Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wildcats Win!

There's something magical about Iowa's Nile Kinnick Stadium, something that makes underdog visitors want to rise up and say "Yes, I can!" Well, yes, Northwestern did today, beating the heretofore undefeated Hawkeyes 17-10 to become bowl eligible and simultaneously end Iowa's dark horse national title dreams.

Knocking Ricky Stanzi out of the game helped a lot, as his replacement, freshman James Vandenberg, couldn't do anything all day. Honestly, Iowa didn't even look like a Top 25 team, although the defense (Adrian Clayborn is awesome) was fine. Anyway, I may have more analysis on this later, but for now it's celebration time. You can read the story here at ESPN.

Tim Lincecum vs. Michael Phelps

This is a case study in celebrity marijuana charge treatment, and the #1 reason why I would rather live in Washington than South Carolina:

Grant Hansen, a Clark County deputy prosecutor, told the newspaper his office is willing to dismiss a misdemeanor charge of possessing 3.3 grams of marijuana.

"We negotiated the case in the manner we do with just about every first-time marijuana-drug paraphernalia case where the individual is cooperative with the officer," Hansen told The Columbian. "We dismissed possession of marijuana and amended the other charge to buying or selling drug paraphernalia, a Class A civil infraction." ( News)

That's right. They treated the famous person like an actual person. Wow. Revolutionary. Instead of, say, shamelessly grabbing for publicity.

The 5'10" Lincecum, by the way, is probably the best young pitcher in baseball despite weighing about half-a-CC Sabathia. Maybe less. And he likes the reefer. Oh, and he was on my fantasy baseball team ("Double Baggers") this year. I think I may be interested in rooting for this kid next year. PS, in retrospect (see picture), this is less surprising than Sammy Sosa and 'roids.

Somewhere out there, Michael Phelps is looking at houses (with swimming pools) in Seattle.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Big Weekend Pick 'Em!

Huge week in the Big Ten, so I'll start here:

Northwestern at No. 4 Iowa (noon ET, ESPN) - Northwestern is banged up, Iowa plays down to the level of its opponents for the first three quarters. I've got a close one, but this NU team is not quite as 'cardiac' as previous year's Cats.
Iowa 34, Northwestern 26

No. 21 Wisconsin at Indiana - Indiana has a solid defense but Wisco's ground-pounding gameplan will wear out the Hoosiers. Can Canada's Air Assault* (*not available in 2nd half) keep up? I doubt it.
Wisconsin 28, Indiana 13

Purdue at Michigan - Michigan has fallen apart, Purdue has occasionally looked like world beaters when they don't look like an average MAC team. Interestingly, both looked pretty good against Notre Dame. Big Blue has more firepower and is smarting coming off that Illinois loss. How good of a coach is Rich Rodriguez? This will be a week to find out.
Michigan 38, Purdue 21

Illinois at Minnesota - Even without Eric Decker, Minnesota has too much ammo - and a bowl game at stake - for the Fighting Illini to handle up in Gopherland.
Minnesota 44, Illinois 17

Western Michigan at Michigan State - State lost to Michigan Directional earlier this year in CMU. They won't do it again.
Michigan State 52, WMU 24

No. 16 Ohio State at No. 11 Penn State (3:30 PM, ABC) - The showcase game of the week features the conference's pair of grand dames trying to keep up with Iowa and guarantee themselves a BCS payday. Terrelle Pryor is better than Daryll Clark, but Penn State owns the slightly better defense, are playing at home, and need the win since they don't control their own destiny, having already lost to the Hawkeyes.

Also, they have JoePa. Advantage, Happy Valley.

Penn State 23, Ohio State 20

On to the NFL: Six teams are on their bye, including NFC North leader Minnesota, the enigmatic Jets, and four of the league's worst in Buffalo, Cleveland, Oakland, and St. Louis. That leaves 13 games. In ascending order of importance:

Kansas City at Jacksonville - The Jags can't fill up their stadium, but Todd Haley is not a head coach. However, Jacksonville has a functioning offense and will win this one 28-10.

