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Hello Jerry Mailbag: NCAA Sting, Big Ten Power Couples Collide Match & This Is Us

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Kirk Ferentz and Fran McCaffery vs Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio. This Is Us. The college basketball sting and more.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Iowa Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe I’m showing my age here, but mailbags and advice columns were part of the reason I wanted to write as a bright-eyed youth. I would spend more time than I care to disclose trying to make the cut and ever since I’ve dreamed about having my own little corner of the internet to communicate with my (our) readers and engage in the shenanigans we all go through as sports fans and people (sad, I know). So, from this Thursday forward, I give The Pants back to you... the people. Do you have questions, comments, concerns, theories or general stories of debauchery? Send them all! I will feature as many as my editors will allow. You can send them to me via Twitter (@JerryScherwin), add them in as comments to these columns (you should probably put “Hello Jerry” as your header so I know it’s not a question directed to SMA or something), via email (jerome.scherwinjr@gmail.com), the Facebook comments of these posts and any other way I may have forgotten about. Let’s get it on!

I think there is an elephant in the room... let’s just get it over with:

Q: Who are we more upset at, Adidas or the coaches that played middle man? I will never buy anything Adidas again as I put most of the blame on them for financing such a scheme. Your take?

Love you too….

— Chuck Long’s Mom

Hello Jerry: Love you more, Mrs. Long and I’m really glad you asked this question. I’ve been wanting to discuss it but unfortunately I don’t get 280 characters on Twitter and didn’t feel like creating a 27 tweet thread for people not to read.

This whole FBI/NCAA/ADIDAS/College Basketball coach sting has been a crazy story to follow so far. Despite the wire taps and the “google it and you can put two and two together” aspect to the initial report, the most crazy part to me is that this is something that’s been right in front of all of our noses for a long, long time. Something that the greater college basketball community (looking at you NCAA) has just let happen. As someone that was in and around AAU basketball in Illinois from 2001-2007, it’s still shocking to me how Nike bags, balls, shoes, shorts, and jerseys would just pop up out of nowhere and given to us to take home.

This happened throughout my travel ball and high school career.

It was the best. It was also super fishy.

And that was ten years ago! This is something that is happening all over the United States with kids of all ages. And let’s not pretend this is just an ADIDAS thing here either, Chuck. This is an INDUSTRY thing. Nike and Under Armour and ADIDAS are all doing it. They might not have been named, but let’s not kid ourselves here. Why do you think you see 15-year old college recruits getting labeled as an “ADIDAS GUY”?

This is just how these things go (or have gone) in college basketball recruiting and it makes (or made) sense from a business stand point for the brands. Brands create relationships with the best AAU coaches/teams in the country. Those coaches attract the best talent from their pipeline. Those AAU coaches (without nearly enough regulation as most of them become integral parts of these recruits decision making process with their immediate family) push players towards certain programs (as told to them by their friends from the brand). Suddenly, these programs create a bidding war which is backed by their brands and BOOM...$100,000 later you have a potential NBA talent (rocking your brand) that you hope remembers your generosity when he didn’t have anything and stays loyal when he enters the league a year later.

Suddenly, that $100,000 investment turns into millions.

And that says nothing of the head coaches who benefit monetarily off of ALL of this happening.

College basketball recruiting has been a dirty game for a long, long time. Hopefully this scandal changes all of that and creates an even playing field (For once, I agree with Dan Dakich with something). But this shouldn’t stop you from wearing ADIDAS or Nike or Under Armour or from following your favorite college basketball team or supporting the tireless coaches running them who have spent years doing anything possible to land a recruit. After all, they’re just doing what everyone else has already been doing in hopes of eventually landing a head coaching job of their own.

The only entity you should be upset with is the NCAA, their overlords and their satirical rule book who have pretended to be over watchers of amateurism while turning a blind eye to serious problems from brands they are almost assuredly profiting from as well.

Q: How does recruiting work when you don't have big baller cash like Louisville?

—EnergizerHawk

Hello Jerry: I assume the coaching staff sends out hand written letters stating their extreme interest with a button that says “CHICAGO’S BIG TEN TEAM Wants You to HOOP IN THE WINDY CITY!” My grandmother would absolutely commit to them.

Q: How badly does a Kirk/Fran tag team beat an Izzo/Dantonio tag team?

— Boilerhawk

Hello Jerry: Oh baby. I’m imagining this as a Power Couples Collide match like they had at this past Wrestlemania 33 with John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse:

We’re a culture obsessed with power couples: Nick & Terry Saban, John Calipari & Ashley Jud, Daniel Tosh and Lane Kiffin.

So, when Kirk Ferentz & Fran McCaffery square off against Mark Dantonio & Tom Izzo at WrestleMania 34, we will not only be seeing two couples of this variety collide, but also witnessing a knockdown, drag-out, melee with a ton of personal pride on the line for both sides, as they attempt to find out who the Big Ten’s “it” couple truly is.

