Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ed Thomas to be on Sports Illustrated cover for July 6, 2009

The July 6, 2009 story in Sports Illustrated is titled "he Was The Rock That This Community Was Built On". On the cover, the headline says "A Good Man Down"... Tragedy in the Heartland... A Murder of a Beloved High School Coach by Lee Jenkins.

Clearly Ed Thomas was a remarkable man. God fearing and community driven, he helped lead the small community of Parkersburg, Iowa in the classroom, on the field, in the Church and in the Community. RIP and thank you for your contribution to humanity.


Monday, June 29, 2009

A Town In Iowa puts a fine man to rest, after a shocking act of violence

A well written article on Ed Thomas and the Parkersburg community that laid him to rest on June 29, 2009. Faith after shock - Yahoo Sports by Josh Peter
Article on the Ed Thomas funeral and recap of this strong man, leader and neighbor...

It’s spiritual warfare. Satan and God are fighting, and in the end I
believe God will win
.” – Gary Hinders, Parkersburg town clerk


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Four-Year Big Ten Standings: Where are teams likely headed in the Conference in Football in '09

Lindy Sports always publishes it's "Four-Year Standings" and the 2009 Big Ten Preview is no different (page 82). "Every team in the league has been to a bowl in the past four seasons" in the Big Ten Conference the magazine points out. Lindy Sports points out that the wealth in the conference is held in Columbus with the Ohio State Buckeyes (2 outright, 2 shared titles in 4 years). The only team showing a glimmer of wealth has been Penn State Nittany Lions, with two shared conference titles ('05 and '08) over the past 4 years.

  1. Ohio State (20-3 in the conference) - clearly the PROGRAM in the Big Ten Confernece, but nationally Buckeyes' BCS woes in the title games ('06 and '07) have given the Big Ten a bad mark nationally.

  2. Penn State (23-9) - Joe Pa isn't getting any younger and the Hawkeyes knocked out the Nittany Lions BCS title hopes in '08. Can the Nittany Lions make another run in '09 and get over the hump in sharing titles with the Buckeyes?

  3. Wisconsin (20-12) - Lindy's points out "From 7-1 in 2008 to 5-3 to 3-5; turnaround in order?" But, does coach Bret Bielema have the Mojo in Year 4 with his own troops? Look at where his move to K-State prior to Madison lead that program's discipline and success.

  4. Michigan (20-12) - Coach Rich Rodriguez hit rock bottom after Year 1 at 2-6 in Ann Arbor! Will Rodriguez enjoy a bowl season like year two at his previous gig?

  5. Iowa (18-16) - Iowa finished 5-3 in '08 and in '05, after a strong three year run from '02 to '04. Is Iowa headed into another strong upswing that coach Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes enjoyed before?

  6. Northwestern (15-17) - Coach Pat Fitzgerald lead the Wildcats to the Alamo in '08... which isn't the Rose, but a good direction, none the less, for the boys from Evanston.

  7. Purdue (13-18) - Coach Danny Hope brings "Hope" to Purdue in the post-Joe Tiller era!

  8. Michigan State (12-20) - Coach Mark Dantonio has lead the Spartans to two straight bowls in his first two seasons at the helm in East Lansing. Spartans are moving up!

  9. Minnesota (10-22) - Despite the record, the Golden Gophers have been to 3 bowls in 4 years... will coach Tim Brewster's third season continue the bowl dates in year one of a school's new outdoor on-campus stadium?

  10. Illinois (10-22) - Four years under coach Ron Zook has earned the Fighting Illini one Rose Bowl trip... "Was 2007 BCS season just an aberration?" Lindy asks!

  11. Indiana (8-24) - Coach Bill Lynch lead the Hoosiers to their first bowl, since 1993, but... "Was 2007 bowl season just an aberration?" Lindy asks!

Lindy's says "Tell the BCS to save a seast for the Buckeyes... again." Can one real argue with that call in the Big Ten Conference? 2009 would make it five for five in the BCS for Ohio State. On the Rivals Network, the free board on the Ohio State site asks the question: Biggest Challange in the Big Ten? Right now, it may be the Buckeyes themselves... coach Jim Tressel returns 5 starters on offense, 7 starters on defense and must break in a new punter. Lindy's ranks Terrelle Pryor the conference's top QB

Lindy's says "Watch for Joe Paterno in front of the thick pack of Big Ten teams scuffling for second place." Looking at the Nittany Lions conference schedule, getting off the blocks fast happened in '05 and '08, but that was not the case in '06 and '07 where Joe Pa's teams started 0-1 and 0-2, respectively. Joe Pa returns 5 starters on offense, 4 on defense and must break in a new plackkicker, which is always interesting in close games. Lindy's ranks the Penn State linebackers #1 in the conference.

