The Heisman Campaigns Heat Up: Who Is On My Watch List?

November is when everything starts to make sense for Heisman voters. Early December (hopefully) is when voters whittle their candidates down to three and decide the order of placement—the numerical placements can be the most stressful part of filling out the ballot.

I will not fill out and submit my ballot until the last scheduled regular season game has been played. Too many great Heisman moments have been missed by voters who turned in their ballots early. I know of several voters who regretted not waiting until the last day to submit their Heisman ballots.

These players have earned tremendous respect from fans and voters. All are worthy of consideration.

Here are my Heisman contenders, in alphabetical order.

QUARTERBACKS

Max Duggan, Texas Christian University

Duggan has been overlooked—even to the point of broadcasters mispronouncing his last name—by many so-called experts but that may change this month. This dual-threat quarterback is the heart and soul of TCU. He has been a game-changer in several contests which is all the more shocking when one considers he was not the Horned Frogs’ starter in week 1’s game against Colorado—Chandler Morris was. Psssst…. his name is pronounced Doug-en.

If the Heisman Trophy were an MVP award, Duggan would win it.

Hendon Hooker, University of Tennessee

Hooker has a ridiculous 21-1 TD-INT ratio and a 191.64 quarterback rating. Oh, and he beat Alabama. As of today, he’s likely the favorite (OK, who doesn’t love this guy?) to win the most prestigious award in college football. If he has another spectacular performance at Georgia on Saturday—barring any serious missteps or injury—he can strike the pose.

Right now, it is his to lose.

C.J. Stroud, the Ohio State University

Stroud has been on my ballot twice, albeit not in the No. 1 slot. It would be something special to have him finally move to the top spot but it all hinges on November 26, when his Buckeyes host Michigan. Stroud’s stats are eye-popping: 71.3 percent completion, 29-4 TD-INT ratio and a 200.16 quarterback rating.

If Hooker stumbles and Stroud does Stroud-like things to beat Michigan, he’s a surprise Heisman winner.

Caleb Williams, University of Southern California

Williams is an incredible talent. His arm strength, particularly throwing across his body, is a highlight reel. The problem for him is that USC’s defense is so porous, it detracts from his performances. USC could win the Pac-12 but the Trojans will have to outscore UCLA and Notre Dame to even get to the conference championship.

A lot of dominoes have to fall for him to be on the majority of ballots.

Honorable mentions

Drake Maye, University of North Carolina

Bryce Young, University of Alabama

RUNNING BACKS

Zach Charbonnet, University of California Los Angeles

Charbonnet is currently the third most productive rusher in college football. He averages 7.53 yards a carry, 137.71 yards a game. Think about that. He’s the go-to-guy when you need at least five yards. A true weapon in the backfield, Charbonnet can also play catch—he has hauled in 20 passees for 232 yards.

Charbonnet should be invited to New York City in December. There, I said it.

Blake Corum, University of Michigan

If anyone can steal Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud’s thunder on November 26, it is Corum. This running back has great numbers: 1,078 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. He averages 6.02 yards per carry and 134.75 yards per game. Corum is a wrecking ball and has started to get more attention from the pundits.

Corum needs that Heisman moment to move up.

Honorable mentions

Bijan Robinson, University of Texas

Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State University

Top 10 Offbeat or Weird Places to Watch a College Football Game

Ok, we readily admit that (for the most part) being in a stadium, beer and hot dog in hands, marching band playing and cheerleaders, well… cheerleading is the best place to watch college football.

But what if… life gets in the way?

Your BFF decides to get married in September. Sigh. Your clueless cousin decides that November is a great time to host a family reunion. Wrong! Your colleague wants to do a road trip in August. Get that resume updated!

I’ve been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt and hat (thank you, Kenny Chesney) and have concluded that college football does not sit in the corner for anybody.

The die-hard fan will not be denied.

So yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and there is a place for you to watch your football. No matter who or what tries to stop you. Just make sure you have access to satellite TV or an app that delivers the goods.

And some understanding friends and family.

courtesy of the AP

A dive bar in the Tropics

I’m a fan of funky, tropical dive bars. And no, “dive bar” is not necessarily a place where the carpets get squeegeed after last call. It is “a coveted badge of honor bestowed by aficionados looking for authenticity in such establishments,” according to Google search. To recap, dive bars are cool and location, location, location makes them more swaggy.

