Will Campbell Faces Felony and Misdemeanor Vandalism Charges

Will Campbell, post-spring game. One week after the incident.
Well, this is bad news.
Michigan senior defensive tackle Will Campbell is facing one felony and one misdemeanor charge of malicious destruction of property stemming from an April 7 incident, according to court records.

Records show Campbell was arraigned Thursday by a Washtenaw County magistrate on the felony charge — malicious destruction of property worth more than $1,000 but less than $20,000 — and misdemeanor charge — malicious destruction of property worth more than $200 but less than $1,000. He was given a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

According to Ann Arbor police, Campbell was arrested after attempting to slide across the hood of a vehicle at 2 a.m. on April 7 in the 600 block of Church Street. An officer in the area could hear the sheet metal on the hood of the car buckle under Campbell’s weight — he’s listed at 322 pounds — and arrested the senior, police stated.

Campbell was intoxicated, according to police.
Attempting to slide across the hood of a car. Emphasis on "attempting". Okay. Continue.
Donald Payne, Campbell’s attorney, said the defensive tackle has never been in trouble in his life and the facts of the case will work out in his favor. Although he’s been charged with both a felony and a misdemeanor, Payne said it’s a misdemeanor at worst.

“He’s a very nice, mild-mannered young man and he’s never been in trouble in his life,” Payne said. “As far as the facts in the case, we’re going to work it out in talking to the prosecutor.”

Campbell will be back in court for a preliminary exam at 8:30 a.m. June 14, records show. 
While it's true, this is Campbell's first brush with the law, it's felony. And even for destruction of property, it's a pretty serious charge. If the charge gets knocked down to a misdemeanor, there will be hell to pay when he steps back on to the football field (assuming his status on the team is unaffected) from the coaching staff.

And should he be not invited back, the depth situation on the interior defensive line goes from wherever it is now to DEFCON 1.

Phil Steele's Preseason All-Big Ten Team


If you're as passionate about college football as I am, you love the preseason rags that make their way onto newsstands around early June every year. It's an early sign that college football is just around the corner. One of the best mags out there, if not the best, is Phil Steele's College Football Preview. There is more info packed onto each page than one could possibly care to read...but it's good to know it's there.

The 2012 preview issue drops in about 2 weeks.

On their blog yesterday, they released their preseason All-Big Ten teams for 2012. Here's the breakdown of Michigan players that made the lists.

1st Team:
QB Denard Robinson
WR Roy Roundtree
OT: Taylor Lewan

2nd Team:
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint
LB Kenny Demens
CB JT Floyd
S Jordan Kovacs

3rd Team:
OG Patrick Omameh
DE Craig Roh
PR Jeremy Gallon

4th Team:
WR Jeremy Gallon
S Thomas Gordon

Bullets? Bullets.
• A little surprised to see Roy Roundtree make it onto the first team. Don't get me wrong, he's a fine receiver, but his 2011 stats hardly warrant all-Big Ten status. I guess it's a testament to the writers at Phil Steele liking the off-season move from slot to wideout, which I think will benefit Roundtree immensely his senior year.

• Denard belongs on the first team. I can't imagine anyone disputing that. Even with Denard's struggles with passing at times, he's still a dynamic player worthy of the top spot. The Big Ten lost a few of it's traditional drop-back passers last year. Interesting that the top 4 – Robinson, Braxton Miller, Taylor Martinez and Nathan Scheelhaase are all mobile quarterbacks. A snub of Iowa's James Vandenberg? Possibly. But I'd say he's interchangeable with Scheelhaase for the 4th spot.

• If Taylor Lewan takes that next step in his development and has the type of season a 6-8, 300 pound junior left tackle at Michigan should have, I expect we'll be seeing him take his talents to the next level after this year. He's already projected one of the top left tackles in the 2013 draft. Michigan could end up being called "Left Tackle U" is this trend continues.

• Fitz, Demens and Kovacs are solid 2nd teamers. I'm a little surprised to see Floyd on the 2nd team and Blake Countess and Courtney Avery not listed at all. It's very possible that JT Floyd might be 2nd on the depth chart come September...and possibly Demens as well.

It's very likely, based on what I see, that they value experience higher than overall skill. Hence the absence of LB Jake Ryan from any team. He'll be a first-teamer next year, just watch.

• The top of Big Ten RB heap is pretty solid with Burkhead and Ball. Fitz is a great back, but the league is pretty stacked with good RBs this season. I can any of the top 6 guys in this group being the top back in the league when the season ends.

• 3rd and 4th teams are basically honorable mention. So Omameh, Roh, Gallon and TGordon fit well here. But again, I think Jake Ryan belong at least in this group. Have to think he was simply overlooked.

What is Denard Robinson?


After his senior year in high school in Deerfield Beach, FL, Denard Xavier Robinson was an accomplished three-year starter at quarterback. He could run the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds. He completed 262 of 576 passes for 4,784 yards and 44 touchdowns. He also ran 217 times for 1,132 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Rivals listed him as a 4-star prospect, one of the top 250 high school players in the country. They ranked him the #35 prospect in the state of Florida, 188th overall, and the 8th best athlete in the class of 2009. No publication listed Denard as a quarterback, however. In fact, Scout listed him as an athlete as well, but also ranked him the #16 cornerback prospect.

He was recruited by such schools as Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kansas St, Miami (FL), Ohio State and UCF. He held offers from all of them – but each offer had a disclaimer. No one wanted him to play quarterback. Each of those schools wanted him to play receiver. But one school didn't.

Actually, two schools.

Rich Rodriguez and his staff began recruiting Denard Robinson while he was still coach at West Virginia. Denard fit the mold of the RichRod-style spread-option QB perfectly. The mold was cast from Pat White, the famed Mountaineer quarterback who defined Rodriguez's career at WVU. When Rich and OC Calvin Magee moved on to coach at Michigan, it was painfully obvious in 2008 when they tried to salvage a season with Steven Threat and Nick Sheridan, that they needed a much better athlete to run their offense.

They had no problem selling Denard Robinson on Michigan because they were the only ones that wanted him to play quarterback – and so did Denard. Badly. So Michigan won out.

In 2009, Denard split playing-time with fellow true-freshman Tate Forcier. Forcier could not match Robinson in skill level, but made up for that with a little something called 'moxie'. Perhaps no QB in Michigan history could claim to have made more out of less than Tate Forcier. At times, he could put on quite a show. I'll never forget how he played against Notre Dame that season. Only to contrast that with how he played against Ohio State 10 weeks later. He had a decent arm and could scramble pretty well. But he made a lot of freshman mistakes, and had a tough time recovering from them. He had moxie, but it ran out pretty fast. And when it was gone, it was painfully obvious there was little else there.

Denard was the backup all year. He only played when Tate struggled...which was often. But Denard struggled just as much. He could run and scramble with the best of them, but his arm needed a lot of work and he didn't know the offense as well as Tate did. So much so that most of the time, defenses knew that when Denard was in the game, he was going to just take the snap and run. They could just stack 8 or 9 in the box and three-and-outs would typically result.

Between 2009 and 2010, Robinson took it upon himself to improve his passing ability. He knew that throwing ability was the only thing holding back from the starting spot. While Forcier slacked off that off-season, Robinson went to work. And in the opener against UConn that next season, Robinson replaced Forcier as the starter, and never looked back.

The 2010 season was a fruitful mix of highs and lows, much like 2009. A thrilling victory over Notre Dame and an undefeated streak against non-conference opponents got Michigan fans excited once again. But losses to Michigan State, Ohio State and struggles against Big Ten opponents made everyone question the leadership of the program.