PSU, Iowa and Illinois would each appear to need strong starts to be contenders in '09. Of course, fast starts are always important in conference play!

Lindy's says "This program seems to be on the rise again, and this year it could reach even higher." The Spartans return 7 starters on offense, 8 on defense and both kickers, so they have a good base to draw upon. But, with their top QB and RB gone... leadership will be tested for Dantonio's Spartans. Lindy's ranks the Spartans linebackers #2 in the conference.

Lindy's says "In the last year of a closing window, Illinois will treat its fan base to another exciting season." The Fighting Illini return 8 starters on offense, 5 on defense and both kickers. Coach Zook is questioned for his execution, but this is a team that walked into Columbus in '07 and pulled off a victory, but the defense remains a big question, while the offense should continue to show improvement. As mentioned, a good start in the conference is important for the Fighting Illini. Lindy's ranks the Fighting Illini receivers #1 in the conference.

Lindy's says "The schedule guarantees enough wins for a bowl -- enough to keep fans off Bielema's back? The Badgers are a quarterback away from being a dangerous team in the Big Ten? Further, the defense has some holes to fill in '09. Wisconsin returns 6 starters on offense, 5 on defense and both kickers. The Badgers special teams need to step up to the potential many feel they have. While Army1 on the Rivals Network will disagree, but they are overrated in this category. Coach Bielema personally oversees special teams... will the unit mirror the coach's success in '09? Lindy's ranks the Badgers special teams #1, despite comments of work needed by both kickers.

Lindy's says "Unfortunately, the scheduling gods have set up some "road" blocks for the Hawkeyes this year." Iowa returns 6 starters on offense, 8 on defense and both kickers. The success under Kirk Ferentz starts typically in the trenches. The interior lines on both sides must replace two starters each. This is the key for Iowa in '09 and they have returning letterwinners back to fill those positions, unlike '05, when two freshmen had to step up at DT. Lindy's ranks Iowa's offensive line #1 in the conference.

Lindy's says "Middle of the pack will not satisfy anybody, but for now, it's all they get." Michigan returns 10 starters on offense, 5 starters on defense and must break in a new placekicker. The new starter on offense is at quarterback and true freshman Tate Forcier is slated by many. Lindy's points out he is "accurate and confident, but still a freshman." The O-Line and D-Line should provide Rodriguez something to build from in '09. The finale in Ann Arbor hosting Ohio State at season's end may get interesting for the Wolverines... it will be the 4oTh anniversary of Bo's 24-12 win over Hayes and the Buckeyes! Lindy's ranks the Wolverines running backs #1 in the conference.

Lindy's says "The Cats may sneak into a bowl again." Coach Pat Fitzgerald will likely continue to earn respect for the Wildcats in '09. Ironically, Lindy's web site is picturing Ohio State's Jim Tressel on the Northwestern Football page. Coach Fitzgerald returns 5 offensive starters, 8 on defense and must break in new placekicker. Wildcats don't play Ohio State nor Michigan in conference play in '09. Lindy's ranks Northwestern's secondary #1 in the conference.

Lindy's says "Tim Brewster is turning his ship around... but there is still much work to be done." Yes, Brewster is literally turning the offense and defense around replacing his coordinators on both sides. The Minnesota offense will dump the spread for a two-back set, coming off a 55-0 loss in the final Big Ten game and last game in the Metrodome. The vipe is good for the fan base with the new stadium, but will the play on the field hold their interest in '09? Minnesota returns 9 starters on offense, 8 on defense and must replace both kickers. Lindy's ranks Minnesota's receivers #3 in the conference, behind the Fighting Illini and Wolverines.

Lindy's says "Unfamiliar territory for Purdue fans... can Boilers stay ahead of Hoosiers?" In comes Hope, that is new coach Danny Hope, who was Joe Tiller's O-Line coach, when the Boilermakers won a share of the Big Ten in '00 and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Purdue returns 5 starters on offense, 7 on defense and both kickers. Quarterback play of late has been troublesome for the Boilermakers and discipline has been down in West Lafayette as the Joe Tiller's output declined. No Iowa nor Penn State on the Boilermakers schedule for '09. Lindy's doesn't rank Purdue in the Top half of the conference in any of the position rankings, but still out of the cellar.

