FWIW. Michigan doesn't seem inclined to get re-involved.
As we enter the last season of the Big Ten as a natural twelve-team conference (er…) it is only natural that we begin to question exactly who's a "real" Big Ten of the Big Ten, and who ought be "the other four." With media days under way across the Midwest and 2014 recruiting now in full swing, the Big Ten coaches have begun the annual rite of playing up their school as the epitome of this great conference. To separate the contenders from the pretenders, in the great tradition of teen magazines, I have created a sort of test. Answer these 20 questions and find out if your school is the Real Bee-One-Gee:
1. After you joined the conference people commonly started calling it…
a) the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives
b) the Western Conference
c) the Big [actual number of schools in the conference]
d) the Big11Ten
e) That league that's been arguing with Time Warner and running all those ads to call your cable company lately.
2. When it comes to finding a head coach the ideal candidate would be a man who…
a) was born into our program and will be content to stay here making $50k/year until his dying day.
b) can most plausibly be foisted on the fans without breaking the bank.
c) is the most Kirk Ferentz.
d) best embodies the traditions and ideals that contrast most sharply with the guy we just fired.
e) has already proven he can win at the highest collegiate levels, preferably coming off his obligatory two-year NFL excursion.
3. Our school is best known for growing ______.
a) leaders and legends in the weight room and in the community.
b) a new strain of pesticide-resistant turf
c) offensive linemen
d) pro-style quarterbacks
e) disillusionment in the NCAA, its rules, and its enforcement competency.
4. With 6 minutes left in the game you have the ball up a touchdown on your opponent's 37-yard-line, and it's 4th down and 7 to go. What do you do?
a) Run up the middle because that kills the most clock.
b) Punt and play defense.
c) Fake FG then pooch punt and to bury 'em on the 1.
d) Send in your kicker with thoughts of beautiful co-eds.
e) Send all your receivers on deep routes and tell your quarterback it's time to poop some magic.
5. You have just been informed that one of your players was ticketed for a DUI. Whom do you speak to first? (UPDATED)
a) The offending student.
b) The parents of the offending student.
c) The parole officer of the offending student.
d) The guy from the local police station who fixes these things.
e) The shady agent dude who sold you the student.
6. A fan of a rival school is Tweeting about how much your school sucks. What is your first/most typical reaction?
a) Tweeting? Is that one of those computer whatsit things? Sorry I don't have an iBay account.
b) Reference historical record against each other going back to that one period when your school was a national power.
c) Calmly explain that you take great pride in the tradition and history of your great school and the profound respect you have for this, the greatest rivalry in college sports in your opinion.
d) Demonstrate your unparalleled passion for your school: "YOUR/UR JUST JELLOUS!"
e) Wait, back up. We're rivals?
7. "Chicago's Big Ten team" refers to...
c) The University of Chicago
e) Notre Dame
8. The best example of a great rivalry trophy would be…
a) a piece of schlock we stole from the Paul Bunyan Museum that one road trip.
b) something we picked up at a farmers' fair 100 years ago, and had it bronzed when it started to smell funky (slab of bacon, whole pig, whole turtle).
c) something our "rival" left on the field (megaphone, shillelagh, spittoon, wooden bucket, water/Gatorade jug, house keys) when they skedaddled after that one time we beat/tied them.
d) an item we dug up at a Civil War site and have been fighting over since (tomahawk, top-hat, ship's bell, etc.)
e) something Jim Delany made up to explain why we have a protected game with someone 5 states away.
9. What is Notre Dame to you?
a) A great and important rivalry that dates back to the days of _____.
b) Another great university and football program with great tradition.
c) Mackerel-snappin' papists; after that Guy Fawkes incident I don't trust 'em. Heck, didya year they think "Bill Shakespeare" is a quarterback?
d) Any of several magnificent High Gothic cathedrals you will see on our world-class study abroad program to France.
e) A small, overrated private school for lazy rich kids in a train-stop rust belt town in Indiana, notable for operating since 1924 under the delusion that it's in Lower Manhattan.