Denard showed significant progress from 09 to 10. His passing stats were on par for any Michigan quarterback, and his rushing stats were on par for any Michigan running back. He showed substantial improvement in just one season. He showed that he could, one day, become the leader of this offense. He actually finished 6th in Heisman Trophy voting that year. But he got dinged up quite a bit. He paid dearly for his 1700 rushing yards with multiple injuries. Yes, he was a phenomenal athlete, but what good was that if he kept getting injured?

2011 started out with a lot of uncertainty. Gone was Rich Rodriguez, the primary reason Denard came to Michigan in the first place. Gone was the spread-option offense which fit Denard's ability so well.

The time between Rich Rod being fired and his successor being hired was filled with a lot of speculation about a lot of things. Aside from who would be the next coach, many wondered if that next coach would run an offense that featured Denard Robinson at quarterback. Not only that, but would Denard even want to stick around to find out. There's no doubt he could find another school that would want him to plat quarterback.

When Brady Hoke was hired, one of the first people he met with on campus that snowy January day was Denard Robinson. Whatever was said in that room was obviously enough to persuade Denard to stay. You could say Denard was Hoke's first recruit, really. Hoke and his staff knew having a returning starting QB was better than not having a returning starting QB, regardless of schematically how well he fit in.




No question, that decision was a pivotal one for both Denard and Team 132. I have no doubt this team wouldn't get to 11 wins without Denard.

The 2011 season was a step back for Denard, statistically. While the Wolverines improved in almost every area, especially the running game, Denard took a step back. But that wasn't really his fault. He wasn't asked to do as much – which is a blessing in some ways because it probably kept him on the field more than in 2010. Offensive coordinator Al Borges, who is known for running a more pro-style offense, was asked to adapt his schemes to take advantage of the unique ability of Denard Robinson.




How refreshing to have a coaching staff willing to adapt to the talent in-hand? Shocking, I know.

As Denard approaches his senior year at Michigan, his 3rd as a starter, speculation naturally emerges about his professional prospects. Everyone seems to agree that he's a special college quarterback. But is he an NFL-level quarterback? ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper doesn't think so.
"At the end of the day, you don't know where Robinson is going to fit in. I say wide receiver because it has happened a number of times in the past to allow you to think that could happen. He may also be a defensive back. One of those two spots, otherwise he's not going to play in the NFL.

"If he can't play wide receiver, slot receiver and return man and if he can't play in the secondary then all he is is a wildcat quarterback, which doesn't bring a lot of value."
Kiper currently has Denard listed as the 5th best receiver on his 2013 draft board. Mind you, Denard has never played receiver, slot or otherwise...ever. But all of the praise he receives speaks to his outstanding ability to make plays. No question his speed and elusiveness have value at the next level. But the bigger part of it is, experts can all see Denard is a great football player, but no one is sold on him playing quarterback at the next level.
"You know he's going to be a great college quarterback and at the end of the day we'll see what he can do either during the college all-star games or the NFL combine or his pro day to see if he can do other things," Kiper Jr. said. "It's wait and see."
I have to agree with Kiper here. And while he might say it's a 'wait and see', what he really means is it's foregone. NFL scouts see a shifty, fast playmaker with amazing collegiate talent...who's short and has a mediocre arm – not the desired NFL QB pedigree. I have no doubt Denard Robinson will end up on an NFL roster. But I can almost guarantee it won't be as a quarterback, unless he can absolutely prove everyone wrong in his last season in Ann Arbor.

So while the NFL will have to wait another year for Denard, Michigan fans get one last season to watch him work his magic. Hopes are high, of course. Hopes should always be high for any Michigan senior quarterback. ESPN Big Ten blogger Brian Bennett has ranked Denard the 6th best overall player in the league going into 2012, and #1 QB. No other Big Ten QB even made his top 10.
There might not be a more exciting player in the country than "Shoelace," who's put together more heroics than a comic-book character the past two seasons. But his passing remains suspect, as evidenced by his Big Ten-worst 15 interceptions last season. The word out of spring practice was that Robinson had improved his fundamentals and looked sharp as a passer. If he can add accuracy to his other many talents, the sky is the limit for him and the Wolverines this season. 
Seems like everyone wants to heap praise, but will immediately disclaim it by using the 'high risk vs high reward' argument. You hear a lot of "Yes, he's an amazing talent...but..." "Yes, he's exciting to watch...but..." Yes, he's a great college quarterback...but..."

It's like the first snap he took as a Wolverine back in the 2009 opener against Western Michigan. Yes, he fumbled the snap...but...



Denard Robinson is a senior quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that fact. Once he's gone, a return to the big-arm pro-style quarterback is all but assured. And while there's nothing wrong with that, it won't be the same, not even close. Denard's star burns a little brighter than we're used to at Michigan.

So, for one more season, enjoy what could be one of the most dynamic athletes to ever wear the winged helmet. A player like this may never come along again for Michigan.

Let that be the legacy of Shoelace.

Michigan 2015 & 2016 B1G Schedules Released

Schedules were announced this morning for the 2015 and 2016 Big Ten seasons. No non-conference bits here, just the league schedules.

Legends games in bold. 2013-2016 Michigan schedules can be found here.

2015:
Oct. 3 at Michigan State
Oct. 10 WISCONSIN
Oct. 17 MINNESOTA
Oct. 24 at Illinois
Oct. 31 Open
Nov. 7 NEBRASKA
Nov. 14 at Northwestern
Nov. 21 at Iowa
Nov. 28 OHIO STATE
Dec. 5 Big Ten Championship Game

2016:
Oct. 1 MICHIGAN STATE
Oct. 8 at Minnesota
Oct. 15 NORTHWESTERN
Oct. 22 Open
Oct. 29 at Wisconsin
Nov. 5 ILLINOIS
Nov. 12 at Nebraska
Nov. 19 IOWA
Nov. 26 at Ohio State
Dec. 3 Big Ten Championship Game

Future schedule bullets:
• Obviously the first thing that jumps off the page is opening the B1G slate each year with Michigan State. I don't mind the move. No issues with it at all.
• There was talk about starting the B1G schedule earlier (i.e. in September). This is clearly not happening.
• Going to miss Indiana on the schedule both years. Penn State goes away after a two-year stint in 2013-14.
• After this season, we won't play Purdue again until 2017 at the earliest (unless in the B1G title game).
• B1G rules state you must have 4 home and 4 road games in-conference, so no surprises here. Opening 2015 with a road game at Sparty and back home the next week against Wisconsin is interesting. Finishing 2016 at Nebraska, Iowa and then at Ohio State is going to be tough.
• Unless the league lifts the "no night games in November" rule, Wisconsin is my odds on favorite for the 2015 night game. If no November rule exists, then I think it should be Nebraska.
• For 2016, it seems pretty obvious the Michigan State game would be at night. But you could make that argument for 2012 as well. Although Dave Brandon could be long gone by 2015.
• I'm assuming Notre Dame is off the schedule by 2015. And I also assume the B1G/Pac-12 agreement is still happening, so tough to predict total number of home games each year. Expect 7 for each, I suppose.
• 2015 bye week is Halloween weekend. Celebrate accordingly.

Big Ten Gives Up Without a Fight

Me, if I were covering the B1G spring meetings in Chicago this week.
If you were to ask me why Jim Delany and the Big Ten brass have, essentially, given up without a fight to be able to host semi-final playoff games on college campuses – I would not have a coherent answer for you.

