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Rawhide/Mark Jalkanen

November 16, 2010
By Mark Jalkanen - DMG Web Columnist

On Saturday, the Indiana Hoosiers found out that there is nowhere to (raw) hide on a 100-yard patch of pseudo-grass in front of 80,000-plus red-clad jumpers while losing by a discombobulating score of 83-20.

In football, tryin' can be considered hidin' just like rubbin' is considered racin' in NASCAR. The Hoosiers actually did a fine job of remaining inconspicuous for one-third of the contest and after 20 minutes of play, the score was tied 10-10.

Then Indy quarterback Ben Chappell, who entered the day as the top-ranked passer in the conference (296.3 yards per game with 18 TD's), injured his hip, and the rest of the team started scrambling for a rock to crawl under.

They quit tryin' and the Badgers started rollin', rollin', rollin'.

Then, the opinions began to flow, like suds on a brisk football weekend in the land of milk-based food products, as legions of self-appointed judges started to decry the massacre as if a crime had actually been committed. In fact, it now seems most people are simply assuming that coach Bret Bielema single-handedly put the "bad" in Badger with his atrocious unsportsmanlike conduct rather than examining the facts in the context of day.

On Monday morning, ESPN blowhard know-nothing radio dolts Mike (Greenberg) and Mike (Golic) were condemning the display while admitting that they hadn't watched the game (kinda like reviewing a book without actually reading it, very professional). They singled out a couple of second-half pass plays and in typically exasperated fashion concluded that the Badgers should have been running the ball more.

Movin', movin', movin', though they're disapprovin'. If they had taken another moment or two to prepare for their show they may have noticed that the runnin' game was rollin', rollin', rollin' and kept the chains movin', movin', movin'. It didn't matter if by air, by land, or by sea, the crime being committed was being perpetrated by the Indy "D".

If they had bothered to note that UW ran the ball a whopping 47 times for 338 yards (7.2 yards per carry), and did this without the services of John Clay, the reigning Big11Ten Offensive Player of the Year, they may have reconsidered their advice for Bret and his heartless band of thugs.

If they were aware of the fact that Wisconsin has one of the best offensive lines in the nation and is the only FBS team with three running backs (Clay 929, James White 714, and Montee Ball 513) who have each rushed for 500 yards this season, their pea-sized cranial matter may have led them to a more informed conclusion.

They may have also noticed that the fourth-string, including QB Nate Tice (son of former Viking head man and current Chicago OL coach Mike Tice) was in the game and still producing. In fact, had they taken the six minutes required to watch Tice use his non-existent speed to walk-run 17 yards into the end zone, waddling through at least a trio of napping Hoosiers on the way, they may have understood that the defense was AWOL.

Nah, why let the facts get in the way of a good blast.

The bottom line is that the Badger offense may have been even more offensive to those who didn't watch the game if the Badgers had actually played to their strengths. In fact, on this day the Badgers could have become the first team in NCAA history to actually gain yardage while kneeling down. The Indy defense was that bad.

Don't try to understand 'em, just rope an' throw an' brand 'em, soon we'll be living high and wide.

While Bucky was living high, the opposing coach was taking the high road.

If the opposing coach doesn't complain does it still make a sound?

Apparently it does, as a slew of pundits suggested that Indiana head coach Bill Lynch should have pulled a punky move like Minnesota coach, err former coach, Tim Brewster during the traditional postgame handshake.

Instead, Lynch knew that it was his players and coaches (including himself) who were at fault and absolved the Badgers and Bielema of any blame. Lynch knew full well that if any hides deserved to be raw it was those from the state that hosts a 500 mile race on Memorial Day weekend.

During his postgame presser, the classy Lynch said, "We got beat every possible way by a great football team." He then added, "That's part of it and that's our job to stop them, that's my philosophy on that."

Note: Other than overusing the word "that," or derivations thereof, we concur.

The hidden Hoosiers did not follow their coaches' philosophy, as they allowed the Badgers to score on all 12 of their offensive possessions (10 TD/2 FG with one defensive TD). From the national outcry, possibly led by concerned citizens from the "everybody is a winner" youth soccer leagues, a typical fan likely got the impression that UW had signed some sort of IOU to IU.

