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The new mailbag is here! The new mailbag is here!

You asked questions, we answered, and you’re a somebody now!

The Duchess Of Cambridge Hosts Team Heads Together Runners
We tried to get the Duchess of Cambridge to answer some questions too, but the Palace didn’t respond to our requests.
Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Another week, another batch of half-assed questions from you, and quarter-assed responses from us! May your joy be abundant.

OTE “writers” and commenters: Do they know things? What do they know? --Beezer07

MNW: You’ll have to buy my “book” in ~3 years and find out! (Spoiler: I hope those of you who dislike me actually do stumble into buying my book and just fucking hate it. You know how you are.)

Also the nicknames of virtually any D-I basketball school. It’s a “fun” trick to win beers off people by knowing that Radford are the Highlanders and Wagner are the Seahawks.

WSR: Yes. I know many things. A few of them even involve football.

BRT: I’ll borrow a favorite phrase of my father’s: “I know many things. What in particular do you wish to know?” (I know, I know, it’s hard to believe a guy who says that could have spawned me.) Also, I believe (sorry, I KNOW) that my colleague MNW may be over-estimating the reach of the academic book market if he thinks people are likely to “stumble” into buying it. ;)

MNW: screw you shut up im totally going pop press and everyone will read it [/sobs, returns to reading Martin Sabo’s papers]

Thumpasaurus: If you wanted, I could talk about outdoor warning sirens for hours. Is this what you want? Would you like to know exactly why the Federal Signal Thunderbolt 1000T and its derivatives had such an iconic sound and why that sound has fallen out of favor? Shall I rant about the drawbacks of modern electronic outdoor warning systems? Shall I go further in depth and explain how the hell Paxton and Rantoul ended up with an ACA system in the ‘60’s despite being in east central Illinois? DON’T OPEN PANDORA’S BOX BEEZ

Stew: I used to think my array of esoteric knowledge was somewhat impressive until I started running around with these hooligans. So now I mostly just drink.

Creighton: I've got some weird stuff rattling around in my brain, so let's take a look at what we've got. Over here you have the lyrics to every Weezer song, which unfortunately includes Make Believe and every album after it. In this corner we have the mechanism of action that the enzyme catalase uses to neutralize hydrogen peroxide [H2O2 + Fe(III)-E → H2O + O=Fe(IV)-E(.+) H2O2 + O=Fe(IV)-E(.+) → H2O + Fe(III)-E + O2], which only comes in handy when you try to explain to someone why they shouldn't bother putting peroxide on a cut. Right next to that you can see a detailed explanation of how every stunt in all three (yes, THREE) Indiana Jones movies was performed (keep an eye out for the phone pole piston protruding from the bottom of the truck that flips over and "kills" Marion Ravenwood). Today we'll end our tour with an encyclopedic knowledge of aircraft from WWII where you'll notice that my favorite is the Vought F4U Corsair. Those gull wings? Beautiful.

LPW: I know all kinds of oddball things. I competed on my high school’s Scholastic Bowl team.

Candystripes: I am aware of a great number of things, though recent events question whether Iowa football is one of those.

Speaking of dying for the fatherland, what is your favorite movie about war? (It could be "pro-war" or "anti-war" or not really either pro or anti, as long as a war and its participants are central to the plot.) My choice is probably Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. --Hollywood Hawk Hogan

WSR: Coming from a long line of military men, I’ve watched more than my fair share of movies. While the easy way out would be to say Dr. Strangelove because it’s just so damn brilliant, I think that my favorite right now would be Stalag 17.

BRT: Band of Brothers. Yes, I know it’s not technically a movie, and no, I don’t care. It’s incredible, and I don’t even like war movies that much.

The Original GF: Full Metal Jacket, the full movie, not just the first half. Watched it for the first time in a Boston hotel room when I was 10 - impacted me to view war as nuanced, always nuanced.

Creighton: By a gigantic margin my favorite is The Thin Red Line, which is criminally underappreciated. It was overshadowed by coming out in the same year as Saving Private Ryan, and I think a lot of people thought all the cameos in it were gimmicky. In reality, the cameos were caused by actors demanding that their agents get them roles in Terrence Malick's first film in 20 years. It's very similar to Dunkirk in that it delivers a heavy dose of emotion with minimal dialogue. If you haven't seen it in a while, or ever, please do yourself a favor and watch it. It's simultaneously heartbreaking and beautiful, and it's one of my favorite films.