As it stands right now, B1G commissioner Jim Delany and his 12-pack of ADs have all offered their full support of a 4-team playoff in college football – essentially a plus-1 system. And while I could certainly argue about how the merits of choosing 4 schools from a field of 65 or so for a playoff is not exactly ideal, it's a step in the right direction. I personally feel like an 8-team playoff is better for so many reasons, but that's not why we're here.

We're here because of this quote by OSU AD Gene Smith...
"We've shifted, I was originally for campus sites, and I still go back there mentally every now and then as discussions occur, but the bowls have a really good system set up to host." 
While I do agree, bowls are well set up for hosting football games. But is that really the reason? Are bowl sites better suited for hosting a football game than a B1G venue?
"There are certain schools that would put it on and host it extremely well," he said. "Others might be challenged with that. Bowls have done this a long time. They have great local organizing committees. ... And it's good for the game." 
Yes, bowls have done this for a long time. But so has the B1G. Actually, the B1G has done it for much longer and much more frequently. And! Here's the kicker – B1G venues are situated conveniently close to where the fans of said B1G teams play. But clearly, this decision has little to do with the fans. Smith claims is has to do with the players, but I'd be willing to wager that a college senior would kill for one last home game instead of flying to Tempe.
"Let's say Ohio State is hosting and it's January or December, and let's say it is 5 degrees," Smith said. "Is that right for the game? We're not pro. We need to figure out what's best for the game, and I think a fast surface, good weather is important for the game. It's important for the kids." 
Is that right for the game??? What the hell is going on here? Did I just wake up in B1G bizzaro world? Does Gene Smith not know that B1G teams have been playing home games in cold weather since, ya know, the 1870's? Did I just ask five questions in a row?

Okay, look. I'm not just picking on Gene Smith here, all of the B1G athletic directors have echoed the same sentiments. Let's pick another. Nebraska's AD Tom Osborn...
"It would be a competitive advantage to have semifinal games at home fields," Osborne said. "... but the bowls have been good to us." 
Um..what? Bowls have been good to the B1G? Is this still bizzaro world?

AnnArbor.com's Kyle Meinke:
The Big Ten is 34-52 in bowl games since 2000, and 3-8 in the Rose Bowl since the start of the BCS era.

The bowls also have gouged conferences through rampant profiteering, including ticket guarantees and other ridiculous contractual stipulations. And let's not forget about corruption.

Yep, they've been great to you -- and, hey, who's ready for some more? 
Exactly.

Yes, Osborn is right, it's a competitive advantage for the B1G...a huge one. One that SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 teams have enjoyed since the dawn of bowl games...especially the BCS era. And we're just willing to concede it back to them for the proposed playoff system, too?

Why is the B1G laying down so easily?

Enter Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel:
"For us it's critical to keep the Rose Bowl in the equation," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told reporters Tuesday after Big Ten meetings hashed out the conference's likely preferred plan.

How critical? Well, so critical that they're willing to make business decisions based on emotion, willing to give up on competitive advantages, logistical ease and monetary benefits.

Possible home-field advantage for Big Ten teams? We love the Rose Bowl.

Making the elements, which Big Ten teams are presumably better equipped to handle, a factor in the playoffs? We love the Rose Bowl.

Showcasing the incredible game-day environment of Camp Randall, Happy Valley or the Big House? We love the Rose Bowl.

Not requiring fans, students and players' families to continue to make lengthy postseason trips? We love the Rose Bowl.

Creating economic impact in the league's hometowns? We love the Rose Bowl.

Not taking discretionary spending out of the region and into California or Florida? We love the Rose Bowl.

Not playing games in opponents' home regions, states, cities or even stadiums? We love the Rose Bowl.

If you hate campus so much, how about compromising and staging neutral-site semifinal games in Indianapolis or Detroit, where the money would be so welcome? Sorry, we love the Rose Bowl.
Yes, we do love the Rose Bowl. No question about it. We love it so much we're willing to cash in all our chips just to keep what's left of the B1G's firm grasp on it. And in doing so, we've just surrendered ANY possibility of home-field advantage for as long as the playoff system is in place in college football.

So B1G fans, if you want to see your team play in a playoff game, get those suitcases out. Get your wallets ready. Because, as the B1G ADs say a lot of things, the one thing you won't hear them say is that YOU are the losers in all of this. Better for the players? Better for the game? I don't know. But better for the fans? Absolutely...if you're an SEC, Big 12 or Pac-12 fan.

They should all send some roses to Jim Delany.

And B1G players, when you've played well enough to earn yourself a B1G championship and a spot in the playoff, you've also earned a road game at "neutral" venue instead of being able to play in front of a home crowd...even if you've earned it. So enjoy that.

The B1G has always struggled in bowl games. And I have to think a part of it is because of the opponent's perceived home-field advantage. This was our big chance to at least level the playing field slightly in our favor.

Not only did we strike out, we didn't even swing.

More Alternate Uniforms on the Way

A lot of things to discuss coming out of the B1G spring meetings in Chicago the last couple of days. And while we'll get to the post-season discussion soon enough. One interesting tidbit though, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon let it be known that alternate uniforms will become a regular occurrence for the Michigan football program going forward [AnnArbor.com story]
"For football last year, we probably did a little bit more than we’ll do going forward in terms of variety, but we’re going to from time to time do some special things."

"The coaches like it and the student-athletes like it and the recruits are enamored by it. So why wouldn’t we?”

Last year Michigan wore alternate jerseys for the night game against Notre Dame, which were actually pretty well received due to the special nature of the occasion. Some folks didn't care too much for the shoulder stripes, but the retro block-M on the chest and the helmet numbers were huge hits.


Then there was the Michigan State game in East Lansing. Michigan warmed-up in their normal away jerseys, but then came out for the game in a road version of the legacy jerseys worn against Notre Dame. I'll just say, from my perspective, the look did not translate well to a road uniform. Plus, alternate uniforms are much more fun if you win. (See: The image below)

Dave Martin, AP
A modified version of that road jersey was used in the Sugar Bowl, and was received much better by the fan base, although this blogger feels they missed the mark, aesthetically. I think if you're going to go to an alternate look for road games, especially a major bowl, take a chance on a really different look.

Three alternate jerseys in one season was a lot to bite off for a school like Michigan, and frankly I'd be shocked if it's something done more than once a year going forward. But honestly, as long as it's used sparingly and done the right way, I have no issues with it.

I also respect the way Brandon is handling the use of alternate looks, relying on coach's and player input. It sound like this is more Dave Brandon listening to the people he trusts, and taking their input and making it happen – which is how it should be.
"I rely a lot on the coaches to make those decisions," Brandon said. "Frankly, the coaches would tell you a lot of this has to do with recruiting, too. Recruits today, they like variety. They emulate these programs that from time to time wield out these special jerseys."

"I really defer to the coaches, and all I ask is that Adidas, as our partner, does a great job of coming up with concepts that the kids like, that the coaches like, and I don’t want to get too carried away."
So can we safely assume that the Michigan State look was "getting carried away"? I think so. But don't expect any gameday surprises for 2012. The uniform looks are being finalized this summer, and will be released to the public prior to the season.
"I think what we’re going to do is lay it out and say, game by game, 'Here’s what we’re going to do. If we’re going to make any changes, here’s what they are,' and it will kind of end all the speculation. We’re in the midst of all of that.”
The legacy jerseys used for the Notre Dame game were unveiled in June of last year. So this could be in keeping with how these sorts of things will be handled – which is the way I would expect Michigan and Adidas to do things like this. But this is just my opinion. How do you feel about Michigan using alternate uniforms?