Wisconsin owed Indy an honest effort and delivered. The Hoosiers dishonestly folded when their quarterback was unable to return from his injury.

If they had been playing against a lesser opponent it may not have gotten so ugly. If they had been playing against a team that tends to make multiple self-defeatist mistakes it may have even remained somewhat respectable. The problem was that they quit against an opponent who is 42-4 at home (since the start of the 2004 season), is now ranked first in the nation in TD percentage in the red zone (87.7), first in football with only seven turnovers lost all year, and first in fewest penalties (3.1) per game. Predictably, the Badgers didn't make the mistakes that typically allow inferior teams, or those who are playing the role of ostrich, to stay in the game, and the results were commensurate.

Through rain and wind and weather, hell bent for leather. One team quit. The other one didn't, but, according to the masses, should have.

Every coach wishes his team would get out to a large early lead so they can start bringing in the reserves. Those same coaches are never exactly sure of the proper moment to hand over the mental and physical edge to the competition. How early do you call off the dogs?

Last week Kansas entered the fourth quarter trailing Colorado 38-17 and managed to win by an astounding final score of 52-45 (leading to CU coach Dan Hawkins' termination). Although, at 3-6 (at the time), we're not certain Colorado had any dogs to call off, however, they did manage to lose momentum and allowed the rock chalk crowd, and Jayhawk team, to win the game with 35 final-period points.

While the KU/CU game may have been an anomaly just one week ago Indiana took Iowa to the brink only to lose on a dramatic dropped end zone pass in the final seconds.

Note: We're still upset that the end of this game was shown on all five Big Ten Network stations and preempted at least the end of two other contests.

Once the coaches decide to send the backups into the game what do they do with them?

These are the players that will rarely, if ever, see the field and they were finally getting their chance to say "hi mom", perform in front of fans at Camp Randall, and strut before a national television audience on the ESPN family. These players attend practice and meetings, lift weights, and put in the same work as the starters. Once they finally get a chance to play, it would be unsportsmanlike for the coach to simply tell them to roll over instead of first allowing them play a little game of fetch.

You would hope that a competitive team with some self-respect would consider it an affront to have the opposition quitting in an effort to save them from further embarrassment. What if the Badgers had begun punting on first down in the third quarter? What if they had tossed an obviously intentional interception? Maybe they should have simply handed the ball to the opposition rather than risking a potentially embarrassing drop of an intentional interception.

Would any of the aforementioned have been less embarrassing to the loser Hoosiers?

The Wisconsin offense wasn't the only unit scraping the bottom of the roster for players to get their moment in the sun. None of the talking heads were mentioning the fact that the Badgers were also playing their fourth string defense and Indy still managed to score the same amount in the final 40 minutes as they did in the first 20. Would it have been more humane if the defense had played with just ten men? How about eight?

When the opposition quits, what is the eventual victor supposed to do? Perhaps the one remaining sober fan could have trotted out under center and/or the tuba player could have played on the nose.

Where does it end?

The Badgers took their foot off the gas and still managed to score 24 points in the final quarter against a defense that for the majority of the day was honoring the metaphor of a Swiss dairy product. What should they have done?

The bottom line is that the game got out of hand. Blowouts happen. There are no easy answers, however, if the soon-to-be-defeated team was allowed to throw in the towel like a corner man in boxing we could avert the perceived tragedy and galling insult to respect and sportsmanship while giving the losing coach the option of crying "uncle".

How many coaches would use this option?

None. Exactly zero. It isn't an option.

So when the next lambasting occurs, be forewarned that there will be a contingent of well-meaning people, some who may have actually seen the game, who will continue to be advocates for the soon-to-be-victors to quit in some sort of unwritten "mercy rule" type gesture. This is meant to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside while allowing the vanquished to depart with some dignity (though how much dignity comes from quitting is another matter).

Then these same sympathetic folks will cue Morris Alpert's classic 1975 hit "Feelings" on their preferred music playing device and begin whimpering in unison.

Our motto: If you quit, don't expect us to give a, err, uh, meadow muffin.

WEEK ELEVEN NORTH PICKS (11-17-1 record)

Chicago plus 2 at Miami ---- The Dolphins may be playing third QB Tyler Thigpen so even though Jay Cutler has shown the ability to play like a third-stringer we have seen enough franchise plays to pick his team.

