Did you know that the Big Ten Conference once included the University of Chicago? The Hokie Guru did not know this (and many former administration officials are alumni of this fine institution). In 1895, the original members of the Big Ten Conference included the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin. Indiana University and the State University of Iowa were admitted in 1899. Ohio State joined in 1912. The University of Chicago withdrew in 1946 and Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) was added three years later in 1949. The same membership base was held intact for 40 years. In 1989, Pennsylvania (Penn) State University was added as a conference member. As far as I know (mathematics undergraduate major here), that brings the total number of members to eleven. Using his public administration graduate hat, the Guru realizes that it’s not all about math. The Big Ten wants to retain its historic tradition, hence no change in the conference name to “Big Eleven.” The Big Ten likely makes a lot of money off of its name, too. Anyway, you can find more about the history of the Big Ten here.
1. The Ohio State University – Ohio State was tabbed #1 in the Big Ten Media Poll. The Hokie Guru thinks the Buckeyes have the most complete team in the nation. Chris Wells and James Laurinatis are amazing players. If the Buckeyes can get past the University of Southern California Trojans on September 13, 2008 (on the road), a third Bowl Championship Series game in three years is a very realistic possibility. The Hokie Guru is picking USC to win this game because the Big Ten is a bad, bad conference and the game is in Los Angeles (and the Guru likes Pete Carroll, coach of the Trojans). Hokie Guru Note: Snoop Dog likes the Trojans.
2. Wisconsin – The Hokie Guru reminds you to jump around and jump around!! The Badgers always have incredible depth at the running back position (P.J. Hill is the man). Mark October 4, 2008 on your calendar; the Badgers and Buckeyes meet in Madison in what will be the Big Ten game of the year. But guess what? The Badgers had better not be sleep walking on September 13, 2008 when they play the Fresno State Bulldogs (NCAA College World Series champion). Pat Hill, the head coach at Fresno State, is the most underrated head coach in college football. He will play anyone, anywhere, anytime. The Hokie Guru here thinks that Pat Hill should be the head coach at the University of Virginia.
3. Illinois – Ron Zook performed a masterful turnaround of the Illini football program in 2007 and I expect more of the same this year. Zook cares about his players (for the record, Lou Holtz, it’s not “Ill-in-noise.” The S is silent, Lou). Look at that display of emotion from the Zooker. If I was one of Zook’s players (and I’m serious when I say this), I’d run through a wall for him. The University of Illinois has incredible athletic resources and I expect the Illini to be a force in the Big Ten in upcoming years.
4. Michigan State – I like Mark Dantonio. Poor Mark usually gets the recruits that Michigan or Ohio State put to the side. If you were once a coach in Cincy, however, you are destined for success and that’s how I see Mark. The Spartans will beat the Wolverines this year and that is all that matters to the faithful in East Lansing.
5. Michigan – With apologies to the Dead Schembechlers, I’m sure that the entire State of West Virginia wanted to “Bomb Ann Arbor, Now” so that they could take out Rich Rodriguez. Rich Rod lost Jake Long, Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Adrian Arrington, and Mario Manningham to the National Football League (Rumor has it that Mario actually texted messaged Rich Rid to tell him he was leaving Michigan… don’t you just love technology?). Translation; expect a long year for the Maize and Blue. Hokie Guru Note: This is still the best radio call I have ever heard in my life.
6. Purdue – Joe Tiller retires this year; say hello to the Insight.com Bowl (this is in Arizona… not a bad retirement game).
7. Penn State – Weekend at Bernie’s, I mean, Joe Paterno is still coach at Penn State. Paterno has lost control of this football team and there is ongoing speculation regarding the next coach. They have a lot of players coming back this year (and seriously, the Hokie Guru was actually thinking of putting the Nittany Lions at his #3 spot), but do they have their heads on straight? The Hokie Guru thinks Penn State has lost institutional control of the football program. August 4, 2008 Update: The 7th Team in the Big Ten goes to the Motor City Bowl… say it ain’t so, Joe!!
Honestly, I have no idea where to put Northwestern, Indiana, and Iowa (because I know very little about their programs). If I had a three sided coin, I would likely flip. I think I could shuffle Northwestern, Indiana, and Iowa in any order. So I will save time here for my readers and only give some humorous comments about the three schools.
8. Northwestern –Washington Post senior sports columnists, Michael Wilbon, went to Northwestern. I do know that the Wildcats return many seniors, but let’s get serious… this is Northwestern we are talking about here.
9. Indiana – Bob Knight was the head coach of Hoosier basketball for years. The Hokie Guru knows this does not relate to college football, at all.
10. Iowa – Kevin Costner’s movie, Field of Dreams, was based in Iowa.
11. Minnesota – The Golden Gophers lost to the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Bison last year (the Hokie Guru was at this game because North Dakota is his home state). In fairness, NDSU was the #1 team in the Football Championship Subdivision (the artist formerly known as NCAA Division I-AA). The Bison could beat every team in the Mid-American Conference, including teams like Central Michigan (who the Bison did beat last year) and Miami University (sorry, GovLoop, but this is true). But what does this tell you about the state of Gopher football? It is massively pathetic.
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