Tag:Bret Bielema
Posted on: October 22, 2010 4:15 pm

Fornelli's Insane Predictions: Week 8

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that  South Carolina would fail to score a point in the second half against Kentucky a week after knocking off the Tide? Nobody... until now. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week . Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever.

Highly Unlikely

The Tennessee Volunteers shock the world when they pull off an upset of the Alabama Crimson Tide in Knoxville on Saturday night.  In his first start, Tyler Bray has far from an outstanding day, throwing for only 78 yards and a touchdown, but the Alabama offense can't stop tripping over its own feet.  Greg McElroy fumbles three times, and throws four interceptions.  To make matters worse, McElroy, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Julio Jones all have to leave the game with devastating knee injuries.  After the game a shocked Nick Saban points out that "they just don't make ligaments like they used to."

Severly Unlikely

It's halftime in Miami, and the North Carolina Tar Heels look to be en route to a huge win against the Hurricanes.  They have a 24-0 lead thanks to four first half interceptions by Jacory Harris, and spirits in the locker room are high.  Then a phone rings.  Butch Davis answers it to be told that the NCAA has just suspended everybody on his team, and that he'll have to forfeit the game.  Instead Davis recruits the North Carolina band to fill in for his team, and amazingly, they hold on to win the game 27-23.  Three weeks later the loss is vacated when it's discovered that the tuba player accepted money from the New York Philharmonic.

Completely Ludicrous

Following Iowa 's narrow 27-24 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday, the two teams meet on the field to shake hands.  Bret Bielema goes out of his way to find Ricky Stanzi and congratulate him on his three-touchdown game.  Upon finding Stanzi, the quarterback tells Bielema, "Thanks.  That's how real Americans play the game."  This infuriates Bielema, who views his brand of pounding large young men into the trenches until they drop dead to be the real American football.  The two begin fighting, and have to be separated.  Though after the dustup, still feeling patriotic, Stanzi pulls the American flag out from under his jersey -- next to his heart, of course -- and puts it on a sharpened flag pole he keeps in his sock.  He then hurls the flag forty yards through the air like a javelin where it goes through Bielema's chest and plants into the ground.  Stanzi is carried off the field to chants of "USA!  USA!  USA!"
Posted on: October 21, 2010 8:44 pm

No, Tim Brewster did not steal Minnesota's trophy

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Today's most tantalizing rumor in college football, put forth by Pat Reusse on ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis, is that after being fired on Sunday, Tim Brewster went a little crazy and broke a trophy case at Minnesota before leaving the premises. If true, it'd be absolute professional suicide; nobody would want to hire a coach who can't even handle being fired without exacting vandalistic revenge on university property. 

Slight problem: the rumor is totally untrue. A spokesman in the Minnesota athletic department told CBS Sports that the rumors were "completely false," and that it wasn't even clear where the rumors had started. Also, keep in mind: it's very much in Brewster's best interests to keep a rumor like this quashed, but much less in Minnesota's best interests to protect Brewster -- especially if the rumors were true.

But though everyone craves scandal and discord, this rumor doesn't even pass the smell test. For the myriad faults attributed to Brewster over the course of his campaign at Minnesota, at no point did anyone ever suggest the man had a temper problem, on the field or off. Heck, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema tried to flat-out embarrass Brewster's Gophers when he went for two late in their game two weeks ago, and what was Brewster's reaction? A terse exchange with Bielema and then strong words delivered calmly at his press conference. If Brewster wasn't going to whip himself into spittle-flecked histrionics then, when would he?

Further, it's not as if Reusse and Brewster don't have a long, sordid past. From the moment Brewster set foot on Minnesota's campus, Reusse -- who is also a columnist at the Minneapolis Pioneer-Press -- has been a prominent critic of his. The shared enmity reached its zenith after Brewster tweeted (and immediately deleted, except this is the Internet) this: "How would you like to wake up in the morning and look in the mirror....... If your FAT PAT??" Yep: fat jokes at reporters from a D-I football coach. That happened.

Reusse was one of the first to shovel dirt on Brewster's grave after the firing, calling Brewster's initial news conference "the least sincere pile of verbiage ever heard in Dinkytown." Reusse was right, of course, but it's pretty easy to see why he would be eager to pass along rumors of negative behavior by Brewster, aberrant and unsubstantiated as it may be.


Posted on: October 20, 2010 11:40 am
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:14 pm

Bielema: Wisconsin plays 'American football'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

sent a message last Saturday night when they welcomed the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes to Madison and proceeded to shove a football down their collective throat for 60 minutes, winning the game 31-18.  It was an exhibition of what Wisconsin does best, and has always done best.  Take a big running back, throw as many blockers as you can in front of him, and then pound the defense into submission.  When that defense starts to get tired, hit them with a play-action pass.

Some would call this style of play smashmouth, or three yards and a cloud of dust.  Not Bret Bielema, though.  No, he has a name for this style of play that's a bit more patriotic.

“We do. We call it American football around here. Two tight ends, two backs, one wide receiver and occasionally get two wide receivers on the field, but it was [a message]. … What we do 365 days a year came through on Saturday. Our kids really imposed their will and it was really fun to watch.”

