All before the early afternoon the Big Ten had a highly unexpected and strange news cycle. All three stories were surprising on some level and totally expected on another. Let's take a stroll through the Big Ten on this bizarre Saturday afternoon.
I know it was at the expense of the Gophers and their decimated roster, but good for Rutgers. Happy for those players who stopped their conference losing streak at 419 days. And it wasn't just that they snuck out a win against the second worst team in the Big Ten, but they dominated. They did what they had to do and earned their win.
The craziest statement of the season for Rutgers: Mike Williams outscores Minnesota in the first half after shooting 4-4 from behind the arc— On the Banks (@OTB_SBNation) March 5, 2016
From a Gopher perspective this could be classified as ugly, but good for the Scarlet Knights.
Illinois and Minnesota have had very similar years in regards to their two primary sports. The Football team struggled, their head coach was no longer their head coach at some point during the season, the interim coach did a fine job and was given the head job on a permanent basis. Both basketball teams languished at the bottom of the conference. And both institutions were dealing with iffy situations in those two sports while not having an athletic director in place.
Today was the first day on the job for their new athletic director, Josh Whitman and he began his official tenure by firing Bill Cubit just 6 days before Spring Practice were to begin. This apparently wasn't bad news according to SBN's Champaign Room.
Here are all the reasons why it would've been a good idea to keep Bill Cubit, ranked:— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) March 5, 2016
And within hours it looks like Lovie Smith is going to be your new Illini head football coach. And back to the Champaign Room for reaction...
Hiring Lovie Smith would add relevancy, get Chicago interested again, and give Illinois their first black head coach. That's a lot of boxes.— U-God (@SBN_UGod) March 5, 2016
We shall see. For the Gophers it would be best to have Illinois remaining terrible-er than us.
And now is when things got really interesting when news broke about Bo Ryan's torrid affair during his tenure as the Wisconsin Basketball Coach. As of now, nothing has come out that is illegal or that there was any improper use of University of Wisconsin resources, just that this is an ugly mark on the character of Bo Ryan.
Rumors of this story had previously surfaced, potentially tying this affair to Ryan's abrupt retirement at the beginning of the season. Ryan issued a statement today reiterating that his retirement was done intentionally to give Greg Gard the best opportunity to earn the Badger job on a permanent basis.
I've related the other two stories back to the Gophers and this one really doesn't tie back. Bo Ryan is retired and this story will likely have no impact on the basketball program or recruiting. This story, unless there is more to it, will die quickly.
All in all this was a strange day in the Big Ten.