In Big Ten parlance today is the day before the next lowering of the boom against Penn State. As expected, Penn State football is starting to dominate headlines this summer in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky verdict. Next up is the release of the independent investigation of former FBI head Louis Freeh, which will be released at 9 am et tomorrow. All reports are that it is not going to be favorable to Joe Paterno or the culture of the program as several reports are implying that an element of administrative concealment was in play. But today is much lighter fare, and the Big Ten Conference continues to release news on a daily basis that impacts on field matters. We’ll start with Big Ten Bowl Alliances.
The B1G released its 2012 bowl schedule which is of obvious interest to every one of you as we’ve come to expect that we will be a participant in one of these games (and hopefully a BCS game for the first time) for the fifth consecutive season. Clearly, the general sentiment among most fans is to just win one, any one, and end the nation’s (God, I can’t bear myself to use a negative superlative with NU in the same sentence) you-know-what. Let’s review:
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (ESPN): Wednesday, Dec. 26, 7:30 pm et – Big Ten vs MAC
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (ESPN): Friday, Dec. 28, 9pm et – Big Ten vs Big 12
Valley of the Sun Bowl -aka Insight (ESPN): Saturday Dec. 29, 10:15 pm et – Big Ten vs. Big 12
TicketCity (ESPNU) : Tuesday, January 1, noon et – Big Ten vs. Conference USA
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (ESPN2): Tuesday, January 1, 12pm et – Big Ten vs. SEC
Capital One Bowl (TBD): Tuesday, January 1, 1 pm et – Big Ten vs. SEC
Outback Bowl (TBD): Tuesday, January 1, 1 pm et – Big Ten vs. SEC
Rose Bowl (ESPN): Tuesday, January 1, 4 pm et – BCS vs. BCS (likely Big Ten vs. Pac-12)
From a Wildcat perspective the thing that jumps off the page to me are the bowls we’ve yet to play in, a list that keeps on dwindling. The ‘Cats have yet to play in the Gator Bowl, Capital One Bowl or the Valley of the Sun (formerly Insight Bowl, not to be confused with the Sun Bowl). Granted the Capital One Bowl is really an evolution of the Citrus Bowl which we played in after the ’96 season, so if you want to stretch the bowl history here, you’re looking at the Gator Bowl and Valley of the Sun Bowl as the two “new” bowls. However, in the minds of bowl committees and Jim Phillips, recent bowl appearances are of much more consideration. When you consider outside of the Outback Bowl, we’ve really not played in any other marquee bowls (and don’t let the January 1 date of the TicketCity Bowl fool you). This comes in to consideration for what I’d call NU bowl fatigue. It’s hard to get a fan base to motivate to return to say the TicketCity Bowl or the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas after being there so recently and it not being a major bowl game. I know, I know, you don’t care which one as long as we win the thing, I get it.
We’ve also become pretty Big 12 (formerly)-centric in our opponent base with Texas A&M (former Big 12), Texas Tech (Big 12) and Missouri (former Big 12) as three of our last four bowl opponents. If you want to have fun with this you could say we’re SEC-centric as Auburn, Missouri and Texas A&M are all members of the same conference moving forward. This shouldn’t be a surprise based on the SEC and Big 12 tie-ins with so many of our bowls. My dream scenario would be an NU -Stanford match-up in Pasadena.
Northwestern Link Love
There are several interesting stories that you’ve passed along as of late that I’d love to share with you. In no particular order:
- Adam Rittenberg’s stadium countdown has Ryan Field come in at 10 of 12 in the Big Ten with only Purdue and Indiana trailing the Evanston relic.
- Stefan Demos has been kicking for the Arena League’s San Antonio Talons and this ChicagoSideSports blog does an awesome job of getting the goods on Stefan’s emotions surrounding the missed kicks in the Outback Bowl including the fact he didn’t go to class for two weeks following the game because of the pain it caused.
- Countdown mode is on the ESPN.com Big Ten blog and Northwestern comes in as the #11 ranked coaching position in the conference. This one we’ll take head-on tomorrow in an “underrated” post. I love AR but think he was off on both rankings for NU as the stadium should’ve been lower and the coaching position should be a tad higher.
- The purple mafia list continues to grow as SI’s Andy Staples featured Wildcat alum Steve Shenbaum, a media coach and friend of LTP on how he is taking his talents of media coaching from sports celebrities to elite high school recruits. Shemmy had a previous career as an actor and appeared in Space Jam, American Pie and my personal fav, an American Express commercial with Jerry Seinfeld. We’ll have him on LTP soon.
- Our friends at Nebraska blog, Big Red Network are talking payback already big time. Funny how their arguments smack of the same logic heading in to the 2011 game. We’ve got a Q&A home and home coming up with Nebraska, Indiana and Michigan blogs very soon.
- It’s not a link, but relevant to NU fans as Iowa has signed head basketball coach to a seven year deal.
- Sophomore center Brandon Vitabile has been named to the Rimington Watch List awarded to the nation’s best center. He is one of six Big Ten candidates and the only sophomore from the conference on the list (one of eight sophomores nationally).
- Also, recently profiled Purple Mafia member, Todd Martin, was named chair of the US Open Sportsmanship committee. We told you he was tennis’ good guy. One postscript to that feature came from Willie W. who sent me the transcript of his 1995 US Open press conference the day Northwestern upset Notre Dame. It was awesome talking about how excited he was for the program and how he was watching it at the Open.
Danny Moran of WildcatReport.com posted a feature on LB Anthony Walker Jr., a 6-1, 210 lbs LB from the Miami, Florida area (Opa Locka Monsignor) who has Northwestern as a clear #1 on his list right now. Walker Jr. has offers from Purdue, Minnesota and Florida International but once again the academic component is a differentiator in combination with the ability to play in the Big Ten.