In these past few weeks, I've come to a realization. Fans are often coldly illogical and they can get mean when it doesn't look to go their way. This is not meant to be an insult. My twitter account shows I can be the same way. (Baseball's not giving me as much anarchic fun as I had hoped. And I hate the A's almost as much as I hate the Cardinals and Yankees.)
But I digress.
In a nutshell, we as sports fans live in three states in-season. We're either angry, sad, or surprised. We're never truly happy unless there's an unexpected bit of greatness down the pike. And as most of the teams in the Big Ten have hit their halfway point, we're looking at a perfect opportunity to give a progress report in all matters of fandom.
Illinois: At this point? Every day should be Sadderday for the Illini. This was the team that was supposed to have Purdue's spot as the outsider that could very well crash the Leaders Division party. Instead, it's just a lot of "Oh God, there's so much blood. Oh God, there's so much blood. So much blood..."
Iowa: While Marc Weisman's managed to outwit AIRBHG -- and that's tremendous -- Iowa's an angry fanbase right now. While some have to wonder how hiring Greg Davis was going to solve an offensive malaise, it was supposed to be different on the offensive side of the ball this year. Not slightly worse.
Indiana: There's a general malaise around Hoosier Nation when it comes to the gridiron. So when what could have been a signature, building block win turns into a loss, it's more of a depressive sigh than a desire to flip things around. Indiana is the team that's only been to one bowl in 20 years. They have btb.
Michigan: Michigan is 3-2 and ALL IS WELL. This is a headline that leaves me worried about what could happen to a guy like Fitzgerald Toussaint or Denard Robinson if they happen to lose in October. This is a fanbase that's like the little kid that was told to count to ten and is only working themselves into a deeper and richer lather.
Michigan State: While I say they should be pleasantly surprised by this blistering 4-2 start, Michigan State's kind of feeling sad. Struggling to beat Eastern Michigan. Hustling to beat Indiana. There are things Sparty hasn't done well recently. Well, I say chin up Sparts fan. Some of us thought you weren't gonna win one!
Minnesota: Sure, they lost to Iowa, and that's annoying. But this is a team that's already won more games than they did last year, and actually has a reason to chirp with Badger fans about our offensive distress not to mention a shot at their first bowl game post the Tim Brewster-as-irrelevant-joke era. Though, and I mean this honestly, the hope of a schedule-aided hot start has a tendency to make for some delicious schadenfreude.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers have generally nice fans. They actually travel to other blogs and read and comment on their stuff. I like them in general. But that being said. There's real talk that Bo Pelini's on the hot seat in Lincoln. He's got a career winning percentage north of .700. And people aren't screaming that this shouldn't be. This is a mad fanbase. I mean, in the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result sort of mad.
Northwestern: While Phil Steele's call of a 5-0 start makes me wonder if he has a Gray's Sports Almanac he cribs from, the fact that Kain Colter seemed to have disappeared as Pat Fitzgerald let Trevor Siemian was gonna be the guy doing the tossing from here on out in the Penn State game was worrisome. But this could be the team that finally. FINALLY. Gets that elusive bowl win. #PleasantSurprise
Ohio State: YOU KNOW IF GENE SMITH DIDN'T SEEM INSISTENT ON GIVING LUKE FICKELL A BOWL GAME LAST YEAR, WE WOULD HAVE A CHANCE AT A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! Right now, that's the only lament in Columbus. Everything's coming up poisonous nuts. Helps make the rest of the fanbases upset. Because why not them, you know?
Penn State: Contextually, they have to be thrilled. I'm not even talking about in juxtaposition with all that off-field stuff. Allen Robinson's the only receiver that a Badger fan could consider on Jared Abbrederis' level. They've won four straight games coming off of two painful losses. There's whispers of Bill O'Brien winning coach of the year. This is a team that is actually generating decent buzz in Happy Valley.
Purdue: The smackdown that Michigan laid upon their proverbial candy ass has Purdue worried, has Purdue sad. They had the swagger of the "Why not us?" They had the better loss of the available Legends Division contenders. But that being said? They aren't as sad as most programs. And should that which dare not be mentioned get mentioned? They're back into pleasant surprise mode.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin fans are the sullen teenager of the Big Ten. Quiet, listening to Morrissey, "you're not my real dad!" teenagers. We may seem passive. But we want to be arrogant. Boy howdy do we want to be arrogant. And we just can't get there. Stupid football's being stupid. WE WERE SUPPOSED TO RELOAD ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE FOR CRIPES SAKE!
THIS IS UNFAIR! WE'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH! WE'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH! WE'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!
Phew. I kind of blacked out there. Anyway. This is where we are. A mass of neuroses that Carl Jung would struggle to type.
But at least I don't have to punch a pillow.