Our Opinion on the Michigan-Ohio State Thing.
Splitting Ohio State and Michigan into different divisions in order to preserve the possibility of a Big Blue-OSU championship game might be stupid, but it's not completely unwarranted. Further, your incessant bitching about the mere placement of a game only furthers the view the rest of us have of you: Smug, arrogant, entitled (there's also the douchebag stuff, but that has little to do with this). Wisconsin and Iowa have played 85 times, including every year since 1937, in the Big Ten's most competitive rivalry. It's a game that fans from both schools want, and yet it looks virtually certain that the series will be no more; regardless of where Minnesota ends up, they will trump the Iowa-Wisconsin rivalry. Nobody -- well, at least nobody other than uninformed retirees -- is suggesting the annual Ohio State-Michigan game be skipped. Everyone else here is sacrificing to make this a better conference, and there is little doubt that Nebraska does that. We're not asking for blood and urine samples. It's October. Deal with it.
In related news, Kirk Ferentz said yesterday he believed we'd have news on the divisional alignment before football was played. With Thursday games scheduled in the conference, that could well mean we get answers today or tomorrow.
Fun With Depth Charts. The prohibitive depth chart for Eastern Illinois was released late last week, with little fanfare and few surprises:
- Much ado about nothing: No changes in the starting offensive line since the start of camp, with Reiff/Vandervelde/Ferentz/Gettis/Zusevics across the front. Josh Koeppel, who was listed as co-starting center, might have taken a step back with that whole getting run over by a truck thing yesterday, but could still play, per Mas Casa's Twitter feed. Any reports of Gettis' high ankle sprain were apparently greatly exaggerated.
- Two's company: DJK and Colin Sandeman are sharing the top line at one wideout position. It might seem odd that the all-time leading Iowa receiver-to-be isn't holding down the spot on his own, but it's actually better than last year, when he was backing up McNutt and Stross.
- THREAT LEVEL: ORANGE. Paki O'Meara is, as expected, backing up Adam Robinson at tailback.
- She said the theme of this party's the industrial age, and the defensive line came in dressed like a trainwreck: Broderick Binns' suspension has left the coaching staff indecisive on what to do with the defensive front. Christian Ballard is now listed as a starter at both defensive tackle and defensive end; while he's above 300 pounds now, playing one player in two positions could be a detriment to the Hawkeyes and is ill-advised. The most likely scenario is that Ballard, a former defensive end, will line up on the edge on running downs, making way for Mike Daniels (who has apparently had a monster camp), then kick back inside on passing downs to allow Lebron Daniel to take his talents to the quarterback. A 3-4 scheme isn't necessarily out of the question in certain circumstances; Iowa employed it against Iowa State and Arizona last year, and there is a bevy of upperclassmen linebackers to choose from.
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder: No sign of Shaun Prater, who reportedly went in for an MRI on something last week and hasn't been seen since. While it's not surprising that the coaching staff would hold him out of this game if there was even a threat of injury, what is surprising is that sophomore Greg Castillo -- and not junior Jordan Bernsine -- assumes his spot on the depth chart. This is the part where I remind you of the unmitigated disaster that was Greg Castillo against Northern Iowa last year. This is also the part where you wake up in a cold sweat.
The first weekly press conference is set for this afternoon, so we should know more about these and other issues (wherefore art thou, Cody Hundertmark?) after Kirk does his thing. Ferentz goes on the Big Ten teleconference at 11:40, with a live press conference scheduled for 12:30.
Eastern Promises. The Omaha World Herald's Henry Cordes gets inside access to the Nebraska administration and spins it into gold with this definitive piece on the clandestine game of footsie played between NU Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Big Ten commish Jim Delany which led to Nebraska joining the conference, It's unquestionably the most fascinating read to come out of Nebraska's summertime jump to the Big Ten, with plenty of intrigue...
If things didn't break right, the friend said, even a traditional power like Nebraska could find itself on the outside looking in. The friend said things were moving fast. Perlman decided he needed to move quickly, too.
The next day, as he was sitting in the convention's general assembly, he pulled out his BlackBerry and punched out an e-mail to Jim Delany. "Are you around?'' he asked the Big Ten's commissioner.
"Yes. I'm right behind you,'' came the reply five minutes later.
To this day, Perlman, Osborne and Delany won't say where they met on May 25. Perlman will describe it only as "a very remote private location'' far from both Big Ten country and Nebraska. It's a secret, Perlman said, because the Big Ten may use it for future business.
They went to considerable lengths to keep the meeting under wraps. Because Osborne is a well-known figure who tends to attract attention, it was agreed he and the chancellor would fly separately. Perlman was joined by Joel Pedersen, the university's general counsel. Few on any of their staffs knew the reason for their travel. After staying overnight in a city and eating breakfast separately to preserve their low profile, Perlman and Osborne received cell calls summoning them to meet a car outside. They then rode to a rural location about an hour outside the city. They were greeted by Delany, Big Ten Deputy Commissioner Brad Traviolia and the conference's legal counsel.
...and even some romance...
In this case, Delany saw a great cultural fit. It's safe to say that Nebraska's stock had climbed considerably, he said last week. "It clicked on both of our ends,'' he said.
Then while the attorneys went over Nebraska's media contracts, and Osborne and Traviolia discussed more detailed athletic matters, Delany and Perlman went for a walk.
I take the mention of "cultural fit," coming off a discussion of how Nebraska didn't bring a flashy presentation or grandiose plans to the meeting, as a shot against Notre Dame and Texas, who both almost certainly had similar meetings with Delany and -- being Notre Dame and Texas -- probably didn't approach them with the same understated humility. In any case, it's absolutely the best piece penned on the Nebraska move and more than worth your time.
POSTZ N STUFF:
Fluffery: CBS Sports on Adrian Clayborn, Don Doxsie of the Quad City Times on Stanzi and the other quarterbacks, Rivals on Clayborn (#1 defensive end in the nation), ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg on Stanzi. Rittenberg also gets a brief video interview with Ferentz.
That's What It's All About: In preparation for the Hokey Pokey world record attempt scheduled for this Friday at the second-annual Fry Fest, Hlas delivers the story of how the dance made its way into the Iowa locker room all those years ago.
Gameday Atmosphere: After attempting to evict the Magic Bus in favor of a for-profit enterprise that was shot down by the City Council, the new owners of "that house" on Melrose might bring back the Magic Bus after all. This comes after both the Magic Bus and the owners of the replacement operation were denied permits to operate. The irony of this is that, all along, the Magic Bus is exactly what the University and city should be promoting: A confined area with security staff checking ID's and watching for problems. You're not going to take the drinking culture out of pregame festivities -- permitting it is too lucrative to both the University and the region -- so let the responsible operators operate.
Good News for People Who Like Bad News: Kyle Calloway was cut by the Bills.