B1G Schedule Breakdown: Indiana

Previously: Illinois

Right now: Indiana

2011 Overall Record: 1-11
2011 Big Ten Record: 0-8

Date    Opponent
Sept 1   Indiana State
Sept 8   @ Massachusetts
Sept 15   Ball State
Sept 29   @ Northwestern
Oct 6   Michigan State
Oct 13   Ohio State
Oct 20   @ Navy
Oct 27   @ Illinois
Nov 3   Iowa
Nov 10   Wisconsin
Nov 17   @ Penn State
Nov 24   @ Purdue


Do Not Play
Michigan
Minnesota
Nebraska

Biggest Game
When the Old Oaken Bucket is up for grabs on November 24th, Indiana will be playing purely for pride and respect. Purdue might be playing for a bit more, which could make things a tad more interesting for Indiana as they might get to play spoiler for what could be a better than advertised Purdue team. I don't see how Indiana wins this game, but as with all rivalries, you never know.

Non-Conference Loss
The MAC is not going to be kind to Indiana. Ball State ruined the opener for Indiana last year, and I think they could be ripe for another upset again. UMass, which is new to the MAC and FBS this season could also give the Hoosiers a run for their money. Indiana State is a win, and I also think Indiana plays inspired football against the Midshipmen and gets a win @ Navy on Oct. 20th.

It's a Trap!
When you're predicted to have double-digit losses, you are the trap game.

The Game Destined for ESPN3.com
The opener against Indiana State.

Final Analysis
On paper, Indiana's season looks bleak. One win last season was brutal for first year coach Kevin Wilson, as their first 4 losses were by a combined 13 points. I predict things will get better for 2012, but not by much. They're fully capable of sneaking up on someone, but I think once the B1G schedule begins, the train will have fully derailed by that point. There's just a certain level of competitiveness in the B1G – especially with the conference on the rise. And unfortunately for the few and the proud Hoosier football fans, Indiana is just not going to be able to keep up this season.

Sorry Indiana, you're a basketball school.

Fearless Predictions
Non-conference record: 2-2
Division Record: 0-5
Crossover Record: 0-3
Overall: 2-10
Bowl: N/A

ESPN Top 20 Roundtable: Michigan [Video]



Say what you want about all of these guys, but I think each one's analysis was pretty spot on. Jesse Palmer and Herbstreit are probably the biggest targets for all of the haters out there, but if you really listen to what they're saying...it's tough to argue their points.

Nice to have Michigan back in the discussion again, too, I might add.

Their roundtable discussion on Michigan State is also worth a click.

There's No Playoff Scenario that Works

Jim Delany doesn't care too much for those young men from Tuscaloosa.
If you've been paying any attention to the college football post-season debate, you've certainly heard/read the comments by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany regarding his feelings on teams that don't even win their divisions being eligible to participate in the purposed playoff system said to replace the current BCS system. He never mentions any school by name, but it's pretty clear who he's talking about.
"I don't have a lot of regard for that team. I certainly wouldn’t have as much regard for that team as I would for someone who played nine conference games in a tough conference and played a couple out-of-conference games on the road against really good opponents. If a poll doesn't honor those teams and they're conference champions, I do."
It's pretty very obvious he's talking about Alabama, who in 2011, won the BCS national title without even winning their division or playing in the SEC championship game. Call it unfair, which it is, but it's also the system we have to live with. Don't hate the playa.

However, as a Michigan blogger and well-documented fan, I would like to kindly ask B1G commish Delany to please stop picking a fight with the best team in the best conference in college football. Especially since in less than 4 months Michigan is set to take the field in Jerryworld in primetime against said SEC team.

Please and thank you.

Now, I must admit that I think Delany has a point. And I'll also admit that there is almost no scenario that includes any sort of playoff format that is not biased or unequal in terms of it's fairness. Every conference is different. Every division in those conferences are different. 4-team playoff system, 6 teams, 8 or 16 teams...it doesn't matter. It's never going to be fair.

Why?

Because the college football season is not set up to maximize a playoff format. Teams don't play enough games. Think about it. In the NFL, teams play 16 games, and there are only 32 teams – 12 of which make the playoffs...4 division winners and 2 wildcard teams in each conference.

In college football, a purposed 4-team playoff which will choose it's teams from 6 conferences (B1G, SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, Big East and ACC) spanning 66 teams (currently). There is no way, in the current 12-game season format with the ranking system we have, that a field of 4 teams can accurately be chosen.

Insert argument about how strength of schedule should be weighed heavier in the BCS formula here.

To do it the right way, a drastic revamp of college football from head to toe would be needed. This would include elimination of computer polls and the "human element", realignment of conferences and divisions (which would kill off the bowls), drastic lengthening of seasons, and all-likely the elimination of some teams from "automatic qualifier" status.

Surely an NFL-like playoff system would emerge from the wreckage – which would be more-fairer, but would never happen because of things like school administrators, academic obligations of players, conference television and current bowl contracts and the like. Basically, there's too much red tape involved for any real post-season system that would be considered "fair". So what we end up with is a the product of the equation where an ideal playoff system is divided by the current BCS system in order to keep the money train rolling without compromising the integrity of conferences and tradition (i.e. bowls).

To put it simply – not a real playoff.

Michigan AD Dave Brandon knows this, and is suddenly okay with it. (Via MGoBlog)
Dave Brandon, January 16th($):
"This whole notion of a playoff is ridiculous because I don't care what you come up with, it's not going to be a fair playoff. You've got a bunch of teams that don't play one another and play different competition and in different time zones in different conferences in different stadiums in front of different crowds and different weather and suddenly at some point in the year you are trying to arbitrarily decide which one is better and which one deserves to be in a four-team playoff or a six-team playoff."
Dave Brandon, May 3rd:
"I'm not opposed to 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3, plus-one concept," Brandon said. "I don't see it as a true playoff system. It's a clever way to come up with one more football game. I'm not sure I call that a playoff, but if it makes everybody feel better, call it a playoff."
Of course he's not opposed. It's not in his, or Michigan's, or the Big Ten's best interest to be opposed. The south (the SEC) is in the driver's seat in any college football playoff debate. It's a tough look in the mirror for proud conferences like the Big Ten and the Pac-12, but the quote from DB above shows that the geographic reality is starting to set in. Time for everyone to get on board or get left at the station. And no one wants to be left at the station. There's no money at the station.

Never before has college football been more profitable to everyone involved (except the players, but that's a different debate altogether). And if they can add another game to sell to the networks, why not?

But never before has there been more debate on how justified the process of choosing a national champion is. Even back in the bowl coalition days (before 1998), there was debate, but never talk that the system was broken, it was just "the system". It was outdated. You could make the argument that the only thing the BCS has added to the debate is the idea that they tried to fix it and missed the mark big time.

So what's the short-term solution? Revamp the BCS to a plus-one format. It's not perfect, but it's the best a large group of well-paid administrators can come up to appear as if their working on something with without interrupting revenue and keeping everyone who's on the take happy.

It's one big cup of compromise. All that's left is to hash out the details like how we choose which four teams get in, and how the current bowls will be dealt with and who will host the semi-final games...the schools or the current bowl sites? You know, little stuff.

