-34); @ Purdue* (23-26 OT); #21 Penn State* (14-20); @ #15 Michigan* (34-40).
Current Grade: C-.
Penn State – Projected Record: (7-5); Actual Record: (9-3)
Total Offense: 345.42 yards/game; 94th.
Run Offense: 165.08 yards/game; 54th. Pass Offense: 180.30 yards/game; 96th.
Total Defense: 300.92 yards/game; 10th.
Run Defense: 138.75 yards/game; 48th. Pass Defense: 162.17 yards/game; 5th.
Notes: Despite all of the off the field problems that unfolded for Penn State in the last month, the Nittany Lions put together a rather nice season. Penn State entered the Nebraska game 8-1, but without their long time coach; they finished the schedule 1-2, being outscored an average of 25-14. Now, Penn State Coach Tim Bradley will presumably have one more chance to prove he should be the head-man in State College. Penn State draws #19 Houston in the TicketCity Bowl. The Nittany Lion offense is led by QB Matt McGloin (1571 passing TDs, 54.1% completion, 8 passing TDs, but 5 INTs), RB Silas Redd (1188 rushing yards, 5.2/carry, and 7 rushing TDs), and WR Derek Moye (654 receiving yards, 16.4/catch, and 3 receiving TDs). Penn State has made their seventh straight bowl game, but the more important concern is the future of the program. Some candidates have been mentioned, with Dan Mullen (Mississippi State) being presumably at the top. The Nittany Lions will have to shore up their recruiting class for 2012, as some recruits have elected to go elsewhere. Penn State opens with Ohio University, at Virginia, Navy, and Temple, a non-conference schedule that is tougher than this year’s. With road trips to Iowa City and Lincoln, coupled with home games against Ohio and Wisconsin, don’t expect Penn State to match, let alone exceed, this year’s win total, in 2012.
Wins: Indiana State (41-7); @ Temple (14-10); Eastern Michigan (34-6); @ Indiana* (16-10); Iowa* (13-3); Purdue* (23-18); @ Northwestern* (34-24); Illinois* (10-7); @ Ohio* (20-14).
Losses: #3 Alabama (27-11); #19 Nebraska* (14-17); @ #16 Wisconsin* (7-45).
Current Grade: B.
Purdue – Projected Record: (8-4); Actual Record: (6-6)
Total Offense: 371.42 yards/game; 79th.
Run Offense: 174.67 yards/game; 39th. Pass Offense: 196.8 yards/game; 82nd.
Total Defense: 388.50 yards/game; 69th.
Run Defense: 185.67 yards/game; 91st. Pass Defense: 202.83 yards/game; 38th.
Notes: Purdue is in their first bowl game since 2007. This will be Coach Danny Hope’s first bowl game as head coach of Purdue. Purdue will travel to Detroit to take on Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Bowl. Purdue has played QB Caleb TerBush (1804 passing yards, 61.7% completion, 12 passing TDs, but 6 INTs) as compared with QB Robert Marve (557 passing yards, 53.9% completion, 3 passing TDs, but 5 INTs). The ground game has paced the Boilermakers, led by RBs Ralph Bolden (674 rushing yards, 4.6/carry, and 6 rushing TDs) and Akeem Shavers (370 rushing yards, 4.2/carry, and 6 rushing TDs). Purdue has been in the bottom third of the Big Ten in recruiting, with their highest ranking being 7th in the Big Ten. Purdue will need to get better recruits if they hope to compete with Ohio and Wisconsin in the Leaders Division. Purdue’s non-conference schedule next year is relatively soft, with games against Eastern Kentucky, at Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall. Purdue also has winnable games at home against Indiana and Penn State, and potential road wins at Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. Assuming Purdue stays healthy, they are capable of at least matching their win total from this year, but they are an injury or two away from not being bowl eligible. Right now, I think Purdue will likely fail to be bowl eligible in 2012.
Wins: Middle Tennessee (27-24); SE Missouri State (59-0); Minnesota* (45-17); #23 Illinois* (21-14); Ohio* (26-23 OT); @ Indiana* (33-25).