Drinking a Hemingway’s Mojito watching the Florida Gators play the Miami Hurricanes at the end of the world, aka Sloppy Joes in Key West? Yes, thank you. Sipping a Mai Tai at Arnold’s Beach Bar in Waikiki watching any football game? Hell, yes. Pass the free popcorn popped in bacon grease, please.

If your team is winning, you get to celebrate with all the beautiful people. If your team is losing, drowning your sorrows in a Pacific archipelago isn’t all that bad.

courtesy of Bakersfield Bail Bonds

Traffic School

Hey, if you can get away with it, go for it. Just remember you paid a premium for that eight-hour traffic school so your insurance premiums don’t go up. Do not mess this up.

You will not fly under the radar if you wear your team’s jersey, eye black and some Bose headphones to class. But an 11-99 Foundation tee, khaki Dockers and a secret ear piece should get you teacher’s pet points while the rest of the class feels like felons. You get bonus points galore for going to Saturday school, watching the game, nixing insurance/DMV penalties and proving yes, you really can have it all.

courtesy of Cruise America

In an RV at a national park

Picture this: You’ve got an RV all tricked out with a widescreen TV attached to the outside of the vehicle. Your captain’s chair and remote control are beckoning as a camp fire crackles. A frosty, cold beer(s) sits in a cooler as your pulled pork slowly cooks in a tin pot. Leaves rustle in the distance. An owl hoots nearby.

Nobody can hear you scream. It’s perfect for those fans who root, root, root for the home team (sing along, everybody!), no matter how badly it sucks.

Highly recommended: Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

courtesy of Golf Ads

Golf course

This one is a bit tricky. First, you actually have to do something physical while watching your game. It’s called golf. But golf carts can be your saving grace.

Slap your cell phone on the seat or rent a cart that has a TV screen already installed. Now go play the most frustrating sport in the world. Lining up your birdie putt may take a wee bit longer than normal if your team is facing 4th-and-1 at the 1-yard line, down four points with a minute left in regulation.

Did you make a great shot? Throw your club in a sand trap or into the water hazard. The time it takes to fish it out allows you time to dry off and watch instant replays of that glorious touchdown or pick 6.

Golf is literally the perfect sport to watch… other sports. The 19th hole awaits.

courtesy of Orleanscasino.com

Las Vegas casino

Hear me out. I once watched LSU v Alabama (2011’s Game of the Century) at the Orleans Hotel and was given free food and alcohol, including sub-zero tequila shots. There was actually a Patron machine there. Anyway, the casino’s sports book had that game on its big screen. The entire area in front of that screen (see above) was divided down the middle into two sections via theater rope.

Gotta keep the proverbial Hatfields and McCoys separated, right? Free hot dogs and pizza were flying. If you were sitting at slot machines, watching the game while pretending to gamble, your drinks were free. It was loud, bawdy and Southern. Best experience ever.

courtesy of Sacramento Bee

Ski lodge

So here is how this works: dress like a ski bum recovering from a horrible ski accident that tore up your meniscus. Wear the awesome clothes (and a cane), but have a portable TV/smart phone nearby to watch your team play.

Park yourself behind the main lodge’s window. Order some chili con carne in a sourdough bowl, a frosty beer or Irish coffee and chill with your injured leg propped up. Your new found friends will join you shortly. During the TV commercials you have a splendid view of your fellow skiers skiing/crashing/cursing/being rescued by ski patrol in a sled.

photo by Jordan Wright via familyreunionhelper.com

Family reunion

The motive behind planning family reunions is pure. The reality of family reunions is a mixed bag of flowers and manure. Sure, it is nice to meet your wife’s second cousin but these meetings can be so awkward. Throwing complete strangers together and expecting them all to have something to talk about beside sex, politics and religion is impossible.

These reunions are usually planned over a weekend when football is being played. The nerve of these people! So run around and shake hands with everyone—the wife will be happy with your boyish charm. But bring a large TV and set up your man cave next to Aunt Ethel’s homemade potato salad and Cousin Betty’s cheese curds. You will find out quickly which relatives are the coolest—they will be the ones trying to sit next to you.

courtesy of CBS Sports

A wedding

Just how good of friends are these people inviting you to a fall wedding, anyway? Clearly, they do not know you very well. I do. My friends have all been briefed and understand that any invite to a wedding held on any Saturday from late-August to early-January will promptly get a “nay” from me on the cutesy, RSVP card and sent off in the self-addressed, stamped envelope—but I’ll send a nice gift, OK?

