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Mailbag Answers!

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“HEY! I’M NOT THE WORST COACH IN THE WEST! LOVIE’S STILL HERE!”
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Y'all got any winter break plans? - LL Sota

WSR: I’m sure whatever I want to do will be interrupted by work, children, and shoveling snow out of my driveway and off the sidewalk in front of my house.

MNW: Go to a bowl game.

Graham: Orlando with the wife and her family, Disney & Epcott. Should be about 70 degrees. Which is 45 degrees warmer than Mid-Michigan. Sounds nice!

BRT: I just got back from a two week trip to California, so that was kind of my fun winter thing. Mostly I want to spend a few days laying around in pajamas, watching period dramas, eating cookies, playing Trivial Pursuit with the family, and reading (after driving through the western U.S., Lonesome Dove has shot to the top of the list. Anyone read it?)

Thumpasaurus: I graduated years ago. I don’t have Winter Break.

Stew: Getting caught up on all the stuff I didn’t have time for at work. Also, not traveling, which is gonna be awesome. Drinking beer and watching as many bowl games as I can.

why must it hurt - MC ClapYoHandz

WSR: Because you foolishly thought your team had a chance to win that game.

MNW: You also deserve it.

GF: Life, I wonder, will it take me under, I don’t know.

Candystripes: Would you rather live an existence of near constant pain? Because there’s plenty of room on the Indiana football bandwagon if that’s what you want.

BRT: Yes, being a one-loss football team must be very hard. Thoughts and prayers.

Thumpasaurus: I don’t know, my football team has won fewer games in the last 3 seasons than Wisconsin has this year. You tell me.

Stew: MNW is a bit wrong. wisconsin deserves far more pain. But deserves got nothing to do with it.

What was your best and worst Christmas gift? (Both given and received) - GTom

WSR: My favorite “worst” is a plate from my step great-grandmother. It’s of Santa Claus holding the American Flag. It gets a place of honor in the house every year because of just how amazing it is. And I honestly can’t remember the best gift I’ve received. I know I get my mom a gift card to Gerten’s every year so she can add another acre on to her garden, and she gets excited every year to see how I’ll deliver said gift card (one year was inside a bottle like it was a ship, one year was inside a box which was wrapped inside 8 other boxes).

MNW: I remember being super-pumped about getting a trip to Disney World when I was 10. That’s probably the most excited I’ve ever been to get a Christmas gift, even if there are conceivably “better” gifts I’ve gotten.

GF: My wife is pregnant, so I consider that a pretty sweet pre-Christmas gift.

BRT: The best I’ve given was the year my grandma passed away, and I made a Shutterfly book of her life and gave one each to my mom and her siblings. It’s hard to pick a best or worst gift that I’ve received--I’ve gotten a lot of lovely gifts from the people in my life, and if they’re really stumped, they tend to go with gift cards, which keeps things pretty safe.

Thumpasaurus: My dad got me a Mississippi State style cowbell with a handle on it. Not only do I have no affiliation with Mississippi State, he didn’t even know about the Mississippi State cowbell thing. I have no idea why he procured this for me. This was just a couple years ago by the way. Anyone want it?

What/who will be the surprise of B1G football next season? - verbosedutch

MNW: As much as I hate to say it, if Harbaugh manages to land 3 or 4 of those Ole Miss recruits, Michigan making a real run at the East could be the surprise. I’m talking a win over Ohio State, CFP contention, Patterson-for-Heisman hype (September only), the whole nine yards. In the West, it’s that Minnesota finishes second-to-last. Again. And the heat ratchets up in Minneapolis.

GF: I think the Michigan hype train is a proper thing to discuss, as the talk here in the Mitten has been that 2018 IS THE YEAR for Michigan. This Ole Miss phenomenon is going to be interesting also…

But what of the mediocre squads, Maryland, Rutgers, Minnesota, Nebby? Uhhh no one really exhibit qualities that would lead me to believe these teams could outkick their typical home in the basement of the B1G.

BRT: Nebraska has one bad year and all of a sudden its “typical home” is the basement of the Big Ten? Well, not everyone has the capacity to take in more than a few months of information at a time, unlike me, who often and easily includes up to 23 years in data sets for football arguments. Poor Graham. Isn’t he trying his hardest?

Anyway, living in the times we do, nothing surprises me much anymore, in the football realm or otherwise. If any of the following happen, I will, however, own to being pretty surprised: Kirk Ferentz leaves for the NFL, Wisconsin only wins three games, PJ Fleck gets a new catchphrase, or Nebraska fans handle the beginning of the Frost Era with any modicum of chill.

Thumpasaurus: Shocking everyone, Illinois scores a touchdown at some point next year that involves their own offense.

On a Scale of John L Smith to 10, How imposing/concerning is the hire of Scott Frost for the rest of the conference, and should Northwestern just make plans already to cede the NU moniker permanently to Lincoln? - KetteringLex

WSR: I’ll give Nebraska credit here. I think I may even have to stop laughing at them for a little bit.

MNW: I don’t have any plans to do that, and I think one of these years the ‘Cats might even beat Nebraska in Evanston. How embarrassing that would be.

BRT: It’s a good and exciting hire from all appearances, but I don’t think anyone needs to be concerned until he shows he can win. I would like the answer to this to be very different next year. :)

Thumpasaurus: This question keeps getting asked. We were supposed to be terrified of Harbaugh, Brohm and Fleck. These people are human.

