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MAILBAG: Big Ten coaches write letters to Santa

Also, what’s the best kind of Christmas cookie? And should more players be skipping bowl games?

Pictured: Townie, possibly.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Townie’s somewhere en route to State College (or possibly catching waves with Santa in the Florida surf), so you’ve got me compiling the Mailbag this week. God help us all bless us, everyone!

What's your favorite Christmas baked good? - Boilerman31

BRT: It’s really difficult to beat a beautifully iced sugar cookie, in my opinion. Nostalgic favorite is a tea ring, which is essentially a cinnamon roll baked in a ring and decorated with maraschino cherries so it looks like a decorated wreath. It’s not a high-class culinary achievement, but my grandma always made them at Christmas, so I have a sentimental attachment to them.

Stew: Peanut Butter balls. They’re essentially homemade Reece’s Peanut Butter cups. Amazing.

GF: Yeah, “Buckeyes” which are chocolate covered peanut butter balls. I like ‘em a bit crunchy, served quite cold.

Candystripes: Gingerbread people. Gingerbread houses are nice too, but they’re difficult to do well.

MNW: Peanut blossoms.

Jesse: So, I’m a sucker for almost all of the Christmas baked goods - sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms, stained glass windows, etc - but I made some egg nog creampuffs this year, and I’m pretty sure they’ve easily hit the top of my list.

Townie: Russian Tea Cakes are my personal favorite. Ground almonds make these little buggers delicious. My mother in law makes the best ones.

Speth: All of them. At the same time. My mom and grandma love baking so Christmas is endless cookies in all forms. If I had to pick one I guess I’d go with peanut butter blossoms because peanut butter and chocolate is the best combo ever.

What is your team’s biggest administrative mistake in regards to a sports team? - BoilerTide

BRT: Haha, that’s easy. The introduction of Lil’ Red. Bill Callahan is second.

WSR: Wait, you want me to pick just one?

Stew: This was mentioned in the request article and I completely agree. Making Forest Evashevski the AD is probably it.

GF: The University of Michigan’s inability from 2006-2010 to properly conduct a head coaching search.

Candystripes: Kelvin Sampson.

MNW: The unionization thing didn’t go very well. If I have a real gripe, though, it’s with all these dumbass marketing campaigns. Dan Persa and the #PersaStrong schtick when he was injured. The Anthony Walker “Franchise” nonsense. Putting Bryant McIntosh on the dime (GET IT?! ASSISTS!) as he proceeds to turn the ball over an inordinate amount.

Anyone want to bet on what’s next? I’ve got Vic Law in judges’ robes with the hashtag #TheLawWon. He’ll proceed to break his leg.

Jesse: I mean, we can look at Callahan as an abject failure of a search in general, but let’s not forget the whole part where Stevie P was hired as AD in the first place.

Townie: Hiring Dave Joyner...a the AD. Granted, he hired Bill O’Brien. He’s also the idiot that led to O’Brien leaving after just his second season. Joyner once cancelled a critical meeting with the football go hunting.

Speth: Does Bo Ryan and Barry Alvarez banging the same mistress count as an administrative mistake? Otherwise I guess the admissions department’s war on Gary Andersen’s recruits was kind of annoying, but got rid of Andersen so maybe all’s well that ends well.

How many B1G teams will be preseason ranked in 2017? Which teams are on the bubble? How many in the top 10? - Chulupabatman

BRT: A little tough to answer before bowl games, but maybe that’s the point. OSU and Michigan will be in the Top Ten no matter what they do in bowl games. PSU will not be in the top ten, and the commentariat will accept that calmly and without histrionics. (Haha, just kidding.) Wisky will still be ranked, Iowa will be if they don’t biff it in their bowl again, and Nebraska will be if they somehow beat Tennessee.

Stew: OSU, MI, and PSU are top 10. WI is top 20. WI and UNL are in other receiving votes.

GF: I don’t think a Michigan team losing 437 seniors will be a Top 10 team. Hype, hype, hype, sure, but I think they will rightfully be placed around 20. So many of the good players are gone! Something like 90%. You don’t bounce back into the Top 5 with all new starters.

MNW: If Penn State can avoid losing by 3 scores, I’ve got them sticking in the Top Ten along with Michigan and Ohio State (never doubt that HARBAUGHHYPE, GF3). Nebraska will stay in the Top 25 with a win or maybe a close loss, Tennessee will open up the season in the Top 10 again for no reason, wisconsin will be Top 10 with a win, Iowa will reenter the Top 25 by beating Florida...that’s all I got.

Townie: I think we see three B1G teams in the top ten: OSU, PSU, and UM. Michigan does lose a lot of talent, but that won’t stop the machine. If they win big in their bowl game, expect to see them ranked somewhere around 8 to 12.

