Cue the Goosebumps.
Reading the Tea Leaves. Some notes from the typically uninformative Kirk Ferentz Tuesday press conference:
Greg Castillo and Bryan Bulaga are day-to-day. Bulaga is not practicing while recovering from "an illness," but will be ready once he gets the go-ahead from the doctors. Castillo is listed as Amari Spievey's backup this week.
- At halfback, pass protection and fumbles worry him the most, but he acknowledges freshmen can make a contribution at that spot more readily than at some other positions. He mentions Sam Brownlee's ability in pass protection as an example, which hits a little too close to home with Hampton's injury. Wegher and Robinson "have handled what we've asked them to do pretty well" so far.
- Rick Stanzi "needs to come out sharper," though they're not sure what they can do other than help him practice more cleanly. This and other painfully obvious news from the pages of Duh Magazine.
- On Arizona listing 13 starters on their depth chart: "I hope the officials catch that." The man's wit is as dry as unbuttered toast.
- Arizona "looks a little bit like us last year": Inexperienced quarterback, big numbers from a single halfback (Nic Grigsby is leading the country in rushing after putting up 207 yards on Northern Arizona last week), run-heavy attack right now. He twice mentions Rob Gronkowski and his brother, HB Chris Gronkowski, as dangerous players.
- Ferentz clearly pays attention to games from around the country. He made the unprompted observation that the Central Michigan win over MSU and BYU upset of Oklahoma have probably improved the "style points" for Arizona's week one win and last year's Las Vegas Bowl championship. I'm not sure what he's talking about with his comment on a freshman halfback in the Clemson game, though; C.J. Spiller has been there forever.
- The line of the press conference, on this game's impact on the national opinion of the conference: "I guess my thinking has never really been too global, really, ever." Line of the press conference #2, on meeting Mike Stoops at a summer football camp a few years back: "They make us do the Nike -- let me rephrase that -- part of our partnership is we do a couple of clinics a year with Nike." That is the closest you get to Ferentz's opinion on everything but his football team. Namely, he doesn't give a shit, and he finds it annoying that he has to do it.
That Other Sport. Vegas Watch, which might be the most underrated college basketball site on the planet, pens its 2010 Big Ten preview. VW ran a regression analysis based on last year's Kenpom ratings and returning minutes, found a statistically significant indicator, and bases its previews on that analysis. As you can imagine, the prognosis for the Hawkeyes is not good:
I went excessively low here because I just don’t see how a team who a) sucked last year b) didn’t bring in any highly touted recruits c) lost over 50% of their scoring d) bring back less than 2/3 of rebounding from an already pathetic team on the glass (260th defensively, 305th offensively) e) have barely any height and f) are going to run an offense with one player (Gattens) are going to compete for anything besides the last spot in their conference. I’m expecting quite a drop off from last year’s KP of .729.
Ouch. The saddest part is that he's right; there's not much hyperbole in saying we're short, we're inexperienced, and we weren't very good to begin with. Storminspank's "We're going to be better than you think!" series aside, things are not looking up at Carver Hawkeye Arena.
You Forgot to Mention "Angry," "Illiterate," and "Kinda Pervy." Jim Tressel might regret this interview, in which he discusses the email he gets from OSU fans following a game:
"We get lots of e-mails every week, even when we win, so those don't affect you any more than the effect you put on yourself when you're watching the film," Tressel said. "Those people had nothing to do with you deciding to do this or that.
"So, you know, honestly, the thing when I read some of them is, I feel terrible for them because there's no way they're happy. They've got to be some of the most unhappy people in the world, and I feel bad because we just made them less happy. And I hate to be a part of making someone less happy. I mean, they're already miserable and to make them less happy, I'd feel bad."
I'm not sure if it's the best PR policy to give an answer dripping with sarcasm attacking your "miserable" fans after your most recent loss to a top program, but you have to give Sweatervest style points. The tongue-biting criticism of Saturday's coaching decisions (most of which is completely deserved) just prompted the first "I'm Jim Tressel, who the fuck are you?" moment of his tenure in Columbus. Let's hope there are more to come, because mama that's where the fun is.
- Fluff: We really respect Arizona. The offensive line might be back to full strength this week. Wegher and Robinson are running backs.
- The as-of-yet-unnamed Yankee Stadium bowl could be played as early as this season, but without the Big 10: The seventh-place Big XII bowl-eligible team would face #3 or 4 from the Big East.
- If you're inclined to believe Bellanca (and we are), Smart Football discusses Bill Belichick's philosophy on the passing game.
- While Iowa struggles to sell student basketball tickets, Duke graduate students expand the Cameron Crazies into the end zone seats. It's a testament to Duke's unusual emphasis on arena atmosphere, a philosophy lost on just about every other program in the country, and one which could revive Iowa basketball more quickly than anything else.