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Big Ten Market Letter

Apr 1, 2008 – 11:42 AM
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Mark Hasty

Mark Hasty %BloggerTitle%

Is your pension coughing up dust? Does the ATM say "You must be joking" whenever you try to make a withdrawal? Starting to wish you hadn't taken out that line of credit at First Consolidated Home Mortgage and Bait Shop? Be not afraid. There are still some tremendous bargains to be had in Big Ten football ... and some dangerous pitfalls for the unwary investor. It's still five months until the start of football season, but now is the time for you to do your due diligence on the opportunities available in Big Ten football this fall. Here's my list of buys, sells, and holds for 2008.

BUY: Minnesota. Now, let's get one thing clear. I'm not saying you should buy them as a potential 2008 Big Ten champion. I'm not even saying you should buy them as a bowl team. What I am saying is that they're bound to improve over their 1-11 record in 2007. The Gophers were a very young team last year who endured a lot of blowout losses but seemed to get better as the season went on. Too, they were in their share of really close games that just didn't go their way. But there's an X factor at work in 2008.That X factor is former Duke head coach Ted Roof, who may have bombed out as a head coach, but is a pretty decent defensive coordinator, the role he now plays for the Gophers. If he can make the Gopher D come together, Tim Brewster's team should see a significant reversal of fortune.

Of course, the jury's still out on Brewster himself. He has proven he can recruit, but he has yet to prove he can coach. We just haven't seen enough from Brewster to know if he's going to make Minnesota forget they fired Glen Mason. With the kind of talent Brewster is bringing to Minneapolis, though, things have to turn around a little. I hope he succeeds, though. The national media really needs to discover Tim Brewster. The guy is just dripping with hipness, and, thanks to his unusually deep and resonant voice, Brewster's press conferences are kind of entertaining.

HOLD: Ohio State's national reputation. I'm sure there's some sort of guideline for the poll voters about how they're supposed to rank the teams based solely on their performance this season, without regard for past results. I expect that advice to be completely ignored this season by voters who will do anything they can to prevent the Buckeyes from making it to a third straight BCS Title Game. And they may have a point. Sure, the Buckeyes will travel to Southern Cal this season; give them credit for being one of the few Big Ten teams to schedule a meaningful non-conference game. The rest of the schedule is a little lame, though, with the hardest road trip being Wisconsin on October 4. So I look for the Bucks to be 10-1 heading into the Michigan game ... and ranked no higher than 4th in the human polls.

SELL: Kirk Ferentz. Dang it, I've been a Hawkeye fan since I learned what football was, so it pains me to write this, but it's true. After a third consecutive season with at least five losses, and an offense that never made anything positive happen, and so many off-the-field incidents that Ferentz was forced to bring in SuperNanny to keep a lid on things, I think it's fair to say the pressure is on the good Captain. I am not sure he's up to the challenge.

His offensive scheme worked really well when he had an offensive line featuring three future NFL starters, and Dallas Clark faking out linebackers all over the place. Now the O-line has gone from Iowa's greatest asset to one of its biggest liabilities. Wait, isn't the O-line Ferentz's specialty? Sure, but there's a big difference between the results Ferentz got when Joe Philbin (now the Packers' offensive coordinator) was coaching the line, and the results Ferentz is getting now that Philbin is gone.

I don't know that Ferentz will get fired for another mediocre season. I'm not sure they can afford to fire him. If things don't improve this season, though, he'll be expected to make some staff changes, which is something he really doesn't want to do. So I'm saying "sell now."

(NOTE: You cannot actually invest in any of these things. Past performance is no guarantee of future results, which you think would be obvious to anybody who follows college football. Consult your financial advisor, your physician, and a licensed counselor before investing. Anyone who would take financial advice from this author is certain to get what he or she deserves.)
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