Turn of the Screw(ball)

By Joe Beale on July 31, 2011 at 6:00a
"You love my look; admit it."He's got the hardware and he's got the hair.

I guess I can't really be upset with the Big Ten coaches for not wanting to do pre-season predictions this season. After all, they're usually wrong, and who wants to be humiliated by having your bad predictions printed in every midwest newspaper and then getting reminded of the mistakes when the season is over? 

Still, as fans and readers of multiple papers and blogs, we want to see predictions. We want to talk about what this writer or that one said, and pick apart their conclusions. We need a narrative to frame the season, and expectations create part of that. We also want to know what players we will be rooting for and against.

Regardless of what the B1G coaches desire, many will no doubt offer their own predictions. A few already have. I also have a few predictions to make, but mine will not be like what you'll find on other blogs, at least I hope not. A couple years ago, we made some predictions as a group with the usual categories: offensive and defensive POY, best pro prospect, most intriguing game, etc.  

As much as I enjoy trying to pick the biggest upset or the most improved player, I'd like to do something different this time. I've prepared a few categories that are, shall we say, off the beaten path. I'm hoping that the road less traveled by will make all the difference (for better or worse).


Russel Wilson, Wisconsin: As you can see from the picture, he's already got a bit more on top than a lot of guys who play this sport. Why do I expect him to grow it out? First of all, he's played in the ACC for three years and now he's going to one of the colder states in the midwest to play football among a bunch of guys who fancy themselves tough enough to wear short sleeves in sub-zero weather. You think that cold wind in November will feel a bit frosty to a guy who grew up in Richmond VA? Me too.

The other reason you might see Wilson looking more like Little Richard come this fall is the example being set up North. As we all know, Denard Robinson has some impressive locks. The idea that Wilson might want to channel a bit of the mojo from last season's offensive player of the year does not seem far fetched to me, although the stats don't always translate into wins. Still, Wisky's defense should be much better than the one led by GERG last season and so if Wilson even approximates the production of "Shoelace", the Badgers should be in good shape. Speaking of Mr. Robinson...


Denard Robinson, Michigan: New UM offensive coordinator Al Borges is known as a guy who develops pro-style QB's like Cade McNown and Jason Campbell. Robinson does not fit into that mold, although he did run that kind of offense in high school. Before UM fans get their hopes up they should review the tapes from last season and tell me if they think Robinson is even close to McNown or Campbell as a passer. Maybe Borges will develop him beyond what we think he can do. Maybe not. 

It is well known that Robinson came to Michigan because he was a great fit for RichRod's spread offense. He says he's ready to lead in a pro-style offense, but I'm betting he will take off and run far more than Borges wants him to. When the new man says he wants Shoelace to stand in there and check off his options, the guy who's in his 3rd year at UM will probably tell him that he knows when the right time to run is and he's got a 1700+ yard season to prove it. Anyone else see some friction on the horizon, especially if the transition goes slowly and leads to a few unexpected losses?


Carson Wiggs, Purdue: I know what you're thinking: "But he's actually a good kicker". True enough. Now ask yourself this question: when does a team's kicker get into the game? Other than the opening kickoff of the game or the 2nd half, it's due to his team actually scoring points. And there's the rub if you're a Purdue fan: you have one of the better kickers in the league but you hardly ever use him because your team's offense is so inept. 

Last season Purdue scored a league-low 27 touchdowns, barely more than two per game. The Boilermakers were also last in the league in total offense, gaining a full 50 yards less per game than 10th-place Minnesota. Their 19 field goal attempts were 3rd lowest in the league (Michigan attempted only 14 FG's because their kicker was so terrible). They were 10th in the league in time-of-possession. Is it possible that this team was coached by Joe "basketball on grass" Tiller only two years ago? Seems like an eternity from where they are now in terms of production.


Joe Paterno, Penn State: Normally this space would be reserved for Ron Zook, but the Zooker actually won his bowl game last season and made a respectable showing against Ohio State (never mind that 67-spot they gave up in a loss to UM, and never mind that ugly loss to Minnesota). No, this year I'm predicting the underachiever among coaches will be the man whose team blew a 24-17 3rd quarter lead against a mediocre Florida team when "Mr. Moxie" tossed 5 INT's (including the clincher in the 4th quarter that the Gators took 80 yards to the house).