I have attended one fall wedding. Since it was my first (and last), I remember it well. I spent the entire reception/dinner time in the bar, cheering on my team. I was perfectly content skipping the rubber-like chicken dinner and instead, noshing on martini olives and pineapple wedges. This experience led to the birth of my personal personal hashtag #StopFallWeddings and a date with the bartender later that week. Just sayin’.

You could get lucky and go to a football themed wedding but unless you live in SEC Country (see above), that isn’t happening.

If you have to go, bring your portable TV. In less time than you can blink, your entire table will be crowded with football fans. Free drinks—unless it’s a cash bar in which case why are you seriously even there?—and food aren’t so bad when you can watch football with all of your new BFFs.

courtesy of Cameron Ingalls/DAOU Vineyards

Winery

If you know your team is going to lose, why not go to a place where you can stare at beautiful scenery and drink like a fish? Listen, if my team loses while I am in Paso Robles, sitting in an Adirondack chair overlooking the valley while drinking DAOU’s Soul of Lion Bordeaux blend, things aren’t necessarily DEFCON 1.

Watching a tight game at Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, sipping a big red [tip of the hat to 2015’s Fay] while navigating through an epic charcuterie board seems pretty on point, doesn’t it?

courtesy of talkingcruise.com

On a cruise ship in the Caribbean

College football’s week one used to start the Thursday before Labor Day. Now it starts the week prior and is nicknamed week zero. With only 11 games scheduled Saturday, August 27, the pickins’ are slim. There can/will be some bad football games, although for the football-starved fan, no game is technically bad—it just never reaches its potential.

In any case, laying in a lounger on the Lido Deck, watching a football game on a big screen while a Jamaican steel drum band plays near you can ease the pain of bad officiating. Maybe that targeting call was not such a bad call? Maybe the sun glaring on your glistening, tan/burned skin distorted your vision?

“A drink will make your eyesight better,” the Caribbean Queen Fairy whispers in your ear.

With smooth, white sand beaches in the distance and the palm trees swaying in the tropical breezes, the bad play-calling becomes less cringey. Hmmm, you think. Maybe this really is a good time to try out that Statue of Liberty play while inside your own 15.

“Imbibe in a Goombay Smash,” you hear CQF say.

Crystal clear turquoise water slaps the hull of your ship. Colorfully dressed servers twirl tall pineapples/short coconuts filled with cold concoctions. Their little umbrellas and plastic monkeys hanging on for dear life will make you forget… well… damn, what was I supposed to be doing here? Pickleball?

I forgot.

Come to think of it, watch the game if you can. But DVR it at home just in case you get lost in Paradise on August 27.

PS- I’ll be in the Southern Caribbean when the first football game of the 2022 season kicks off on my birthday. I’ll be on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas watching football with some of the best human beings on this planet: my husband—the coolest person I know beside my twin—and our dear friends Mike (go K State!) and Cindy (go K State too!)

I’ll post pictures.

If I remember.

The Pac-12’s Media Day will be a Circus because of USC and UCLA’s Defections

It has been 13 days since USC and UCLA shocked the college football landscape with their defections to the Big Ten. The quickness and lethalness of their traitorous journey were discussed ubiquitously. It was a lesson in efficiency, secret-keeping and stupefaction.

Oklahoma and Texas’s conference expansion wrecking ball took an entire week before the carnage was done.

USC and UCLA—from their rumored exit from the Pac-12 to their admission to the Big Ten (effective 2024)—took….wait for it… one day.

The Pac-12 was blindsided from Jon Wilner’s June 30 article that reported USC and UCLA were planning to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. Its teams were still trying to absorb that report when the merciful Big Ten put the Pac-12 out of its misery the next day.

One minute the Pac-12 was eating grilled salmon and drinking Pinot Noir. The next day it was eating crow and drinking Boost nutritional supplements.

The supposed ties between the West Coast, Arizona, Pacific Northwest and Mountain schools are ostensibly strained. Are partnerships on shaky ground?

