by Andrew J. Maurer / admericaaaf.org columnist
From Where I Sit [Oct. 20, 2006]
You're a good Manningham, Charlie Brown!
Big Ten competition becoming an oxymoron as conference descends into a “peanut” gallery of poor teams.
Good grief! Calm down, Ann Arbor.
I’m supposed to be the worried malcontent here, remember?
Earlier this week, it was announced that Mario Manningham would miss some time after undergoing a knee operation and my whole world quickly descended into a room full of panicked friends and readers. After all, this week was Michigan’s last “true test” of the season before Ohio State, on the road, without their star, and with Penn State looking for revenge.
I’d have been concerned. But then I took a deep breath and remembered the following things:
- Penn State is an unranked, beaten twice (now thrice), absolutely terrible team.
- Penn State got absolutely blown off the field by a Notre Dame team, we, subsequently blew off the field—hence we could (and should have) blown Penn State off the field.
- Penn State would play us this year without their graduated senior QB Michael Robinson. (And as it turned out, without current starter Anthony Morelli or even current backup QB Daryll “Splat” Clark.)
- Did I mention how bad PSU is? They needed a shanked extra point in OT to beat the hapless, Laurence Maroney-less, Minnesota Golden Gophers
- We still have Arrington, who is Manningham without a “Super” marketing gimmick.
- This season, there is no “true test” before Ohio State. And if the Big Ten schedule were a test, so far every team that isn’t the Wolverines or Buckeyes would be a FALSE answer, anyhow.
Naturally, I was proven right. The only Nittany Lion “revenge” to speak of was quarterback Morelli shouting, “AVENGE ME!” right before Alan Branch sat on his face.
And of course, everyone is excited about Ohio State and Michigan being #1 and #2 in the AP poll. Here's my two cents: When you have two conference teams at the top of a poll, both undefeated, and thus far unchallenged, isn't that more of an indictment of the Big Ten than anything else?
Hold on, let me ask that same question again, but how the national pollsters and TV Executives hear it as they await (or manufacture) a possible Buckeye vs. Wolverine BCS showdown….
I keep getting the strange feeling that Lloyd Carr isn‘t so much rising to renewed glory as waving good-bye to all his Big Ten opponents, watching them sink one by one into a grotesque abyss, where perennial punching-bag Indiana is in a three-way tie for second place.
And I’m not the only columnist questioning the credibility of the Big Ten. Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press has similar thoughts. [see related article]
It is impossible to overstate how bad the Big Ten Conference is right now. Who am I supposed to take seriously? Michigan State? Who lost to Illinois, at home, during Homecoming. Iowa? Who plummeted out of the AP poll from #15 after getting torched by Indiana. (Yeah, but the Big House is no Bloomington.) Penn State? My God, did you watch that game? At one point, I swore the offensive coordinators were playing “Pong” with their punting units! I kept hoping the U of M placeholder would turn into Lucy and snatch up the ball from Rivas during his FGA—just to liven things up a bit.
Yes, the Big Ten has the #1 and #2 team in the country—but it’s possible, nay probable, that they will finish without another ranked team in the entire conference. (Currently, Wisconsin is the only other AP ranked team, clinging to #21) Eight of the eleven teams have 2 loses or more, six of the eleven teams—more than half the Big Ten have three losses or more! Folks, we’re roughly halfway through the season.
There are at least seven (7) teams right now in the Big Ten (Purdue, Michigan State, Penn State, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and Northwestern) that couldn’t stay in the Top 25 if some ninety-five other teams quit Division I NCAA Football in order to concentrate on academics. (And you’ll be able to add Iowa to that list in a few short days. Sorry Hawkeyes, as it turns out, you were only a sleeper because you were dreaming at #15!)
Now, Block M Heads, you are not completely waiting for the Great Pumpkin to come.
Ron English has this defense playing like Joe Cool. And they are NASTY! I’m talking Stephen Jackson, Indiana Pacers, outside the club, with the safety off nasty. I love Ron English. He does everything intense. When Coach English calls a play, he does it with a scowl, when he drinks Gatorade he does it angry, when he reads poetry—well, uh, his poetry book is mostly for show. (He uses it to waffle Charles Stewart upside the head every time he loses containment or at least that’s what I imagine him doing.)
In fact, I’d like to take this opportunity to announce that FWIS is officially endorsing Ron English as the future Head Football Coach for the University of Michigan. (Yes, we’re still canning Carr for English.) He’s a bad, bad man. And I’d like to see how his aggression would transfer over to the offensive playbook.
Which bring us to you, Chad Henne.
I’ve always defended you, but this has got to stop. You lost Braylon Edwards and forgot how to touch pass. Now you lose Mario Manningham and forget how to throw down field. Despite Arrington having speed to burn, somehow you turn into John Navarre Version 2.0 and either overthrow him by 15 yards or have balls batted down at the line?
Chad Henne’s new nickname should be “Linus.” Apparently, he can only function properly with a familiar blue safety blanket wearing either #1 or #86.
Although, admittedly, offensive coordinator Mike DeBord should be required to perform with the Marching Band during halftime shows, just so he can honestly do something—anything—of interest to the crowd.
In the fourth quarter, English’s defense had more PSU quarterbacks scraped off the field (1), than DeBord’s “game-plan” had points (0). During this final period, the Wolverines made only 3 first downs….
As Peppermint Patty might say: Well Chuck, who really needs points against this competition?
Certainly, not the #2 team in the country—now that most of Big Ten has gone to the dogs.
ANDREW J. MAURER (AKA Wolf Vereen) is a 2000 graduate of the University of Michigan and a professional writer, having trained at Second City (Detroit) in sketch comedy writing. He also wrote the short-lived comic book series, “Masters Of The Ring” and is the author of two books currently in submission. He is represented by the Richard Henshaw Group of New York, NY.
SOURCES: This article was researched through various sites and transcripts from
www.freep.com, www.espn.com, www.mgoblue.com, www.ncaasports.com and www.wikipedia.com
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