Evening. While there's still a bit of post-season unpacking I'd like to do, let's shift our adoring eyes from 2008-09 to 2009-10. Things are starting to heat up on the recruiting trail as we ebb closer to February, 4th. In the spirit of tomorrow's historic inauguration, let's take a look at a new administration in personnel through the lens of presidential history.
Inaugural Ball Cocktail Statistic (Courtesy ESPN): "The Big Ten currently has five teams ranked among ESPN.com's top 25 recruiting classes of 2009, but only one program has a committed player in the top 25." Guess who?
(Yeah, it's Ohio State's verbal commitment from running back Jaamal Berry who boasts a No. 3 position rank and rates 22nd overall in the ESPN 150.)
"In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course." Sure, John F. Kennedy might have had more lofty ideals in mind when he braved the great gray cold of January, 20th, 1961 on the morning of his inauguration, but the spirit of renewal was exalting. Which Big Ten teams should be equally optimistic about the new class?
1. Ohio State. So, you're sick of hearing about them but here's the deal: for the second year in a row the third-time defending conference champion Buckeyes have without question the strongest class in the Big Ten. Lincoln Logs: Here are the building blocks: Top 30 linebackers Jordan Whiting and Adam Homan will follow in the footsteps of James Laurinaitis, and Marcus Freeman. The Rivalry, Esq. can't wait to see if the powder-keg -- the aforementioned Jaamal Berry -- can hit the hole. If so, he'll prove to be a capable companion to Daniel Herron.
2. Michigan. Hail to the Victors. Last year's waterlogged Watsons have picked up some serious steam on the recruiting front. That's not to say they haven't loved and lost -- Rich R dropped as many commits as he did F-bombs over the course of the late fall, but as the dust settles these guys look a lot more like the forgotten formidables. Washington's Army: Quarterback Tate Forcier, who, as it turns out, actually might fit the spread. I'll be damned.
3. Penn State. An Oldie but a goodie. Like a vanilla protein shake, this squad has bulked up where it counts. Tackles Eric Shrive and Mark Arcidiacono will anchor an already capable front. Regan's Recruits: Joe Pa is again in the hunt for the No. 2 outside linebacker in the race, Maryland's Jelani Jenkins.
4. Michigan State. Here's what I'm afraid of: if Mark Dantonio could accomplish what he did with featherweights, what will he do with heavy hitter offensive tackle David Barrent? Here's a hint: re-establish the run.
Vice Presidential Nominees: Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota.