Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Big Ten Debate Topics

We'll hopefully get something interesting to talk about from the Big Ten meetings that are going on in Chicago this week (as always, check Adam Rittenberg's Big Ten blog on ESPN.com for up to the minute news and notes), but until then, we'll have to invent something interesting to talk about. How bout some good ol' fashioned controversial debate topics? Because what good is the internet if you can't have arguments where you can villify, slander, and call people horrible names you'd never, ever, EVER be able to say to their face without getting your nose broken or your car window broken? Exactly. If Al Gore's interweb has given us anything, he's given us that. So thanks Al.

Ok seriously, I have some opinions about the Gophers, the Big Ten, and things in general as we meander slowly (although let's be honest, the month of May has flown by, has it not? Anyone else surprised it's already May 20? Doesn't it seem like the month just started?) towards the start of college football season. Feel free to discuss these in a civilized, non-internet-bashing manner. You know, like Linda Richman used to say on "Coffee Talk" (you know, back when Mike Myers was funny?)- "the holy roman empire was neither holy, nor roman, nor an empire. Discuss...discuss..."

...actually this is a good place to start: Which former funny comedian is more past his prime? (I refuse to use the phrase "Jump the Shark" anymore. We need a new one)- Mike Myers or Will Ferrell?
No seriously, who? At first glance you'd probably say Myers because his last movies was "The Love Guru" and the last Austin Powers was just not that funny. But did you see the SNL season finale with Will Ferrell?!? WHAT HAPPENED? It sucked! How hard is it to put Ferrell in his old characters and make them funny? Apparently really difficult. The only two good skits were of course Jeopardy, and the Lawrence Welk one (which was only funny because of Kristen Wigg's small hands). Also look at his recent movies- Land of the Lost looks terrible, I refused to see Semi Pro, and Blades of Glory was funny only because of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler (they will have the funniest kids on earth right?). In Ferrell's defense I will say Step Brothers was one of the most awkward and hilarious 90 minutes I've experienced in awhile, and I was one of the few people who really enjoyed him in Stranger Than Fiction. I don't know, for me, Ferrell has entered the "Dave Matthews Stage" for me (I used to be a HUGE DMB fan. Gigantic. Then came the "Everyday" album and I was disappointed. Then came "Stand Up", I listened to it once, threw it away, and haven't been back since. I still love his old stuff, but I'm not buying anymore new material or going to see him in concert until he goes back to the old stuff) where I'm no longer automatically going to see something he does just because it's him.

You know my opinion on this one- I think it will be Gray. He's just too damned good not to. And that's saying something, considering Rittenberg ranked Weber as the 18th best player in the entire conference. And I'm not disagreeing with him- I just think Gray is better. If Weber were a senior, then yes, I could see Gray biding his time on the bench, waiting for his shot next year. But Weber has two more seasons, and there's just no way you sit Gray for two more years when he'll be better than Weber and give you a better chance to win by midseason. Of course, all of this is a guesstimate, as we're not going to know what Weber or Gray looks like until the season starts. But as of right now, this is how I'm voting.

Back when I had a radio show, Jer and I used to play a game called "Would You Rather"? If you didn't like one of the two choices, we'd always give a third option which was "death by killer bees" (although I think when/if we get this game going again for the podcast this fall, the third option will be "sitting through the entire 55-0 Iowa loss again"). If asked this question for Would You Rather, I would definitely chose "Death by Killer Bees".

