Monthly Archives: July 2010

If I were a Big Ten Title Game, where would I go?

    

     A lot of talk is being made about the upcoming Big Ten meetings that will take place next week, but the majority circle around how the schools will align. Who gets to play Nebraska every year? Will Michigan and Ohio State be in the same division? But one big topic that is going to have to be discussed is where the Big Ten champ will be crowned in December 2011. Should the game be played in the elements or are the days of cold weather, smash mouth football not good enough for a game of such implications? There are a list of candidates, one that will ultimately be the proud home of the biggest game in the Midwest. Here’s a list of options that would surely have Lebron James pondering.

Lucas Oil Stadium

Opened: 2008

Max Capacity: 70,000

Boxes: 137 luxury suites

Pro: many hotels nearby, the best the NFL has to offer (minus Jerry World), makes since geographically, no Big Ten weather

Con: hometown fans will be few (see basketball Big Ten Tourney once IU and Purdue lose), The Shoe, Beaver Stadium, and the Big House dwarf it in seating capacity, feeling like a pansy for playing indoors

Soldier Field

Opened: 2003

Max Capacity: 61,500

Boxes: over 100 luxury suites

Pro: home of the Big Ten Headquarters, media heaven, geography, Big Ten weather, Chicago pizza

Con: high school stadium compared to the Big Three (Beaver, Shoe, Big House), average temp on December 3rd: high 36, low 26

Lambeau Field

Opened: 1957

Max Capacity: 72,928

Boxes: 155 luxury suites

Pro: seats more than Soldier Field and Lucas Oil, tradition (despite lack of Big Ten connection), cheese-heads, snowballs

Con: close to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, and that’s it, lack of hotel accommodations, frost bite

Ford Field

Opened: 2002

Max Capacity: 70,000

Boxes: 132 luxury suites

Pro: experience hosting major sporting events (Super Bowl, Final Four), convenient location for historic conference powerhouses (Michigan, OSU, PSU), an easy way for Big Blue to pack the place to support Michigan

Con: not everyone’s favorite city to visit, the Lions curse, the disappointment of Michigan fans when they don’t even sniff the Championship Game.

Big Ten Stadiums

Pro: real college atmosphere, Big Ten weather, students

Con: home field advantage, lack of hotel and suite accommodations, the chance the game is played at Ryan Field

My Take

     I really don’t see why the game can’t be rotated each year. Take out Lambeau, which doesn’t make a whole lot of since from an economic and geographic standpoint, and get rid of the chance that a team plays the game on their home field, and things should work out great. I personally would love to see the game played outdoors at Soldier field at least once, but that’s just my feeling. I know there are many who can’t stand the bad weather, but it has been and always will be a blue print of Big Ten football. Some say it’s stupid to play the title game below freezing when bowl games are played in sun kissed stadiums with Katie Perry singing California Gurls, but are we really that soft? All you have to do is look at the NFL, games are played outdoors all the way through January.

     Lucas Oil also makes a great deal of since. Indianapolis has done a great job hosting the basketball tourney the past few years and would host a great venue in their brand new digs. Ford Field successfully hosted a Super Bowl and look on the bright side, maybe Detroit fans would enjoy a good brand of football. I’m not sure how things are going to turn out, but let’s hope Dan Gilbert doesn’t get too mad when Commissioner Delaney doesn’t pick Cleveland.

-Derek Piper

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SEC Media Day! Screw it, I’ll give you something to talk about.

     Ahh… SEC Media Day. Everyone’s favorite time to talk football with everyone’s favorite conference. But how could you not love die-hard fans, hard-nosed defenses, and Big Ten fans favorite cliche, extreme team speed? While football fanatics “up north” may not want to hear it, the SEC is the class of college football today (Key word: TODAY). What else would you expect out of a conference that has produced the last four BCS National Champs? Okay… enough love for the SEC, what are we going to get out of the three day extravaganza that begins today? Other than a projected 900 media members, we should see what we usually see. Coaches talking about everything from team improvement to offseason discipline problems (see Tennessee players and former Georgia AD) to the ever popular player-agent relationship that is all the rage in collegiate athletics right now (see Florida, South Carolina, Alabama).

