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The Weekly Mailbag is Fighting Through The Malaise

Football season, like the period between election and inauguration, is fleeting.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Penn State
There’s been some awesome stuff in PA this week, and some of it even mattered!
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning! You know, sometimes not everything is awful. Most of the time, sure. But some days just feel a little bit better. And you know what else might help? Going through this glorious selection of mailbag questions y’all asked us and we tried to answer. Have a great morning, and I hope it leads into a solid weekend for all of you except Thump and his ilk.

Is there a rule preventing Northwestern from cancelling their game this week against Nebraska because they feel like it? Say the NU administration just wants to see how Nebraska fans react as part of a social experiment (after all NU is an AAU institution) so they tell Nebraska they can’t play this weekend despite having 0 COVID cases. Is that legal? —BoilerUp89

pkloa: The nerds didn’t get to lose to their annual shitty non-conference foe. Huskers may be the best shot Fitz’ll get.

Jesse: As someone who believes we should probably just cancel the whole damn thing, I would love this outcome. In theory, you could say you’re worried about exposure in Nebraska, and thus do not want to make the trip, right? Right.

MNW: If it weren’t in Evanston, Jesse, I’d be 100% on board with that idea :( as it stands, barring an act of the Illinois governor to ban the Huskers from the state, I think we’re playing. It’s a helluva idea for a social experiment, though, to get Nebraska to descend into even more frothing mania as they’re denied their god-given right to FOOBAW, though.

MC ClapYoHandz: Jesse, I am always concerned about exposure in Nebraska. Of course the pretense to this is the Wisconsin decision to cancel the Nebraska game when their outbreak was at red/orange levels instead of the auto-cancel red/red situation. You’re welcome for not having an outbreak on your team right now by the way, Huskers. You have to imagine Northwestern would take a forfeit loss though, and Nebraska can put that coveted default victory next its trophies from when we were all kids/not born yet.

LPW: I think we’re playing.

WSR: Look, if there was any team capable of making up a bunch of fake tests results, it’s the only B1G school that doesn’t disclose finances or any other information publicly.

Stew: This is a great idea. Teams should do this for OSU and wisconsin, too, to keep them out of the championship game (min 6 games).

Thumpasaurus: Imagine J.B. Pritzker pissing off even MORE sunglasses-selfie-in-truck avatars than he already does.

As a Hawkeyes and New York Jets fan: When is the NHL gonna start back up? -Atinat

pkloa: Damn, son, you’ve got terrible taste in football teams.

Jesse: So uh, on one hand, yikes. On the other hand… yikes. But hey, you got to root for Joe Flacco this year, so that’s fun.

MC: Obligatory “who hurt you” comment here and so on. So the real answer here is an estimated January 1st start, but might I suggest college basketball? I don’t know where the disappointment would come from, it’s just the same general student populations with the added perils of winter after all...

WSR: Holy shit. Are you a Wild fan too? I think you need a hug or something.

Stew: I’d feel bad for you, but I happen to know that you’re also a St. Louis fan.

Minnesota Questions:

Can Minnesota’s defense hold any team to less than 35? —greenie71

Thought experiment: If you’re Minnesota, do you just try onside kicking 3 times/game? Worst case, the opponent scores two plays quicker & you get the ball back. Best case is once in a rare moon you don’t have to worry about putting your defense out there one more time. —LandOfSkyBlueWatersGopher

Jesse: I realize that it’s obvious that missing LB depth is killing you, but you’re secretly on a Nebraska 2019 path (terrible injury luck in the LB corp, missing pieces across the defense, and a laughable special teams) and that actually has to hurt more than just being bad at defense… Congratulations, every close game will suck!

MNW: WSR and I have talked about this elsewhere, and I’m still baffled by the Minnesota approach to punting in Week 1. Unless I misunderstood what the Gophers were trying to do, I’m not sure why they weren’t pursuing one of a few options:

  1. Angle your kicks out of bounds. So you only net 25-30 per punt. Better than those ducks and/or line drives.
  2. Rugby-style. If you’re gonna kick it low, get that ball on the ground and make it as difficult as possible to actually return it.
  3. Is it 4th and 5 or shorter? Are you at/around your own 40 or closer? Teach Tanner Morgan to pooch kick it (god bless MACtion, already delivering), trot out the offense, and get him into a hard count and/or pooch situation. Keep opponents guessing.

