Another year is in the books and its time to close down for the summer. I was looking back at an August post, in which I outlined the key questions each school faced in football and/or basketball. We'll end the season with a look back at how the answers turned out: My original comment from August is in italics.
Wisconsin: UW hasn't competed on the biggest stage since the 1999 Rose Bowl. They've been successful and won a lot of big games, but can they reach the next level? We'll find out. Bret Bielama didn't like the answers after a 7-5 year and a horrid bowl outing.
Ohio State: They go to Southern Cal on September 13. Jim Tressel's team is the
banner-carrier for this conference on the national stage and we'll see
how they handle this test, and how the public reacts. They didn't handle the test well, and the public's response was equally harsh.
Michigan State: With the Final Four a virtual home game for them, can the Spartans end the year by cutting down the nets in their own backyard? Almost.
Indiana: Can (Tom) Crean get the foundation in place? The early answers suggest it's going to be longer than anyone previously thought.
Purdue: ...can Matt Painter take this program back to the Keady-era of Big Ten championships? The prognosis looks good, but he needs a regular-season title to seal the deal.
Michigan: How will the football team adjust to Rich Rodriguez's spread offense? No question in the entire conference was answered more definitively in the negative.
Minnesota: ...the more interesting question is whether the strong recruiting class of Rick Brewster can get the football team pointed back in the right direction after a disastrous 2007. Yes, they did.
Iowa: Ferentz is having a dry spell...Can...he get it turned back around? No question in the conference was answered more definitively in the positive.
Illinois: Bruce Weber has fallen from grace since the glory days of 2005. If he doesn't return his team to March this year, he might be running out of chances. Bruce got it done.
Northwestern: Can Pat Fitzgerald return them to the postseason this time around? If he can, NU is coming close to developing what can actually be a modest tradition of success on the gridiron. Pat got it done too.
Penn State: Is this the swan song for Joe Paterno? And are he and Penn State headed for a messy finish? At least for now, the answer is no. Joe Pa got a three-year contract extension after his Rose Bowl year.
And that August post ended on this note...
There are so many other questions that remain unanswered in America's greatest region. Will there be a Windy City Series? (Both made the playoffs, but won a combined one game. And the Cubs el foldo against the Dodgers was pathetic) Which NFC North team, if any, will Brett Favre suit up for? (None, but he got his revenge when the Jets gained a net +12 games on the Packers from the previous year).Will Big Ten Country produce its first president since Harding? (Yes, and he swept every state from Pennsylvania to Minnesota, though in the interests of full disclosure, I voted for the Pac-10 candidate).
On that note, it's time to sign off. It looks like another great baseball season to keep us occupied in the summer. The Cubs, White Sox, Twins and Tigers are all serious contenders, and the Brewers have an outside shot. Writing from my new home outside Baltimore, I'm hoping to spend some time out at Camden Yards, catch my beloved Red Sox (I've liked them since 1996, lest I be lumped in with the annoying bandwagon jumpers of Red Sox Nation) and enjoying our season ticket plan to local Ripken Stadium, home of the minor league Aberdeen Ironbirds. So everybody have a good summer and we'll see you back here in August!