I want to be straight with you, dear reader. After last Saturday’s fiasco, I wanted to mail this week’s rankings in. I wanted to drown the sorrows of yet another opportunity not taken by giving you two tiers and doing everything I could to heap upon our beloved squad every backhanded comment, every little insult, every bit of sarcasm, spite, and vitriol I could muster. I would have given you two tiers. The Haves. And the Have Nots. And the Gophers would have found the bottom of the Have Nots, because if there was a ever a Big Ten that was a have not, would it not be this one?
But when life kicks you in the face, what do you do? Do you rollover, give up, and crumble? Do you let the world win, spit in your face, and leave you for dead? Or do you get up, dust yourself off, and rise again?! Do you look to the teammate on your left and the teammate on your right and give all you got for them to the last whistle?! LET’S GO OUT AND WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ok, so right there was an example of a cliché, cheesy sports motivation speech that is so heavily prevalent in the genre that real-life coaches have been using them pregame for teams since the advent of the video cassette. And look, there’s nothing wrong with a little cliché when it comes to motivating people to play a sport that ultimately doesn’t matter and that requires just a slight bit of sentiment and cheese to win the day. So, I’ll pick myself up off the floor, dust myself off, and provide to you the weekly Big Ten Power rankings with tiers themed after football movie coach speeches.
(Do with these rankings what you will. SP+ rank and FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index) rank is provided next to each team, respectively. Click these links for more information on SP+ and FEI. The previous week’s position in these pointless power rankings follows those two superior metrics.)
The Friday Night Lights Coach Gaines Perfect Speech Tier
#1 - Ohio State Buckeyes (2nd, 3rd, last week #1)
Coach Gaines waxes poetic about what it means to be perfect at halftime of the state championship game in the above clip. And there’s only one team that knows what it is to be perfect in conference play. Despite a close game against the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, I am giving them their own tier because they have the superior ratings and talent to back it up. With giant-killers Purdue heading to the Horseshoe on Saturday, we’ll see if they deserve such a lofty position. As Coach Gaines urges the Permian team to consider that perfection isn’t about the results on the field but of giving everything you could for your teammates, perhaps the Buckeyes will give everything they can to remain in the College Football Playoff hunt by winning and winning convincingly.
The Any Given Sunday Coach Tony D’Amato Inch by Inch Speech Tier
#2 - Wisconsin Badgers (4th, 5th, last week #4)
#3 - Michigan State Spartans (22nd, 20th, last week #2)
#4 - Michigan Wolverines (5th, 4th, last week #3)
#5 - Purdue Boilermakers (43rd, 21st, last week #8)
#6 - Penn State Nittany Lions (11th, 15th, last week #5)
#7 - Iowa Hawkeyes (19th, 26th, last week #7)
#8 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (29th, 25th, last week #6)
“We’re in hell right now, gentlemen,” Coach D’Amato states matter-of-factly to his team before their playoff game towards the end of Any Given Sunday. And these teams, have, at one time or another, echoed this sentiment. Whether it be right now (Minnesota, Michigan State), or at the beginning of the season (Wisconsin), or somewhere in between (all others). But, the thing is for all squads here, they can still, “climb outta hell, one inch at a time.” Every team (minus Penn State unless things get unbelievably wacky) can still win their division and go to Indianapolis. The margin for error is so small for these teams, they need to fight for that inch. “Now, what are [they] gonna do?!”
The Remember the Titans Coach Yost Remember the Titans Speech Tier
#9 - Illinois Fighting Illini (84th, 67th, last week tie for #12)
#10 - Maryland Terrapins (45th, 87th, last week #9)
The tier’s speech isn’t really a speech, it’s more of an impromptu rallying cry amidst game action. And these teams aren’t really competitors in their respective divisional races. But there’s something about playing them that makes you remember them, whether it’s losing to them when you least expect it or the gaudy uniforms that they wear, you will always remember the game you played these two teams.
The The Longest Yard Paul Crewe I Threw That Game Speech Tier
#11 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (24th, 23rd, last week #9)
#12 - Northwestern Wildcats (87th, 90th, last week tied for #12)
#13 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (79th, 84th, last week tied for #12)
#14 - Indiana Hoosiers (61st, 82nd, last week #10)
Look, I wanted this all to be really serious, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it for these teams, who have a combined three conference wins between themselves. The remake of The Longest Yard was pretty much a travesty to the concept of a sports movie and these teams have been a travesty to their respective fanbases for a large majority of the season. I wish I could motivate them with some inspirational words but... I got nothing.