Lindy's says "No bowl for Hoosier fans this year. It could be worse, but not much." The Hoosiers return 6 starters on offense, 9 starters on defense, and must break in a new placekicker. Defense could be their strength as coach Bill Lynch places a greater emphasis there. Lindy's ranks the Hoosiers defensive line #1 in the conference.

Lindy's has some good information in the 2009 Big Ten preview, but they certainly have some interesting predictions, rankings and comments too.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

The American Youth are failing to garner the fundamentals of once American dominating sport: Basketball

The Wall Street Journal featured an article on June 27, 2009 titled American Kids Flunk Basketball 101 As AAU Leagues Dominate, Basic Skills Decline; Mr. Beasley Decides to Speak Out ...

The article points out Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat. The NBA player finally conceded a fundamental flaw: No one, at any level in his basketball career, had asked him to play defense. And especially not in AAU.
If you’re playing defense in AAU, you don’t need to be playing,” he says. “I’ve
honestly never seen anyone play defense in AAU.”
- Michael Beasley

The NBA is seeing the fundamental game decline. Throw in the fact there is no real minor league and athletes don't want to spend developmental time in the college ranks... the game is on the decline in many respects.


Iowa Football adds another oral commitment from Prep interested in Iowa's Strength and Conditioning

HawkeyeReport.com headline: Wisconsin DL Picks Iowa

After recently naming Iowa as his favorite, Wisconsin native Mike Hardy made
another visit today to get a more in-depth look at the Hawkeyes. By the time he
left, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive lineman decided that he had seen enough
and had found the place where he wanted to play college football. Hardy, who had
several other offers, talks about his decision.
[details] per Blair Sanderson
The Hawkeyes have seven oral commitments per HawkeyeReport.com for the Class of 2010. Of course, signing day isn't until February 3, 2010 for football recruits.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

FBS College Football 2009 kicks off in 70 days on September 3, 2009!

It seems like a late start for College Football in 2009. When is the last time the college football season opened in September, as opposed to August?

Many of the preseason college football magazines have a Top 12 Non-Conference Games list or a Top 12 Conference Games list for '09. Well, why not a Bottom 13 Games list for '09?

Taking from Athlon Sports Top 120 FBS teams for 2009, here is Cidsports Bottom 13 Games for 2009 ...

  1. #120 Western Kentucky (2-10) at #119 North Texas (1-11, 0-7), October 31. The bottom 2 from the Sun Belt square off as Western Kentucky debuts in the Sun Belt in '09. Last year, North Texas picked up it's lone win for '08 at Western Kentucky 51-40.

  2. #118 Idaho (2-10, 1-7) at #117 New Mexico State (3-9, 1-7), September 5. The bottom 2 from the WAC square off to open the season Labor Day weekend. Idaho had the upper hand in '08 20-14.

  3. #113 UL Monroe (4-8, 3-4) at #114 UL Lafayette (6-6, 5-2), November 21. A battle of two more Sun Belt teams.

  4. #111 Kent State (4-8, 3-5) at #116 Eastern Michigan (3-9, 2-6), October 17. A battle of two MAC teams.

  5. #115 Miami-OH (2-10, 1-7) at #110 Temple (5-7, 4-4), November 5. Another battle of two MAC teams.

  6. #107 Army (3-9) at #81 Iowa State (2-10, 0-8), September 26. The weakest projected Independent travels to Ames, Iowa to square off with the bottom team from the Big 12.

  7. #104 Rice (10-3, 7-1) at #106 UAB (4-8, 3-5), September 5. The two bottom projected teams from each C-USA division square off Labor Day weekend.

  8. #105 Wyoming (4-8, 1-7) at San Diego State (2-10, 1-7), November 14. The bottom two projected teams in the MWC face off with each team debuting a new head coach in '09.

  9. #98 SMU (1-11, 0-8) at #88 Washington State (2-11, 1-8), September 19. A C-USA team without a conference win in '08 travels to face the Pac Ten's cellar dweller from '08.

  10. #78 Indiana (3-9, 1-7) at #96 Akron (5-7, 3-5), September 19. The bottom team from the Big Ten travels to a MAC school in another BCS-Mid Major match up.

  11. #61 Minnesota (7-6, 3-5) at #80 Syracuse (3-9, 1-6), September 5. The Golden Gophers open in a new outdoor stadium at home in '09, but they open the '09 season on the road in a dome at the Big East's cellar dweller.

  12. #72 Duke (4-8, 1-7) at #57 Maryland (8-5, 4-4), October 24. The two bottom projected teams from each division of the ACC square off in this conference game.

