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Comparing Big Ten football programs to metal bands

We’ve reached this point.

Metallica Tour 2019 - Munich, Germany Photo by Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

We have reached a period of no sports to where in brainstorming for a week’s worth of content these days, a lot of things are being thrown at the wall, especially as the well starts to dry up with Michigan Wolverines news.

The practice of debating and comparing things is woven into the fabric of the current media landscape and two of the most debated topics revolve around sports and music. My interest in the former is obvious, but the latter has always been a pretty big part of the equation, as well.

So with that in mind — and a nice playlist, to boot — here is how I would compare some of the things on my iPod to the teams we see often.

Ohio State: Black Sabbath

Listen, let us just get this one out of the way first because it is hard to do this and be fair and complimentary to a rival. The facts being what they are, OSU is the program that everyone else around here measures themselves up against with a rich history going back several years. There may be stretches of time where they have misfired and others have done it better, but the overall body of work and influence speaks for itself.

Michigan: Metallica

These two brands have arguably the biggest and most widespread fanbases and everything they put their logo on is going to sell, despite the fact they might be best known for what they did 25-30 years ago. They are also polarizing as hell and there are large pockets of the community that want to see them fail. Jim Harbaugh’s satellite camp crusade ruffled feathers akin to Lars Ulrich’s feud with Napster. Metallica’s collaboration with Lou Reed was the musical equivalent to The Horror in 2007. They are not quite what they used to be, but still do enough right in the present to satisfy a majority of their fans.

Michigan State: Megadeth

Anyone who knows the history of Megadeth knows how tied into the early days of Metallica they are and the rivalry that has ensued over the years. These guys have always been a “Little Brother” of sorts to Metallica, which kind of sounds familiar given the comparison. There have been some highlights and real bright spots here, but also plenty of disaster, manufactured disrespect and more. But certainly more attitude and angst than the group they consistently are compared to.

Illinois: ZZ Top

Ok, so ZZ Top is not a metal band, but it is the band with beards. Big, awesome beards. It makes sense given Lovie Smith is in the beard club. This was the hardest one to come up with, so instead we will take the time to discuss one of my favorite musical fun facts.

The man in the middle? His name is Frank Beard and he plays the drums. In a band known for its beards, he does not have one. This has always been absolutely fascinating to me.

Indiana: Pantera

Both the Hoosiers and Pantera have some really fun moments in their history, but ultimately feel like footnotes on the rest of the scene in both of their respective fields. Indiana fans — like Pantera’s — are extremely loyal despite this, but will get really defensive over it if you ever get into a debate with them. Despite this, they entertain me regardless.

Iowa: Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper is metal in its simplest form, and if that is not the way that Iowa plays football, I’m not sure what the hell else is. There is not really a heck of a lot here that is all that complicated in the way it hits you, but both groups here are capable of putting a scare into you. Has Alice ever played at Kinnick Stadium?

Maryland: Rainbow

Maryland and Rainbow’s heydays were back in the mid 1970s into the mid-80s, but have largely been dormant since then sans a few temporary revivals here and there. I don’t have a ton to say about either Maryland or Rainbow because I largely feel nothing for either of these brands.

Minnesota: Anthrax

Again, we are getting to the part of the list where things start to get a little bit difficult. With P.J. Fleck currently at the helm, there is a youthful and carefree attitude with the Gophers as as a football program. The best band I can come up with as a parallel to that is Anthrax. To be frank, this is just an excuse to post a song about a zombie apocalypse.

Nebraska: Korn

Do I even need to explain this one? I associate the success of both of these brands with the late 1990s into the early 2000s.

Northwestern: Dream Theater

Dream Theater has some highlights, but their fans do not care that the band never exploded. However, they will tell you how much smarter the band is than the one that you like. If that does not sound like a Medill grad to you, we just are not on the same wavelength here.

Penn State: Slayer

Slayer is not the best metal band, but it is the most metal band that there is. And to me, there is not anything more metal than driving into the mountains and entire group of people dressing in the same color to create a lion’s den atmosphere for a night football game. If you’ve ever gone to a Slayer concert and also deep into Penn State twitter and found yourself in an argument there, you would know the comparison is apt.

Purdue: Limp Bizkit

Good luck finding anyone other than Purdue or Limp Bizkit fans that think either of these things are cool. Neither has really been much of anything since the early 2000s. I don’t listen to this band but sure, here’s a song from them.

Wisconsin: Judas Priest

There is beauty in the relative simplicity of both the Badgers and the Priest. Every time out, you pretty much know what you are going to get and even if the final result is nothing groundbreaking, the results and body of work are still pretty solid and successful.

Rutgers: Winger

Rutgers is the Stewart Stevenson of the Big Ten.