The calls for JoePa to voluntarily step aside will grow louder this season than ever before as he guides then through another middling 7-5 or 8-4 regular season (anyone see them beating Alabama, Nebraska, Wisconsin, or Ohio State?) and then chokes away a bowl game against a younger, more prepared coach. Don't worry, PSU fans, help is on the way in the form of his son Jay who will undoubtedly take over the program when pops finally decides to give it up. I'm sure you are all consoling yourselves with that thought.

Now it is your turn, dear readers. Help me fill in the void by coming up with your own oddball category and then make a prediction for it. It's fun, doesn't cost anything, and it won't make you fat. Come up with something better than what I've suggested and I'll personally shake your hand when I see you at Eat Too Brutus 2011.


Comments Show All Comments

painterlad's picture

Most likely to pop a button on the sideline : Hoke

Most likely to pop open a cold one on the sideline : Paterno (In his defense, he did think it was a can of Ensure)

Fan base most likely to grow corn : All but UM, MSU, PSU and the other UM.

Most likely to vomit when he sees a new tattoo : Fickle

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

Doug T's picture

Most likely to get a phantom penalty....The Ohio State University.

Bucks's picture

I'll add the Suckup MVP which has to fall to Herbie.

Seems like he fell off the face of the planet recently, as he should have. From links either here or other sites I frequent, I saw that Bruce Hooley was guest hosting espncleveland for last week and of course had Kirk on.

While I expected more of the same from him (Kirk), he basically wouldn't take any of the prods by an excited Hooley. Instead he gave a pretty optomistic take on the upcoming season & for the most part avoided anything negative.

I won't take any of it as sincere, and probably a bit too little, too late. At the least ... he wasn't a moron for that particular piece.

P.S. - I can think of nothing more fitting with Hooley. Representing Espin. The normal host of "The really big show," during introduction @ the beginning of the week let it be known that Bruce wanted to be a permanent fixture there.

P.S.S. - I don't think it would matter if Kirk recited only glowing statements from now until the next gameday in Columbus, he will still get boo's.

osu565's picture

What exactly did Herbstreit do to garner all these negative feelings?  Is it because he's not biased towards Ohio State?


NW Buckeye's picture

There is an overwhelming feeling that he bends over backwards to show no favoritism to OSU.  So much so that he overly criticizes OSU while going easy on other schools, specifically Cam Newton at Auburn, the USC situation, UNC, Georgia Tech, Oregon, etc.  Some may simply view it as you do - non biased, others view it as biased against OSU.  Whatever, he could do himself a favor by being as tough on other schools as he is on OSU in many peoples' (OSU fans) opinions.  Meanwhile, someone like Spielman is revered because even though he criticized Tressel and OSU he did not turn a blind eye to violations at other schools and called them out as much as he did OSU. 

Buckeye in Athens's picture

I was disappointed in his little cat fight with Pryor. That was kind of embarrassing, really.

Joe Beale's picture

Start with this piece, then let us know if you still need some explanation.

acBuckeye's picture

Herbie tries to seem anti-Buckeye in an ill-advised attempt to not seem like a homer to the rest of the college football world. Do I think fans took it too far by essentially forcing him from C-Bus? Sure. But i also think Herbie lost his ability to be impartial a long time ago, if he ever had it to begin with. He's no better than Mark May. But every Buckeye fan born in the 80s or before knows the reason for his OSU-hatred: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQ6eSf0nadg. 1996: 72-0, 'nuff said. And as idiotic as Lou Holtz and his rumbling, mumbling may seem, at least he usually views OSU with an open mind, despite sound defeats in '95 and '96. (Man, i LOVE reliving those games!)

The only credible announcers that the WWLiSR employ in my mind are Spielman, and for some reason i enjoy listening to Bob Davie, of all people.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Most likely to receive COY... Kirk Ferentz

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Most likely to soil pants....oh nevermind. This discussion is for teams that matter.

BuckeyeSki's picture

Most Overrated WR: Derek Moye PSU

Most Likely To Show up to a Game still Drunk: Darryl Stonum

Best Wrestler in the World: CM Punk

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Bucksfan's picture

Coach that looks most like his school's mascot:  Jerry Kill, University of Minnesota

Coach most-dedicated to keeping the "lip fur dream" alive: Danny Hope, Purdue

Coach whose wife is the 2nd-most popular search option on Google in association with his name: Luke Fickell, Ohio State ... just sayin'