It's good to be back and trying to do a weekly feature for the blog - god knows it's been a while since I've been anything more than a part time contributor to the front page. And who knows, maybe the return of OaktownMario's favorite column will get him back to commenting again. Where have you gone, Oaktown? Where have you gone?
Doug Ellingson (Minneapolis)
Fever, what is your gut feeling about how the Big Ten will split into divisions for football?
Division 1............Division 2
That seems to have the most balanced divisions, Michigan and Ohio State would play each other every year, Nebraska would play Michigan, Penn State, and Iowa (their new presumed rival) every year, and you'd have three teams with established traditions in each division (Michigan/Nebraska/Iowa, Ohio State/Penn State/Wisconsin) coupled with two teams that are periodically competitive (Michigan State/Illinois, Purdue/Minnesota) and one doormat (Indiana and Northwestern). With the 1996 Rose Bowl being an exception, of course.
The other proposals floated around seem to be a little too top-heavy in one division to me - like Mandel's idea of grouping Nebraska, Penn State, Wisconsin and Iowa together and then leaving Michigan and Ohio State in the same division - and I just don't get the allure of trying to keep a bunch of rivalries intact. I mean, it seems like every Big Ten team has a rivalry game with half of the teams in the conference. That sounds more like a rivalry in the sense that the Nets and Celtics are rivals, or the A's and Rangers are rivals.
Personally, I'd like to see the Big Ten adopt a relegation system with Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska in Group A and the dregs in Group B. You could add the stipulation that the winner of Group A is the conference champion, have the worst team in Group A fall to Group B and be replaced by the winner of Group B...yeah, too revolutionary.
Yellow Fever (Jersey City, NJ)
The SEC rules, right, Fever? Do we even need to watch any other conferences this year? Do you even know anything about any other teams?
Which coach is on the hot seat?
Rich Rod is the obvious one even as everyone seems to be predicting a turnaround is imminent (Feldman, for one), but I'm with Bruce here and I think he'll get it going. If Coach Rod could run wild over the mighty SEC in the Sugar Bowl and win four bowl games with Pat White and Steve Slaton, why wouldn't he be able to do the same in the Big Ten since he now says Denard Robinson's on the same track? Should be exciting to see. But then, I've been saying that ever since he got there. The other obvious guy would be the Fridge at Maryland.
I'm also not entirely satisfied with what Greg Schiano's done at Rutgers in failing to win a single conference championship despite being in an eight team conference and outspending literally every single opponent over a three year span - though I can't find the original source article anymore. But then I started to wonder, is that the same feeling that many have other Cal fans have about Tedford? And how do I reconcile those feelings? Question for another day, perhaps. And Paul Wulff of Washington State probably needs to show some progress, though I wouldn't want to be the guy to hand him his pink slip. I'm fairly certain he could kill me with two fingers.
Andrew (San Antonio, TX)
If OSU beats TCU in the Cowboy Classic on September 4th, how do you see that affecting the Beavers rankings in the polls and Jacquizz Rodgers' heisman campaign. And if they follow up with a win at Boise State?
Clearly the Beavers would move up - the question is how much? The AP Poll has Oregon State 24th and TCU 6th, while the Coaches Poll has Oregon State 22nd and TCU 7th. I'd guess a jump to the 11-14 range or so with TCU falling to the 15-17 range sounds about right. Just as a frame of reference, Cal started 9th and 12th in both 2006 preseason polls before playing Tennessee (23rd in both polls) - the next week Tennessee jumped to 11th in the AP and 17th in the Coaches poll with Cal dropping to 22nd and 23rd.
As far as the Heisman campaign, if they were to follow that up with a win on the blue turf, a lot of talking heads would probably say that Rodgers would be in pole position for the Heisman at that point, with the caveat that there a lot of games left to be played. That's essentially what Kirk Herbstreit was saying about our Jahvid Best after our OOC games last year based on his production in those games. Of course, we all know how that turned out.
Hello Pope Fever, How are you feeling? Besides ND and Florida State in 1993, has there ever been a team voted number 1 over a team that they lost to when both teams had the same amount of losses?
Beano says this happened in 1936 with Northwestern and Minnesota, although things were probably wacky back then. You'll also notice there were a hell of a lot of teams with only one loss back then, so yeah. A little different back then. Also, Santa Clara beat LSU in the Rose Bowl, and the #1 team in the country didn't even go to a bowl game. LOLWUT
Baron (Large, PA)
Who are the greatest Defensive College Players you've seen? Where does Hugh Green rank?
