Jim Delaney

Top Ten BTN Replacements for Live Sports

Over the last 24 hours, there has been a lot of complaining from Nebraska fans who were unable to watch the Huskers dramatic 7-6 comeback win over Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament.

The entire tournament is being broadcast on the Big Ten Network (BTN), with the exception of the first two games, including that Nebraska thriller.

To make matters worse, fans tuning into BTN hoping to see NU’s bottom of the ninth inning rally were met with “Big Ten’s Greatest Games:  Purdue at Indiana, 2007”.


So if BTN is not going to show live sporting events (which, you know, seems like something they might want to consider), the least they could do is find better programming options than Indiana v. Purdue from seven years ago.

Therefore, I give you the Top Ten BTN Replacements for Live Sports*

*And since the Big Ten has not been about to count to ten since 1990, my Top Ten will have twelve entries.

12.  A Jeopardy! style quiz show where B1G student athletes try to distinguish Legends from Leaders.

11.  Next on Big Ten’s Greatest Games:  A beer pong match up between Indiana and Purdue students from 2005.

10. A 2008 documentary on long snapper practice at Northwestern.  Directed by students of their esteemed film school, the entire program is in black and white, and shot from between the center’s legs.

9.  A sit down interview with the guy who maintains Jim Delaney’s eyebrows.  Grab the tissues, this one gets emotional.

8.  A musical tribute to the career achievements of Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann, set to Yakkity Sax.

7.  Big Ten Bowl Blowout!  Watch Big Ten teams get blasted in January 1 bowl games!

6.  An infomercial for Aaron Craft’s new instructional video:  “The Joy of Flopping”.

5.  A retrospective of the 83,000 times Jim Delaney tried to get Notre Dame to join the conference before he gave up and took Maryland.

4.  Simulcasts from The Longhorn Network’s coverage of Texas’s Spring Game.  Followed by a grainy, pirated feed of the SEC Network.

3.  A Survivor type reality show to determine the next school to join the Big Ten.  In a surprise twist, Wyoming beats out North Carolina, U Conn, and Georgia Tech.

2.  A roundtable discussion with college football announcers talking about their bias against Nebraska.  Scheduled to appear:  Brent Musburger, Ed Cunningham, Kirk Herbstreit, and every other announcer to call a Nebraska game in the last 20 years.

1.  The Jerry Sandusky Children’s Hour.

Nebraska Movie Roles Rejected by Matt Damon

The city of Lincoln, NE is abuzz with star-struck awe.

Matt Damon has been in town this week.

Supposedly, he is here with his nephew who will be a freshman at the University of Nebraska this fall.  There have also been reports that his nephew will try to walk on to the Nebraska football team.  But frankly, I’m not sure I buy any of that.

I mean, it’s not like Damon is the first famous Hollywood movie star to visit Lincoln.  Harrison Ford (allegedly) checked out one of our gentlemen’s clubs.  Wesley Snipes rented a loft in the Haymarket* while filming a movie.  And let’s not forget our movie star next door, the star of Oscar contenders like Witless Protection and Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Nebraska’s own Dan Whitney (aka Larry).

*My wedding reception was in the loft Snipes rented.  The loft had an attached master suite where we stayed on our wedding night, so technically I’ve shared a bed with Passenger 57.  But I’m pretty sure they changed the sheets after Willie Mays Hayes left town.

So why was Matt Damon really here?  And why did he spend all of his time on campus?

Clearly, he is researching is next movie role.

What movie, you ask?  I’m not sure yet.  According to my University sources, the following ideas were shot down by Damon.

The Osborne Ultimatum*
Damon plays Dr. Tom Osborne, a straight-laced, tea totaling football coach by day and a profane, hard-drinking, rogue double agent for the Enforcement Division of the NCAA Compliance Department by night.  The year is 1983, and Osborne faces an impossible challenge:  guide his Cornhuskers to a National Championship, or allow Miami to win the title, setting in motion a carefully choreographed series of events culminating in the “Death Penalty” being handed out after booster Nevin Shapiro corrupts the school beyond recognition.

Late in the championship game, (which is illogically played on Miami’s home field), Osborne’s Husker trail Miami, but they’re driving down the field.  Turner Gill’s pass is inexplicably dropped by a wide open Irving Fryar, but then back-up I-Back Jeff Smith rambles in for a touchdown, putting Nebraska down by 1 with very little time left.  What does Osborne do?  Kick the PAT and bring glory to himself, or go for two and set the diabolical Operation Hurricane in motion?  Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger (played by Ben Affleck) cannot believe what comes next.