Yeah, this is American football.  It's blue collar.  It's not that fancy-pants French football where you spread out five wide receivers and dink and dunk your way to the end zone before retreating to the sideline. 

Though, there are some parts of Wisconsin's offense that don't remind me all that much of America to be honest.  First of all, David Gilreath returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, so it was 7-0 before Wisconsin's American offense ever took the field.  Which means that this American offense never operated with a deficit, and that doesn't sound all that American to me.

Plus, and this one is the most important, last I checked, none of the players on Wisconsin's offense are Chinese.  Since when do Americans manufacture their own points?

Posted on: October 10, 2010 3:38 am

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 9)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. Perhaps Denard Robinson's competition matters. Hey, we'll be the first ones to admit to falling in love with Denard Robinson's early-season performance. Sure, Michigan's opposition wasn't very good (at all), but lots of other teams were playing cupcake schedules at the same time, and nobody -- except maybe for Cam Newton -- was doing what Shoelace was doing. But Michigan State provided a pretty easy blueprint for containing Robinson: have a decent defense and don't do anything stupid with them. The Spartan defense, led as always by All-American linebacker Greg Jones, played disciplined defense against the explosive sophomore and forced him into three interceptions -- two of which came in Michigan State's end zone. Sure, Robinson ended up accounting for 301 yards (215 passing, 86 rushing), and those are good numbers, but remember: he's basically their entire offense. So while giving up 301 yards of offense to one guy isn't ideal, holding the entire team to 377 yards is much more palatable, and that's exactly what the Michigan State defense did. Next up for the Wolverines: Iowa -- and 60 more minutes of that defensive intensity.

2. Don't run up the score on Tim Brewster, please. The second-oddest thing about this week of Big Ten play was seeing Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster get into an arguing match with Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema after Wisconsin's 41-23 victory over the Golden Gophers. The oddest thing came about six minutes prior, when Bret Bielema elected to try a two-point conversion after the Badgers scored a touchdown to extend their lead to 41-16. The try failed, because not even Football God hates Minnesota that much, but Brewster certainly took it personally; the Minnesota coach said some very unprintable words to Bielema on the field, and used the word "wrong" to describe Bielema's decision about 15,000 times in his postgame press conference. Bielema said his little when-should-you-go-for-two card dictated that his team attempt the two-point conversion in that scenario. Even assuming Bielema's excuse is true, we have to wonder why Bielema didn't heed his card's advice 5:16 earlier, when his team scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to go up by 25 the first time. After John Clay's third touchdown of the game, Wisconsin led 34-9 with 11:55 to go, and Bielema kicked a harmless extra point then. Maybe, maybe Minnesota could have engineered 27 points in 11:55, but there was no chance of it happening with 6:39 left, so there's really no sense in kicking the extra point the first time but not the second. Bielema doesn't necessarily owe Brewster an apology; he's Bret Bielema, and he's kind of a jerk, and that's what he does. But at the very least, he owes Brewster and the rest of Big Ten fans an actual explanation of what the heck he was thinking going for two.

3. Penn State just isn't very good. Okay, we sort of knew coming into this season that Penn State would be taking some more lumps than usual on account of their true freshman quarterback, Rob Bolden, winning the starting job in Week 1. And sure, their 24-3 losses to Alabama and Iowa were disappointing, but not really shocking; 'Bama and the Hawkeyes are both pretty legit programs with pretty legit defenses. But 21-point losses to top-15 teams are one thing; a 20-point loss to middling Illinois is another altogether. Illinois controlled the action on both sides of the ball Saturday, shredding Penn State's vaunted front seven for 282 yards on the ground. Mikel LeShoure was a workhorse with 119 rushing yards and a 32-yard reception, and Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase was both efficient (15-19, 151 yards, 1 TD) and mobile (eight carries, 61 yards). Meanwhile, Bolden had one of his worst starts of his nascent career, going 8-21 for 142 yards, a score, and a pretty bad pick-six to Nate Bussey that pushed Illinois' lead to 14-3. It was a freshman mistake, of course, and one he probably won't make next season and beyond. But it's that sort of thing, coupled with a general lack of special talent on the rest of the offense, that dooms the Nittany Lions when their defense isn't perfect. The Nittany Lions are 3-3 (0-2) now. Right now, it's pretty hard to guarantee they're going to a bowl this season.

4. Northwestern is also not very good. Going back to 2008, Northwestern's habit of winning games by close margins -- which is to say, playing both up and down to the competition -- has never really come back to haunt them; coming into Saturday's game the Wildcats were 14-4 in one-possession games since '08, a streak that's both remarkable and completely doomed to come back down to earth sooner or later, and that's where we find the Wildcat today. Two special teams disasters in the fourth quarter -- a blocked field goal and a poorly-kicked game-tying attempt with a minute left -- effectively kept six points off the board for the Wildcats, and a Dan Dierking rush from 7 yards out sealed the 20-17 upset for lowly Purdue. It's a bummer of a loss for the Wildcats, but the type of inexplicable upset that besets them pretty much every year. Their benchmark game is likely their next: Michigan State comes to town, and a win would put Northwestern back on the map. But it would take the Wildcats' best performance of the season, and any time the prerequisite for respectability is something a team hasn't yet shown itself to be capable of doing, odds are that the fans will go home disappointed.

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