B1G Schedule Breakdown: Illinois

Last year about this time I broke down the schedules for each and every B1G squad for 2011. It was a fun little way to pass the time during this rather boring stretch of off-season where there's really nothing going on or much to talk about. So let's do it again, shall we?

Let's start off with the Leaders Division, and alphabetically at the top of the heap...Illinois.

2011 Overall Record: 7-6
2011 Big Ten Record: 2-6

Date    Opponent
Sept. 1   Western Michigan
Sept. 8   @ Arizona State
Sept. 15   Charleston Southern
Sept. 22   Louisiana Tech
Sept. 29   Penn State
Oct. 6   @ Wisconsin

Oct. 13   @ Michigan
Oct. 27   Indiana
Nov. 3   @ Ohio State

Nov. 10   Minnesota
Nov. 17   Purdue
Nov. 24   @ Northwestern

Do Not Play
Michigan State
Nebraska
Iowa

Biggest Game: I think the first true test of this team is going to come on the road at Wisconsin on October 6th. There's no question the Badgers are the team to beat in the Leaders Division. I don't honestly think Illinois can beat them, especially on the road, but it will at least give the rest of the league a good idea where Illinois is at in terms of honest-to-goodness threat-level.

Non-Conference Loss: I'll go with Arizona State on the road because we all know how well B1G teams perform against the Pac-12 out west. Western could sneak up on the Illini in week 1, but I'll be generous and give them the win so they can go into the Arizona State game 1-0.

It's a Trap!: Hard to get trapped when you are the trap game for everyone else. But I'll go with Indiana on October 27th. The Hoosiers could be riding high fresh off a win at Navy the week before, and just might sneak up on the Illini in Champaign.

The Game Destined for ESPN3.com: I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see how the Illini fair against the mighty Buccaneers of Charleston Southern University (enrollment: 3,200).

Final Analysis: I predict a tough year for the Illini as they navigate through the Big Ten under first year coach Tim Beckman. There are some pretty good holes to fill on both sides of the ball. This schedule is actually pretty fair, and Illinois has the potential to do better than the 5-7 that I foresee. It all depends on how well this team can rally behind Beckman. The non-conference schedule is kind to the Illini, and that could be used to springboard a successful season. But I think competition is going to be fierce, not only in the Leaders Division, but the B1G as a whole.

Fearless Predictions
Non-conference record: 3-1
Division Record: 1-4
Crossover Record: 1-2
Overall: 5-7

Outgoing: Chris Rock


Well, it's never a good thing when a player leaves the program, regardless of his location on the depth chart. Most folks probably don't know much or anything about red-shirt freshman Chris Rock. He obviously sat out 2011 during his red-shirt year, and he didn't really make a name for himself at the spring game last month, so his departure likely to have very minimal impact on the D-line going forward.

Chris gained quite a bit of interest during his recruitment. The 6-5, 250 pound defensive end out of Columbus was pursued by Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Ohio State, Pitt, UCLA, Stanford, WVU, Wisconsin...just to name a few.

At the time, this was a very nice get for Rodriguez in the summer of 2010. He just never panned out once he got on campus. Not that all uncommon of a tale, I suppose. Best of luck to Chris in whatever he decides to do.

Incoming: Csont'e York

The 2013 recruiting board is up and running here.

Csont'e York


Rivals: NR WR
Scout: ★★★, #67 WR
ESPN: NR WR
24/7: ★★★, #69 WR

The 18th commitment to the 2013 class is a 6-3, 190 lb. wide receiver prospect out of Harper Woods, MI. Csont'e (pronounced: Son-tey) York is exactly the type of receiver Michigan is going to need going forward as we transition from the Denard Robinson style offense to a Shane Morris style offense. He's not a burner, but he big and tall with solid hands. That should now be considered the norm for receivers at Michigan going forward.

He's a bit under-the-radar in terms of guru ratings. ESPN and Rivals don't have ratings up yet for York, but Scout and 24/7 do, and they peg him at a 3-star prospect. Ace from mgoblog says:
Chandler Park isn't exactly a football powerhouse, however, playing in Michigan's Class B in the Charter School Conference, so he fits the profile of a sleeper recruit. Every service but Scout lists York at 6'3", with his weight at 185-190 pounds (Scout says 6'2", 180).

York really burst onto the scene in recent weeks, earning offers from Michigan, Cincinnati, and Syracuse within the last 48 hours by excelling on the camp circuit.
Read more here.

I really like the York pickup for this class. He's not the 4-star type recruit we've been used to in this class, but that could change as York is relatively unknown by most gurus. Plus I like that he's a local prospect that was sort of "discovered" by this coaching staff. Expect many more offers to come his way now that he's committed to Michigan.

Other offers
Bowling Green, Cincy, Syracuse and Toledo.

Hype video

Film Study with Al Borges

Good film session with Al "Gorgeous" Borges. I really don't think that's his nickname, but I've heard it a time or two so what the heck. Nice little 5 minute peak into how Borges breaks down film and how he coaches up Denard Robinson.

B1G Coaches Hot Seat - Legends Division

You can't have one without the other...

In contrast to the Leaders Division, which has 3 new coaches for 2012, the Legends Division is rather tame by comparison. But that certainly doesn't mean a few of the coaches' seats aren't getting at least a little warm.

We've got some seriously good coaches in this division, so we're going to spend a while here giving each coach our full attention.

Once again, the scale for your reference:
Totally Safe: Can literally lose every game and still be elected governor
Safe for Now: Can have an off-year and still be okay
Needs a Good Year: Needs to improve from 2011
Needs a Great Year: 2012 could be the end if things don't get better fast
Dead Man Walking: Probably won't make it through 2012

Let's get it on!

Kirk Ferentz - Iowa


14th Season
1999: 1-10 (0-8)
2000: 3-9 (3-5)
2001: 7-5 (4-4)
2002: 11-2 (8-0)
2003: 10-3 (5-3)
2004: 10-2 (7-1)
2005: 7-5 (5-3)
2006: 6-7 (2-6)
2007: 6-6 (4-4)
2008: 9-4 (5-3)
2009: 11-2 (6-2)
2010: 8-5 (4-4)
2011: 7-6 (4-4)
Total: 96-66 (57-47)

Kirk Ferentz is now the B1G's longest tenured active coach. He's also in the midst of a downward trend in his winning percentage. For a while there, Ferentz was the class of the league. He was getting NFL and college offers seemingly every off-season. Those days are over, of course, now with Kirk well entrenched with a contract that keeps him in Iowa City til 2016. But it seems clear that the best days of the Ferentz era at Iowa are in the past.

No doubt he's one of the best coaches Iowa's ever had. But the past couple of seasons have not gone well. On the field, tough losses to Iowa State, Penn State, and ugly losses to Minnesota the last two years, have definitely taken Iowa down a few pegs from where they were coming off of the 2009 season. But off the field issues have been even worse. We all remember the ugly off-season practice regimen that left 13 Iowa players hospitalized last January. Not a good PR moment for Ferentz or Iowa.

2012 brings new coordinators to Iowa City after the departures of DC Norm Parker and OC Ken O'Keefe. New DC Phil Parker was the DB coach at Iowa for the last 13 years, and OC Greg Davis is new in town from his job as OC at Texas. Maybe some fresh coaching blood will help things along.

Iowa is in a bit of a rebuilding mode, along with the coaching staff. Much of the offense and defense is gone from 2011. RB Marcus Coker who had over 1,300 yards last year is gone. As is WR Marvin McNutt who tallied over 1,300 receiving. Much of the offensive line is gone. But one positive note is that QB James Vandenberg is back after a 3,000 yard 25 TD season a year ago.

