The Big Ten coaches no longer want preseason media picks for things like best team, player, and coach because it puts too much pressure on them. Well, the Cleveland Plains Dealer decided to do their own damn poll, and asked 24 B1G beat writers (two from each Big Ten city) for their oppressive, pressuring thoughts. Per Phil Miller of the Strib, everybody thinks Jerry Kill and the Gophers will be last in the division. The pressure! The pressure! How will Jerry Kill ever overcome it?!? As we've been saying all off-season, pay no attention to such polls, as the Gophers are being predicted to finish exactly where they should be for a 3-9 team playing in a division with FIVE bowl teams who all return a ton of talent. Do any of us here believe the Gophers will actually finish last? I don't, but until they prove it on the field, that's where they're going to be picked to finish, and that's fine.
Per OTE, looks like a 9 game Big Ten conference schedule is coming in 2017. Prepare yourself accordingly. It sounds like there will NOT be a second permanent cross-over rivalry with the other division, meaning Minnesota will play everybody else in the other division except Wisconsin (who as their cross-over rival they play every year. Duh) four times every six years. That's a lot better than the four year hiatus they're taking right now against schools like Ohio State. Adding a conference game is better for the fans, but is it better for the conference? Hmmm....
And what will the landscape of college football even look like by 2017? SI.com's Andy Staples thinks the six BCS conferences and Notre Dame could break away from the NCAA to start their own league. And he thinks the NCAA would be ok with it. No really. It's an interesting read.
Nebraska and Iowa will annouce a new rivarly trophy between the two schools. The "Our fans are better than your fans" trophy, perhaps?
E!SPN.com's Brian Bennett says Minnesota's X Factor is...Ryan Wynn? Center Ryan Wynn? THAT Ryan Wynn? An interesting theory. Discuss, discuss...
Mr. Bennett also wrote a good piece on the Gopher's best player, WR Da'Jon McKnight, last week.
The conference realignment chaos continues, as those not in the B1G, Death Star Conference, and Hockey East scramble to survive:
The WCHA added Northern Michigan to get back to the required six schools to make a conference, and there's likely to be more on the way (Western Michigan? Alaska-Fairbanks?).
College Hockey News broke the story that the CCHA and Atlantic Hockey conference are talking. Not about a merger, but about a realignment set-up that could save both conferences. Atlantic Hockey only allows 12 scholarships per team, while the CCHA allows the max of 18. Per the CHN story:
Robert Morris, Niagara, Mercyhurst and Canisius are all actively exploring the possibility of switching from Atlantic Hockey to the CCHA. It is believed that the four would leave as a group, or not at all, though that is not set in stone.
Those four want to play at 18 scholarships, while the rest of their conference does not. Enter the CCHA, which after 2012-13 season could be left standing with just 3 schools- Bowling Green, Ferris State and Lake Superior State. The addition of the four Atlantic Hockey schools to the CCHA would allow both conferences to survive, leaving the CCHA with seven schools who all wanted to play at 18 scholarships, and AH with eight schools who want to play at 12. That's the idea in theory, but a lot can and will still happen between now and the 2013-14 season.
Finally, per the boys at Puck Daddy, Versus is looking at adding a national college hockey package. Notice that does not say a "college hockey package solely for the f***ers who destroyed the WCHA". Nope, looks like the Death Star conference will at least be splitting their TV deal with Hockey East, and perhaps even the B1G (I say that because no way will the BTN show every college hockey game, so there will be some available, and considering the brand names involved, you have to think Versus wants in on some B1G hockey, right?). Versus (soon to be rebranded as an NBC sports channel) has asserted itself as America's channel for hockey with their new 10 year deal with NBC and the NHL, so it makes sense for them to add more quality hockey coverage (PLEASE add the World Junior hockey tournament too. PLEASE!). It's a helluva lot better than rodeo or whatever else Versus shows when hockey's not on.