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Posted on Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

B1G Notes: Michigan, Michigan State get only As on football report cards

By Nick Baumgardner

The Big Ten regular season ended less than a week ago, but plenty has already happened.

Two schools need a new coach (Illinois and Penn State). One school has a new coach (Ohio State).

One school may get a massive postseason shaft (Wisconsin or Michigan State), while another (Michigan) may be a major benefactor by just sitting on its couch.

It was a season that'll likely be remembered more for its off-field drama than on-field prowess, but it was football nonetheless. And with the regular season portion out of the way, now is as good a time as any to hand out our B1G Notes Big Ten report cards.

In alphabetical order, here we go.


Grade: D-

The only reason this isn't an F is because the Illini (6-6, 2-6) started the season out with six straight wins. A late-season collapse (an off-field shooting incident didn't help either) eventually cost Ron Zook his job. Zook clearly lost his football team along the way, and will now likely be headed to a television booth near you.

Offseason wish: An offense. The Illini averaged 11 points in their final six losses. Sixth-grade Pee Wee teams think that's bad.


Grade: F

Is there a lower option? No? OK, then. F it is. Horrible, terrible, putrid, awful -- pick one, it doesn't matter. Indiana (1-11, 0-8) simply didn't get it done this season under first-year coach Kevin Wilson. The Hoosiers did plenty of roster house-cleaning, but may need to do more before all is said and done.

Offseason wish: Pride. Indiana lost to a MAC team (Ball State) and a Sun Belt team (North Texas) this season. Rare territory for a Big Ten school.


Grade: C

The Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4), at the end of the day, were pretty boring. They were high (knocking off Michigan) and they were low (losing at Iowa State). Iowa was basically a model of inconsistency all season long. And though it had a shot to make noise in the Legends Division, no one seemed to take Iowa seriously.

Offseason wish: Better luggage. Something has to explain Iowa's 1-4 mark on the road, right?


Grade: A

Brady Hoke should win the conference coach of the year and the Wolverines (10-2, 6-2) have a chance to earn their first BCS bid since 2006. If you'd have told someone that after last season's Gator Bowl, you'd have probably been committed.

Offseason wish: No dramatics. It’s been some time since this was achieved, no?


Grade: A

The Spartans (10-2, 7-1) had a brutal Big Ten stretch featuring consecutive games against Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska. In the end, MSU was the first-ever qualifier for the Big Ten Championship Game. And, it beat Michigan for a fourth straight year.

Offseason wish: A quarterback. For the first time in three years, someone other than Kirk Cousins will be under center next season. He’s not an easy guy to replace.


Grade: D

Given all the distractions the team dealt with early on after Jerry Kill’s seizure, the Gophers’ (3-9, 2-6) ability to improve and grab three victories was sort of impressive.

Offseason wish: Talent. Minnesota had very, very, very, very little on its 2011 roster. Healthy coach or not, that has to change.


Grade: B

Nebraska’s league schedule was almost impossible. At Wisconsin, vs. Ohio State, vs. Michigan State, at Penn State and at Michigan. In the end, nine wins is more than respectable for the Cornhuskers (9-3, 5-3).

Offseason wish: Another dimension. Taylor Martinez simply couldn’t throw the football, rendering the Cornhuskers as basically a hybrid option team at times. Too easy to defend.


Grade: C

The Wildcats (6-6, 3-5) played hard and won four of their last five to reach bowl-eligibility, but they also lost to Army. This isn’t the 1950s, that’s not acceptable.

Offseason wish: Pat Fitzgerald. His name seems to pop up in almost every coaching search nationally. Always. Any offseason without him leaving is a great thing for this program.


Grade: C

Given the circumstances, this could’ve been much worse. However, it also could’ve been better. The Buckeyes (6-6, 3-5) shouldn’t have lost to Purdue and they also had a very real chance at beating Michigan and Michigan State, which would’ve made for quite the story.

Offseason wish: Nothing. The Buckeyes already got Urban Meyer. Christmas came early, gang.


Grade: Incomplete

I just can’t grade this team on the field, considering the circumstances surrounding Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno. Penn State (9-3, 6-2) had a shot at winning a league title, but all was lost when this horrible story broke.

Offseason wish: Normalcy. Of all the wishes, this one may be the most far-fetched.


Grade: D+

Purdue (6-6, 4-4) is going bowling and it beat Ohio State, but I really don’t have anything else nice to say about the Boilermakers’ season. It was what it was -- bland and relatively uneventful.

Offseason wish: Excitement. This team just screams boring. Even if Danny Hope’s mustache is awesome.


Grade: A-

I really, really want to give the Badgers a B because of the blown opportunity here, but they’re 10-2 and in the Big Ten title game. That’s not too bad. Even so, Wisconsin (10-2, 6-2) fans should know full well how close this team should have been to a national title bid this season.

Offseason wish: Another NFL lockout - That might be the only way Montee Ball returns to school for his senior season.



Courtney Avery's interception, above, sealed Michigan's win over Ohio State.