On the defensive side of the ball, much of the D line must be replaced, as well as LB Tyler Nielsen and DB Jordan Bernstine.

Clearly, a lot of work to be done for this staff. The schedule does them some favors, with the non-conference slate being rather tame. Only 4 official road games this year – Michigan State, Northwestern, Indiana and Michigan (the opener against N. Illinois is in Chicago). However, the Legends Division is tough this year, so things could get worse before they get better.

But Ferentz is an institution at Iowa. To get the heat turned up enough to get him fired, a full-on collapse would be needed for that to happen. And I don't see that happening, not this year anyway. Even given all the new faces in town and young untested players at many of the positions, I don't see a sub-.500 season for Iowa. But I also don't see how they can improve to 8 or more wins.

Notable games in 2012:
9/8 vs Iowa State
10/13 @ Michigan State
10/20 vs Penn State
11/17 @ Michigan
11/24 vs Nebraska

MBN Hotness Meter: Needs a Good Year

Brady Hoke - Michigan


2nd Season
2011: 11-2 (6-2)

Michigan Head Coach 2011 To-Do List:
(X) Beat Ohio State
(   ) Beat Michigan State
(X) Beat Notre Dame

Don't underestimate the importance of the absence of that second "X". Beating Ohio State is always the first and most important priority at Michigan. But when the balance of power in this state is as far out of whack as it is right now, beating Sparty can take precedence. And for 2012, that's exactly what's happening.

Michigan Head Coach 2012 To-Do List:
(   ) Beat Michigan State
(   ) Beat Ohio State 
(   ) Beat Alabama

For many casual Michigan fans, Brady Hoke was never the guy they wanted for the job. Not because they didn't like him, they just didn't know him. They knew Jim Harbaugh. They knew Les Miles. People like familiarity...just ask Buckeye fans. So when Brady Hoke took office 16 months ago, many Michigan fans weren't sure what to expect.

Eleven wins, a win over Ohio State and a Sugar Bowl victory later, you can rest assured Brady has won over the vast majority of his skeptics. In one season, he, Al Borges and Greg Mattison have taken an average team (let's be honest), and turned them into a BCS Bowl caliber football team. In one season, Michigan's scoring defense went from being ranked 107th nationally in 2010, to 6th in 2011.

There was no sudden influx of 5-star talent. No confusing new schemes that fooled every offense we played. Nothing like that at all. Michigan just got better because of coaching. Good old fashioned coaching.

It's not easy to pinpoint the exact moment when things just clicked for this team. It's likely to have happened before the season started. But not many folks foresaw 11 wins for this team a year ago, I sure didn't. But what sets apart Brady Hoke from, say, Rich Rod, is that there's just no fluff with Brady. The man is just a football coach...at his core. He doesn't play games, he doesn't try to "politic" his way around things. He's 100% committed to his players and expects nothing less in return. And I think Michigan fans are smart enough to have been able to notice that about him from day one.

Look, I know that not every season is going to turn out like 2011. Team 132 was a special team for a lot of reasons. And maybe Team 133 will be too. But no one can argue that things haven't gotten off to a remarkable start for this coaching staff. Not only on the field, but off of it too. There's no drama like there was with Rich. No Free Press articles, no upset former players. And the impact is felt in recruiting as well. The 2012 class that's about to descend on Ann Arbor this summer is ranked by Rivals as the #7 class in the country. And the 2013 class that still being assembled is ranked by Scout at #1 right now.

The current state of Michigan football is about as good as it's been since 2006...maybe better. And the future looks infinitely brighter than at any time in recent memory. I can attribute this to many things, but ultimately, it all comes back to Brady Hoke and his influence on this program. Things aren't perfect, they never are, but we're miles away from the dark ages of just two seasons ago.

Notable games in 2012:
9/1 vs Alabama
9/22 @ Notre Dame
10/20 vs Michigan State
10/27 @ Nebraska
11/17 vs Iowa
11/24 @ Ohio State

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Mark Dantonio - Michigan State


6th Season
2007: 7-6 (3-5)
2008: 9-4 (6-2)
2009: 6-7 (4-4)
2010: 11-2 (7-1)
2011: 11-3 (7-1)
Total: 44-22 (27-13)

2007:
"I find a lot of the things they do amusing. They need to check themselves sometimes. But just remember, pride comes before the fall... This game is an important game. So they want to mock us all they want to mock us, I'm telling them: it's not over. So they can print that crap all they want all over their locker room. It's not over. It'll never be over here. It's just starting... I'm going to be a coach here for a long time. It's not over. It's just starting."
I find Mark amusing. They're gonna rename the stadium after this guy.

Mark Dantonio has had his moments in East Lansing, it hasn't all been smooth sailing. But when you put as much emphasis on beating Michigan as this guy does, and then delivers 4 years in a row, you can't argue with results. Not even I can.

There might not be a more perfect coach for Michigan State than Mark Dantonio. After huge whiffs with Bobby Williams and then John L. Smith, Mark has been exactly what the doctor ordered for Sparty. He puts the Michigan game on a level higher than any of his predecessors...maybe higher than even a few at Ohio State – where Mark was defensive coordinator from 2001-03 and a GA back in the 80's. His hatred for Michigan runs deep. And that's what Sparty loves about him – if their black hearts are capable of such a complex emotion.

His loathing for Michigan aside, Mark has had quite a run so far...especially the last couple years. "Little Giants" – the fake FG against Notre Dame in 2010, and then the Hail Mary to defeat Wisconsin last year were both high water marks for the Michigan State program. Of course the multiple collapses in 2009 and struggles in bowl games have hindered what could have been one of greatest eras in Michigan State football history.

But success against Michigan has kept him in good standing among the fanbase. You could argue no program has benefited more from Michigan's struggles from 2008-10 than Michigan State. But even then, all they have to show for it is one co-Big Ten title (2010) and a Legends division title (2011). A BCS bowl and high national rankings have eluded Michigan State during this successful stretch. And now with Michigan seemingly on the rise and Nebraska also a contender in the Legends Division, the bar has been raised for Dantonio to maintain this level of success.

Their defense in 2011 was very good, and they bring back 8 starters from that unit. The offense was average, and will need to be rebuilt this year.

Notable games in 2012:
8/31 vs Boise State
9/15 vs Notre Dame
9/29 vs Ohio State
10/20 @ Michigan
10/27 @ Wisconsin
11/3 vs Nebraska

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Jerry Kill - Minnesota


2nd Season
2011: 3-9 (2-6)

Well, I guess Jerry found out what football is like in the B1G. It's not exactly like the MAC or the Gateway Football Conference where he made a name for himself. But I can't pile on him too bad. It is Minnesota fergodsakes. And you can't judge too harshly after just one season.

But you sorta can. Because Minnesota is not Indiana. There is a strong football heritage there. It's very old and in need of a facelift, but its there.

2011 was not good. However a very close loss to USC in week 1 was thrilling to watch. But as losses began to mount, by the time they showed up in Ann Arbor, one week after coach Kill suffered a seizure on the sideline against North Dakota State (his second seizure during a game that year), Minnesota had no answer to Michigan's attack. They lost the game 58-0. A close win against Iowa three weeks later and another win against a defeated Illinois team the final week of the season mercifully closed out a tumultuous year for the Gopher program.