Detroit at Seattle - The Lions' loss to the Rams last week dumped them right back into the 'worst team' conversation after a brief reprieve. Seattle is playing uninspired ball, as one would expect from a team featuring Julius Jones. Seattle 33-16.

Green Bay at Tampa Bay - A few years ago, this used to be a divisional battle, played out twice a year and featuring Warren Sapp and Brett Favre. Now it's just Aaron Rodgers' turn to take out his frustration on a really awful team. Green Bay 31-7.

Washington at Atlanta - After losing to New Orleans and surrendering their best shot at catching up in-division, Atlanta gets a gimme at home. I've picked Washington before, and it never ends well. Falcons win, 35-23.

Tennessee at San Francisco - Vince Young and Alex Smith get the starts for their respective clubs, and it comes down to who needs the win more. The Niners do, as Arizona is still catchable in the NFC West. San Fran 17-14.

San Diego at New York Giants - I just don't think this year's Chargers are good at all. And the Giants are due for a bounce-back, so why not here, with Eli feeling the pressure to perform? Giants 38-30.

Carolina at New Orleans - The Panthers are running well again, but you need to have all three phases clicking to have a shot at the Saints this year. Flying Breeses 45-27.

Arizona at DAAAAA BEARS - Two teams with winning records and still very little sense of whether they are contenders or pretenders. I gotta go Bears here, because the Cardinals don't have much of a running attack and the Chicago defense used Cleveland to hone their ball-stealing instincts once again. The last time these teams played, Devin Hester had The Game and it turned out that the Bears "are who we THOUGHT they are!" so history points to awesomeness. Chicago 24-21.

Houston at Indianapolis - Indy showed some chinks in the armor last week against San Fran, and these two teams know each other well. It's hard to bet against Peyton, but I think I'll take Houston in the upset here. 27-24.

Miami at New England - The 'Fins are competitive, but Belichik and Brady coming off a bye week are not to be trifled with. Still, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will get theirs. This should be a fun one. New England 31-30.

Dallas at Philadelphia - Both teams are flying high and rounding into midseason form. Both smell blood with the Giants struggling in their division. Who can take advantage? How about Philly at home, by a score of 30-24?

Baltimore at Cincinnati - Last time these teams met, it was a thriller with Cincy emerging on top. This time I think the tables get turned and the Ravens squeak by on the road. 24-21.

MONDAY NIGHT. Pittsburgh at Denver - Denver looked mortal last week against Baltimore, and Pitt is a quality team. This is a tough one to call, but I'm going to ride Kyle Orton like a drunken sorostitute. Denver 20-17.

Your picks for the week? Post below, please!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Big Ten Expansion

BIG TEN Expansion, it’s not going to happen, but still fun to talk about.

So why am I talking about expanding the Big Ten? Well a few weeks ago, SI put up an article discussing expansion, and if you know me, Big Ten expansion is always on my mind, so this is just giving me an excuse to write about it.

Now before I dive into this column there are a few things that need to be discussed about Big Ten expansion. It is a logistical nightmare. The main reason for any Big Ten expansion would be to increase revenue of the conference. I know immediately most of you are thinking I am talking about adding the Big Ten Championship game. Yes this would bring in money, but not as much ad revenue that could be generated through the Big Ten Network by adding a team in a new, large market.

Also, another major factor for the Big Ten is they hold academics in very high regard. The Big Ten is the only Division 1 Conference in which all members are members of Association of American Universities. Also, all Big Ten schools are research institutions. Lastly, all have exceptional grad school programs.

These are all outside of athletics, there could be other challenges awaiting any Big Ten expansion; but, it’s still fun to speculate.

