The B1G List: Ranking the Best Athletes from Big Ten States

By Johnny Ginter on August 5, 2013 at 4:00p
59 Comments
The B1G List: Ranking the Best Athletes from Big Ten States

Athletes.

Behold! Some of the slowest, most porcine, molasses-esque professional human athletes in existence! Yes, step right up and gape in horror at a list comprised of some of the most unathletic paid athletes the world has ever seen. Seethe with rage at the knowledge that some of these people earned millions of dollars despite having the ridiculous handicap of being from a Big Ten state, rendering their skills and talent completely moot.

What kind of sports do they even play in the Midwest anyway? Can I really in good conscience cobble together a 1600ish word post comprised of nothing but bowling pros?

Well... yeah. I could. I totally could. And I wanted to. But, seeing as how I like my apartment in its current non-firebombed form, I decided to take this at least semi-seriously. Still, we've only got a few more of these before football season kicks in and we have to say goodbye to completely arbitrary lists pulled out of my ass three hours before the publishing deadline, so I'm going to have to be at least a LITTLE trolly before we call it a wrap. Just repeat to yourself "it's just a list, I should really just relax."

Anyway: athletes! Kick a ball, run real fast, high five your mom, dope your blood, cheat on your spouse, get involved in a pyramid scheme, be last seen in the Bitterroot mountains in 2004. Woah that got dark quickly. Luckily no one this list was ever involved in any such shenanigans, ever. EVER!

11. Minnesota – Dave Winfield

The very nature of this list makes it pretty dumb. I mean, I'm trying to rank athletes from a ridiculous variety of sports, time periods, and backgrounds. Dave Winfield is a freaking Hall of Famer. In no way can anyone objectively say that he's a crappier athlete than anyone else on this list.

But on the other hand, he totally is. Dave Winfield is in the Hall of Fame because he was a good player for 22 seasons.  Emphasis on good, and note lack of modifiers like "very," "really," or "incredibly." Basically people just agreed that dudes in the 3000 hit club have a get in free pass to the HoF, ignoring the fact that Winfield didn't hit for power, only batted over .300 four times in a multi-decade career, struck out more than he walked, and never once had an on base percentage over .400.

Still, Hall of Fame, iconic 70s player blah blah blah congrats.

10. Indiana – Larry Bird

Okay, let's be real here: on one level I love Larry Bird. If you took the most ridiculous looking whitebread Midwestern dude ever and somehow gave him the powers of one of the top 10 basketball players of all time, and THEN said that if he ever stopped looking awkward and goofy as hell for even one second he'd lose those powers, you would have Larry Bird.

On another level, I hate Larry Bird. Because I too am awkward and goofy looking, and yet I was not bestowed with even a hundredth the athletic prowess that he had. As a little goofy kid, teammates, coaches, whoever, would try to encourage me by saying that I could somehow overcome inherent gangliness and become great at sports. LIES, LARRY! ALL LIES!

9. Illinois – Dick Butkus

Butkus is probably one of the few elite players from the 1960s and 70s who could translate to today's NFL. At 6 foot 3 and 245 pounds, he was every bit the prototypical linebacker that you'd see today. One of my favorite facts about the dude is that he made the NFL's All-Decade team for the 70s despite retiring in 1973.

Also the Beastie Boys shouted him out once, so there's that. And who wants to be the king Ad-Whammy, anyway?

8. Iowa – Dan Gable

MIDWEST SPORTS COMINATYAAAA"Hi I'm Dan Gable and you are completely screwed."

If you care about wrestling, even a tiny bit, you probably know who this dude is. 181-1 record as a wrestler at Iowa State, Olympic gold medalist, legendary coach at Iowa, basically the biggest BAMF in US wrestling history. Don't give me that Rulon Gardner crap, yes he beat Karelin but he also lost a bunch of his toes to frostbite because he was an idiot.

Gable presumably has all of his toes, which are attached to his foot, which he will presumably use to kick the crap out of the IOC if they don't keep wrestling in the Olympics.

7. Wisconsin – Eddie Idzikowski

One of the greatest bowlers in Milwaukee history, Eddie Idzikowski maintained a 188 average over the course of 26 bowling tournaments during the 1950s and 60s. He was inducted into the Milwaukee Bowling Hall of Fame in 1979 alongside such greats as Dick Goepel, Walt Janke, and of course Elmer Neeb.

Eddie Idzikowski remains an inspiration to bowlers in the greater Milwaukee area, even to this day.

