Friday, September 4, 2009
This would seem like a good plan on its surface and might in fact somehow work if only...you know...the college football players weren't crazy athletic people with a penchant for violence. NCAA meet LeGarrette Blount, Oregon starting running back. You may remember him for such quotes in the newspaper as "We owe (Boise State) an ass-whuppin'." And LeGarrette Blount may be eight kinds of crazy...but he ain't no liar! And when he says he'll whoop some ass...he's gonna whoop some ass. Game or no game.
After Boise State completely shut down the vaunted Ducks offense, making Blount look slow and ineffective all night (8 carries for -5 yards), things got a little wild in the postgame. A Broncos D-lineman said a few things...Blount took offense...and then did what any rational person would do. He sucker-punched the dude. Obvi!
LeGarrette Blount is taking a beating for his actions, as he should, and ESPN is having a field day with this one (they conveniently used this to put Dr. Phil on their College Football Live show to talk about anger management or something), but Blount is merely a fraction of the issue here. And really, there are two big ones that I see:
1) Despite forcing the players to shake hands PRIOR to a game, the NCAA can't really tell us what to think about their student-athletes without the student-athletes telling us themselves. Coaches spend all week building up a hatred for an opponent, and you're telling me that these kids want to shake hands BEFORE they try to beat up the other team on the field? Give me a break. We're fans. Short for fanatic. We waste a decent portion of our lives working up a hatred for an opponent that we hope some 18-22 year old kids will act upon for us once a year. You really think we can't see through some half-hearted handshake that you forced sometime to take part in? Please, this postgame handshake was one of the things I liked about college football, and it is good enough sportsmanship as it is. Players have the choice to show a geniune respect for their opponent by seeking them out after the game. At least it's genuine.
2) Some of these "student"-athletes never cease to amaze us with their total loss of perspective. Did Blount really think any of the 10 ESPN cameras wouldn't catch him hitting the Boise State guy? Did he really think he could punch his teammate and not have him be pissed? And what about someone getting ready to "allegedly" throw a chair at you (as Blount alleged was his reason for going after the fans) makes you want to jump into the stands towards that person? Jeff Pearlman has an excellent article up on SI.com about Brandon Marshall and his loss of perspective on the reality that 1,000 yard receivers are a dime a dozen. And few are remembered famously after their career. Well, the list of great college running backs who get forgotten is 10x as long, and apparently LeGarrette Blount hasn't learned that yet, or wasn't taught it at JUCO. Some of these athletes think they're destined for the NFL no matter what, and don't quite care for the details of the rest of their life. And details like "not punching a teammate or opponent on national television" can directly affect their status in the League. You think teams won't throw up some HUGE red flags on Blount after this? HE PUNCHED HIS TEAMMATE!! And in an instant, boom...there goes a senior year's worth of highlights due to suspension.
This whole sequence reminded me of former Wisconsin running back Booker Stanley. Stanley was a decent running back, who provided some production despite being 3rd string. Yet he had incredible off the field problems, including beating the crap out of a dude at the Mifflin Street Block Party in Madison. I was there; I saw the fight; Booker destroyed the dude. And he got arrested. You might think that he would cool it a little bit, maybe take it easy for a while and...oh, I don't know...worry about his status on the team. Nope, not Booker. There I was standing in line at the KK that very same night, when some big dude behind me starts talking loudly...."I'm not a fighter, but I hit like a Mack truck. I'm serious, I will hit you like a Mack truck." Yep, Booker Stanley. Any perspective and he might not have been so surprised when Bielema threw his ass off the team.
What's that? Huh? That wasn't a scrimmage? Those weren't JV teams? Oh...well...this is akward.
Turns out that was an actual Big Ten team taking the field tonight, as Indiana was able to hold off Eastern Kentucky. The game actually came down to the last play as Eastern Kentucky had their last ditch Hail Mary pass batted down at the buzzer. Now, this game never should have come down to the last play, as Indiana should have run away with this one. But they didn't. They struggled. Bill Lynch admitted that they struggled in the postgame presser, but rightly so, he focused on the positives that the Hoosiers can build on this year. And there were a few positives, namely Ben Chappell and the dangerous wide receiver combo of Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher. The 5-yard hitch route was wide open all night, and IU took advantage by getting the ball into their playmakers hands. Doss and Belcher did the rest and in the process showed a bright future for IU on the outside.
Unfortunately, that was about it for the positives. The offensive line was unable to control the LOS for most of the game. The Hoosier's new downhill running game from the Pistol formation looked like it was running up-hill all night, and finished with a paltry 73 yards. And defensively, well, let's just say that the Colonels didn't struggle to move the football on IU, amassing 388 yards total. That and the fact that IU's middle linebacker looks like he is a safety doesn't quite forbode well for the Hoosiers when Big Televen season rolls around.
