Let’s face it, it was a less than stellar week in the Big Ten. Maryland lost to Nebraska’s golden boy Scott Frost. MSU was overcome by the miasma that wafted in from South Bend. Rutgers versus Nebraska happened. Hey, Indiana looks better. Purdue is definitely improved. Nonetheless, I sense that ennui has descended across the footprint.
What is a “writer” to do? Invoke the mystic chords of memory? Better angels of our nature? Nope. I, being a man of a certain age, revel in the cinematic perfection of Animal House. I turn to it in times of trouble, seeking enlightenment as the ancient Greeks clung to Homer. Pull up a sofa and join me, you pasty bloated oafs. Let us immerse ourselves in the wisdom of Bluto, Boon, and the boys.
First, if any of you damned millennials have not seen this gem (a cornerstone of western civilization, really), you should stop what you are doing and watch it immediately. Why? Why not?
Bluto: What the fuck happened to the B1G I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? This could be the greatest season of our lives, but you're gonna let it be the worst. "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Saban, he's a dead man! Fisher, dead! Whoever that dude at Oklahoma is...
Otter: Dead! Bluto's right. Psychotic... but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!
Bluto: We're just the guys to do it.
Amen, Bluto. Amen.
Michigan Wolverines - Doug Neidermeyer (Tie-First)
Douglas Neidermeyer is an a ROTC Captain, prosecutor on the Student Court, and all-around fascist. There is something about his leadership style that is just a little bit off. He lords his superiority over his inferiors, though it is difficult to see where he finds them.
Over the course of the film he: blackballs minorities from his fraternity, trumps up charges against a neighboring frat house (nobody likes a snitch), and then railroads our favorite Deltas through a kangaroo court. At the end of the movie, as he tries to shoot Flounder in the streets, he is confounded when a broken hand of “togetherness” sweeps him away from a manslaughter charge. (Deus Ex Machina be praised!)
So we have Michigan covered. Slam dunk.
Doug Neidermeyer: How does it feel to be an independent, Schoenstein?
Boon: How does it feel to be an asshole, Neidermeyer?
Doug Neidermeyer: What'd he say?
He called you an asshole, dickface.
Ohio State Buckeyes - Greg Marmalard (Tie-First)
This guy is dating the most beautiful woman in school, is President of the most “exclusive” fraternity, and still finds time to be an ineffectual douche. I mean, Neidermeyer is an asshole, but at least he is an expert. Marmalard colludes with the school President to run these sweet, misunderstood Deltas off campus, gets five of his buddies to jump a dude who had the temerity to fool around with his girlfriend. All of this because Greggy he didn’t have the stones to “take the next step.” He enjoys watching pledges getting paddled. I mean, really, this guy is horrible.
He is favored to win the conference for the next five years.
Babs: Greg, honey, is it supposed to be this soft?
Wisconsin Badgers - John “Bluto” Blutarsky (Third)
Senator Blutarsky is one of America’s finest public servants. He is a man of his people.
D-Day: [to Bluto] War's over, man. Wormer dropped the big one.
Bluto: What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
Otter: [to Boon] Germans?
Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.
Bluto: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough...
[thinks hard of something to say]
Bluto: The tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go!
[Bluto runs out, alone; then returns]
Penn State Nittany Lions - Hardbar (Fourth)
I have watched Animal House dozens of times. Chris Miller, who plays Hardbar, went to the same college that I did. He wrote this movie with Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney (RIP, comic genius gone far too soon). A lot of the hijinks are easily identifiable from my college experience. So, it is with great esteem that I assign Hardbar to Pennsylvania State University.
Now Hardbar doesn’t do much in the movie, but he is big in Animal House fan fiction. I am not a big enough dirtbag to have actually read said fan fiction, but I am a large enough pig to know it exists. Funny thing: Hardbar is based on a real character from Miller’s fraternity. You see, he got his name from his unquenchable desire to masturbate. Always fapping, hence Hardbar. Seriously, the dude would rub one out at least ten times a day without even the least stimulation. Maybe more than ten. Fap, fap, fap.