Now that we have decided to expand, we need to find out what we are going to call this new conference. Should it remain the Big Ten? The conference already gets made fun of enough for not being able to count, so I’m going to say maybe we should change it. We can’t do Big Twelve because the Big XII already exists. The Pacific-10 sounds good so maybe the Midwestern-12, but then you shorten that to Mid-12 and that makes the conference sound like a lesser conference. Also with potential east coast teams being “considered” for expansion this might also be inaccurate. What about ditching the numbers and going with a name, like the Great Lakes Conference? Well, that would have the same problem as now. Right now it is the Big Ten +1, it would be the Great Lakes plus Iowa. Still I think I like this one the best, but I’m not overly excited about it, somebody out there, give me help with a name.

Along with the name, how would the Big Ten align the new divisions in the conference? Location wise, like East/West or North/South? Or some other random way? The biggest question facing the divisions is what to do with Michigan vs Ohio St. Do you keep them in the same division so that the winner of that game will go on to the Big Ten title game to face someone else? Or do you have them in separate divisions with the possibilities of meeting 2 games in a row? I personally like the latter of the two. There can never be too much of Go Blue and the Horseshoe.

So which team should the Big Ten look to add? The Big Ten is not in a situation like the Pac-10 where there is a school sitting on their doorstep that is associated with a Mid Major that consistently performs well in the revenue earning sports with Utah. (Also others on their doorstep include BYU and Boise St) (Not that the other sports aren’t important, but like I said before, the only reason the Big Ten would expand is for $$$$$$) Just look around the Midwestern landscape. Are there any MAC schools that have consistently competed year after year in Football or basketball? Miami (OH), Ball St, and Bowling Green have all had good years in the past, but not consistently. The Missouri Valley has been one of the most successful Mid-Major conferences in basketball, but outside of a couple of Southern Illinois Division FCS championship runs has done little to impress on the football field.

The Big Ten will need to take a school from a power conference (In Notre Dame’s case they are associate with Big East for Basketball, but the Big Ten would have to entice them not be independent in Football) to expand.

Below are candidates that I have heard, even if only once, as well as pro’s and cons against them joining the conference. Each choice will be looked at based on Additional fan base / revenue, location, rivalries (existing and potential). Most of my knowledge of fan bases and general information I got from reading SI’s writer Stewart Mandel so yes some thing are assumptions, but he has discussed this in a few of his columns/mailbags and his book.

Let’s look at teams Starting in the East and ending in the West.


Additional Fan Base/ Revenue: As much as New York City is a professional town, there are still plenty of Rutgers grads who live there. From this stand point adding Rutgers into the Big Ten would greatly increase the revenue of the conference. Adding a big New Jersey school would help get more fans from Philly but Penn State already has a lot of fans there.

Location: New Brunswick, NJ. It’s not too far from Penn State only about 4 hours drive away. But it’s 9 hours from the next closest Ohio State.

Opinion: Adding Rutgers would have some advantages, with having Big Ten Teams play closer to the large media markets of the East Coast, but I would not be that excited if they joined. They don’t bring much of a basketball history and the football has been mediocre after the amazing year in 2006. I do understand why the Big Ten would add them or even want to add them. Also it gives schools like Michigan or Ohio State to play in front of some recruits in the New York Area (Why do you think Notre Dame is playing Navy in Yankee Stadium)

Will They Join: If the Big Ten wanted Rutgers I have little doubt they wouldn’t join. I am just not sure if the Big Ten will ask them too. The Big Ten will enjoy a larger market, but will it affect the competitiveness of the conference, but again that wouldn’t be why they would be asked to join.

My excitement if they joined: Not very high. Outside the New York market, I don’t see too many advantages

Syracuse University

Additional Fan Base/ Revenue: The same is true for Syracuse as it was for Rutgers As much as New York City is a professional town; there are still plenty of ‘Cuse grads who live there. From this stand point adding Syracuse into the Big Ten would greatly increase the revenue of the conference.

Location: Syracuse New York. Just like Rutgers It’s not actually that far away from Penn State only being about a 4.5 hour drive. However, Penn State is already kind of far away from the rest of the conference.

Rivals: No current Rivals. As stated before the closest school is Penn State.