10. The following word/phrase shall never depart your lips without the reverence of a thousand angels with very long trumpets:
d) [Name of school]
e) The Percy Harvin role
[Jump: 10 more questions and scoring]
I got into an argument with a Michigan State fan—yes, right there is the problem—about our respective kickers last year. In true Michigan-Michigan State fashion the Spartan was making points using selective data (Dan Conroy has a better leg!) and the Michigan fan spent way too much time building data and constructing charts to demonstrate a nuanced and supportable conclusion (Dan Conroy has a better leg but Gibbons was money inside the 40).
I pulled kicking data from NCAA's game summaries and managed to get data points on 241 field goal attempts by Big Ten kickers last season. I also plugged each kicker's season into a Sabre.com formula for rating the position created by a guy named Jeff Yutzler, but his formula is WAY too kind in my opinion (as in there were 13 B1G kickers who scored in the A- range or above). For ease I've just ignored blocked FGAs since there's little the kicker can do about those. Table? Table.
|Big Ten Total||x||73/79||56/74||40/66||7/16||74.89%||94.3%|
Michigan: home of high yutz values
This says Michigan's kicking is was really darn good, though low sample size applies for Wile of course. Here's a chart of Michigan and Michigan State field goal attempts last year. X axis and size represent distance, Y axis is the order in which the kicks were attempted. Click bigginses:
Gibbons was perfect inside 42 yards, though in comparison to the Big Ten he took a lot of kicks in that sweet 25-35 yard range. Wile was obviously the long guy.
Conroy was deployed a lot, and here you see he seemed to have a big hole from 35-45 yards. Inside that he's great, outside of that he's great; for some reason the dude missed a ton of FGs from medium range. Sort him by distance and it reads 13 goods, whiff, whiff, whiff, whiff, whiff, whiff, good, good, whiff, good, whiff, good, good, good, good, whiff, good, good, good. Kickers: weird.
[The rest of the conference after the jump.]
The Game 1974 via Bentley
With the new bowl lineup I thought I'd delve into the conference's history with the things this week. Chart of sane bowl names is here.
We whomped Stanford in 1901 so bad they canceled bowl games for a decade.
Rose or Bust.
For a time there was only the Rose Bowl. Then others began to pop up and the Big Ten wouldn't let teams go (Ohio State snuck over to Pasadena after the 1920 season but that was it). Then they said only one team may take a bid from the Rose Bowl.
It's been nearly 40 years and yet any Michigan fan over 50 still shakes with anger at it: In 1973 Michigan and Ohio State met in one of the more epic battles in that epic ten-year war. After Michigan missed three field goals in the 4th quarter the game—and thus the Big Ten title race—ended in a tie. In the process the Wolverines' starting quarterback Denny Franklin was busted up. Woody Hayes, never a particularly classy individual, made an uninformed remark to the media that he's sorry Franklin wouldn't be able to play in the bowl game. In part because they believed Michigan would be without Denny, the conference's athletic directors voted to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl.
The following year Michigan did make their game-winning field goal, but the officials missed it and there was no replay, and Ohio State again went to Pasadena. Since the Big Ten wouldn't let its teams attend any other bowl, both times a more deserving Michigan had to stay home. Overall Franklin and the Wolverines managed to go three years (1972-'74) without a bowl game despite going 30-2-1 over that span.
The whole concept was as mind-blowingly ridiculous as it seems, and the following year the conference finally got rid of the rule that had become outdated due to...
The conference deigned to allow its teams to go to bowls again only after WWII, and then it was "you can only go to the Rose Bowl if they invite you." Once the Big Ten released its members it sparked a new round of bowl expansion (click to inbigmatate):
Note the Y axis is "Bowl Teams" not games—divide by two to get # of games. Some oddities: Michigan wasn't in the Big Ten from 1907 to 1916, not that it made any difference. Having one yellow dot in the bowl picture looks ridiculous. Michigan State went to an Orange Bowl before joining the conference. Penn State and Nebraska obviously went to plenty of bowls before they joined. Ohio State turned down its Rose Bowl bids in 1960 and '61 because of academics(!); Minnesota went in their stead.
Since the bowl field expanded, the Big Ten's tie-ins have gone through a series of confusing shifts, order only recently having been brought into the process. Owing to its TV draw and instant draw the bowls have typically taken Michigan almost as soon as they're allowed to. As a result when you look at the conference's bowl history you can see Michigan tends to go early even in its rough years.
This is ordered by selection (starting from the left). Historically Michigan has been selected higher than its standing in the conference, the more so the lower down we get. For example in 1984 Michigan received an at-large Holiday Bowl bid—effectively the conference's third selector after the Rose and then the
Cotton Peach took Purdue as an at-large—despite finishing behind Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and tied with Michigan State, whom we lost to that year. Since then there have been progressively more stringent so-Michigan-State-won't-cry rules placed by the conference on the bowls for which teams they can select. Before it was they have to be within 1 or 2 losses of each other. Under the new system there's a tier:
The New Lineup and the Golden Vagina:
1. Teams selected by the playoff committee go to the Golden Vagina Playoff.
2. If the champion is still around they go to the Rose Bowl (vs Pac-12 or at-large), or the Orange Bowl (vs SEC or at-large) in years the Rose are the playoff hosts (2014 and every three years after).
3. BCS bowls can extend an at-large bid.
4. Citrus Bowl (SEC), Outback Bowl (SEC) and Holiday Bowl (Pac-12). Those bowls will unofficially switch off who gets first pick but really the conference will be sitting there negotiating who gets which school with the goal of rewarding better teams and changing things up a bit. Said Delany:
"Someone will obviously select first, but they may or may not get the team they want because that team may have been in that region two years in a row. We're trying to make sure there’s freshness. It's hard when a team goes to say Florida five times in six years to get them really excited."
5. Gator or Music City (SEC), San Francisco (Pac-12), and Pinstripe (ACC). The first two switch off with that bid.
6. Heart of Dallas or Ft. Worth Armed Forces Bowl (Big 12), Motor City Bowl (TBA)
The only way the Big Ten champ will play the Pac 12 champ is if both are seeded as such in the playoff, or both miss the playoff. I am guessing it will not happen very often. The tier system is a rather eloquent method of handling the problem of Michigan State's blubbering over bowls falling over themselves to avoid them. See? You're on the same tier. Everyone on the same tier is the same.
The new system does have its problems:
- Not all of the payouts on each tier are equivalent right now—that seems like it can be negotiated.
- In a scenario where Michigan State beats Michigan in the regular season, thus winning the tiebreaker to get into the Big Ten Championship Game, and MSU subsequently loses that game and is no longer BCS eligible because they're ranked too low now, and Michigan is still ranked high enough for a BCS bid and gets one, Michigan State will still cry.
- In any given scenario, Michigan State will find a reason to cry.
You may be aware that the Big Ten has not been too good at football of late. You are probably also aware that Ohio State and Michigan are locked in a titanic struggle for the sexiest recruiting class, one featuring players like Jabrill Peppers, Vonn Bell, Derrick Green, and Jalin Marshall. The opposing sides in The Game had top five recruiting classes last year according to the 247 composite rankings, with OSU second and Michigan fifth. So far this year Michigan is first and Ohio State ninth.
Meanwhile, the rest of the league is flailing. The next Big Ten team on the list was #22 Nebraska; #30 Penn State—NCAA-crippled Penn State—followed. That concludes our list of Big Ten teams with better-than average recruiting classes amongst the 60 or so BCS teams.
Here is a team that finished higher than all but the mentioned Big Ten teams.
Kentucky. A team that stopped releasing attendance numbers. Mississippi State, Vandy, Baylor, and Virginia beat all these teams plus Penn State out. It was not so good out there last year.
Surely that's a flu…
Kentucky has six OH commits. Non-MI/OSU B10 combined: 7.