Any resemblance between Hardbar’s defining characteristic and Pennsylvania State University football fans is purely coincidental.
Iowa Hawkeyes - Kent “Flounder” Dorfman (Fifth)
I am from Nebraska. Iowa is Iowa. So Iowa has to be Flounder. In his defense, Flounder is perhaps the most lovable character in this movie. He is the quivery engine that could, through no fault of his own.
Think of the stories this guy could tell. He killed the ROTC Captain’s mount in the Dean’s office! He was tricked into it, and didn’t even aim the gun at the critter, but he definitely caused an equine cardiac event. They needed a chainsaw to get the thing out of there! He hooked up with his hometown honey and borrowed his brother’s car. Because he didn’t have the nerve to stop them, his frat bros commandeered his auto, scammed some Smith girls and ditched them at a blues bar in the boonies. The car got wrecked, but thanks to insurance fraud his brother got a new car! Did I tell you the boys used that same car to ram the viewing stand at Homecoming? Did I tell you he dodged a bullet meant for him from that evil ROTC SOB?
Hey, with a little editing, Flounder could come out of this as a goddamn Long Legend. But, probably not.
D-Day: Hey, quit your blubberin'. When I get through with this baby you won't even recognize it.
Otter: Flounder, you can't spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You fucked up... you trusted us! Hey, make the best of it! Maybe we can help.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - Eric “Otter” Stratton (Sixth)
Otter knows what is up. He’s got all the words. The best words. He can talk people into (or out of) just about anything. Pre-med? Pre-law? What’s the difference? That silver tongued devil is running around with the Dean’s wife, the rival frat’s sweetheart, and other people too numerous to mention. To wit, “decorum prohibits listing them here.”
He’s a good time kind of guy. You are going to have fun times. You don’t have to worry about those other schools looking to poach him from you. He’s got a heart of gold. Some friends in Indiana want to know...is he Roman Catholic, perchance?
Otter: Boon, I anticipate a deeply religious experience.
Purdue Boilermakers - Larry “Pinto” Kroger (Seventh)
Wow, Purdue. You are rated five places above Nebraska. If and when you defeat the Huskers this year, it probably will not be considered a “harboring.” Many “writers” and commenters on this site say that you are their second favorite team. I cannot hate on that. You guys were in the wilderness for quite a while, and Brohm - like a golden god - has brought you out. At least for a while, enjoy it.
You get Pinto because you are the second choice of so many. I guess he is supposed to be the protagonist in our film, and he is lovably awkward with that wandering eye. But most everybody I know prefers another character...Bluto, D-Day, even (gasp) Flounder.
[Handed his first joint]
Pinto: I won't go schizo, will I?
Jennings: It's a distinct possibility.
Indiana Hoosiers - Donald “Boon” Schoenstein (Eighth)
Boon is my favorite Animal House character. He is smart (as Deltas go, anyway), funny, and he dates Katy. Katy is great. He does immature things and Katy runs into the arms of some damned liberal arts assistant professor. He rues. Something good happens, they reunite. They marry. They divorce. Sunrise. Sunset. What I am saying is that this is one character in the movie who actually has an emotional arc. We get upset with him for running off with his buds and neglecting Katy, yet we are happy for him when they reunite.
Hoosier fans, this is a sign of hope! You beat somebody 52-17 last week. You are 2-1. The B1G scheduling gods have kept IU and Nebby asunder for most of our tenure here, so I have not followed you closely. All I know is CHAOS TEAM - which, as I understand it is three quarters of hopeful angst followed by inevitable despair. This isn’t an arc, so much as it became a norm. I sense a change. You could go bowling in a warm climate, outdoors even. Age of Aquarius, baby.
Northwestern Wildcats - Dave Jennings (Ninth)
Professor Jennings is an over-educated, navel gazing, useless liberal arts professor who threatens the morals of our children and undermines the resolve of our allies.* He drugs and sleeps with his students and has published nary a thing. He is simultaneously powerless over his students, and cannot get them to complete basic assignments (blocking is an assignment).