Opinion: If Syracuse joined I would feel pretty indifferent. I would be excited about the expansion; they have traditionally had solid Football and Basketball programs. There’s plenty of good reasons for them to join. They already considered jumping ship when the ACC took Miami (FL), Va Tech, and Boston College from the Big East. I think Syracuse would fit in nicely in the Big Ten, but I think there are better options available.

Will They Join: Not saying it’s likely, but it would not surprise me if this was the team to join. They already considered leaving the Big East for the ACC. The conference basketball schedule could be easier, but that’s not always a good thing.

My excitement if they joined: A little more excited then Rutgers because of their traditions on the football field and basketball court.

West Virginia

Additional Fan Base/ Revenue: This is the major flaw against West Virginia. West Virginia does not have any major markets that the Big Ten network would like to add to. This could be a big factor as to why West Virginia does not get in.

Location: Morgantown West Virginia. WVU is basically located half way between Penn State and Ohio State. This location is travel wise a lot more ideal for schools then some of the other East Coast schools previously discussed.

Rivals: Again Penn State would be closest, but are you telling me the WVU fans would not circle a date with Rich Rodrigez every year? Or the fact that Michigan also got John Beilein to leave WVU basketball and join them. The passion might be a little one sided coming from WVU at first but could quickly blossom into a great rivalry.

Opinion: Right behind Alabama as my favorite Non-Big Ten football team; so if they joined I would be extremely excited. I love the fact that most years WVU would get matched up against Rich Rodrigez. They have been extremely successful in Bowl games and who doesn’t love Pittsnogle.

Will they Join: As much as I feel it would make sense for WVU to join the Big Ten. I don’t see it happening. The additional revenue isn’t there, the location is just ok. The football and basketball programs have been solid and could compete in the Big Ten and the rivalry with Michigan could be amazing, but I just don’t see it happening.

My Excitement if they joined: As I said before, they are right behind Alabama as my non-Big Ten football team, so I would love to see UVW in the conference.


Additional Fan Base / revenue: Obviously adding U of Pitt would add the city of Pittsburgh as a fan base, but Penn State already has fans there.

Location: Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is further west then Penn State, so it is already located in what could be considered Big Ten Country.

Rivals: The obvious one would be with Penn State. The less obvious would be Iowa. Pittsburgh has already had some enjoyable games with Iowa and both schools run first smash mouth style could lead to some heated exchanges on the field which could eventually turn into a rivalry even though they are not geographic rivals.

Opinion: Wanny has them playing a tough smash mouth style of football that would fit right into the Big Ten. I think they would add a presence to both the Basketball court and the Football field. I feel like they are a very logical choice and I love their basketball fans going crazy in the Zoo. They might want to get out of the meat grinder that is the Big East basketball conference but again this has benefits and set backs.

Will they Join: I don’t see the Big Ten asking Pittsburgh to join. I don’t know why I feel this way but I don’t. The on field performance and location make senses, but the additional revenue might not be there. Pittsburgh might not want to leave cause of the Big East football schedule; which one day might become a power house, but currently is pretty thin with talented teams.

My excitement if they joined. I would love to see another smash mouth football team in the conference and the Zoo makes Pitt one of the coolest places to play basketball so I would be happy if they joined.


Additonal Fan Base / revenue: I am not sure how much Cincinnati would really add to the Big Ten. Ohio State is a huge draw anywhere in the state of Ohio. So they would get the Cincinnati region of Kentucky too. I not sure how much this add

Location: Cincinnati Ohio. A little South and basically right in between Indiana and Ohio State.

Rivals: The obvious rival would be Ohio State with both teams playing in the same state. I have also heard that the coach was interested and is still interested in eventually ending up at Michigan. If that was the case this could become an excellent rivalry.

Opinion: Cincinnati football has been playing well this year, but I am afraid as soon as the caoch leaves the program will go back to being just ok. Similar to what happened to Cincinnati basketball after Bob Higgins left. I don’t really see the benefit of adding Cincinnati besides their close proximity to the Big Ten Conference

Will They Join: I don’t see them joining. I don’t think the Big Ten would ask them to join and Cincinnati can enjoy a less strenuous football schedule. If they were asked I could see Cincinnati accepting having only just joined the Big East a few years ago.