     All interesting topics of discussion, but nothing will compare to last year. Oh no, we will all remember where we were when Tim Tebow was not an unanimous first team selection and who was the man guilty? None other than the Ol’ Ball Coach. Can you say drama? Man, is the SEC great or what? You couldn’t find big time stuff like that in the slow, has-been conference that is the Big Ten right?

      Alright, I’m kidding. I’m a Big Ten guy and no one hates hearing about how much better the SEC is than me. So on that note, in the midst of SEC Media Day that kicks off today, allow me to propose the end of all debate (not really, but let’s just say so) about which conference is better. How do you do that? In basketball we have the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, which I’m proud to say the Big Ten won last year, so why not recreate the magic in football. Here’s the basics: 2010, Big Ten vs. SEC, 12 on 12, first three weeks of the college football season, each conference gets 6 home games, matchups based on conference record, let’s play ball. I know, it will probably never happen, but why not see what it would look like?

Matchups

Alabama at Ohio St (Week 3, ABC 8 PM ET)

Nebraska at Florida (Week 2, CBS 3:30 PM ET)

LSU at Iowa (Week 1, ABC 8 PM ET)

Penn St at Georgia (Week 3, CBS 3:30 PM ET)

Mississippi at Wisconsin (Week 1, ABC 3:30 PM ET)

Northwestern at Tennessee (Week 2, CBS 12 PM ET)

Arkansas at Michigan St (Week 2, BTN 12 PM ET)

Purdue at Auburn (Week 1, CBS 12 PM ET)

South Carolina at Minnesota (Week 3, BTN 7PM ET)

Illinois at Kentucky (Week 2, ESPNU 7PM ET)

Mississippi St at Michigan (Week 1, BTN 7PM ET)

Indiana at Vanderbilt (Week 3, PBS, right after Sesame Street)

     Tell me this wouldn’t set up for some great non-conference football. If expansion has shown us anything, it’s that money plays a huge role in what happens in the sporting world, and this would undoubtedly put money in the pockets of both conferences. Heck, Norte Dame might want to join the Big Ten just to get in on it. Or not, let’s just let the Golden Domers continue their support of the US Military by losing to them (Navy, Army, Air Force). With Notre Dame or without them, I’m game for this slate of matchups regardless whether the golden, “fast as lightening” conference from the south wins or the old, slow, horse and buggy gang of the Midwest comes out on top.  

-Derek Piper

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Under the Helmet: Tavon Wilson

Tavon Wilson will try his best to keep opponents out of the endzone this season

http://www.fightingillini.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/071610aaa.html

     Not much is making news these days in relation to Illinois football, as you may have noticed, it’s all a wait and see game at this point. Camp Rantoul is about three weeks away and the players, and fans alike, have nothing to do but wait for next season and hang out with their girl friends, or at least that’s what Illini DB Tavon Wilson has done with his free time. Above is a link to an “Under the Helmet” interview with Wilson from fightingillini.com.

     Wilson will play a key role on the 2010 defense that wants to be, and needs to be, better than the enemic 2009 version. Last year’s defensive unit struggled mightily, giving up an average of 30.2 points per game and was among the nation’s worst in creating turnovers. Despite last year’s mishaps, Tavon Wilson was a bright spot on the young and quite inexperienced D last fall. Wilson, who will be a junior this season, recorded 74 tackles (third on the team) and led the team in pass deflections in ’09. Wilson will play a key role in turning things around in Champaign in the coming months, as he and Terry Hawthorne look to be a little more stingy in the passing game next season. 

-Derek Piper

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NCAA Football 2011 Release

    

     As you may know, don’t know, or if you are part of Feel Da Paign, have to know, that tonight is the night of extreme joy, tiredness, and celebration of NCAA Football 2011. Tonight at midnight, Southey and I will be waiting in the Best Buy parking lot, as we have been the past few years, to acquire the game we love. Do we love this game a little too much? Probably, but I wouldn’t trade the night of NCAA Football 11 for almost anything. Last year was a great night. Who doesn’t like some intense competition while fighting against other football fanatics who believe they can  game a little bit better than you? Southey and I thrive in the fight for pride,  that is until the Five Hour Energy wears off around 4:30 in the morning. Last year was no different. After winning our first seven games online and shooting up the ranks to number 28 in the world, we lost to LSU just as the sun was beginning to come up. But not this year.

