Final Thoughts Before the Big Ten Season Kicks Off
Phil Harrison gets you ready for all the fun prior to Big Ten games each week.
- I have to admit, I’m ready for this whole P.J. Fleck experiment at Minnesota. It’s been fun watching his high energy get after it already. My money is on him making the Gophers a legit force in the conference in a few short years.
- On that note, what’s the over/under on Fleck taking his team down to the Mississippi River to row an actual boat? Sounds like a great team-building exercise.
- Okay, Kevin Wilson, you were brought to Columbus to make Ohio State the program instead of Alabama. This thing better work in a jiffy.
- Speaking of Ohio State, doesn’t it seem like quarterback J.T. Barrett should have a doctorate degree of some sort by now? To use one of the most overused cliches in football, “we’ve seen him literally grow up before our very own eyes.”
- Jim Harbaugh is officially on the clock this season. I know it’s only the beginning of year three, but if he doesn’t get Michigan to at least a share of the East Division, they may stop selling khakis at the local Gap stores there in Ann Arbor and Detroit.
- I’ll admit it — I don’t really know what to expect from Michigan State this year. There’s talent there, but the offensive line might struggle early on, the jury is still out on quarterback Brian Lewerke, and the secondary needs to be light years better than last year.
- Ditto on Northwestern and Iowa. Then again, that’s every year. In fact, a little investment advice for you; stay far, far away from the lines and straight up picks for the Wildcats and Hawkeyes. They always seem to bring forth the unexpected, and not always in a good way.
- Speaking of Iowa, is the administration ready to pony up yet another contract extension if Ferentz can make it to work every day without losing his keys?
- Just a public service announcement here for Penn State fans — yes, you had a great year in 2016. Let me remind you that it was only one year. I’ll believe the Nittany Lions are back and that James Franklin can jump over Mount Nittany in one single bound if we see it happen with more frequency. Until then, let’s use some restraint in the chest-thumping department.
- So Jim Harbaugh has his own podcast in the works? Yeah, this should be a hoot…
- Memo to Wisconsin; if ever there was a year the schedule was laid out like a yellow brick road to Oz, it’s this one. No Ohio State or Penn State, and Michigan at home? This is the year to get the CFP monkey off your back.
- Does anyone else feel like the Lovie Smith/Illinois marriage is about to head towards counseling? The honeymoon will be over this year, and I’m not sure it’s going to work. But maybe I’m wrong.
- I’ve been feeling now for a long time that Nebraska needs to blow up the culture that has slowly morphed into ambiguity and get back to the triple option. Get those corn-fed offensive linemen, go after speed on defense and get back to the roots that worked.
- Overrated: The Lovie Smith hire at Illinois. Underrated: The Jeff Brohm hire at Purdue.
- I want to believe that Rutgers and Maryland are going to be better off in the long run with Chris Ash and D.J. Durkin calling the shots. I really do. Then, I realize that Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State are all in the same division.
- On that note, maybe we were a little too hard on the wacky Leaders and Legends division names. At least the alignment was a bit more competitive. Call them Laurel and Hardy for all I care, as long as we get better balance. Right Wisconsin?
Alright. It’s here. Time to set up the man cave, stock up on copious amounts of meat products and beverages (whatever your fav is), and set the alarm for early January. It’s about time to kick this year off in style.
Phil Harrison is the lead Big Ten writer for College Football News. Get his opinion and analysis all year long. Follow him on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB