It has been a long, long time since I have done a Power Rankings. Too long, in fact. There hasn't been much to rank, but I really should have done one before the seasons. That can't be helped. What I can do is come up with another gimmick to work on pop culture with Big Ten Football. Bill Simmons may have retired from using Beverly Hills 90210 from his columns, but I am not Bill Simmons. As Patricia Henley, my fiction writing teacher at Purdue once told me, "Good writers borrow. Great writers steal."
There is no question that 90210 was a 90's icon. As Simmons said in his epic podcast last Thursday, it was a great way to meet single women and have something to talk about if you were a straight guy who watched the show. Since my sister was a devotee from day one, I remember some of the early episodes. Mrs. T-Mill is still a fan as well. She has started watching the seasons on DVD again and I have become strangely addicted. It's campy, and great to make fun of MST3K-style (Ed. Note: To my younger readers, MST3K is short for Mystery Science Theater 3000, a show on Comedy Central in the mid-90's that featured people making funny commentary to horrible B movies.)
Since I am dating myself enough, I think it is time to move on with the rankings. I know I am a week late from 9-02-10, but this is still fun. Mrs. T-Mill herself will make a guest appearance with some notes. As always, we have each team paired with a character from the show.
1. Ohio State - Steve Sanders - Cocky, rich, has good taste in fine cars. How can Ohio State not be Steve Sanders? Throughout the series Steve was always skirting the edge of legality without getting caught. The Buckeyes have allegedly done this for years. They have constantly been mentioned as a school that might be violating NCAA protocols, but they never get caught. Steve's parents could always bail him out, just as wealthy boosters can do the same in Columbus. The entire Maurice Clarett saga and the alleged evidence of extra benefits is like Steve burning down a party. Their recent performance in BCS title games is like having Ian Ziering try to win an Emmy with real acting: It just ends horribly for all involved and is the height of high comedy.
From Mrs. T-Mill: "You have to mention something about bad fashion." Right you are, Mrs. T-Mill. Buckeye fans willingly wear nuts around their necks. Steve often dressed like he enjoyed something similar, but I won't get into it since we're PG-13 rated here.
2. Iowa - Valerie Malone - Ah Tiffani Amber-Thiessen. You were a 90's vixen as the good girl on Saved by The Bell, then the bad girl on 90210. You got to the show late, but had a sudden rise to power as arguably the best female character. That sounds like Iowa in the Big Ten once they got Kirk Ferentz. At the show's prime, Valerie Malone was one of the hottest women on television. Right now, Iowa is one of the best teams in the country. Fortunately, the Hawkeyes did not sleep their way to the top, or so we think. If the pink locker room is a-rockin' don't come a-knockin'.
(Ed. Note: I considered adding Nebraska and making them Valerie Malone since they are the hot new move-in everyone wants to be with, but I couldn't come up with anyone else for Iowa. Sorry, Cornhuskers. Maybe next year!)
3. Wisconsin - Brandon Walsh - Brandon Walsh was down to earth, Midwestern, and the do-gooder on the show. He was always wanting to help out, but had horrible taste in women and often came up just short in his goals. That sounds like the Badgers, who have had a great decade, but haven't won the conference since 1999. As well see later, they are often paired on the "next tier" with their twin Brenda below the current big three of Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State in terms of tradition and following. Back to the horrible taste in women, Wisconsin has a lot of beer, cheese, and brats. Not the best choices for svelt figures for either gender. Still, I can't imagine the conference without the great campus atmosphere that is Madison. The bar scene in Mad-town is like the Peach Pit After Dark: It's where everyone wants to be.
4. Penn State - Jim Walsh - Why? Because of JoePa. The father figure of the Big Ten has to be paired with one of the greatest TV dads ever. JoePa is the source of stability and guidance, remaining cool well into his 80's. None of what Jim Walsh said would really make sense in today's day and age, but the same could be said of JoePa. He could go off on a rambling diatribe about really anything and people would stand and applaud because it was endearing. Plus the Nittany Lions dress conservatively, yet you always know they are in charge when you see those uniforms.