6. Nebraska – Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson is probably one of the top 10 pitchers in MLB history, who also put together maybe the greatest individual pitching season in MLB history when he went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA and a .853 WHIP in 1968. That season he also threw 13 shutouts and finished 28 complete games. I'm not making any of those numbers up, holy shit.

He was also legendary for being a huge asshole on the mound, which you should love. This is what Dusty Baker has to say about the dude:

"(Hank Aaron told me) 'Don't dig in against Bob Gibson, he'll knock you down. He'd knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don't stare at him, don't smile at him, don't talk to him. He doesn't like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don't run too slow, don't run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don't charge the mound, because he's a Gold Glove boxer.' I'm like, 'Damn, what about my 17-game hitting streak?' That was the night it ended."

Later that night Gibson shot Baker's dog on his porch, right in front of him, and laughed while he did it. Then he struck out Baker's cat and goldfish on 6 straight pitches.

5. Michigan – Magic Johnson

The coolest kid on the playground. I admire the guy for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with being an amazing basketball player. Dude has helped HIV/AIDS awareness, is an incredibly successful businessman, had the good sense to go to Michigan State instead of Michigan, and generally seems like an all around good guy. Also, I'll be honest: sometimes it's nice to see an athlete who genuinely enjoys the spotlight, and Magic did more than almost anybody and somehow managed to avoid being a douche about it.

4. New Jersey – Shaquille O'Neal

Not even gonna talk about basketball, let's just list everything else this dude does in his spare time:

  • Got his doctorate in Education
  • Made a Miami Beach reserve officer
  • Released five horrible rap albums
  • Starred in a couple of equally horrible movies
  • Got taken to the rim by Aaron Carter
  • Is a Freemason for some reason?
  • Dated the 1st season winner of Flavor of Love
  • One said "I'm Muslim, I'm Jewish, I'm Buddhist, I'm everybody 'cause I'm a people person."
  • Two words: Shaq-Fu

Simply put, Shaq "MayorMcShaq" "Hobo Master" "The Big Aristotle" "Wilt Chamberneezy" "The Big Baryshnikov" "Manny Shaq-iaou" "Superman" O'Neal is one of the greatest Americans alive, and don't you forget it.

3. Pennsylvania – Joe Montana

Pennsylvania has about a billion incredible athletes, so I just went ahead and picked the one that everyone can generally agree is super freaking amazing and will hold up as possibly the best QB in NFL history.

But you know as well as I do that some small part of your brain wanted me to put Terrelle Pryor here.

2. Maryland – Babe Ruth

1. Ohio – LEBRON JAMES

Jesse Owens was born in Alabama. Cy Young played ball literally a hundred years ago. Pete Rose was pretty much just Dave Winfield times two. Jack Nicklaus actually probably should be here but I'm trying to make a point.

Look, Ohioans who still hold an inexplicable grudge against Lebron, it's time to let go of your hatred for this dude. He's undeniably the best basketball player on the planet. He's an unselfish dude, and has never even had a whiff of controversy surrounding his career, save for a two hour period in his life where he raised millions for charity. "Oh but he left us in our time of need, he stabbed us in the back, he's a traitor oh nooooo!"

Here's the thing: no one cares but you. Ohio State basketball players love him. His teammates love him. After his great example and leadership in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, the world started to love him too.

I'm not saying that you have to love or even like the dude. But I just hope that sometime in the future we can let go of this petty and increasingly sad-looking hate, so that we can at least acknowledge that one of the greatest of all time is a Buckeye and one of our own. Because honestly we only have room for one petty hatred, and making fun of Michigan is a lot more fun than stewing in sour grapes.

Plus, you know, free agency is coming up. Gotta keep up appearances.


And that will do it for this week! We are so, so close to the start of football season, which means the time draws near for the end of this list. By my reckoning we have one more to go, and I'm going to try and make it a special one. See you next week.

The B1G List: State Birds | State Mottos | State FlowersState Songs | State Fossils | State Flags | TV Shows | State Trees | State Capitals | State Fish | Highest Points | State Gemstones/Rocks | State Quarters

59 Comments

Comments

RedStorm45's picture

So what is the requirement?  Born in that state? Grew up in that state?
 
Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek...then maybe LeBron (currently).  Of course, LBJ has plenty of years left to pass those guys.

CanadianBuckeye's picture

I thought for sure Archie would be holding down the #1 spot for Ohio.

Hovenaut's picture

Jesse Owens.....

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

RedStorm45's picture

As the article notes, Owens was born in Alabama which I guess disqualifies him from the list.