…mother of God. Everyone on that list has a Big Ten offer from a school that has been something other than a depressing blight on the idea of sport during the last ten years. (Ok, it depends on how you classify Illinois. They went to a Rose Bowl, but also: Illinois.) What's more, Tennessee has gotten in on the raiding, snatching three kids out of the Midwest.
What follows is a brief survey of the Big Ten's footprint recruiting areas. Prepare for carnage. Before we start, I should mention that despite being under extraordinarily punitive NCAA sanctions, Penn State has four-star recruits from Delaware and North Carolina and is currently holding on to a top 20 spot in the rankings. They'll slide back down to where they were last year before things are said and done because they will have a tiny class, but Penn State is retaining its recruiting cachet as well as—probably better than—they could have hoped. Once they're out from under the yoke they should quickly excise themselves from Little X talk.
Nebraska, too, consistently recruits at a level above most of the rest of the league even if they're off to a poor start this year. This is more about the conference's traditional middle class.
DeShone Kizer's top three is Alabama, LSU, and Tennessee. He has an offer from only the latter.
Ohio State is going for half of the 16 consensus four-stars, with six already in the boat and the probable acquisition of the two main Glenville kids this year. Michigan has one, Michael Ferns. Northwestern has one, Dariean Watkins. The four other guys are probably headed to Alabama or OSU (Derek Kief), ND or Kentucky (Darius West), Louisville (Daniel Cage), and somewhere in the SEC (DeShone Kizer).
Yes. There is one four-star in Ohio who will head to a Big Ten program not named Michigan or Ohio State.
It gets worse. One of the next nine guys (QB Chris Durkin, MSU) is committed to a Big Ten school. Three are headed to Kentucky or Tennessee. None of the other five have publicly stated a leader but Kentucky and Louisville are involved with three and two more are up in the air.
It is likely that only two or three of the top 25 guys in Ohio end up in the rest of the league.
TOP 25, APPROX. NUMBER OF RECRUITS HEADING TO VARIOUS PLACES:
- OSU/M: 10
- L12: 3
- GTFO: 12
top 100 linebacker Nyles Morgan favors… Vanderbilt
Illinois is going to be chaos and depression for the middle class of the Big Ten. The top ten kids are either headed to the Big Two (Bunting, Westphal, and Jamarco Jones), committed to another conference (Watson, Helm, Wilbon), or headed that direction (Clifton Garrett, Nyles Morgan, and Dewayne Hendrix are all headed south). Northwestern is the only L12 team to pick off a four-star kid from Illinois.
It's a little less grim as you head down to 25. Northwestern and MSU have five of those guys, OSU has one, and it looks like a few more will end up in the league. The top is just a disaster, though.
- OSU/M: 3
- L12: 10, 1 of them in the top ten
- GTFO: 12
Three of the four consensus four stars are off the board to M/OSU with Malik McDowell strongly expected to join the club. Michigan also has #10 Moe Ways. The Big Ten held on to most of the other guys in State except Chance Stewart, who bizarrely decommitted from Wisconsin and chose WMU shortly thereafter.
- M/OSU: 5
- L12: 4
- GTFO: 1
Michigan remains loyal, if a little talent-sparse.
Dominique Booth's top four: Tennessee, FSU, Vandy, Alabama.
The top player in the state has no Big Ten teams in his top four; OSU is the only one on the list of #2. ND and OSU have 3 and 5 committed, respectively. Louisville and Kentucky are heavily involved with #4. The next five guys are still fuzzy, with Purdue favored for a couple, if only because they seem interested while others are not.
- OSU/M: 2
- L12: 2
- GTFO: 6
if Dravon Henry stays in the B10 it will be at OSU or PSU
Pennsylvania has always been more up for grabs because anyone from the Eastern part of the state doesn't think of the Big Ten as local, so it's less of a surprise when things have a more national feel. Even so, only Penn State has made any headway in PA. They have 3 of the top 20. Michigan has one, and then Temple, BC, WVU and FSU also have one. The rest of the Big Ten? Zero. 247 projects that number will stay at zero, with Pitt, OSU, and Michigan cleaning up.