My excitement level if they joined: Low, I like they way their football team is headed, but any Big Ten team playing Cincinnati doesn’t really say must see TV


Additional fan base / revenue: Adding Louisville might allow the Big Ten to get a stronger foothold in Kentucky which is primarily a SEC state. However, Kentucky does not have that many major metropolitan areas. So adding Louisville would not have a major impact on revenue

Location: Louisville Kentucky. Only about a two hour drive from nearest current member Indiana. Also relatively close to Indianapolis where Louisville basketball fans will want to drive for the Big Ten tournament.

Rivalries: They have no current rivals but there is potential for a rivalry with Indiana. Both schools have had historically good basketball programs. Indiana is already a rivalry with Kentucky which is further away then Louisville.

Opinion: I have said for awhile I think Louisville makes a lot of sense to join the Big Ten. It is only a recent member to the Big East so it does not have strong ties there. It’s located right on the border of Big Ten country and is closer to most of the Big Ten schools then current Member Penn State. Louisville has had a lot of historic success with basketball and has had some recent success with football. They do not play the traditional smash mouth football that is associated with the Big Ten, but outside of Iowa and Wisconsin, this has been a dying form in the Big Ten.

Will They Join: I think the Revenue factor will keep Louisville out of the Big Ten which is a shame because I think they would make a fine addition to the conference

My excitement if they Joined: I would be happy if they joined.

The University of Notre Dame

This is the most popular choice people suggest while discussing Big Ten expansion.

Additional Fan Base / Revenue: Love them or hate them, people love watching, and talking about Notre Dame Football. Notre Dame would bring in big dollars to the conference. People have said that Notre Dame has too much money to gain by being independent, but I have heard rumors, and according to this article Notre Dame has now fallen behind the Big Ten and the SEC.

Location: South Bend Indiana. South Bend is in the heart of Big Ten country

Rivals: Notre Dame already plays multiple Big Ten teams every year and already has a Rivalry with fellow Northwest Indiana resident Purdue as well as Michigan.

Opinion: Makes the most logical sense of any school out there with its location and performance in revenue sports.

Will They Join: I would have to go with a maybe. Notre Dame does pride itself on being an independent but the additional revenue might be too hard to pass up. Scheduling could be an area that keeps Notre Dame from joining. It would help them by being in a conference because they would get to play traditional weak teams like Indiana every year, but wouldn’t give them the flexibility they currently have. Notre Dame will always play USC and has played Navy every year without interruption since 1927. This leaves them only 2 other games to schedule, which they like to go all over the country to help with recruiting (see the home game in San Antonio this past week).

My excitement if they joined: I would be very excited if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten. I don’t know if I would be jumping for joy like some people, but it would be interesting.


Additional Fan Base / Revenue: Adding Missouri would give the Big Ten a very strong presence in St. Louis and add additional fan bases from the other side of the state in Kansas City. So this could bring in some potential new revenue to the Big Ten.

Location: Columbia Missouri. A little north of the middle of the state. It’s about 4.5 hours drive away from Illinois and 5 hours away from Iowa.

Rivals: Is already in a budding rivalry with Illinois which would only become more heightened if these two schools were in the same conference. Mizzou does not really have a rivalry with Iowa State so unsure if Iowa and Mizzou would be come a rivalry.

Opinion: I would love to see Mizzou join. They would probably be my top choice of schools to add. They recent surge in Football and Basketball (40 minutes of HELL!) could add some exciting games to the Big Ten. Love the coaches, love the way the play.

Will They Join: I think in a perfect world they would join, but trying to get an original Big 8 team to leave the Big XII would be a difficult situation. The theory would be, if a Big XII leaves, the Big XII would add TCU to their conference. Honestly, I don’t see them leaving the Big XII and so I will say no.

