There will be no talk here about Kansas State and Oregon losing Saturday night but this: The Hlist is sad about that, at least about K-State.
It would have been wonderful to have middle-of-nowhere Kansas State with 73-year-old, opposite-of-flamboyant Bill Snyder coaching it.
Here’s to Notre Dame losing to USC, Alabama losing to Georgia n the SEC title game, and complete chaos in the BCS. Now, the important stuff:
1. Ten + Two = 14? That was pretty sneaky of the Big Ten to let the news break on a Saturday that it is strongly entertaining inviting Maryland and Rutgers to join its conference. While American college sports writers were all covering American college football, the league dropped an unexpected bombshell.
Maryland and Rutgers? Really? Well, as Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated illustrates, this move would be about the Big Ten Network hoping to annex the television markets of New York/New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
The Hlist has its own list of plusses and minues of adding the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights.
Plus: You’re adding New York/New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
Minus: Those places don’t care about college sports.
Plus: Rutgers’ football team is 9-1 this season and ranked 18th, and will be showcased in the Orange Bowl if it closes its regular-season with wins over Big East foes Pittsburgh and Louisville.
Minus: You’ve never been to a dinner party where someone said “Excuse me, I must rush home to watch Rutgers play football.”
Plus: It’s a chance for the Big Ten to straighten out its football divisions with a purely east/west format. Rutgers and Maryland join the Leaders Division, and Wisconsin and Illinois move to the Legends.
Minus: Knowing the league, it will only make the divisions more confusing than ever.
Plus: Penn State would enjoy the easy travel to Rutgers (225 miles from State College) and Maryland (203).
Minus: Nebraska is 1,284 miles from Rutgers, 1,203 from Maryland. Minnesota is 1,185 miles from Rutgers. Iowa is 984 miles from Rutgers.
Plus: Unlike Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland are members of the Association of American Universities.
Minus: The league’s fuzzy math would get fuzzier. The Big Ten + 2 = 14?
Plus: Rutgers is averaging more fans per home game this season than five current Big Ten teams.
Minus: That average is 48,466, 42nd-best in the nation. Which speaks to the attendance at Minnesota (47,044 average), Illinois (45,464), Indiana (44,802), Purdue (43,747) and Northwestern (36,244).
Minus: Maryland’s home average is 36,023.
2. Continued Ignominy: While the Big Ten gets bigger, this year’s football season becomes more forgettable for the league.
Ohio State is 11-0, and is unable to participate in postseason play because of its year of NCAA probation. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 4 in the newest Associated Press poll, behind once-beaten Alabama and once-beaten Georgia. The latter lost at South Carolina by the score of 35-7 on Oct. 6.
Can you imagine, in any other year, an 11-0 Buckeyes team being ranked as low as fourth? Part of it may be because OSU is on probation. Another part is the perceived weakness of the Big Ten.
Ohio State did its conference no favors Saturday with its 21-14 overtime win at Wisconsin. The Badgers will represent the Leaders Division in the league-title game. They are 7-4 overall, 4-3 in the conference, and in third-place behind OSU and fellow probation-serving Penn State.
Wisconsin is at Penn State Saturday. If the Badgers lose, they’ll bring quite the lackluster record and quite the lack of momentum to the following week’s league title-game in Indianapolis against, most likely, Nebraska.
Ohio State, meanwhile, hosts Michigan (8-3). That should be a heck of a game, but with potentially little on the line other than pride.
3. Allegations and Anger: A week ago, Minnesota was reveling in clinching bowl-eligibility.
Today, the 6-5 Gophers are facing life in the rest of this season and next without junior walk-on wide receiver A.J. Barker, who on Sunday shared his letter to Gophers Coach Jerry Kill with the world.
It is a long letter. A long, angry letter. Here is but a small excerpt:
Now, in honor of my family and myself I’m done with you for good. In light of that pathetic, manipulative display of rage and love you put on this past Thursday, I have come to the decision, with the guidance of my parents and my closest friends, that my time on this team has come to an end. It kills me that I have to do this before the season’s over, but this is the only way I can protect myself against the manipulation and abuse I’d have to endure from you the rest of this season.
Barker has 30 catches for 577 yards and seven touchdowns. He had five catches for 74 yards at Iowa on Sept. 29. He didn’t play in Minnesota’s most-recent three games because of a high ankle sprain.
Because he was a non-recruited walk-on, Barker can transfer and play immediately next year at an FBS program.
Such stories have two sides. But no matter who’s right or wrong here, if anyone, this story isn’t a happy one for Minnesota.
4. “60 Minutes” and College Football: I’m not sure about the ultimate point of the following “60 Minutes” segment on college football, but maybe that’s because those of us who follow something closely sometimes forget not everyone is aware of certain things.
So it is with college football. It is beyond big business. Having just been to Michigan Stadium and its surrounding area on Saturday, this piece registered with me. I was in the Michigan fan store that appears in the segment. I was in the tunnel the players run out of to enter and exit the playing field. And I saw 112,000 people paying their homage and cash to this giant entity.
As big an operation as University of Iowa football is, watching this is a reminder that there are bigger operations out there, some of them in the Big Ten. And it’s why competing with the Michigans is an unenviable assignment. Those who try, of course, are often handsomely rewarded for their efforts.
But what it all boils down to is that this built on the backs of the “student-athletes.”
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