1) With two weeks left in the season, it's safe to say that most schools have reached the point where the year has been a success or a disappointment. How has your school fared this year in your opinion? Or, is the jury still out?
A disappointment, indeed. IU's historical track record is what it is, and it's almost always safe to bet against the Hoosiers. Still, with eight home games, one of the easiest schedules of any BCS conference member, and most key players returning from a team that won seven games, I expected IU to at least come close to postseason play. Absent one of the biggest upsets in conference history, IU will lose its eighth game at Penn State on Saturday, and as bad as Purdue is, a loss in Joe Tiller's last home game seems likely. Going 3-9 against one of the weakest schedules in BCS-land is by no means a sign of progress.
2) Is your school heading to a bowl? If so, which one? And if not,WTF?
3) The Big Ten has recently had a hard time getting respect among the national media as a top conference. Has the Big Ten taken a step forward or a step backward in this debate this season?
I don't know how anyone could make the argument that the Big Ten has taken a step forward this year. The Big Ten played very few top-notch nonconference games, and the only arguably impressive wins were Penn State's whipping of Oregon State and Michigan State's win over a mediocre Notre Dame team. OSU was embarrassed by USC, the aforementioned ND team has two wins against the Big Ten, and decent-but-not-great Cal, Pitt, Missouri, and Oregon all prevailed against what should at least be peer programs. A Penn State win over USC in the Rose Bowl (plus respectable showings against the SEC in Tampa and Orlando) would be the only way to salvage the season in this respect.
4) Would the Big Ten benefit from adding another school to create two divisions like the SEC, Big 12, ACC and MAC? And if so, which school should be added? Or, should we drop one school?
Conference championship games have financial benefits, but also provide a conference's championship contenders one more opportunity to lose a game. I don't think a championship game would solve the Big Ten's current problems, and while I wouldn't be opposed to adding a 12th team, I don't support expansion for the sake of expansion. Notre Dame is the only obvious fit, but has no interest. While the usual suspects such as Missouri, Rutgers, West Virginia, and Syracuse all have positive and negative traits, one school that intrigues me a bit is Kentucky. UK's football program isn't great, but it is well-supported, and the basketball program would be quite an asset to the conference. I'm not necessarily advocating for Kentucky, and don't expect UK would leave the SEC, but I'm at least intrigued, and wanted to mention a school that doesn't usually enter these conversations.
5) Do you agree with President-elect Obama that college football should have an 8 school post-season playoff?
Not really. I would have no problem with an eight game playoff as long as it preserved the bowl system. Such a setup would involve playing the first two rounds at campus sites in early December, playing the championship game at a bowl site, and preserving the rest of the system as it is. Unfortunately, these things take on a life of their own. As soon as we accept an eight team playoff, the teams on the cusp will start clamoring for 16. The importance of the regular season sets college football apart from all other sports. If I thought the playoff would stop at eight games, I would support it, but I think it would be the first step in ruining what makes college football unique and enjoyable.
6a) Who is your favorite network television play-by-play announcer/ color commentator/sideline reporter?
I like Ron Franklin of ESPN for play-by-play, and while I haven't seen him this year, enjoy Bill Curry for color commentary. Verne Lundquist is getting a bit-mistake prone in his old age, but does a good job. Also, I'm really excited that GUS! JOHNSON!! will be joining the Big Ten Network for college basketball coverage. Not as excited as GUS!, but excited nonetheless. GUS! will make every Northwestern-Penn State tilt feel like the Final Four.