  13. #73 Mississippi State (4-8, 2-6) at #56 Kentucky (7-6, 2-6), October 31. A Halloween showdown between the bottom 2 from each SEC division.

70 days and counting to the 2009 College Football Season!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2005 NFL High school coach of the year is murdered during weightlifting class at Aplington-Parkersburg

Coach Ed Thomas was a coach and leader for a high school football team, a high school in general as Athletic Director and the community at large as a neighbor and friend. He was a loving husband and father of two sons. Tragically, his life was cut short by a disturbed 24-year old former player in the morning of June 24, 2009, as 20 students were participating in weightlifting.

Coach Thomas was a strong force behind the rebuilding of the City of Parkersburg that was devestated by a terrible EF5 tornado Memorial Day Weekend 2008. The high school was destroyed, along with Coach Thomas own home.

Coach Thomas was the NFL high school coach of the year in 2005. Four current NFL players: Aaron Kampann (Green Bay), Brad Meester (Jacksonville), Jared DeVries (Detroit) and Casey Wiegmann (Denver) were players for Coach Thomas at Aplington-Parkersburg.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz issued the following statement on the death of prominent Iowa high school coach Ed Thomas, who was shot and killed Wednesday ...

"This is a tragic loss for everyone that knew Coach Thomas and our entire
state. He was a highly respected educator, coach, mentor and a strong leader in
the community, as well as the coaching community throughout Iowa. Ed loved his
family and his work, and was an outstanding, selfless person who has impacted
countless lives in a very positive way. Our entire staff and team extend our
deepest sympathies to the Thomas family and the community of Parkersburg."

- Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz
Aplington-Parkersburg coach Ed Thomas murdered - The Gazette

Ed Thomas’ son, Aaron Thomas, spoke at a press conference in Parkersburg this afternoon on the shooting death of his...
More >> PHOTOS: Thousands gather to mourn Ed Thomas - The Gazette

Thousands of friends, family, community members and relatives of Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas turned out... More >> - The Gazette

Sadly, society saw a lost 24-year old throw his life away, along with the life of a beloved man, who inspired so many that he meet or those who were able to learn from his story in Parkersburg. It is sad that there is so much hatred or anger in the world today.

May we find peace. May our prayers and thoughts remain with those impacted and touched by this tragic day and this tragic event. Ed Thomas was a fine man and much more to those who really knew him.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Gazette Reports: Sportswriter Jeff Johnson "snuck in" to the newly renovated Kingston Stadium

The Gazette reported in an online article June 22, 2009 titled PHOTOS: 'New' Kingston Stadium under the lights about the New FieldTurf for Kingston Stadium.

The football teams and marching bands will be participating this fall on the new playing surface. Cedar Rapids Washington will be moving their traditional evening marching band practices to Kingston Stadium now that FieldTurf has been installed.

Check out more photos on Jeff Johnson's blog.


What college football magazines have you purchased or looked at for 2009?

The flow of college football magazines seems a little out of sync this off-season. For starters, seeing Phil Steele's 2009 College Football Preview so early in Barnes & Noble this off-season was a surprise.

The other early purchase was Athlon® Sports College Football National Edition, which like Phil Steele 2009 preview, spotlights all 120 FBS teams.

On Father's Day, I headed into Barnes & Noble again and purchased two Big Ten 2009 preview magazines.
  • Athlon's with Iowa's returning quarterback Ricky Stanzi on the cover

  • Lindy's with Iowa's returning linebacker Pat Angerer on the cover

In the coming weeks, we will breakdown the 2009 College Football season in many of our posts. We will poke into some of the commentary, opinions and spotlights these magazines take season in and season out.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Iowa adds in-state verbal commitment to Class of 2010 in Football

HawkeyeReport.com reports in a headline titled Hawkeyes add in-state commit.
"The Iowa coaching staff seems to have a knack for finding players that are
flying a little under the radar. That is exactly what Huxley athlete Austin Vier
was doing until this past week when he put on a show at the Hawkeyes' camp
earning himself a scholarship offer. Shortly after, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound
Vier, who runs a 4.65 forty, gave his verbal commitment
." - Luke Feddersen
Austin Vier becomes sixth verbal commitment for the Class of 2010 and second in-state commitment for the class.

The Iowa Hawkeyes open the 2009 season at Kinnick Stadium on September 5, 2009, when the Hawkeyes face the University of Northern Iowa. The Hawkeyes are coming off a 9-4 season overall (5-3 in the Big Ten). UNI was 12-3 in '08 and finished runner-up in the FCS division.


Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day 2009

We hope you enjoy the new color scheme and the updates in the content and layout to the cidsports blog.

Looking forward to the upcoming 2009 College Football season in the FBS. Big Ten and Big 12 Football and The Valley in many other sports!

On Iowa! Go Jays! Good luck to Nebraska and Iowa State fans!


June 21, 2009: Happy Father's Day everyone ...

We are about 2-1/2 months away from the start of College Football. The PGA is suffering through a soggy week at Bethpage for the US Open.

Today, it's Father's Day 2009! Happy Father's Day to all!

Cidsports doesn't surf the free board on Rivals Iowa Football message board too often, but we picked up an interesting post on Nebraska and Duke football programs.

Many in the Iowa-Nebraska fan bases would like to see a rivalry in football renewed. Since 1978, Iowa and Nebraska have played six times (home and home). I had the pleasure of attending five of the six games. The Huskers clearly had the better record, but it was a good series for the fans.

My grandfather was from Grand Island, NE originally and I spent six football seasons in Omaha, while at Creighton University and while working my first full time gig, after college. My first college football game as a college student in Nebraska was the Iowa vs. Nebraska game in '82.

iowanole1 on the Rivals Network made an interesting post on the BCS conference schools.
"According to Phil Steele, since 2001, 63 of the 65 BCS teams have beaten a
team in the top 19. One of the two teams not to is Duke, and the other one
is...Drum roll please... Nebraska. Have fun with that one."
- iowanole1

Alum-NI on the Rivals Network provided some additional commentary on the subject, from a Husker fans prospective.
"Unfortunately, I can answer that one. We all know of this "statistic"
far too well.The last win against someone in the Top 19 was on October 27, 2001
when Nebraska defeated #2 Oklahoma 20-10.

Since then, 2001: #14 Colorado (L 36-62)
2001: #1 Miami (L 14-37)
2002: #7 Texas (L 24-27)
2002: #11 Kansas State (L 13-49)
2002: #13 Colorado (L 13-28)
2003: #16 Texas (L 7-31)
2004: #2 Oklahoma (L 3-30)
2005: #15 Texas Tech (L 31-34)
2006: #4 USC (L 10-28)
2006: #5 Texas (L 20-22)
2006: #8 Oklahoma (L 7-21)
2006: #10 Auburn (L 14-17)
2007: #1 USC (L 31-49)
2007: #17 Missouri (L 6-41)
2007: #17 Texas (L 25-28)
2007: #8 Kansas (L 39-76)
2008: #4 Missouri (L 17-52)
2008: #7 Texas Tech (L 31-37 OT)
2008: #4 Oklahoma (L 28-62)

So....the Huskers have lost 19 straight to teams ranked in the top 19.
There have been a lot of close calls in that span, and some blowouts.
Just an ugly monkey we need to get off our backs
." - Alum-NI

I have always enjoyed the Huskers football program dating back to the early 70's and OU vs. NU series. I became a Dr. Tom Osborne fan, while the Huskers were in the old Big 8. Roger Craig has always been my favorite Husker football player. Of course, we have a former Husker football player living in Cedar Rapids today, who was a Osborne recruit and played in the '87 Fiesta Bowl.

It will be interesting to see how second year coach Bo Pelini does in his second year in Lincoln. The former Husker defensive coordinator ('03 season) lead the Huskers to a 9-4 season in '08, after the Husker finished 5-7 in '07 in former Coach Bill Callahan's fourth and final season in Lincoln.

The Duke Blue Devils begin their second season under head coach David Cutcliffe, who improved the Blue Devils to 4-8 in '08, after finishing 1-11 in '07. Duke didn't face a Top 25 team last year. The Blue Devils have lost 18 straight dating from the '01 season.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Athletic News from @iowa - The University of Iowa

Big Ten recognizes 22 Sportsmanship Award winners
The Big Ten recently announced the 22 student-athletes named Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners for the 2008-09 academic year. These individuals were chosen from a group of 276 student-athletes honored throughout the academic year who had displayed positive sportsmanship. Iowa's winners are senior men's tennis player Christian Bierich and senior women's basketball player Wendy Ausdemore. More >> Iowa men's tennis: http://www.hawkeyesports.com/sports/m-tennis/iowa-m-tennis-body.html Iowa women's basketball: http://www.hawkeyesports.com/sports/w-baskbl/iowa-w-baskbl-body.html

Jake Owen scheduled to open FRYFest concert Sept. 4
Country music star Jake Owen is scheduled to open FRYFest concert at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, followed by The Outlaws and headliner The Charlie Daniels Band. Owen is nominated for two Country Music Television (CMT) Music Awards for the song "Life in a Northern Town." Fry -- Iowa's winningest football coach -- will be recognized in this inaugural year of the festival, which is named in his honor and will take place the Friday before Iowa�s first home football game. More >> FryFest: http://www.fryfest.com/


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Big Ten Football: A look at the Quarterbacks for 2009

Ohio State has won a share or won outright the past four Big Ten Conference titles. One common denominator has been that the Ohio State quarterback has lead the conference in pass efficiency each of the four seasons. In 2004, the Buckeyes finished 4-4 in the Big Ten and their top QB wasn't in the Top 3 in passing efficiency that season.

* - Returning Starters

  1. Terrelle Pryor, soph., Ohio State*
  2. Juice Williams, senior, Illinois*
  3. Daryll Clark, senior, Penn State*
  4. Ricky Stanzi, junior, Iowa*
  5. Adam Weber, junior, Minnesota*
  6. Dustin Sherer, senior, Wisconsin*
  7. Ben Chappell, junior, Indiana
  8. Mike Kafka, senior, Northwestern
  9. Joey Elliott, senior, Purdue
  10. Nick Sheridan, junior, Michigan

Top Back-ups returning

  1. Eddie McGee, junior, Illinois
  2. Kirk Cousins, sophomore, Michigan State
  3. Joe Bauserman, sophomore, Ohio State
  4. Dan Persa, sophomore, Northwestern

Top Newcomers

  1. Tate Forcier, true freshman, Michigan
  2. Keith Nichol, sophomore, Michigan State (OU transfer)
  3. Kevin Newsome, true freshman, Penn State
  4. James Vandeberg, redshirt frosh, Iowa
  5. Curt Phillips, redshirt frosh, Wisconsin
  6. MarQueis Gray, Prop 48 freshman, Minnesota
  7. Caleb TerBush, redshirt frosh, Purdue
  8. Adam Follett, redshirt frosh, Indiana

Quarterbacks from 2008 that have departed

  1. Brian Hoyer, senior '08, Michigan State*
  2. C.J. Bacher, senior '08, Northwestern*
  3. Curtis Painter, senior '08, Purdue*
  4. Pat Devlin, sophomore, '08, Penn State (transferred to Delaware)
  5. Kellen Lewis, junior '08, Indiana (dismissed)*
  6. Steven Threet, freshman '08, Michigan (transferred to Arizona State)*

Six starters return in the Big Ten for the 2009 season, including the conference's Top 4 in passing efficiency from '08. Michigan State will have a brand new starter, while part-time starters look to fill the roles at Northwestern, Indiana and Purdue. Michigan may open with a true frosh in the starting lineup.


College Football '09: Will the Big Ten reload, rebound or rebuild?

Last year, Penn State came close, but a 23-24 loss in Iowa City late in the Big Ten season destroyed any hopes of a Big Ten team competing for the BCS Championship for 2008 season. Ohio State couldn't get it done the previous two seasons in the title game.

So, what is in store for the Big Ten in 2009?

Is the Big Ten worthy of national prominence in 2009? Ohio State has been the Big Ten's most consistent program this decade. They won the BCS crown in 2002. Ohio State holds the longest bowl streak in the Big Ten now at nine.

Michigan missed their first bowl game, since the 1974 season in 2008. They went 33 straight seasons with a bowl game. All of that came to an end, after coach Rich Rodriguez's first season in Ann Arbor in '08.

Typically, when it comes to playing in the national title game, two combinations are often very important. One, you better have a quarterback that can at least keep your offense on the field and not force your defense into bad situations. Second, you better have something on the defensive side of the field, especially, if you are a Big Ten team. The 2002 Ohio State team won it all on the foundation of defense.

Entering 2009, it is pretty clear that the Big Ten Conference will be an underdog nationally. Florida and Texas are the two favorites entering 2009. Teams like Oklahoma, USC, Alabama, and Virginia Tech appear to be getting more recognition than any Big Ten schools. Oklahoma State or Ole Miss are sleepers, before any Big Ten team in '09. LSU may sneak into the national picture ahead of Ohio State or Penn State.

Illinois dropped from #2 in the Big Ten in '07 to home for Christmas, after a 5-7 season overall for the Fighting Illini. Coach Ron Zook returns senior quarterback Juice Williams and the top WR in the Big Ten in junior Arrelious Benn. But, can the Fighting Illini bring back a solid running game that fueled the success in '07?

