I always find this time of the year bittersweet. While I am glad to say that the Power Poll has had another good year, I'm also a bit misty-eyed thinking about our fun times in 2015. If you can't tell, we here at OTE are a bit nostalgic and generally all 90s kids, so you end up with a lot of "oh remember when?" type of polls. So, when you have a "last Power Poll" meet nostalgia, what do you end up with? The Early-ish Internet Edition! Full disclosure, this is mostly Graham's idea and I said I'd try and run with it. It is also like 1:00 AM so this is going to get a little weird in places. Ignore that if you must and focus on the fun that is us ranking the teams OR join in the fun and tell us your favorite part of your early internet experiences.
But, before we get there, let's get to some points of order. As always, insertname has done an excellent job with tables. So go check those out here, and take a look at the year in review:
Kind of a crazy year, no? There were 13 voters this week, and yes, someone *coughSpethcough* who voted Iowa last. So take these results as you will, but none of you will because WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE LATE 90S INTERNET TODAY! WOOOOOOO!!!
1. Ohio State Buckeyes - ASL/Chatrooms
182 Points || 13 FPV || 0 LPV || H 1 || L 1 || LW 3 || Change 2
One day, I'll tell my soon-to-be-here daughter about the time we went to chatrooms to find new friends. Unfortunately, instead of friends, what we were really doing was giving out our personal information to complete strangers in hopes of finding... I don't know, whatever it is you find by giving your age, sex, and location. So what's the tie-in to Ohio State? Well, I see the Buckeyes as the person asking for this information so that they can find you, murder you with an Ezekiel Elliott, and laugh at your dying Irish corpse. Um... I'm not sure that's a great analogy, but this whole idea for a Power Poll is insane, and I figured I'd get us started off right.
2. Michigan State Spartans - The Dial Up Modem
162 Points || 0 FPV || 0 LPV || H 2 || L 5 || LW 2 || Change 0
Oh, I know what you're thinking. "Jesse, what the heck man? We're way better than the dial-up modem. This isn't Alabama." And, you know, I get where you're coming from, but hear me out. This is the early internet we're talking about. Nothing was as up and coming, absolutely unstoppable, and badass as the 56k dial-up modem. Sure, you got kicked off the internet every single time call waiting came through, and I suppose it was super annoying to pick up the receiver and hear this:
Wait, what were we talking about? Oh, right, Michigan State. Basically what I'm saying is that you're still pretty great for the time, but when you go up against the more advanced and modern technologies, things get ugly fast.
3. Michigan Wolverines - Downloading Music
158 Points || 0 FPV || 0 LPV || H 2 || L 4 || LW 4 || Change 1
I remember the moment I learned that I could download any song in the world for free on Napster - and later LimeWire. It was a glorious day. I'm pretty sure I decided I would download all of the Bush songs available, because I was in Junior High in 1998 and that seemed like a good idea. Anyhow, the file said, "Bush - Glycerine" and I was super excited. I got the song downloaded, put it into my cool WinAmp player and then my computer more or less came to a grinding halt as some really virus-laden file opened up and the sweet sounds of some random live band came across my Gateway computer speakers. I tell you this story because it basically is how I think Michigan fans feel right now. They have the entire world at their fingertips. They've downloaded success that they've been promised for a while. They even beat a SEC team. It could also all be a scam to put a virus in their computer. Or not. That's a gamble we get to see play out next year! Fun!
4. Wisconsin Badgers - Yahoo! Games
137 Points || 0 FPV || 0 LPV || H 2 || L 6 || LW 6 || Change 2
One of the more severely underrated aspects of the early-ish internet was playing ridiculous online games. It generally started with some version of solitaire that you didn't have downloaded to your computer, but then it expanded pretty quick. Hearts? Sure, I'll learn to play hearts. Spades? Sure, that sounds super duper fun. Mah-Jong Puzzle Challenge Extreme II? YES! Of course it was a giant time suck... BUT, it was always fun and I always went back to play just fifteen minutes more. Wisconsin is the Yahoo! games room of the Big Ten. They are consistently good, not great. They have a penchant for wasting your time, but are just interesting and talented enough to entice you to not really find something else to do. And, while they're a little cheap, they offer so many different outlets that it didn't matter if the nicer versions somewhere else on the internet existed. You were going to be okay right here... wasting your time... wondering what Iowa was doing.
