New Michigan Field Is In

We posted a few weeks back about the new turf going in at the Big House this summer, and it seems that the time has come for said turf to be installed. Pics have been leaked of the work being done, but it seems now that the field is in, painted, and almost ready for action.

All that's left is for someone to hopefully straighten the zany! letters in the endzone and the glorious block-M at midfield. Props to Greg from MVictors for getting hold of some shots of the field and posting them today. Here's one of them, click over to his blog for the rest.

Blog News Update

As I begin to gear up for another season covering Michigan football, I have a lot of big and exciting news to share with you regarding my humble little blog.

New Blog Design
First of all, I'm very happy to present to you the latest design of the site. It's still a slight work in progress, but the main pieces of the site are now functioning like they should be. There will be small tweaks here and there throughout the weeks/months leading up to September. But what you see here is pretty much how things are going to look for a while.

Sponsors and Ads
Currently working to add a huge new sponsor to the blog as we speak. This is a local business and anyone who lives in or around the A2 area will surely know who they are. Once it's official (when you see the banner on this site), I'll make sure to inform you again with the official welcome.

As with most sports blogs, it's honestly a labor of love for the authors. For me, I love Michigan football and do my best to try to share that with the readers who come to my site. However, it's not easy running a site like this year-in and year-out. Plus, unlike a lot of other sites, I run this completely by myself. And not to mention I work 40+ hours a week at another job and my wife and I are preparing to add a 3rd member to our family any day now!

(Yeah, freaking out a little bit!)

Content is key for any blog, and the more content you create, the more people start to notice you. Fortunately, businesses and advertisers also take notice. I've been able to partner with organizations such as Yardbarker, a community of sports blogs, who also run banners such as the ones you see around my site. Even with my affiliations and ad space that I sell, I remain a completely independent site.

The banners and ads you see on this site make it possible for us to continue to sail this pirate ship in the choppy waters of the online sports world alongside the ESPN's and various newspaper sites out there. Your clicking on those ads and buying the products you see advertised here keep sites like mine running. So please continue to patronize these businesses.

And of course, please continue to visit our site, our Facebook page, our Twitter feed and please, please, please tell your friends!

Live Blogging Coming This Fall
This is a feature that many bloggers out there use during the season to allow readers to actively participate in the commentary and discussion going on during games. Clearly, computers aren't going anywhere for a while, and fans are more and more engaged online than ever. So starting September 4th, I'm bringing live blogging to MBN.

How it works is simple, just make your way to our page on gameday, and look for the "Cover It Live" window which will be displayed right in the middle of the page. Log in or create and account and you can chat with me, other Michigan fans, and anyone else who wants to participate during Michigan games.

New Forum Page
This feature is one that I hope will grow over time. No one's really knocking down the door yet, but hopefully it will start to see more traffic. It's always been my goal to try and grow a sense of community here with more readers participating in the discussion. Hopefully this will do just that. And, I'll also try and be a little more active in promoting it.

Media Access
Last season I had the great thrill of being able to attend a couple home games with a media pass (Delaware State and Purdue). Thanks to the fine folks at the media relations office in the athletic department for granting me access. I was also able to cover the spring game this year as well. I'm not counting on it becoming a regular thing, but hopefully I'll get up to the pressbox again in 2010.

New Old Banner
I'm very happy to bring back an old friend to the site...our old banner image. This is the same image I used up until recently when I switched to the Desmond Heisman pose image. I liked the Desmond banner, but clearly the image I have up now not only looks better, but more defines what this site is all about.

I stumbled on to this image a couple years ago. It was taken by a Michigan band member, and posted to his Flickr page. This was taken at the Penn State game in 2005...a game which no Michigan fan will ever forget. As soon as I saw it, and then discovered the story behind it, I had to use it for this blog. I contacted band member and asked him permission to use it for our purposes...which he was more than happy about.

I'm happy to have it back up on the page again, with a slightly re-worked title on it.

Guest Author?
I've got some irons in the fire to get some help developing some content for the site. For now, I'll just say that I hope to have a regular guest author. If and when that happens, I'll make sure you know.

Thank you!
Again, I can not stress enough how grateful I am to all of the readers who visit this site. Whether you come here everyday, once a week or just wandered in from God knows where...I'm very happy you're here! Ultimately, it is because of you, the reader, that I continue to do this.

Go Blue!

Friday Links

Another week of summer has come and gone...which is sad. But that also means we're a week closer to Michigan football! Here's a rundown of whats making news right now.