In reality, there were two great things about this game for Indiana. First, they won. And a win is a win in college football. Only five more until they're bowl eligible. Second, it was only the first game and many of the mistakes can be corrected. As excited as we can be as fans that the season has started, watching the IU/EKU and the Boise/Oregon games tonight reminded me that this is week one....not week 12. Both games featured multiple turnovers, tons of penalties, and overall sloppy football.
Temper your expectations football fans, because the game on the field might be ugly...but the fact that you are even watching football again is oh so beautiful!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
1) Ohio State - Lots of high profile, face-of-the-franchise type players are missing from last year's team...but the highest profile player is back in Terrelle Pryor. All the accounts from the off-season have Pryor taking a bigger leadership role on the team, and improving his passing as well. If the Buckeyes can find some offensive playmakers from the unproven RB's and WR's to compliment Pryor, their offense will be tough to stop. On defense, the LB's will be green, but the DL should be good enough to protect them and keep opposing O-lines from getting to the second level. Look for the Buckeyes to be representing the Big Ten in another BCS game this year.
2) Penn State - Daryll Clark and Evan Royster help give the Nittany Lions the best offensive backfield in the BT this year, but their top 3 wideouts from last year are gone. None the less, we still think this will be one of the better offenses in the league this year. On the defensive side, Linebacker U continues to churn out future Sunday players at the linebacker position, as PSU will feature two of the best Big Ten LB's in Navorro Bowman and a healthy Sean Lee this year. The DL lost their two best pashrushers to the NFL, but the Lions typically churn out great pass-rushers every year, and they will need it to be an elite defense again this year.
3) Illinois - The Illini should have the most prolific offense in the Big Ten this year...but the key word there is should. Something makes us think that the words "Juice...Rejus...Touchdown Illini!" will be said quite often this year. And with Florida transfer Jarrod Fayson added to the receiver mix this year, defenses won't be able to focus solely on Rejus Benn. On the defensive side, my sources say that the team is flying around to the ball and seem much more intent on gang-tackling this year. We'll see if that continues when the season starts, but for the Illini to do anything truly special again, the team chemistry will need to improve.
4) Iowa - Picking the Hawkeyes this high is looking shakier and shakier as long as Jewel Hampton stays out of the depth chart. I'm not quite sold on Iowa without him, as they used solid defense and Shonn Greene to a solid 9-win season in 2008. Ricky Stanzi will continue to be one of the better BT quarterbacks, but the offense requires a good run game to function. The defense should be solid, although the anchors of the defense the past few years are gone with the graduation of Mitch King and Matt Kroul. If they can't find suitable replacements, look for their outstanding LB core to take on more blocks in the running game.
5) Wisconsin - Color me an optimist, but this Badger team will come to exemplify the term "addition by subtraction" this year. Gone are several multi-year starters that no doubt provided valuable service to the UW, but seemed to get a little casual and more concerned with their future as their careers came to a close. Filling the void are young, hungry and talented players looking to turn around a dismal 2008 season, especially on defense. The QB play should be better, because it can't really be any worse. Look for the Badgers to reverse the trend of declining victory totals in the Bielema era.
6) Michigan State - It continues to confound me how all the experts can predict that Michigan State could make a move in the Big Ten this year, while completely dismissing the fact that they are losing almost all of their offensive production from 2008. Gone are workhorse Javon Ringer and multi-year starter Brian Hoyer at RB and QB respectively. Yet because Mark Dantonio has a serious manner and gives a stable interview...Sparty has turned a corner. It is ridiculous to me. While Dantonio will do good things eventually, I haven't seen anything to think that Sparty has turned the corner from their letdown ways. It took Wisconsin pulling an even worse letdown and the worst season in Michigan history for the Spartans to avoid losing 5 out of their last 6 games last year. Go ahead and think they've turned the corner...I'll wait until they actually do prove it.
7) Northwestern - While both WildHawks and I love what Pat Fitzgerald is doing at NU, this just isn't going to be a repeat of 2008 for the Wildcats. The bottom line is that Mike Kafka is no CJ Bacher...and a CJ Bacher type player is required to run that offense. While Kafka performed admirably filling in for Bacher last year, it was clear that the offense wasn't the same without the passing of Bacher. While the defense will keep NU in many of their games, I don't see Kafka being able to pass well enough to put a lot of points on the board.