5. Iowa Hawkeyes - Your first email address
131 Points || 0 FPV || 1 LPV || H 3 || L 14 || LW 1 || Change -4
My first email address was "koreanpunk" at various domains because I thought it would be neat to try and corner the market on koreanpunk monikers. You know, just in case someone was going to try and crowd my turf. I would venture to guess that most all of your first email addresses were probably just as ridiculous as mine, especially before the rise of firstname.lastname@example.org as the de facto nomenclature for such things. Iowa, for all of the hell we gave them, is your first email address. Sure, when it came time to put something on the resume, you backed out of knowing or recalling that first email address, but it gave you a lot of good memories, and was pretty dominant from time to time (DOOOOOOOD!!! YOU'RE KOREANPUNK? AMAZING!). And you know what, you can't really take that away from either of them, which is kind of cool in it's own way.
6. Nebraska Cornhuskers - Geocities
108 Points || 0 FPV || 0 LPV || H 5 || L 8 || LW 8 || Change 2
You know what was a really good idea? Geocities. You could make your own site - or city - and then place it in any of the various major hubs so other people could find it. It was simple, effective, crazy dominant in the 90s, and ultimately doomed to failure. But man, it was a really good idea. You know what's a really good idea? Nebraska running the damn ball. Mike Riley gets a free year to chalk up to transition, but squander a second year and year three will get dicey fast. The win against UCLA shows this team can play with anyone, but also makes you wonder what went wrong. Nebraska has a chance to do something good going into 2016, but they need to avoid ruining it by losing site of the idea. Also, Nebraska being on this poll in general fits so damn well. Man the 90s internet was super weird.
7. Northwestern Wildcats - AskJeeves
106 Points || 0 FPV || 0 LPV || H 5 || L 8 || LW 5 || Change -2
Do you all remember AskJeeves? Of course you do, because it was a search engine that had a butler. This is fitting because Northwestern and butlers! GET IT! But seriously, think about all of the pre-google web search engines you used. Everything from Lycos to Search.com to whatever the original meta-crawler engines you found to be the best. They were all so great at first. In fact, an engine like AskJeeves made you wonder if there would ever be need of any other search engine. Then you realized that you need more than a one-sided gimmick - or, you know offensive identity - and now Ask.com is kind of a ridiculous place you end up after your work IE accidentally downloads a plugin with that file converter you just had to have. So yeah, what I'm saying is that Northwestern sort of seemed like they had a great season, but yikes that offense is bad and such a huge disappointment... just like non-google search engines.
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers - Internet Explorer
92 Points || 0 FPV || 0 LPV || H 6 || L 10 || LW 9 || Change 1
Remember when there weren't really a lot of browser choices? You just got to use Internet Explorer, and hey, it wasn't all that bad, right? It was absolutely functional, and that was all you needed\. Minnesota is Internet Explorer. They have a fairly straightforward gameplan (that is, hope for the best offensively and try to be so good on defense that the hope on offense doesn't destroy them), they were functional about half the time, and even their most ardent fans probably tore them apart in some chatroom or usenet group. I suppose this would also argue that Minnesota could grow into market domination and then be hated by everyone so much that it sort of disappears, but that arc might be long gone.
9. Penn State Nittany Lions - AOL Disks
88 Points || 0 FPV || 0 LPV || H 6 || L 9 || LW 7 || Change -2
I will never forget when I learned that you could melt a CD. Obviously it was one of the millions I got from AOL, but it was really cool and it made me so happy to see the melting plastic. Anyhow, remember those things? FIVE FREE HOURS OF INTERNET! It was such a good deal considering it started out as like $3/hr or something, and it was the reason my parents bought into the idea of us getting the internet. Unfortunately, it was also super worthless, a lot of talk - not a ton of delivery on promise once better services (or teams) showed up, and you couldn't get rid of it no matter how hard you tried. I feel like that is sort of where Penn State finds itself after 2015. Sure, it was a lot of window dressing of hype and big names, but when it came down to it, you were paying a lot for something you should always have - moderate success - and you squandered the talent that was there. So that's a fun thought.