I think we can agree that Chris Conte won't be nearing this list anytime soon. Off the top of my head on Cal defense though, I remember thinking Ryan Riddle was a terror off the edge, the Pain Train was fun to watch, Syd was good when he was on, Hughes was probably better, and I loved Joe Maningo's hair. As far as opposing players, I hated Mike Patterson when he was on the Trojans (love him now as a member of the Eagles!) and I didn't care much for Rey Maualuga either.
Hugh Green does not rank because he played his college career before I was born.
Dev (Monkey's Eyebrow, Ky)
Why so much hate for Big ten? Iowa is winning the national title this year ...Nuff said.........
I honestly don't understand why any ESPN chatter ever picks questions like this to answer.
Chris Fiegler (Lathan,NY)
Who is going to be the starting Quarterback for Florida since Tim Tebow is playing for the Denver Broncos?
Charles Mitchell (Las Vegas, NM)
If Texas pursued independence as BYU did announcing that it would play a BS Univ schedule of one or two high profile games and a predominantly WAC schedule there would be howls of laughter. Why does the press give BYU a free ride?
Primarily because BYU is currently in the MWC and not the Big 12, so there isn't that much of a difference in scheduling. If they scheduled one or two heavyweights, wouldn't that be more than what Boise State has had to deal with as a member of the WAC in recent years?
Might want to make sure you know what state you're in too, buddy.
Library Cop (NYC Public Library)
What opening weekend game are you looking forward to the most? PS- Don't forget to return Tropic of Cancer
Is that a Seinfeld reference? And just like Beano, I'm looking forward to Boise State/Virginia Tech. Well, besides UC Davis/Cal and Norfolk State/Rutgers. Actually, just kidding. Norfolk State/Rutgers (along with the rest of their nonconference schedule) is why I didn't get season tickets.
Fever, VT or Boise? I like Boise 24-17, GO BOISE ST!!
At first blush I'd guess that VT should be able to run the ball effectively between their two RBs and Tyrod Taylor, but I'm not willing to actually go out on a limb and pick against the Broncos after what they've been able to do in big games recently. I'll say something like 27-24.
Beano Lilly (annapolis, md)
Yellow, How come WVU isn't getting top 10 respect this year. They have their whole Defense back, an experienced o line, Noel Devine, Jock Sanders, Tavon austin, and some talented young qbs. To me I think they are a 10 to 11 win team this season. What do you think about that?
I'd say they're not viewed as top 10 material for the same reason that everyone's touting Arizona, Washington, and the Furd this year - the presence (or absence) of a returning established QB. There's certainly the potential there (and I'd love for a Big East team to be a title contender sometime soon), but I just like remembering how Bill Stewart once tweeted that listening to the Beach Boys in the morning got him all fired up. That's not really the kind of thing you want to promote if you want to connect with recruits, I think.
Who has a higher approval rating right now in SEC country, Lane Kiffin or Congress?
I'm sure it's Kiffin everywhere outside Knoxville.
carson (gadsden, AL)
Fever, Do you see BK putting the "Fight" Back in the Fighting Irish? If so, how long do you think it will take him?
I'm Not sure where This whole incorrect Trend of capitalizing words that Don't need to be Capitalized came from. MaYbE iT wAs FrOm ThOsE TeEnAgErS wHo TyPeD LiKe ThIS? I never had any patience for that just because it always took so god damned long. And I think the Irish offense should do well this year, though the team's problem was their defense and not their offense. I don't know much about their defense other than that one Hawaiian LB they got a few years ago.
Lynn (Monticello, FL)
Hi Mr. Fever, the question that I have will Florida and Miami continue to play each other after the 2013 season which is the last game of the contract.
When was the last time Florida voluntarily entered into a series of games with a decent team voluntarily? It'd be nice, though.
Shouldn't the NCAA make a decision on the eligibility of the players it has been investigating (for months) before the season starts?
Ideally, except what happens if the NCAA compliance office just doesn't have enough people to investigate everyone thoroughly? Would you rather they just declare everyone ineligible until cleared? Then you'd have complaints about due process. These things take time...as evidenced by the Reggie Bush thing.