Melanie Maxwell |

Sky high:
Michigan (10-2, 6-2)

When Michigan's Courtney Avery intercepted Ohio State's Braxton Miller on Saturday to seal the deal for the Wolverines, roars of relief could be heard from all of Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, the Lower Peninsula, the Upper Peninsula and everyone in Toledo who's afraid to wear maize and blue throughout the year.

For the first time in seemingly an eternity, Michigan fans have bragging rights over Ohio State fans. No matter how -- or why -- it happened, the Wolverines appear to have their pride back.

And if you're familiar with Michigan, you know how important that is.

Now, thanks to the ridiculousness that is the BCS, Michigan has a chance to sit back, relax and watch teams in front of it fall by the wayside -- possibly paving the way for the school's first BCS bid since 2006.

Rock bottom: The loser of the Big Ten Championship Game

For Michigan State and Wisconsin, this puppy really is all or nothing. The winner takes some serious glory: First ever Big Ten title game trophy and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

The loser, well, the loser gets dump-trucked: No Big Ten title, no BCS bid, has its division title rendered useless and gets the chance to get whooped by an SEC team in the Capital One or Outback Bowl.

Still think this whole championship game thing is a good idea?


Denard Robinson accounted for 330 yards against Ohio State.

Melanie Maxwell |

Last week's heavy lifter: Denard Robinson, Michigan QB

Robinson accounted for five touchdowns and more than 330 yards of total offense as the Wolverines finally rid their closet of Ohio State ghosts.

Individually, it was arguably his most efficient performance as a college quarterback, as he completed 14-of-17 passes for 167 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions on the biggest stage of his life.

And, he's Denard Robinson -- so he also rushed for 170 yards and two more scores.

Standout stats


Number of touchdowns Montee Ball needs to tie Barry Sanders' single-season FBS record of 39. Ball has two more games to get there.


The last time a Michigan coach won 10 games in his debut season, a feat Brady Hoke accomplished this year. The last man? Fielding H. Yost.


Possibly the number of licks it takes to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop, and also the number of consecutive losses it takes for Ron Zook to be fired by Illinois.


Average margin in Wisconsin's 10 wins this season. Conversely, the Badgers were a mere 12 points away from a perfect season.


"I've known Urban, he's a good football coach, a good guy and I welcome him in. But it's still Michigan and Ohio and neither one of us is going to play the game."

-- Michigan coach Brady Hoke on Ohio State's hiring of Urban Meyer.


New Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer.

AP Photo

Off the cuff

Let's get this one out of the way: Urban Meyer is a fantastic hire at Ohio State, and he's certainly the best possible candidate to guide the Buckeye program through the rest of this Jim Tressel mess moving forward.

But at his introductory news conference, he appeared to be anything but.

Meyer began the presser by dropping his notes on the ground, insisting he won't work as hard in Columbus as he did in Gainesville, then proceeded to publicly call the SEC better than the Big Ten (which it clearly is), describe Florida as his dream job and note that he'll "always be a Gator."

Meyer being Meyer, most of this will likely be overlooked.

But the entire awkward situation surrounding Meyer, the violations, athletic director Gene Smith's job status and Luke Fickell's situation appeared to become that much more uncomfortable.

In the long run, this should be a home run. But out of the gate, it just felt weird.

And weird appears to be a growing theme in Columbus these days.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

Nick Baumgardner, you forgot to mention the audible shouts for EMS support during the Urban Meyer introduction presser, of course in addition to that weird moment where he dropped his papers and URBAN suddenly disappears behind the podium and can't be seen at all by the fixed camera.... Urban's dropped papers metaphorically was this: "now you see URBAN, now you don't," a metaphorical reference to URBAN jumping ship from college football program to college football program. I thought how symbolic. Made me calculate the over/under on how long he'll stay with the buckeyes. The call for a med tech emergency in the back of the conference room during the presser? A metaphor for "someone get the paddles, I think the ohio football program is having a heart attack, they just lost to Michigan!"


Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.

I admit it...I'll be fighting hard to cheer for MS Pew..... But, I have become absolutely SICK and F*Censored*ing tired of ESPN....sure their all up for Wiz'gon'son.... It's obvious they want UW to win...but they make it SO obvious its sick. Hell I can't stand MS Who. For Chris*censored* Sake (I don't think an AA web site allow his name). Didn't Spanky beat the baggres...though lucky as Haties...still a win. The BCS dropped UM, in my opinion, because they know whom ever loses the BTC (Big Ten Champ), The computer could leap Big Blue over said loser. If its State, ill have the greatest laugh. For sakes alive I can't understand, why ESPN (for four weeks straight) had Chris Speilman and Errb Meyer doing Color Trashing of UM. Hell at least Errb was constructive.. I think speilman upchucked when B. Miller was picked off at the end of the game... Was I the only one who noticed how quiet Mr. Speilman was.....hehehe Then the Urb'gasm....ESPN went much so, I thought it a good idea to wipe off my plasma t.v. I listened too (didn't watch Errb's pressor) I think he's out of hibernation for that mountainan of 1% he was offered (little jab at you Occu'slobs) To ESPN, The Big Ten Championship game is nothing more than a High School football. Bowl Season: ESPN, just give the national championship game to the SEC. Oh but they fail to tell us about the lack of academic standards in the SEC.... I have to admit.....The Left mitten state took some shots in the last week by the Collage football pundits. I guess MS Who shouldn't even show up. Though The Big Ten in it's IN-Ability to self-promote is giving away tickets. I have too say MS Pew has something to do with that....there not a good T.V. Football draw. This is where the Idea that one Big10 team is going to get the shaft.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 11:04 p.m.

