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B1G Ten Tour - Offseason News and Notes


Posted Jun 12, 2013


During the college football offseason, Phil Harrison brings you notes, news and opinion from the Big Ten Conference. It’s the B1G Ten Tour.


By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN

Gordon Gee -- He Gawn:

Last week, we touched on the tongue-in-bow-tie comments that E Gordon Gee made at a university function last December. At the time, many felt is was just another case of the OSU president speaking without a filter and we’d go about our daily grinds.

But no, apparently the “remediation plan” that Gee had been put on by other OSU brass included retirement. So, here we sit now looking at the end of an era as Gee (or somebody) has now decided that retirement was the best option on the table after one too many proverbial feet being rammed into the mouth.

Say what you will about the Orville Redenbacher look-alike, but he was fun to cover. There’s not too many college presidents on the tips of casual college football fans’ tongues, but Gee fits that bill because of his penchant to get into PR trouble. To say that he will be missed by the media most notably would be an understatement.

The 2015 Big Ten Football Schedule Released:

The schedule makers have been busy in the heartland. After releasing the 2014 football conference schedule, the group responsible for filling the conference matchups for the teams in the Big Ten made congress look bad by getting after it for the 2015 schedule. In fact, maybe we should get this group on the committee to balance the budget for this great nation of ours.

If case you haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, here is the complete schedule: Of course a lot could change in two years, but based on where things are currently and what we’ve seen in history, here are some thoughts and observations:

- On the surface, Ohio State has a 2015 schedule that looks to be easier to navigate if the landscape stays the way it is. For all the talk about the East division being tougher, you’d never know it by gazing down what Urban Meyer must face. Two of the projected “tougher” contests are at home with Michigan State and Penn State, while road trips to Indiana, Rutgers, and Illinois aren’t exactly like slathering your finger in honey and jamming it into hornets’ nest. Other teams that come to the banks of the Olentangy include Maryland and Minnesota, so you’d bet the farm on the game of the year being the same old shiny nickel in the corner -- OSU at Michigan -- to close the chapter on a potentially easier read than most campaigns.

- It never hurts to get a jump on early planning. To that end, please note that the double bye/open dates will cease in for 2015 because of the way the calendar falls. Feel free to pencil in those weddings, root canals, and ah-hem -- vasectomies over the next couple of seasons when there are more available dates to play around with.

- Sorry Rutgers and Maryland, you’re still stuck with a convergence of several vortexes of evil when it comes to the scheduling. It could be argued with little resistance that these two new residents on the block have the toughest schedules of any of the conference teams through 2015. Go get ‘em... and then enjoy the extra money for being in the league.

- Jim Delany has stated that many of the historically tougher teams will face off against each other when the conference goes to nine games in 2016 to give the fans what they want, but that’s certainly not the case in 2015 with an eight-game conference slate. Of the five most historically significant programs of Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Nebraska and Wisconsin, none play each other in a cross-division game in 2015. That can’t be coincidence. Could it be that the conference is trying to do its best set up one of those teams with a big year? In case you forgot, the conference is looking for new media partnerships in 2016 after the season ends. Yeah, well played I suppose.

- On that note -- and maybe we’re reading too much into this -- but the schedule seems to be intentionally set up for the best chance possible for either Ohio State or Michigan to run the table in the East, or Nebraska or Wisconsin to do the same in the West. And then 2016 begins...

- Biggest loser of the 2015 schedule? Maryland.

- Biggest winner? Nebraska. The aforementioned Ohio State is a close second.

Planting the Flag on the East Coast:

Ever since the whole expansion animal grew hair, one of the goals originally hatched was for the Big Ten to expand into new media markets, and not just any media markets but ones that meant something. And then Nebraska happened.

Getting the Cornhuskers in the Big Ten family was certainly a great move with competitive and historical panache, but it wasn’t the prettiest girl in the room. What the Big Ten really wanted was huge media markets like the Big Apple.

Check.

With Rutgers (not to discount the Terps media presence) now in the fold, we are now starting to see the business plan unfold as last week the Big Ten announced an eight-year agreement with the Yankees’ operated Pinstripe Bowl beginning in 2014. This was a footnote in some corners of the world but get ready for some Big Ten branding now coming to the city that never sleeps.

It’s a win-win for both the Big Ten and the Yankees organization, but most notably for the media footprint that the conference is trying to build. The media capital of the world will now get a chance to see Big Ten teams in the area, and there is even signage that will be dedicated to the Big Ten in Yankee Stadium. Yes, the positioning for new media deals and expansion of money flowing into the already richest conference is in place.

One has to wonder if bringing the Big Ten Basketball Tournament to Madison Square Garden isn’t far behind.

Wisconsin’s Danny O’Brien -- He Gawn II:

You had to see this coming. A new coaching staff in combination with getting buried in the Wisconsin quarterback playing deck has resulted in the much-maligned ACC to Wisconsin quarterback highway being torn up and littered with orange barrels.

Earlier this week the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal confirmed the news that former Wisconsin QB Danny O’Brien is leaving Madison. O’Brien was the freshman of the year in the ACC in 2010, but he was unable to get the offense humming as a transfer in 2012 similar to what Russell Wilson did in 2011. While it might be a little unfair to compare the two quarterbacks, changes had to be made, and it was clear that O’Brien was no longer the answer when the offense got its mojo back once Joel Stave entered the fray in the second-half against Utah State and helped engineer a comeback win under center. He is expected to be fourth or fifth on the depth chart this year.

Hang with ‘em kid.


Phil is the lead Big Ten columnist for CFN. Follow him @PhilHarrisonCFN

Comment by sending Phil an E-mail.


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