The NCAA, in one of its rare moments of lucidity and competence, recently voted to approve unlimited meals and snacks to student-athletes, ending the maddeningly stupid reality of a bagel being a "snack," but a bagel with cream cheese being a "meal." Of course, the NCAA being the NCAA, there are still several details that need to be ironed out before our student-athletes are consuming all the bagels (with cream cheese) that they want, without fear of NCAA repercussions.
But Scott Dochterman raised a new concern in a recent article: food as the newest recruiting battlefield.
Food also could have recruiting implications. One school could offer more food, better food or specific food, such as Maryland with crabcakes, Iowa with pork or Wisconsin with cheddar curds.
"As much as you want," Alvarez joked.
DUNH DUNH DUNH.
Which got us thinking: what would local/regional foods would be key weapons for each Big Ten school in the ongoing war that is recruiting?
ILLINOIS: Are gas-station hot dogs the prize cuisine of Chambana? I'm uncertain, but that's not going to stop Tim Beckman & Co. from using them to entice recruits.
INDIANA: A pork tenderloin sandwich -- it is one of the signature dishes of the state, after all.
IOWA: Iowa chops, Iowa chops, Iowa chops. All other answers are invalid.
MARYLAND: Duh, crab cakes. Let's not overthink this exercise.
MICHIGAN: The Kellogg's company sprang from Ann Arbor's loins, so... A true Michigan Man eats only All-Bran, but for 'crootin purposes, they know the kids go cuckoo for Coco Puffs.
MICHIGAN STATE: All-you-can-drink Faygo will lure the right sort of Dantonio recruit to East Lansing.
MINNESOTA: If Minnesota was smart, they could try and leverage the Jucy Lucy, a point of culinary pride in the Twin Cities. But because they're Minnesota, they'll probably try something like tater tot "hotdish." (Which will be met with blank stares by recruits outside of the state's borders.)
NEBRASKA: Come for the all-you-can-eat-Runza, stay for the crippling diarrhea.
NORTHWESTERN: It would have to be a uniquely Chicago-style food for "Chicago's Big Ten Team," right? Let's go with Chicago-style pizza, their casserole masquerading as pizza that demands to be eaten with a knife and fork. After all, a true Northwestern man would never eat with his fingers.
OHIO STATE: White Castle is based in Columbus. What's more B1G than all-you-can-eat sliders?
PENN STATE: Penn State could probably try and leverage cheese steaks, but given their tendency to march to the tune of a different drummer in State College, they'll probably try to use scrapple instead. (And James Franklin will sell the hell out of that scrapple and still get a top-5 recruiting class.)
PURDUE: To leverage their status as Astronaut U, you just know Purdue will be luring recruits with all the Tang they can drink.
RUTGERS: Rutgers brought the Big Apple to the Big Ten, so it stands to reason that they'll bring NYC's cuisine to recruits: New York-style pizza that folds over easily, just like the Rutgers defense.
WISCONSIN: Cheese curds, of course. (BONUS: Also the key ingredient in building gigantic offensive linemen and burly bowling ball-style running backs.)
Tell us what we got right (or desperately wrong) in the comments.