Traffic Jam and Snug, Detroit, MI
A stone's throw from my new residence in Detroit, Traffic Jam and Snug is one of the more unique restaurants I've ever visited. They grow, make, or acquire pretty much everything they sell either on premises or within a mile or two, and can be viewed as a paragon of the burgeoning 'buy local' movement. The results are indisputably better-tasting food and drinks, for roughly the same price you would pay at an Applebee's or some similar factory chain, and with the added benefit of stoking the local economy. No, I don't understand the name, though there are multiple traffic lights hanging out inside the building in various places.
Similarly, MSU under Mark Dantonio has made a habit of turning disregarded recruits into NFL players and walk-ons into crucial reserves or even capable starters. MSU is far from the first or only B1G program to do this, but the last seven years have seen the likes of Kirk Cousins, Keshawn Martin, Le'Veon Bell, and Darqueze Dennard, among others, go from demerits on how scouting services viewed MSU's recruiting classes to highly regarded professional prospects (OT Jack Conklin is the next in that line, if you're curious). How would you rate your coaching staff's evaluation and development of undiscovered or underrated talent? Would you prefer this approach, or rather your coaches concentrate on recruiting what are considered to be more talented players?
Jesse: Most Nebraska fans would argue that Nebraska's current staff under Pelini is pretty terrible at talent evaluation, and probably just as bad at development. That being said, I think that would be selling them short a little bit. In 2014, you saw Spencer Long get drafted as a former walk-on, Stanley Jean-Baptiste get drafted and compared to Richard Sherman despite being a JuCo transfer WR, and Quincy Enunwa was a 3* kid who shined by the time he was done in Lincoln. Now, would I prefer that we continue to push for 4*/5* kids every once in a while? Absolutely. I think that is generally your best bet for long term success, but development is helpful too.
GoForThree: In all honesty (and speaking as a fan of a team full of talent) I prefer top talent. That's not to take nothing from Mark Dantonio and the magic he's worked with the seemingly ho-hum players he's turned into standouts. The problem I see with that approach is that it's more than a bit analogous to the idea of stock-picking. You can "beat the market" in individual, short-term cases. In the end, though, the market wins. The market always wins because the market has time, numbers, and probability on its side. Dantonio has an eye for guys who fit his system, for sure. But as recruiting evaluations become more and more in-depth and thorough with the growth of recruiting services and the relative ease of recording and submitting game footage now (iPhone + email vs. VHS tapes), the likelihood that a maligned two-star is actually five-star in disguise is slowly but steadily decreasing. I don't think that makes Dantonio's system a bad one in the here and now, but I'd rather start with a bag of diamonds than a bag of what looks like coal that could out to be diamonds. Eventually, the coal turns out to be coal.
babaoreally: Since it is just the second year of the Hazell Regime, I'm not really sure at how well they recruit or develop talent. There were a lot of freshman playing a lot of downs last season, so hopefully the beatdowns they endured last year help them develop. As far as getting highly-rated recruits, I would be all for that. I would also like it if the players that actually came to Purdue developed into something better than their star rating would indicate.
As a side note, we went to the Traffic Jam and Snug place before the 2011 Pizza Bowl and it was kind of terrible. I think maybe they just had a bunch of people come through and eat there or something and they ran out of a bunch of stuff. They only had about half of their beers available and they didn't have a couple of their signature entrees either. And it took a long time even though it wasn't crowded at all. Maybe it was just a bad day for them, but I give that place a big thumbs down.
Crow's Nest Restaurant/Fourth Coast Bakery, Kalamazoo, MI
Kalamazoo is probably my favorite place to go bar-hopping (Grand Rapids is a close second). The bar district is far enough from Western Michigan University that there aren't throngs of students everywhere, but if you want that livelier atmosphere, it's easy to get to. I also haven't spent enough time in the city to know it very well, so there's always something new to discover. And what I discovered the last time I was there is that nothing heals a night of trying a pint of everything Bell's Brewery has on tap quite like breakfast at the Crow's Nest. It's one of those places where if you get lost going to the bathroom, you find yourself shanghaied into washing some dishes because you basically walk through the kitchen going to the bathroom. But anyplace with a bakery downstairs to provide fresh bread is a safe bet, and that holds true here. Just time your arrival well, as this place isn't exactly a secret.
Travelling for football games can be one of the most entertaining trips you'll ever take. Putting aside the risk of certain fans being disproportionate douchebags to visitors *cough WISCONSIN cough*, it's generally a delight- seeing a new town and stadium, finding and becoming instant and unconditional friends with anyone else wearing your school's colors, a little ribbing with the natives, slamming Dragon's Milk with fellow OTE writers. And if you win? Nothing like taking over a hostile stadium and a quick fight song jam session with your team. If you've traveled to away games, what's been your favorite venue? Note, by the way, that I'm not asking which is the town you want to see most, or where you think everyone should go. Where did YOU have the best time?
GoForThree: I'll throw a disclaimer right up front: I've never seen a B1G game outside of Columbus. That being said, one of the best overall cities to see a game in would have to be Minneapolis/St. Paul. In the early fall, you can just bury my heart in the Twin Cities. The weather is amazing, the people are all Minnesewda Nice, and you can always find a Hot Dish (a kickasserole). TCF Bank Field is pristine and let's face it, unless you're a Purdue fan, your team is probably going to win.
If you're interested in seeing a team outside of the B1G (and I don't just mean watching Rutgers and chortling), fly to NYC and make the 50-mile drive up to the hallowed highland fortress of the United States Military Academy, better known to most as West Point. Talent and winning aside, a football game at Michie Stadium is an American experience that everyone should enjoy at least once. Come early to see the cadets parade on the Plain, and then enjoy the pageantry and splendor of a fall afternoon overlooking the Hudson Valley and seeing some Army football. Because cadets are on-duty at the game, the tailgates really happen AFTER the whistle blows. Expect to stay late and wind up crashing some Colonel's party. It's been known to happen.
babaoreally: We went to a Bucket game at IU five or six years ago. It was a pretty good time; we got heckled by a few drunken students before the game who were inexplicably confident in their Hoosiers. Purdue won, so that was nice. I've been to an away bball game at Michigan and Iowa and both of those were pretty fun. It helped that they both took place when Purdue was good and both games were blowouts.