2010 Big Ten QB Power Rankings

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It’s Big Ten Media Day! The first of two actually!  You know what that means: football season will soon be here! So let’s talk shop.

By Paul M. Banks

1. Terelle Pryor, Ohio State. No surprise here. You know all about this kid. But seriously, WHY DIDNT THEY BRING HIM TO MEDIA DAY???

2. Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin. Has little to no NFL potential, and he’s about as exciting and flashy as Ben Stein, but he commanded last year’s number one offense, and scoring offense, in the Big Ten. As good as he was last year, he still needs to cut down on big game interceptions.

3. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State. His early season position battle with Keith Nichol seems to have really faciliatated his development. He’s a true dual threat. Trying to stop him this fall will be like hitting on a woman out at a bachelorette party- your outcome will just not be favorable.

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Big Ten Basketball Media Day Musings

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By Paul M. Banks

The Big Ten is light years stronger than it is in football. So the theme of the day was the strength of the conference, most specifically, the talent in the class of 2011. This year’s preseason all-conference team was similar to last year’s postseason all-conference team; all five were sophomores then and juniors now. Imagine how strong the conference will be when those guys are seniors. With the exception of Ohio State’s Evan Turner, who’s a projected lottery pick now, all of them should be back for what could be a magical 2010-2011 season. But from top to bottom, the conference is extremely deep, and 8 of the 11 teams could make the NCAA tournament this year, and 7 qualified last year.Evan-Turner

Also today, the slightly less credible and slightly more biased of the two major polls, the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, was released. If you don’t think it’s more fickle than the AP poll, take a look at who’s playing on an ESPN network in a given week, and look at how much lower they’re ranked in the AP poll. Michigan State, last year’s national runner-up, got ranked #2 with 3 first place votes and Purdue was #7. Michigan #15, Ohio State #17, Minnesota #18 with Illinois just missing the top 25.

Of course, the grand marshal of the Big Ten b-ball media day parade is Tom Izzo, the dean of coaches who’s been at Michigan State for 15 years. He is to this day what Joe Paterno is to football media day. H to the Izzo made a big statement when he took the microphone.

“I’ve been in the league now 26, 27th year as a GA on up. And I definitely thought early it was great when I first got in with all those great coaches, and then maybe we had a little bit of a lull. And then in ’99, 2000, we had two teams in the Final Four and I thought it was really good but I think this is the best it’s been since maybe that date. And because of that, I honestly see nine or 10, eight, nine teams that realistically could win the league. And, yeah, some are better than others right now. When you look at Purdue, Ohio State. I think Michigan is going to be much improved. I think Illinois will be much improved. And Purdue, with everybody back, we won it by four games last year, but understand Robbie Hummel made a lot of that possible.

And he’s back healthy and Matt’s done an incredible job with that program. And you just start looking around. Bo’s teams are always going to be good. Northwestern, I mean, Bill’s — I told him I was going to put pressure on him. This is his year to get there. And I think it is. I really honestly do.”

That’s right, Izzo said Northwestern will make the tournament for the first time in school history! And this was another storyline that was often revisited during the day. Last year, I wrote a story saying NU could make the tournament. I took some criticism on NBC’s site and even got called-out by one of my own writers. The next week, Northwestern beat a ranked team, then beat Izzo’s Spartans at Michigan State. Then every major media outlet covering college basketball did the same story I did two weeks earlier. I never received any validation from my detractors, and unfortunately, the Wildcats faded down the stretch and didn’t make the tourney.

Here’s how Northwestern Head Coach Bill Carmody responded to Izzo’s optimistic prediction.

Q. Tom Izzo just said this is the year for you guys to make the tournament. There’s a lot of that talk. Do you welcome that pressure?

COACH CARMODY: Yeah, I don’t think it’s that much pressure. If you have some good players, which I think we do, we look forward to it. That’s why you’re here. There’s 330 Division I teams and that’s everyone’s goal right now to get in the NCAA. It’s going to be a tough year in the conference. That’s the only thing. I think we have probably one of our better teams coming up. But just looking around from top to bottom that the league is very strong and so it’s going to be difficult. But I don’t see it’s really pressure. I think the guys sort of embrace that.

Look for a lot more on that storyline, as well as plenty of Michigan State and Northwestern coverage this winter.

But getting back to Izzo, he’s the rock star of the one-on-one interviews during the two hour period of media availability. There’s always a line for him, and a crowd listening to what he says. Protocol dictates you wait your turn to get up and talk to him. Unless you’re that old white douchebag with the ugly, creepy hair that used to be a Chicago Tribune columnist, then you just jump in and cut people off- same with some other old douche on the other side of me. Izzo was all class though, he saw what happened.TomIzzoGrandRapids

He made sure the collegiate female reporter, who was there longer than I, got all her questions in, in turn. And when one of the old jackass reporters tried cutting me off, I leaned in to make sure that didn’t happen. Izzo was smart in reading my body language, and patted me on the shoulder when my turn came up. He was most accommodating, and like I said before, all class. Last year’s Big Ten player of the year, and this year’s POY Kalin Lucas, is fortunate to have such a fine coach.

