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Big Ten Power Poll Week 10: Moving the Goalposts Edition

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a while since I last wrote a Power Poll, but earlier this season I was volunteered for the post-Week 10 edition. No, it was not because my self-loathing in regards to Nebraska football would be at its highest it has been in a few years (although that is probably true). Rather it is because of Business Cat.

You see, someone ***COUGHLPWCOUGH*** created an automated bot in our original Off Tackle Empire slack channel that summoned a Business Cat meme every time various business jargon terms were used. After being in the semi-corporate - and now very corporate - world for as long as I have been, basically every single comment I wrote would summon this stupid cat. Do you know why?


Sidenote, one of my most successful projects in college focused on reducing jargon by labeling various Jenga pieces and showing that using them can topple the tower. I made that entire thing up all by myself and it will go down as one of my most successful presentations ever. Anyhow, Big Ten Football has a lot on its plate right now and so we need to prioritize our action items in order to get shit done. Time for the Week 10 Power Poll: Jargon Edition.

1. Wisconsin Badgers (9 First Place Votes) - Moving the Goalposts

The College Football Playoff committee released its rankings last night and Wisconsin - the current hopes for a Playoff berth in light of OSU and PSU doing whatever it was they did last weekend - is now 8th. To recap, the Badgers have won all of its games and is currently looking at the inside track to the Big Ten Championship. To say the deliverables of this project have changed seems to be a disservice to whoever is setting fire to the initial requirements document in the first place.

2. Michigan State Spartans (3 FPV) - Best Practices

By all accounts, Michigan State should not be the second best team in the conference, but it seems like Mark Dantonio and his Merry Band of Spartans have setup a real winning combination. Despite being - statistically speaking - something of a middle-of-the-pack team, they are following the process and getting results. A 17 point differential in 6 conference games is probably not ideal, but hey, they have their system in place and that will lead to excellence. Or like, some sort of bludgeoning in a Florida bowl by whoever loses between Georgia and Alabama.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (0 FPV) - Career Limiting Move

It all starts innocently enough. You’re at the holiday party throwing back a few drinks with the boss, getting a little tipsy on the Penn State punch, and before you know it you have to rally just to get to the dance party. You survive and your boss is totally cool with everything until you wake up the next morning to a voicemail asking you to never step foot back in the building. There’s some mumbling about a Hawkeye and something about this Iowa guy getting promoted, but you can’t hear it over the throbbing in your temples. The moral of the story is that you should really avoid these things if you can.

4. Iowa Hawkeyes (1 FPV) - Jump the Shark

Lose to Penn State 21-19? I guess. Lose to Michigan State 17-10? Sure. Lose to Northwestern 17-10? Uh... Beat Minnesota 17-10? Wait, what? Murder Ohio State? Okay, this really isn’t believable anymore. Also, don’t ever say ‘jump the shark’ in a business presentation. Just don’t.

5. Penn State Nittany Lions (1 FPV) - Low Hanging Fruit

This is probably a good point in time to admit that I have used most of these at least once in the past month. The thing is, sometimes jargon helps obfuscate the fact that your team went from really successful to less successful once you got rid of the quick wins on the schedule. Sure, you tackled - literally - Iowa better than Ohio State did, but they beat you so uh... tough? Also, I cannot wait to put every one of these into meetings tomorrow.

6. Michigan Wolverines - Elephant in the Room

Look at you, Michigan. You’re 7-2, have what most would call ‘good’ losses, and have an outside chance of the Big Ten East title. So why doesn’t anyone want to really give you props? Well, you have yet to beat a team with a winning record. There will be chances at the end of the season but nobody wants to give you props - or really even say you’re awful - until Wisconsin and Ohio State. It’s a big deal that will eclipse success until you prove your worth, but like, 7-2... you know?

7. Northwestern Wildcats - Personal Brand

Note: This gets my award for ‘Literally the worst’ when it comes to business jargon. A simple way of putting it would be, “hey, you know what? Make sure that people know what your skills are and what you can do to help them.” Instead, we’ve gone on this stupid quixotic quest to make everything a giant marketing plan. I understand the idea behind this term but it’s stupid. So is Northwestern winning three OT games in a row, but like, at least it’s on brand right now for them.

8. Nebraska Cornhuskers - Pivot

Nebraska will be pivoting away from its current iteration - the uh, Mike Riley experiment as it is - in the near future. Stay tuned for updates and feel free to get on our email list!

9. Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Zero-sum

Know what happens when you beat the three worst teams in the conference? You become something like the fourth worst team in the conference, but since credit needs to be assigned to this accomplishment, you’re taking the ninth place spot over the likes of Purdue, Minnesota, and Indiana. Teams win, teams lose, and Rutgers gains confidence with close wins over bad teams. Still a step in the right direction I guess.

10. Purdue Boilermakers - Reinvent the Wheel

So, generally you would say, “Let’s not reinvent the wheel here,” but when we’re talking about the process Purdue had to go through, reinventing anything - including the wheel if it’s Purdue football - is necessary. The process is going to be long and arduous at times, but steal a win from Iowa or Northwestern and get the Bucket and you’re suddenly bowling. That’s pretty amazing growth.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers - Move the Needle

Coach Fleck is definitely a motivator - a real brand ambassador if you may - and I can’t say he won’t be successful if he sticks to his plan, but right now the football team has yet to show real signs of life that makes you think, “huh, this guy has a good turnaround in him.” I’m sure the Nebraska-Minnesota matchup will help whichever fanbase wins feel better, but this is a disaster flick that does not move the needle at all.

12. Indiana Hoosiers - Have Some Runway

On one hand, Indiana has played it really close to every team not ranked. On the other hand, they are winless in conference play and nobody is holding their breath waiting for the Hoosiers to win. Sure, they have some slack right now because of the coaching switch and because the past couple of years have given them a little runway, but like, that’s running out and they need to get a win soon.

13. Maryland Terrapins - Bait and Switch

There was this moment in time where you could be convinced that the product on the field had Maryland trending in the right direction, but as of late, it feels like that was all very misleading. If not for the six straight losses by the Hoosiers, Maryland would be in the basement of the Big Ten East. This definitely was one of those bait and switch moments. We were told the Texas game was an indicator. Perhaps UCF was the better indicator.

14 Illinois Fighting Illini (14 LPV) - Bite the Bullet

This season has been painful and changes probably need to be made. It’s unacceptable that you’re not meeting minimum expectations in this way and you’re just going to need to bite the bullet and accept that you can’t have nice things.