Stew: I’ll take the easy way, WSR, and say Dr. Strangelove. But I’m also going to throw Duck Soup in there, too. Because holy fuck it’s amazing, and still relevant.

Candystripes: Does 1941 count as a war movie? Because if so, that.

If you could switch careers, no additional schooling or training required, what job would you switch to? And I’m talking a regular job-type job, not something like skydiving instructor that only does tandem jumps with Playboy models down in the Caribbean. --06Lion

MNW: Pat Fitzgerald’s. I’m an alumnus of NU, and I’d make a few mil a year, never have to fire anyone or really improve my results, and get to wear purple all the time. That, and I look great in shorts. I see no downside here.

BRT: I would absolutely be a travel writer. If that’s not “regular” enough, I always wish I’d have pushed myself to pursue something in chemistry--maybe in food science. Maybe in flavor development at Ben and Jerry’s. On second thought, make that quality control at Ben and Jerry’s. Mmmm.

Thumpasaurus: Several.

  1. Studio musician/music teacher/something where my work involves music and the pay is steady.
  2. Auctioneer. Like, world-class auctioneer
  3. Radio play-by-play sports announcer

WSR: There have actually been a couple times the past few years where I’ve considered changing careers. For some dumb reason, the path that is most appealing is the one I almost went down: HS Teacher/Coach. Summers off, and getting back to coaching football and golf? Why not?

Stew: Optometrist. Easy hours, great money, no harsh associations. 90% of my job would be saying, “1, or 2”. You’re essentially on autopilot 80% of the time, and your days are still relatively busy so they go quickly.

LPW: Wow, yeah, I never considered how easy Optometrists have it. I’ll do that too

Creighton: Museum curator, but at like a really well funded museum where I don’t have to beg for donations and stuff.

Candystripes: Sports agent. Be behind the scenes for all the shady aspects of the sports world, but somehow be responsible for none of them, while also getting paid a bunch of money to help other people get paid a bunch of money? You could do worse.

How many HCs will Illinois go through before making a bowl again? --br27

MNW: I miss when Thump was posting his weekly “Illinois coach” watch and we could speculate. Will it be Brock Spack? PJ Fleck? Some other up-and-comer? Those were the days.

I think it’s dependent on the hire they make with the next coach...they’ve now gone the “MAC flash-in-the-pan” and “weird NFL hire” routes, so the next would either be veteran retread (hello, Bo Pelini) or “Ohio State OC nope nope nope DC.” So say hello to your next Illinois head coach... [/searches wikipedia]

Oh my God. I’d totally forgotten. This is like Christmas.

WSR: The fun thing about Illinois is that it could very well be the next one. Everyone needs to remember that they did dicktrip into a Rose Bowl in recent memory, and it’s not the worst job in the B1G. They’re just horribly mismanaged and have no idea what they’re doing in their athletic department as a whole.

Thumpasaurus: Tim Beckman made a bowl game.

Creighton: How bad have things gotten for Lovie Smith when he’s gone from somehow taking Rex Grossman to a Super Bowl to us talking about how he probably can’t take a team that plays in the Big Ten West to the Quick Lane Bowl?

Candystripes: I mean, Lovie could do it, just not this year.

More likely to bring up Wisconsin when answering a question that does not relate to Wisconsin: Speth or WSR? --Detigers09

MNW: If I could for a moment, someone (I think it was waw, which oddly hurts even more, somehow) impugned my honor in the comments by suggesting that it was me. I would like to, if I may, rebut this heinous charge by stating that I only bring up wisconsin when it deserves to be brought up, which is almost never unless I have been asked a direct question about wisconsin. Or when I have alluded to the fact that a wide receiver falling down of his own accord and still somehow getting a DPI call was “Rodgerian” or “Jordy-like.”

WSR: Who?

BRT: Definitely Speth. You should see him on the “writer” Slack. Everyone’s minding their own business, talking about Illinois basketball or some dumb thing, and he comes in like the frickin’ Kool-Aid man “HEY WISCONSIN IS GOING TO WIN THE WEST AND COULD DO SO WITH A ONE-ARMED QUARTERBACK HAAHAHA.” Oh yeeeeaaaah.

