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The Season Kickoff Mailbag

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A tradition unlike any other: the mailbag being late.

Today, we all cheer for Bert.
Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

GOOD MORNING AND HAPPY KICKOFF TO ALL WHO OBSERVE!

Once again, and for the last time, the mailbag is late because I’m a moron who prioritizes things like “my actual job” and “being a non-shit parent” over getting these done in a timely manner. Will it continue into the actual season? I sure hope not.

Anyway, I’m not going to let the woke crowd stop me from wishing each and every one of you a Merry Bertsmas. Get out there and enjoy some “football” and football-like substances today and have a wonderful weekend. I’ll see you tomorrow when we do this all over again.

What’s the best NIL sponsorship you’ve seen so far? - BuffKomodo

MNW: I mean, there’s really only one option, right?

The music-playing Marshall OL, though, is pretty cool.

WSR: Special shout-out to Runza for throwing together everything for athletes in Nebraska. Great job, meat pastries!

Where do you want to travel for a game, and why? (B1G and non-B1G, please) - indiana, our indiana

LPW: For a conference game I’d love to travel to Lincoln, Nebraska. I’ve seen games at Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State. Out of conference, I’d love to go to Ole Miss. My brother’s in-laws family has season tickets there. I’d also like to go to the Rose Bowl, LSU, and Oregon. I’ve seen games at Soldier Field, Duke, and ND.

Brian: This year I’m targeting trips to Michigan State and Nebraska. In past seasons, I’ve taken in conference road games at Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin. I’ve never seen a game in Lincoln though, so I’m hoping that pans out this year. (I’ll add Indiana to the wish list for next season) Non-Big Ten? For the past ten-plus years I’ve traveled to various spots around the country to take in college football games. Austin might be my favorite place to visit. The tailgating at Ole Miss lives up to the hype. Next up? Maybe another trip to SEC Country (LSU or Georgia) … but probably not this season.

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a half-dozen or so Rose Bowls. Mostly Michigan appearances, but I was also there the year Gary Barnett brought the Purple to Pasadena. If only Fitz had played in that game.

Stew: The ROSE BOWL, for obvious reasons. A night game in Death Valley seems like a must. I’m also a sucker for mountain views so a trip to Boulder, Colorado would be awesome, as would a game at Utah in Salt Lake City. In conference, I think I’d like to see a game at OSU, as long as I don’t have a rooting interest in the game.

MNW: Stew hit the nail on the head with Rose Bowl, but other than that there are a few on my to-do list:

  • B1G-wise: Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers
  • Non-B1G: Colorado and Army (pissed I stayed on campus for marching band duties in 2011) come to mind. I’m guessing trips to specific games (Egg Bowl, etc.) would be neat, as well, but unless it’s something special and stupid (i.e., the MAC Championship Game I allegedly attended), I don’t know there’s a ton.

I’ve also never actually been to a Tommie-Johnnie game here in Minnesota, and now I suppose I’ll never get that chance, which really blows.

Jesse: I have been on the field at Husky Stadium but haven’t been for a game and that feels like a miss. Just a beautiful setting and I hear it’s loud as hell on gamedays that matter. Same goes for Boulder. Never saw a game there, but have been and the view is as good as it gets. A CSU-Colorado game would be way more fun than it should be.

Would also love to go down to Death Valley and see LSU in a game that matters. Tailgating there would be bananas. Just from a scale POV, the other massive monuments - Bryant-Denny, Neyland, etc - would be a blast.

This year, I’m probably going to take in Longhorn and I’m trying to figure out if I want to head to a game in Waco. I uh, am not super excited about either, but it would be nice to see football in a stadium again. We’ll see.

Non-football, I really want to go to Azteca and just watch any soccer match. I hear it’s unbelievable.

pkloa: I haven’t been to any of the new B1G additions, and I haven’t been to Wisconsin. While I’d like to hit all four, my preference is Wisconsin. I may be able to swing the Maryland game this year, though.

I will go to the Army-Navy game. That’s happening. I’ve been to enough stadiums in the south, so let’s head west to Autzen and the Rose Bowl.

HWAHSQB: I’ve been to all the central time zone B1G except Minnesota and none of the EST. I guess I’d go to Ann Arbor or East Lansing because it’s a real B1G school and it isn’t in Indiana or Ohio. I hate feeding the SEC machine, but Oxford seems like a great place to see a game.