They can hold Iowa to less than 35. Maybe Illinois.

MC: I do believe they potentially can hold an offense under 35, but my official answer hinges on if we are including intra-squad scrimmages.

WSR: Have you seen Iowa?

Stew: Yeah, it’s Iowa.

Thumpasaurus: Welcome to Illinois Fighting Illini Tire & Lube. We’ll get you right and get you rolling! Our initial diagnosis confirmed a real problem with the linebacking corps. Here’s what we’ll do for ya. We’ll keep the passing game simple so you can key in on the run. Put your best DB on Imatorbhebhe and bring those safeties up! We’ll get you right.

On a scale of 1 to Jimmy Carter: How much malaise is in your life at this point? —HistoriCat

pkloa: Everything’s coming up Millhouse!

MNW: Really unfair, given that he never used the word malaise in his speech. Still a god-awful speech, though.

MC: In the spirit of Simpsons characters, Ralph Wiggum. Though he may not understand malaise in day-to-day life. Let’s say Ralph Wiggum at the end of Valentine’s Day

WSR: I’m about at an Ike right now, but with a poor performance against Illinois we could skyrocket all the way up to Grover Cleveland.

Stew: I’m Chidi:

Thumpasaurus: i feel like John C. Calhoun always looked:

Is it possible that Rocky Lombardi might actually be a decent quarterback? Or, is Michigan’s secondary just that terrible? —waw

MC: It’s still tough to get a read on a bunch of teams in the conference. I think all we know for certain is that Lombardi is better than Tanner Morgan.

WSR: No, he’s not. He’s...OK? I dunno. I’m not sure how we can really tell anything right now. This season is even more wildly dumb that I thought it was going to be, and that astonishes me because I had really high expectations for stupidity.

Stew: He’s a good B1G quarterback, which makes him serviceable, overall. He also has some pretty good receivers which is helping him out. Also, Michigan’s secondary has to cheat to be decent, and they weren’t getting away with it, and that put them in a bad spot.

Michibutt’s next three games are at Indiana, vs Wisconsin, and at Rutgers. Does Indiana take the Butt, or will the Holeverines keep it long enough for the Scarlet Knights to win it back? (I’m just assuming Wisconsin is a bye week until further notice.) —vaudvillain

pkloa: Indiana is certainly bad enough historically to grab hold of the Butt. The Poosiers have a grand total of 142 games as the Buttholder, more than any other. Things are vastly improved under Allen, though, and Harbutt’s Holeverines may be deflated enough to continue their slide.

Jesse: I’m leaning Michigan this game, but I don’t know if that’s rational at this point. Harbaugh is legitimately getting to the point of “but really what else can he do?” and unless he randomly knocks off Ohio State, I’m pretty sure Michigan fans are done. Also, that means that Indiana gets this trophy, sorry.

Candystripes: I fully expect to be in possession of the trophy by the end of the day Saturday, so if the Hoosiers do not, in fact, hold that “honor” following the game, I will be pleasantly surprised.

MNW: Let’s play out the schedule:

  • Michibutt def. Indiassa Poosiers
  • Indiassa def. Michibutt State Shartans
  • Michibutt State def. Hairyland Assapins
  • Hairyland def. Buttgers

All returns to right with the world.

MC: First of all I’m excited this trophy is finally getting some action. This is a tough call. There’s at least a small chance now that MSU isn’t actually galaxy-class terrible and truly were snakebitten by turnovers against a Rutgers team that appears to have been taught the basic rules of football over the summer. So I’m not sure what to make of that loss, but I’ll give the edge to Indiana because they’ve shown up against true competition while Michibutt fell flat.

WSR: what happens if the wisconsin-Michigan game is a forfeit? Does each team get half of the trophy?

Stew: I think it probably ends up with Terasspins, but goes through buttgers, first.

