If there is one thing that Justin Timberlake has taught us, it's that what goes around comes around. This is especially true in Big Ten football, where class is a prerequisite to coach in one of the best football conferences in the country. Or, at least it used to be. I cannot recall a time last season, outside of a Notre Dame loss, that I was more enraged as I was last year when the University of Wisconsin traveled to Indiana University to play the Hoosiers. This game marked the return of Terry Hoeppner to the IU sidelines, missing the first few games recovering from brain surgery. Now Wisco head coach Brett Bielema was in the midst of his first year taking over for Barry Alvarez as the Badgers' head man, and he was looking to make a name for himself. And boy, did he ever. He proceeded to hang 52 points on the Hoosiers in the first three quarters, before deciding to be merciful and calling off the dogs in the fourth quarter.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
52 were the third most points scored by any Big Ten team against another conference foe, with Ohio State scoring 54 against Northwestern (another classless move on the part of Jim Tressel-- but his time was coming) and 63 that Minnesota scored on the Hoosiers (Glen Mason would get his as well, his days had been numbered for a while). Now, one might say the 63 is more egregious than the 52, but you would be wrong. Minnesota was a crappy team last year, who only won their homecoming game by one point over North Dakota State, and had a notorious reputation of giving up huge leads (Texas Tech came back from a bowl-record 31 in last year's Insight Bowl). By stark comparison, Wisconsin was a fantastic team, that overmatched Indiana on both sides of the ball. Oh, and again, this was Hoeppner's first game back on the sidelines.
When the bus pulls out of Bloomington on October 27th and heading for Camp Randall, the IU players should be playing with a gigantic chip on thier shoulder. Their Head Coach will not have an opportunity to avenge the embarassment that took place a year ago, but that doesn't mean his players cannot. Sure, IU will be overmatched going into the contest, and not to mention that they have to go to Wisconsin, still the hardest place to play in the Big Ten. But what they do have on thier side is Big Ten karma. You expected me to say Coach Hep in the sky, and they will have him, but what will be stronger is the fact that you cannot get away with embarassing another Big Ten team without it coming back to you. Especially a guy like Bielema, who inherited a great program and will NEVER have a problem recruiting as long as Alvarez is the AD. He should have known better, and he will eventually get his.
I'm not going to go as far to say that IU will take down the Badgers, but what I will say is that even though a lot of experts think Wisco will win the Big Ten this year, I will contend that a classless move last year will keep them from becoming the class of the conference this year. Wisconsin fans can only hope that some of the class that passed with Coach Hep is available for their head coach to pick up at the Big Ten offices.