WHO WILL BE THE BETTER RECEIVER IN 2009: Eric Decker or Arrelious Benn?
Of the two Benn is the better pro prospect, but I think this year he steps up and becomes the better college receiver too. And not jut better than Decker, but better than everyone in the country. That's right, I think Benn is your 2009 Biletnikoff winner for the nation's best receiver. Sure, he was good last year, catching 67 for 1055 yds (an avg of 15.7) and 3 TD's, but with an improved Juice and improved talent around him, he's going to be a beast. And this is not to take anything away from Decker, who last year led the conference with 84 catches for 1074 yards and 7 TD's. I just think/hope/pray Weber and/or Gray will spread the ball around more when they throw. Last year Weber's options were throw to Decker for a completion, or throw to anyone else for an incompletion. For 2009, after what we saw in the spring, we think/hope/pray that one or all of Troy Stoudermire, Brandon Green and Broderick Smith (not to mention incoming JUCO transfer Heyo Carpenter) will step up to give the Gophs some other viable receiving options. So Decker actually having to catch less passes will be better for everyone- just not for his competition against Benn for best wideout.

With the news today that top point guard recruit John Wall has chosen Kentucky it's the Wildcats, and it's not close. Calipari has a history of turning programs around quickly, but with the signing of Wall to go along with four other top recruits plus the return of Patrick Patterson (and probably last year's leading scorer Jodi Meeks) the Wildcats could win a national title in year one. Funny, I don't hear anybody like ESPN.com's Pat Forde sqwaking now about how Calipari isn't the right guy to lead UK back to glory. As for Michigan and Rich Rodriguez, I still think he'll get Michigan turned around and back in the title hunt, but it'll be interesting to see if he's given the time to do it.

WHO WILL BE THE BEST QB IN 2009: Terrelle Pryor, Daryll Clark, or Juice Williams?
In my QB rankings a few weeks ago, I had them ranked 1) Pryor 2) Williams and 3) Clark, but you know what? I think Juice could be the guy this year. He's got BY FAR the best receiving core in the conference to work with, an more experience O-line, some depth at HB, and this will be his third year running the offense. Yep, I'm going to go ahead and say it now: Juice Williams will be better than Terrelle Pryor in 2009.

WHOSE SHOES WILL BE TOUGHER TO FILL: Shonn Greene's or Javon Ringer's?
I'm actually going to say Ringer's, and this is not a slight to the hated Hawkeyes. Yes, Greene rightfully won the Doak Walker as the country's best running back and outrushed Ringer 1850 yards to 1637, accounted for 75% of Iowa's rushing yards, and scored 20 of their 30 rushing TD's. However, he was virtually non-existent in the passing game, catching just 8 balls for 49 yards. Ringer's 1637 yards accounted for a ridiculous 96.7% of Michigan State's rushing yards last year!?!?! Not only that, his 28 catches for 190 yards were fifth best on the team, and believe it or not, the Spartans actually threw for more yards than the Hawkeyes last year! Greene was well deserving of the Doak Walker, but Ringer was more valuable to the Spartans, and he's going to be much tougher to replace. Iowa has former high school all-American Jewel Hampton, and a seasoned QB and O-line to ease the transition from Greene. Michigan State? Good question. They're trying to find a new QB, have no experience at HB (Glenn Winston, who was their top kick returner and one of the few guys with experience at HB, was arrested and suspended from the team indefinitely), an underwhelming group of wideouts, and some holes to fill on the O-line. Mark Dantonio is making great strides with this program, but Ringer's shoes are going to be very, very tough to fill for 2009.

Which Lost character were you hoping would get knocked off in the season finale: Kate or Kate?
I'm going to go with a third option, which would be Kate. A fourth would have been the entire Love Square.

Thus far the general public seems to like Penn State, and you know how much I think of the Illini this year, but as much as it absolutely KILLS me to say it, I really think the Hawkeyes will finish second this year. Yes, Shonn Greene and Mitch King are big losses (especially King), but they've got more than enough talent coming back to offset it. If Stanzi develops as expected behind the conference's best O-lines, I think they upset Penn State in Happy Valley (no small task playing there at night, but that's why it would be an upset), meaning their only loss in conference would come November 14th at Ohio State. I hope I"m wrong, and I hope this acts as a reverse jinx, but I think the dirty Hawkeyes will be the Big Ten's second best team in 2009. You have been warned. WHO HATES IOWA?

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