Losses: @ Rice (22-24); Notre Dame (10-38); @ Penn State* (18-23); @ #18 Michigan* (14-36); @ #20 Wisconsin* (17-62); Iowa* (21-31).
Current Grade: C-.
Wisconsin – Projected Record: (10-2); Actual Record: (11-2)
Total Offense: 466.92 yards/game; 15th.
Run Offense: 237.38 yards/game; 10th. Pass Offense: 229.50 yards/game; 63rd.
Total Defense: 293.00 yards/game; 8th.
Run Defense: 138.00 yards/game; 47th. Pass Defense: 155.00 yards/game; 3rd.
Notes: Wisconsin has never had back-to-back-to-back 10+ win seasons. Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema has led the Badgers to their best seasons in their program history. Wisconsin won the inaugural Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis over #13 Michigan State, 42-39. Wisconsin, by virtue of being Big Ten Champions, earning a spot in the Rose Bowl. The Badgers will Oregon. Wisconsin is led by QB Russell Wilson (2033 passing yards, 71.3% completion, and 22 total TDs), RB Montee Ball (853 rushing yards, 6.0/carry, and 18 rushing TDs), and WR Jared Abbrederis (595 receiving yards, 16.5/catch, and 4 receiving TDs). Wisconsin has generally been right around the middle in recruiting in the Big Ten, but no higher than 6th. Bielema has found a way to due more with less in Madison; home field advantage certainly doesn’t hurt, as the Badgers have not lost at home since October 17, 2009. Wisconsin is 39-3 at home under Bielema. Wisconsin’s schedule isn’t exactly tough next year: Northern Iowa, at Oregon State, Utah State, and UTEP. Wisconsin does travel to Nebraska and Penn State, but hosts Ohio and Michigan State. Wisconsin is poised for another run at a double-digit win season in 2012, despite losing players at key positions.
Wins: UNLV (51-17); Oregon State (49-7); vs. Northern Illinois (49-7); South Dakota (59-10); #8 Nebraska* (48-17); Indiana* (59-7); Purdue* (62-17); @ Minnesota* (42-13);@ Illinois* (28-17); #19 Penn State* (45-7); vs. #13 Michigan State* (42-39).
Losses: @ #16 Michigan State* (31-37); @ Ohio* (29-33).
Current Grade: A.
Turn on ESPN, or look at basically any media outlet that covers college football, and you'll find someone railing against the current BCS system. And with good reason. Brian has his well-reasoned alternative here. Today, Andy Staples informed us that the athletic directors of the Big 12 conference, fresh off Oklahoma State's BCS snub in favor of a regional contest between teams that already played each other, have tentatively backed the idea of a seeded 4-team tournament:
Monday, Big 12 athletic directors voted in a straw poll to get behind the idea of a plus-one format that would allow four teams to compete for the national title. Such a format would have allowed USC to play for the national title in 2003, Auburn to play for it in 2004, Texas to play for it in 2008 and Oklahoma State -- which finished behind No. 2 Alabama by the slimmest of margins in the BCS standings -- to play for the title this season. If the league's presidents choose to agree with their athletic directors, the Big 12's support would be a huge step forward. The Big 12 was one of several leagues that blocked SEC commissioner Mike Slive's 2008 proposal for a four-team, seeded tournament. The ACC was the only conference that supported the plan.
Then he goes on to say that the Big 10 is the lone holdout:
From their standpoint, that is the sensible position. That's why the Big Ten will likely offer the most resistance to any plus-one plan if it gets proposed prior to the next BCS annual meeting in April. Commissioner Jim Delany is a master at getting his colleagues to agree to do what is best for the Big Ten, and the Big Ten is better off without a playoff. Because the league contains huge schools with passionate fan bases, the old bowl system actually is the most advantageous for the Big Ten.
Then there's a bunch of "well we don't really know how it would work" stuff that demonstrates how far off this idea still is from becoming reality.
