As Rittenberg notes in his blog, college football guru Phil Steele has released his 2010 preseason All-Big Ten teams. Just in case you don't know, Steele publishes a college football preview magazine every year that is full of more stats and information than my belly was the one and only time I was able to eat two Chipotle burritos in one sitting. Seriously. It's just a staggering amount of information. I bought last year's Big Ten preview and will be snatching it off a newstand (ok, honestly, who buys from a newstand? I just like the word, but I'll be buying mine from B&N or Borders or somewhere like that) when it comes out June 8th.
In anticipation of this monumental college football day, Steele releases his all-conference teams. And not just a first or second team like some lazy writers- oh no, Phil releases first through fourth team. He knows who the backup kicker for Idaho State is let alone who the starting quarterback for your Minnesota Golden Gophers, so the man's word is trusted all over the college football world.
Which, for your aforemention Maroon and Gold, might not be such a good thing. The reason?
Well let's just say you could probably find more answers on last night's Lost finale than Gophers on Steele's four team. There's no Gophs on his first team All-Big Ten. Or his second team. Or his third. There ARE three Gophs on his fourth team however: G Matt Carufel (no really), S Kim Royston (assuming his injury heals for the start of the season), and KR/PR Troy Stoudermire.
And that's it.
But at least there were other teams with as few players as Minnesota had right? Well, do you know how many other Big Ten teams had three or less players named on Mr. Steele's four preseason All-Big Ten teams?
Um, zero. That's right, even Indiana had more guys than us with four, including one 1st team member (the dirty, hated Hawkeyes led everyone with 19 selections. Wisconsin had 16. Can't wait for those trophy games!).
So in a season where Tim Brewster will be coaching for his job he has, in the esteemed personal opinion of one Mr. Phil Steele, not a single first, second, or third team All-Big Ten player. Not one. And I don't think Steele is going to be the only college football pundit who believes this. As a matter of fact, I'm betting you'll see nary a Gopher named preseason 1st or 2nd team in any national website, magazine, or TV show in the country.
Now are these predictions a 100% accurate measuer of who's going to be good? Of course not. Guys come from way off the radar every year, like Iowa's Adrian Clayborn last year or Minnesota's very own Willie VanDeSteeg in 2008. It can happen. But it's one thing to have a first or second team selection and a half dozen guys sprinkled across the four teams, where you know you're going to have some solid players and then hope that some others step up. It's quite another for Coach Brew to have zero guys that a really smart, well-versed college football guy believes are worthy of being pre-season first, second, or third team.
What it means is that to keep his job and get more than the six wins he achieved last year, Brewster is going to have to do not only the best coaching job of his time at Minnesota, but perhaps the best of his life in what looks to be the toughest Big Ten conference in years. And if Phil Steele is right, the Gophers will begin 2010 looking up at everybody else.
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