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The Weekly Mailbag is Ready for Christmas

Or the holidays or whatever USA USA.

Hey everyone! It’s Thursday, woohoo! This is possibly our earliest mailbag ever, which is exciting, and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to giving you mediocre free sports content. But we also have White Elephant gift ideas, so at least we’re a one-stop shop in a way that few other sites are.

Anyway, here’s what was on our minds this week.

Tis the season....What’s your go to Christmas movie? - Great Value Crimson

MNW: As I am the worst kind of person, I don’t really watch Christmas movies. I saw Home Alone in its entirety for the first time the other night (I’d definitely watched most of it, but never in one sitting), and sure, like...good! But movies centered around Christmas just aren’t my jam. Give me the Holiday Armadillo or give me death.

pkloa: I like the classic cartoon How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the 2000 holiday hit The Grinch. I have faith that one day, MNW’s heart will grow ten sizes.

BRT: As you may remember from my Hallmark movie Power Poll last year, I’m a holiday movie junkie, even when said movies aren’t very good. That said, Hallmark movies are largely seasonal background noise to me. When I actually settle in to watch a Christmas movie, it’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, or Love Actually.

Townie: I’m going with either Lethal Weapon or Die Hard (both are set during the Christmas season, fight me). I will be subjected to endless sap-fests by my wife, children and inlaws. I want some good old fashioned “I’m too old for this shit”.

That said, Home for the Holidays is a close second for my favorite holiday film.

Jesse: There are so many damn genres for Christmas movies - many of which are alluded to by my colleagues above - which sort of puts me in that ‘way to be semantics guy’ when answering a simple question. That is, if it’s classic, give me something like It’s a Wonderful Life which is absolutely gutting - if not really dumb in so many ways. Or, if it’s kids-relate, give me A Charlie Brown Christmas because the music is unrelentingly good. Are you looking for a musical? Sure! How about Holiday Inn?

My dad loves Christmas maybe more than he loves his children, so I’ve seen them all, and I can’t pick just one. I even like many new ones - the new Grinch is, perhaps, the best of the Grinch movies in general. So uh, go-to? All of em… Except the Hallmark thing. I just cannot do that.

Beez: I don’t really have a go-to movie, but every year I probably watch Elf, Bad Santa, Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Nightmare Before Christmas, The Grinch, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and then the Christmas episodes of a couple different shows.

WSR: I don’t have one single one, either, but I will watch Die Hard, Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Love Actually, and Gremlins every year. And Holiday Inn.

BoilerBettor: Hard to argue with the selections above. I’m definitely amongst those standards and will add in A Christmas Carol. Pick one of them, they’re all great in their own way.

What’s the best under $25 white elephant gift and why is it alcohol? - 87 Rides A Surfboard

MNW: It’s for sure alcohol, but then you get coworkers who declare the very presence of alcohol at your department Christmas party a trigger for their recovered alcoholic self, and it gets awkward. So I also like the idea of a workplace mug and some nice K-Cups or hot chocolates for it.

Also, does anyone else finish “K-Cup” with “A nice reliant automobile,” or is it just me?

pkloa: I was throwing away some trash the other day and saw a discarded container for a “Love Pump”. I haven’t looked up the price yet, but I’ll say that looks like a fine gift.

BRT: Great to know what Santa is bringing you, pkloa, thanks for that. I’d go for a gift card. It’s clear you stuck to the budget, and free food or drink is always exciting. It also allows a lot of flexibility for taste in the recipient. It’s a Starbucks gift card, and the person who gets it hates coffee? Fine, get some hot chocolate and a cake pop and go on your way pretending hating coffee is a personality trait.

Jesse: I’m closer to pkloa than BRT or MNW in the White Elephant in that I’m 100% going for “What’s the most absurd thing I can find for $25?” Sure, everyone wants to land whatever cheap liquor or foodstuffs you can see unwrapped, but how do you feel about a lite-brite? It’s nostalgia and a great desk decoration all-in-one.

BRT: Please get me a Lite-Brite. I always wanted one as a child, and never got one. It haunts me still.