Thumpasaurus: I like WSR’s half-assed proposal

Is the state of Indiana now the nexus of B1G football which the rest of us [are] trying to catch up to? —ProveIt

Jesse: Yes?

Candystripes: YES!

MNW: I sure hope so. Though given that their only bipartite state competitors are Michigan and Illinois, the bar’s kind of low here. Kudos to the Crossroads State on doing the damn thing, though!

WSR: No. But this is still great to watch, because who knows what the ripples across the rest of the conference will be as we watch everyone react to football in the state of Indiana in a pandemic season.

Stew: Eat at Arby’s

Are any B1G athletic departments solvent enough to fire their coach this season? And if so, can it please be Illinois? —He was a high school quarterback

Jesse: The short answer - legitimately - is probably no. I suppose if Boosters line up behind the firing - and their portfolios aren’t eaten into too bad - you could get a coach fired regardless of budget (Nebraska used to have a pretty stocked “in case of emergency firing” fund, for example). But no, I don’t think you’ll see a lot of firings so long as there is a buyout attached.

MNW: I don’t think it would matter for a school like Nebraska or, maybe Michigan (GASP) — half those donors and athletics-types probably deny that this shit even exists. If it gets to the point that there’s no way forward, you could see a coach canned.

If it comes down to anything, I think it’s “sample size” and not “solvency” — coaches have a legitimate gripe that the nature of this season has made it too tough to fire them over, I don’t know, a 2-5 record.

WSR: I was thinking along the same lines as MNW. Nebraska will be solvent enough because they’re going to start holding large indoor rallies and cookouts for the team shortly, I’m sure. And while being fiscally solvent enough to fire a crap coach is a good thing, it won’t matter when a very vocal percentage of your fanbase thinks that HE’S TOTALLY THE GUY TO LEAD US BACK TO RELEVANCE. But nobody should fire their coach after this season for football-related reasons, which means the only school that should be taking a look at quickbooks reports is Iowa.

Stew: No, because ADs have been spending like drunken sailors to keep up the non-profit charade. So now there’s an actual crunch they’re crying poor, because 1) they’re mostly idiots and 2) they’re also mostly assholes. So no way any head coach is getting fired (might be a few assistant departures, though).

Thumpasaurus: no we have to wait until every single coach i have any interest in gets hired by a p5 school

What undefeated G5 team has captured your heart? —LL Sota

Jesse: Coastal Carolina

Candystripes: Chanticleer pride represent.

MNW: I write about this every week. Read it there.

MC: I don’t know how you can pick someone besides Coastal Carolina here, they have everything you need, including but not limited to alliteration.


Stew: This is a Coastal Carolina blog, now. You’ve seen the statue, right?

Thumpasaurus: God dammit we are never getting Jamey Chadwell are we? Clearly not gonna pony up Fickell money even though he’s 1-0 in Champaign. Well, let’s go ‘Cleers, make everyone stop talking about Louisiana pls

As an Indiana fan… Is this as good as it will ever get, or is this program finally going to go to bowl games more than twice a decade? —GreatValueCrimson

Jesse: It’s kind of about infrastructure and coaching to be consistent. Look at Northwestern. I think that’s sort of the model you want. Consistently good, heavy spikes, and an identity that can continue in perpetuity. It’s possible, but you have to pay up and give Allen what he needs.

Candystripes: Fingers crossed that we’ve actually hit a plateau, and not merely a brief peak among a history of valleys.

MNW: Pay Allen in Hillsong United CDs; I’m sure that’ll be enough.

WSR: I really don’t want to tell anyone that 2020 might be as good as it gets, know 2020 might be as good as it gets.

Stew: I think Candy has the proper hopes. That it might be as good as it gets, but that it’s also more of a plateau than a peak. Good luck in a few years when a good portion of the fanbase gets bored with that.

Thumpasaurus: Savor the high floor. Savor being disappointed with losses to good teams.

Which is the last B1G team to get a win this season, and which is the last to get a loss? —waw

pkloa: Penn State, Minnesota, and probably Iowa get in the winning column this weekend. Illinois and Nebraska will remain winless until their matchup on Nov. 21st. Give me the Illini as the last to get a win.