The problems at hand:
The sticking points are, according to Staples:
1. Resistance from the Big 10 ADs and from school presidents generally, who don't want to extend the season further into January and who like the bowl-system
2. Resistance from TV networks, who like the bowl-system
This is only part of the problem. Other issues he doesn't bring up include:
3. A tendency in American sports to keep expanding and expanding tournament brackets. Look at the NBA, NFL, MLB and even NCAAB. Anyone who thinks that this would end at 4, or even at 6, is kidding themselves. Once the cat's out of the bag, it's only a matter of time before it becomes 8, then 16, then 32.
4. NCAA football is unique in the sense that every single game matters absolutely. The more postseason play you have, the more watered down this becomes. This, in turn, could reduce interest in regular-season play, a la March Madness.*
These are, in my opinion, the underlying reasons why school presidents and ADs are opposed to a playoff. Unlike basketball or baseball, football is extremely physically taxing, and requires massive hours of practice, conditioning and preparation. It causes lots of injuries, and takes a lot of time away from schooling just to get ready for a single game. But the ADs and presidents were all okay with adding a 12th game, you say? Yes that's true, and it's a bit hypocritical. But that's where we are with the people pulling the trigger on this thing.
What an alternative to the BCS would have to look like:
Any viable alternative to the BCS, and by viable I mean palatable to ADs and school presidents, needs to do the following things:
1. Preserve the bowl system
2. Not extend the season far beyond its already extended point
3. Not threaten to engulf the regular season by morphing into an actual tournament
So what are the alternatives?
1. A "+1"
Go back to the old way of picking bowl participants (thus satisfying the Big 10 and Pac 12), and then have a game at the end pitting #1 against #2.
LIKELIHOOD: Low. This appeals to me, as someone who's always liked the ideosyncracies and old traditions of college football. But there's a lot of path dependency going on here, and I don't know if the NCAA would ditch the BCS selection process entirely at this point.
2. A pseudo "+1"
Keep the BCS, but instead of having a #1 vs. #2 game, have the BCS bowls all pick by lots, then schedule #1 vs. #2
LIKELIHOOD: High. I don't think this completely solves the selection issue, but it does sidestep the potential tournament problems that seem to be a sticking point. This would, at least, give the NCAA a decade of breathing space before the pitchforks and torches get too numerous to ignore...just like the BCS did.
3. A 4-team tournament
Have two bowls choose the top 4 teams, seeded, and then have the +1
LIKELIHOOD: Fair. This does solve the selection problem, but opens the door to more expansion, which I believe to be the ultimate fear of the ADs and school presidents who are backing the BCS. Still, it's not impossible given this year's BCS catastrophe.
4. A 6+ team tournament.
At least 6 seeded teams playing each other.
LIKEIHOOD: Low. Brian's suggestion is sensible and would make for good drama, but it potentially suggests 2+ games to the end of the season. The only way this becomes reality in the short-term is if ADs and school presidents agree to shorten the regular season, which ain't gonna happen.
5. Keep the current crappy system with some new window dressing to make it look, to its architects if to no one else, as if something has changed.
All Hail the BCS and its Opaque and Frustrating Selection Process.
LIKELIHOOD: Very High. Institutions are incredibly conservative things, and college football is, at base, a collection of autonomous institutions bound together by a host of decentralized institutions (conferences) loosely bound under an umbrella association with only limited authority and decision-making power (the NCAA). The NFL it ain't. This makes the most conservative solution the most likely, and keeping things mostly as they are = the most conservative solution. Don't believe me? Just wait and see...
As per previous diaries, I've just outlined some scenarios and argued why I think they are likely or unlikely. I'd like to ask all of you the following questions in your comments:
1. Which scenarios do you think are the most and least likely? Why or why not? Are there any I missed?
2. What system would actually be best for the sport, and for the student athletes who play it while enrolled full-time in college?
*March Madness has its own uniquely endearing qualities to it: IMO it's the best tournament in American sports. Not a diss here, but just because it works in one sport doesn't mean it's appropriate or feasible for another.