Oregon is reportedly itching to go to the Big Ten but no mention is being made of its in-state rival, Oregon State. Washington has been rumored to be in the mix for the Big Ten admission as well, but Washington State is being left high and dry. At least USC took UCLA to the Big Ten, right?

Pac-12 Media Day, which will be held in Los Angeles on July 29, will be beyond awkward. It will be a three-ring circus. But not in a fun way.

Two schools attending Pac-12’s Media Day will be traitors. Soon-to-be very rich traitors. The rest are hopeful survivors of a treasonous pilgrimage.

Wanna bet most of the questions to the “other 10 coaches” will be about USC or UCLA? The Pac-12 should include antacid alongside the Pac-12-branded water bottles for the coaches at the podium. Radio row should include a safe space for those who cannot stand being the jilted lover.

This media day will be all about USC and UCLA. More than usual. It’s a biting indictment of how important those two schools are to the conference and how poorly the conference’s leadership has been in developing and maintaining revenue for its members.

The Pac-12 knows that this is its fault. If it does not, then the conference will dissolve due to its myopic vision.

Sure, on July 29 it will try to put lipstick on a pig. Barring any major announcements or deals, the only way that pig gets a second look is if it flies.

Beside the pending awkwardness of Pac-12 Media Day are the unanswered questions.

If you’re Commissioner George Kliavkoff, do you continue the Larry Scott tradition of starting off the morning with loud, blaring, mind-numbing music amidst a backdrop of flashy graphics and flexing athletes showing off all the national titles the Pac-12 won last year?

Or do you just play “Taps”?

Do you still provide a vegan-option lunch alternative or do you just hire an In-N-Out catering truck and call it a day?

courtesy of Liberty Baptist Church

Just what will Kliavkoff talk about?

He cannot ignore the elephant(s) in the room, can he?

One minute Washington State and Oregon State are thinking about contending for the North’s division title, the next they are contemplating winning the Mountain West in 2024.

Oregon thought its value was worthy of a Big Ten invite. It still may be. But time is ticking and the longer the wait, the less leverage Oregon has. If the Big Ten does come calling, do not dismiss the Ducks having to settle for a 50 percent revenue cut. While that’s still around $50 million, a lot of feathers are going to be ruffled.

The reality is that Oregon is nowhere near the powerhouses of USC and UCLA. Yes, even though Trojan and Bruin football has been dismal. Yes, even though Oregon blah, blah, blah.

Life is cruel.

Kliavkoff will try to put a good spin for the remaining Pac-12(10?) schools, but there are some things he cannot avoid. The Conference of Champions is losing two schools that won a combined 253 team titles. More from the NCAA:

“Forty-one of those championships are from the Trojans and Bruins track and field teams, with USC leading its crosstown rival 28-13.

To put that in perspective, the Big Ten has won 11 track and field championships from all of its programs combined. In men’s track and field, the Big Ten has won just one title in the last 73 years; USC and UCLA have combined for 24 championships. In women’s outdoor track and field, no Big Ten team has ever won a title; the Lady Trojans won two of the last five championships.”

The Conference of Champions has won 544 national titles. Last year the conference won titles in men and women’s water polo, snow skiing, women’s outdoor track and field, beach volleyball, men’s gymnastics, women’s basketball and men’s indoor track and field.

The Conference of Champions is a cool motto. Larry Scott embraced it. And forty years ago, when…you know…the Pac-12 was winning revenue-producing sports’ championships, the motto applied. Now, it sounds like it should belong on a cereal box.

Kliavkoff needs to stop celebrating the past and address the future. Do not add schools that are not elite. Join another Power 5 conference and become the first super conference. And while it is nice to celebrate national titles from sports other than football, at football media days, read the damn room.

Football is what makes the world go around.

In fact, among all NIL deals, 50 percent of college athlete earnings come from football, according to a SportsProMedia report. The better the athletes, the better the team, the better the NIL deals.

So yes, college football matters. To the players (ka-ching!), the conferences (Eureka!) and the fans (aka boosters). Also, Las Vegas sends its love.

But back to the three-ring circus.

Oddly, Stanford has been pretty quiet about this whole thing. Do the Cardinal even know what’s going on? Pity the reporter who asks Stanford head coach David Shaw about this.

Shaw is a complete professional—he is actually my favorite coach with whom to have lunch—but his look of disapproval or disdain is about as subtle as egg salad that has been left in the sun all day. Count on Shaw to be cranky at Media Day.