For years, Dantonio and Izzo have been the most annoying but powerful couple in the Big Ten. Between Dantonio’s smug personality that makes a lonely jabroni eating Hungry Man frozen dinners in front of his television seem chipper and Izzo’s red headed step child sideline antics, they both STILL figured out a way to win at the highest level. However, after Chairs, Chairs and Chairs Champion Fran McCaffery brutally assaulted Izzo in 2015-16 with a lead chair, and Dantonio eliminated Ferentz from the WWE... er... National Championship in 2015, the rules suddenly changed.

In between the smack-talk and these tumultuous physical exchanges, a massive WrestleMania match has been made. Can Ferentz seek revenge for the seven minute open heart surgery he received that cold December night in Indianapolis? Is Tom Izzo tall enough to get a good strike on McCaffery or will he need to steal one of his favorite weapons to do so? We’ll soon find out ATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT WRESTLEEEEEEEEMANIAAAAAAAA!

Q: Which is harder for a team to bounce back from: Last play win, or last play loss? If we had tipped the ball away on the last play against PSU, would we all be thinking we had an easier turnaround for MSU than if we’d lost?

— indyhawk

Hello Jerry: The answer has to be a last play loss. Have you lost before? It effing sucks. I almost came to blows with one of the groomsmen in my wedding over Settlers of Catan. Granted, he was absolutely right because I was trying to get my Sam Hinkie on by tacking on “Resources to be named later” as sweeteners to deals that benefited me NOW, but I digress.

LOSING. BLOWS.

Now take that gut wrenching feeling you get from losing in PIG on the office NERF hoop and multiply that by a hundred, thousand, million. Can you imagine being Amani Hooker, or Josey Jewell or Anthony Nelson or Akrum Wadley or James Daniels after that loss? You defensed 99 plays for almost 600 yards and were in the driver seat with every expectation of winning with 10 seconds on the game clock only to have your heart ripped out after a back foot heave?

That’s way harder to come back from.

We talked about the second part of your question on the latest The Pants Party podcast. I believe that this coaching staff and the players on this team won’t allow this team to sink too low after this one. This loss absolutely stung, but if Kirk Ferentz is anything like I think he is, he probably told his guys something along the line of, “Take tonight and really think about what happened. Be upset tonight. Be mad tonight. Be pissed off tonight. And when you wake up tomorrow harness that pain. Harness that anger. Harness all of that emotion and pour it all into Michigan State!”.

Iowa is winning this sucker on Saturday.

Q: Serious request, Jerry...

Give us a power ranking of the This Is Us triplets, and tell us why they are in that order. This is something you can do weekly, depending on each week’s show.

— Hawktober

Hello Jerry: Seriously... I love you all. I will absolutely be adding this in as my final mailbag question as long as my editors don’t cut it (just know that I tried if it disappears).

Editor’s Note: Of all the things I expect to read on BHGP, this has never been one of them.

In terms of this weeks This Is Us, I want to get a theory off my chest that I think others will at least get on board with and possibly make better. I think that Rebecca and Miguel murder Jack. Now, before you judge me, hear me out. What if Jack finds out that after becoming sober, Rebecca and Miguel been having an affair while he was at his meetings. That’s life changing stuff which probably drives him back to the bottle. After a heated argument where he threatens to divorce her and take the kids far away (remember, the kids are literally her entire life... especially since Jack embarrassed her during her last and final singing gig), Rebecca calls Miguel to pick her up. Instead of staying outside, he busts into the house. Words become blows become murder and in the heat of the moment Miguel and Rebecca cook up the “burn the house down” plan.

It’s not crazy, right? We’re talking about the 80’s. You could burn down a house back then and make it look like an accident... especially if the general community was aware that their was someone battling something like alcoholism and he was “home alone watching the football game”.

Just sayinnnnnnnn, there’s a reason criminals always return to the scene of the crime people!

Now, to the Power Rankings:

  1. Randall: It’s going to take a lot to remove him from a permanent spot at the top of the list. He’s not like the others. He gentle. He’s super smart. He’s a perfectionist. He’s successful in his life and his marriage and he continues to learn things about himself and apply them to his every day life. Every moment we have with Randall is perfect and I love him and Sterling K. Brown so much.

If that doesn’t move you in some kind of way, we need to check you for a pulse.

  1. Kate: She too learned something about herself this week: it’s not all about appearance. She needs some vocal lessons outside of doing karaoke with THA GAWD Toby, but she’s on her way. I wish every now and then she’d take Toby’s side before Toby has to freak out about her not taking his side... but hey, baby steps.
  2. Kevin: Most of the time, Kevin doesn’t do it for me. I feel like he’s got a lot of work to do which is troubling for a near 40-year old actor who is trying to win back his now ex-wife that he cheated on. He didn’t do anything this episode besides get a sushi-dinner full of TRUFF from THA GAWD TOBY and kiss his now ex-wife that he cheated on but is now dating again.

Thank you all for your questions. I’ll be back here next week, same time, same place. If you want to get a jump start on sending in your questions and thoughts, feel free to tweet me @JerryScherwin or use the hashtag #HelloJerry.