HHV’s Big Ten Power Rankings (Season Finale)

December 6, 2008

Apologies for not getting these up sooner but hey, better late than never, right?

It’s hard to believe that another college football regular season is about to pass us by and that I’m about to close the books on my second annual power rankings.  It sure seems like yesterday that I debuted my very first set of rankings, not sure whether I would make it a recurring segment or if I would just let it rot like a lot of other “segments” this blog has had over the past year or so.  I’ve had a blast putting them together and even more so have enjoyed reading the comments (no matter inflammatory some may have been) that you, the readers posted every week in response to them.

I’d also like to take this moment to announce that come January, HHV will debut its power rankings for the Big Ten basketball season.  If it’s anything like the football rankings, then it too will be a recurring segment.  Time will tell, of course…

Anyway, here’s the final set of rankings for you until next year.  To the fans of the bowl-eligible teams:  Congratulations, I’ll be rooting for your respective teams to reverse the recent trend of Big Ten bowl struggles.  If your team didn’t make it, well, better luck next year…

1. Penn State (11-1, 7-1) – Guess how many media pundits projected the Nittany Lions to be sitting in this position at the end of the year?  Put your hand down, Phil Grosz

2. Ohio State (10-2, 7-1) – In light of recent events, I can promise you one thing: I don’t give a damn what the rules say, you will never, EVER, see me declare PSU “Big Ten Champs” if the team that we lost head-to-head against has the same conference record as us.

I will also go ape shit if I ever see the following displayed on the Beaver Stadium scoreboard if we end up in a situation like OSU’s.

tosu-throne-of-lies

(Image courtesy of There Is No Name On My Jersey)

3. Iowa (8-4, 5-3) – I know what you MSU fans have to say: But, but, we BEAT Iowa! Actually, you beat a Hawkeye team that had yet to discover its offense which would end up complimenting their already kickass defense.  If the two teams were to meet right now, I would put all my money down on the Hawkeyes knocking off Sparty.  Ricky Stanzi is a better QB than Brian Hoyer, Shonn Greene is a better tailback than Javon Ringer, and Mark Dantonio only wishes he had the same caliber of defense as Iowa’s.  Plus, remind me how Michigan State fared against undoubtedly the best two teams in the Big Ten…

Quick, whats the shortest path to the Downtown Athletic Club?

Quick, what's the shortest path to the Downtown Athletic Club?

4. Michigan State (9-3, 6-2) – As impressed as I am with how quickly Mark Dantonio has turned things around in East Lansing, I lost a ton of respect for him after those back-to-back timeouts that he called with 9 seconds left and the game long since in the bag while the freezing fans were anxiously awaiting the presentation of the Big Ten Championship trophy.  There was no need to put a damper effect on the celebration of a hard-earned and well-deserved title.

Even more disgusting was the stuff I read from MSU fans on message boards arguing that Dantonio was giving PSU a little payback for running up the score by throwing the ball in the 4th quarter.  What the hell did you expect PSU to do, take a knee on every play and put in the towel boys on defense so MSU could launch another comeback and make a semi-interesting game out of a thorough domination?

If you stuff 8 or 9 guys in the box to try to stop the run and continue to play as if the game is still within reach, then the other team will do whatever they can to counter it…It’s called taking your medicine like a man.

Need to clear out the massive amount of guests at your party?  Hire Mark Dantonio

Need to clear a massive amount of guests from your party in a hurry? Hire Mark Dantonio

5. Northwestern (9-3, 5-3) – Imagine, if NU hadn’t inexplicably choked at Indiana, they would be sitting pretty with a 10-2 record, raise your hands if you saw that coming…That’s what I thought.

6. Wisconsin (7-5, 3-5) – Dear Bret Bielema: You owe a Christmas card to Cal Poly’s kicker because without his multiple botched extra points, your team would be inexplicably staying home for the holidays, much like Ron Zook’s crew.