Shaw’s crankiness may be overshadowed by Colorado’s Karl “I came back for this crap?” Dorrell, Utah’s Kyle “we finally are picked to win the conference and this happens?” Whittingham and Washington State’s Jake “does anyone have Mike Leach’s phone number?” Dickert.

Dorrell is fairly soft spoken. He will be subdued but ornery. Whittingham was probably a drill sergeant in a former life so expect dust to be stirred up, mics to be stretched to the limit and steely eyes on every reporter who touches on the expansion talk.

Dickert, well, maybe he should just hit the bar instead. Cougar fans will always be waiting.

Overall, I do not expect much to change at Pac-12 Media Day in terms of production, scheduling, protocols or ambiance. It is predictable as death, taxes and the children’s menu at national chain restaurants.

The Pac-12’s Media Day has always taken a backseat to the SEC and Big Ten Media Days. Maybe it is because the SEC and Big Ten have Media Days and the Pac-12 has Media Day. That is how much importance the Pac-12 places on football.

One friggin day.

courtesy of al.com

This year SEC schools are not bringing two players to their Media Days. They are bringing three. The sessions last from Monday July 18-21.

Four days.

The Big XII will spread its Media Days over two days. So will the ACC and the Big Ten. They will all have each school represented by three players. The only Power 5 conference that brings two players?

The Pac-12.

Maybe that will change this year.

Maybe sports fans should google “Pac-12 Media Day” and see what comes up. The lack of information and articles are telling compared to the SEC and Big Ten Media Days. Go ahead, google it.

Does the Pac-12 really not have that much to talk about?

This year they do.

For all the wrong reasons.

USC and UCLA to the Big Ten: The Aftermath

The deal is done. The ink is dry. The Pac-12 has officially acknowledged that the Trojans and Bruins are going to the Big Ten in 2024. It’s like being a parent and watching your 18-year old child leave on a date with someone you clearly think is not in your child’s best interest.

“They can do better,” you try to convince yourself. But they really can’t.

USC and UCLA are leaving their Lincoln Navigator for a Bentley Continental GT. Leaving a $20 million dollar annual payout for a $100 million payout. Leaving half-empty stadiums for stadiums filled with 114,000 screaming fans. Instead of only being able to afford penny stocks, AMZN is now in their portfolios.

Forty-eight hours after the big news broke, the Pac-12 Networks was airing the 2004 Rose Bowl game between USC and Michigan. USC v Penn State followed. The chyron (news ticker) below the game displaying the conference’s statement on the two teams’ departure announcement was the elephant in the room.

In all likelihood, the conference’s flagship network failed to be proactive in television programming.

Failed to be proactive.

It’s an indictment of everything that is wrong in the Pac-12. The conference did not read the room while the SEC and Big Ten were expanding. It failed to protect its future and failed to implement its contingencies.

The conference was rife with poor officiating for a decade. #Pac12refs became a national punchline and Twitter trending hashtag. The Pac-12 made some overtures to fix the problem but no substantial changes could be seen on the field.

photo courtesy of sbnation

The Pac-12 conference is probably now in full-blown panic mode. Undoubtedly phone calls are being made, hands are being wrung, pearl necklaces are being clutched and safe spaces are being constructed in the halls of the Pac-12 offices.

Meanwhile, other Pac-12 members are probably freaking out.

While Oregon and Washington are the next best Pac-12 teams to be considered in a possible departure to another conference, no announcements have been made. While that may not be significant now—once Notre Dame decides its permanent place in college football the dominoes will fall—it will be decidedly concerning after the 2022 season ends.

I believe Stanford and Cal are a better “fit” in the Big Ten. They are traditional schools with high emphasis on education. The Bay Area’s TV market is consistently ranked in the Top 10. They have been consistent in their athletic programs’ branding and except for Stanford’s name change of Indians to Cardinal in 1981, they have very traditional athletic programs.

The Midwest fan is generally not impressed with shiny, new things and unfortunately for the Oregon Ducks, the national perception of Oregon football is just that. This isn’t a criticism. But read the room, Oregon.

The Ohio State University Buckeyes play football in “three yards and a cloud of dust.” They are damn proud of that. Oregon football, on the other hand, is known for innovative twists on run-read football, trick plays, neon-highlighter uniforms and a fan base that while can be quite vociferous, is also fickle.