Its never good when a head coach dominates the headlines because of his health. But that's exactly what happened last year. I would like to think that Minnesota is a program on the rise, because I think a good Minnesota team is good for business in the B1G, but until I see any sign of life from this squad, I think it's going to be par for the course for a while. The B1G is getting stronger, and especially this division. That won't make life much easier for schools like Minnesota.

Jerry Kill is a good coach, his track-record proves that. But time will tell if he can cut it at this level. They don't have particularly great numbers returning. QB Marqueis Gray is a good all-around athlete, and they might be able to build something around him. Leading rusher Duane Bennett is gone, as are leading receivers Da'Jon McKnight and Collin McGarry. So there's some rebuilding of the offense that needs to take place. They lose their safeties and the interior of the DL. Safety Kim Royston was one of the best at his position last year. He will be missed.

Notable games in 2012:
9/29 @ Iowa
10/13 vs Northwestern
11/3 vs Michigan
11/17 @ Nebraska
11/24 vs Michigan State

MBN Hotness Meter: Needs a Good Year

Bo Pelini - Nebraska

5th Year
Big 12:
2008: 9-4 (5-3)
2009: 10-4 (6-2)
2010: 10-4 (6-2)
B1G:
2011: 9-4 (5-3)
Total: 39-16 (22-10)

Well, mark me down as a guy who thought 2011 would go much better for Nebraska than it did. I'll admit it, I drank the Kool-Aid. I thought they would make a splash in the B1G in year one. That's not an indictment of Pelini, but more of a statement about how good the league is. I mean, yeah they won 9 games, but I had them in the B1G title game. That loss to Northwestern was a killer.

How we beat them 45-17, I'll never know. That was maybe one of the most complete games I've seen from a Michigan team, against a quality opponent since probably Notre Dame in 2006.

However, I do think 2012 is going to end up being much better for the Huskers. More on that later.

Given Nebraska's position as new kid on the block in the B1G, I'll reserve any harsh judgement for now. They do have some strong players coming back, so a step forward in terms of success should be expected. QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead are very good athletes. Leading receiver Kenny Bell is also back. And no major area of the defense gets decimated by attrition.

The schedule looks a little more inviting than last year's gauntlet...barely. They still do play Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. They did handle Ohio State and Penn State well last year but did lose to Wisconsin at Camp Randall in their first ever B1G game.

As far as I can tell, the Nebraska fanbase seems to like Pelini. He seems like a good fit. I do hear his name mentioned for coaching vacancies, but he's still in Lincoln so I guess that means something. His past assistant coaching stops in the NFL have probably added to the skepticism that he could one day leave to go back. Nebraska is Bo's first head coaching gig.

Notable games in 2012:
9/8 @ UCLA
9/29 vs Wisconsin
10/6 @ Ohio State
10/27 vs Michigan
11/3 @ Michigan State
11/23 @ Iowa

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Pat Fitzgerald - Northwestern

7th Season
2006: 4-8 (2-6)
2007: 6-6 (3-5)
2008: 9-4 (5-3)
2009: 8-5 (5-3)
2010: 7-6 (3-5)
2011: 6-7 (3-5)
Total: 40-36 (21-27)

Please allow me to copy/paste from last year's BTCHS:
I don't really know how to classify Fitzgerald right now. On one hand he's the most perfect-est coach Northwestern could ever have hoped for. He's the prodigal son. He played there during the mid-90's, led Northwestern to maybe one of the most glorious two-year stretches in school history. Became the youngest coach in Div. 1 history. Was selected to the college football hall of fame. If you're a NU fan, you probably love Pat Fitzgerald...and are willing to give him as much time as possible to bake up a championship contender.

And I have no doubt that, if given the time, Fitz can certainly do just that. The question is, how much patience do all twenty-seven Wildcat fans have?
Exactly.

I'm almost at the point where I don't think Pat Fitzgerald can do anything wrong in Evanston. Mainly because the only NU fans that give a damn are willing to give him a lifetime pass because of who he is. But I really do think they know that they'll never get a better coach to come to NU. I think they're just willing to wait until the next dynasty stretch comes along. "Let's not rush it." Pat will get a big win here and there. His teams do play pretty well, all things considered.

A lot of schools like to profess that academics come first, but NU really means it. So football is just a necessary evil. But when you have a great standup coach like Fitz at the helm, it makes the sport more tolerable on campus.

He was once offered Notre Dame and Michigan and turned them both down. So there's that. He's clearly happy at NU.

Last year we said he needed a good year. But he didn't have one. He had an average year, and they went to a bowl (who didn't...amiright?). So you have to ask yourself, does the "hot seat" even exist in Evanston?

Win or lose, or probably somewhere more likely in-between, lives Pat Fitzgerald. And he isn't going anywhere.

Notable games in 2012:
9/1 @ Syracuse
10/20 vs Nebraska
10/27 vs Iowa
11/10 @ Michigan
11/17 @ Michigan State

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Did you miss the Leaders Division Hot Seat post? Well click on through my good man.

B1G Coaches Hot Seat - Leaders Division

2011 was crazy year for coaches in the B1G conference. The Leaders Division especially was rife with coaching issues. So that makes it a perfect place to begin our 5th (!) annual Big Ten Coaches Hot Seat – a staple of this site during the month of May each and every year.

And of course, the scale for your reference:
Totally Safe: Can literally lose every game and still be elected governor
Safe for Now: Can have an off-year and still be okay
Needs a Good Year: Needs to improve from 2011
Needs a Great Year: 2012 could be the end if things don't get better fast
Dead Man Walking: Probably won't make it through 2012

Let's get it on!

Tim Beckman - Illinois


First Season
Career record: 21-16

Finally, the Ron Zook era at Illinois has come to an end. He was fired on Nov 27, 2011 after running the Illini to a 6-6 record (2-6 in-conf) after starting out the season 6-0 against baby seals. Zook compiled a 34-51 record in Champaign in his 7 seasons as head ball coach. Sweet. Have fun paying his contract the next 3 years.

But we're not here to trash Zook anymore. Those days are gone. It's the start of the Tim Beckman era and we here at MBN couldn't be more happy. Beckman hails from Berea, OH. He played college ball at the University of Findlay where he graduated in 1985. Since then he's had coaching stops at Auburn (where he earned his master's in education), Western Carolina from 90-95, Elon from 96-97, defensive coordinator at Bowling Green from 98-04 (for Urban), cornerback's coach at Ohio State from 05-06, DC at Oklahoma State 07-08, and then his first head coaching gig at Toledo for the past 3 seasons.

In his 3 years as head ball coach for the Rockets, he went 21-16, including a tie for first in the MAC West division last year after going 7-1 in conference. He guided the Rockets to the Military Bowl.

Beckman will have plenty of work cut out for him this year. On offense, they do bring back QB Nathan Scheelhaase and 6 other starters. But they need to replace RB Jason Ford and WR AJ Jenkins, both leaders at their positions. The loss of Ford is not as bad because Scheelhaase is their leading rusher, but Jenkins caught 90 passes for 1,276 yards and 8 TDs. Receivers like that are tough to replace.

Defensively, DE Whitney Mercilus, LB Ian Thomas and CB Tavon Wilson will be missed. But CB Terry Hawthorne, DT Akeem Spence and LB Jonathan Brown will help this defense out during the transition.

Overall, I think Illinois is a middle-to-bottom B1G team in 2012. Expectations really can't be that high. And while I really do like the Beckman hire, mainly because I like defensive-minded coaches,  I think it's going to take a few years to really get Illinois back to prominence. But you gotta start somewhere.