*Initially, I was going to do the Osborne Identity, but today I challenged fellow No Coast Bias writer Chris Hatch of Burnpoetry to do a take on that title.  I figured he’d do one of his Photoshop movie posters (like this one) and that would be end of it.  But no…Chris went above and beyond, creating this masterpiece.  Since there is no way I can improve upon that, I’m stuck with one of the other Bourne trilogy titles.  I chose Ultimatium mainly because I couldn’t remember the name of the other one.

Good Bo Hunting
Matt Damon co-wrote this script about Bo Pelini, a humble janitor from the south side of Lincoln.  Bo is cleaning up in the football offices when he sees a seemingly unsolvable problem on the board – how to stop spread offenses and mobile quarterbacks using lead-footed defenders.  Head Coach Frank Solich is stunned by the revelation and decides to bring Bo on to his staff.  Bo has a mild anger issue, so he must also meet with a school psychologist (played by Carl Pelini) to get in touch with his true self.  Ben Affleck co-stars as Pelini’s buddy, Barney Cotton.

Delaney’s Eleven
Jimbo Delaney (George Clooney) is just released from prison, but wants to plot the heist of the century – stealing Nebraska out from under the Big XII and transplanting it into the Big 10, while sticking it to the pompously smug Notre Dame.  Delaney arranges a team to infiltrate the Big XII, and a complex web of scams, tricks, and bogus media reports is constructed.

A large ensemble cast stars in this movie.  Damon plays Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez.  Ben Affleck appears as Texas blogger Chip Brown.  Julia Roberts plays Nancy Osborne.  Rave reviews for Woody Allen’s performance as Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman.

Delaney’s Fourteen
In this sequel to Delaney’s Eleven, Jimbo Delaney wants to add to his vast empire, by pulling one more big heist.  His team is reassembled, and are ready to go.  But instead of pursuing big, worthy targets like North Carolina, Florida State, Georgia Tech, or Notre Dame, Delaney sets his sites on Rutgers and Maryland.

Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez (once again played by Damon) wonders aloud why the team was gathered, when this caper could have been “pulled off by the same see-no-evil idiots who ran Penn State during the Sandusky years”.  The film is a dud because the projected numbers from the D.C. and New York markets never materialize (that and not even Scarlet Knight alumni want to endure 108 minutes about Rutgers).  Ben Affleck makes a cameo as the ghostly spirit of Joe Paterno.

Tommy Lee Goes to College – The Movie
Surely you remember 2005’s hit “reality” series Tommy Lee Goes to College, where the Motley Crue drummer “enrolls” at UNL and finds himself in all sorts of zany (yet totally realistic) scenarios – like trying out for the Cornhusker Marching Band and studying with the coed known solely as the “Hot Tutor”.

In this feature-length film, the part of Tommy Lee is being played by Tommy Lee Jones, and Damon stars as his nerdy, yet lovable roommate Matt Ellis.  Tommy’s is working in the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, and may have found a way to reverse the damage caused by concussions in football games.  Unfortunately, Tommy suffered a concussion while practicing as Taylor Martinez’s backup, and the research may be lost forever.  Can Ellis and the Hot Tutor help Tommy Lee recover the research (and win the big game) in time?  Ben Affleck co-stars as Taylor Martinez.

Legend of Pat Tyrance
Damon plays Micah Kreikemeier, a career backup linebacker, struggling to make a contribution to the team.  He forms an unlikely bond with the sage Pat Tyrance, a star linebacker from the 1980s.  Through a combination of hard work, perseverance, and luck, Micah learns the keys to being a feared linebacker.  In the Big Game, Micah uses the knowledge Tyrance gave him to lead Nebraska to an amazing, come from behind victory.  Ben Affleck appears as Linebackers Coach/Special Teams Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator/Bus Driver/Lunch Lady/Hot Dog Vendor/Assistant to the Regional Manager Ross Els.

Saving Sam Cotton
In this military drama, oldest brother Ben Cotton is brutally attacked by Texas A&M’s Tony Jerod-Eddie.  Middle brother Jake suffers a torn ACL.  Persistent message board threats have forced their dad Barney Cotton into hiding.