Perhaps there is a magnum opus in there somewhere, but we aren’t seeing it yet. Hope springs eternal, etc.
Jennings: Teaching is just a way to pay the bills until I finish my novel.
Boon: How long you been workin' on it?
Jennings: Four and a half years.
Pinto: It must be very good.
Jennings: It's a piece of shit. Would anyone like to smoke some pot?
*I am a liberal arts grad and consider education to be my life’s greatest privilege and the cornerstone of a civilized society. So don’t @ me.
Michigan State Spartans - Chip Diller (Tenth)
If Doug Neidermeyer is a fascist, then Chip Diller is a proto-fascist. A little brother, if you will. He followed Doug into the Omega house. He is an ROTC cadet under Neidermeyer’s command. When that dipstick Marmalard rounded up a posse to jump Otter in that no-tell motel, the Chipster was there. He was probably the fourth person to land a punch. He took many paddlings at the initiation rite, which was unsettling.
Michigan State had a rough go last year. Losing to Notre Dame leaves a mark. You better get your head right, Chip, because Iowa is coming to town and Flounder might kick your ass.
Please handle yourself with characteristic aplomb (see above).
Maryland Terrapins - The Stork (11th)
Otter: The seniors thought the Stork was brain damaged.
That will have to suffice for a flag joke.
The Stork is actually Douglas Kenney - one of the writers of this gem. He also wrote Caddyshack. He died too young under mysterious circumstances. Terp hopes have not met their demise. Yet. How is it that Maryland is constantly saddled with a third string quarterback (who cannot throw) before conference play even starts? No words. I think you have a coach. I think you have some players. Now comes the tricky part - find some depth.
Stork: What the hell are we supposed to do, ya moron?
Nebraska Cornhuskers - Robert Hoover (12th)
It has to be said that Hoover is a great dude. He is the duly elected leader of Delta House, and is to be accorded the rights and privileges of his office. He is an effective front man for the herd of cats that his fraternity truly is. Have I mentioned how solid of a guy he is? He is, but little details seem to get past him - like coaching up return men, or preventing one of his pledges from trysting with jailbait in his room. Those types of things. And offense. Defense has some issues. Good news is that we’ve only had one kick blocked this year.
We love you Hoov, we really do. But we love to win a lot more.
Hoover: Will you tell those assholes to shut up?
Boon: Hey! Shut up you assholes!
Illinois Fighting Illini - Daniel Simpson “D-Day” Day (13th)
The mustache is marvelous. The bike up the stairs bit is dazzling. The football....it’s not...it’s not good. Hey, I am a Nebraska fan and I am right down here with you. D-Day is a good dude to hang out with. He took his name and its military connotation and ran with it. It would be creepy in real life. It would be interesting to know someone who can “dispose” of things. Hey, he knows how to use pliers and a blowtorch....man this movie has some undertones that I am not completely comfortable with. At least there were no gothic themes to that Deathmobile thing. Oh, right.
I am growing wary of the company Nebraska keeps.
The game this Friday night should be one for the ages.
Hoover: We're in trouble. I just checked with the guys at the Jewish house and they said that every one of our answers on the Psych test was wrong.
Boon: Every one?
[looks at Bluto and D-Day]
Boon: Those assholes must have stolen the wrong fucking exam!
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Trooper the Horse (14th)
There are too many dead horse metaphors to play with here. The bottom line is this: Rutgers came to Nebraska. Nebraska tried to give Rutgers the game. Rutgers refused to take it. Rutgers lost. Anyone who watched the game lost.
D-Day: There were blanks in that gun!
Flounder: I didn't even point the gun at him!
Bluto: Holy shit!
[D-Day checks the gun]
D-Day: There WERE blanks in that gun!
Sigh. Yes, there were blanks in that gun.
Well, this was a fun but grueling exercise. Please offer your comments below.