Beez: MNW I am a big fan of that song, but was it really always K Cup? I thought it was K Car? Not like it makes a ton of sense to me either way. Also, for white elephant...I go the Jesse route. Alcohol and food are fine and easy, but instead of the usual, why not get $24.99 worth of fancy ass cupcakes from the local bakery? Or four different $5.99 multi-movie value packs?

WSR: My preference is to go to Goodwill or a 2nd-hand shop and find the most obscure board game I can. It’s usually terrifying, and it’s also usually fun to play.

BoilerBettor: C’mon, look at the username. You know you’re getting scratch off lotto tickets.

New Trophy Games? The Big Ten loves trophies for rivalry games. Which conference matchups should become trophy games? And what should the trophies be? - NU84

MNW: Of course there should be more! As a rivalry trophy aficionado, I believe that we would ALWAYS do better to introduce more stupid trinkets that serve as a cheap way of demonstrating you beat the farming hicks/lawyer snobs from out east/west/north/south.

Look, for example, at the Mountain West. Does anyone care that Wyoming plays for a Bronze Boot with Colorado State, a cowboy-themed trophy with Hawaii, and a rifle with Utah State? WHO GIVES A SHIT? Give me some excited San Diego State players running to grab the Old Oil Can. LOOKIT THESE UTAH STATE PLAYERS WITH A FUCKIN’ RIFLE.

We need more. And I have thoughts.

  • First, a shoutout to the RU Screw Podcast or or whomever for the great idea that is Rutgers and Maryland in The Battle for the Railroad Tie. I don’t get it, but I’m sure, like an Amtrak train, it’ll come to me about 15 hours after I need it.
  • Second, Iowa and Northwestern: The Bronze Leg. Have Pat Fitzgerald sign the knee and Ricky Stanzi sign the tibia or whatever. Winner bludgeons the loser over the head.
  • I have learned that this Wikipedia page exists and what the actual fuck
  • Does Penn State have a rivalry trophy? Nothing that’s fully functional/can avoid breaking? Good! Since they’re Unrivaled, just give them a full-length mirror. That’ll keep ‘em busy.
  • Michigan State and wisconsin: Based on a couple good games like a decent ago, some morons think this is an important rivalry. FINE! They now play for the Ol’ Ice Cream Cone—a 4-foot bronze statue of an ice cream cone; winners eat free at the losers’ creamery for a year. That, or just a bronzed version of the U.P. Call it The Showdown for Superior or something. Meijer can sponsor it. It’ll be great.
  • Illinois and Iowa (basketball): The Battle for the Golden Tape Recorder.

You know what? FUCK YOUR “CONFERENCE MATCHUPS” BULLSHIT. Here’s the non-conference:

  • Northwestern-DePaul (basketball): The Battle for the Mayor’s Key! Already a real rivalry. DEPAUL’S DUCKIN’ US THIS YEAR, DITKA!
  • Penn State-Pittsburgh (football): THE SCRAPPLE CUP.

...this has all been a huge mistake. Also bring back the Bourbon Barrel.

pkloa: How is Delaware not an actual trophy yet? If the service academies and our Michigan MAC teams can work a trophy between three teams, surely Penn State, Maryland, and Rutger can do the same. Have the three ADs meet at the Cabela’s off I-95, get three scoops of dirt, and encase it in a bronze container shaped like the state. Conversely, get the governors of all four states together, draft up some document “awarding” a city block in Wilmington to the annual victor.

BRT: I do think that awarding Counciltucky to the loser of Iowa-Nebraska would be a clever trophy, but since Nebraska pretty much always loses that game these days and since Counciltucky does properly belong to Iowa, I’m not going to spend a lot of time agitating for it to happen for real.

Jesse: I once did the world’s worst MS Paint version of the N64 ‘N’ as a battle for NU between Nebraska and Northwestern and I stand by that being a great stand-in for what those two teams consistently try and pretend is fun football each year.

Beez: There are too many trophies stop having so many trophies.

Will the assignments for the Dec 19th game make any sense or be totally contrived? - He was a high school quarterback

MNW: Totally contrived, and outside of Ohio State getting boosted into the Big Ten Championship Game because this has all been about getting sick for the’s not a bad thing.