• ESPN B10 blogger Adam Rittenberg drops an update about Big Ten divisions that could be decided upon as early as this August. Now that we're at 12 teams, creating equal divisions is easy. And it sounds like Jim Delany is eagerly pressing forward.
When Big Ten athletic directors gathered in Chicago for their spring meetings in May, they looked at different models for division alignment. Nebraska had been discussed as an expansion candidate, but the ADs didn't anticipate any imminent action, so they played around with the divisions without knowing the potential addition or additions to the league.

"We didn’t have names, but we talked about different ways you could do it, depending on the size of the conference," Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said.

Now that Nebraska is joining the league in 2011, the process has accelerated.

The Big Ten athletic directors received a memo this week from league commissioner Jim Delany, outlining the priorities and the process for determining divisions. Big Ten associate commissioner Mark Rudner and others are spearheading the project, and will present data to the athletic directors when they gather in Chicago for the Big Ten's media days and kickoff luncheon Aug. 2-3.
• OL Stephen Schilling has made his way onto the Outland Trophy watch list [AA.com story]. Schilling has played pretty much every position on the line over his career at Michigan. He started at left guard in 2009. The Outland Trophy is presented yearly to the best lineman in the country. Among the 63 players on the list, 9 hail from Big Ten schools.

Oddly, Michigan has never had a player win this award. Apparently, this wasn't good enough.

• New turf is going down at the Big House. UMTailgate has posted this pic of the installation.


Maize n Brew talks about Citi ending its long time partnership with the Rose Bowl. Citing reasons for the departure from the Rose Bowl, Citi was not down with the restrictions that ESPN placed on how it could sponsor the bowl game. No official word as to whom will replace them, but AT&T is rumored to be in the mix.

• Former Nebraska all-star and current Detroit Lion top draft-pick Ndamukong Suh talks to ESPN about Nebraska's move to the Big Ten.
ESPN: What did you think about Nebraska's move to the Big Ten?

SUH: It's unfortunate. It's definitely good, going to have great education there, higher education, and I mean, it's a great move, but it's a bittersweet feeling because I played in the Big 12. And I always loved saying, 'I'm from the Big 12.' But now I'll be like, 'I played in the Big 12, but my team's in the Big Ten now.'

Michigan Renews Partnership with the M Den

The M Den is back!

[Official M Press Release]

Okay, so the M Den never really left, but it's back in terms of being the official supplier of M gear and apparel. After a season of trying to go it alone, the athletic department decided it was just not worth the effort to try and hock their own gear, so they inked a multi-year deal to once again name the Ann Arbor based merchandiser their official retail partner starting in July.
"The M Den has shown incredible loyalty to the Michigan fan base and local community with incomparable customer service, and with the variety and quality of their products," said U-M athletic director Dave Brandon. "I am confident our fans will continue to show that same loyalty to our new official retail partner."

"We are proud to have been able to serve the university family throughout our history and we are so pleased and excited to be named the official merchandise retailer so that we can continue to expand upon that history," said M Den owner Dave Hirth.

"The cornerstone of our business is offering the finest customer service possible to every University of Michigan fan," Hirth continued. "We have always worked very hard to bring Michigan fans the widest selection and the best quality products available. Now we can do that in more ways than ever given our new partnership with the athletic department, and this is just the beginning."
Congrats to the M Den! This is a nice step in the right direction for the athletic department. In theory, the department's idea to sell their own gear and undercut other retailers was a nice one, but the lack of actual retail stores and no real name-recognition, the department's online store really never got off the ground.

Not to speak to soon or anything, especially since he's only been on the job for 3 months. But so far, everything Dave Brandon has done, I've been totally impressed with. This decision is no different.

New Scoreboards Coming to Big House?

Source: Melanie Maxwell, AnnArbor.com
With revenues expected to be around $105 million for the 2011 fiscal year, Michigan's athletic department is a money factory these days. The total operating expenses for athletics is expected to be around $100.3 million...the first time that number has ever topped the million dollar century mark. Even with all the expenses of multiple construction projects from the huge expansion of Michigan Stadium to the new practice facility at Crisler, the department is expected to clear a surplus of $4.7 million dollars when all is said and done. 

To offer a little insight, Brandon told AnnArbor.com that $38.2 million will come from spectator admissions (ticket sales). Around $20 million will come directly from the Big Ten (thank you Big Ten Network), and a whopping $11 million will come directly from the new premium seating at Michigan Stadium.