BuffKomodo: For conference, I want to go to the mad house that is Ohio State for a game. It sounds like a good time. I mean, even the stormtroopers on the death star played that weird chess game. Non-conference? Tennessee when they play an FCS pancake because Rocky Top is the best fight song in college football.

WSR: I’d also like to make a trip back to Columbus at some point. It’s been far too long. Outside of the B1G, a night game at LSU, a game at Boulder, and another Cocktail Party where I don’t partake in as many Cocktails so I can remember more. And outside of college football, I want to watch a Champions League match in Istanbul and a big match at Old Trafford. I’ll probably check that last one off before any of the others, unfortunately.

What perennial bottom feeder will first rise to consistently finish in the upper level of the B1G? Illinois, Rutgers, Nebraska, or Maryland? And which “power team” will be the first to fall into the abyss of mediocrity: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, or Iowa? - theguyfromy-wega

LPW: I think it’s absolutely delightful that Nebraska is considered a bottom feeder these days. I think Maryland and Rutgers, with competent coaching matched with fertile recruiting grounds nearby, can rise up and make some trouble for Ohio State.

Brian: Call me crazy, but I think Greg Schiano has Rutgers on the right path.

MNW: I can’t put Rutgers on that path, because they’re always going to have to go through Ohio State and Penn State to do it. It’s curious, though, to see Michigan absent from that list.

Curious is the wrong word. I meant “enjoyable”.

For the latter half of your question, I would say the Iowa Hawkeyes. Transitioning from Kirk is going to be tough, particularly if they go the failson route.

Ten years to Nebraska for the Hawks, is what I’m saying.

Jesse: I’d like to fight back, but here we are.

pkloa: Upper level of the B1G reads, to me, as top 3 in their division. The only team I see able to consistently finish that high is Nebraska, since Rutger and Maryland have the tougher division and Illinois is who we all thought they were.

Imagine the drunken downfall should Iowa hire A Brian Ferentz Type. It’ll make the drunken rise to power look like drunken kid’s play.

RockyMtnBlue: I like Maryland to be the team that improves the most from that group, but it’s tough to finish in the top half of that division. I’ll go with Illinois, mostly because nobody else is. GO FIGHTING BERTS! For what it’s worth, Michigan should be in the ‘bottomfeeders’ category, and if they were, I’d pick them to get back to ‘perenially 3rd place.’

Iowa will be the ‘power team’ to drop. It’s almost magical how much they’ve done with so little. Maybe the next coach will be able to do that, but I doubt it.

HWAHSQB: Illinois and Iowa because it’s August and rebellions are built on hope.

BuffKomodo: Rutgers gained a lot of things last year, including its capital “R” and “s” back. I’m going with them. I’m going with Penn State because I often wonder how easy it is to put up with James Franklin behind closed doors.

WSR: I’d just like to point out again that before wisconsin fell ass backwards into Barry Alvarez, they were cirrhosis & diabetes Rutgers. It’ll be interesting to see if anything changes now that he’s not in charge of the program again. The one interesting thing about the “who can be least ass” question is that 3 of the 4 teams are in pretty good recruiting locations, and 2 of them have coaches who (at least once upon a time) were successful. So just flip a coin or pick between Illinois and Rutgers as to who will be mediocre-ish first, try to guess who Maryland will turn to after Mike Locksley flames out and leaves a stocked cupboard at Maryland for, and then point and laugh at Nebraska for being the odd duck in this question..

Poll

Who achieves mediocrity first

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Illinois
    (62 votes)
  • 21%
    Maryland
    (43 votes)
  • 10%
    Nebraska
    (20 votes)
  • 37%
    Rutgers
    (74 votes)
199 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who achieves mediocrity first

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    Iowa
    (149 votes)
  • 0%
    Ohio State
    (1 vote)
  • 16%
    Penn State
    (33 votes)
  • 8%
    wisconsin
    (17 votes)
200 votes total Vote Now

Who will be the first team to embarrass themselves by having to Covid-forfeit? - RTVF82

LPW: Ohio State

MNW: I mean, goodness, I really hope it’s no one.

...but while we all want it to be Ohio State, it’s gonna be someone really stupid like Rutgers.

