If you went to school in the United States, you’re familiar with the concept of substitute teachers. The valiant temps that fill in for the real deal, they go into uncharted territory and expose themselves to things those children know they can’t get away with when the regular teacher is around (“Mr. M is it true that you’re gay?” —For the love of God Jane you’re in fourth grade why are you asking me this?!).
Today, I serve as the valiant sub who can only hope to do half the job the regular does, but is going to try nonetheless, because dammit momma needs rest!
Without further ado, here are this week’s rankings!
No. 1: Penn State Nittany Lions | The Influencer
First Place Votes: 5; High: 1; Low: 3; Last Week: 1 (—)
An influencer is a person who creates content, builds a following, and uses that following to later make money. They don’t necessarily have a product of their own, at least to start, but once they build their following they tend to put their name on products other people made, or “rebrand” an existing product to be theirs.
Like an influencer, James Franklin used his HYPE to build Vanderbilt into a semi-competitive team, then cashed in on his following to take Penn State, an existing product, and rebrand it to his liking. Now he gets to reap the benefits of all his hype work by having the No. 4 team in the country, and the No. 1 team in this power poll.
No. 2: Iowa Hawkeyes | The Entrepreneur
First Place Votes: 4; High: 1; Low: 4; Last Week: 3 (+1)
Not to be confused with the influencer, the entrepreneur already has a side hustle, and uses social media to boost their business. This person uses as many hashtags as they use regular words in their posts, but they understand the value that social media brings them in getting their product out there. Like the influencer, this person usually puts in a ton of work making sure they get the word out there, but doesn’t necessarily have the resources (or desire) to spend on on a true marketing campaign.
Iowa knows exactly what they need to do to build a successful team. They may not have the resources Ohio State and Michigan have, but they know their product works and they market it effectively, getting the types of players that, once every five or so years, produces the kind of team they have today.
No. 3: Ohio State Buckeyes | The Corporate Account
First Place Votes: 4; High: 1; Low: 5; Last Week: 2 (-1)
Corporate accounts are pretty straight forward. They kind of just show up and have an immediate following. Basically, they build their success by paying a bunch of people to make it big. And, of course, they quickly rise to millions of followers by buying a good number of them. Savvy corporate accounts, however, know that an effective social media manager makes all the difference between having real following and being just another corporate account.
Ohio State spends by far the most money on football of any other team in the conference, and as you started to see this summer, the NIL deals they’re giving their players are worth more than some NFL backups’ salaries. Ohio State doesn’t have to do much to recruit itself, but having a guy like Ryan Day ensures they’re more like the Wendy’s twitter account as opposed to the [insert social media account for generic bank here].
No. 4: Michigan Wolverines | The Faux Influencer*
First Place Votes: 1; High: 1; Low: 6; Last Week: 4 (—)
This is the person who thinks they’re an influencer, but is far from it. They’re the ones who posts “options” on LinkedIn actions that can only benefit their posts. For example: “like for work from home” vs “love for work in the office.” Every now and then, they give you a quote that does numbers, but ultimately their brand is a lot bigger in their head than in reality.
Every year, we have to hear about Michgian’s blue blood status, how they’re the ones who will challenge Ohio State for the championship for real this time, their wins total, you name it. And every year come November, we’re wondering what mid-tier bowl they’ll use this time to pair them with Florida.
No. 5: Michigan State Spartans | The Troll
First Place Votes: 0; High: 4; Low: 5; Last Week: 5 (—)
The one who takes pleasure in making other people miserable. Usually, but not always, they lure you in with what seems like a reasonable comment, then, once you’re hooked, they sucker punch you with a string of comments so vile you want to punch a hole through your screen. A version of this is The Pedantic Asshole™, who, usually a man, is someone who takes any conversation and splits the tiniest of hairs to turn what was a somewhat pleasant exchange into the pit of despair that has you wound up for days after the fact. There’s no exception that is elusive enough for this personality.
Michigan State, especially under Mark Dantonio, has done a master class this in trolling. They hook teams with a false sense of security, then BOOM, they muddle the game to a disgusting slop fest where no one, including Michigan State fans, leave satisfied. Things appear more reasonable under Mel Tucker, but it’s only a matter of time until they drag someone (probably Michigan in a couple of weeks) to the pit of despair they know and love.
No. 6: Nebraska Cornhuskers | The Drama Queen
First Place Votes: 0; High: 6; Low: 13; Last Week: 11 (+5)
This person has not lived a boring day in their lives. There is always something with this person. Whether it’s their dog is sick, their cat is sick, their neighbor’s having relations way too loudly for their liking, you name it. When you want to be entertained, this person is there, at the ready, to give you some sort of shenanigans to talk about for days. Sure, there’s the rare day where nothing’s going on in this person’s life, but those are few and far between.
Nebraska has managed to lose three games in increasingly excruciating ways, somehow snatching defeat from the jaws of victory time after time. Each loss is more baffling than the previous one, and as an outsider, you’re just here to see their world burn. Whether it’s fielding, then letting go of a punt at the one, having an extra point blocked to give the opposing team a margin large enough to need a touchdown to tie, or dominating an entire quarter only to see the lead evaporate in the waning minutes of the game, Nebraska has every way they could lose locked up and ready to manifest itself any given Saturday. Sure, they had a quiet day against Northwestern, but who here thinks that’s going to happen again anytime soon?