According to Brandon, 75% of the luxury suites are sold.
“We‘re kind of at that moment where people start thinking about football in the fall,” Brandon said. “We can take them up there, and they can actually see what the facility looks like because its 90 percent completed. 

“We have a lot of interest being shown. We’ve been giving a lot of tours.”

So what kind of projects does Dave Brandon have up his sleeve for all this money? How about new scoreboards not only for football, but maybe Yost and Crisler...and maybe even other venues as well. But what's also interesting is the other improvements coming to Yost.

“We’re looking at some updates and enhancements to Yost ­- bleachers, the concession areas, the circulation space, lighting,” Brandon said. “And we’re looking at some real interesting things as it relates to the scoreboard and technology in all of our venues, including the football stadium."

“We’re in a situation where one of the things we have to attend to at some point in the future would be update the technology because there’s HD technology, bigger screens and higher resolution that our fans would really enjoy.”

Michigan Stadium deserves a scoreboard, and more importantly HD screen(s) that befit it's "Big House" nickname. Something along these lines would be appropriate...

Please and thank you.

Antonio Kinard is Out, Dorsey to Louisville


Another member of the 2010 recruiting class is out. This time it's Youngstown, OH native Antonio Kinard who will not be making his way to Ann Arbor this fall. [Via AnnArbor.com]

Citing lack of motivation in the classroom, Rodriguez had his doubts when Kinard signed with Michigan in February. According to Jeff Whittaker, Kinard's HS coach, he plans to attend 1 of 2 prep schools, or a junior college in Kansas. But Whittaker thinks "T.K." will hopefully enroll at M in 2011.
“T.K. loves the University of Michigan," Whittaker said. "The only goal in his life right now is to get through this and play at the University of Michigan. He’s had other Division I programs, which I’m not going to name, call him and want him to look at their universities. Big-time programs. They wanted to set him up with different schools and what not. His focus has not deviated one bit from the University of Michigan. He truly loves Coach Rodriguez and the University of Michigan."
The still-changing 2010 recruiting board lives here.

In other former 2010 class news, Demar Dorsey is set to enroll at Louisville in the fall [Link]. Before committing to Michigan, Dorsey was committed to Florida. No word as to whether Florida was interested in Dorsey after he was released from M.

Without Kinard and Dorsey, the 2010 class is most certainly not worth the top-10 ranking it got back on signing day.

For more on Dorsey, about how amazing he is I guess...check out this YouTube video.



An odd story really. On one hand, he's a total game breaker. But on the other, he's a reformed juvenile delinquent...maybe. Clearly, Dave Brandon saw something there that just wasn't worth the risk. Maybe he'll be worth it in a year or two.

Big Ten Divisions

Since it's mid-June, nothing is going on worth discussing, lets take a look at possible division breakdowns for the Big Ten.

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Site News: If you'd like to discuss this topic, or any other topic relating to Michigan football, head on over to our new forum page. We're just getting it going, so feel free to comment on a topic, or start a new topic of your own. Its an open forum for everyone, so feel free.

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Let's take a look at a few possible scenarios. First, lets examine the typical and over-used example of two 6-team divisions. We'll do an East-West breakdown as that makes the most sense for the Big Ten geographically as scenario #1

East
Michigan
Penn State
tOSU
MSU
Purdue
Indiana

West
Nebraska
Illinois
Wisconsin
Northwestern
Iowa
Minnesota

This scenario uses a simple dividing line to determine the divisions. Its a little top-heavy in the east with 3 of the 4 powerhouses, but like I said, it's just a geographical division. It has nothing to do with competitive balance.

Scenario #2 offers up a North-South dividing line.

North
Michigan
Minnesota
Wisconsin
MSU
Northwestern
Iowa

South
tOSU
Penn State
Nebraska
Purdue
Illinois
Indiana

Not bad actually. A little more even in terms of competition. Nebraska and Iowa could probably go either way in this case.

Scenario #3 goes a step in the other direction and attempts to divide up the conference. In this case, we'll try and keep time-honored rivalries intact, as well as provide a somewhat even competitive balance.

Division A
Michigan
tOSU
Illinois
Michigan State
Northwestern
Iowa

Division B
Penn State
Nebraska
Indiana
Minnesota
Wisconsin
Purdue

I like this scenario best for a 2-division conference. It keeps Michigan-tOSU, Michigan-MSU, tOSU-Illinois, Illinois-NU, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Purdue-Indiana all intact cleanly, while also providing a nice competitive balance.