Not wanting to deliver the dreadful news that her whole family is gone, Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst instructs a select team of grad assistants and student managers to bring youngest brother Sam Cotton (played by Matt Damon) back home to his mother before it is too late.

Warning:  the first 20 minutes of the film – featuring footage of Nebraska’s loss to Barney Cotton’s Iowa State offense, Jake’s mangled knee (played by Ben Affleck), and ultra slow-motion shots of Ben’s cotton balls being tugged – may be too gruesome for some viewers.

Rejected Big 10 Divisions

On Friday, Big Ten Conference commissioner Jim Delaney announced that the much maligned Legends and Leaders divisions will mercifully go away for the 2014 season.  Legends and Leaders will be replaced by simple, geographically oriented divisions known simply as “East” and “West”.

Thank God.

Not only was the original idea of splitting the conference up by non-geographic means ridiculous, the Legends and Leaders names were confusing – I guarantee there are passionate Big Ten fans out there who could not name the schools in their division, let alone remember if they were a Leader or a Legend.  But what bothered me the most was how incredibly arrogant those names sounded for a conference that already has a very strong “holier-than-thou” stigma.

I was in touch with one of my contacts at the Big Ten offices (a janitor named Rusty) who was kind enough to grab some of the rejected alignment maps out of the trash can, and send them over to me.

Here are the divisional alignments that were considered, but ultimately rejected:

Reds & Rainbow
Schools are divided by their primary school color, with the red teams in one division and the other colors of the rainbow on the other side.

Red Rainbow
Indiana Illinois
Maryland Iowa
Nebraska Michigan
Ohio State Michigan State
Rutgers Northwestern
Wisconsin Penn State

B1G Skittles, anyone?

*Yes, I know Minnesota’s colors are maroon and gold, but I needed seven in each division and maroon was the closest to red of the remaining schools.

Much like the “logic” used by Delaney when Wisconsin was initially sent to the Leaders division, you’ll going to have to cut me some slack on some of these as I work to get seven teams in each division. 

Haves and Have Nots
The schools are split based upon their football ticket revenues.  (Much thanks to the Cedar Rapids Gazette for the numbers)

Cash Cows Charity Cases
Iowa Illinois
Michigan Indiana
Michigan State Maryland
Nebraska Minnesota
Ohio State Northwestern*
Penn State Purdue
Wisconsin Rutgers

*As a private school, Northwestern did not have to submit their ticket revenue numbers, but you would have a tough time convincing me that they beat out any of the top seven teams.

Animals & Others
All schools with animals for mascots versus the schools with people, tree nuts, and other unknown things as their mascot.

Animals Other
Iowa Illinois
Maryland Indiana
Michigan Michigan State
Minnesota Nebraska
Northwestern Ohio State
Penn State Purdue
Wisconsin Rutgers

I don’t either.

Take the teams, sort them A through Z (or I through W), and then divide down the middle.

I – M N – W
Illinois Nebraska
Indiana Northwestern
Iowa Ohio State
Maryland Penn State
Michigan Purdue
Michigan State Rutgers
Minnesota Wisconsin

Time Zone
Does your early game start at noon or 11 am?  Rumor has it, this is how Delaney stumbled upon the East/West split that was ultimately selected.

Central Eastern
Illinois Indiana
Iowa Maryland
Minnesota Michigan
Nebraska Michigan State
Northwestern Ohio State
Purdue* Penn State
Wisconsin Rutgers

*Technically, Purdue is in the Eastern Time Zone, but since Indiana has a lengthy, bizarre, and often confusing history with their time zones and acceptance of Daylight Savings Time, it is fitting that one Indiana school goes Central and one goes Eastern.

Football or Basketball?
Fans of most colleges usually consider their school to be a “football school” or a basketball school.  While a team may have success in the other sport (such as Kansas going to the Orange Bowl in 2007), they will always be known by their primary sport.

Football Basketball
Iowa Illinois
Michigan Indiana
Nebraska Maryland
Northwestern Michigan State
Ohio State Minnesota
Penn State Purdue
Wisconsin Rutgers

Lots of potential arguments here.  Northwestern is a football school only because their hoops program is at a level known as “Nebraska bad”.  I don’t consider Rutgers a basketball school, but their modest football success does not bump any of the others (even Iowa) off the list.

Football Program Strength
Part of Jim Delaney’s logic for the original Legends and Leaders divisions was to distribute the football powers (Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State) among the two divisions.  A similar concept here:  who are the strong programs and who is at risk of losing to a MAC team.