Look, it starts with the Minnesota-wisconsin rivalry. It’s the oldest continuously played in the FBS, and it oughta stay that way. Period. No one needs wisconsin-Maryland, no one needs Minnesota and the corpse of Michigan. Play out the best games down-ticket, and let Indiana play Northwestern, goddamnit.

pkloa: In a bullshit, idiotic season, I like the idea behind the Dec 19 games. We are a fifth of the way through the 21st century, no reason we can’t have a bit more spontaneity with our college sports schedules. What I would love to see going forward is an annual cross-division standings based matchup.

Like most of my ideas, I haven’t put much thought into the following, but I’d like to see a special Spring 2021 game week. Give teams 4 weeks of practice in Feb/March, allow them to play literally any team they can agree to play, be it rivalry or random. Might be able to get the stands to 50% or even full, which would be amazing. I think the only tv competition would be NBA and NHL, so could be huge.

Oh yeah, your question. Uh, fuck Ohio State, hope the B1G hurts their back when they contort to appease the Buckeyes.

BRT: In honor of recent decisions regarding the Buckeyes, I think the matchups should each be based around arbitrary rules plucked at random from a hat. Each game can have a different random rule! “Each team should have a minimum of four vowels in its name.” “Both coaches must be over 60.” Both teams must hail from states that have the same dominant agricultural crop.” Come on, Big Ten. We know you’ve got more random, meaningless rule rulings in you!

Jesse: I honestly keep forgetting that whole thing is happening. I mean, let’s be super duper real for a minute… Was any of this not contrived from the beginning. I wrote this in our ‘rapid response’ to the OSU news, but the Big Ten has taken the fakest ‘principled’ approach to this entire season. There were few scenarios that didn’t end like this and to believe that there was logic beyond, “OMG we want more money” it was lost in the idiotic hubris that is the Big Ten itself.

Candystripes: Given what happened Wednesday, 100% contrived.

Beez: Contrived 100%. I do like the 1v1, etc… crossover, but that shit’s out the window now, right?

BoilerBettor: There are no more rules in the B1G. Might as well try to drive some ratings and maybe snag a couple extra C-notes in ad revenue.

Which team that you should hate do you secretly not hate? -thunsicker

MNW: It’s become tougher to hate the inbreds of Iowa (hey look at that, it really hasn’t!) since Pat Fitzgerald has tried to turn the Wildcats into the Purple Hawkeyes…

...actually, I don’t have an answer for this. Fuck all of you.

pkloa: I’ve been pretty vocal with saying I don’t hate any teams anymore. And while that’s pretty much true, it means I don’t hate many many teams I should. Let’s start with the big ones.

I find the jealousy of Notre Dame football and Duke basketball hilarious. Boo hoo, some of the biggest names in sports get more attention and money than my podunk piece of shit team. As GF3 will gladly tell you, get better.

Nick Saban is a better recruiter and coach than what you have. It’s life. Since he is not leaving his well oiled machine for your clunker, maybe you should pull on your own bootstraps instead of looking up with hate and fear.

LeBron James is the best basketball player of all time, and it isn’t that close. In a decade, someone else will be better than he was.

BRT: While Peej has made this somewhat less true, I have a pretty soft spot for the Gophers since my grandpa was one. This is a clear violation of Quadrangle rules.

Townie: My relentless GERD marinates my continual hate for your team, snowflake.

Jesse: In theory, I have so many friends down here in Texas that are wonderful people and UT grads who have almost convinced me that Texas isn’t the worst. But, then I listen to the local radio people and am instantly reminded that Texas is, in fact, the worst. So I dunno… I kinda don’t hate watching the SEC now. Does that count?

Beez: Notre Dame if we’re looking out-of-conference. Probably Minnesota if we’re looking in conference. Yes, I said it.

WSR: It was Nebraska, but Nebraska fans online have pretty much ruined that this year. I also have a détente with reasonable Iowa fans.