7. Minnesota (7-5, 3-5) – It’s amazing what one giant FAIL in the final seconds can do a team’s fortunes…The Gophers have reverted to their 2007 selves ever since their Miracle at the Meadowlands-style disaster against Northwestern, losing four straight games, including closing out the Metrodome (i.e. “Kinnick North”) with a bang by being on the losing end of a 55-0 pasting against Iowa.

The Caddyshack Gophers are now limping into their bowl game and desperately need a win in order to build some off-season momentum and straighten the tailspin they’re currently mired in.

8. Illinois (5-7, 3-5) – The advertisements for the season finale of Illinois Football: The Journey have all the makings of “A Very Special Episode” on a sitcom.  Expect plenty of tears to be jerked as the Illini lament on their lost season that was once full of hope.  And please, stay away from gangs, they’re bad news…

9. Purdue (4-8, 2-6) – Nothing like a 52-point pasting of your bitter rival to send out a coach who revolutionized Big Ten football over a decade ago.  It’s a shame that Joe Tiller won’t get to experience one final bowl game before he retires to Wyoming, particularly since bowl games for Purdue were about as frequent as Star Wars geeks getting laid before he arrived.  Nonetheless, Yours Truly wishes Coach Tiller a happy retirement and thanks him for being a class act and representative of the Big Ten.

Assistant coach (and Tiller look-alike) Danny Hope takes over, and the biggest question now is whether he can get Purdue back to the winning ways that fans had become accustomed to under Tiller.

Sporting the Tiller stache already gets you halfway there as a worthy successor.

Sporting the "Tiller 'stache" already gets you halfway there as a worthy successor at Purdue. Well done, young grasshopper!

10. Michigan (3-9, 2-6) – Year One of the Dick Rod era is in the books.  It was the worst season in the long, rich, history of Michigan Wolverine football.  However, it’s hard to believe how one can worry about something so meaningless with all the bloody starvation happening in the world…Get a life.

Dick Rod is to biting towels as Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" is to biting soap.

Dick Rod is to biting towels as Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" is to biting soap.

11. Indiana (3-9, 1-7) – Look, I realize it was Joe Tiller’s last game as head coach and that emotions were running high at West Lafayette, but that’s no excuse for your team to not even show up for its annual rivalry game.  The Hoosiers looked like a team that had long ago thrown in the towel and that falls on Bill Lynch and the coaching staff. It only makes one wonder where this program would be right now if Terry Hoeppner were still alive and well, because I can tell you for sure that you wouldn’t have seen this team put together as pathetic of a performance as they put on against their rivals if Hoeppner was still the coach, nor would you have seen such a collapse from the previous year occur.

Look for Lynch to be squarely on the hot seat going into 2009 and if IU doesn’t show significant improvement from this year’s fall back to the basement, then there will be a new sherriff in Bloomington for 2010.  Something tells me though that 2007’s success was “lightning in a bottle.”

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Thanksgiving Weekend Bullet-Points

November 29, 2008

So yeah, the blogging has been rather sporadic as of late.  You can blame it on the turkey, blame it on the fact that I was down in Maryland for the past few days with relatives and thus had no time for relevant blogging, blame it on terrorism being back in the front page of the news, whatever.  Bottom line: I need to make some of it up and what better way to do so than to revive an HHV favorite, the “bullet points?”  Here goes nothing…

  • I realize I have yet to put up my own post-game analysis on the football team’s beatdown of Michigan State, I’ll try my damndest to get it up either tomorrow or Monday.  Better late than never…
  • Being that I was in Maryland and couldn’t find a link to a PSU radio broadcast, I was forced to read in-game threads on message boards in order to follow the Rhode Island game.  I never realized one could feel as much anticipation clicking on the “refresh” button on the web browser, waiting to read whether Pringle or Battle hit a potential game-tying shot as one could by just listening to it on the radio.
  • I can’t say that I was shocked that we lost to URI, they’re a pretty solid team and we usually don’t fare favorably against such teams…particularly in neutral/road environments.  Don’t expect much against Georgia Tech this Wednesday.
  • What the hell was ED thinking playing only 7 guys against URI?  Woodyard and Babb need to be thrown into the fire in order t get some quality PT before the Big Ten season.  Unless of course, ED plans on playing a 7-man rotation for the Big Ten slate, in which case we’re royally EFF-YOU-SEE-KAYED.
  • On a positive note: I’m glad to see the Fighting DeChellises were able to get off the mat and bounce back with a 78-54 shellacking of Towson in the 3rd place game of the Philly Classic.  Just looking at the box score, it’s very encouraging to see AJ III with 13 rebounds (even if its against Towson) and Battle nearly racking up a triple-double (15 pts, 9 assists, 8 rebs).  If we can get that kind of performance on a few nights in the Big Ten, there could be a few upsets in store for us.
  • Speaking of the Towson game: John and I conversed by cell phone before tipoff today, and we both picked PSU to cover the 7-point spread in their favor, along with Crispin and Cream.  So, the standings in our contest after two straight days of hoops action currently stand as such:

HHV 3-1

C&C 3-1

John 2-2

  • My fingers are crossed that Oregon hangs on to its 20-point lead over Oregon State (currently in the 3rd quarter as I’m typing this entry) and helps secure an almost certain matchup in the Rose Bowl with USC.
  • Speaking of USC, they currently lead 24-0 at the half as I’m typing this entry.  If ND can spring a little bit of offense, Charlie Weis has a very legit shot at beating the spread, and thus saving his job for the time being.

Alright, that’s it…Enjoy whatever’s left of your holiday.


Dick Rod To Pull Another Disappearing Act?

November 26, 2008

Take this with several grains of salt because it involves something coming out Mark May’s mouth, but Mr. May himself was on some sports talk radio show yesterday suggesting that word on the street is that not only could Rich Rodriguez (aka “Dick Rod”) leave Michigan to take either the Tennessee or Clemson vacancies but that Michigan would actually help him to broker a deal with one of the aforementioned schools.

May’s reason for suggesting such a scenario basically sum down to the “wine and cheese crowd” at Michigan with their “Mercedes in the parking lots” who expect to win every year aren’t warming up to some guy with a southern drawl who changes the playcalling system and oversees the worst season in the program’s proud history.

May then goes on to suggest that Clemson fans would embrace Dick Rod because that’s where he was a well-liked offensive coordinator during the first couple years of the Tommy Bowden era before bolting to West Virginia to become their head coach.

Certainly, nothing that’s being said about Dick Rod should be considered “far-fetched” and I wouldn’t be as shocked as you think if such a rumor were to end up true.  Dick Rod isn’t exactly a well-liked figure amongst the Michigan fan base and his style and demeanor are a deep contrast from what the fans are used to.  That is usually not a good sign with a program for which winning is a birthright.  We could potentially have another Bill Callahan at Nebraska-type scenario playing out in Ann Arbor, unless Michigan’s athletic department decides to pave Dick Rod a path to Clemson or Tennessee.

Anyway, here’s the link to the aforementioned talk show appearance.  You’ll have to fast-forward to a little bit beyond the halfway mark before the Dick Rod talk begins.


Big Ten Blogger Pick ‘Em (Week 13)

November 20, 2008

Apologies for not posting my picks on here last week, I’m gonna blame it on the hangover from the Iowa loss.  Additionally, Gopher Nation, the architect of this whole business, is having issues with updating the standings so that will have to wait as well but I’ll have them up whenever they are released.

Moving on to this week, it’s hard to believe the Big Ten regular season finale has dawned upon us.  Fear not though, because there will be a bowl game edition of BTB Pick ‘Em where the stakes will be at their highest as every correct pick will be worth a whopping 5 points instead of the current 3 points.  Given that I was still within striking distance of the leaders in the previously updated standings, I’ve still got a better chance of winning the BTB Pick’ Em Contest than Lloyd Christmas ever did of snuggling up with Mary Swanson.

Anyway, here’s my picks.  For those of you who are brand new to this, I always highlight my winners in the respective school’s colors:

Illinois at Northwestern –  Disgustingly inconsistent and disappointing Illini get the final nail in their “2008 bowl hopes coffin” hammered in by the Wild Kitties and Ron Zook spends the holidays back home in Champaign, slugging down eggnog while watching Christmas specials on ABC Family.

