He looked better in black and gold, but whatevs. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Hey there, BTN. I think we need to have a little chat.
Now don't get me wrong -- I appreciate all you do for my beloved Big Ten conference. I like getting to see all the games without having to shell out for ESPN Gameplan on PPV. Well, except when you take the non-conference hoops games and stick them on BTN.com and charge for streams of sometimes-dubioius quality. Gotta say I'm not really a fan of that too much. But I digress. I increasingly like your broadcasters (snatching Gus Johnson to call hoops was a coup), the halftime shows are steadily improving (I certainly prefer watching Revsine-Dinardo-Griffith to whatever Holtz is blathering about on ESPN), and I'll always have a soft spot for Ro*Tel and Barabsol ads, even if you're big time now and don't show them as much. (What happened to Pancake Man and his floozy of a wife? B1G Nation needs to know!) And, oh yeah, I'm a big fan of the river of cash that flows into the Iowa athletic department coffers thanks to you.
I know it's the dog days of summer and we're all just itching for honest-to-God football to return to our lives, but there's still no excuse for poppycock like this. Making a list of the top-5 running backs of the BTN era and consigning Shonn Greene to the "honorable mention" section? That's just utter foolishness.
Yes, Shonn Greene only spent one year Iron Shiek'ing (NSFW) the defenses of the Big Ten. But what a glorious year it was. 1850 yards. 20 TDs. Guess how many B1G running backs have had a better year than that in the last five years? One: Montee Ball in 2011, when he went berserk for 1923 yards and a stupefying 33 TDs. John Clay didn't have a better year than that. Beanie Wells didn't have a better year than that. Mike Hart didn't have a better year than that. Neither Rashard Mendenhall nor Mikel LeShoure had better years than that. And, sure, you can say they're ranked the way they are because of their "overall careers"... but you've already shot that notion to hell by ranking Mike Hart second on this list. Hart had a tremendous Big Ten career, but if you're only looking at the time period of 2007-2011 (and you are), he only gets to count one year of that career toward this list. And that year he had 1419 yards and 14 TDs -- that's a nice year, but it sure as hell doesn't suggest being ranked second on this list.
It's not like you shouldn't have been aware of Shonn Greene's presence. Thanks to Iowa's low expectations heading into the 2008 season, they spent a lot of time on BTN that year. In fact, I'd so far as to say that nearly all of Greene's signature moments occurred on BTN:
The monstrous 217-yard, 4 TD game where he bitchmade the entire Wisconsin defense? On BTN.
The (slightly less) monstrous 211-yard, 2 TD game against where he made Frank Duong's name into a verb? On BTN.
The Minnesota game where he officially set Iowa's single-season records for yards and touchdowns? On BTN.
Arguably the only "big" Shonn Greene game not on BTN that year was the Penn State thriller and that game is more remembered for the heroics of Daniel Murray, Ricky Stanzi, and the Iowa defense anyway. Shonn Greene was practically the face of BTN programming in 2008. You know, just in case you'd forgotten.
Also, while we're talking about this stuff, that list of the top-5 receivers of the BTN era? Am I really supposed to believe that Eric Decker deserves to be ranked over Marvin McNutt, even though in terms of BTN era-only stats McNutt trumps him in yards (slightly) and touchdowns (significantly) and did so on 45 fewer receptions? C'mon, man. And don't get me started on James Hardy being ranked second on the basis of one insanely good season. Is this a "career recognition" ranking or a "ZOMG awesome season" list? Your rationales confuse me, BTN. Oh, and did the Pravda-like Iowa Sports Information Department get you to omit DJK's name from even the "honorable mention" section? I mean, he "only" had 2616 yards and 17 TDs in the BTN era.
EDIT: I forgot to mention the other annoying thing about the running backs list.
Next five: Mikel Leshoure, Illinois; Shonn Greene, Iowa; Javon Ringer, Michigan State; Roy Helu, Nebraska; Evan Royster, Penn State.
ROY HELU? Wait, let me check the Big Ten rushing charts for 2008, 2009, and 2010 and look up Helu's stats. Hmm... nothing. That can't be right. OH WAIT. That's because he played for Nebraska, who WASN'T EVEN IN THE BIG TEN. Number of games Roy Helu played against Big Ten opponents from 2008 to 2010? ZERO. Number of times Roy Helu played a game on BTN from 2008 to 2010? ZERO.