Minnesota plus 3 versus Green Bay ---- Sometimes Minnesota happens when you choose to keep your coach. This is truly the last gasp for the Vikings who apparently chose not to employ the Rachel Phelps anti-Chilly bonding strategy. Storylines abound; will Sidney Rice make his season debut against the Pack? Will it matter? Does Brett Favre have another great game left in him? Can the Packers essentially end the season for the most-despised team in the land of unfair blowouts over college teams that quit playing? The Vikings, perhaps after finally watching Major League, find a way.

Dallas minus 7 versus Detroit ---- Sometimes Dallas happens when you choose to fire your coach. Will it continue? Yes.

WEEK ELEVEN PICKS (9-7 record)

Oakland plus 8.5 at Pitt ---- The Pitt offensive line is in shambles and the Raiders, gasp, are tied for first place in the AFC West with only seven games to play. Expect the unexpected.

Arizona plus 7 at KC ---- We originally wanted to take the Chiefs in this game because the Cards have no redeeming qualities, however, when KC coach Todd Haley refused the postgame handshake and displayed a wagging finger after the loss in Denver we had no choice but to go against his team. Our advice to Haley is to heed Indy coach Bill Lynch and quit complaining about the other team and worry about your sorry performance.

PEEVE OF THE WEEK

We consider the main column above to be part Peeve this week. A fully devoted Peeve will return next week as we opine on a suggestion from reader Mike, from Madison, regarding the federal debt commission and their upcoming report.

In other words, we ran out of time.

INDISCRIMINATE MUSINGS

The Badgers' most points ever came against in-state rival Marquette in 1915 when they won 85-0. The crack staff is still trying to determine if Bielema was the devil who was coaching that team.

While few are taking issue with the fact that the Hoosiers didn't play a complete 42 minutes (which is why we took issue with it) on Saturday the Memphis Grizzlies got a complete effort last week.

Just ask Grizzlies forward, and former Michigan State Spartan, Zach Randolph who said, "We just finished the whole game. We played the whole 42 minutes".

For those who don't follow the NBA, and from the ratings that is most of you, games consist of four 12-minute quarters.

Our working theory is that Randolph was snatched by aliens and has an abductees' missing time gap of six minutes.

However, another plausible explanation was brought to our attention.

Travel and Leisure magazine released their 2010 America's Favorite City survey last week. After ranking 35 U.S. cities on various criteria the proud hamlet of Memphis came in dead last in the categories of attractiveness, safety, romantic getaways, pizza, environmental friendliness, athleticism, and intelligence.

You have to wonder how they could have come in last in so many disparate categories.

Our new theory is that Zach may have simply spent too much time eating bad pizza, ruining the environment, losing his athleticism, feeling unsafe, and most tellingly, absorbing the collective unintelligence of the folks in Memphis.

Can it get much worse than having the rankings at such an esteemed bastion of the perspicacious sect like Travel and Leisure consider your city to be unintelligent?

But hey, at least they were ranked number one in barbecue.

Now if it were only safe enough to visit one of the fine smokehouses.

One other staff theory regarding Zach is that his MSU math skills were finally exposed in a public forum.

It should be noted that many of the people who were chastising Wisconsin were marveling earlier this season when the imaginative and unpredictable Oregon fast-paced offense pasted New Mexico 72-0.

Those same folks also routinely laud Boise for laying their weekly 50-plus on some borderline high school team.

As Wisconsin tight end Lance Kendricks said, "Man, we've got an Oregon offense going on right now."

Yep, except for the accompanying accolades.

While the Packers used the seventh day to rest, they had better hope that Clay Matthews' hamstring issues are finally behind him. In the two games he missed time, third quarter on against Washington and the following week against Miami, the Pack lost both in overtime. He is a difference maker and the Packers would prefer he make a difference with his presence, not his absence.

Even with the missed time, Michael Strahan's sack record of 22.5 is still within reach. Clay has 10.5 and a four-sack effort this Sunday against Brett would help the cause significantly and would send the green masses into giddy delight.

Caveat: The fans will be giddy as long as the Pack doesn't get canned chile, err, Chilly canned.

The Badgers had better hope that the state of Wisconsin hasn't passed anti-bullying legislation because there is certain to be a segment of the populace who would advocate bringing the entire team up on charges.

