Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Musings: The Big Ten Didn’t Look Like “Murderer’s Row”

The second week of bowls has given us a lot to talk/think about this week.

1. Murderer’s Row got murdered. We all know that Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee stuck his foot in his mouth back in November with his comments that playing the Big Ten conference schedule was “like murderer’s row every week.” We just didn’t realize how far his foot went in his mouth. Murderer’s row got murdered New Year’s Day. The Big Ten was 0-5 in bowl games, and many of them were not pretty. Michigan was destroyed 52-14 by Mississippi State. Michigan State was obliterated by Alabama 49-7. Penn State played horrible against a bad Florida team and lost 37-24. Northwestern couldn’t hang with Texas Tech long enough and lost 45-38. Last, but not least, Big Ten Champion Wisconsin lost to none other than … TCU. Five teams—that’s half the conference. So, if the Big Ten is murderer’s row, then what does that make the SEC (three of the five Big Ten opponents were SEC teams)? A mine field? A rainstorm of nuclear bombs?

2. Where’s the backup quarterback? Penn State quarterback Matthew McGloin had a terrible game in the Outback Bowl against Florida. He was just 17 of 41 for 211 yards, with one touchdown and 5 interceptions. At what point do you bring in the back up quarterback? No surprise that it was an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown that put the nail in the coffin.

3. Nothing says New Year’s Day like infomercials. I turned the television to ABC to watch the Rose Bowl and found an infomercial. Later that night, I turned back to ABC to see what was in place of the Fiesta Bowl. More infomercials. What kind of a decision was that to move the biggest bowl games of the day to cable? How do you cost justify running infomercials on a Saturday during prime time? I don’t think they paid anywhere close to the amount advertisers would have paid for commercials during the Rose and Fiesta Bowls. ESPN has commitments to air plenty of snoozer “sporting” events during the year, so why not schedule the World Series of Poker or some fascinating X games while you broadcast the bowls on your sister station ABC.

4. Not like it used to be. Notre Dame and Miami renewed their rivalry in the Sun Bowl. It was 30-3 in the fourth quarter. Not quite the drama that we were used to 20 years ago. At least no fights broke out this time.

5. A plus-one system for the FSC? A plus-one system can’t be agreed upon for the football bowl subdivision of college football, but what about one for the Florida State Championship? With UCF beating a SEC team in its bowl to finish 11-3 and Florida State beating another SEC team in its bowl to finish 10-4, who is the best team in the state of Florida? I would love to see UCF and Florida State play one last game to settle the state championship.

6. The Holiday Bowl really was a holiday. Nebraska took the name of its bowl game a little too literally. Losing 19-7 to the same Washington Huskies that they beat 56-21 earlier this year, in Seattle, the Cornhuskers shouldn’t have even bothered to show up for the game. It’s a good thing that the Holiday Bowl payout is one of the better non-BCS bowl game payouts; otherwise, that would have been a total waste for Nebraska.

7. Upset alert. Five ranked teams lost to unranked or lower ranked teams last week. Ironically, Oklahoma wasn’t one of them. Number 12 Missouri lost to unranked Iowa. North Carolina State took down number 22 West Virginia. Number 20 South Carolina fell to number 23 Florida State. Number 18 Nebraska mailed it in against Washington. The 9th ranked Michigan State Spartans were clobbered by number 16 Alabama. LSU and Nevada better be paying attention.

8. Model of consistency. Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon had his 12th consecutive 100-yard receiving game when he logged 117 yards against Arizona in the Alamo Bowl. That is a new NCAA record for consecutive 100-yard receiving games and for the most receiving yards by a sophomore (sorry, Larry Fitzgerald). Blackmon reached the 100-yard milestone in every game played this year.

9. Time to relieve Rich Rod. I have argued for Michigan to retain Rich Rodriguez for 2011, but now I am switching sides. The 52-14 loss to Mississippi State shows that the players don’t want, and won’t, play for him. Michigan brass made it clear they were waiting for the bowl game to make a final decision. Okay men, time to rise up. One last chance to save your coach’s job. The players made it known how they feel. Don’t forget that Rodriguez doesn’t want to make the coaching changes necessary to improve the defense, either.

10. Loophole Lovers. The NCAA loves loopholes. It became known this week that the real reason that the five suspended Ohio State players were allowed to participate in the upcoming Sugar Bowl is because a loophole in the rules that allows suspended players to play in bowl games because of “the unique opportunity these events provide at the end of a season.” What about redshirted players? Why not let them play as well? This might be the only time in their careers that they make it to a bowl game. As if this loophole wasn’t enough, the NCAA needed to create another one with the Cam Newton situation earlier in the season.

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