We had an outstanding year no doubt about it. We focussed on the right teams but I would like to see a bit more focus on that darn Iowa. They seem to sneak up on us on a regular basis as of late.

Nice in A2

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.

Ouch! If a Michigan coach said that his dream job was another team he would have been fired by the A.D. in mid-speech.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

I like how all the buckeyes think they are goona win by Urbans name alone. They seem to forget Michigan beat his gators in the bowl game, plus he already stated he's not going to work as hard for Ohio. That tells me his heart isn't in it and he will not stick around long. Go Blue!

Lorain Steelmen

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

Sorry, but IMHO, since Purdue beat ohio, its Purdue that should get the C, and ohio, shoud get the D-.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

Ooh, GoBucks has spoken and now all U-M fans must cry in their beer because we will never beat that school in ohio ever again, ever! Thank you for gracing us with your non myopic wisdom, oh thank you!


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

No thanks needed. I am always please to lift the head of a UM fan out of his beer. Go Bucks!


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

UM was able to defeat The OSU Buckeyes under the only circumstance which allowed it - a serious down year: 6-6 record, players suspended, coach fired, interim coach, etc - and, still the game was very close. So, UM team and fans are giddy about this win of theirs. Fine. But, keep in mind that over the horizon looms decade long period defeats to the Buckeyes who will be resurrected by Urban Meyer and ready to take their rightful place at the pinnacle of Big Ten football. Enjoy your victory over OSU - this may be your last for a while.


Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 6:40 p.m.

How many times has tohio played in the game with a top 5 ranking, only to get spanked by a lower ranked Wolverine team. You must be a teenager if you can't remember that. Yes, tohio has had the upper hand in the last decade. Let's see how they do in 'The Game' without cheating to gain an unfair advantage. If I was a buckeye fan I would be ashamed to post on ANY forum.

Lorain Steelmen

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

Gobucks, as an ohio Wolverine, I see the future quite differently than you do. Your ohio team was NOT able to run on the Wolverine defense...and that was supposed to be your strength. Herron ended with 37 yards....for FOUR quarters. Face it.....He got stuffed. Urban doesn't run a power game, but rather a spread. Your running game is going to deteriorate, under Meyer, particularly if B. Dunn, comes north. Spread offenses do NOT do well in the league during november when the weather gets bad. ( And that is when you play UM.) Further, the ohio defense will weaken under Meyer becasue they will be practing against a spread, and will be unable to stop power games, again , in november. Get used to losing to UM. Oho just bought a 'flashy name', just like UM did four years ago. You'll get the same result UM did.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

You sound like a U of M fan talking about losing to MSU.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

I think your grading was a bit off. Minnesota deserves better if for no other reason that they improved after a tough tough season. They won a few B10 games, kept it close with Sparty, and beat Iowa to finish it. I think they are a bad team, but their play did do the opposite of the Illini. Iowa's loss to Iowa State doesn't look so bad when you see that ISU beat Okie State. Iowa is an average big ten team, and this year, that just isn't good. Michigan was improved from last year, for sure, but they deserved no A. They didn't win their division, they got beaten pretty badly by Michigan State, lost to average Iowa (granted on the road), and made Ohio look like world beaters. I would give them a B overall, but rising. Nebraska: They got beaten by 28 or more points twice this year. That alone should lower their grade. And like Wisconsin, everybody and their brother predicted Nebraska to be B10 champs this year (or at least division champs) and they were not good. Really, they should have lost to Ohio also. Getting beaten by Northwestern at home??? No better than a C.

Wally the Wolverine

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

heartbreakM, you're comments are dead-on.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:55 p.m.

Zook in a television booth? I don't think so. His voice is SO caustic and offensive. Gross.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

I gotta say, Meyer seemed uninspiring to me, I mean if the new U-M coach said something like that in his opening presser, I would've been very ticked off. I'm referring to the "Florida will always be my dream job" bit. He also seemed kinda blase' to me, Whereas Hoke was passionate and inspiring, Meyer was boring and seemed distracted. I think Hoke is gonna whoop his butt more times than not. Ohio fans are all pumped and excited because after the awful off season and the awful season and the losing to U-M, this bit of "good news" must have made that fanbase all giddy. But I say beware of what you wish for, you better hope he's not your version of our previous horrible coach. He might not end up being that bad but I don't know, I'd be a tad worried if I was an ohio fan. I know one thing for sure, there's no way in hell that he'll have a better win percentage than Tressel, NO WAY!!! Yhat guy set the bar high, albeit with many players who shouldn't have been eligible to play in many key games that they were directly impactful as to the outcome of those games.