No. 7: Minnesota Golden Gophers | The Spammer
First Place Votes: 0; High: 6; Low: 11; Last Week: 12 (+5)
Like the entrepreneur, the spammer has something they’re promoting. Unlike the entrepreneur, that something is usually not as good, not as valuable, or not as real as what the entrepreneur is selling. Thus, the spammer bombards you with messaging to get you to engage with their content. Yes, the spammer signed you up for their newsletter without your consent. Yes, the spammer uses a ton of hashtags on their posts, like the entrepreneur, but half the hashtags they use have nothing to do with the product at hand.
P.J. Fleck will bombard you with his inspirational quotes, quips, and sayings everywhere he goes. He’ll talk about rowing boats some other nonsense, to the point where you just want him to shut up already! He of course has a product he’s selling, but so far, it falls short to what the entrepreneurs in Iowa City are putting out.
No. 8: Maryland Terrapins | The Couch Activist*
First Place Votes: 0; High: 6; Low: 12; Last Week: 6 (-2)
This is the person who’s on all the latest social media campaigns, follows all the hashtags, talks the greatest of games, but when it comes down to doing the actual work for social justice, they are nowhere to be seen. There isn’t a hashtag that they’re not a part of, a comedian they haven’t demanded be canceled, you name it. Of course, they watched that same comedian’s latest special because they just needed to see what everyone was talking about.
Maryland, year after year, gives everyone the façade that they’re the real deal, usually by beating on some unsuspecting non-conference opponent. Then the clock turns to October, and when it’s time to put up, someone drops 50 points on them, and they vanish from existence. Just like the couch activist, the Maryland twitter account is ready to talk shit, but as soon as it’s time to beat a good team, they’re dead in the water.
No. 9: Rutgers Scarlet Knights | The Eternal Optimist
First Place Votes: 0; High: 6; Low: 13; Last Week: 7 (-2)
This is the person who, no matter how tough the going gets, they’re always able to see the silver lining. They, in fact, are always in the belief that great things are right around the corner! If they can just get things to break exactly right, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with!
Like the eternal optimist, Rutgers continues to believe that the sleeping giant just needs another poke to wake up, and getting the right break in Greg Schiano coming back is just the stick they needed to poke the giant. Nevermind the beatdowns against Ohio State, those are just bumps on the road.
No. 10: Purdue Boilermakers | The Liker
First Place Votes: 0; High: 7; Low: 12; Last Week: 8 (-2)
This one rarely creates anything themselves, but is there liking everyone’s content and boosting everyone else’s posts as a result. This person usually has a ginormous disparity in follower count vs people followed, mostly because they’re usually there to make other people look good.
Purdue won’t be winning any championships themselves, but they’re always just good enough to make people feel good about beating them, while being bad enough that other people can beat them with certain regularity.
No. 11: Wisconsin Badgers | The Vaguebooker
First Place Votes: 0; High: 0; Low: 14; Last Week: 9 (-2)
The vaguebooker is one who’s never straight with any post they make, thus forcing people to pry information out of them. This is sometimes a strategy to get attention, but oftentimes it’s just their inability to just come out with what they want to say. Whether it’s because they have social anxiety and don't know how to behave in any sort of public form, or because they don’t care to be coherent when they communicate, this person always manages to say nothing of note unless someone forces it out of them.
You’ll have better luck getting struck by lightning twice than getting Paul Chryst to give you a straight answer on anything. This leads to reporters having to ask follow-up questions over and over, in hopes that maybe, just maybe, Chryst will decide to speak like human being one of these days.
No. 12: Indiana Hoosiers | The One-Hit Wonder
First Place Votes: 0; High: 7; Low: 12; Last Week: 10 (-2)
The person that had that one post that blew up, did the “go listen to my soundcloud” bit right after, then spent the rest of their social media days trying to follow up that one viral post. Little by little, each of the thousands of followers they gained start to trickle out, as they realize that the magic was never there, and the lighting caught in that bottle has long been used up.
Indiana had a magical 2020 season, one where everything went right for them, every bounce, review, turnover, penalty, you name it, went in their direction. This led to a 6-2 season and postseason ranking. It also led to a preseason ranking, which they weren’t able to live up to because, as it turns out, catching lightning in a bottle is really hard to replicate.
No. 13 Illinois Fighting Illini | The Anti-Social
First Place Votes: 0; High: 8; Low: 14; Last Week: 14 (+1)
You know the one. This is the hipster that refuses to be on any sort of social media because they think it’ll make them sell out, contribute to the demise of society**, or whatever excuse they have this time to hide the fact that they’re technologically inept and don’t even know how to use the phone their partner bought for them.
Illinois will have you believe that they’re choosing to run the ball because that’s the kind of system Bert likes to run, but the reality is that neither Brandon Peters nor Art Sitkowski know what a pass is, so they have no choice but to run the ball, even when it’s clearly ineffective.
No. 14: Northwestern Wildcats | The Lurker
First Place Votes: 0; High: 13; Low: 14; Last Week: 13 (-1)
This person is in on everything's but rarely engages with any content. However, once in a while, they come out of nowhere and usually have something that other people pay attention to. A lot of times, they don’t even say anything earth-shattering; it’s the fact that they’re saying anything at all that shocks people.
For most of its history, Northwestern just stays in its lane, winning a couple of games here and there and, as of late, making a bowl game more often than not. And then, out of nowhere, they win the division and become that year’s sacrificial lamb to Ohio State. Sometimes they do so by going winless in non-conference play.
*If you’re thinking Michigan and Maryland are interchangeable, it’s because they are, given that they’re both September darlings nowadays.
**Offer does not apply to deleting facebook, since they’re literally contributing to the demise of society.