You know football season is almost here when the Big Ten hosts its annual media kickoff event in Chicago. That runs this Thursday and Friday and, in advance of that, the conference usually comes up with its preseason favorites and players of the year.
For some reason, that’s not happening this year. So a few of the most brilliant football Big Ten media minds (yes, that includes Hoosier Hoopla), spurred by the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Doug Lesmerises, got together to assemble the absolutely accurate, totally most definitive preseason picks.
So what did we come up with? Nebraska was the preseason favorite and picked to win the first Big Ten title game. The Cornhuskers got 12 of the 24 votes. Wisconsin was next with 11. Michigan State got one.
The offensive player of the year went to Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. He doubled the voting point total of runner up Dan Persa, the Northwestern quarterback.
The defensive player of the year went to Nebraska defensive lineman Jared Crick. He beat out Husker linebacker teammate Lavonte David.
Finally, there was a best coach category. The winner was Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz was second. Nebraska’s Bo Pelini was third.
This is interesting because Penn State’s Joe Paterno is the winningest major-college coach in history, yet he rated just seventh in the poll with just one vote. Paterno is well past his 80th birthday and shows no inclination of retiring, but the common perception is that he’s past his coaching prime.
As for Indiana football, the media picked the Hoosiers to finish last in the Leaders Division, with Wisconsin chosen to win it and Ohio State to finish second. Nebraska is picked to win the Legends Division.
In case you’re wondering why Hoosier Hoopla blogs have slowed down lately, it’s because we were on vacation in Colorado hiking, biking and, yes, searching for Bigfoot.
We climbed 14,003-foot Huron Peak, as spectacular a hike as there is in the U.S.; took bike rides to Vail Pass and Golden (where Coors beer is made); journeyed into Rocky Mountain backcountry that has become mountain lion territory (important safety tip -– if a mountain lion attacks you, don’t play dead, fight with everything you’ve got and never, ever, quit) and found Bigfoot just outside of Leadville, Colorado.
Yes, not everybody believes in Bigfoot, which is why we got an absolutely true and undoctored photo of the legendary beast. We will post it soon.
Oh, as a reader has asked, we do have a message to Hoosier Deepthroat about football recruiting. We hope to hear back soon.
Okay, here’s the deal if you’re Ohio State. You can have five ineligible players, guys who EVERYBODY knows are ineligible because of tattoos-for-cash-and-memorabillia violations, and get to play them in a bowl game. Then, after you’ve won that bowl game, in big part because of those ineligible guys, you get to have a big celebration.
Then, months later, when it’s determined your coach broke NCAA rules and lied to the NCAA and basically everybody except quarterback Terrell Pryor’s Pennsylvania mentor, you don’t suffer any real consequences.
Sure, your coach resigns, but that was a no-brainer. Yes, you forfeit all your games from last year, but does that really matter. You might as well have forfeited all the games from the 1910 season. It’s history, over with, done. The NCAA has basically said there won’t be any postseason bans or scholarship reductions or other sanctions.
From here on out, there likely won't be any consequences.
So while, say, USC football takes a hit for its Reggie Bush transgressions; while IU basketball is only now recovering from Kelvin Sampson’s phone calling excesses, the Buckeyes are set to roll on, sanction free.
It doesn’t seem fair, but when you have the kind of national clout Ohio State has, fairness isn’t part of the equation.
IU linebacker Leon Beckum is up for a major good-guy award. It’s the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and it’s for the nation’s top 11 players whose willingness to volunteer and participate in community service make them really special student-athletes.
Beckum is the fourth straight Hoosier nominated, joining Ben Chappell (2010), Jammie Kirlew (2009) and Austin Starr (2008). Chappell and Kirlew wound up making the team.
Beckum puts the “student” in the student-athlete designation. He has a 3.288 grade point average as a fitness specialist major and has earned three academic All-Big Ten awards. Figure he’ll make it four by the end of the year.
He’s developed into a solild Big Ten player. Last season he had 69 tackles, three sacks and nine tackles for loss, which led the team. He’s played all three linebacker positions in his career.
Former IU receiver Terrance Turner will get his NFL shot after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles. Turner was in limbo until the 136-lockout between owners and players ended on Monday. Turner quickly signed with the Eagles. He’ll get training camp to prove he belongs on the roster.