My excitement if they joined: I would be very excited if they joined, they are probably my top choice for schools to join. As I said before I love the way they play both football and basketball.

Iowa State

Additional Fan Base / Revenue: If they joined the Big Ten would control the state of Iowa, no offense, not that much extra fans or revenue.

Location: Ames Iowa: About 2 hours west of Iowa
Rivals: They play Iowa every year for the Cy-Hawk trophy. Might get a rivalry going with Minnesota

Opinion: They have never won a Big 8 or Big XII north title in football. They have had a couple decent runs in basketball but do hold the distinguished honor of being one of four second sees to lose to a 15 seed. I really don’t see the value of adding Iowa State to the Big Ten

Will they Join: No, I don’t think so. I don’t see the Big Ten extending an offer to Iowa State or, as discussed with Mizzou, I don’t see an original Big 8 team leaving the Big XII

My excitement if they joined: Low, very low actually. This is one of the teams I really really don’t want to see join the Big Ten


This is the most intresting one I have ever heard Stewart Mandel discussed it in one of his mailbags

Additional Fan Base / Revenue: A ton! Nebraska has a following like few other schools in the nation. Memorial stadium becomes the third biggest city in the state on game day. Nebraska has fans everywhere and the Big Ten would love to get some of that money.

Rivals: Locationwise Iowa and Minnesota make a lot of sense, but it’s hard not to imagine traditional powerhouses Michigan (who shared the 1997 title with the Huskers) Ohio State and Penn State wouldn’t become rivals.

Location: Linocln Nebraska. Lincoln is about 4.5 hours west of Iowa

Opinion: Adding Nebraska would be all about adding Football. Nebraska basketball has never really amounted to much. Adding Nebraska football would be huge. Nebraska has been down this decade after having one of the most dominating runs in the 90s (winning 3 titles in 4 years with arguably the best team ever in 95). Even with their down decade Nebraska has still went to a national title game (2001) and has produced numerous NFL stars. Nebraska fans have been audible about their lack of success, so don’t expect Nebraska football to be down long

Will they Join: Again, I am very doubtful and original Big 8 team would leave the Big XII. But, as discussed in Mandel’s article, if there is in fighting in the Big XII between Nebraska and the Texas schools, we can always dream.

My excitement if they joined: Extremely high, adding Nebraska to the Big Ten would be fun, it would create lots of exciting games and increase out of conference play as Nebraska would most likely continue to play Oklahoma every year.

So what do you think? Which of the schools listed would you like to see join the Big Ten? What other schools did I leave out that you would like to see join?

Triva: Playoffs MVPs for Losing Teams

Two questions in two days, crazy I know. This one was too cool to pass up. There is talks that Chase Utley could win the World Series MVP even if the Yankees win the series. If he does he will be the 9th player to do so from the 4 major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL). Can you name the other 8?

Here's a breakdown of number per league

MLB - 1
NBA - 1
NFL - 1
NHL - 5

I personally only got 1, so if you can get all 8, you are a better man then I. Answer will be in comments in the next few days.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Trivia: Rushing Title Winners from 2000-2008

In honor of the late great Walter Payton this weeks trivia features rushing stats. Payton retired as the all time leading rusher and won the rushing title in 1977. Can you name the 8 players (1 repeat) who have won the rushing title from 2000-2008? Years are not necessary. Answers posted in the comments section later this week.

Joe Giardi ESPN Article

I found this article amusing. When the cubs signed their manager three years ago they passed on reigning NL Manager of the year Joe Girardi and picked Lou Pinella. I said at the time, the right choice for the cubs is Joe Giardi and look who agrees with me. Now most of you won't believe me, but that's ok. Still a good article.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Saints-Hoosiers Connection

I'm watching the New Orleans-Atlanta Monday Night game tonight, and noticed that a couple of former Indiana University players are playing major roles for the Saints.

Second-year corner Tracy Porter (above) is established as the starter on the right side of the field. Porter was one of the two most important players in the 2007 (fluke) bowl season, not only racking up a sick amount of INT's (16 for his career) but also acting as one of IU's special teams studs, along with Marcus Thigpen. He actually holds the IU record for interception return yardage, with 413 yards.