Hovenaut's picture

Not my list, but thanks.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

GOSUBUcks's picture

yeah the guy went to OSU, doesn't that automatically count. For all I care Ryan Shazier is an Ohioan

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Lebron James, love him or hate him, has to be the most BEAST athlete to come out of the Buckeye state in this century.  Dude is a FREAK....Receding hairline and all.  Archie was great.  LBJ is on a whole different level.  IF he would have played two years in college hoops, he would have undoubtedly won the Wooden award two years in a row. 

Adolphus Washington is half grizzly bear and half dragon | Noah Spence kills quarterbacks, just to watch them die.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

If LeBron did Shaq Vs., he would probably excel at a lot them, especially if he were given a couple months to train for a particular sport.
 

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!

Gametime's picture

"Oh but he left us in our time of need, he stabbed us in the back, he's a traitor oh nooooo!"
Here's the thing: no one cares but you.

I LOL'd at that.
But seriously Babe Ruth shouldn't be on this list - and we all know why, while he was great for the beginnings of baseball, he played a very limited (by segregation) version of the game.
For Maryland you almost HAVE to go with Michael Phelps - despite him attending TSUN, he is the most decorated Olympian EVER AND HE DID IT WHILE HITTING THE BONG.
 

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

Johnny Ginter's picture

real talk: i was going to do this comparison between phelps and babe ruth in regard to their diets, training regimen, etc. but then i remembered that sandlot clip so i did that instead.

but yeah, as a former swimmer, michael phelps is the closest thing to a perfect swimming specimen as will probably ever exist on this planet. the ONLY knock against the dude is that he possibly doesnt take training as seriously as he could, but a gajillion golds kind of refutes that a little bit

buckguy10's picture

Why did you thank Rutgers for Babe Ruth being born in Maryland?

Hoody Wayes's picture

Gametime, I think all the records of the segregated era of baseball need asterisks attached, thereto.
It may be reasonable to suspect, Babe Ruth would agree:
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2008-06-29/sports/0806290029_1_babe-rut...
But, doesn't segregation continue? Now, that women can fight and die with men, in combat - how can they be kept from competing with men, on the court, the diamond and the gridiron?
 

spqr2008's picture

Did Phelps ever actually attend classes at TSUN, or just use their pool and coach to train?  Because every story I've ever seen on him hasn't said whether he was taking classes or not, and it would make sense for an Olympic level swimmer to not distract themselves from swimming.

BED's picture

He didn't go there to swim school.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

BED's picture

7. WISCONSIN – EDDIE IDZIKOWSKI

One of the greatest bowlers in Milwaukee history, Eddie Idzikowski maintained a 188 average over the course of 26 bowling tournaments during the 1950s and 60s. He was inducted into the Milwaukee Bowling Hall of Fame in 1979 alongside such greats as Dick Goepel, Walt Janke, and of course Elmer Neeb.

Eddie Idzikowski remains an inspiration to bowlers in the greater Milwaukee area, even to this day.

Every name in this entry sounds 100% made up.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Johnny Ginter's picture

all real. somehow.

BED's picture

Which makes it that much better.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

cinserious's picture

Its like a Milwaukee bowling movie directed by Jeffrey Dahmer.

Gone ham, be back soon...

GoldenBuckeye's picture

So passive aggressive with Dave Winfield.  Not befitting a man who retired an Indian. 

 
 

WC Buckeye's picture

I hate to keep flogging a dead horse, but this guy should be automatically DQ'ed for honors of any sort due to his part in the mugging of Luke Witte and the 1972 OSU basketball team. I hope that we never forget.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

doodah_man's picture

There should be a list of the greatest football names (actual name, not their performance) of all time. I'm sure Dick Butkus would be on it. I mean, you can't be taken serious with a name like Chad Hene....but AJ Hawk, John Brockington, Vic Janowicz, Paul Warfield, Mike Vrabel, Andy Katzenmoyer, etc., those are great names.

Jim "DooDah" Day
It is hard to play dirty against a man who picks you up.

Earle's picture

Bronko Nagurski

Italics are for emphasis.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

You could do the list to end all lists: the list of lists.  Ranking what Ohio is best at/ what you had the best time ranking.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

Wikipedia is out of control

ScarletNGrey01's picture

I'm an old ***t who actually was just out of high school and remembers like it was yesterday, and is still a little bitter (sad isn't it), one of the worst debacles in the history of college basketball ... the assault and battery of several OSU basketball players at Minnesota in which Dave Winfield took part.  I have nothing but disdain for the man.  The University of Minnesota never apologized for the incident and the injuries Luke Witte received essentially ruined his chances at making it in the NBA.  As far as LBJ goes, my friends and family have heaped derision on me when I declared the day after the (ill conceived as it was) "decision" that I was still going to follow and root for the kid from Akron.  Dan Gilbert having to eat crow about LeBron never winning a ring was priceless.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Hovenaut's picture

Not a big basketball fan, and it happened when I was too young to remember. Had an uncle (RIP) who played in hs, and was about a big a fan of hoops as he was football.