Stew: Fuck wisconsin

Creighton: I think WSR mostly does it out of spite for Speth who literally won’t shut the hell up about how long it’s been since Wisconsin did something or another (I usually tune him out).

Candystripes: Depends entirely on how drunk both of them are when answering the question. But still probably Speth.

If you had to choose, would you rather be an Illinois fan or a Rutgers fan? --Elbuensabor

MNW: All the chambers in this thing are loaded, right?

WSR: **removes sword, slices slowly across the abdomen left to right**

BRT: Illinois. They’re decent at volleyball and sometimes win games in basketball. You can say neither of these things about Rutgers. There is literally no bright spot in Rutgers athletics.

Thumpasaurus: Illinois. You’ll never understand.

Stew: Would I have to spend any time in Champbana?

LPW: pass the booze

Creighton: Illinois. Both teams will drive you to alcoholism, and the Midwest has way better breweries.

Candystripes: Illinois, because then I occasionally get a good basketball season. But still not Eric Gordon. /ducks

A mysterious stranger gives you a box with a button on top. If you press this button, your favorite team is guaranteed a Rose Bowl berth. But, the price is that somewhere, a stranger will die.

My question: Would you attend the parade? Or just skip that and head straight to the game? --waw

MNW: For me parades are like museums, insofar as I have done/do things that make me participate in them, yet I loathe actually attending them. Get to the good shit I’ve come here for, which is either a thumping at the hands of a Pac-12 team or an ice cream treat shaped like Ben Franklin’s head from the gift shop.

WSR: You’ve got to attend the parade, right? It’s part of the festivities. And nobody at OTE is as festive as I am.

MNW: “Have a holly, jolly--” [/WSR chucks an empty Grain Belt tallboy at your head]

BRT: Oooo, which bowl game has the Ben Franklin ice cream? If I could pick the stranger, I might be down for this, but in general, the Rose Bowl isn’t worth homicide.

Stew: I assume I have my family, which means small kids, which means Parade. But I’m drinking a beer there.

Creighton: Wait that’s not fair why don’t I get to pick who dies? This box is broken. Parades bore me, take me straight to the stadium so I can tailgate.

Candystripes: I mean, probably just the game, but my return question is, how many times do I get to press the button? (Ed. Note: Do not give Candy your home address. Ye gods.)

Who is your least favorite player on your favorite team and your favorite player on your least favorite team --Jon Ross

MNW: Try as I did, I never loved Davide Curletti. He just wasn’t Luka Mirkovic. I’m sorry, Davide. (I honestly couldn’t tell you an NU football player I’ve liked least. Probably Stefan Demos, if I’m really thinking about it.)

Rafa Gaglianone is just so goddamn lovable. You’re awesome, you Brazilian unicorn.

BRT: Of late, I have not been the biggest fan of Tanner Lee, I have to say. My least favorite team would probably be Iowa, so maybe the guy who shot the bear? Or the Long Legend? Nah. I’m going to copy MNW, because Wisconsin is my other least favorite team. Gaglianone is awesome. Great name, great hair. You shake those hips, boo.

WSR: All-time? That’d probably be Kyle Theret. I still have nightmares about that era, and the passing defense usually took center stage. And the only good badger ever is the one that died to make my shaving brush. Thanks buddy, you do great work every morning.

Stew: I have a lot of least favorite teams. As a player only, it may be Troy Davis. He was dumb as chalk, but goddamn, he could run. Michael Finley also makes this list. As for the other part, there’s this guy, Pierre Pierce, fuck him. And now I’m pissed.

What BIG team would take a decade to recover if they were stupid enough to fire their perfectly serviceable Head Coach? (By firing Wilson last year IU is ineligible, same goes for Nebraska.) --MSUNavyGrad

MNW: Hi. It us.

Also Glen Mason was fired in 2006 and…


Sorry. Let’s get back to the topic here. How about Sparty? They’re not exactly a traditional power, and there are a few sleeping giants littered all across the division. Things feel ripe for them to end up in a bad place with a bad hire.

Stew: The conference seems littered with these types. Ferentz, Fitzy, Riley, Wilson, Dantonio would all qualify. I’m not counting Brohm or Durkin because they’ll be gone in two years, anyway.

