Probably the biggest news of the weekend came via Teddy Greenstein, who reported that the B1G had inquired to Northwestern about moving to the East in conference division realignment, based on the fact it is a national school with large alumni contingents up and down the eastern seaboard. Jim Phillips and team said “no thanks” as the alignment would have had NU alongside Michigan,Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, and Maryland, leaving a relatively clean East/West division split. Obviously, that would have been least advantageous to us from a travel convenience factor and we have some natural rivalries that have developed with the likes of Iowa and Nebraska (I know only two games so far, but they’ve been doozies) plus Illinois and even Wisconsin that would blossom more being in the same division -and easier drives for fans make the west more attractive. You can read more about Teddy’s report here.
Gopher Time, Gulp!
I’ve already reframed my thoughts on this year’s basketball team and am looking at it as incredible playing experience to make our slew of freshmen battle-tested for next year. Otherwise, I’ll simply get depressed. #9 Minnesota (13-1,1-0) hosts Northwestern tonight at the Barn (6pm ct, BTN) in what should be another bloodbath as Tubby Smith has the state hoops fans in euphoria after blasting Sparty to open B1G play. The Gophers are a match-up nightmare as they play above the rim and Rodney Williams will certainly add to his highlight reel season tonight. They’ve got size (Trevor Mbakwe), speed (Andre Hollins) and a true team chemistry that once again shows how much other teams are progressing program-wise (remember last year’s battles against Minnesota?) while we are going in reverse, albeit, greatly contributed to by injuries. I simply can’t wait until Reggie Hearn gets back so we can at least have some semblance of hope.
LTP Bowl Mania
We’ve got just two games left in the LTP Bowl Mania contest and the bragging rights of hosting Gary Barnett’s game-worn jacket for a full year. And, wouldn’t you know it, things got crazy this weekend. Thanks to Ole Miss blasting Pitt yesterday and Johnny Football putting on a clinic Friday night, we have a new leader. “Vedderkj71” is in first place, but will likely not finish there as the current leader has 465 points, but just 3 possible points remaining (PPR). “The REAL Purple Wildcats” is in second, just eight points behind the leaders with 457, but has a significant 39 PPR and is in good shape should he go 2-0 today (Kent State vs Arkansas State) and tomorrow’s national championship game. Dan Baren 1 is very much alive tied in second with 457 and has 29 PPR. Our fearless leader, “Fire Carmody” who had been leading from the opening kickoff, has been eliminated and his in fourth with 454 points, yet just 3 PPR. Yours truly is back in RespectableVille with 409 points and I’m still technically alive with 65 PPR. We’ll update the standings in the morning and then award the Barnett Purple Jacket on Tuesday.
Syracuse’s Marrone Taking Bills Job; Another Plus For 2013
The news keeps on getting better. Michigan State’s slew of stars are bolting for the NFL. Now, Pinstripe Bowl champion Syracuse, a 2013 non-conference opponent, is in the hunt for a new head coach, at least according to ESPN.com, who is reporting he has taken the Buffalo Bills job. This will mark the third non-conference opponent we’ll face that will be under the direction of a NEW head coach (Cal, Western Michigan are the other two). We love off-season mayhem, especially when it benefits us. Tough loss for the ‘Cuse as Marrone had that program big time arrow up this season.
Alviti Shines in Semper Fi
Matt Alviti was the top performer in the Semper Fi All-American game played in Carson, California in a losing effort for the West squad. Alviti was 10-12, 104 yds in the game and reportedly wowed with his arm and his feet. You can read more about the likes that Alviti upstaged here.
‘Cats Lose Out On Jaleel Hytchye
This one is a recruiting shocker. The ‘Cats seemed to be in prime position to land Cincinnati area DB star, Jaleel Hytchye, yet we lost out to another Wildcats program – Kentucky. The two schools don’t really compare in many ways, especially in on field performance and definitely not in the classroom, yet I’ve stopped trying to get inside the heads of 17-year-olds a long time ago. Best of luck to Jaleel on his journey. You can read more about it here in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The now infamous bowl monkey which was shredded to pieces in Jacksonville by the Northwestern Wildcats might make some money. I’ve had a couple of you email me about the stuffing’s whereabouts and even offer to pay for it in an auction. We’ll check and see if there are any remnants back in Evanston.
Kafka A Patriot
I didn’t know the NFL even did “reserve/future” contracts, but they do. And Northwestern’s very own Mike Kafka is a recipient of one such deal which ensures he’ll be a New England Patriot to start next football season. Kafka, a fourth round pick in 2010 who was waived by the Eagles earlier this year, will compete with Ryan Mallett (former Arkansas/Michigan QB) for the back-up job. Here is the news on the ESPNBoston blog. As a Pats fan, I couldn’t be any happier.