Ok, maybe that's a bad example.
Fever, love your chats and podcasts. What happens to the WAC and the remaining teams in it?
I think their best case scenario is to pull maybe Navy and North Texas in. If I remember correctly, they need to have at least eight members to remain a conference, and they don't have time to wait for a school like UC Davis or Cal Poly to move up to D-I (nor is there really any indication they're interested in doing so)...who knows. If they do fragment though, it could prove to be the impetus towards the first megaconferences as these schools look for homes.
Your thoughts on the Athletic Director at Boise State asking the NCAA to mandate home-and-home games between non conference matchups?
It's a nice thought, but then maybe they should agree to play Idaho first before sounding hypocritical.
Neal (SW FL)
with you still alive...we must have the best health care in the world...Lol..love you fever...how are my canes going to fair this year...
I should have stuck around and insulted Beano some more once I saw he was reduced to answering questions like this.
More hatred this year: The Iron Bowl, Texas-Nebraska or LeBron James' return to Cleveland?
I think LeBron will get more heat on him during his return than Hulk Hogan did when he joined the nWo.
LEBRON JAMES FLIPS OUT ON CLEVELAND FANS!!!! (via DaddyDoyleStudios)
That was a lot of heat.
What is your opinion on teams "selling out" their home games to play elsewhere. Indiana fans are missing a "home game" against PSU for some cash and will play what amounts to an away game in front of 90,000 fans at Fedex field in DC.
My opinion is that if the home team "selling out" their home games to play elsewhere actually managed to sell out their actual home games, they wouldn't be selling out those home games to begin with. I feel the same way about the Nets giving up two home dates to play the Raptors in Europe - I understand the business reasoning behind it and am perfectly willing to accept that there just aren't enough fans interested in buying Nets tickets to make it worthwhile for the team to hold on for dear life for every home date they can get. Of course, the fact that it's difficult for me to stomach too many Nets games in a row has something to do with that too.
Care to comment on the report that the Pirates made $20 million last year?
Like a lot of other sabermetrically oriented writers (Neyer, Law, the BP guys, Pos to a degree) I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with the team making a profit, and I don't think they need to spend for the sake of spending. Giving Vlad and Matsui a total of 15 million wasn't going to push the team into the playoffs, and would only serve to block the OF prospects (Tabata, for one) they do have, so that would have been counterproductive.
I do think they could have spent more on the minor league draft instead of picking players based on signability earlier in the century, but that was under a different regime. I'd have more of a problem with them making a profit if they were clearly close to the playoffs and unwilling to put extra money towards players that would push them over the top. But to me I don't see a need for them to go from 70-77 wins if they're not making the playoffs anyway. They're now investing in minor league talent through the draft and Latin America, so I think they're probably on the right track there.
Now, the Marlins making a profit while crying poor about the need to finance a new stadium...that I have a problem with.
Did Ohio State schedule a Thursday night game with Marshall for the extra time to prepare for Miami? OSU doesn't need the exposure of a Thursday night game which should go to lesser schools.
I'm not sure I like the implication of lesser schools there - Oregon State beat USC on a Thursday night, and plenty of other good teams play on Thursday night all the time. ESPN loves to have any good teams available on Thursdays. And I don't think two extra days of practice/preparation should really make that much of a difference.
JOE (ALBANY NY)
If the Big Ten is arrogant than what is the SEC? Besides cheaters!
Joe, I love that sentiment. As well as the fact you were able to hit the caps lock key in between the time you entered your name and location and your question.
Steve (San Diego)
After reading the story on Tom Osborne today, it seems like Mr. Conservative shocked everyone by making the move to the Big 10. Do you think in the long run this will be a good move for the Big Red?
The conference is certainly much more stable than the Big 12, so from that standpoint it's a big positive for them. I don't think it'll make much difference in recruiting because Nebraska has enough national cachet already, though I think based on the analysis here that it'll be tougher for them to return to consistent national prominence in the Big 10 since the average strength of the teams in the Big 10 is greater than that of the Big 12.
Fever - am i the only one seeing struggles for Alabama this year? They lost 13 of their top 16 defensive players. Their offense is loaded, which is good because they will be in a lot of shootouts with that inexperienced defense.
Nick, you've just rocked my world. I thought the SEC was the land of super dominant defenses.