So...

What happens if the Big Ten decides to go to a 3-division conference?

Breaking it up geographically really seems to tough, and clearly would not make equal divisions in terms team success. So a more thought-out process of dividing up the teams would be necessary. Here's my idea of a 3-division breakdown.


Division 1
Michigan
tOSU
Michigan State
Illinois

Division 2
Penn State
Iowa
Purdue
Indiana

Division 3
Nebraska
Wisconsin
Northwestern
Minnesota

This scenario tries to keep basic rivalries intact, while also keeping in mind geography. But the main feature of this 3-division system is that you can have more cross-division play each year. With a 2-division system, you're more locked into playing the other 5 teams in you division every year. This way, you keep your main rival every year, but you also have the ability and freedom to float other rivals in and out of your schedule.

Koman Coulibaly or Jim Joyce - Which is Worse?

Koman Coulibaly's blown call to ruin USA's chances at a World Cup victory:


or...

Jim Joyce's blown call to ruin Armando Galarraga's perfect game:


Vote now.

Conference Renaming

Okay, now that the Big Ten has 12 teams, the Big 12 has 10 teams, and the Pac-10 has 12 teams, it's time to seriously consider renaming the conferences...or not. SI.com writer Andy Staples weighed in with his thoughts...these are mine.

I'm a little conflicted about how, if at all, we should approach renaming the conferences. On one hand, it makes total sense to rename them based solely on how many schools are in each. Odd that the only BCS conferences to change their numbers were ones that actually have numbers in their name (Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10) and the ones that didn't change were the the non-numbered names (SEC, ACC, Big East).

BTW, how the Big East remained intact throughout all of this expansion nonsense is beyond me. From the get-go, the Big East had a bulls-eye on it. And it may still, but at least for the time being, things seem to be settled. For a recap, here's what has changed:

Big Ten: Added Nebraska
Pac-10: Added Colorado, Utah
Big 12: Lost Nebraska, Colorado
WAC: Lost Boise State
MWC: Added Boise State, Lost Utah

Of course it makes sense to just rename the numbered conferences based on member count:
Old        -> New
Big Ten -> Big 12
Big 12   -> Big 10
Pac-10   -> Pac-12

However, I would argue that not only does that make it even more confusing, but it ruins what I believe are some great historically significant names. I believe that we should keep the conference names as is. It makes things sound like their is a historical significance to them...because there is. I want my kids to ask me one day why the Big Ten is called that when there is 12, or 14, or 16 teams in it.

Keeping the old names makes you remember that college football, especially here in the midwest, has a rich a storied history worth preserving. The Big Ten didn't rename itself as the Big 11 when Penn State joined in the early 90's, and I don't think they should rename it now. I can see the Pac-10 going to the Pac-12...for some reason I think there is less of a need to keep such a strong tie to the historical presence in the west. Maybe they're just more progressive out there.

But here in Michigan, history is important to us. The Big Ten is a great conference, and of course it is now stronger than ever with the addition of Nebraska. But that doesn't mean we need to change our identity. The name "Big Ten" needs to stay. It sounds like Jim Delaney is opt to consider a name change. This is my simple plea to him not to go down that road.

College football, and the Big Ten especially, doesn't need a re-branding campaign. Things will be fine the way they currently are. People know what and where the Big Ten is, and they know what and where the Big 12 is. Let's leave it as is. Any attempt to change it will create just more confusion.

It Is Done: Nebraska to Join Big Ten in 2011


Welcome to the Big Ten Nebraska Huskers! Sign up now for frequent flyer miles.

Official story from the Omaha News-Herald [link]. A larger and more detailed welcome post to come, but just wanted to get this post out there before the weekend.

Want to discuss this? Head on over to our brand-new MBN Forum to get in on the conversation.

Dorsey, USC and Izzo...Oh My!

So much news in the last 24 hours...it's hard to believe this is really June.

First off, Demar Dorsey. I'll simply say that I had doubts about his voracity ever since he was a last second commit on signing day back in February. On the surface he looks like a shoe-in as far as his football ability. He might have been good enough to start as a freshman next season. But just underneath the surface, there was turmoil.

He had some very unfortunate run-ins with the law in Florida. Some say it was because of the crowd he hung out with that got him into trouble, and that may be. But there was also the question about his academic eligibility as well. Word was that he was considered eligible by UM admissions, but that it might have been a judgment call by Dave Brandon that kept Dorsey from being admitted to the university.