Notable Games in 2012:
9/1 vs Western Michigan
9/8 @ Arizona State
10/6 @ Wisconsin
11/3 @ Ohio State

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Kevin Wilson - Indiana


2nd Season
2011: 1-11 (0-8)

Well, for Kevin Wilson and the Hoosiers, there's really nowhere to go but up. Last year could have gone better, but they were close. Their first 4 losses were by a combined 13 points. I think Indiana is moving in the right direction, and I really like Kevin Wilson.

Football coaches at Indiana are kinda screwed out of the gate. Indiana is never going to be a great football school. They may have a decent shot at a 6 or 7-win season here or there, but they'll never compete for a B1G title. Now basketball, that's another story.

But all those things aside, I think Kevin Wilson is a very good coach. If he can improve to maybe 4 or 5 wins this season, a measurable improvement, then he'll prove me right. He will have help in terms of 7 starters back on offense, and 8 on defense. And let's not forget, he has OL coach Greg Frey on staff, Michigan's OL coach under RichRod. Coach Frey is a very good OL coach.

It's going to be an uphill battle for Wilson and Indiana. But given the relatively low expectations that exist in Bloomington, I think his future is safe for the time being. But a 3rd-straight 1-win season is not good for business even if you're a basketball school.

Notable games in 2012:
10/13 vs Ohio State
10/20 @ Navy
11/10 vs Wisconsin
11/17 @ Penn State
11/24 @ Purdue

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Urban Meyer - Ohio State


First Season
Career record: 104-23

The Ohio State football program finds itself in one of the most awkward positions in it's 122 year history. For all the love OSU fans showed Jim Tressel both during his career and after it, now that Urban Meyer is at the helm in Columbus, Buckeye fans are ready to turn the page and forget about all that crap that took place over the last year and a half.

But not so fast my friend.

Urban takes office amid a season where Ohio State has legitimately nothing to play for – Ohio State is not eligible for post-season play in 2012. So, pride, I guess is all there is to play for in Columbus. Essentially, the Michigan game is going to be OSU's bowl this year. And Urban knows full well that putting the Michigan game on it's own level is exactly what you do as the head coach at The Ohio State University (and vice versa).

Expectations, not just for 2012, but overall for Urban Meyer are off the chart already. The moment he took the podium the day he was hired, Buckeye fans started counting how many championships he was going to bring them. And given Urban's track record, who can blame them? He's a great coach. But, if there's one thing Michigan fans can tell you, is that all that glitters ain't always gold (like the spread offense).

Look, I actually like Urban Meyer. I do. But, there's something to be said about hiring the big sexy name. It rarely works out. Why? Expectations. Urban has no time to fail before he can succeed. If he struggles, watch out. OSU fans were critical of Tressel...and he was an amazing coach for them.

One thing I know for sure, is there will be no shortage of drama surrounding Urban or Ohio State. Both are lightening rods for sports columnists and folks looking for smoke. Even in his first 5 months on the job, Urban has been under fire for his alleged recruiting practices. Even if these rumors and reports are unfounded, there's already blood in the water.

Meyer left Florida citing health concerns. He said he needed to spend more time with his family and looking after himself. So he took a job with the mothership as a college football commentator where he was on the road constantly. Then, not even a whole year later, he took a job at maybe one of the most stressful coaching gigs in the nation. Something doesn't add up.

Personally, I think Urban just wanted out of Gainesville. But that's just me.

Notable games in 2012:
9/15 vs Cal
9/29 @ Michigan State
10/6 vs Nebraska
11/17 @ Wisconsin
11/24 vs Michigan

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Bill O'Brien - Penn State


First Season
Career record: 0-0

Wow. Penn State is about as radioactive as a program can be right now. The fallout is still falling out in State College, PA as the Jerry Sandusky saga is far from resolved. To date, Penn State has paid millions to a PR firm in attempts to restore their image/credibility/integrity as a big time college football program. They've attempted to name Beaver Stadium after Paterno in return for his family not suing the school...to which they said no thanks.

All-in-all, there are much bigger problems at Penn State these days besides what's going on on the field. The real kicker here is, Penn State has been rocked to it's core. And then they found out that the core is also corrupt. There's seemingly no good way for this thing to end...whenever that is. And no matter if you cheer for the Nittany Lions or against them, it's obvious that this program is at the start of a very long process where it needs to find it's new identity. Because the one that died last year after being the head coach for 46 years, took everything good along with it.

Bill O'Brien is tasked with doing the impossible. His first head coaching job is a tough one. He's spent the last 5 years in the NFL with the Patriots. Before that he floated around the ACC at GT, Maryland and Duke from 95-06.

No question O'Brien has one of the toughest jobs in the B1G. I can't imagine any way in which he's overly successful this season. But maybe that NFL pedigree will serve him well as he just needs to focus his team on football and the business of getting their minds off of the circus that's going on around the program and school.

Notable games in 2012:
9/8 @ Virginia
10/20 @ Iowa
10/27 vs Ohio State
11/10 @ Nebraska
11/24 vs Wisconsin

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Danny Hope - Purdue


4th Season
2011: 7-6 (4-4)
2010: 4-8 (2-6)
2009: 5-7 (4-4)
Total: 16-21 (10-14 )

If there's one coach in this division that's actually on a hot seat, it's Danny Hope. Hope was hired a year before Joe Tiller retired back in 08. He was hired early so he could take the baton, so-to-speak, and keep the winning tradition at Purdue going. So far, it hasn't quite gone as expected. He's 16-21 in 3 years in West Lafayette. At Michigan, that record will get you shown the door (ask RichRod), but at Purdue, all it will do is turn up the heat a bit.

2011 was Hope's first winning season thanks to a win over Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Expectations for 2012 need to be high considering 9 returning starters on both offense and defense. WR Justin Siller is gone. As are both tackles and the RG. But the bulk of the offense returns. But this isn't the same potent offense we saw back in the Tiller days. Hope's problem is that he's just not the recruiter that his predecessor was. Turns out, Danny Hope is not a very likeable guy.

The real key for Purdue and Hope is that they take care of business out of conference. But the problem is, they'll lose to Notre Dame. And then they start B1G play by hosting Michigan, Wisconsin and then traveling to Ohio State. By the time October ends, they'll be 3-5, at best.

Purdue needs to cut ties with Danny Hope. He's not the guy they need. It's just not working.

Notable games in 2012:
9/8 @ Notre Dame
10/6 vs Michigan
10/13 vs Wisconsin
10/20 @ Ohio State
11/24 vs Indiana

MBN Hotness Meter: Needs a Great Year

Bret Bielema - Wisconsin


7th Season
2011: 11-3 (6-2)
2010: 11-2 (7-1)
2009: 10-3 (5-3)
2008: 7-6 (3-5)
2007: 9-4 (5-3)
2006: 12-1 (7-1)
Total: 60-19 (33-15)

I don't like Bret Bielema.

I don't like his red wind-breakers. I don't like his blank expressions. I don't like that he complains all the time. I don't like his cake-walk non-conference schedules. I don't like that he won the inaugural B1G Championship game. I don't like that he's gone to two Rose Bowls in a row (and lost). I don't like how he embarrassed us by running the same play 87 times in a row back in 2010.

I don't like Bret Bielema.

That is all.

Notable games in 2012:
(Certainly no non-conference games!)
9/29 @ Nebraska
10/27 vs Michigan State
11/17 vs Ohio State
11/24 @ Penn State

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Keep an eye out for the Legends Division post coming at you soon.