Lower than that, I expect to see Wisconsin and possibly Nebraska make the top 25. That would be solid showing for the B1G, to get five teams in the top 25, preseason.

Jesse: The field seems to be set above, but I might add the fact that I would not be surprised to see a lot of ORV from the West in general. Like, Nebraska and Iowa probably fall there.

Speth: Tough to say for sure beyond Wisconsin, OSU, PSU, and Michigan will be ranked somewhere. Wisconsin could be a sexy dark horse pre season Top 10 team if nobody leaves early.

How will the press justify sneaking Notre Dame into the rankings at #24 during the pre-season? - GTom

BRT: They won’t justify it. They’ll just do it and carry on with their collective amnesia about how terrible Notre Dame was this season.

Candystripes: All depends on who they hire to replace Brian Kelly.

Townie: The press will do what they are told and like it.

Jesse: Remember when Tennessee was a Top 10 team? You just don’t worry about absurd preseason polls.

Speth: Personally I love pre season polls. How else can you get appropriately hyped for beating a top 10 MSU team on the road coming off a huge win over Notre Dame right after Texas came back? Touchdown Jesus is the only justification needed.

If Santa Claus were recruited by every B1G team, which school would he choose, and why?If Santa Claus played on your team, what position would he play? - theguyfromy-wega

BRT: The big guy would be spoiled for choice if he wanted to stick with red, wouldn’t he? But, I say he picks MSU to get a little green in his life--he’s been wearing red an awfully long time. I also think he’d view it as a personal challenge to make Mark Dantonio believe in the magic of Christmas.

WSR: Nebraska. He’s big, he wears red, he’s a criminal (breaking and entering), and he’s really not relevant in spite of being pretty cool when I was a kid.

GF: Santa will go play for Rutgers. First of all, he’s essentially a veteran and at Rutgers it’s basically plug and play. He’s guaranteed a starting spot. Second, Santa is portrayed as a Saint of sorts, a giver to those in need...Rutgers can be his charity case. Someone Hallmark movie this:

“December in Piscataway”

Starring Juliette Lewis as the down on her luck AD looking to turn around the football team, Justin Bieber as the “is he or isn’t he Santa’s son” with the magical touch that this program needs.

MNW: GF3 kinda took the wind out of my “kicker for Penn State” sails.

Jesse: I don’t know why Santa would stay up north when Saban is telling him he can skip out on class, keep that awkward physique of his, and still suit up at starting LG by year 3. Also, let’s be real, if Santa was at Nebraska, we’d use him on the DL because right now any warm body over 250 lbs is going to go to the DL.

Speth: In a stunning turn of events, Santa goes to Illinois. They get nice things on their way to winning the 2019 national championship. We all laugh at Rutgers because Santa was originally committed there.

If the Tressel-Pelini Penguins win the FCS. Does this expedite the return of either of the 2 exiles to the B1G? - Exiled-_in_VT

BRT: I don’t know Pelini, but isn’t it possible that he’s pretty happy where he’s at? I mean, most people wouldn’t like living in Ohio, but he’s from Youngstown, so that’s probably kind of cool for him. He’s having success and probably enjoying having a less insane fanbase. I know most coaches are driven to go to the next big thing, no matter how bad of a fit it is, so maybe he does want to stage a return, but maybe he’s ok where he’s at right now. As for Tressel, I don’t know--remember how everyone was so stunned that Mike Riley, at 61 years old, could still be walking around, let alone coaching a team at such an ancient age? Tressel’s 64. I mean, maybe he wants to come back to coaching and be Bill Snyder. But maybe he just wants to bank a couple more years and then play some golf or learn to cook or whatever.

Candystripes: Probably not. Unless Bo really, really wants to take over some middling upstart out West just so he can exact revenge.

MNW: TRESSELBALL4MINNESOTA. Why not President-AD-football coach, all at once? Make this happen, Minnesota!

Pelini will be coaching Rutgers within the decade and I will enjoy it immensely.

Stew: I would absolutely love to see Pelini at Minnesota. Can you imagine the Minnesota Nice that would generate?

MNW: With the first sideline tantrum, the Minnesota media would lose its shit on a level not seen since a bunch of Vikings whipped their dicks out on Lake Minnetonka. Jesus, I can just hear Barreiro’s shrill yammerings and picture Reusse’s hottest taeks.

Jesse: To the B1G? Not necessarily. To FBS? Perhaps. I think Pelini is destined to get overpaid by a SEC school who loves defense. It’s just one of those things that makes sense. If he surrounds himself with coaches who can recruit him talent, he’ll be really successful too

As for Tressel? I just really don’t think he hates his gig. Why make a move, you know?