8) Minnesota - Recruit all you want Timmay!, but at some point you are going to have to do something with those recruits. 2009 will not be that year. Despite finally getting out of that abominable Metrodome and moving into the outdoor TCF Bank Stadium this year, Minnesota has made a few mistakes this off-season which will hamper them. First, they went from a spread offense that was beginning to show results for them and highlighted their proven QB/WR combo of Adam Weber and Eric Decker. Second, they replaced Ted Roof, the D-coordinator who left for the same job at Auburn, with Kevin Cosgrove. You may recall Cosgrove from his days getting shown the door at Wisconsin and giving up ridiculous amounts of points at Nebraska. It baffles me how he keeps getting DC jobs at major universities.
9) Michigan - Rich Rod won more in his second year at every school he has coached. Thus it would be easy to expect that his second year at Michigan would see a large increase in victories as well. But nothing has really gone according to plan since RR took over the helm in Ann Arbor, and we don't think this year will go to plan either. First there was the Justin Boren "family values" comments as he transferred to OSU, followed by the worst season in school history, RR's plan to play 3 QB's this year, and just this weekend allegations that Michigan coaches are violating NCAA rules for practice time per week. Not just allegations, but player allegations. Can anyone say disaster?
10) Purdue - Hope waits...until next year at least. I don't see much going well for Purdue in Coach Danny Hope's first year. Same offense, but new QB, RB and WR's will spell trouble for the Boilermakers. And defense...well, that never really has been their thing.
11) Indiana - While they could also fall under the same "addition by subtraction" category as Wisconsin does by getting rid of athletic but troubled Kellen Lewis, we still don't see Indiana doing anything this season. Biggest questions for IU this season are 1) how many more future conference home games will the AD sell to the highest bidder? and 2) who is going to be the next head coach when Bill Lynch gets fired after this season?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Now, WildHawks and I are fully aware that any self-respecting blog will continue to hone their craft through the long, lonely off-season; but let us assure you...we stopped respecting our blog-selves long ago. Looonnng ago.
In fact, we are fairly confident that we might be the worst bloggers on the internet. Be that as it may, we're going to continue giving you our thoughts and insights throughout this college football season. You might notice a few changes in the blog this year as well, as we learned a few things over the past year. While we are as passionate as ever about the entire Big Ten Conference and its oddyssey back to respectability, we learned how hard it is to focus on 11 different teams every week. Basically, Adam Rittenberg is good at covering the whole league, and we don't have the time to do it as well as he does. So, you might see us focusing on a few of our favorite teams more often this year (Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern), and of course a few of the teams we love to hate (Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State).
Another change you'll see this year is more of the Linking Laziness posts, where we direct you to some friendly websites that are much better at this blogging thing than us. We've got our list of favorite blogs on the right side of the page, so why don't we start there.
- Recently, friends of F&BT and fellow sophomore bloggers at Over The Pylon have redone their website and posted a preview of the Big Ten Conference.
- Fear not Badger fans, you've now got a decent blog dedicated to all things Bucky. Check out Bucky's 5th Quarter to get your Badger fix somewhere other than here.
- Indiana continues its run as the joke of the conference by selling a conference home game for $3M. Let me repeat..selling a CONFERENCE HOME GAME! Thankfully, I'm not the only one disgusted by this, as Indiana blog The Crimson Quarry shares my views.
That's it for tonight. Just a little taste of what's to come in Season II here at F&BT. The goal is to have posts up about 3-4 times a week, and maybe some Linking Laziness more often than that. Keep checking throughout the season, and we promise to underwhelm you.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Answer: As many as I want...deal with it.
Just kidding...sort of. But I can't promise that there won't be more significant stretches without posts throughout this offseason. First of all, the offseason is brutally long. Second of all, well, I've been getting my ass kicked at work worse than Indiana did all season long. As for this past stretch of no contact, all I can tell you is that I was burned out. I'm sure I wasn't the only one either, as the entire state of Wisconsin probably felt my pain. What do you really expect from someone who cares an unhealthy amount about a bunch of 18-22 year olds and has his mood swing wildly based upon their performance once a week?
In the end, the losing was too tough on me, and the winning was usually worse. The frustration from beating an FCS team by having them miss 3 extra points put me near the edge. And while the layoff before the bowl game gave me enough time to back away from that edge and convince myself that all could be saved with a solid performance, I now realize that all I was doing was giving myself room for a running start before I jumped. And what a fall it was. Filled with the rage and frustration of an unfathomable Badger performance against FSU, not to mention about 8 of those large beers from Redmond's in Chicago, I vented to the blog from my blackberry. I said some things I didn't mean (I still love you Dave Doeren), and even re-reading the post didn't make me feel better. What I needed was time. Time to unwind. Time to forget about the 2008 season. Time to rationalize the growth that the UW coaching staff needed to experience. Time to self-reflect about the level of interest I give Wisconsin football.