Candystripes: TIL that making your injured players want to quit football due to poor treatment qualifies as “perfectly serviceable” coaching. However, the actual answer to your question is Iowa, because how do you afford anyone decent while paying Kirk’s buyout?

What's the 2nd best team in the B1Gw & where would that team finish if it were in the B1Ge?--verbosedutch

MNW: An interesting question. The ramblings of one black and old-gold lunatic aside, we’d have to go down the checklist here, right? We can put Illinois aside. Purdue is a year away from entering this conversation, but they’re nice in the meantime. Minnesota just lost at home to a 4th-string Maryland QB. Nebraska looks like it’s going through the motions, but...maybe? Northwestern played the front-runner to within 9 points at their place, so I guess that’s a moral victory of sorts? (We’re good at those.) Iowa...well, I thought it was Iowa, until whatever that was at Michigan State happened.

I think the 2nd-best team in the B1Gw, this year, would be fighting Michigan State for 4th place.

WSR: I’m going to put everyone except wisconsin and Illinois into a hat, and...Iowa? Naw. Nebra..moving on. Northwe...I don’t think so. Minnesota? Sure. Perfect. That’s just fine. Minnesota.

Yeah, 4th place.

Stew: Lemme do my best Jay Cutler in the wildcat formation impression.

Why did you choose to bring your "talents" to OTE instead of your team's fansite?

I still lurk on BSD and Lions247 for the information, but the Penn State negativity I receive here is, at least, honestly earned. The self-imposed Penn State Pessimism on display at other sites is disgusting to me, you poor bastards are just so Stockholmed to hell and back from anOSU and Michigan that you hate anything upsetting the order in your frail lives. I respect that negativity. --pkloa

The Original GF: Let me tell you kids a story. Once upon a time, in 2007, Jon Franz and I graduated from Miami (OH) and both went off to law school, he at OSU and me at UDM Law. We would have weekly calls and discuss all the happenings around the CFB world. One day, he said, I’ve created a blog for us, it’s called The Rivalry Esq, and we’re going to write about Big Ten football.

Two months later, we got a note from SBN, saying that they were interested in buying TRE as a sort of “test” to see if a conference-focused blog would fly. We said, yes, and soon TRE was under the SBN umbrella and that’s the story.

MNW: I don’t think it was ever really an either/or kind of situation. Many of us are active at both sites within SBNation, too. Sippin’ on Purple was never really taking writers, and they were far funnier and more knowledgeable than I could ever be, so there was no way I was offering to write for them. Now, it’s because I (1) don’t have a Medill degree, and (2) like myself.

But there’s also the Big Ten banter/insight. We joke about places like BSD, TT, CN, MGoBlog, hell, even InsideNU being a hivemind, but there’s truth to that. Writing at OTE forces you to consider your team in a wider context, which I actually think is very valuable when getting really mad at Mick McCall or drinking away another Jared Sullinger 32-FTA performance. I like writing pieces about the whole Big Ten and learning something about the Iowa defensive scheme or tailgating experiences at Maryland. It actually comes in handy when I meet other people from different parts of the country--makes me a citizen of the Midwest, I feel, and gives me local cred.

But that conference-wide conversation comes away as negative, and frankly I don’t know what we’d ever do about that. It’s a very Midwestern thing, I think, to fight over the few resources/successes/dreams available, but if screened for trolling/dipshittery, I think it’s a very good chance to have the introspective moment of “Hmm, am I actually open to people telling me why Northwestern will be 5-7, or do I just want validation that MY TEAM IS THE BEST!!!1!!”?

So yeah, that’s a long way of saying fuck your team.

WSR: So OTE needed a MN “writer” and there were height requirements. I checked both boxes, was the only recruit that lived through hazing, and here I am.

BRT: Though full of good information, I tend to find the Corn Nation community a little on the… homerific side. Writing-wise, it also has a more straightforward, traditional sports reporting vibe, and as you may have noticed, I enjoy doing things like comparing Big Ten coaches to boy band members, so… yeah, this was a better fit. I didn’t necessarily set out to write here either, but I started co-writing some Power Polls with Jesse, and here we are. It just kind of happened.

Also, I just find the interplay of a conference-worth of fanbases to be a lot more fun and interesting.