The flashy electricity of its marketing department has attracted elite recruits. That’s a huge bonus. Oregon also excels in other sports such as Track and Field, Baseball and Basketball. Again, a definite plus.

But would Oregon and Washington’s membership be each worth $100 million a year to the Big Ten?

Seattle’s TV market is ranked No. 14 nationally. Portland’s is ranked No. 81. Moreover, the optics of those two cities may not appeal to the Midwest football fan. Videos of recent riots, surges in crime rates, increasing homelessness and open opioid drug use in the streets have been blasted across news channels for two years. While other cities are experiencing those exact same issues (Los Angeles, I’m looking at you), USC and UCLA will have no problem validating their $100 million payouts from the conference.

If Notre Dame decides to move to the Big Ten and the two Pacific Northwest teams are left without an invite, the Pac-12 would feel a little safer. But only for a New York minute. Unless the Pac-12 invites more schools to its conference, the fallout will be catastrophic. The Pacific Northwest teams cannot carry the conference.

A better option would be for the Pac-12 to join the Big 12 and form a super conference, perhaps even adding in the Mountain West. That could alleviate schools’ stability concerns and keep everyone at home.

For awhile.

A chain reaction is inevitable. The Big Ten and SEC will poach more teams—strike that, the best teams— and the demise of the ACC will probably occur sometime after its conference’s grant of rights expire in 2035-36.

Make no mistake, the Pac-12 is on life support right now. The Big 12 is heavily sedated despite adding four new schools to the mix next year. The ACC is in a bind.

Notre Dame’s contract with the ACC created an additional $80 million in revenue for the conference in 2020-21. The ACC will fight like hell to keep Notre Dame tied to its contract but the Fighting Irish can leverage their position to the breaking point, then skip on over to the Big Ten once it irons out its AAU accreditation.

photo courtesy of scienceABC.com

Notre Dame, despite being roundly criticized and mocked for maintaining its independent status in college football, is now an orchestra conductor. It raises its baton and on cue, everyone looks up and waits for their direction.

Notre Dame can write its own ticket to the dance. Everyone wants to date her. Everyone wants to keep her in their arms and promenade her around the dance floor. It’s good to be the Belle of the Ball.

The SEC wanted Oklahoma and Texas. The Big Ten wanted USC and UCLA. Which team is really the team that everyone wants now?

Clemson? Florida State? Miami? Oregon? Washington? Utah? Kansas?

It’s Notre Dame.

And we all are just witnesses, waiting to see who will get on their knees and propose to her.

Winners and Losers: USC and UCLA to the Big Ten

It’s official.

According to the Associated Press, the Big Ten voted to accept USC and UCLA into its conference starting in 2024.

So, barring any last minute shenanigans, the Bruins and Trojans are bailing on their feckless, drought-ridden conference and moving to greener pastures.

Literally.

I’ve been screaming to the hills for over a year on how this needs to happen. Some suits in LA finally saw the light. But there are some heavy prices to pay. A Winners and Losers list, obviously, is warranted here.

LOSERS

Pac-12 fans who are vegans or diet conscious.

If the discriminating foodie in West LA is content noshing on sushi, Beyond Burgers and edamame, bring a sack lunch for those conference road trips. Stern-gating with salmon and chardonnay is out. Cheese curds in Wisconsin (hell yes) is in.

Travelling to Iowa will be a gastric delight: Pork, corn and yep, Scotcheroos are on the menu.

A road trip to the Hoosier state is not complete without corn and Sugar Dream pies. You’ve got Philly cheesesteaks and Shoo-fly pie in the great state of Pennsylvania—make sure you leave all your white tee shirts at home or you’ll blend in with the Penn State fans at a whiteout game.

A trip to the Big House is not complete without a chipati sandwich, Detroit-style pizza and Traverse City cherries! If you’re heading to The Shoe, Buckeye candy is in your future. But not before some Skyline chili.

Maryland has crab cakes to die for and New Jersey has chicken savoy, hot dogs and tomato pie. Finally, when in Chicago, no trip is complete without Chicago-style deep dish pizza, Italian Beef sandwiches, a Maxwell Street Polish or Portillo’s hot dog.

Me? I cannot wait to dig in to these treasures.