So that is what I did. I put on some Hootie and The Blowfish, and just gave myself time away from all things Big Ten football. I stopped reading Adam Rittenberg's excellent ESPN.com Big Ten blog. I stayed off the Wisconsin message boards. I literally stopped thinking about Big Televen football and F&BT all together. Until last week.
I saw a top story on ESPN about the Fighting Timmays! of Minnesota scheduling USC for a home and home and immediately the passion returned. I was pumped. I am pumped. This fanatacism for Big Ten football is a good thing. I want to follow a bunch of 18-22 year olds. I want to share my passion with you on this blog. Sometimes it will hurt more than words can express, as it did when I didn't speak for hours after both the Michigan and Michigan State losses, but I want it to hurt. And I want it to make me happier than it should too. The passion ride through the peaks and valleys is what I want...and what I'll keep bringing you here at F&BT. Enjoy the ride, and look for updates at least once a week throughout the offseason. And if I miss a week...deal with it.
Monday, December 29, 2008
LTP does an excellent job previewing the game and giving you some of the key matchups. Although, he did predict the Cats to lose this one.
As for the actual game that is happening as I type, the Cats are bringing the wood. Bowl Season in CFB (....hold on...RIDICULOUS TOUCHDOWN CATCH BY ROSS LANE FOR NORTHWESTERN...it's under review but should be held up. This thing is tailor made for Sportscenter....back now.) Bowl Season in CFB is where we finally get to see if these video game Big 12 offenses are legit. And watching this game, Northwestern seems to be proving that Missouri at the least is not. The Cats are flying to the ball on defense and laying some wood with every hit. They seem to be one step ahead of the Tigers and are giving the receivers no room for YAC yards.
Clearly, Pat Fitzgerald has his team fired up and mentally ready to play this game. About the only thing that has gone wrong to this point is a costly pick thrown by Bacher in the 3rd Quarter and a botched punt (supposed to be kicked out of bounds but wasn't) that Maclin took to the house. Other than that, the Cats are outplaying the Tigers in every respect and this is a great game to be watching. About the only thing I could use right now is that terribly awesome sound effect that NU plays at their home games.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
All the analysts can talk about leading up to this game is the power vs. speed matchup...which has been the theme of every Wisconsin bowl game since I can remember. And call me a homer, but it is a tired argument. Speed isn't what kills the Badgers, and they have shown in their previous bowl games that it isn't that big of a factor. Auburn twice, Arkansas, and Tennessee all had speed advantages over the Badgers...and only once (1st Auburn game) did UW have trouble with the speed.
To me, the key to this game is the wide receivers and defensive backs. FSU will be looking to exploit the significant height advantage that their receivers have, especially in the red zone. Technique and positioning will be critical for the badger corners throughout the game, and that consistency has been an issue throughout this season. As for the UW receivers, this game needs to be their coming out party. They've quietly but surely have progressed greatly this season, and I think the opportunity to have a breakout game will be there for them today. FSU will be loading up the box with at least 8 guys today, and on obvious passing downs they will be keying on the TE's. Tight Ends are featured in UW's offense and have been a problem for the Noles all season. Look for them to be a focus for FSU, opening up potentially great matchups for the Badger receivers on the outside.
At the end of the day, expect both teams to try and do what they do best early on. Both defenses will be, or should be, bringing pressure on quarterbacks that haven't shown great ability to handle it yet. Both offenses will try to control the clock on the ground, and big plays will probably be the difference. We all know what that means...the tomahawk chop chant. As the final second ticks off, I predict that good ol' ON WISCONSIN will be playing loud and proud throughout Orlando. PJ Hill and that sexy John Clay will do enough to overcome the decided home field advantage the noles will have...and MY BOYS! Gilreath and Toon will make at least 3 big plays to get Bielema's record against coaches over 80 to 2-2.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
One year ago, there was genuine concern that a sophomore could win the award and what that would do to the integrity of it. Obviously, Tim Tebow deserved that award and put up ridiculous numbers to back up his performance. My problem comes directly after that happened. Almost immediately, the talk started of a repeat and the consensus was that if he didn't top his 2007 numbers...he couldn't win it again. Then the Big12 turned into a joke of a defensive conference, and all of a sudden players in a BCS conference were putting up huge numbers. They are Heisman locks right? Wrong.
If one player in that conference was putting up such huge numbers, then he clearly would deserve to win it. But in the Big12, at least 3 players (McCoy, Bradford, and Harrell) put up video game numbers...and a majority of the offenses were running up yardage totals. In a sense, you were the odd man out if you weren't putting up stats in that conference, rather than standing out for those stats.