Journey to the Center of Despair

Coming this December to BTN: "Illinois Football: Journey to the Center of Despair"

Michigan at Ohio StateSure, it’s the greatest rivalry in all of sports (sorry Duke and UNC) which means the Wolverines can never be completely counted out, but you’re more naive than Sarah Palin on the eve of election night if you actually believe Dick Rod’s crew will pull off the shocker.  Look for the Buckeyes to record their most lopsided victory ever.

Michigan State at Penn StateLet’s see: Senior day for the Derrick Williams/Justin King class that helped turn JoePa’s fortunes around, Big Ten title/Rose Bowl trip on the line, revenge from last year’s inexcusable collapse in East Lansing…I dunno about you, but if I don’t see a pumped-up group of Nittany Lions on the field this weekend looking for blood and sealing the Pasadena deal with a “W”, I will sell my PSU fanhood on E-Bay.

Indiana at PurdueThe official battle for the Big Ten basement takes place in the great state of Indiana as emotions will run high in Joe Tiller’s final game as Purdue coach.  Look for “Ole Diabeetus” himself to shine one more time when the Boilermakers get back the Old Oaken Bucket from the Hoosiers.

Farewell, Coach Tiller.  Ye shall be missed...

Farewell, Coach Tiller. Ye shall be missed...

Cal Poly at Wisconsin (1 point) Poor Cal Poly, if the Badgers weren’t one win away from securing a sure-fire bowl berth (6-6 with a loss to an FCS school will NOT get you in a bowl game), they might have stood a chance at making this game interesting for a half…

Iowa at Minnesota – Imagine for a moment, if Iowa had discovered its offense at the beginning of the season: Would they be in position to win the Big Ten and recreate this classic Metrodome moment?

2002-11-17-inside-fans

ALL YOUR GOALPOST ARE BELONG TO IOWA.


Big Ten Power Rankings (Week 12)

November 15, 2008

Some quick thoughts on tonight’s 65-51 win by the Fighting DeChellises over Bill & Mary:

  • Cornley and Battle are picking up where they left off last season…Now we need a third consistent scorer to emerge if we’re going to take a giant leap forward this year.  Stanley Pringle and DJ Jackson looked like strong candidates w/12 pts and 9 pts respectively.
  • People are already dismissing Danny Morrissey’s shooting ability after one off-night shooting, which is rather ridiculous.  The guy will have his hot shooting nights, and plenty of them throughout the cousre of the season.  If you’re going to criticize Morrissey, criticize his lack of athleticism or defensive abilities, don’t rag on him for his shooting.
  • The interior game needs plenty of work.  Aside from Cornley, nobody else has stepped up inside offensively or defensively.  AJ III was a disappointment tonight with only 4 rebounds and 4 points.  DJ is more of a small forward type than power forward but he’s looked like the best interior player after Cornley.  Paging Jeff Brooks…Please get over your concussion soon.
  • Chris Babb only played 5 minutes and didn’t do anything notable, hopefully he was just working away first-regular season-game-jitters.  Cammeron Woodyard hit a clutch shot to end a several minute scoring drought halfway through the second half and seemed like a kid who could be helpful for us defensively.  We’re going to need both these guys to become key bench players come Big Ten season.
  • I nearly fell asleep during the second half when it seemed all that was happening for the next several minutes was W&M would miss an open three-point shot, PSU would rebound and rush the ball downcourt, only to turn it back over.
  • Since PSU covered the 10.5 spread tonight, Yours Truly stands alone at the top of “The Contest” with a 1-0 record thus far.

Alright, time now for what you REALLY were reading this for:

1. Penn State – Yeah, they lost, Earth is doomed, the terrorists win, blah blah blah…They’re still the team to beat in the Big Ten.

2. Ohio State – The “Revenge Factor” will be alive and well this weekend when the Buckeyes pay a visit to Illinois to take on the team that seemingly eliminated their BCS title hopes last year.

