As the warm memories of the holiday season and the bowl season subside to be replaced by snow, darkness, and basketball; the Powers That Be created Valentine's Day so that women could post pictures of flowers on social media to feel superior to their friends and men could bitch about having to observe Valentine's Day. Hey, it keeps us all busy for a couple of weeks in February. This year, as a Big Ten fan, consider celebrating/bemoaning the Day of Love in a way particularly suited to you or your significant other's favorite school. Not sure where to start? OTE is here to help with this handy quick start guide to your perfect Valentine's Day.
Note: This list is alphabetical, because all's fair in love, war, and meaningless lists.
What's in your bouquet: Geraniums or Poppies, which historically signify "comfort" and "consolation," respectively. Your football team is, by your own AD's description, in a "not ideal" place, and your injury-stung basketball team just needed three overtimes to beat Rutgers. RUTGERS BASKETBALL. I'd say comfort and consolation are right up your alley, no matter the holiday.
Your spirit chocolate: Marzipan. At first, it looks like you might be a delicious buttercream, or maybe marshmallow... but nope, you're marzipan, and that's never not disappointing. Just like Illinois.
What's in your bouquet: Amaryllis and red carnation. An amaryllis traditionally signifies "drama" and a red carnation, basic though it may be, somehow meant "flashy" to the Victorians. In any event, you've got a penchant for both drama and flashiness, although sometimes you indulge in way too much drama for your own good. Since your new QB is both spawned from a soap opera star and has a soap opera name, more drama may well be in your future. Might as well lean into it.
Your spirit chocolate: Divinity Puff. Emblematic of both your prayers to God during the final seconds of any number of football games this year, and your defensive style. A secondary meaning applicable to Hoosier basketball fans is that this candy perfectly marries Tom Crean's opinion of himself with Tom Crean's general appearance.
What's in your bouquet: Too bad Indiana already took the red carnation, because if there was ever a "flashy" team... just kidding. And alas, the Victorians did not designate a flower for "vehement asshattery," a tragic oversight on their collective part. Instead, Iowa's bouquet is comprised of Peruvian lilies in recognition of their "aspirations" to greatness, and stephanotis, indicative of the "good luck" which got them surprisingly far along that path.
Your spirit chocolate: California Brittle. This spirit chocolate is particularly well-suited to the Iowa fan, as it works on a couple of levels. First, in their first trip in a million years to the Rose Bowl (in California) they got broken into a million tiny pieces (brittle) by Stanford (from California.) Then, the collective outrage about Stanford's mean band reached a climax when some in the Iowa legislature sought to pass a bill protesting the... whatever, it was definitely the sign of some very brittle sensibilities.
What's in your bouquet: The first flower in your bouquet is the delphinium, in honor of the "boldness" of your sartorial choices. Your play doesn't always look good on the field, nor do your uniforms, but nobody is looking past you, much as they might want to. Your second flower is the classic zinnia, a reminder of the "thoughts of friends." In Maryland's case, the "friends" are the basketball team, aka the only thing that gets a Terp fan through the fall.
Your spirit chocolate: Key Lime Truffle. There's nothing inherently wrong with this truffle, in fact, it's pretty tasty. But it just seems a little out of place in the traditional chocolate box, and Maryland, while you're pretty okay, you still seem just a little out of place in the Big Ten.
What's in your bouquet: Three flowers, because the Michigan valentine likes to feel special. All in the school color of maize--excuse me, yellow--this trio should speak volumes to your favorite Wolverine. First, the yellow tulip, a sign that one is "hopelessly in love," is perfect for the Harbaugh enthusiast. Second, the mariGOLD, reflects a "desire for riches" common to a fanbase hankering for greatness and recruits with sparkly, sparkly stars. And third, the yellow snapdragon, which means "presumptuous," and pretty much explains itself. Definitely do NOT include apple blossoms, which signify "promises"--as we all know, promises sometimes don't mean shit. You wouldn't want someone to get the wrong idea.
Your spirit chocolate: Dark chocolate raspberry truffle. Rich and fruity*.
*Fruity (/ˈfro͞odē/) adjective Eccentric, or crazy. See: Harbaugh, James.
6. Michigan State
What's in your bouquet: Besides disrespekt, violets adorn your bouquet in honor of one of the longest-tenured coaches in the conference, whose "faithfulness" to MSU has brought great success. An unconventional bouquet choice, holly, stands for "domestic happiness" and is a testament to MSU's continuing reign over its in-state rival. Moss makes a suitable accent for your flowers, as it does particularly well in rainy weather.
Your spirit chocolate: Molasses chip. Or chocolate chip truffle. Either way, chip, chip, chip.
What's in your bouquet: Jasmine, for the "grace and elegance" seen in a Mitch Leidner throw. Gladiolus, for the "strength of character" exhibited by Dilly Bar Dan, National Hero™.