     Okay, so now you have an idea of just how obsessed we are at Feel Da Paign, let’s do some actual analysis. I’m going to give you my ratings for each Big Ten team and break down a key player on each team. Let me say that this is not an easy job, but I thought it would be fun to give it a shot.

Key: all ratings are based on a 1-99 scale, teams recieve ratings by letter grade

 OVR= overall rating

SPD= speed

STR= strength

AWR= awareness

TAK= takling

PUR= pursuit to the ball

THP= throwing power

THA= throwing accuracy

BTK= broken tackle ability

CAR= ball carrying

PMV= power move

FMV= finess move

BSH= block shedding

ELU= elusiveness

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MLB Mid-Season Awards

    

     Believe it or not, but the All-Star break is here and more than half of the Major League Baseball season is over. Southey and I decided that we would give you our best/worst baseball had to offer in the first two and a half months.

NL MVP (Derek):   Joey Votto, 1B Cincinnati Reds, .314, 22 HR’s, 60 RBI’s

NL MVP (Southey): Albert Pujols, 1B St. Louis Cardinals, .308, 21 HR’s, 64 RBI’s

AL MVP (D): Miguel Cabrera, 1B Detroit Tigers, .346, 22 HR’s, 77 RBI’s

AL MVP (S): Valdimir Guerrero, DH Texas Rangers, .323, 20 HR’s, 75 RBI’s

NL Cy Young (both): Ubaldo Jimenez, SP Colorado Rockies, 15-1, 2.20 ERA, 113 K’s

AL Cy Young (both): David Price, SP Tampa Bay Rays, 12-4, 2.42 ERA, 100 K’s

NL Rookie of the Year (D): Buster Posey, C San Francisco Giants, .350, 7 HR’s, 25 RBI’s

NL Rookie of the Year (S): Ike Davis, 1B New York Mets, .258, 11 HR’s, 40 RBI’s

AL Rookie of the Year (both): Brennan Boesh, DH Detroit Tigers, .342, 12 HR’s, 49 RBI’s

NL Manager of the Year (D): Dusty Baker, Reds Manager,  49-41 1st in NL Central

I don't think Bud will agrue with Southey's choice

NL Manager of the Year (S): Bud Black, Padres Manager, 51-37 1st in NL West

AL Manager of the Year (D): Ron Washington, Rangers Manager, 50-38 1st in AL West

AL Manager of the Year (S): Cito Gaston, Blue Jays Manager, 44-45 4th in AL East

Biggest Disappointment NL (D): Carlos  Zambrano, SP/RP Chicago Cubs, 3-6, 5.66 ERA, 53 K’s in 9 starts

Biggest Disappointment NL (S): Jason Marquis, SP Washington Nationals, 0-3, 20.52 ERA, hurt since April

Biggest Disappointment AL (D): Ken Griffey Jr., DH Seattle Mariners/retired, .184, 0 HR’s, 7 RBI’s, retired

Biggest Disappointment AL (S): B.J. Upton, CF Tampa Bay Rays, .230, 7 HR’s, 31 RBI’s

NL Surprise Player (D): Scott Rolen, 3B Cincinnati Reds, .290, 17 HR’s, 57 RBI’s

NL Surprise Player (S): Carlos Gonzalez, LF Colorado Rockies, .314, 17 HR’s, 60 RBI’s

AL Surprise Player (both): Jose Bautista, RF Toronto Blue Jays, .237, 24 HR’s, 56 RBI’s

Best Individual Performance NL (D): Stephen Strasburg debut vs. Pirates, 7 innings, 14 K’s, 0 BB’s, W

Best Individual Performance NL (S): Edwin Jackson no-hitter vs. Rays, 149 pitches

Best Individual Performance AL (D): Dallas Braden perfect game vs. Rays

Best Individual Performance AL (S): Armando Galarraga pitching and handling situation with Jim Joyce after losing perfect game

It has been a great first half. Don’t agree with our choices? Tell us who you have.