There's a lot of hearsay and speculation about this, but I have a feeling that Brandon was the final word on this kid. And since Dorsey had some legal issues as well as some academic issues before he even stepped foot on campus, Brandon simply told the football coaches "no". Or, in the famous words of Judge Smails..."Some people just don't belong."

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Ok, as we speak USC is in the process of being taken to the cleaners by the NCAA. Suspiciously, last night the info was leaked that USC would be put on a 2-year post-season ban, lose 20 scholarships, and that they might have to forfeit all of their 2004 regular season games. Yes, 2004 was a championship year for the Trojans, but since the NCAA has no authority over BCS games, it will be up to the BCS to strip the title from them. Also, it will be up to the Downtown Athletic Club to decide if Matt Leinart (2004 winner) and Reggie Bush (2005 winner) will be able to keep their trophies.

Interestingly, as told by Sam Webb and Ira Weintraub this morning on WTKA, current members of the USC football team with 1 or 2 years of eligibility left will be able to transfer to another school and play immediately.

Let the mass exodus of USC begin.

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Lastly, I won't harp too much on this because if it does happen and Izzo leaves to go to the Cavaliers, this blogger will be quite happy, but I did want to mention something about Sparty fans that I've noticed over the last few days.

Since the rumor came out that Izzo was up for the Cavs job, I've noticed a very surprising, yet disturbing reaction from Sparty fan. Most of them seem to want their coach to stay, but honestly don't hold it against him if he were to leave.

WHAT?!?!?!?!??!

Are you kidding me? You don't mind if the greatest thing to ever happen to MSU basketball, the figurehead for your entire athletic program decides to leave and go coach in the pros? You're okay with this? You wish him well? Really!?!?!??!

If I were Sparty fan, I'd be pissed! I'd want to fight like hell to keep Izzo in E. Lansing. If he leaves, he takes all that is great about MSU basketball with him. I don't care how long he's been coaching there or now much he deserves to do what he wants. He's still your coach, and still the whole reason MSU basketball is so revered throughout the country. This is equivalent to Bo leaving in the mid-80s to go coach the Cleveland Browns or something. It's ridiculous.

If its about money, I get that. It would be a huge payday for Izzo and it's probably the best opportunity that he could have ever hoped for if NBA coaching is his ultimate goal. But still, I'm, shocked at the relative apathy that Spartan fans have for their greatest coach ever to want to leave.

Sparty fan is surprisingly..."cavalier" about the whole situation. Hey-oh! Come one, you gotta give me some credit for that one.

Nebraska Set to Join the Big Ten

According to an ESPN report [link] and ESPN Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg [link], over the next two days, the University of Nebraska is going to be applying for admission into the Big Ten conference.
A source with knowledge of the Big Ten's plans tells me Nebraska should be a new member of the league by the end of the weekend. The formal application process likely has started or soon will begin, the source said, and Nebraska then would need at least eight votes from the Big Ten's Council of Presidents/Chancellors to gain admittance. Getting the votes should be more or less a formality.

I'm also told that right now, no other candidates are imminent to join the Big Ten. That means Missouri is far from a lock. Notre Dame? The Big Ten is prepared to move forward without the Irish for now.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Sunday that expansion could happen in phases. Nebraska is certainly Phase 1, but others could follow in the coming weeks and months.

We'll have much more on Nebraska in the next few days, as a formal announcement should be coming soon. I think Nebraska would be a very strong addition to the league, which will be able to split into divisions and have a championship game.
I like this. First of all, it determines that the Big Ten is not going to sit on the proverbial expansion sidelines and watch the Pac-10 or the MWC take the reigns. Jim Delany has inked a traditional powerhouse program, and one that fits nicely into the Big Ten geographical footprint.

Yes, it does add a 4th predominantly "red" school into the Big Ten (along with tOSU, Wiscy and Indiana), but I have a feeling more colors will be added to the Big Ten shortly.

Folks, Memorial Stadium is a tough place to play. There is NOTHING to do in Lincoln, NE. So on football Saturdays in the fall, this place gets a little nuts.

Click for larger image
If and when this becomes official, we'll do a nice little breakdown post of Nebraska and what it all means for the rest of the Big Ten. My first thought is, now we'll be able to have the two 1997 co-National Champions battle it out year after year for bragging rights. Instant rival anyone?

Want to weigh in on this story? Have something else to talk about? Head on over to the brand new MBN forum to get in on the discussion.

