The Rivalry, Esq. loves premium spirits. We're also huge fans of Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond franchise. With these keen influences -- it was only a matter of time before this bow-tied sophisticant developed an affinity for the martini -- the secret agent's elixir.
Since you asked, I'll tell you how I take it: Ketel One, dirty and shaken, extra cold, with gorgonzola-stuffed olives in a Reidel Vinum glass. Clean and elegant.
Sure, I'm particular, but as any good NFL scout will tell you: form is in the details.
To this end, let's spy on the combine events and see how the Big Ten is faring in the sprints and lifts.
Winners: Curtis Painter (QB, 4.87): Purdue's pained passer posted the sixth best time at the position. Notably, he's in the top four "arm-span" quarterbacks, behind Stephen McGee, Matthew Stafford, Rhett Bomar, and Jason Boltus (Hartwick).
Deon Butler (WR, 4.38): Penn State's sprightly wideout turned in the fourth-fastest time at the combine, elevating his already lofty stock, and burning Percy Harvin in the process.
Xavier Fulton (OT, 5.04): For 302 pounds this former-Illinois lineman can move, placing third at his position. (Honorable Mention: Gerald Cadogan, OL, PSU, 5.12).
Marcus Freeman (LB, 4.74): This former Buckeye finished eighth at his position. He also finished second in the bench press with 30 reps.
Winners: Travis Beckum (TE, 28 reps). "Who needs to block when you can press?" says this ex-Wisconsin reach over the middle.
Alex Boone (OL, 33 reps). Ohio State's tattled hood-ornament placed a respectable fourth in his position.
Terrance Taylor (DT, 37 reps). Michigan's inner sanctum was tops at his position, raising the bar for the conference.
Vontae Davis (CB, 25 reps). This Illinois corner was also first in his position.
Slow but steady. How do we stack up against the SEC? Sure, we know how our guys are doing individually, but how has the conference fared against Southern aggressors? Using the available data at FF Toolbox.com I've put together comparisons in two stereotypical categories: speed and power.
Like most things in Midwestern life, there's good news and there's bad news.
Let's get the bad news out of the way. It's time to face the music. At this year's combine, SEC athletes were faster than their Big Ten counterparts. The Southeastern Conference was so fast, in fact, its top performer turned in a better time than the Big Ten's top performer in all seven positions in which comparative data was available (QB, RB, WR, TE, G, T, C). Guess we won't be hearing the end of this anytime soon.
But there is a silver lining, and it's a point of pride for the North. Big Ten athletes were stronger than their SEC adversaries. The Big Ten's top performer out benched the SEC's top performer at seven out of nine positions including WR, TE, G, T, C, DT, and OLB. (The conferences tied at running back, and the SEC out pushed the good guys at inside linebacker).
As W.T. Sherman says, "The SECsh can run, but they can't hide."
Suggested new motto for the Big Ten: My football player can beat up your track star.