Jesse: My money is on Illinois too, but stranger things have happened (it’s gonna be Nebraska, isn’t it)

MNW: I would’ve felt more confident that Illinois got off the schnide this weekend, were it not for Minnesota being 0-2 and probably about to unleash a lot of pent-up frustration on the Illini.

But yeah, it’s probably Illinois — I am not doubting Nebraska’s ability to get a win at NU this weekend.

Stew: I’m going to be an ass and say UNL. Why? Because fuck’m, that’s why.

Thumpasaurus: No question it’s Illinois. We are clearly the worst team in the league and my only hope is that we make the 7-7 game interesting until the fourth quarter

Now that Halloween is done, when will Christmas music start playing in your house? There is only one right answer here. —SharpDressedBoiler

Jesse: Never?

Candystripes: There’s only one Christmas song that’s earned “play before Thanksgiving” status in my house:

MNW: Thanksgiving or a particularly snowy stretch in November, whichever comes first.

MC: Okay this whole ass country needs to let Thanksgiving breathe a little bit. The earliest possible date Christmas music is accepted is 12/1, and realistically it won’t be heard voluntarily until about 12/23.

WSR: In the past I have been among the most ardent CHRISTMAS DOESN’T START UNTIL THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING zealots you may ever find. But this year? Yeah. I’m already looking for a wreath to hang on the door as soon as possible, and have put up a little LED christmas tree for my girls, Everything is awful, and I will latch onto any bit of joy I can grasp. So with that said, I am listening to the Chipmunks Christmas as I finish this mailbag.

Stew: Christmas music? Probably never. Most christmas music is bad. We’ll still do a tree and all that, but almost certainly no music.

Thumpasaurus: Halloween is not the new Thanksgiving. Stop trying to make it a thing. I’m sick of season creep getting so bad that you can’t buy anything that’s seasonally appropriate at Costco, like, ever.

Which fanbase of a no longer relevant team is most delusional about their past glory and rightful spot among college football elite? Michibutt or UN/NU/dNU/jNU/Nebarkas/UNL? —He was a high school quarterback

Jesse: It’s Nebraska, but Michigan’s not far behind.

MNW: Nebraska. This fall has shown us it’s Nebraska, and they’ve widened the gap on Michigan, which I think has begun to accept its sink its second banana.

MC: (Accidentally just typed “MCL” for my name and hope the Purdue roster is okay.) Just to hammer it home, it’s for sure Nebraska.

WSR: Michigan deserves special credit. As I like to remind them from time to time, the mighty Wolverines have won 0.5 national titles since the Berlin airlift ended, yet still get mentioned as a national power.You know what, though? That’s not on Michigan fans as much as it is the media wishing they were still a power. Outside of Brian Cook, there aren’t many vocal assholes in their fanbase. Is some of that midwestern politeness and quiet sullenness? Yes. But you know what else? Michigan has been on the cusp of success a few times recently. In both 2006 and 2011, they were in position to be a national contender, which is something that a certain other team can’t say about themselves at any point during the life of a college football player in the very near future. Michigan actually even beat Ohio State in 2011! AMAZING! But you know who hasn’t mattered since 2001, and probably shouldn’t have even mattered then? Yeah, it’s you Nebraska. Since you were gifted an asswhipping by Miami, the Cornhuskers are a mighty 138-94. You’re closer to Maryland’s winning percentage than actual powers. Sit down, shut the fuck up, start believing science, and go watch a Tommie Frazier highlight video again. I mean it, he was awesome and that’d probably be comforting right now.

Stew: Not really sure how this is a question. It’s UNL, and not even close in the conference. It may not even be that close in the country. Tennessee, Texas, USC, and Miami have been way more successful, and I think they’re the only ones who are even in the discussion.

Thumpasaurus: I don’t know, you’d be shocked by the number of Illini fans that really think we can get back to the mid-Lou Tepper doldrums of being consistently around .500 in a really frustrating way. I was among them for quite a while.


Which team’s fanbase is the most Al Bundy of a fanbase?

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  • 59%
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