Used to talk about that brawl for years....I thought Winfield was from TSUN he disliked him so much.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

Yamosu's picture

I am not an old ***t, and wasnt' around when that happened.  I have seen video of the event though and read about it and will never forgive Minnesota or Dave Winfield for that event.  He should be thrown in jail.

73buckeye's picture

Well, I too am an old ***t and saw it happen on TV. Every time I see Winfield's name or picture, I think of the brawl and him stomping Luke Witte's head. He was the definition of a thug and I don't think he ever apologized. He may be a great HOF guy to some, but he'll always be a loser in my eyes.

ernie

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Love it, Ohio wins again!!
Go Bucks!!

gbdawg's picture

Easily Jack Nicklaus greatest golfer ever

BrewstersMillions's picture

Son of Ohio or not...that's an asinine statement. Tiger-Proofing courses exists. Jack-Proofing them didn't.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

Baroclinicity's picture

How so?  (This isn't an inflammatory "prove your statement" question, this is an "I had no idea, honestly" question)

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Because Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer ever and its one of the few sports where opposing opinions on the subject are just wrong. Basketball? You can come up with a guy or two to challenge Jordan. Football is hard in and of itself because of the unique nature of the game and its multiple positions. Baseball gets into a murky era vs. era argument. Ask the right puck head and he'll tell you why Gretzky isn't the greatest.
I just don't know if anyone has dominated his sport like Tiger has. The fact that he hasn't caught Jack in Major wins (and he will) isn't enough for me. Distance, clutch putting, accuracy, and killer instinct in a sport that doesn't always necessitate its players to have one.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

Baroclinicity's picture

Fair enough, but I'm more inquiring about how to Tiger-proof a course.  I don't follow golf enough, so I'm not sure of his weaknesses, etc.  Do they add more bunkers?  Cup placement on the green?

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Bradyhokescholesterol's picture

Come on. Courses change with every generation. The PGA didn't Tiger Proof courses. They 460cc and 4 piece golf ball proof courses. If they want to tiger proof, they take away favorable rough length along the fairways and bring more out of bounds into play. All the PGA did was lengthen the course to account for the added length of modern equipment and speed up the greens. No one Tiger Proofed anything. The course changes on a weekly basis, unlike traditional team sports where courts and fields remain a constant. To say tiger proofing is a quantifiable adjustment made by a go evening body borders on absurdity and conspiracy.

Gametime's picture

Dude you apparently don't pay attention to golf media then:
'Tiger-proofing' Augusta took a toll on all - ESPN.
Tiger-proofing Augusta - Golf Digest.
'Tiger-proofing' golf courses yields surprises - NewsObserver
TIGER-PROOFING STILL WORKS AT AUGUSTA - San Diego Union-Tribune.
Yo, PGA Tour: Still think 'Tiger-proofing' golf courses was a good idea? - WorldGolf
What you explained they did is BECAUSE of Tiger.

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

buckskin's picture

Gretzky isn't the greatest.  That's a good one.

RedStorm45's picture

Tiger-proofing...as if the other guys play a different course.

faux_maestro's picture

Actually, Augusta National DID IN FACT "Jack proof" the course. In 1965 Jack shot -17 to break the tournament record (by 3 shots over Ben Hogan's record). In 1966 the players showed up to the course to find several bunkers in the driving areas (that only Jack could reach at the time) including the 2 on the left side of the 18th fairway. The end result? Jack won anyway (though he was 17 shots worse and had to win in a playoff). 
 
Also, FUCK DAVE WINFIELD.

Inní mér syngur vitleysingur

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Agreed.  Until Tiger equals or exceeds Jack's slams total period end of story.  Equipment is much better these days so distance, accuracy etcetera doesn't really mean squat.  Also, think about all the great players back then, so many legends Nicklaus had to compete against, versus the players Tiger is going against today (Sergio Garcia ... really?).  The Golden Bear is definitely the GOAT at this point.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

pjtobin's picture

Growing up a Miami Dolphin fan ( I have no clue why?!?!), I think Mr. Dan Marino should be listed as Pennsylvania's #1. That is complete homerizm I know. But he held or holds most of the qb records. He never got a ring. He never left the team that drafted him though. I think he was the best passer of all time. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

harleymanjax's picture

PETER EDWARD ROSE DAMNIT!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

TBDBITL0509's picture

A) Surprised Larry Legend doesn't outrank the bowler. 
B) I ... I think you kinda talked this Clevelander out of blindly hating LeBron. I mean, I don't love him, but that was a brilliant POV.