- OSU/M: 4
- L12: 8, almost all of them to Penn State
- GTFO: 8
WISCONSIN AND SMALL STATES
The top five players in Wisconsin are committed to the Badgers. Good job, Wisconsin. Here are some cheese curds for you.
Iowa is doing similarly well in Iowa, with three of the six guys 247 rates committed, and a fourth probably on the way.
Nebraska has a commit from one of the two guys they've offered in-state and should get the second.
Minnesota has a soft verbal from the top kid in the state and may lose the second; everyone else is not the kind of recruit that would make Minnesota anything other than Minnesota.
THE NEW FOOTPRINT
Big Ten schools not named Michigan and Rutgers have zero of the top 20 in NJ. Penn State has the #5 kid in Maryland, and that's the only B10 commit in that State. Maryland is supposed to get a couple, and PSU may get a couple more.
This is where I mention that recruiting is not destiny. Wisconsin has never been particularly good at it in the eyes of the gurus but has turned themselves into a major program by keeping everyone they have for five years—Bielema just had a class of 13 guys, because Wisconsin only had room for 13 guys—and hewing to a system that works for the kind of players they can access. It remains to be seen whether they can keep that going without a hand-picked transition like Alvarez-to-Bielema. Similarly, Michigan State's classes have been almost devoid of attrition and they have locked into a stable defensive style that has produced.
Recruiting is kind of destiny, though: Wisconsin has reached the last three Rose Bowls. It has lost all of them. Witness any Big Ten program against Alabama. Football is random and rankings are not perfect, but if you're at the bottom any success you have is pushing uphill.
The slope of that hill is about to become alarming. It bodes unwell for the Big Ten's middle class that the gap between themselves and the heavyweights is growing, especially when it comes not only from the two at the top improving on historically good classes but from the meat-and-potatoes kids they've relied on for so long opting to leave the conference. Every kid in Ohio who opts for Kentucky or Tennessee or Louisville is virtually irreplaceable for programs whose recruiting reach outside the Midwest is limited to scrabbling for guys without Vandy offers.
Northwestern is the exception. With their committed niche offense and recent success they'll be a thorn in the side of anyone whose defense can't handle the spread. If they can just get their defense to middling, it's on in the West.
[ED: flight limits available time today but this is probably the best thing ever so yeah.]
Some time ago, Catlab released… well… this.
I have watched it dozens of times, and now I will render judgment on which Big Ten coaches could hypothetically scrape out a living as a call-walrus (callrus?) in a dystopian future like Planet of the Apes, except with walruses.
This is important. I will brook no dissent, commenters.
1. JERRY KILL, MINNESOTA
Already the species' best bet at seducing an intergalactic gopher bent on enslaving earth, Jerry Kill doubles as Walrus Olivia Wilde. Missed his calling as black ops animal kingdom Al Qaeda infiltrator. Ooooh la la.
2. BRET BIELEMA,
I LIKE BIG FACE AND I CANNOT LIE
YOU OTHER WALRII CAN'T DENY
WHEN A BRET WALKS IN WITH AN ITTY BITTY EYE AND THAT ROUND CHIN IN YOUR FACE
I DON'T KNOW
YOU GARRUMP AND ROLL AROUND AND MAYBE TUSK SOMETHING
WHATEVER WALRUSES DO
AND THEN YOU SAY YOU WERE GREAT BABY AND LEAVE TO GO SEDUCE SOME PIGS
I DON'T GET IT EITHER
3. BILL O'BRIEN, PENN STATE
Soulful blue walrus eyes, and a chin-dimple for days.
4. BRADY HOKE, MICHIGAN
Finishes second to Kill in luxurious goiter, but lacks the crazy beady eyes of Bielema. Starting every sentence with "well" a downside in super slo-mo walrusland because it takes him forever to ask for a sandwich, or tell you your tusks are pearlescent in the surf.