Ohio State To Create It's Own Conference

In electronic documents obtained through channels by MBN investigators, emails from Ohio State University athletic director Gene Smith's personal Compuserve email account suggest that Ohio State is in preliminary but accelerated talks to create it's very own super-conference.

Details are still sketchy, but it seems a few schools have been identified in emails intercepted from Smith to Joe from Eleven Warriors. Among the schools listed for "immediate invitations" to the super-conference are mostly non-conf schools in-which tOSU was able to actually beat over the last few years.

The schools identified as "core opponents" are: New Mexico State, Toledo, Youngstown State, Ohio, Troy, Akron, Kent State, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and San Diego State.

It was also noted by Smith that tOSU should never have to play an away game. Ever.

One school mentioned in an email dated Jan 2 of this year is Oregon. This school was mentioned by Gene Smith as a "crazy idea". Notre Dame was brought up as an option in an email to Smith, in which Smith replied that he wasn't very fond of France in the fall.

Absent from the list of potential conference foes were USC, Texas, and of course anyone from the SEC.

As we said, details are still tough to come by. We have a team of translators attempting to decipher the code of seemingly random references to "Natty Light" and "Gettin' 'er done". Also attached to each email, possibly in Smith's email signature is a link to this video, which is just so very disturbing.

We'll keep you updated.

The Winds of Change

Could this become a familiar sight in Columbus?
Not sure how to start this post, or how to fill it. And finally, I don't really know how to wrap it up.

All we know is, change is afoot in college football, and the conference landscape may be much different a week from now. Here's all the latest speculation wrapped up in one tidy little post. Basically, everything you read after this sentence is rumor and hearsay.

• Boise State is fully expected to leave the WAC and join the Mountain West Conference this week. This may be the move that spurs all the rest.

• Pac-10 officials, administrators and coaches met this weekend in San Francisco for their annual meetings. It has been speculated that they may be putting the finishing touches on invitations to half of the Big 12 (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado or Baylor). No Big 12 schools nor the Pac-10 can admit this is officially happening, but none of them is denying it either.

• If these invitations happen, it may be as soon as tomorrow...which would force the hand of Jim Delany and the Big Ten to expand. Most still expect the Big Ten to be eying Missouri and Nebraska, which make the most sense geographically. The Big East (UConn, Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse) is still a major target for this Big Ten as well.

• Notre Dame has remained suspiciously quiet during this latest round of speculation, which leads me to believe that either they're trying to remain independent, or the rest of the college football world just knows to leave the Irish alone. The only conference that makes sense for the South Benders is the Big Ten, so until Delany rings up the Irish chancellors, no one else will be beating down their door.

• Clearly, the major player in any conference realignment equation is Texas. If they leave the Big 12, whomever woos the Longhorns will also have to inherit Texas A&M and Texas Tech as well (and maybe even Baylor...it's a deal the Texas schools created to remain forever linked...it's actually a law). In both the Texas to Big Ten and Texas to Pac-10 formulas, each would have its own geographical problems. For football, it makes sense to travel so far to play, but for the smaller sports (swimming, softball, indoor track, etc) it creates a huge inconvenience for those student-athletes to trek halfway across the country so many times a year.

Clearly this all comes down to money. The Big Ten Network is the reason this is all happening. Each Big Ten school gets roughly $20 million a year from the network, which is one-of-a-kind for college sports. The Pac-10 is hastily trying to develop the idea of creating it's own conference network in order to begin a similar revenue stream for it's own schools.

I'll give you one reason why a Pac-10 Network will not be as successful as the Big Ten Network: The Big Ten schools (or mid-west schools in general) have large alumni bases that graduate and move to either Chicago, the southwest, or the coasts, typically the east coast. This creates a large number of viewers in major TV markets. The Pac-10 has smaller alumni groups that graduate, and typically stay on the west coast. The Pac-10 plays it's prime-time games at 10-11PM eastern time. No one on the east coast who didn't go to a Pac-10 school is going to watch those games.

The hypothetical Pac-10 Network may be successful, but will it generate enough revenue to doll out $20 million to 16 schools every year? Not likely, at least at not as easily as the Big Ten Network can.

So in conclusion...
All we know is we don't know anything. This is going to be a crazy week for the conference realignment hype-machine. Things may get nuts as soon as tomorrow...or, things may fizzle out and we won't hear anything until the season starts. All I know is, whatever we find out, we'll let you know.

USC to Discover NCAA Ruling this Friday

Over the weekend, sources told ESPN [link] that the NCAA will release it's wrath findings in the USC football and basketball investigation this coming Friday.

