Thursday, December 10, 2009


I don't normally read or enjoy Steve Rosenbloom, but he mined this gem today...
Former Packer and former Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung told the "Mully and Hanley’’ show on WSCR-AM 780 [actually, it's 670 - thanks Shark!] why he left Florida quarterback Tim Tebow off his Heisman ballot: "I wanted to vote for Tebow. I had for the last two years. He's a great kid, but I don't think you need to cry after a football game. That just killed me when I saw that."
Way to go, Tebow.

And just for the record, this is what a *real* Heisman Trophy winner looks like, apparently...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings

It may be early in the college basketball season, but the Big Ten pecking order has already begun to take shape. Star-laden Purdue is no surprise at the top of the rankings, but they are joined by a Wisconsin squad that is better than anyone expected, and Northwestern, after losing senior star Kevin Coble and sixth man Jeff Ryan for the season, has been impressive in victories over Notre Dame, Iowa State, and NC State.

The entire conference got a major prestige boost last week by winning the Big Ten/ACC Challenge 6 to 5, the Big Ten's first victory in the decade-old series. Wisconsin and Illinois clinched the win with inspiring efforts against Duke and Clemson.

These power rankings are based on the votes of seven Bleacher Report featured columnists. Thanks to Dan Karell, Tim Cary, Nick Mordowanec, Kevin Lindsey, Aaron Morse, and Jameson Fleming for contributing votes and commentary! If you are interested in voting, please send me a message.

Here are the rankings. Numbers in parentheses reflect a team's ranking in the B/R Top 25, Pomeroy Index rating (go to for more - a great site for basketball fans!), and record.

1. Purdue (#5 B/R, #8 Pomeroy, 7-0)

Mark Fodor: Purdue has lived up to the hype, with big wins against Tennessee and Wake Forest headlining an unbeaten start. An upcoming road game at Alabama is the Boilermakers' sole remaining test before the start of conference play, although West Virginia comes to West Lafayette on New Years Day for what should be a great matchup.

Veterans E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Robbie Hummel and Chris Kramer have been playing together for years, and have their sights set on a Big Ten title.

2. Wisconsin (#21, #37, 6-1)

Nick Mordowanec: Wisconsin had a nice win against Duke in the Challenge, although I think the Blue Devils weren't that great to begin with.

MF: Predicted to finish ninth in the Big Ten before the season began, the Badgers have taught us all an important lesson; you can never count out a Bo Ryan team. Do-everything guard Jason Bohannon and senior Trevon Hughes have paced Wisconsin to a strong start including quality wins against Duke, Maryland, and Arizona.

3. Ohio State (#13, #6, 7-1)

MF: An upcoming road game against #20 Butler (Saturday, noon) will tell us exactly how much Thad Matta is going miss Evan Turner this season.

Kevin Lindsey: The loss of Turner to a broken back will undoubtedly hurt, but the Buckeyes stay high on the list as the cupboard in Columbus is not bare. Jon Diebler will lead the way, and three other players are averaging over ten points a game.

4. Michigan State (#11, #44, 7-2)

NM: The Spartans drop to number four after playing poorly against North Carolina.

MF: For a team that wants to return to the Final Four, Michigan State has not looked good early. Their best win was a close one against Gonzaga in East Lansing, and that young UNC team dominated most of the way against a more experienced Spartans squad.

5. Northwestern (#32, #77, 6-1)

MF: The Wildcats are the surprise of the Big Ten season in early play. After battling their way to an NIT berth last year, Northwestern expected to play well, led by star forward Kevin Coble. It didn't quite work out that way. Coble was lost to a season ending foot injury in practice, but the 'Cats haven't even thought about folding in his absence.

Senior point guard Michael "Juice" Thompson has stepped up big time, averaging over 17 points a game and pacing a feisty group of no-name Wildcats to a strong start including wins against three major-conference opponents and the Chicago Invitational Tournament title.

6. Illinois (#26, #75, 7-2)

KL: The Illini's 23 point comeback against Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge was epic and historic. Freshman D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul have shown maturity beyond their years.

MF: Despite an epic fail in the Las Vegas Invitational, where Illinois fell to Utah and Bradley, those freshman and double-double machine Mike Davis are giving this team some fight. Good size and a veteran point guard in Demetri McCamey make this a squad that will contend in Big Ten play.

7. Minnesota (#33, #12, 6-3)

KL: Nice comeback with a blowout of Brown at home. C Ralph Sampson III had his best game of the season, and Gophers fans hope it is a sign of good things to come.

MF: Tubby Smith's Minnesota squad may have been overhyped in the preseason, when they were ranked in the top 20. A win over Butler in the 76 Classic gives them an out of conference victory to hang their hats on, but their next three games against decent opponents (Portland, Texas A&M, Miami) resulted in losses.

With four in a row against soft opponents at home (starting with a win tonight against Morgan State), Minnesota has a good chance to get it together heading into conference play.

8. Penn State (N/R, #143, 6-3)

MF: Penn State and G Talor Battle finished last year with an NIT title. That's the bright side. They also lost a ton of scoring as seniors Jamelle Cornley, Stanley Pringle, and Danny Morrissey all graduated. That's the not-so-bright side. The result is a young team in flux. They did beat Virginia in the Challenge, but followed that victory up with a road loss at Temple in which they scored only 42 points.