5. DANNY HOPE,
The tusky mustache of course, but Hope's rather blocky appearance hurts him when we're talking about a species that is way into bulging curves, I mean I guess it's not like I have a machine I made that allows me to type in any species and get a detailed profile of their proclivities.
Seriously, I don't have one. Who would make something like that.
6. KEVIN WILSON, INDIANA
If such a machine existed—it does not—it would probably say that what Kevin Wilson brings in the curvy department he does not bring in the naughty bad boy department. I mean, a walrus wants a thrill and Kevin Wilson is all hanging out being stable with his two years of service in Bloomington. Eyes naturally wander to the drifters populating the rest of whatever that division is called.
Seriously the machine does not exist.
ACTUAL WALRUS DIVIDING LINE
MARK DANTONIO, MICHIGAN STATE
Would have better luck with marmosets, lemurs, and bible-thumping hypocrites. The machine is just a figment of your imagination.
PAT FITZGERALD, NORTHWESTERN
You're just trying too hard, Fitzgerald.
9. KIRK FERENTZ, IOWA
Not even trying, and it shows, on the field, in commercials, and at the walrus brothel.
10. TIM BECKMAN, ILLINOIS (FOR NOW)
Gives off too much of a skeevy serial killer vibe for any species. Forehead is a phrenology nightmare indicating several extreme proclivities that cannot be repeated lest they summon the Great Old Ones.
11. URBAN MEYER, OHIO STATE
Fact: Urban Meyer is impervious to video transform filters, and has no reflection.
12. BO PELINI, NEBRASKA
The transformation actually increased Bo Pelini's attractiveness to humans, but that doesn't mean either species is chasing that.
Members of the younger generation find this appealing.
Over the weekend BTN released an online survey (still alive) that let the fans opine on the divisions and their stupid names and how they ought to be reorganized and stuff. Online poll is online poll but I was ready to leap the second DIABEETUS posted it on the board because a.) Who Michigan plays and what is at stake for those games is important to me, and b.) There's been a growing sense since "Leaders and Legends," that sense emphatically underlined with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, that general fan-think matters diddly to Delany and co.; opportunities to put an opinion where they might see it don't come along every day.
One of the questions in the survey asked us to rate the importance of three divisional considerations: geography, parity, and keeping traditional rivals together. They're all kinda important, and if there's any silver lining to adding two broke schools from the east coast it's that 7-team divisions are a better fit than 6-teams for an alignment that doesn't sacrifice any of those ideals.
The reason is because our conference is clustered in groups of three or four. Minnesota-Iowa-Wisconsin always had their circle of hate that has just enough room to add Nebraska. Illinois-Northwestern and Purdue-Indiana are an intermingled Chicagoland group that shouldn't be separated. Our block is the Michigan schools and Ohio State. Penn State could attach to that except it throws parity off, their awful thing be damned. Maryland and Rutgers turn the eastern part of the conference into two groups of three to match the west's groups of four:
The thick dark blue lines are the rivalries that ought to be protected within divisions and played every year. The light blue are old trophies and close non-trophy rivalries you keep if you can. The little green ones are those with the recent derived trophies or a proximity thing that isn't yet a full thing. Divisions then ought to pair one of the threesomes with one of the foursomes. Since one of the foursomes has Nebraska and Wisconsin in it and the other doesn't, the divisions ought to be obvious:
|In the Weight Room Division||In the Community Division|
|Ohio State||Penn State|
Don't care about the division names just yet. Let's check this against the three considerations.
Geography: Well Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana make a nice little Great Lakes grouping. Here's a table of distances written in driving hours (HT Google). The upper left quadrant is our division; lower-right is the other one:
You'll note the other division has some very long drives. Minnesota to anywhere starts at four hours and goes to 18 (to Rutgers). Lincoln and New Brunswick are literally half the country away. How can Rutgers be in a division with Nebraska that's a 20-hour drive away? Well…