10. Indiana Hoosiers - Internet Porn
66 Points || 0 FPV || 0 LPV || H 9 || L 11 || LW 10 || Change 0
We all know that the internet is basically an invention for finding porn. Regardless of if you feel that's a good thing or not, you understand that this is still a true fact. Indiana is basically the realization that yes, the internet is full of porn. Think about it, the bowl is this mind-blowing experience for Hoosier fans. You get a favorable matchup - find something you have never seen before - and even though that sweet dial up is loading about as fast as a turtle walking the diameter of the earth, you're getting *excited* for what is next. The game - video - goes about as well as you could expect with a few buffering hiccups and just when you think the climax is coming BOOM missed FG, game over. There was no clean streaming. There was no reload. Just a little red x and lots of awkward sadness.
11. Illinois Fighting Illini - MySpace
46 Points || 0 FPV || 0 LPV || H 11 || L 13 || LW 11 || Change 0
On one hand, you have got to admit that there have been worse ideas out there than MySpace. It helped launch Social Media, and its ability to flex and change with your mood was one of those great creative outlets for a generation becoming addicted to the internet. Figuring out your Top 8 was sort of a big deal, right? Of course, MySpace is essentially dead now too because even they could not have nice things once big bad facebook came around. Illinois is basically this awkward, more or less dead version of a once thriving early internet thing. No continuity in administration, a terrible coaching situation, and a mediocre year - albeit better than most expected - means that Illinois fans get to look forward to falling behind their peers for the foreseeable future. Fun.
12. Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Dancing Baby GIF
38 Points || 0 FPV || 2 LPV || H 10 || L 14 || LW 13 || Change 1
Do you remember how annoying it was to pull up a website and see Dancing Baby GIF everywhere? Because I do. It was intrusive, did not offer much in the way of entertainment or actual addition to the discussion, and I never understood why it got such praise except that we had a 3D GIF working. Rutgers, you are the Dancing Baby GIF. You had a pretty bad season, with pretty awful coaches doing pretty awful things, and you still have trouble fitting in. Of course, you're also maybe going to be okay. I like the upgrade in coaching, and I have a feeling you're going to be okay with the changes in administration. So, maybe the baby cha-cha makes me all creeped out, but if it works for you, keep going.
13. Maryland Terrapins - Internet Website Custom Cursors
34 Points || 0 FPV || 1 LPV || H 10 || L 14 || LW 12 || Change -1
One of the worst things in the early internet was that customization was all the rage. Throw some garish colors, glitter GIFs, and a bunch of different fonts, and you had a website. It was confusing and distracting, and definitely did not stand the test of times. But even in spite of those changes, they were always made much worse by the gigantic arrow, gun site, finger, and a myriad of terrible cursors based on the website. They usually made the site that much more difficult to interact with. Maryland's 2015 season was basically what happens when you design a poor look - coaching issues - and no matter how many different ways they got dressed up, they were still terrible. Similar to their Rutgers friends, they have a new group coming in. Should be interesting to see how that works for them.
14. Purdue Boilermakers - The Telephone
17 Points || 0 FPV || 9 LPV || H 13 || L 14 || LW 14 || Change 0
While you have upgraded to one of the later - and what would arguably prove to be important - ways to communicate, you're still outclassed, overmatched, and the laughingstock of the group. There is not much you can do well, and even those things get put to shame by stuff like, "hire a former LB coach who hasn't coached in a year as DC". I get that Purdue is almost a real team and did manage a P5 conference win this season, but let's be real... this is still a really dated team with not a ton of shelf life for the internet going forward. Better luck next time Boiler bros. At least you have basketball... which, man... at least we all have basketball!
Thanks for the great year everyone. Commence the internet nostalgia!