Results from 2007 to 2008:

Teams on the rise: Penn State, Michigan State***, Minnesota, Northwestern*** and Iowa***
Steady: Ohio State
Teams on the decline: Michigan***, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin*** and Purdue***

***The trend either upward or downward has been for consecutive seasons.

What's on tap for 2009?
Seven teams in the Big Ten have won a share of the conference title, since 2000.
  • Illinois - The offense appears to be on the upswing, but defense, coaching and special teams could be suspect. The Fighting Illini have only played in two bowl games ('01, '07), since 2000 and haven't won a Big Ten title, since '01.
  • Indiana - Improvement in the trenches can't hurt, but the Hoosiers are back in the cellar again, after avoiding it for several seasons. Defense and special teams aren't where they need to be. The Hoosiers have played in only one bowl game ('07), since 2000. Last outright Big Ten title was in 1945 and they shared the title in '67.
  • Iowa - On paper, the Hawkeyes appear equal in overall strength from the team on paper entering '08. The Hawkeyes have won a share of two Big Ten titles ('02, '04), since 2000, but they haven't contended for a Big Ten title over the past four years. The Hawkeyes have only missed bowls twice ('00, '07), since 2000.
  • Michigan - Is a freshman QB going to lead the Wolverines back into the bowl picture in '09? Michigan has been sliding in the Big Ten, since winning their last Big Ten title in '04, outright in '03 and shared title in '00. The Rodriguez era should be better in '09, but just how much better, after finishing 2-6 in '08? No one is expecting anything dramatic in '09.
  • Michigan State - Can the Spartans continue the upward swing and compete for their first Big Ten title, since winning a share in 1990? Coach Mark Dantonio has some holes to fill in '09. The Spartans likely will be a tough out in the Big Ten, but it would be a big surprise to them compete for the Big Ten title in '09.
  • Minnesota - The Golden Gophers aren't Big Ten contenders, with their last share of Big Ten title coming in 1967. The Gophers have missed on a bowl trip only twice ('01, '07), since 2000. A new outdoor on-campus stadium for '09 and third year coach Tim Brewster have the Gophers fan base excited for '09.
  • Northwestern - Like MSU, the Wildcats will have a hard time moving into Big Ten title contention '09 with the personnel losses from '08, but they could be a tough out for some in '09. The Wildcats have been to four bowls ('00, '03, '05, '08) this decade, which is the highest mark in school history. Coach Pat Fitzgerald has the program going the right direction in his fourth year, but the offense must reload and linebackers were young last year. There last share of the Big Ten title came in '00.
  • Ohio State - The Buckeyes are the only Big Ten team to go to a bowl game every season, since 2000. They have played in three BCS title games ('02, '06, '07) and been in a BCS bowl every season, except for '04, since 2002. They have shared or won outright a Big Ten title over the past four years, with five total, since 2000. They are young at QB, with sophomore Terrelle Pryor and lost more talent to the NFL draft than any other college football team per Phil Steele.
  • Penn State - The Nittany Lions have only played in five bowl games ('02, '05, '06, '07, '08, since 2000. They are going for their fifth straight and they have shared in two Big Ten titles ('05, '08) over the past four seasons. Penn State returns some very good talent, including senior QB Darryll Clark and talented '07 LB Sean Lee, back from ACL injury. But, they also shipped off a good amount of talent to the NFL. The O-Line has some work, but it will be anchored by returning OG Stefen Wisniewski moving to C.
  • Purdue - The Boilermakers have brought Hope to their program, in the name of new coach Danny Hope, who replaces Joe Tiller, who lead the Boilermakers to seven bowls, since 2000, missing in '05 and '08. The Boilermakers have been sliding. Will it continue with work at quarterback, the O-Line, defensively, special teams and with a brand new coaching staff unfolding? The Boilermakers shared in the Big Ten title in '00.
  • Wisconsin - The Badgers are a proud program after success and three Rose Bowl wins under former coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez. After a hot start in '06 under current coach Bret Bielema, now entering his fourth season, the Badgers program has begun to slide. The Badgers are the fourth program, other than IU, MSU and Minnesota, that hasn't shared or captured a Big Ten title from 2000-08. The Badgers last time was ten years ago in '99. While there is talent returning, the Badgers were #3 in talent sent to the NFL, behind OSU and PSU, and ahead of Iowa per Phil Steele.