Speth: Tressel isn't going anywhere. He's too old and has a cushy job coddling donors that already love him. Pelini on the other hand is totally going to end up at Iowa when Ferentz retires and I can only hope he doesn't understand the core concepts regarding stopping the jet sweep still.

Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffery are choosing not to play in their teams’ bowl games based in their draft stock and the relative meaninglessness of the bowl games. I personally think both are making the right choice based on the shelf life of NFL running backs. What are your thoughts on this, and do you think it will begin a trend of players projected to be high picks sitting out non playoff/NY6 level bowls? - Bschim23.1

BRT: I understand it certainly. I also understand why fans of the team and their teammates might not be so enthused about it. I’m sure that the NCAA will proceed with decisions about this with their customary care and regard for the student athlete (bwahahahaha!) I do think it likely that we’ll see more of this now that the precedent has been set.

Stew: I don’t like that they’re doing it, purely from a selfish, fan perspective. But it’s not my life, not my career, not my body, not my choice. I don’t think this is any sort of slippery slope, because those are shitty arguments. Can’t really blame them.

Jesse: I’m 100% okay with it, but I also understand why former players are up in arms. Holding out for a payday makes total sense with pretty much nothing on the line. That being said, I don’t think too many players are actually good enough to play this card. If McCaffery and Fournette were never hurt in their careers, they probably are a little more carefree, but both know exactly what’s up.

MNW: First, thank you for an interesting and thought-provoking question. I’m a little confused what it’s doing in the Mailbag, but I appreciate it!

I think it will certainly happen for some of the skill position players--I think especially for running backs, where there’s a slipping market for those who aren’t going to be drafted in the First Round, you’ll see more and more dropping out because they don’t want to become third- or fourth-round picks instead. For defensive players, offensive tackles, and the like, though? I’m not so sure. I think that one lasts longer with players playing the whole season through.

Speth: I get it. I don't like it as a fan but I get it. Especially in their cases. Fournette’s been hurt basically all season and has so little to prove. Remember when people were speculating he wouldn't even play this season? McCaffery’s had a

If foregoing bowl games becomes commonplace, will it not encourage the NCAA to rethink its stance on compensation for athletes? If "stars" do not participate in the bowl season, revenues are likely to decline. - theguyfromy-wega

Stew: I reject the premise that is will become commonplace.

Jesse: Meh, let’s be real. Fans go to see the decal on the helmet. Yes, it’s fun to watch your favorites play, but I don’t think that fans care one way or another who is on the field.

MNW: You’ll get some lukewarm stance at best for the players who could potentially go to the draft--some vaguely-coerced participation passed down to the universities/coaches, and nothing of note will come of this for quite a while. Fans will still travel to the games; I don’t think many Stanford fans canceled their trips to El Paso because McCaffery isn’t showing up.

What should your favorite B1G sports coach ask for in their letter to Santa this year? - EastLosRandy


Dear Santa,

In this year of deep division and hate, the thing I want most is for everyone to just be nice to one another. Please bring us more love and less hate, more compassion and less judgment, more hugs and fewer kicks, and more happy callers on Big Red Wrap-Up and fewer mean, angry ones.

I would also like a new Jordan Westerkamp (in time for the bowl would be great, but I can live with next season), our game with Iowa to move to the beginning of the season when they always suck, for Ivanna Cone to expand its vegan ice cream offerings, large-scale acceptance by Nebraskans that the 90s aren’t coming back except sartorially, and for Lil’ Red to be launched into space.

Oh, and a new red bicycle! Please Santa!

Xoxo, I love you Santa.

Mike Riley


Dear Santa,

Thank you for the guaranteed contract.

Warmest Regards,

Tracy Claeys.


Dear Santa,

Warmest regards. This year I’d like:

  • A nice bottle of Malbec
  • Another NCAA Tournament bid
  • To meet that lovely Minnesotan chap again
  • My players to MAKE SHOTS, GODDAMNIT.




Dear Santa,

I’ve been really good - not like, on the court, but stick with me - this year. I would like one game where our team scores points consistently. It’s not too much to ask, right? RIGHT!

Oh, and a new pair of shoes. I love me some fancy shoes.

Your biggest fan,



Dear Santa,

I’m good.


Oh, what they SHOULD ask for.

Dear Santa,

I desperately need some receivers who can run routes and catch the ball, as well as block. Also, would it be so hard to get an OC that can incorporate a zone blocking running game into a coherent offense?


Totally Fake Kirk

That’s all we got! Happy Festivus, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, and whatever else we’ve got for you. Thanks for reading OTE!

-MNWildcat, 87Townie, and the rest of the OTE “Writers”