If you recall, the NCAA listened patiently to USC's response to the NCAA's notice of allegations in a hearing in February. While the Friday verdict is just another step in the ultimate demise of USC's football superiority of 3-4 years ago, USC would have a chance to appeal the NCAA's punishment.

Please allow me to copy/paste some content from the ESPN article:
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported in May of 2008 that former basketball player O.J. Mayo accepted cash and gifts -- extra benefits -- from Rodney Guillory, who was connected to Bill Duffy Associates Sports Management. Moreover, Floyd was alleged to have provided a $1,000 cash payment to help steer Mayo to USC, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.

USC already admitted wrongdoing with the basketball program and sanctioned itself, including a ban on postseason participation, a reduction of scholarships and vacating all of its wins from 2007-08.
But though USC chose to contest the allegation against the football program, its ultimate goal is to overcome the perception of a lack of institutional control, which could result in significant sanctions, including scholarship reductions, TV and postseason bans, recruiting restrictions and probation.

If USC is found guilty of major violations, the NCAA also could rule that the Trojans are "repeat violators." Per NCAA rules, "An institution shall be considered a 'repeat' violator if the Committee on Infractions finds that a major violation has occurred within five years of the starting date of a major penalty."

The athletic program was last sanctioned in August of 2001, so if football allegations concerning former Trojans running back Reggie Bush are found to be major violations, they would fall within that time frame.

The football program could be forced to forfeit victories from Bush's seasons there (2003-05) -- during which time the Trojans won a national championship and lost in the BCS title game against Texas.

The NCAA and Pacific-10 Conference investigators have tried to determine whether Bush and his parents took improper benefits, including an alleged rent-free residence provided by a sports marketer. Bush has not met with NCAA and Pac-10 investigators, and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

If Bush is found retroactively ineligible, he could lose his 2005 Heisman Trophy.
Yes, if found guilty, and if the college football Gods deem it so, USC could have to forfeit their win against Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl. If so, would that 2004 team would receive a Rose Bowl trophy and rings? Does Michigan get credited with the win? Does Lloyd Carr get a huge BCS Rose Bowl victory against Pete Carroll?

If Bush loses his Heisman, does Vince Young get it? If USC loses their 2005 BCS title game, does Oklahoma automatically become the champion? I don't know if they treat it like the Olympics where the silver medalist is bumped up to gold if the gold medal winner cheated. Odds are, the BCS would have to make any decision regarding their bowls.

Stay tuned.

Big Ten Coaches Hot Seat - Part 2

Part 1 lives here.

  
Pat Fitzgerald - Northwestern
5th Season

2006: 4-8
2007: 6-6
2008: 9-4
2009: 8-5
Total: 27-23

To put Pat Fitzgerald into perspective, consider him the Wildcats prodigal son. He led them to insanely successful seasons in 95 and 96 as linebacker. He then became the youngest coach in Div. 1 history, and was also inducted into the college football hall of fame. Think of it as if Chris Spielman didn't have success with the Lions and returned to tOSU to coach the buckeyes. That's what Pat Fitzgerald means to NU fans.

2009 was an acceptable season for Northwestern football. An impressive 3-0 November slate with wins at Iowa and the season finale against Wisconsin saved the year for the Wildcats. Early season losses to Syracuse and Minnesota thwarted any honest hopes of improving on 2008's 9-4 record.

Let's face it, even at 8-5, or 9-4, Northwestern simply isn't taken seriously in the Big Ten. Sure, they knocked off Michigan in 08...who didn't? And I like Pat Fitzgerald, and I think he's probably the greatest thing to ever happen to NU Football. And they might be that little school that could...but seriously, until they start winning Big Ten titles and winning bowl games, we're going to just keep treating NU like a second-class Big Ten football team. And as long as they continue to schedule like one, there's really no choice.

2010 could be a great season for NU as their schedule, as usual, lines them up perfectly for a successful year. A road trip to Vanderbilt to start the season is the only real test until they travel to Minneapolis on 10/2. Both Michigan and tOSU stay off their schedule again this year, so home games against Sparty and Iowa, and road trips to Happy Valley and Madison are the big tests for this squad.

I don't want to know what it would take for Pat Fitzgerald to get let go in Evanston. The dozen or so NU fans out there seem to love him regardless, so I assume he's pretty safe for now.