Bowl Eligible Bottom Feeder
Iowa Illinois
Michigan Indiana
Michigan State Maryland
Nebraska Minnesota
Northwestern Penn State*
Ohio State Purdue
Wisconsin Rutgers

*No I do not consider Penn State to be a “bottom feeder”.  But their probation means they are not currently bowl eligible.  Plus, I’d definitely argue that Northwestern has been better than PSU over the last five years.

Capitals and College Towns
Where is the school located?  Are they in a state capital or a humble college town?

College Town State Capital
Illinois Michigan State
Indiana Minnesota
Iowa Nebraska
Michigan Ohio State
Northwestern Wisconsin
Penn State Maryland*
Rutgers Purdue*

*Anybody who passed fourth grade geography will know that College Park, Maryland and West Lafayette, Indiana are not the capitals of their respective states.  Since there are only five B1G schools located in a capital city, I had to reach a little bit (okay…a lot). 

The University of Maryland campus in College Park is less than 10 miles from the United States Capitol building.  And West Lafayette is roughly half way between the state capitals of Illinois (Springfield) and Indiana (Indianapolis).  Hopefully nobody pulled anything stretching that far…

Notable Trophy Games
The Big Ten loves it some trophy games.  Paul Bunyan’s Axe, Old Brass Spittoon, Floyd of Rosedale, Old Oaken Bucket, etc.  Since some schools care more about preserving their rivalry game than anything else, we’re going to put them in one division where they can battle for things that you and I would donate to Goodwill.  The other schools, who are either involved in a lesser known trophy game (Purdue Cannon) or a forced rivalry (Heroes Trophy, Land Grant Trophy) can go to the other side.  Who knows, maybe that Illinois – Maryland rivalry will really take off.

Trophy Game Forced Rivalry
Indiana Illinois*
Iowa Maryland
Michigan Nebraska
Michigan State Northwestern
Minnesota Ohio State**
Purdue Penn State
Wisconsin Rutgers

Page 96 of the Generic Trophy Supply catalog. Also available in basketball, bowling, volleyball, and snarky caption writing.

*According to Wikipedia, Illinois has three trophy games (Land of Lincoln, Illibuck, and Purdue Cannon).  But really, could you pick any of those trophies out of a line up?  Heck, the last two sound like fancy names for Monopoly tokens. 

**As for Ohio State, while they are half of the conference’s marquee game and premier rivalry, no trophy is on the line when they play Michigan.  OSU’s participation in the Illibuck game doesn’t make the cut over some of the more famed trophies.

B1G Changes Ahead?

English: Big Ten Conference logo since 2010.

Changes on the horizon? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The athletic directors from the Big Ten schools recently met in Chicago, discussing several key items that will likely shape the future of the conference.  Among the topics being discussed:

Increasing the number of conference games from eight to nine or ten.

From everything I have read and heard, the days of an eight game Big Ten conference schedule are done.  The question is will they do nine or ten games?  There are pros and cons for each, but I think the debate comes down to one big question:

Is the Big Ten more concerned with having a team qualify for the four team playoff or with having enough attractive matchups to get a bigger TV contract?

If they want the TV dollars, a ten game conference slate makes sense.  ABC/ESPN (or whomever buys the TV rights) will gladly trade an extra conference game (likely featuring at least one matchup of ranked teams and/or involving one of the marque name schools) over a Saturday featuring the “Big Ten vs. the MAC” showcase.

But if the concern is with qualifying a team for the playoff, they should stick with nine conference games.  As parity continues to spread across college football, winning nine conference games will be a huge challenge.  Winning ten would be damn near impossible.  So given the low perception of the league, why end up with a bunch of 7-3 teams that have no chance at the playoff when you could have one 8-1 or 7-2 team with a legitimate shot?

No more games against FCS schools.

If this goes through, the days of picking up an easy win (or an embarrassing loss) against the lower tier of college football would be over.  This proposal is all about raising the prestige of the league, and increasing the level of competition.  As a season ticket holder, I’d much rather watch a game against an FBS team – even one from the WAC or Sun Belt – over Northern No Name State from the FCS.

The cynic in me also notes that this proposal is also about making the league’s non-conference games more attractive to TV bidders, as well as protecting the integrity of the league by eliminating potentially embarrassing losses (i.e. Appalachian State, 2007).

