clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big Ten Football Week 6 Power Poll: The Letter People Edition

Learn phonics with a 50 year old series that I watched 30 years ago for some reason!

Hey, can you believe I’ve only ever done seven of these?

I wish we’d had the opportunity to tease this a little bit, because you would never have guessed the topic. I have been known to do themes that interest only me before.

Well, get ready, because although this theme is something I’ve brought up in the fanshots or main page comments before, it seems that very few of you have heard of it. That still is better than when I grew up convinced that my family had the only copy of these VHS tapes. That’s right, we’re learning our letters today with The Letter People!

This children’s literacy program dates all the way back to 1964 and centers around a cast of 26 distinctive characters with alliterative characteristics designed to help children learn not only the letter but the sound the letter represents in the written word. This started as a classroom program but eventually became a TV series complete with puppets premiering on PBS in 1974.

Some revisions were made to the classroom program in 1989, but a major overhaul came in 1996 when a lot of language was updated to be more positive and inclusive. not the version I watched! Some of the content has aged kind of poorly in the context of being a fun educational tool for little kids, but the music has always straight-up slapped. Behold: a bizarre barrage of bullshit!

(I tried to embed just their intro songs because that’s all I really remember, but the channel that has those isolated as individual videos doesn’t want me to embed them. I have no idea what else is in the rest of these episodes!)

There were 13 voters this week.

1: Ohio State Buckeyes: Mr. Y (Yawning)

182 Points | 13 First Place Votes | Last Week: 1 | Change: 0

“Why, why, why am I always yawning?” laments Mr. Y as he and everyone around him get very sleepy. Ohio State fans yawn through roughly 10 to 13 games a year because they so thoroughly overwhelm most teams on their schedule with such superior talent that they’re functionally playing a different sport. There’s nothing to really watch for in a game like Ohio State vs Rutgers. This week, they play a reeling Michigan State. The year is yet young, but yes, you’ll yawn if you’re yearning for a compelling contest.

2: Michigan Wolverines: Mr. F (Funny Feet)

165 pts | High: 2 | Low: 5 | Last week: 3 | Change: +1

Blake Corum is 14th in the nation with 93 attempts, which he’s turned into 93 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s added 4 receptions, but it seems that he will be the workhorse of this offense against more stout run defenses...which describes much of the Big Ten. By the end of this season, Corum is gonna have himself some funny feet that will struggle to fit into any shoes. If he’s anything like Mr. F, he’ll be a good sport about it.

I didn’t have strong ones for all of these, so I’m also giving Michigan Mr. F because it was always one of my favorite songs and they’re pretty good. But don’t fret. Foes fear the ferocious fighting force of Corum’s fast football feet.

As I’ve just absent-mindedly listened to more of this episode, Mr. F eventually does in fact try some football shoes with the suggestion that he become the first fullback with funny feet!

3: Penn State Nittany Lions: Miss A (A-Choo!)

157 pt | High: 2 | Low: 4 | Last Week: 2 | Change: -1

I don’t completely understand why Miss A sneezes whenever she is happy. Being allergic to happiness seems more like an Illini fan thing (or maybe specifically Depression Thumpasaurus), but in the context of this video it’s a weird quirk that doesn’t seem to bother her too much. Similarly, the performance against Northwestern convinced me Penn State will carry on their tradition of losing to a team to which they are vastly superior. I don’t really understand why they insist on doing this, but hey, I guess absolute acceptance allows amply amicable...actions? I don’t know, whatever floats your boat.

4: Illinois Fighting Illini: Mr. M (Munching Mouth)

134 pts | High: 3 | Low: 6 | Last Week: 8 | Change: +4

Magnificent. This was absolutely my favorite song from the series.


Hey, has Illinois ever, in the history of this site, been ranked this high in the power poll?!?!?! The high water mark that I can recall was 6 after the 4-1 start in 2015, but I might be wrong.

Anyway, for obvious and very Bert-related reasons, Illinois had to be Mr. M despite Bret Bielema’s alliterative name (Mr B’s beautiful buttons wouldn’t do). Chase Brown devours contact and eats up yards on the ground, helping the Illini munch away on the clock. The defense swallowed up Wisconsin’s running game last week and it doesn’t yet look like the front seven has had their fill. Will Iowa be too mighty a meal to manage?

(remember how I was talking about how some of these have aged poorly as educational tools? this is one that got revised despite the supreme funk permeating the song. this man clearly has an eating disorder)



wait never mind, Mr. M With A Munching Mouth survived the 1996 update intact somehow.

this seems like a major oversight

5: Maryland Terrapins: Mr. Q (Quiet Questions)

132 pt | High: 4 | Low: 7 | Last Week: 5 | Change: 0

This whole song is about how Mr Q. just doesn’t say much of anything. Maryland has had a quietly successful season so far which would for sure have received much more acclaim had they pulled off the upset of Michigan. Their dismantling of Michigan State has mostly been seen as an indictment of Mel Tucker and the Spartans, while Maryland faithful are left to quietly question if Maryland is for real.

It was even overshadowed by Illinois’ dismantling of Wisconsin; despite the Terps having only a loss to a top 10 team, Illinois still finished ahead of them in this week’s power poll for some reason. How quickly can they quiet the questions?