Urban Meyer, however, is not.

How many teams deserve to be in the playoffs more than Alabama? I got five, myself. - Hollywood Hawk Hogan

WSR: Eh, I can live with Bama being in. At the start of the year that game with FSU looked amazing, and Bama beat the amazing right out of them. And their only loss was in a rivalry game to a top-10 opponent? It’s not like they went and lost to Iowa by 31. Or to Notre Dame by 35. Or had the temerity to be a non-Power 5 program.

MNW: I’m on this train as well. Big Ten basketball will be in full swing, I usually get worn out by the end of bowl season, and the Timberwolves are even relevant right now. If anything, this has absolved me of having to pretend to care about the College Football Playoff. So thank you, Alabama and the CFP. Best of luck in all your future endeavors.

Thumpasaurus: Listen to the podcast and get my answer :)

On a scale from 1 to 10 how much do you miss Tom Crean? I’m at a 7. - 87 Rides A Surfboard

WSR: Who?

MNW: It’s more just that I’m mad at Archie Miller’s tailor.

Graham: I wish Indiana was good, or better at least. I love when the blue bloods are rocking and Assembly Hall is fired up.

Candystripes: Maybe a 3, if that. The memes never really did anything for me, and Archie’s proven to be solid so far (plus the substitution patterns MAKE SENSE, from what I’ve seen). Get back to me in February/March, though.

BRT: 8. Creanfaces were a gift to mankind.

Which current B10 player will be picked highest in the 2018 NFL draft? - br27

WSR: It’s got to be Barkley, right? This seems like we should re-jigger the question to be “Who would be the 1st B1G player picked if Barkley were to get sucked out of an airplane to his demise.” And at that point I’d probably say Denzel Ward.

MNW: It will likely be Barkley, yeah, but...do you really want to do that? Unless the RB you’re drafting is the first round is the second coming of Adrian Peterson pre-knee surgery, Emmitt Smith, or some other transcendent running back, I wouldn’t be taking Barkley Top 5.

BRT: Tanner Lee.

In the spirit of "Whose the second best team in the west?" What is the second craziest thing to happen in the coaching carousal? - badgers & Bruins

WSR: Much to my shock and amazement, the second-craziest thing to happen in the coaching carousel is that Arkansas didn’t turn it into an absolute circus. Well done, Hogs.

BRT: I was legitimately surprised that Nebraska got their man. So definitely a good crazy, as opposed to winner forevermore, Tennessee, who was the bad crazy, but still crazy.

Thumpasaurus: The whole FSU debacle, with Jimbo leaving, the weird statement from the TAMU president about getting number one, then Taggart disgruntling the shit out of Oregon by leaving immediately for his third job in three seasons.

What is the nicest thing you can say about your least favorite team? - vaudvillain

WSR: wisconsin makes everything about Iowa athletics seem nice.

Candystripes: Purdue football really exceeded expectations this year.

BRT: Dark yellow is only the second-ugliest college football team color.

Thumpasaurus: Notre Dame has won nine games this year.

Which team is the favorite to win the East next year? - br27B10

WSR: Because none of the Ole Miss players have landed in Michigan yet, I’m going to say tOSU. I reserve the right to change my guess if Harbaugh gets another QB transfer, like the last time his team was decent.

BRT: It looks to me like OSU should--though road games at PSU and MSU will be challenging. MSU might have the best schedule--OSU and Michigan both travel to East Lansing, and their crossovers are winnable, although I don’t think Lincoln is Mark Dantonio’s most favorite city in the conference. They could be a dark horse if Michigan is again underwhelming and OSU decides to fart around and do weird things again.

In what order will the following four things occur?

1. Wisconsin winning the CCG as the representative of the B1G West.2. A team other than Wisconsin winning the CCG as the representative of the B1G West.3. Minnesota beating Wisconsin in football.4. The SEC being left out of the playoff. - Midnight Rambler

WSR: Let’s go 2,3,4,1. This is part homerism, part wishful thinking, and part cold hard fact. What we’re seeing this offseason is that P.J. Fleck’s basement as a recruiter is roughly Jerry Kill and Tracy Claeys’ ceiling, while wisconsin hasn’t had a noticeable bump in recruiting in the internet era despite becoming a “national power.” That’ll catch up shortly here. That’s the same reason I think we’ll have someone else in the B1GCG soon and regularly. There are 3 young coaches that have won in Group of 5 that will bring some energy to recruiting, and there’s also Pat Fitzgerald and Kirk Ferentz. These two were the toughest, and I picked somebody else being in the B1GCG ahead of the Gophers beating wisconsin by a coinflip. Then we have the SEC being left out of the playoff, which it always just around the corner when you play in the best conference in college football. You never know when you’re going to get a 3-loss champion out of there, and if it happens during the 4 team playoff era they’re out. Then there’s wisconsin. Ha. Come on. Ohio State and Penn State aren’t on probation.

Candystripes: 2, 1, 3, the heat death of the known universe, 4.

BRT: 2, 1, 3, 4. Much as I would enjoy the season that might prompt the SEC to be left out of the playoff, there are certain segments of the population capable of epic feats of rationalizing very bad things in order to bring about the result they desire. One of these segments does happen to live and vote in Alabama. Another such segment is the CFB Playoff Committee, who votes for Alabama.