But like forwards battling down low for a rebound, reporters have to aggressively push and shove for position too. All in all, it was a fun and productive morning, even more so than Big Ten football media day.

And I enjoyed it much more than those two afternoons in July because 1.) Unlike in football, practice has already been going on for a couple weeks, so you’re already more in the mood for the event

2.)  You can feel the added national relevance here, and that additional buzz feels nice.

Big Ten Football Power Rankings

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By Paul M. Banks

1. Iowa (6-0, 2-0)

Now won 10 consecutive. The Hawkeyes’ 10-game winning streak is the second-longest active streak among all Football Bowl Subdivision schools behind Tim Tebow’s army of Christian Crusaders. The last time Iowa had a streak like this was when the program won 20 in a row 1920-1923.

2. Ohio State (5-1, 2-1)

I hate their fans as much as I hate the fact that Jim Tressel gets all the credit (and way too much credit) for all that they do. Spike.com aptly summarized why their fans are so annoying:

This is a team whose main cheer consists of spelling their state in repetitive succession. OH-IO…OH-IO… We get it! You passed remedial English and are really excited to show off your basic grasp of the language to the three attractive girls from Ann Arbor who actually visited the Columbus campus over the weekend. Yes, it’s adorable that every one of your alumni is playing a 52-year-long game of “I bet I can annoy everyone I meet today,” but maybe it’s time to get a life and stop idolizing some geek in a sweater vest who just crossed out “get horribly outcoached in two straight BCS Championship games” off his bucket list.

3. Wisconsin (5-1, 2-1)beilema

The Bielema Bowl awaits! as Coach takes on his alma mater, Iowa Saturday. Wisconsin has won at least five of its first six games for the seventh time in the last eight seasons, including a 5-1 start in 2007 and a final mark of 12-1 in 2006, Bret Bielema’s first year as head coach of the Badgers.

4. Penn State (5-1, 1-1)

Did you see the redneck reporter take JoePa to task on his ultra-soft scheduling? We know why their schedule contains more cupcakes than an obese 6 year old’s birthday party. Paterno is trying to further cement his legacy by being the first and only to reach 400 wins, and make certain he finishes ahead of Bobby Bowden, which looks like a done deal given the discontent afoot in Tallahassee.

5. Minnesota (4-2, 2-1)
How do you get out-gained by 120 yards and still win by 15? Because you have a very less than awe-inspiring 7-5 team in the making here, perhaps even less exciting than last year’s 7-5 team that got rolled in their bowl game.

6. Michigan (4-2, 1-2)

Why did Rich Rod sound like a major douche in his postgame press conference? Why was Denard Robinson in there instead of Tate Forcier when the game was on the line? Maybe Rodriguez realized he made a mistake? Or maybe there’s an injury we don’t know about?

7A. Northwestern (4-2, 1-1)
So far QB Mike Kafka pretty much is the entire offense, as the O Line still has not shown up and done anything productive this season. When they couldn’t open up running lanes against Miami of Ohio, one of the worst teams in all of FBS, you could understand why Fitz was so upset. Yet as horrendous as their wins have been this season, the schedule still shapes up to be 7-5 or 6-6. The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is calling!

7B Michigan State (2-3, 1-1)

Beating Illinois proves nothing. I guess the superior of the 7th place logjam will establish themselves Satruday. Behind quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol, MSU ranks first among Big Ten teams in passing offense (280.3 ypg) and passing efficiency (143.37 rating). The Spartans also rank first among league teams in sacks allowed, giving up just one sack per contest

For these schools….basketball practice begins this week!

Of course, the Hoosiers are going to be awful at that sport this year as well.

9. Purdue (1-5, 0-2)

I’m tired of people saying “they’re so much better than their record.” No, you are your record. Period. If they were any good, they would learn not to throw and fumble the ball away. The Boilers are to committing turnovers what Caucasian women aged 18-35 are to watching “Grey’s Anatomy.”

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10. Indiana (3-3, 0-2)

They were absolutely destroyed by Virginia, a team so fierce that they lost to an FCS team, William & Mary in the season opener. In other words, everything I said about how much Indiana actually sucked back when they were 3-0, was proven ultimately right.

11. Illinois (1-4, 0-3)

As an alumnus, I must refrain from commenting on this phantasmagoric train wreck. Well I guess I just did. But in the future I need to stay objective as a journalist.