Pat's contract pays him $800 thousand a year and goes until after the 2015 season. [Link]  

Important Games in 2010:
9/4 at Vandy
10/23 vs Sparty
11/6 at Penn State
11/13 vs Iowa
11/27 at Wisconsin

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now


Jim Tressel - Ohio State
10th Season

2001: 7-5
2002: 14-0
2003: 11-2
2004: 8-4
2005: 10-2
2006: 12-1
2007: 11-2
2008: 10-3
2009: 11-2
Total: 94-21

Ten damn years.

21 times, this man has lost. Only one of those came at the hands of the Wolverines in 2003.

I hate this man with the heat of a thousand burning suns.

Sir Teflon's contract pays him $3.8 million a year and goes until January 2013. [Link]  

Important Games in 2010:
9/11 vs Miami (FL)
10/16 at Wisconsin
11/13 vs Penn State
11/20 at Iowa
11/27 vs Meeechigan

MBN Hotness Meter: Totally Safe


Joe Paterno - Penn State
45th Season

(Year-by-year records no longer deemed necessary. Suffice it to say, he's done well.)

Last Season: 11-2
Total: 394-129-3

Like we noted last year, calling Jo-Pa the "head coach" requires an asterisk. OC Galen Hall and DC Tom Bradley are more than just assistants these days. With Joe more of a figure-head for the program, we must treat him as such. But just as long as Joe is at Penn State, so will be his loyal assistants.

Job security has not made this staff soft, however. Penn State is a dominant force in the Big Ten. 2009 saw many seniors really hit their stride, most notable Darryl Clark, as the Lions blew through a laughable non-conf schedule. But that cake-walk did not prepare the Lions for their Big Ten opener loss to Iowa which seriously derailed any thoughts of an outright Big Ten title.

They rebounded well to win 5 straight before the showdown with #12 tOSU. With the Buckeyes prevailing, the Lions had to wash away that bitter disappointment with a couple blowout wins against Indiana and Sparty before going to the Capital One Bowl to cap off another pretty good year with a win against LSU.

I suspect 2010 will be a tough one for Nittany Lions fans. They will not win enough to improve over last years 11-win season, especially with road trips to (ah-hem) Tuscaloosa, Iowa City and Columbus. But 8-9 wins is surely within the realm of possibility. Some suspect the QB position will flounder in 2010...that surely is the wild card.

JoPa's contract pays him $1.5 million a year and goes until whenever he damn well pleases, thank you very much.

Important Games in 2010:
9/11 at Alabama
10/2 at Iowa
10/30 vs Michigan
11/13 at tOSU

MBN Hotness Meter: Totally Safe


Danny Hope - Purdue
2nd Season

2009: 5-7

First off, Danny Hope was the shoe-in for HC for Joe Tiller when he retired after the 2008 season.

Odds are, he met his expectations for the 2009 campaign by going 5-7. But of those 5 wins, he beat tOSU and Michigan. Of the 7 losses, one of them was by 2 points at Autzen Stadium on September 12.

No question, if Hope can get some talent into that system in West Lafayette, he can do some serious damage in the Big Ten.

I won't go into what kind of guy I think Hope is, we did plenty of that last November, but I will say that I know he's no fan of Rodriguez...and vice-versa. Clearly, Purdue has had Michigan's number the last 2 years. No doubt, that game is one of the big ones on Purdue's relative cakewalk schedule for the 2010 season.

Danny's contract pays him $950 thousand a year and goes until after the 2011 season. [Link

Important Games in 2010:
9/11 at Notre Dame
10/23 at tOSU
11/6 vs Wisconsin
11/13 vs Michigan

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now


Bret Bielema - Wisconsin
5th Season

2006: 12-1
2007: 9-4
2008: 7-6
2009: 10-3
Total: 38-14

Last season, we said Bret needed a good year to stay safe. I'll go ahead and say it was just that - good. But how long can Wisconsin fans hang on to just being...good? How long can they sustain losing to the tOSU's, the Michigan's and the Iowa's of the conference year-in and year-out?

Bret has literally one more season to show his worth in Madison before he's either fired, or gets the heat turned way up. I mean 2009 was a fine season. 10 wins is nothing to scoff at. But mid-season losses to tOSU and Iowa in back-to-back seasons just par for the course for Bielema. He must win the bigger games this year to save himself.

Bret's contract pays him $1.6 million a year and goes until January 2013. [Link]

Important Games in 2010:
10/9 vs Minnesota
10/16 vs tOSU
10/23 at Iowa
11/20 at Michigan

MBN Hotness Meter: Needs a Great Year