5. Michigan - Kelly Taylor - What didn't happen to Kelly over the course of the show? She became a coke-whore, was burned in a fire, joined a cult, suffered an addiction to diet pills, nearly went to jail for embezzlement, and was date raped. While the RichRod era hasn't been as bad as any of those horrible things, it has scarred the beauty of a once proud program in similar ways. Still, Kelly emerged to gain her self-respect and have a successful life. The question is, will this be RichRod this year or the post-RichRod era next year? This also plays into the next team in the rankings.
From Mrs T-Mill: "They're willing to get with anyone as long as their needs are met." So that was how they got Roy Roundtree from us. RichRod, you sly dog...
6. Michigan State - Brenda Walsh - The little sister for "Little brother", Brenda had an inferiority complex when it came to Kelly because Kelly was the hot blonde, while Brenda was the outsider brunette from the Midwest. That sounds like the Michigan-Michigan State relationship to me. A lot of kids in the state of Michigan have to play the role of Dylan by choosing between Michigan and Michigan State. Brenda can also get a little testy with her place in the pecking order, just like the Spartans can when it comes to football.
7. Northwestern - Andrea Zuckerman - The brainy nerd with glasses on the show has to be Northwestern. Still, I thought Andrea was the hottest one because her character actually had substance. That, and I have thing for her glasses I guess. Andrea may not be much to look at on the surface, but she always surprised as a solid role player in the series. That's Northwestern for you. The Wildcats continue to surprise people with solid seasons each year.They also have a little more substance academically.
8. Purdue - Dylan McKay - Purdue is an outsider like Dylan. We're a state school, but we're not named after the state we're in. We wouldn't fit in at all if it weren't for the rest of the gang (the Big Ten). We're moody and distant at times, but occasionally we can put something together. After a proud era in the 60's I liken our Fred Akers and Jim Colletto era to Dylan drinking and doing drugs again. No one could help us then Colletto lost to Indiana in his final game to break the Hoosiers' 15-game conference losing streak. That's like Dylan's near fatal car crash. We have since gotten our act together (hired Joe Tiller) and have become a solid member of the Big Ten. We have all this, and we're just the coolest member of the Big Ten as the Open Thread champs here.
9. Indiana - David Silver - Bill Simmons' podcast mentioned that anything involving David Silver's music career was an incredible leap of faith. Really, isn't that like imagining the Hoosiers having success in football? We include them in everything, but David Silver was a freshman that somehow got to hang out with the cool kids. That's IU football in a nutshell. They play it about as well as Brian Austin Green dances. As a sidebar, IU is really good in the other football. Appropriate since Brian Austin Green is actually married to Megan Fox. Red-blooded American males want to know just how in the hell that happened.
Mrs. T-Mill on that last part: "Maybe he just has a big..." and once again, the network censor has stepped in.
10. Minnesota - Nat Bussichio - Nat is the owner of a 50's-style diner, the Peach Pit. Minnesota is the owner of some 50's style national Championships. Both were the height of cool back in the day, but aren't really relevant anymore. At least Minnesota provides moral values for the rest of the conference like Nat did for the gang. By that I mean they exhibit what not to do after their second place finish in this year's Fulmer Cup.
11. Illinois - Donna Martin - No one really understands how Illinois can consistently have such a bad football program despite the fertile recruiting grounds of Chicago being so close. This is like believing that Donna could somehow stay a virgin for so long on the show. No one believed it, but it was true. Donna just needed to find the right guy according to the show's producers. Illinois has been searching for the right coach since approximately Red Grange's day.
Mrs. T-Mill: "She would always pick stupid outfits (all orange uniforms?)." "She wasn't the brightest, but at least she was happy (They'll always have basketball)."