The Big Ten has placed two teams in the BCS bowl picture every season, since 2002, with the exception of '04, when Ohio State fell to 4-4 in the the Big Ten. Iowa, Michigan, Illinois and Penn State are the four other schools that have joined the Buckeyes. We may not get one into the BCS title game again. But, look for two to three teams contend for 6-2 or better in the Big Ten in '09.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Football '09: What do you look for to find conference favorites?

What do you look for to determine a quality team first?

  • A quality, returning quarterback?
  • Strength and depth in the O-Line?
  • The Front 7 on defense?
  • Returning letter winners?
  • Returning starters?
  • Last year's turnover margin?
  • A Heisman Trophy or award candidate?
  • The team's head coach
Some observations we often make:
  1. Like Texas in '08, a quality O-Line? The same is true in '02 for Iowa. New skill position starters are far better at RB, WR, than across the O-Line. QB is always a key position. A strong O-Line can often help the development of a new QB.
  2. Defensively, how does the Front 7 look, since a strong Front 7 often overcomes youth in the the secondary? Looking at the better teams in the SEC, Big Ten and Pac Ten ... one remembers often: Defense wins championships!
  3. You can't forget to factor in Special Teams as an X-Factor. Virgina Tech has certainly been strong over the years under coach Frank Beamer. Special teams are often a bread and butter part to the Hokies success. Coach Kirk Ferentz's Iowa squads from '02 to '04 were fueled by strong special teams play, resulting in three straight finishes at #8 in the final college football polls.

So, who do you like as conference favorites in the various conferences in '09?

  • ACC - Virgina Tech, North Carolina; the ACC Coastal seems a little more predictable than the ACC Atlantic? Is Coach Tom O'Brien in year 3 ready to have NC State competing for a division title, after leaving fellow ACC Atlantic team, Boston College?
  • Big 12 - Texas looks solid, but is Oklahoma ready to take the Red River Rivalry back? Oklahoma State will continue to get better? The Big 12 South looks clearly better than the Big 12 North, after the North made some inroads over the past two seasons?
  • Big East - In a fair world, would the Big East be a BCS conference, when you look at the upside of the Mountain West Conference lately? Conference seems to be a wide open race for '09? Is there really a good favorite here?
  • Big Ten - With Iowa's O-Line, D-Line and LBs, even the DBs, could this year be special for the Hawkeyes? Iowa needs to get off to fast start in Big Ten and OOC if they want to be in the picture. Ohio State will continue to look to re-load, especially with a starting QB returning. Penn State is pretty good too, but do they really have the capability to re-load, as Ohio State does? If IU wasn't so questionable, wouldn't Minnesota be a strong candidate to return to #11? How improved overall will the Big Ten be?
  • C-USA - East Carolina had a good start in OOC season last year and appears to be strong in the O-Line and Front 7 on defense compared to their conference rivals. The C-USA East looks a little like the ACC Coastal, where EC and Southern Miss look good? In the C-USA West: Is Houston and Tulsa better in '09? What's happening at UTEP?
  • MAC - Can Buffalo coach Turner Gill take his team again up the MAC East ladder to the conference title game again? Central Michigan and Western Michigan will fight for the bid as best directional school in the State of Michigan and the MAC West division.
  • MWC - Should they get an automatic BCS bid? It appears the Rose Bowl is taking note of the MWC as an asterisk? If Rose Bowl can't get the Pac Ten champ, then they will take the MWC champ? Did we read that news right? Utah #1 for '09 in the MWC? TCU has been pretty consistent this decade.
  • Pac-10 - Does anyone challenge USC in the Pac Ten? We love the 9-game conference slate that the Pac-10 plays. Is Arizona a bowl team in '09?
  • SEC - Much has been mentioned of Florida's schedule, but overall this team and Urban Meyer bring a lot to table personnel wise. Can Georgia rebound? The SEC was a little weaker in '09 after Florida and Alabama last year. Is Ole Miss really worthy of all the hype. Can LSU be held down very long?
  • Sun Belt - Arkansas State beat Texas A&M last year. Are they ready to compete for a Sun Belt title? Troy has some parts returning from '08. Florida Atlantic slipped last year, which wasn't a surprise. Who will be bit in the major conferences by a Sun Belt team in '09? UL Monroe beat Alabama in '07.
  • WAC - Boise State is often the front runner, since Fresno State and Hawaii have dipped recently. Nevada and LA Tech look to fall into #2 and #3 in '09.

It's time to start to compile information and discuss many of the other teams that make up the 120 FBS teams in Division I College Football for '09.