Your spirit chocolate: Polar bear paw. Because you're almost in Canada, which means you're almost at the North Pole, right?
What's in your bouquet: A dazzling assortment of "cheerful" yellow carnations remind everyone how far you've come, since there is no "glowering" flower, a problem in past years. Come hell or high water (or both in the form of Purdue Harbor), your favorite coach is Nebraska Nice, dammit, and this bouquet reflects that. A fun contrast is brought to the bouquet by fragrant lavender, signifying "distrust." Hope springs eternal for every Cornhusker, but after last season, so does distrust--especially when there's a lead late in the fourth quarter.
Your spirit chocolate: Butterscotch chew. Because old people love you.
Or if you want to be really literal about it, try the Baker's Husker Box of Chocolates, made right outside of Lincoln. They also have a Hawkeye Box available, because they are apparently dirty traitors.
What's in your bouquet: Let's face it, Valentine's Day and its ilk are for icky poors, and you really are above all of this. It's far more high-class to buy the lady you love expensive jewelry at random intervals throughout "The Year," and it more effectively reminds her how rich you are. Women love that. But, if you were going to indulge in this farce of a holiday, you'd probably spring for some obscene number of red roses. Cliche? Sure. But when you're filthy rich, you don't need to bother with originality.
Your spirit chocolate: Something imported from Belgium, obviously. Something the poors can't get at the local Hy-Vee.
10. Ohio State
What's in your bouquet: If you've got an OSU fan in your life, you know that they know their team is the best, probably because they never, ever shut up about it (seriously, why are you dating an OSU fan?) What makes this even more annoying is that this is roughly correct. The rich just keep getting richer in Columbus. To acknowledge this, try using some azaleas, which speak to the "abundance" enjoyed by OSU. For some color, throw in some statice flowers for "success"--they're kind of ugly, but then, so is gray and red--and when you have that much success, who really cares about aesthetics? Note: Do not overwater.
Your spirit candy: A plate of buckeyes, obviously. You're the only school with candy named after you. Because you're the best, that's why.
11. Penn State
What's in your bouquet: Freesia, of course, because the PSU fan is "spirited"! So spirited!!!!!!!! Catch the spirit!!! Whew, got a little carried away there by all the enthusiasm. Baby's Breath will also accent the bouquet perfectly, as its "festivity" represents the non-stop, totally hackenin' party that PSU fans have grown accustomed to since Coach Franklin arrived. Not only that, it's basically a White Out in flower form. Perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Your spirit chocolate: Scotchmallow!!!!!!!!!! What could be more zany and fun than a layer of caramel WITH a layer of honey marshmallow enrobed in dark chocolate? NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHICH IS WHY IT'S PERFECT FOR YOUR PENN STATE VALENTINE!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! So EXCITED!!!!!!!!!
What's in your bouquet: First, the nasturtium, for "patriotism." Purdue has periodically sent Americans to the moon, and that's pretty damn patriotic. If it seems weird to you to celebrate something like that on Valentine's Day, you probably should not be dating a Purdue fan. Second, the "passion" of a passion flower speaks to your Purdue fan's current passion for the basketball team--after years of extreme athletic disappointment, it's a lock that your beloved Boilermaker is hanging on to every basket.
Your spirit chocolate: Apricot delight. With all of the other chocolates out there, apricot chunks with white chocolate and coconut doesn't sound that great. Still, there are a few out there that probably love you.
What's in your bouquet: Rhododendron--though they are striking, they bear the cautionary message to "beware." And oh, how that is a message your Rutgers fan can relate to, as they've hunkered down after blow after blow from their teams and athletic department. Beware the dawning of each new day, Rutgers fans, because it can--and often does--get worse. But so your Jersey valentine doesn't hate you, throw in some peonies--they stand for "healing," and that's something we all wish for Rutgers. At least a little bit--c'mon, you're lying if that cannon thing didn't make you at least a little sad. Have a heart--it's Valentine's Day.
Your spirit chocolate: The coconut candy that nobody ate and subsequently forgot about until one day they accidentally knocked the box to the floor and stepped on it and squished it. :(
What's in your bouquet: As your Wisconsin fan grapples with the loss of beloved quarterback Joel Stave, what better flower to gift than a white carnation, symbol of "remembrance"? Pair this with an exquisite orchid, reminiscent of the "delicate beauty" of The Legend's superb head of hair, and you've got the perfect bouquet for the distraught Badger in your life.
Your spirit chocolate: Chocolate *cheese*cake. Obvious? Yes. Delicious? Also yes. Your Badger valentine won't turn it down, I promise.
And there you have it--everything you need to tell your loved one that you love them in a way that their fan-fevered little heart will understand.
Happy Valentine's Day, from William Tecumseh "Lovebug" Sherman and OTE.