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Thursday Morning Brews (9/11/14)

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Jonathan Ferrey

The Value of Sports

There isn't a textbook that breaks down all the elements to success in life, but if there is, it would be in the world of sports. They show us the importance of teamwork, no matter how amazing one person is at something. They show us the results of hard work - both good and bad. Sports are an arena where precision, attention to detail, and fundamentals rule the day. Any abstract lesson from sports could be applied very successfully to life.

Does pressure make us better, or does it tear us down? Well, it does both - just look at the examples available every day, especially when the spotlights are at their brightest. What makes us our best? How do you get success, anyway? When does success make us complacent? No matter the question, no matter how deep or opaque it is, there's an easily accessible answer to it on a field near you.

In the past week, Big Ten blogs have reacted to the "Day the Big Ten Died" in a variety of ways, but one idea that's come up more often than not is the belief that the success of the conference, collectively, means nothing. Anyone who's read the Brews would know where I stand on this.... there's no sense rehashing it. And there are some good takeaways from the other side of the aisle. For one, sports are just that - athletics - and it's necessary not to get carried away. For another, there's something in that message - that winning isn't a be-all, end-all - that none of us really hear enough. Winning isn't everything. And, if September 11th has any deeper message, at least to me, it's that we should put our differences aside and come together more often.

It's worth talking about this from the other side, however - that the Big Ten is valuable. Perhaps it's appropriate that this conversation is happening today, of all days. After September 11th, some of the seminal moments in the nation's recovery involved sports. There was David Letterman's speech on September 19th, but there was also the New York Mets returning to the field on September 21st - a game attended by Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani was a famous Yankees fan, and regularly got booed at Mets games, but sports were a segue to a nation's healing.

More than a decade later, when Boston suffered a terrorist attack, Yankee Stadium played "Sweet Caroline" and the Yankees fans partook in an old Boston tradition, singing the lyrics during the 7th inning stretch. This would be like Ohio State's marching band and all their fans singing "Hail to the Victors." Sports, in general, do matter. They're deeply personal. Sometimes, they're cathartic. Often they're a segue to virtually any serious social issue. Sports take things we find uncomfortable, and help us work through them together. Ultimately, we all find our own value from the sports we follow, and no matter how I might feel about the importance or the value of the Big Ten, perhaps it should just be left at that.

I'll leave with one parting thought, though. Another idea heard regularly around Big Ten circles - an old jab at the SEC - is that the teams have to pay their players, and cheat to win. But if you were a five-star player, with the chance to go anywhere - would you pick a place that challenged you? Would you go to college around people better than you, to learn from them, and who pushed you to be better? I bet you would. Would that be a better choice? You bet it would. The Big Ten, for all its academics and history, will go exactly as far as it wants to go. It won't get very far until it embraces the hard work and effort that make up a win. Winning isn't everything, but applying yourself to what matters to you is everything. Any sport is a great embodiment of that.

Hitting the Links Agrees With a Buckeye

Coaching: A Big Ten Deficiency

This Buckeye is fantastic. There, that's the last time you'll hear me saying that.

Scouting Florida's Offense

Just like Cam Cameron at LSU, Florida is bringing a bit of the NFL to the SEC.

Five Michigan State Players Off to Slow Starts

Dantonio's players get a week off to prepare for Eastern Michigan, then face Wyoming. So it's safe to say they'll have time to get everyone comfortable.

Strong Words by Pat Fitzgerald

He does not mince words when describing his team's performance - this is pretty harsh.

Tony Lippett, Superstar

Speaking of the Spartans, one of the Big Ten's own is third in the nation in yards per game.

Iowa-Ball State: An Act of Experimentation

If learning about Iowa is your thing, this writer breaks down what Ferentz has been doing differently... usually to poor results. One takeaway in the midst of two close victories is that the defense has been surprisingly dominant.

The Big Ten, Stats, & Boxes: BHGP's Power Rankings

This gives you a chance to see how BHGP does its weekly rankings; it'll get included just the once, and if it's something that you connect to make sure to look for it every week.

Hutson Mason vs. Dylan Thompson

Saturday Down South takes a look on one of the matchups for Georgia-South Carolina.

Maryland-West Virginia Preview

2.9 yards a rush against USF was discouraging; C.J. Brown averaging 156 yards is more discouraging. West Virginia will try to stack the box against the Terps.

RBR Previews the Big Ten's Death

Some schadenfreude set to Don McLean's "American Pie." Comment highlights: "BTW, I think we're going to need a new name for the Power 5 as long as the BIG10 insists on being included. What about "the Power 4 + Tinker Bell"?"

Bobby Richardson, Hoosiers Defense Out to Impress

Maybe it's irrational optimism in the Big Ten, but Indiana plays Missouri at 4:00 on September 20th, in Columbia. I call a Hoosiers victory.

UCF-Missouri Preview

This might actually be one of the more interesting games this week. The Big Ten hasn't been able to take the smallest step toward having a rivalry with the SEC, but rooting for UCF can't hurt.

Stoudt or Watson?

The redshirt senior quarterback has played a majority of the snaps for the Clemson Tigers, but things may get interesting if Watson continues to perform like he has in limited action.

TTB Coaching Thoughts

This is another good piece from Touch the Banner. The comment section gets the "next coach" conversation started right away.

Iowa-Iowa State Police Twitter Rivalry

This is classic.

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Stat of the week: In lieu of off-season football highlights, the Brews will end with some in-season nuggets that haven't gotten around yet. Here's a depressing one: of all of FBS, only SMU has had a worse turnover margin so far than Michigan. They are tied for 118th.