Hey Yellow, listening to you and Ivan right now. On the question of international following: I was in London over the summer and wore my Auburn t-shirt to the British Museum and got a big War Eagle from a British woman. I later got a "Roll Tide" from a Brit in a pub. Even in London the Iron Bowl is 24/7.
I'm going out on a limb and saying that the two people you thought were Brits were expatriates.
Beano Baker (Des Moines)
Do you type your responses for chat or do you dictate your words to a typist?
I have to actually quote Beano here:
I am on the phone giving the responses to a typist.
So is it this typist choosing the horrible questions!?? I'm asking next week.
Now that the dust has settled, how do you think Chip Kelly has handled the Ducks both on and off the field.?
Obviously he's done a great job with our Avian Overlords on the field, but the Ducks could use a little more discipline off of it. I think he's done a good job disciplining guys after the fact, but Masoli and Embry's legal problems speak for themselves. While it's true every program has its share of off-the-field issues, it's no excuse not to at least try and do better and not to be held accountable for it.
How do you feel about PAC 10 fans feeling like we dont enough respect for our Out of conference schedules and our 9 conference game schedules? Please tell me you know that the PAC 10 plays the toughest OOC schedules, Fever.
Beano responded with:
I keep hearing that and it is nonsense, pure nonsense. Give me a break.
Was he saying the lack of respect is nonsense? Or the toughest OOC schedules is nonsense? The world may never know. I'm asking this again next week too.
As for me, I'm not sure the Pac-10 consistently schedules the toughest OOC schedules (there are certainly teams that are up there every year, like Washington and Oregon State), but I'm not sure as a whole that the composite schedule strength is any different from particular teams in the ACC or Big Ten.
And then of course SEC OOC schedules are a joke, but no one seems to care anymore.
Billy (South Bend)
Fever, over/under for ND wins this 8.5; which side are you on?
I'll go with 9 wins - a lot of people have been saying their schedule is favorable this year, but then I look at it and I see five should-be wins (Michigan State, Western Michigan, Navy, Tulsa, Army), three teams that should cause some trouble (Purdue, Michigan, Utah), and four teams which are toss-ups or worse (Furd, Boston College, Pittsburgh, and USC). Assuming they win four of the seven tricky games they have shouldn't be too much of a stretch.
What's more plausible, Iowa 12-0 or Iowa 7-5?
It's always easier to underachieve than overachieve, isn't it? So on that alone I think 7-5 is more plausible. That and the fact that their offense always seemed shaky to me and they won a whole bunch of really close games that year. I just can't shake the feeling they were more lucky than good last year.
Jon (Little Rock, AR)
Fever, with the positive reviews about Arkansas's Defense coming from practice, how improved do you think the Razorbacks will be?
I'm a bit surprised that people aren't higher on Arkansas given how much people are hyping Andrew Luck - he has the same skillset and physical tools as far as I can see, and he's actually put up huge numbers. What am I missing? I still don't think they'll be able to sniff a conference championship, but I think anything short of nine wins would be a disappointment.
Davebo (Catonsville (HomeoftheComets))
Will Friedgen be back at Maryland next year? Any prediction on the Navy/Maryland game?
I'm going to say no, and that Navy wins. I love me some triple option.
Sean (South Bend)
Yellow, which of these teams would you pick to go undefeated this year if you had to choose one: Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Iowa, Oregon, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas?
Oklahoma - they'd have to beat Texas and Nebraska, but the rest of the conference is weak enough that they shouldn't have any trouble with anyone else, Nebraska still has no QB, and Texas is breaking in a new QB. I suppose I wouldn't be surprised if Ohio State went undefeated either though.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Not sure if you caught Ron Cook's latest diatribe in the Post-Gazette, but he seems to think JoePa should retire as he apparently won't be with us much longer. What is your gut telling you - will JoePa ride his 400+ wins into the sunset this year, or keep on keepin' on?
I think he's proven at this point that he's going to stay until he can't physically do it anymore.
Coincidence or conspiracy, ND hasn't won anything since it started running the infomercial on NBC!
I have no idea what this means.
Ja-Jimmy (Mount Lebanon )
Best college team in Pennsylvania is??
Temple. How is it these guys keep cracking the top 25 in NCAA 11 out in the year 2016?
Well, that was exhausting. Remember, if you have any questions you'd like answered about anything, post them in the comments below. Go Bears!