3. Iowa – I debated heavily whether to vault the Hawkeyes over a Michigan State team that took care of business.  Upon further review though, I have to favor the Hawkeyes’ D over MSU’s, not to mention Shonn Greene has yet to be held under 100 yards a game as opposed to Javon Ringer.

4. Michigan State – Gets this weekend off before they COME TO PENNN STAAAATE for what should be the unofficial Big Ten Championship Game.  Be afraid, be very afraid…

5. Wisconsin – Starting to look like the Wisconsin team everybody and their mother envisioned: Running all over opponents and playing stifling defense that holds opposing offenses in check.

6. Northwestern – They’re beating all the mediocre/bottom feeder teams in the conference but have no answer to the teams in the top tier of the conference.

7. Minnesota – Looks like the Caddyshack Gophers have hit their ceiling and are going to continue getting Carl Spackler-ed by their remaining two opponents (at a rising Wisconsin team and home against a fired up Iowa squad).  Still a much better than expected season though, as they are bowl bound.

8. Illinois – Way to help the Big Ten cause, guys. Don’t be surprised to hear the Big Ten Network decide to cancel the remainder of the episodes for The Journey and replace them with reruns of The Ron Zook Variety Hour.

9. Michigan – At least Dick Rod will retain one part of Michigan tradition: The Little Brown Jug.

10. Purdue – Will the Boilers catch a jubilant bunch of Iowa players still hung over from last weekend’s keg party?

11. Indiana – “Fire Bill Lynch” signs are already prevalent at Hoosier football games.  A trip to Happy Valley should change everybody’s minds…To join the Lynch mob.


BTB Roundtable (Week 12, Return From Hibernation)

November 13, 2008
Were back...Albeit, a bit rusty.

We're back...Albeit, a bit rusty.

After a few weeks’ hiatus, Maize and Blue Nation has stepped up to the plate to come up with some questions for the BTB Roundtable.  Needless to say, a lot of crazy shit has gone down in the Big Ten since then and for the protection of my own sanity, I’ll leave it at that.

On to the questions:

1) With two weeks left in the season, it’s safe to say that most schools have reached the point where the year has been a success or a disappointment. How has your school fared this year in your opinion? Or, is the jury still out?

The easy answer would be to say this year has been a disappointment.  However, if you had told me back in August that Penn State would go into November controlling its own destiny for the Big Ten title and subsequent Rose Bowl bid, I would’ve taken it in a heartbeat.

Obviously, expectations changed once we actually exorciiiised the demons in Columbus and everyone started “OMFG!” rioting, ordering hotel and plane tickets to Miami, and talking non-stop about the BCS title, only to have it all snatched away by Ray Finkle in Iowa City two weeks later.

So right now, the Nittany Nation is disappointed about what could’ve been but in retrospect, winning the Big Ten title would still be flippin’ sweet if we can pull it off.

2) Is your school heading to a bowl? If so, which one? And if not, WTF?

If it wasn’t obvious from what I wrote in response to Question #1 then I’ll spell it out for you:  Y-E-S.  The possibilities range from the Outback Bowl (should we do the unthinkable and lose both our remaining games, in which case Yours Truly will crawl into a bunker with Paint The Town Orange) to the BCS Championship…Hey, quit snickering!  It was around this time last year that Ohio State was coming off a similar shocking, BCS title hopes-ending loss to Illinois before Lady Parity went ape shit.

3) The Big Ten has recently had a hard time getting respect among the national media as a top conference. Has the Big Ten taken a step forward or a step backward in this debate this season?

Riddle me this, riddle me that:  How do you explain a “Triple MAC Attack”  (I’m talking of course about Indiana, Michigan, and most recently Illinois’ defeats) as anything but a slap in the face to the Big Ten and three giant steps backward?

Not that Penn State helped the cause either by making “The Stanz” look like Dan Marino…

4) Would the Big Ten benefit from adding another school to create two divisions like the SEC, Big 12, ACC and MAC? And if so, which school should be added? Or, should we drop one school?

