Welcome to the first edition of B1G Headlines and Hot Takes. Each week, I’ll be combing through the tea leaves of Big Ten Country, looking for interesting nuggets of information going on outside our little Hawkeye bubble, and then I’ll give my take, because that’s what I do.
The Greatest Fans in College Football, eh?
Well, it depends on how you look at it. The Ohio State blog Eleven Warriors dug into the number of arrests and ejections during Big Ten home games last season. Nebraska led the league in ejections, which in all fairness, includes fans sent to the drunk tank to sober up a bit. Be that as it may, the lack of alcohol service inside Memorial Stadium doesn’t seem to be preventing people from abiding beyond their individual limits.
Of course, you’d probably want to get blackout drunk every Saturday too if Purdue had a more recent conference title than your favorite team did.
How many wins, you say?
A little over a week ago, Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports made his picks for the Big Ten against their projected over/unders for the year. A couple of his picks stood out to me. For one, he had Minnesota winning less than 7.5 games. That struck me as odd, as the Gophers will likely be favored in the first seven games of their season. Their eighth game is at Iowa — and it’s not like they don’t have a shot against the Hawkeyes. Even with trips to Ann Arbor and Evanston toward the end of the year, I think the Gophers can pull off nine wins again.
The other head-scratcher for me was Michigan State. Fornelli had them winning more than five games. This is a team that won three games last season and return pretty much just a center and a running back. But hey, maybe that’s a good thing.
For what it’s worth, he had Iowa winning more than seven games.
Harbaugh is killing it down south
The Detroit News ran a story this week highlighting the success Jim Harbaugh and Michigan are having in terms of pulling top talent out of places like Georgia and Florida. I can’t say I’m shocked, as most of us — love him or hate him — saw the Harbaugh recruiting train coming the moment he was hired. It will be interesting to see if this trend not only continues, and maybe even expands, across the rest of the conference, or if it’s just Harbaugh’s monopoly to own.
James Franklin’s fingers are crossed
Penn State is eagerly awaiting verbal commitments from a couple of top-notch recruits, according to PennLive.com. Defensive end Jayson Oweh was thought to be a lock for the Nittany Lions until he took a couple of trips to Ohio State and Notre Dame. I can make it a pretty simple choice for the kid: you don’t want to live in Columbus and you don’t want to play for Brian Kelly. The thought of either makes my stomach turn.
Franklin and Co. are also courting a 4-star corner from Florida named Jordan Minor. Apparently he’ll be choosing between Penn State, Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee. If the kid cares about competing for a spot in the college football playoff during his collegiate career, Penn State seems like the logical choice.
My guess is that Franklin lands both of them.
Ten year-olds, Dude.
There has been an outbreak of college scholarship offers to pre-pubescent kids recently, and the Big Ten has not been immune to it. Shockingly, it was Lovie Smith of Illinois tossing out the most recent ludicrous offer. Look, I get it. It’s a gimmick and a publicity stunt. It’s just that I can’t get over the fact that Lovie Smith was the one to do it. Lane Kiffin? Sure, I didn’t even bat an eye. But we are talking about a well-respected football coach who has been to the Super Bowl and is currently coaching at a Big Ten institution within a six-hour drive of Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis and Indianapolis. Lovie Smith shouldn’t need gimmicks, and the fact that he felt the need to pull something like this is alarming and perhaps a good indicator of just how dire the situation is in Champaign.