6: Purdue Boilermakers: Miss O (Obstinate)

123 pt | High: 4 | Low: 7 | Last Week: 9 | Change: +3

She’s miss O, she’s obstinate.

So obstinate.

So obstinate.

Which is just the opposite...of doing what somebody wants you to do when they want you to do it!

If Miss O were trying to put away a game and someone suggested that she run the ball, she would take deep shots down the sidelines.

Purdue could so easily be 5-0 and firmly in control of the Big Ten West if not for Jeff Brohm’s game management against Penn State and Syracuse.

Nevertheless, some growth happened! Purdue actually did salt the game away a little at the end! Brohm learned from the Diaco fiasco and the defensive braintrust he brought in has had great results through a year and a half or so! Suddenly, the mood around Purdue has changed to the updated 1981 version of Miss O: optimistically optimistic!

I never claimed this was a particularly effective educational tool. “Obstinate” seems like a bit of a big word for people learning phonics, and...this song kind of teaches kids to be standoffish dicks for no particular reason?

7: Minnesota Golden Gophers: Miss I (Itchy Itch)

102 pt | High: 6 | Low: 9 | Last Week: 4 | Change: -3

Initially, innocent Gophers fans itched to be in Indianapolis.

Then there incident.

If only Ibrahim weren’t injured.

(This one also didn’t survive even past 1981, becoming Incredible Inventor at some point in the classroom version and later Impossible Inches)

8: Michigan State Spartans: Mr. J (Jumbled Junk)

86 pts | High: 4 | Low: 10 | Last Week: 10 | Change: +2

I would like to point out that Michigan State’s positive movement after being dismantled by Maryland is reflective of one constant: every given OTE Power Poll has at least one wild card.

Last year, Mel Tucker looked like the new paradigm of a modern college football General Manager, using the transfer portal to put together an 11-win team with the heroics of Kenneth Walker.

This year, he appears to be playing instead with a bunch of jumbled junk that hasn’t really gelled yet, especially on defense. Generally, jumbled junk wins jack. A January jaunt seems like a joke at this juncture.

9: Iowa Hawkeyes: Mr. G (Gooey Gum)

71 pts | 1 last place vote | High: 8 | Low: 14 | Last Week: 6 | Change: -3

Mr. G’s song used to really creep me out. It’s this weird slow thing that keeps getting interrupted and it’s about how Mr. G, like Iowa’s offense, just keeps getting stuck everywhere and can’t continue moving for very long.

Golly. My Gavin Williams got stuck on the garden gate.

Quite a ponderous song, this one.

Hey look at that, he then walks over to Mr. M.


10. Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Mr. K (Kicking King)

60 pts | High: 7 | Low: 12 | Last Week: 12 | Change: +2

The only actual football player among the Letter People, Rutgers gets Mr. K in honor of Adam Korsak the Kicking King. Nobody really made a name for themselves kicking last week, so I just gave a Lifetime Achievement Award to the Kicking King.

Mr. Cruickshank and Mr. Schiano were lucky they had Mr. K on their sideline imploring them as he does in his song to “never ever kick a man” during their dust-up with Ohio State last week.

11. Indiana Hoosiers: Mr. S (Super Socks)

49 pts | High: 8 | Low: 13 | Last Week: 11 | Change: 0

Mr. S has a secret box containing his super socks. It is unclear whether they actually bestow super powers upon him or if he simply imagines they do. The hero of Indiana’s 3-1 start was Connor Bazelak, who engineered several epic drives to rally past Illinois and Western Kentucky.

Someone surreptitiously snuck in and sequestered the senior’s super socks somewhere else, because he has not been a super sonic streak in the sky in several weeks.

Also, the line “sometimes when they’re scolding me, I smile” goes pretty hard.

12: Nebraska Cornhuskers: Mr. W (Wonderful Wink)

48 pts | High: 9 | Low: 13 | Last Week: 14 | Change: +2

Nebraska got a W! They broke a 4th quarter stalemate with two unanswered touchdowns, and as Mr. W says, “that’s how W is done.” Of course, he’s referring to his wink, which is apparently wonderful. In order to enable and highlight this feature, his face had to be made...pretty unusual. It’s a W, and it seems to make people happy, but it makes me extremely uncomfortable. Zombie Nebraska is going to take some getting used to.

13. Wisconsin Badgers: Mr. X (Mixed-Up)

35 pts | 5 last place votes | High: 9 | Low: 14 | Last Week: 7 | Change: -6

...I would like to reiterate that I never said this was a particularly effective educational tool.

.....................I did not care for this song as a child. Wisconsin came into this season expecting to control the Big Ten West and five games in they’re the only team in the division without a conference win sitting at 2-3.


I don’t know why they chose this direction for Mr. X. This Badgers gameplan was made all wrong, where does it belong? Apparently somewhere else.

Needless to say, this disturbing iteration of a letter-based character basically droning “PLEASE KILL ME” did not survive the series overhaul.

Mr. H could also have been considered simply for this part of his song describing the 2022 Badgers season.


Mr. X scared me the most, but Mr. R bothered me a lot as well.

14. Northwestern Wildcats: Mr. T (Tall Teeth)

21 pts | Last place votes: 7 | High: 12 | Low: 14 | Last Week: 13 | Change: +1

Hey look, it’s actually Pat Fitzgerald!