Johnny Ginter's picture

one cool thing i learned while making this list is that cy young is from ohio. neat!

MN Buckeye's picture

It seems so appropriate that the top athlete from Wisconsin was a bowler.  Probably a tossup between bowler and professional beer-drinker.  Or more likely both.

cajunbuckeye's picture

I'd pick Rocky Bleier, just for the life story. After him, the bowler of course; or maybe Abner Dalrymple. It's slim pickens when your looking for greatness in the cheese state.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

Hovenaut's picture

Adding Alan Ameche as another great from 'sconsin.

"The Horse" won the 1954 Heisman Trophy and scored the iconic winning touchdown for the Baltimore Colts over the New York Giants in the famed 1958 NFL Championship.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

Johnny Ginter's picture

i was just making fun of wisconsin with that one

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

Got to be honest...The Hick from French Lick is listed a little too low for my taste.

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

BrewstersMillions's picture

Its one stat cherry picked to prove a fading point. Its the last hold out in the debate.
Jack WAS the youngest ever grand slam winner. Tiger beat him by 2 years.
Jack WAS the only triple grand slam winner-Tiger did that too.
Jack HAD the record at Augusta until Tiger broke it. At 22.
Jack won 18 Majors over a period of 24 years. Tiger won his 14 in a span of ten. That's 40 majors that Tiger won %35 of.
But for a ridiculous amount of attention about a series of mistakes the guy made in his personal life, Tiger would have obliterated Jack's record. Instead we have to wait 4 more years for him to do it....
Tiger had no peers because in a solo sport he terrified other golfers. There are countless times guys played outside of themselves because Tiger was either chasing them or they were chasing him. Hundreds of errant shots were taken because he was simply near the top of the leader board.
 
 

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

Baroclinicity's picture

In regards to the 4 more years comment, maybe.
I'm not certain that Tiger hasn't used PEDs which could have accelerated a lot of those numbers.  I know, I know, there's nothing out there, but it's a hunch, and I reserve the right to, shall we say, let some doubt linger.  Also, I wonder how well his body will hold up.  I remember a few years back there were some people talking about the torque Tiger puts on his leg from his drives especially, and that he might not hold up.  Then he had the surgery after the US Open, I believe, when he defeated Rocco?  I don't know, has he changed his form?  Is it still a concern?  Is he going to be nickel and dimed with injuries the rest of the way that could hamper his efforts?  That's where my lack of following leaves me in the dark.
Not sure he'll get the majors record ever.  The mental moxie he had just isn't there anymore.  Can he get it back?  Possibly.  But he only needs 3 or 4 more tournaments to leap frog Snead.  Fairly certain that one is a gimme.
But, this isn't overly argumentative towards your post.  I agree with a lot of what you say.  He won, in a sense, in the past even when he lost, just because he was there.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

faux_maestro's picture

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/anthony-galea-pleads-guilty-drugs_n_891672.html
 
Let me just say, I started thinking something was up with Tiger in about 2007. That's when I noticed that he started getting pretty big, much more muscular than he had been. Anyway, after he came back from the "incident" he was much smaller. This coincides with Anthony Galea's time treating athletes in this country illegally.  

Inní mér syngur vitleysingur

Oyster's picture

Let Nicklaus play with the technology out there today and see how well he would have done, or flip the scenario and put Tiger playing with clubs/balls that Nicklaus used.  That would be a good barometer of who was better.  Go even further and bring Bobby Jones into this.  

anonymouschickopinion's picture

You forgot the single most important fact about Shaq in the past year...the Gold bond commercial. He rubs his face so thoroughly, you know it's working. Only a man who shamelessly sprays anti-itch cream on himself on tv could make this list. 

+1 HS
Smanpoint10's picture

In the Lebron section was I the only person to read the "oh nooooo" part in a Kevin Hart voice?
 
sidenote: I really want to watch The Sandlot now

Gametime's picture

NO you weren't, that's what made me LOL!!! And for those who don't know:
 

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

gravey's picture

Red Grange anybody?  He could easily displace Butkus or Montana depending on the state you wanted to put him in.   Dude was a freak athlete.