MC ClapYoHandz: More generally, I find it hard to hate outside of internet obligations. If we’re rivals and tailgating next to each other we’re going to have a good time. But as far as teams I should hate, I’ve never really disliked Michigan like most seem to, and out of conference I’ve had personal connections with North Carolina folks that make that one tough. Because also Fuck Duke.

Other than Windiana, does anyone really care that the 2020 B1G football season happened?

MNW: Why on earth wouldn’t I care?

pkloa: Just because the season is idiotic and bullshit doesn’t diminish the mostly bad games that have happened. Whoever wins the conference should be recognized as the 2020 champions. Most of the other fanbases get to complain and what if it for the next 25 years.

BRT: I mean, from a big picture perspective? No. Was I entertained from week to week? Sure. I also think Jim Harbaugh might end up caring, but not in a good way.

Jesse: I think it’s probably fair to say there was an equal amount of care this year as there generally is, only with more built-in excuses for ambivalence to outcome. In a ‘big picture’ sense, this season is complete garbage and should never have happened, but since it did and since this is a football-adjacent blog, I am gonna go ahead and assume we all watched and enjoyed ourselves more than we admit.

Beez: I am sure there are all kinds of people who care. I have watched less than two full games combined of App State and Wisconsin this year, which when combined with the 6 cancelations between those two teams, has made it rather hard to care personally.

WSR: Nope.

MC: To be certain, this season shouldn’t have been played and the conference had it right at the start. Putting aside the obvious toll on those who have contracted the disease as a result of all this, selfishly it has been nice to have this niche ounce of normalcy to life on the weekends. It’s hard to care much about any of it, but I do enjoy going into Friday night knowing my time (might?) be playing the next day. That’s easily where the most value lies, in my opinion.

BoilerBettor: Only my wallet cares at this point.

And how should those who made it happen be punished? - theguyfrommy-wega

MNW: Ludovico’d to the 2020 Northwestern Wildcats highlights if and when they win the Big Ten Championship Game.

pkloa: I feel like the teacher in A Christmas Story: “...those who did it know their blame, and I’m sure that the guilt you must feel would be far worse than any punishment you might receive”. Meanwhile, the football parents and university presidents know it’s always better to not get caught. Oh well, pass the nog.

Jesse: How should we punish them? By rewarding them with all of the monies like we always do. Seriously, this is such a great example of how incentives work… C.R.E.A.M.

WSR: They’ve already been sufficiently punished by losing to Illinois in terrifying fashion.

MC: A scornful Tom Allen. Just wait.

With ever shrinking amount of bowls? How many does the B1G get in? Bonus question do any of them go somewhere not in contract as I’ve seen in some projections. — badgersrox

pkloa: I think we will see bowls for the teams which earned them, and also Nebraska. So, 5.

Jesse: I quite literally haven’t thought about bowls outside the CFP this year and even then, it’s only because MNW told me I should think about that. Seriously, that we’re going to play these stupid games where people travel and sit by each other, and like, pretend that there isn’t a pandemic is wild to me. The answer is, “as many as possible” because there is money to be made in TV dollars for B1G teams, but the answer should be none. Nobody should go to a bowl.

After watching Coastal Carolina, which b1g team will be the first to install colored turf? - HistoriCat

MNW: Closest I think you’ll ever get is a Maryland flag in the end zones (if it hasn’t already happened!) and Purdue doing that weird train tracks around the field thing.

pkloa: Michigan State Spartans, pandering to millennials since 1896.

BRT: Northwestern surprises everyone in early 2021, announcing a switch from long, natural grass to purple turf. World sighs as it realizes that 2021 is going to be just as batshit as 2020.

Townie: Illinois is going that way, in the hope of igniting some recruiting success.

Jesse: I kinda love the idea of Indiana having a candy-striped field. That would be wonderful.

Candystripes: Nah, give me a bright white field with candy-striped endzones, and then let it snow.

Beez: I’m fully on board with the Indiana field ideas. Give me Minnesota as the most likely current team to incorporate at least some sort of field coloration though.

WSR: Let’s do it. Maroon & Vegas Gold field, please.

BoilerBettor: My eyes hate all of you. Especially Minnesota.