Fair-weather fans

OK, we Californians love bragging about 80-degree weather in November. Northwestern fans cannot wait for this experience until they find out just how much this experience will cost them! But back to this weather thing.

We really do not own any rain gear—we drive to CVS to buy an umbrella when we get caught in a downpour while our Mercedes Benz’s top is down . We don’t own coats—we wear sweatshirts with our favorite cannabis store’s logo on them. Anyhow, just a heads up for the average USC and UCLA fan: start shopping for some late-fall clothes now.

OUT: bikini tops, tank tops, Daisy Dukes, sundresses or flip flops.

IN: down coats, gloves, balaclavas (admit it, you don’t know what those are), flannel-lined jeans and a raincoat that is not made out of Saran wrap or a trash bag.

Pot heads

We are not sure of the current state laws but don’t count on a cannabis delivery service while staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Happy Valley.

Side note: weed is legal in Michigan, New Jersey and Illinois. All of a sudden that weekender to Rutgers is looking pretty good, isn’t it?

The fans who leave early to beat traffic

We get it. Unless the Trojans or Bruins are in a close game (which lately has been a thing), nobody stays until the last tic of the clock. The beach, mountains, desert, LA Live, The OC and freeway traffic await. Heck, it takes an hour just to get out of the parking lots. Unfortunately, popping out of your seat in the third or fourth quarter at the Big House, for example, is not advised.

These people are real football fans. The worse the weather elements, the better the Big Ten game. Remember people, Ohio State fans love three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust/mud/snow/sleet/ice/tornadoes/lightning/thunder.

Watching their team lose in a gut-wrenching manner is also part of the loyalty they show their teams. Some of their fans are literally famous for their reactions to a loss. It’s just best not to leave. Wallow in self-pity instead.

Rutgers and Illinois

The schedule just got a little tougher for those two teams. Sure, there’s always hope for a turnaround season but the last five years’ records of Rutgers (15-43) and Illinois (23-38) are not a good indicator.

Count on USC or UCLA to lose to one of them in the first season thereby inducing “Welcome to the Big Ten” signs.

WINNERS

USC and UCLA fans east of the Mississippi

The Pac-12 Networks are not available on satellite TV. Granted, more and more people are cutting the cord completely from cable TV. But satellite TV is still very important to many football fans, especially those who go to bars to watch games they cannot get on their own TVs.

The Big Ten Network is available on satellite TV. In fact, already there is an increase of questions on Google regarding the Big Ten Networks. In a very un-Larry Scott fashion, the Big Ten proclaimed that every sports fan should be able to watch their athletes compete.

Go figure.

Midwest and East Coast sun worshippers

Bring your sunblock, sunglasses, flip flops and jorts to So Cal and watch your team play in 80-degree weather.

You’re welcome.

Trojan and Bruin fans on a budget

Yes, Virginia, there are places that don’t charge $8.00 a gallon for gas. Nor $350 a night for a “decent” hotel. Fans will be shocked when they rent a car and have to gas it up—it will cost less than a Coliseum dog and Coors Light.

Really.

The Big Ten Giant Killers

Last year the Fighting Illini beat favored Nebraska, Penn State and Minnesota. Purdue beat favored Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan State. Let’s also not forget perennial favorite Indiana, who in 2020 beat Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Purdue beating USC and USC beating Ohio State is in the cards.

The fun never ends.

The Big Ten broadcasters pronouncing numerous Polynesian names

We know they try. And broadcasters do get a cheat sheet on how to pronounce potentially problematic names, especially Polynesian and African names. But during a broadcast, when you’re doing play-by-play, trying to say quickly, “Stanley Ta’ufo’ou and Tuli Tuipuluto in on the tackle” could be a mouthful. Perhaps, maybe… even entertaining?

Kind of like “Mosiula Tatupu tackled by Manu’ula Tuisosopo.” That really happened in the 1970’s. It was glorious. The broadcaster nailed it and he was pretty happy about it.

No cupcakes” bragging rights for the Big Ten

Only three schools have never played an FCS team on its schedule: USC, UCLA and Notre Dame. UCLA has Alabama State on its schedule this year, so the Bruins get knocked off the list. That leaves USC and Notre Dame.

Don’t ruin it for us, guys. Make the Cardinal and Gold and the Big Ten proud.

Finally, I saved the best for last….

No more Pac-12 Officiating

Need I say more?