The Saints took him in the second round in 2008 and he started right away before a wrist injury put him on the IR, ending a promising rookie season.

This year, he's been a legitimate factor at corner, with two picks (one returned for a TD), and 7 pass deflections. He is thriving in new coordinator Gregg Williams' aggressive scheme along with the rejuvenated S Darren Sharper and LCB Jabari Greer.

***Porter just made his 3rd INT of the year in the clutch, picking off a pass intended for Tony Gonzalez at the one yard line in the 4th quarter. Jonathan Vilma (The U!) tipped the pass and Tracy fingertipped it about a foot from the ground. Huge play!***

But Porter isn't the only former Hoosier making plays tonight. Anybody who was here for the Gerry DiNardo Era has got to remember the other superstar wideout of the 2000's, the guy whose records were broken soon after his departure by James Hardy. That's right, it's the little fella, Courtney Roby! (pictured)

He had 170 catches for over 2500 yards at Indiana, but has bounced around in the NFL (Titans, Bengals, Colts, Saints), finally finding a niche as a kickoff returner. After being ignominiously cut by the Colts earlier this year, Roby was acquired by the Saints, who clearly know a good thing when they see it.

In the Monday Night spotlight, he has returned 3 kicks for 88 yards and a sweet 29.3 yard average.

Porter and Roby are part of a solid Saints cadre of Big Ten alums including Drew Brees (Purdue), Will Smith (Ohio State), Pierre Thomas (Illinois), and first round rookie Malcom Jenkins (TOSU), as well as LT Zach Streif (Northwestern).

With such a relative handful of Indiana alums in the NFL (I bet you can name almost all of 'em if you think hard enough), it's nice to see these guys playing well for one of the league's best teams.

Proof positive that IU can recruit and develop big-league caliber talent just as well as some of the prestige programs, and another reminder that our current coaching staff is probably wasting the college years of some future stars!

I Remember Way Back When...

After Week 8 in the NFL, the 4-3 Bears are just as much of a mystery as they were before the season started. Does beating the Browns 30-6 even count as a full win?

Anyway, I was looking at fantasy football stats and couldn't help but notice this little gem:

Cedric Benson: 720 yards (4th in NFL), 5 TDs (T-7th)
Thomas Jones: 704 yards (5th in NFL), 7 TDs (T-3rd)

Both former Bears RBs are in the Top 10 overall for the season in fantasy football. If you drafted them both, you are either insanely lucky or a genius.


Matt Forte: 408 yards (18th), 3 TD (way down there)

Forte, who was going as high as third in some drafts this year, is barely cracking the Top 100 in my league.

And, to rub it in, the guy who we should have drafted, Ray Rice...

Rice: 525 yards (9th), 4 TD, 38 rec, 349yds, TD ... is leading all NFL players in total yards from scrimmage, as well as crushing every other RB in receptions and yardage. Rice went twenty picks after Forte last year.

Jerry Angelo, I hope you are paying attention. Chicago could easily have at least one of these monster running backs in the navy blue and orange right now. Instead we are stuck with Garrett Wolfe, whose NFL ceiling is best expressed as "Homeless Man's Warrick Dunn," except without the toughness, as our backup.

I would love to get into a fantasy league against Angelo - he can pay a premium for Forte, while I get Jones and Rice in the 4th and 8th rounds. Good deal.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Indiana At Iowa 2009: What Just Happened?

My fellow Armchair Superstar Noffke was at Kinnick Stadium yesterday, so maybe he can answer this question better than I; How on Earth did Indiana, up 21-7 and knocking on Iowa's door at the 4 yard line, manage to lose yesterday?

Giving up 28 fourth quarter points, that I can understand. Donnell Jones, not really a shutdown corner at the best of times, was doing a solid job playing one-armed for most of the game, but he was going to get burned on tackling eventually.