Back in the days of Shane Battier at Duke fans used to chant "who's your daddy" and they would answer "Battier" (think French when pronouncing).

Now in the North when we ask "Hoosier daddy?" the answer is clearly "Bucky".

Formula One crowned Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel as the youngest champ in the sport's history in what Britain's ITV said what was, "arguably Formula 1's most exciting, most close-fought season in the series' 60-year history." He defeated Ferrari's Fernando Alonso by four points.

Those are bold words, considering the magnificent 2008 season which featured a last corner pass on the final lap, of the final race, to determine the champion when McLaren Mercedes' Louis Hamilton took the honor by a single point.

Or the 2007 season, that saw Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen brilliantly win the championship on the last day by a single point over both runner-ups.

While historical to most, the season was a bummer for many fans like Paul, the banker, who were hosed by Charter's decision to move the Speed Channel to a tier that offered nothing else to justify the additional cost.

The Falcons' victory over the Ravens last Thursday also wasn't available to any subscribers of Charter's monopolistic services because the NFL Network is still nowhere to be found.

For fans of roller coasters, hello Chris in Denver, there is a new destination that should be moved to the top of the list.

Fans attending the F1 race in Abu Dhabi were able to ride a new roller coaster at a spectacular racing theme park named Ferrari World. The coaster attempts to simulate the feel of a F1 car and features acceleration from 0-150 mph in less than 5 seconds and thrills riders with g-forces of 1.7 under acceleration and a whopping 4.8 g's in the corners.

Frankie Laine wrote the tune to Rawhide with perhaps the most famous rendition being done by the Blues Brothers and the most unique being done by the Dead Kennedys.

The Lions set a new dismal historical NFL mark by posting consecutive road loss number 25 on Sunday in Buffalo. Next up, Roary does Dallas.

By giving the woeful Bills their first victory in nine attempts they also stopped Buffalo's attempt to join them in the record books at 0-16.

Pop the champagne.

We had a wasp sunning in the 60 degree heat on our back porch on November 10.

Our snapdragons and mums were also still in bloom.

If this is in any way attributable to global warming we vow to keep the lights on, raise the thermostat a couple of degrees, and take unnecessary trips in our low mileage vehicle.

Two Big11Ten games to play and three teams with only one loss, however, seven teams are now bowl eligible (Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan, and Penn State).

The fact that Illinois, Purdue, and Indiana (yes, that Indiana) are still alive for possible bowls is an indictment on the system and another sign that college football is moving closer to youth soccer where everybody gets to be a winner and trophies are handed out like acid at Woodstock.

With only two games remaining. Minnesota is the only conference team that has been eliminated from bowl contention. A word of caution, don't eat the brown acid.

Viewing choices in the Big11Ten should be fairly easy this weekend.

At noon on ESPN. Michigan takes on the bullies from Madison. The Badgers should be well-rested but the Wolverines will probably have a new cadre of fans who will be rooting for karmic backlash against Bielema and the bad boys.

Also at noon, the Spartans will try to keep their title hopes alive while simultaneously ending Purdue's slim bowl chances.

At 3:30, all eyes will be on the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes in a game on ABC that lost a bit of luster when Northwestern downed Iowa but still carries a lot of weight for bowl seeding.

Also at 3:30, the aforementioned Northwestern Wildcats try to claim state bragging rights when they face an Illinois team hoping to become bowl eligible.

And finally, Penn State can eliminate Indiana from bowl contention. A word of advice to Joe Paterno, if Chappell can't play you might want to consider starting your fourth string and save yourself from the grief.

Rally and X Games fans will be excited to see the ultra-talented Travis Pastrana running in the NASCAR Nationwide series next year. We wish him all the best even though his co-owner is the somewhat likeable, though extremely overrated in everything he does, Michael Waltrip.

If you would like to shoot down an opinion, shoot holes in an argument, or just shoot from the lip (apologies to Mike Lupica), then we would encourage you to shoot us an email at mjalkanen@live.com

Otherwise forever hold your peace and holster your piece.

And if you would care to forward anything to Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg you can send it to mikeandmike@espnradio.com

Gotta go, it's time to feed the Wall Street fat cats.

 
 

 

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