Meet Me In St. Louis
ST. LOUIS -- Today we drove out of the cold and into the warmth of St. Louis. It's a bit jarring going from watching a game in freezing rain on Saturday, to lounging outside our hotel room where it is 72 degrees and sunny, all without boarding a plane. Not only has the weather improved, but we are also on our way to cover what has become the biggest game of the college football season.
It had always been a dream of mine to go to an OSU-Michigan game, and in my wildest dreams I couldn't imagine that the game I was going to see the following week would be even better.
One of my favorite things about college sports is that Cinderellas actually do exist. Nobody in the world could've predicted that the Kansas-Missouri would be the game of the year in college football and I couldn't be more excited about it. I think this comes at a time when this sort of shake up is desperately needed, particularly in the Big 12. The Big Ten is another story, and Matt and I were discussing the Big Ten status breakdown over a delicious Cracker Barrel meal.
The Grey Ghost needed a wash before lunch.
This conversation started because we had just been at Franklin College, where Terry Hoeppner, the late Indiana University coach had played and gotten his coaching start. You can check out more on Hoeppner in today's video, "Memory Lane."
Before his untimely death, Hoeppner was attempting to turn around an Indiana University program that has been stuck at or near the Big Ten cellar for as long as I can remember. It seems that the Big Ten has a clearly defined hierarchy that is relatively constant regardless of the year.
This is where your Big Ten winner is coming, and every year they pump out at a national title contender.
3)Wisconsin (capable of dropping into the Penn State division, jury is still out on coach Bret Bielema)
INJURED TOP DOG
There was a time when Penn State was a perennial contender, sadly that time has passed. While they still have talent, an unbelievable home crowd, and a fantastic song chant that Meyers has gotten stuck in my brain, they just don't have the legs to run with the Top Dogs.
4) Penn State
These four schools are essentially interchangeable. They are good/decent football programs, sometimes ranked, sometimes not.
7) Illinois (possible risers)
8) Michigan State
BAD DOGS THAT GOT LOCKED IN THE BASEMENT
These three schools might as well be playing in the MAC.
There are a number of possible reasons that this hierarchy hasn't dominated the Big 12. For one, the way the Big 12 is split with the two alpha dogs (Texas and Oklahoma) both in the south division, it leaves the north side more up in th air. On the other hand, this year could just be an aberration and we are all extremely lucky.
Unfortunately I don't think we'll ever see the Big Ten add a twelfth team and split into two conferences. The way they are configured allows for an Ohio State or Michigan to have a fairly easy conference schedule and coast to the championship game without a signature win (see Ohio State).
A couple of non-football thoughts about Franklin College. We rolled into campus at around 10 a.m. on a Monday and there was a not a soul around. Seriously, no one. On our walk into the athletic center we debated what was going on. Our first thought was that it was possible that the students had all of Thanksgiving week off. Nope. Our second theory was that Franklin College was a huge Sunday party school and that everybody slept in on Mondays. nope. As it turns out, Franklin College has a student body of about 1,000.
Matt and I both went to smallish schools, and couldn't imagine what the social life is like at a school Franklin's size. After hanging out and having fun with students from Wisconsin and Michigan the past two weeks, I'm even more perplexed. This is not a slight against Franklin, it seemed like a great school with top notch facilities, just socially . . .
The Franklin mascot is the Grizzly . . . yet they have a dead skinned bear on the wall.
The other amusing part of our Franklin College visit was sneaking a peak into the gymnasium where a basketball gym class was taking place. Gym class in college is humorous enough in its own right, but this particular game was a 3-on-3 (apparently the other 18 members of the Franklin student body were still sleeping) full court battle, that had TWO refs AND a teacher watching. College gym class, gotta love it!