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The B1G Uglies: 3 Offseason Questions
Gary Andersen (UW Badgers)

Posted Feb 25, 2013


Each week Phil Harrison and Bart Doan squabble over three questions and topics on the minds of Big Ten Football fans. It's two writers attempting to change the course of human history--or at least add some clarity to the state of Midwestern football.


The B1G Uglies: 3 Offseason Questions

(i) What do you make of the latest rumors about Big Ten expansion? Are they just rumors, or are teams like North Carolina and Virginia really a reasonable fit for the conference?

Phil H:

It’s hard to tell with all the various names being thrown out. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s usually the teams that you don’t hear about that the wizard behind the curtain (Jim Delany) pulls out of the hat. It wouldn’t be surprising either if all of this chatter was smokescreen for another Cloak and Dagger announcement somewhere along the way.

And while the Tar-Heels would be getting a gorrilla in basketball, they’re likely not heading anywhere without their alter-ego Duke (yes, there are still sacred rivalries that won’t be touched). Virginia seems like an great fit academically, but who know? The reality is that somewhere, somehow, don’t be surprised if the Big Ten adds a couple of more teams before all the hubbub playoff stuff works its way on television sets in 2014.

Good luck breaking the code though...come to think of it, the Hawaii Rainbows would love to join! Oh, and I’d love to make the road trip. Go get ‘em Delany.

Bart D:

More grist for the eventual four team super-conference mill, I believe. The ACC, once the hunter and poacher of the Big East now finds itself the hunted as a new four-team playoff (as I said in this spot last year) is eventually setting up to be a semi-final between the SEC and Big Twelve and then Pac-12 and B1G.

Do they fit? Does it even matter at this point? There are greater things to kvetch about than conference expansion, but there’s a certain sadness in losing rivalries that non-affiliated fans still enjoy, like Nebraska-Colorado and West Virginia-Pitt. I used to plan my time around that Nebraska-Colorado game. Great rivalry, lots of venom. I’m not rearranging things to watch Nebraska-Iowa. But by and large, college football fans aren’t tuning out. Conference poaching isn’t anything new even though we act like it is, it’s just that the new model is sending different shockwaves.

In my opinion though, it’s a misguided premise by the B1G, and long story short, as technology advances to have seen wildly popular models for ala carte music, movies, and television, eventually it will with sports as well, and then expansion-happy teams will look foolish. And a whole new set of conference gutting will ensue.


(ii) So Chicago is putting some serious effort towards landing the Big Ten Championship Game. Should the league consider the Second City?

Bart:

I love it. Chicago clearly has a healthy appetite for B1G sports and is a hub for fans to travel to. That’s evidenced by the B1G basketball championship there this year with all sessions sold out. That’s right, you’ll need a scalper to get in to possibly see Nebraska play Penn State. That’s a lot like having to wait outside a movie theater in tents in hopes of getting tickets to the midnight showing of a Gigli sequel.

And only whiny journalists will moan about the weather. The game wasn’t created to be played on carpets in climate controlled environments. Human desire for comfort has led us to that. Football, especially in a conference that champions itself as old school, should be played in the elements. Detractors will say that weather can cause a better team to not win because of how it can impact a game. And? It’s not like one team gets it at 70 and sunny and the other gets it in 20 and flurries.

Put a coat on. Football was meant to be played in the cold in a bruising, blue collar city like Chicago.

Phil:

While I love the thought of the idea (who doesn’t drool a little thinking of eating deep-dish, some italian beef, and Chicago dogs), I don’t think it’ll ever happen. Bart said it best, and I’ll echo the sentiment that people that stand to make the coin will want to have a championship game played out of the elements and in their comfortability of warm seats. The thought is that warm cheeks in seats mean less of the casual fans will leave because of braving the elements, and more will in turn buy meat products, frothy beverages, and more stuff. Buying more stuff equates to making more money.

And as the saying goes “Show me the....

Still, if there is a traditionalist bone in any of the conference suits’ bodies, playing the game in Chicago in early December makes a lot of sense from a culture and brand standpoint. Isn’t the Chicago skyline as the backdrop in chilly (if not bone-chilling cold) outdoor weather what everyone thinks of when memories of Midwestern football is conjured (insert slow joke here)?
I guess we’ll have to see how it all plays out.


(iii) Who will have a better tenure at their new gigs, Purdue’s Darrell Hazell, or Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen?

Phil:

I gotta go with Gary Andersen on this one simply because there are some built in advantages at Wisconsin over what Purdue has to offer. It’s not like the Boilermakers don’t stand a chance at changing the culture into a more consistent winning one, but the Badgers have had things where they want them for a couple of decades now.

And as we have seen many times in today’s hiring of college coaches at big programs, the first couple of years can make or break--if not end--an era. Gary Andersen already has a lot of food left in the pantry to cook the groceries, and doesn’t have to be the Chef Ramsay of college football and turn things around.

That’s less than what we can say about Purdue. The Boilermakers are going to be a rebuilding project under Hazzell to some extent, and he’s going to have to work really hard to land recruits with the brand name that’s there now. In the end, he might turn Faygo into Coca-Cola, but right now, it’s a longer shot than the Pepsi Co. that Andersen has been put in charge of.

Bart:

Start out by saying both are great hires. It’s like asking me to choose between Harpoon and Boulevarde Single Wide IPAs. But the convictions of sports blogging demand that I do, so I’m going with Darrell Hazell for reasons you won’t hear on ANY other college football site.

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels recently became the president at Purdue, leaving behind a legacy that saw the state go from having budget issues to the midwest’s biggest budgetary surplus. As of last June, the state was $2 billion ahead and Daniels’ policies allowed taxpayers at least a $100 refund with an annual state revenue $500 million more than state expenditures. If nothing else was proven in his tenure, it’s that Daniels knows how to shave money from where it’s not needed and put it into programs that are most financially beneficial.

One would argue that an elite football program would serve that, since most programs at the FBS level are in the red, but the elite ones find themselves in the black. The assistant hires of Hazell seem to identify that Purdue is willing to put money into this program, and though Daniels isn’t the president because he is good at turning around football programs, financial success at the university near the top will have a trickle down effect to places like football, and Purdue should see the benefits of a savvy financial mind taking over.

Hazell can assuredly coach, but it’s no secret that smart people surround themselves with even smarter people to achieve great heights. Purdue sets up to have the loot to do just that. And we all know the bugaboo as to why Bret Bielema reportedly left. Black figures, red figures, they don’t matter. The only color that does is green.


Follow Phil on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN and Bart @Bart_CFN