If you can't tell by now, I don't think McCoy or Bradford should get the Heisman. But it's not all about their stats not being legit. It's just that, a certain player did something that none of the others did, he did this.... (feel free to skip to the 2:15 mark)
You don't see that leadership in many people...and you don't see that type of pledge get backed up as well as Tebow backed it up. The man dominated. He showed leadership and exceptional ability that was not matched this season. He deserves the Heisman...again.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC
Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs. Texas
Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. Georgia
Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. South Carolina
Alamo Bowl: Northwestern vs. Missouri
Champs Sports Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Florida State
Insight Bowl: Minnesota vs. Kansas
A few quick notes...the Big Ten did not fulfill all of its bowl relationships, as 7 teams were bowl eligible but 2 were selected for the BCS games...as expected, Iowa jumped ahead of Northwestern in the bowl selection process even though they had a worse record and won head-to-head...we should find out how the Big Ten stacks up against the two best conferences in the country this year, as BT teams play 3 games against the Big 12 and 2 against the hated SEC...Michigan, Illinois, Purdue, and Indiana all suck.
Dude, good stuff with the Minnesota bathroom incident. Brings new meaning to the TDT mantra, "Gopher deez nuts".
I was wondering when the 'ol First and Big Ten blog was going to switch from the grid iron to the hardwood? Just change the graphic on top and go crazy. Clearly there's enough to write about in the basketball world right now...Indiana is playing with the equivalent of Edina's JV team...Wisconsin has a player named Keaton and he's actually not that terrible...the ACC owned us for the 10th year straight...Northwestern's "Princeton offense" and high school gym deserve serious mockery...all 12 of Iowa's black students are on the basketball team...there's some good stuff out there.
That Iowa line is good stuff that's hard to top, so I just went and posted the whole thing. Rest assured F&BT fans, we probably won't be delving into the world of college basektball all that often, as this is a football blog. With that said, we will take notice of the happenings on the hardwood, because, after all...we are normal human beings/sports fanatics. We even have an offer out to a new writer to give us a weekly post about the Big Televen basketball scene...so stay tuned.
In the meantime, look for some season review articles, lots of linking laziness, bowl previews, a full documentation of WildHawks bowl trip with the Hawkeyes, and a hefty amount of recruiting analysis.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
- Ironic Newspaper Headlines..."Dome Incident..." It's almost too easy.
- MySpace photos of the culprits hitting the internet (courtesy of SportsbyBrooks)
- One woman fired from their job as an administrator at an assisted living center.
- Allegations of a drug being slipped in a drink, without any...you know...details to back it up.
- And, one cougar who can't stop pumping out quotes to keep the story alive.
"I don't know who this man is. I just found out his name in the paper"
"I don't deny that it did happened, because, obviously, there are police reports"
"Everybody thinks something was slipped into my drink....Right, and that's what my lawyer and I are working on."
There's really only two people missing from this story, the guy having sex and the cop that found them. The guy hasn't spoken about it yet, but SbB has an idea where he may be...
Meanwhile, we haven’t yet heard from our hero, Ross Walsh. He’s probably too busy wading through the high-five processional outside his house.
As for the cop, well, the police spokesman in Minneapolis offered this little nugget regarding the woman-as-a-victim theory...
"All I can say is the actions went on for some period of time with many witnesses on hand and no one reported either party was objecting."
Monday, December 1, 2008
Fuzz: Who's Leonard Taylor?
Buckingham: Ahh...former Wisconsin defensive back in the late nineties.
B: Slash crazy former player who wants to kill Barry Alvarez...
F: ...and Maria Sharapova?
B: Yep, and Maria Sharapova.
F: I mean, talk about going off the deep end. The guy just threatened to kill two of your favorite people on earth, how you feelin' about that?
Well, I'm feeling like this...that's about the only time you'll ever hear "Barry Alvarez" and "Maria Sharapova" in the same sentence. All it took was someone going 100% bat-shit crazy to make it happen! Also, feeling sorry for Leonard Taylor, who apparently has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and stopped taking his meds a few months ago. When you think about it, that would be the only explanation for leaving 29 messages on Alvarez's voicemail last week....allegedly....and threatening to not only kill King Barry, but conveniently letting Barry know that he wanted to marry/kill Maria Sharapova and her family. Allegedly.
Threatening Barry is one thing (I'm confident in his ability to defend himself because he's a badass), but I WILL NOT put up with you threatening MY GIRL! Maria! No one messes with my top 5 celebrities and gets away with it.
Click on the comments to see my current Top 5 Celebs...