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Half of Big 10 football teams are in SI's Top 25

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

I received my latest copy of Sports Illustrated through the mail last Friday, and it was the magazine’s college football preview edition.

Before we get to that, I’ve been a regular subscriber to SI since the fall of 1976 and have seen a lot of changes in the magazine over the years. In its previews of college football and basketball, SI used to mention every team. Now, it lists only the Top 25 with one-page stories on each of those.

The preview issues were once bigger with more pages, but now they have about the same number of pages as the regular magazines.

SI no longer can claim to be the nation’s weekly sports magazine, as it now comes out bi-weekly (every two weeks) with a special issue thrown in every now and then. I miss getting the magazine every week, but am thankful it still is published, as some periodicals no longer have print issues, having gone solely to digital.

Personally, I like reading a hard copy of a magazine or newspaper instead of reading them on the computer or a smart phone. A new owner purchased SI a couple months back and has agreed to run the print version for at least two more years.

That’s good news for me, as my subscription through the mail still has over three more years to go before it expires.

Anyway, back to the college football preview. SI has the top four teams this season, in order, as Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and Oklahoma. Those aren’t really surprising picks, as those four schools consistently are in the running for the national title and are in the playoffs for it almost every year.

SI foresees Alabama meeting Georgia (two SEC teams) for the national championship with the Crimson Tide prevailing.

In addition to those (almost) no-brainer picks, SI has one-half of the “Big 10” teams in its Top 25. I put Big 10 in quotation marks, because the conference has 14 teams in it now and hasn’t had just 10 teams in it for almost 30 years (Penn State made it 11 back in 1991, and Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers have also joined since then).

I think it’s kind of dumb to continue calling the “Big 10” the Big 10. It should be called the Big 14 and there’s nothing wrong with that. I guess the head honchos of the league don’t agree with me.

SI has ranked Ohio State No. 6, Michigan No. 11, Penn State No. 16, Iowa No. 18, Wisconsin No. 19, Michigan State No. 21, and Nebraska No. 22 in its college football preview edition.

Of those seven “Big 10” teams ranked by SI, IU plays five of them. The Hoosiers play the Buckeyes and Wolverines in Bloomington and go on the road to face the Nittany Lions, Spartans, and Cornhuskers.

Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State are in the Big 10 East where IU resides. The Hoosiers have to face these guys every year, and most years those have been four of IU’s conference losses.

I think IU is getting better under former New Castle grad Tom Allen, but his team has to run the gauntlet through those four teams every season plus play Maryland, Rutgers and Purdue annually. The other teams in the Big 10 West are faced sporadically by the Hoosiers. This year those two are Nebraska and Northwestern.

About this time of year, I always bring up the subject about how out of balance the two divisions of the Big 10 are. Almost everyone can see the balance of power is more heavily entrenched in the east than in the West.

The Big 10 has stated that that can change, which is its rationale for keeping the football alignment the way it is. But the change or shift hasn’t occurred yet and I don’t know if it ever will.

Two or three years ago in a RR&R column, I proposed my changes for Big 10 football which would allow each team to see all of the other Big 10 teams two out of every three years and not have to play the same six teams year after year after year. We need variety.

I’ll continue to bring this up each year until change occurs (if it ever does). Who knows? perhaps the squeaky wheel will get the grease.

On another matter, all five of our local high school football teams will be involved in scrimmages with other schools this Friday, which is the final tune-up for the regular season which begins Friday, Aug. 23.

No score is kept during scrimmages and these events are controlled with a set number of plays. I go and take photos at these, but there’s no reason to cover them as a story because of the way they are set up.

I’d like to see high school football go back to the jamborees that used to occur when two teams from a conference would join up to play two teams from another conference, each team playing two quarters of an actual game, one each against the opposing two teams, the score is kept and there is a winner.

It would be interesting to have New Castle and Pendleton Heights team up to face Richmond and Muncie Central. It would be the HHC vs. the NCC. Everyone is fairly close in location, all four teams are in Class 4A Sectional 21, and I think it would be a blast just like in the old days.

Will it happen? Who knows? But it is on my wish list.

David Risley is sports editor of The Courier-Times and still likes football.