The obvious answer would be Notre Dame, but we all know there’s a better chance that Charlie Weis will shed 100 pounds in the offseason by using Hydroxycut.  They’re too full themselves with their NBC contract and their flexibility in scheduling (even though it includes at least three Big Ten teams a year).  If anyone is going to drop out of the conference it would be PSU, who would jump to the Big East or perhaps the ACC but I don’t see that happening either.

5) Do you agree with President-elect Obama that college football should have an 8 school post-season playoff?

Yes, so long as the format goes like this: Six auto bids go to the champions of each of the BCS conferences, while the remaining two “at-large” bids would either be filled by either a one-loss or even two-loss team from a BCS conference or by an undefeated team from a non-BCS conference ranked in the Top 10 (i.e. Utah in 2004, Boise State in 2006).

One can only imagine the amount of hype that would’ve surrounded the Boise State bandwagon two years ago had my proposed system been in place.

6a) Who is your favorite network television play-by-play announcer/color commentator/sideline reporter?

Play-by-Play announcer: Gus Johnson – The Big Ten Network committed highway robbery by snatching him for their upcoming basketball broadcasts.  Now, I get to hear him say things like: “Battle driving to the BUCKET…HELL YES!”

I also think BTN should allow him to announce this year’s Indiana-Purdue football matchup in an effort to make it sound like the Big Ten title is at stake.

Color commentator:  Kirk Herbstreit – Easily the most unbiased analyst out there, which is saying a lot considering his staunch Buckeye roots.  We also suspect he may be a closet Penn State fan ever since he was in Happy Valley for the magical victory over OSU in 2005 and was hypnotized by the student section.

Sideline reporter:  Melanie Collins (See 6b for further details)

6b) If you listed Erin Andrews Melanie Collins, please provide a photo/video to back up your pick.

What’s that?  You’ve never heard of Melanie Collins?  Well, you will soon enough.  She’s a Penn State grad who currently works with the Big Ten Network and does some work with PSU sports shows as well.  She’s also a native of State College, PA (my hometown) and an alum of my high school which gets her 10x bonus points in my book.

melanie-collins

Did I also mention she doubles as a bikini model?

Unless Erin Andrews gets invited by Sports Illustrated to pose for their celebrity section of the annual “Swimsuit Edition” then it looks like Melanie’s got her one-upped in that department.  Sorry Erin, but your time is running short..Look for the Worldwide Leader to pick up Melanie within the next few years.


Dear Football Gods, Make This Happen…

November 12, 2008

ESPN may be in the process of inking a TV deal with the BCS, snatching it away from those clowns at FOX.

The BCS is considering a proposal from ESPN that would see all BCS bowl games, including the championship game, wind up on ESPN, sources familiar with the negotiations are saying.

If the BCS ultimately accepts the bid, it would mark the first time all games in a major championship were not available on an over-the-air broadcast network. If the BCS opts to move to ESPN, it would continue a trend that has seen other leagues migrate playoff series exclusively from broadcast to cable. MLB, the NBA and the NHL all have placed playoff games on cable over the past few years.

If ABC/ESPN ultimately wins the bid and moves even one BCS game to ESPN, it would trigger a clause in its Rose Bowl contract that would allow it to immediately take the annual game in Pasadena from its home of 21 years on ABC to the cable channel.

I hope this is true because FOX has the worst, and I mean, THE WORST TV sports coverage in the United States of America.  The announcers are amongst the least informed, mixing up names, facts, and key stats.  Not that it’s any surprise because FOX doesn’t do any regular season college football games…and don’t even get me started on that joke known as FOX Sports Net. Being a Pac-10 fan really has to suck listening to Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis (who sounds like Horatio Sanz’s Gene Shalit impersonation from Saturday Night Live) for your “Game of the Week.”

As for concerns about the Rose Bowl moving to ESPN:  Practically 99% of households with a basic cable system have ESPN, and the other 1% who don’t probably don’t give two shits about sports to begin with.

I wholeheartedly applaud this move by ESPN to save another fine sporting event that’s getting raped Indiana Jones-style by FOX.