Stew: It’s not like Schiano has a history of embarrassing, totally preventable infections spreading through locker rooms he’s the coach of.

It’s a team incompetent enough to not have a high enough vax rate, while also earnest enough to report on themselves. So, uh, dammit, it’s Iowa.

Jesse: Wisconsin

pkloa: Anyone thinking it’ll be a team they despise is only kidding themselves. First team to forfeit will be YOUR team, and I don’t care what that pardadox does to the universe.

RockyMtnBlue: It won’t be Ohio State because there’s now incentive to lie. Michigan was bragging about how well they were doing last year and then couldn’t field enough players to schedule a practice by the end of the year. So it’s Michigan.

WSR: It’s entirely possible that the Gophers take advantage of everything to do in the Twin Cities and get an entirely new strain of COVID from the outstate morons visiting the state fair.

Any thoughts on the B1G expanding to the B2G? - kw09

LPW: Fuck no. We’re fine at 14.

Brian: I’m not sold on the B1GPACC Alliance. I understand the thinking behind creating a voting bloc, but the alliance is something that the ACC and Pac-12 probably needed more than the Big Ten did. Given that something was going to happen, I’d have preferred absorbing some of the Pac-12 elite. Granted, I may be a little biased living on the west coast, but having teams like USC, UCLA and Stanford would be appealing.

MNW: I saw this question in the comments and nearly tried to respond to it, but man, there’s only so much Expansion Fatigue I can fight through. With the announcement of the eventual but currently irrelevant B1G/PAC/ACC “Alliance” today I guess there’s some intrigue down the line, but as of now...meh.

I’m curious to see what happens to the Big 8. Do they try to poach Cincy, Houston, and SMU and become a real Southwest G5 conference? Do Iowa State, Kansas/K-State, and Oklahoma State go one way and the Texas children go the other?

pkloa: The B1G’s arms race with the SEC is like America’s war on drugs. The drugs won, dammit, now adapt to make a better future.

HWAHSQB: I’m still looking for the receipt to see if it’s too late to return Nebraska/Maryland/Rutgers.

RockyMtnBlue: What LPW said.

BuffKomodo: At this point, it’ll be the B3G if your numbering scheme is by expansions. Maybe even 4G. LPW is right, it’s dumb. At that rate though, just go to 16 teams, one crossover, and let teams schedule 4 out of conference wins again instead of 3. But it’s stupid.

WSR: Don’t. Especially if one of the options is a school that brings absolutely nothing of value to the conference, like Iowa State.

I just got a smoker, so am looking for ideas. Is there anything you put in the smoker that is unique, different from what people typically use a smoker to cook? - LandOfSkyBlueWatersGopher

Jesse: Oh friend. FRIEND. I’ve got lots of ideas for you. A few things before we begin… The best thing to do with a new smoker is to not try too hard. Get really good at ribs and pork butt because they’re both generally forgiving and crowd pleasers that will get you all the goodwill from everyone. From there, beef of some form. I like beef chuck personally as it’s faster than brisket, but once you’re comfortable, brisket. Beef Ribs are delicious and an absolute pain-in-the-ass.

All that said, if you’re going for different I have two things that are great:

  1. Vegetables: If you’ve never had smoked broccoli (which is fast and literally just broccoli with olive oil and salt - you’re missing out. Serve it with some sort of hollandaise or bearnaise and you’re in business. Oyster mushrooms are also hella good smoked. I recommend pressing them first so you get a lot of the moisture out and then they sort of end up like this umami as hell smoked bacon-like thing.
  2. Tri-tip: This takes probably around 45 minutes. Salt it for a few hours (or overnight if you remember), put some sort of steak rub on it (I use a prime-rib mixture I made that is more or less a montreal mix), and just get cooked to rare-ish. Then I throw it on the grill to sear it nice and quick and slice thin for sandwiches. It’s really just perfect every time.

pkloa: Me trying to beat Jesse in smoker recommendations is like West Virginia Couches’ war on idiots. The idiots won, dammit, just sit there and appreciate the smoky goodness.

WSR: On top of what Jesse said, I’d recommend trying to throw some white fish in there. I don’t have my recipes nearby, but the person responsible for catching them has an outstanding maple glaze for red snapper that’s out of this world, and you can whip up a fast lemon garlic sauce for nearly anything as well.

BuffKomodo: Enjoy smoking your meat.