Yet, I’m not in favor of this change.  Yes, a part of me loves to see a good old-fashioned 70-3 whoopin’, but I also understand the economics of the situation.  Athletic departments make their money from football.  Football programs typically make money off of home games, so most programs want to play six or seven home games every year.

The problem is it is pretty tough to find teams that want to come play at your stadium without paying them an arm and a leg.  In 2012, Nebraska paid $1 million for Arkansas State to come to Lincoln.  While Nebraska still made money on the game, they made more money the following week when they paid Idaho State of the FCS $600,000 to come to Lincoln.

With FCS teams off the scheduling table, the lower FBS teams (MAC, WAC, Sun Belt, C-USA, etc.) would be able to charge much more for games, or require home and home games or two-for-one trades, all of which takes home game revenue away from schools.  Long story short, if your school has fewer home games, they’ll need to either make up that revenue through higher ticket prices or cut the money that goes to other sports.

Night games in November will be allowed.

While not explicitly banned, the Big Ten has for some reason discouraged its teams from playing in night games after October 31.  As far as I can tell, the practice is about protecting fans from the chilly late-autumn nights.  That’s all well and good, but I can assume Jim Delaney of two things:  1) On most Big Ten campuses in November, there isn’t a big temperature differential between 11 am and 7 pm, and 2) Folks in Big Ten country are capable of dressing in layers to withstand four hours in 20 degree weather.

This change allows Big Ten schools to claim the marque primetime matchup (and the College GameDay appearance that usually comes with it) instead of being one of a dozen televised games at 11 or 2:30.  It also gives Johnny Five-Star plenty of time to make it to Happy Valley, East Lansing, or Lincoln for his official visit.  Bottom line:  greater exposure for the league is a good thing.  File this change under “Why didn’t they do this 10 years ago?”

Taking a unified stance against many of the recruiting rules changes going into effect this year.

The NCAA has greatly relaxed (or completely dropped) many of the rules regarding contact to prospective student-athletes.  Coaches can call or message kids (via text, Facebook, Twitter, smoke signal, pony express, or anything else) 24/7, and schools can hire an unlimited staff to assist in burying kids in messages and handwritten letters.

I respect the Big Ten leadership for being (rightfully) concerned about how these changes will impact high school students and their families.  However, I question if they will be able to do anything about it.  Regardless of how this turns out, I would strongly urge the Big Ten schools to get out in front of these changes, and try to use the new rules to their advantage – because I can guarantee that the SEC schools are already plotting their course of action.

Realigning the divisions to add new members Maryland and Rugters.

With Maryland and Rutgers set to join the Big Ten in 2014, they need to be added into the football divisional structure.  While a simple proposal to put one new school into each of the current divisions exists, it seems more likely that the divisions will be realigned.  The Big Ten floated some potential ideas a month or so ago, but it seems likely that changes will be based upon geography.

Assuming this happens (and I have not seen many valid reasons why it would not), it would be beneficial towards developing annual rivalries (Nebraska-Wisconsin, Penn State and one of the new east coast teams) that will strengthen the league.

Replacing the “Leaders” and “Legends” names with something less pretentious.

Is there anybody not named Jim Delaney who likes the Legends and Leaders names?  No?  I didn’t think so.  Those names have been rightfully mocked and ridiculed by media and fans, and it is time to switch to something that does not make the B1G sound like a bunch of pompous asses.  My hunch is that Delaney will let Leaders and Legends die a merciful death, but he’ll try to come up with something else like Great Lakes and Heartland.  Here’s hoping Jim utilizes the K.I.S.S. method and goes with East and West.

Delaney’s B1G Mistake

The Big Ten Conference and commissioner Jim Delaney are in the process of sorting out the sordid details of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse and cover-up at Penn State.  Among their concerns:  how to punish Penn State or other Big Ten schools when the crimes are beyond anything in the current rule book, as well as how to prevent similar situations from happening again.

One proposal is getting a lot of attention:  The Big Ten conference would allow Commissioner Delaney to fine, suspend, or even fire employees at member universities for actions that are detrimental to the league.

Setting aside the questionable legalities involved with allowing an outside authority to fire university employees, this proposal is a head scratcher.  Here is how I see it:

A Big Ten school gets in serious trouble, in part because one man had too much power that went unchecked.  So the Big Ten’s solution is to give one man too much power that will likely go unchecked.

Anybody else see a problem with that?

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