The Nittany Lions will go exactly as far as Battle can carry them.

9. Michigan (N/R, #121, 4-3)

MF: The Wolverines were ranked #15 by ESPN in the preseason. Manny Harris is a great player, and Michigan has some good talent around him. But after a few early wins against weak opposition, Harris and Co. got crushed by Marquette in the Old Spice Classic, starting a three-game losing streak that included narrow losses to Alabama and Boston College.

They play Utah tomorrow, and go on the road to Lawrence, Kansas to face the nation's #1 team on Dec. 19. Utah is a must-win, and just avoiding a blowout against the potent Jayhawks may be a moral victory.

10. Indiana (N/R, #173, 4-4)

MF: Tom Crean's Hoosiers are stacked with young talent, and got a huge 74-64 win tonight against Pittsburgh in the Jimmy V Classic. Freshmen Christian Watford and Maurice Creek have legitimate major-conference skills, and junior Georgetown transfer Jeremiah Rivers looks like the real deal as a big, smart, physical point guard. Indiana also benefits from a deep bench - there are at least ten players who can contribute, and possibly more.

The key for them is going to be hanging tough both in games, where they tend to lose focus late, and in the lengthy conference season. Can Rivers and senior guard Devan Dumes emerge as vocal leaders for this team? If they can, and the young fellas can keep scoring, Indiana may surprise some people.

11. Iowa (N/R, #151, 3-6)

KL: The Hawkeyes haven't had two consecutive wins this season. They face both Northern Iowa and Iowa State this week.

MF: Iowa just got blown out by Northern Iowa 67-50. UNI is a good team, but you never want to lose state bragging rights to a directional school. On the upside, coach Todd Lickliter is out of the hospital after surgery yesterday. He might have wanted to stay in there, the way this team is playing. You can pencil in the Hawks for the #11 spot all season long.

There you have it. Thanks again to everybody that voted and sent in comments! We'll do it again before Christmas.

PS- Armchair Superstars - I would also love your votes in this... Snuffles, Ryan, Tim, this means you!

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Bears Offensive Coordinator

While I think it is high time Lovie and Co. get the hell outta Chicago, I'm not sure that the McCaskey's are ready to do that just yet. Recent reports of Charlie Weis and Mike Martz have been flying around as the rumored next offensive coordinator of the Bears. Listen, if the Bears are going with Lovie Smith than all but four coaches need to be fired, and that includes Lovie firing himself as the Defensive Coordinator. The four guys are:

Darryl Drake WR Coach - He doesn't draft them, he just coaches them, and I'd say he's done an excellent job considering what he is working with.

Rod Marinelli D-Line Coach - He does seem to have this team getting pressure more consistently. I think actual talent would help him. And I think Tommie can return to form next year as long as he stays healthy for the rest of this year and doesn't require any offseason surgery. That way he can work out and regain some of that power he once had, and stay in shape.

Bob Babich LB Coach - I would not have wanted him back after last year's performance as the D-coordinator. However, considering that he just got done with a game where his linebackers played darn good and there were 0 starting LB's from earlier this season, I'd say he's done a darn good job.

Dave Toub Special Teams Coach - This guy is awesome. I understand he called that lousy fake field goal, but if it weren't for great discipline by the Rams player Greg would have taken that to the house. Also, you run a fake what? Like once or twice a year? His special teams consistently are one of the best in the league, thus he deserves to stay.

That means the remaining spots are open for next year.

Defensive Coordinator
Offensive Coordinator
Defensive Backs Coach
Offensive Line Coach
QB Coach
Running Backs Coach
If there is a tight ends coach than him too.

Now, as to what this article was truly about. While the rumors have been swirling about the Bears' next offensive coordinator (Weis or Martz) a third name will be uncovered tonight, on Monday Night Countdown by Adam Schefter. So far he has given us hints: it is a college coach with NFL experience and current ties to some Chicago Bears players. The likely guy I think is Jeremy Bates, but the thing about him is that he will likely go where ever Shannahan goes. But who knows.

Northwestern Gets Auburn in Outback Bowl

Bowl matchups were finalized tonight, and the Wildcats jumped Wisconsin in a surprise move, landing in the Outback bowl against the 7-5 Auburn Tigers and their first-year head coach Gene Chizik.

I'm very excited about this matchup. For one, it's the best bowl the 'Cats have played in since '97 (Citrus Bowl vs. Tennessee). For two, Auburn and Northwestern have never played each other. And third, this is a winnable game. I'm sure Auburn will be favored, since they are from the almighty unstoppable SEC, but I have faith in my Wildcats.

Fitz will have the guys ready to go. And Auburn doesn't do anything particularly well this year.

Anyway, it's a New Years Day game, so it will be one heck of a showcase for Northwestern, especially if they can pull out a W. More analysis coming soon.

The other Big Ten bowls:

Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Orange Bowl: Iowa vs. Georgia Tech
Capital One Bowl: Penn State vs. LSU
Outback: NU vs. Auburn
Champs Sports Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Miami
Insight Bowl: Minnesota vs. Iowa State
Alamo Bowl: Michigan State vs. Texas Tech