Colin Taylor took over Nick Polk's safety spot for good with two INTs, but it was still his first start. Against the fourth-ranked team in the nation, a banged-up and unseasoned secondary is a recipe for disaster. Also, Austin Thomas (20) is a liability in coverage over the top, as Iowa's Marvin McNutt so eloquently displays here. (AP Photo)

But how do you not give the ball to Darius Willis deep in the red zone with a big lead and let him try three times to pound it in? Worst case, you end up with a field goal. And a 17 point lead. And the momentum. And he already had a 4-yard TD in the game.

The Hoosiers are trapped between Big Ten officials who seem to absolutely hate the Cream and Crimson (see: IU vs. Michigan) and a coaching staff that is bound and determined to choke away any sort of lead that their very talented team gift-wraps for them.

29-28 at Northwestern. 29-26 at Michigan. And now 42-24 at Iowa.

This sucks for Willis, Doss, Belcher, Kirlew, Middleton, Ray Fisher, Justin Pagan (pictured - gotta love that 'fro - it's helmet-proof!), the Replogle Bros, and every other talented player on this team that deserves much better.

Tuberville in 2010. Anybody in 2010. I'm hearing it all over town; Bill Lynch is a coordinator at best. He's a nice guy, and we're trying really hard not to bash him here, but come on. Fred Glass has to do something, because it's not getting any better, despite the player's best efforts.

I got a ton of texts yesterday while Indiana was up. "Can you pull it off??" "Oh my god! Indiana's going to win?" And the whole time I was responding "No. This game is over. There is no way Indiana wins."

For a while I thought I might be wrong and end up eating my pessimism like a bitterness sandwich, and that would have been great if Indiana had actually pulled it off.

Instead, I just gotta say - I told you so. Now let's get a coach who can hold his team together when things get tough.

For those of you who think that going 7-6 and getting to a bowl after Hep's death counts as holding a team together, I would argue that A) The players and Mrs. Hep had more to do with that than Lynch did and B) that team underachieved anyway.

They had the talent and the chances to go at least 9-4. Maybe if they had a coach with the stones to keep the reins tight on his blue-chip, drug-loving QB, they could have.

Similarly, IU had a golden opportunity to beat Iowa yesterday and save this season. Instead it's just another might have been in a season full of 'em.

The Rick Reilly Suck Files

Everybody has a media member (or six) that they just can't stand. Whether it's their political perspective (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity), know-it-all style of announcing (Joe Buck), or know-nothing style of announcing (Troy Aikman), these guys drive us nuts one agonizing performance at a time.

Sportswriters are definitely eligible for this category, too, and I am pleased to announce that I have found my Worst Sportswriter Of 2009!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's ESPN's Rick Reilly! Here's an excerpt from his latest P.O.S. White-Collar Suck Up Article, not surprisingly starring America's New Golden Boy, Matt Barkley;

On Saturdays, Marvin has to do chores at the frat. On Saturdays, Matt has to do chores for the football team. Like beat Ohio State and Notre Dame. On the road.

When he's done at the frat, Marvin runs to the games and sings along with the marching band. His favorite song is "Tusk." Matt doesn't sing along with the marching band, but we assume No. 7's favorite song is "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes, played by the SC band at key moments in Trojan games.

Excuse me while I go vomit.

Some people may dislike Peter King for his naivete and Favre butt kissing. A lot of people think Mark Schlereth is awful. And I agree. But for sheer nauseating pandering to the country-club megachurch Beemer/Soccer Mom SUV set, ya just can't beat Rick Reilly.

How 'bout that 47-20 beatdown at Autzen Stadium yesterday? I've never loved Oregon more. Not that ESPN would ever send Reilly out of his cushy comfort zone to cover a scruffy li'l QB like Jeremiah Masoli. But who needs that kind of crap when you're penciled in to the Rose Bowl?
So... I'm wondering. Who drives you nuts in the sports universe? Am I being too hard on poor old Reilly or does he deserve this? And how on earth did I manage not to mention Pam Ward in this article?