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Vote for Votto

     

     You don’t have to be a Reds fan to know that Joey Votto is a beast, or maybe you do. That was on display when the power-hitting first baseman was snubbed from the All-Star roster by the fans last Sunday. Other notable players let off the roster included: Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Zimmerman, Paul Konerko, but Votto appears to be the main victim. Seriously, how can a player sporting a .316 average (5th NL), 21 dingers (1st NL), and 59 RBI’s (5th NL) not feel like they were robbed?

      Here’s why the first baseman in Cincy deserves to spend next week in Anaheim. First of all, the Cincinnati Reds are sitting atop the NL Central with a record of 47-38 and it’s not because the Ken Griffey Jr. trade finally panned out or Pete Rose and Johnny Bench decided that they would show Brett Favre what a real comeback looks like. Good pitching from a young rotation and a great lineup lead by Joey Votto has been the ingredients for success for the Reds this season.

     If that’s not good enough for you, then explain why one of the hottest hitters in baseball doesn’t deserve at least one at-bat next Tuesday. Behind Josh Hamilton in the American League, no batter has been a bigger nightmare for pitchers than Joey Votto. Just how hot has he been? One scout was quoted as saying he would rather pitch to Albert Pujols than Joey Votto right now.

     “Put it this way: If he and Pujols were in the same lineup, I’d pitch around Votto to get to Pujols. I wouldn’t do that the rest of the season, but right now, that’s how good Votto is going.” If that’s not the sign of an All-Star, I don’t know what an All-Star would look like.

     This is what bugs me the most about professional sports today. If All-Star games mean so much, which they sure do in the MLB, then why are the rosters put together by the fans? Does it give the fans a way to get into the game? Yes, but why is something so valuable, home-field in the World Series, not left up to the professionals? Either the All-Star game needs to be just “for fun” or player personnel needs to be left up to, oh I don’t know, player personnel people? Just look at the NBA. Should Tracy McGrady have made the All-Star team just because his teammate is China’s one contribution to basketball? No, but that All-Star doesn’t have nearly the implications that the MLB game sports.

     Baseball, I understand you want to get the fans involved but there are reasons why fans are fans, managers are managers, and players are players. You want to get the fans really involved? Then why not have a sweepstakes for a chance to win a pinch hit appearance in the upcoming World Series? Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. Look, home-field advantage plays a role in who wins the World Series, The WORLD SERIES!!!, and the fans are picking the rosters that determine who plays where in October. It just doesn’t make since, it never will.    

     Votto hasn’t made any complaints, but Reds players were showing off “Vote for Votto” shirts before their game tonight against the Mets. Votto posed his case Monday, blasting two HR’s in a Reds victory. Luckily for the potential NL MVP and his teammates, there is still time to vote for Mr. Votto. One roster spot is left on both All-Star rosters for the “Final Vote”, to determine who the last player added will be. Votto currently leads that contest that concludes tomorrow and more than likely will make the team. Whether you’re a Cubs, Cardinals, or whatever fan you may be, go vote for Votto. Maybe we’ll get the chance to see Votto bat in front of Pujols with the game on the line. Would you walk Votto, the hottest hitter in the NL, to get to the best player in the game? You tell me.

-Derek Piper

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Illini Football Update

     The players are on their own, no organized practices are taking place (unless you’re Michigan), but don’t let that fool you, there is plenty to talk about in regards to Illinois football. Sitting just over a month away from Camp Rantoul, there may not be much on the field that is making news, but football ceases to stop here in Big Ten Country. A lot has been going on during the past week, Ron Zook has continued to try and boost a 2011 recruiting class that doesn’t have the sparkle of years past. Eddie McGee talked about his new role on this team and how he likes what he sees out of the young Scheelhaase. In addition to that, Ron Guenther spoke about Big Ten realignment and a newly proposed way of splitting up schools into equal divisions.

Recruiting

     As if we needed another young quarterback coming to “the 217”, two-star QB Reilly O’Toole gave his verbal to Illinois. O’Toole has not gotten the hype that QB’s Nathan Scheelhaase and Chandler Whitmer recieved during their high school  days, but many see O’Toole as a nice fit at Illinois. O’Toole thinks so as well. “The offense they run really fits what my high school team runs, so I think I’ll be able to pick up the offense really quickly and just be a really good fit for them.” Continue reading

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