Thumpasaurus: We needed a coffin -- i’m sorry, an Illinois writer…

LPW: I’m not a Northwestern grad. I think you have to be a Medill student to write for InsideNU.

Stew: Copy what MNW wrote, only substitute BHGP for SoP.

Creighton: Yeah MNW hit the nail on the head. OTE has a much wider perspective that allows me to stretch my creative legs a bit more. Instead of writing game previews and recruiting stuff every week like the team specific blogs do, I get to do fun things like write a Dear John letter to Rutgers, pick a player from each squad that's better than Jabrill Peppers and write a dumb article talking about what kind of coffee best represents your team. I also enjoy having a wider audience instead of just an echo chamber of Iowa fans; if I have some shit to talk about Penn State, I would like some Penn State fans to be there to read it.

Candystripes: I actually found OTE first as a late-arriving ESPN refugee (o hai fanshot folks), so I was here before I found TCQ. I did write over there for a while, but never really felt as comfortable as I do here.

Best RB of last 5 years? Elliott? Gordon? Barkley? Coleman? --Badgersrox

WSR: I’d say Barkley is just ahead of Zeke. Those two were just head-and-shoulders above everyone else.

LPW: Zeke

Stew: Barkley, I think. I never saw Zeke live, though.

Creighton: You misspelled “Mark Weisman

Which B1G coaches would get another HC job right now if they were fired by their current school? --Frontinhawkeyes

MNW: I think Peej would make an excellent HC at Mater Dei.

WSR: I think most of them could get another HC job at one school or another. Iowa State would hire Ferentz in a heartbeat, Mike Riley could go be a retread in the NFL again, and Northwestern would probably hire Pat Fitzgerald if they fired him.

BRT: If we’re not limiting the level at which they’re coaching, then yes, most could probably find another HC gig. If we’re talking P5, then most of them could not find another HC gig, at least not right away.

Thumpasaurus: This seems like a good time to mention that Bill Cubit landed on his feet as a high school coach.

LPW: Fitzy, easily.

Stew: The question was “would” not “could”. I’ll specifically answer that, as I don’t think Riley, Ferentz, Smith, Dantonio, or Urbz would immediately jump back in. Peej, Franklin, Durkin, Brohm, Chryst, Harbaugh, and Fitzy all would go get HC jobs immediately. That leaves us with Sad Ash and whoever is the Indiana coach looking for assistant jobs.

Apparently, you guys were all about the Star Trek this week, so here’s a modified question from darthmango and ajcuster:

Please compare your (or another) football coach or team to a character in Star Trek.

MNW: Huh. We were?

Lavar Burton’s character, because he was on “Reading Rainbow” as I grew up and I’m not really into Stars, either Trek or Wars. Reading. Northwestern. That’ll do, right?

Look, BRT, I answered almost your whole fucking mailbag right when you put it out. There are bound to be a few clunkers of answers, OK?

WSR: What kind of question is this? Get outta here.

BRT: Look jerkfaces, I only copy/paste the questions, I don’t write them. Nebraska is… C3PO?

Stew: I have nothing further to add.

Creighton: Kirk Ferentz is cold, logical Spock. PJ Fleck is Captain Kirk because Kirk liked to get really cozy with hot alien babes, and I think we all know that Fleck's tenure in Minnesota is going to end with a horrible sex scandal. Jeff Brohm is Scotty because he managed to use space Macgyvering to make something work when we thought it was damaged beyond repair (and presumably will explain how using an oversimplified analogy). Chris Ash is one of the nameless, faceless "redshirts" that will be unemotionally sacrificed at some point to help move the plot along.

Candystripes: God, you people need to watch more TV.

I’m actually going to go even deeper down this rabbit hole; Indiana football is Star Trek: Voyager. Inconsistent in story, trying to achieve what should be a fairly simple goal takes literal seasons and even then doesn’t totally happen, their commander is universally underappreciated for the level of talent they’ve been given as help in the endeavor, and people only begrudgingly admit to liking them when in the company of others who understand what they’re talking about. Their greatest rival in fandom fluctuates wildly between pretty bad and scarily good (so I guess by extension, Purdue is DS9), but is somehow better liked by the casual fan, leading to many a frustrating viewing looking for anything that might bring hope.

/mic drop