The Mad Men-Big Ten Mashup

As any follower of my Twitter feed knows, I am a fan of Mad Men. A big fan, in fact. I still don't understand why people complain about spoilers if they are recording an episode, yet they are on a LIVE BREAKING SOCIAL MEDIA SITE, but I digress. i stopped tweeting about it at people's request, so they're happy now.

Sorry for going all-caps there. That's simply a pet peeve. Anyway, my attention was drawn to this incredibly well done article this morning that compares the 12 school ACC to characters on the show. This allows me to do two very important things today:

  1. Get some cheap content during the dead zone.
  2. Take a great idea and bless it with my own brand of Batshit Insanity.

That only leaves the question of how we make the comparisons. Do we go with football alone? Basketball alone? The university sports programs as a whole? The third one seems like the most logical choice, so let's go with that.

Ohio St. Buckeyes = Don Draper

You cannot have a show without Don. He is THE brand, if you will. Many others in the conference will argue about it, but the bloated athletic department that is An Ohio State University has to be Don. Ohio State has an astounding 35 varsity sports, six more than the next largest program of Penn State. They have synchronized swimming, men's gymnastics, and field hockey for crying out loud!

Like Don, Ohio State is often the best at what they do as well. A total of 185 Big Ten championships are third best behind Michigan and Illinois. They are the flagship program of the conference in the flagship sport (football).

Also like Don, their ethics are a little... questionable, shall we say. The pretentious use of THE in front of Ohio State University is like them hiding something terrible, like Don is really Dick Whitman. Multiple affairs with pretty much anything wearing a skirt make up their litany of NCAA violations, but they never get really caught. Now they are with the hot young wife in Urban (Megan) Meyer (Draper).

Michigan Wolverines = Roger Sterling

One thing that stood out at Big Ten Media Days last summer was Brady Hoke continually using the phrase, "We're Michigan", as if it was a license to do pretty much anything. Often it was, "We're Michigan. We have higher expectations here." It often came off as if they could get away with any number of crimes and think they were okay by saying, "We're Michigan.":

"Sure, I was caught buying hookers in New Orleans for the team after the Sugar bowl, but We're Michigan."

"Yes, I realize our best passing offense is for Denard to throw the ball down field and hope we catch it, but We're Michigan."

"Sure, Michigan State beat us head to head but we deserve a BCS bowl. We're Michigan!"

Sounds a lot like the entitlement of Roger Sterling, doesn't it? Roger sleeps with who he wants to, when he wants to and has no remorse whatsoever. Already this season we have seen him father Joan's child, take LSD, divorce his second wife, and get a hummer from Megan's mother all without slowing down one bit. He's also been delightfully drunk for almost the entire season, especially on Pearl Harbor Day. What I would give to see Brady Hoke drunkenly address the media in a Hawaiian shirt at Media Days this year.

Indiana Hoosiers = Pete Campbell

Pete lives in his own little world where he is very important and everyone needs him. This is Indiana, especially their basketball program. If there is one thing I despise it is when lazy sportswriters do the, "x sport needs y team to be good." I've seen it too many times with the "College basketball needs Indiana to be good." If you talk to many Indiana fans it is as if this past season was their god-given right to be good again. I've never seen such entitlement come out after one December win.

Pete thinks he deserves so much based on title, his family connections, and what he brings to the firm, but when confronted with a chance to deliver he cowers away, just like Indiana did against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament by refusing to play defense for 40 minutes (sorry, no one gives up 100 points in the NCAA Tournament without being awful or refusing to play D. Pete getting punched out by Lane earlier this season is also an easy representation of their football program. I think IU football probably would lose a game to an English American football team.

Finally, who hasn't wanted to just punch Pete? Lane got to do it.

Nebraska Cornhuskers = Megan Draper

This one is easy. Megan is the new Hotness, but she has been taking more of a diminished role as this season goes on. She thinks she can stay on Don's (Ohio State's) level, but we're seeing more and more how she is off in her own little world and not quite on the level yet. Also, since she left Sterling Cooper Draper Price her interactions with everyone still feels a little forced.

Still, Megan is one of my favorite characters, and maybe she'll help lead to a newer, happier (cleaner) Don (Ohio State). Now all we need is Bo Pelini to sexily sing Zou Bisou Bisou in a karaoke bar after Media Days this year.

Penn St. Nittany Lions = Bert Cooper

Everyone on the show seems to be changing with the time. Even Roger doing LSD gets him more up to date with the fast moving 60's as the next oldest character. Penn State still feels like it is trapped in a different time and after over 20 years, still doesn't feel like they are quite as good of a fit with the conference as Nebraska was. Of course, with JoePa there until last year the doddering but loveable old guy image was even more spot-on.

No one is really sure what Bert does well around the office, either. What is Penn State's role in the conference? Are they a football pillar? Do they add a lot for Olympic sports like volleyball, much like Bert's name alone lends credence to the agency?

Purdue Boilermakers = Peggy Olson

Possibly my favorite character on the show is one that is not a lot of people's favorites, but if you like her, you love her. Peggy's complicated relationship with Pete is certainly similar to the Indiana-Purdue rivalry in that she should hate him, but instead she sometimes feels pity. There will always be a bond between them because of the season 2 bombshell she drops when she tells Pete about their child. The advice of "It Never Happened" and moving on from Don is also how Purdue fans have to deal with each successive failure when a team comes up short with big expectations. We always come back, often stronger than before.

Peggy is also deceptively smart and can steal a show with a few well-placed jabs, such as when she extorted a ton of cash from Roger earlier this season. Finally, Don has a certain weakness around Peggy, much like the titan of Big Ten football Ohio State has when it comes to West Lafayette.

Northwestern Wildcats = Lane Pryce

When Lane is on, he is on! The episode this season when he brought in a car account, his country won the World Cup, he punched out Pete, and made a move on Joan is basically the 1995 Northwestern Football season: It came out of nowhere, no one expected it, and it was one of the best winning streaks in the show's history.

Of course, Lane being British means that he looks at things a little differently than the other characters on the show. He views soccer as the most important sport, just as Northwestern continues to think lacrosse is a much bigger and better sport than having an actual good men's basketball team.

Back to the "winning" episode though. Lane might be justLane (a hat-tip to Iowa's justNorthwestern), but when he goes on a streak, like nailing a Playboy bunny, they are streaks of inexplicable luck that leave you wondering how they did that.

Michigan St. Spartans = Duck Phillips

Duck's most memorable moment on the show was getting the presidency pulled out from underneath him and completely losing it near the end of season 2. He later showed up drunk, tried to get back together with Peggy, pooped on Roger's floor, and punched out Don. For pooping on Roger's floor he has the perfect role as little brother to Michigan's Big Brother.

Michigan State is the other "newest" member to the conference other than Penn State and Nebraska in that they can't claim over a century of membership. They desperately want prestige, but it secretly burns them everytime they are equal or better than one of the bluebloods, but they get passed over, like the Sugar Bowl's selection of Michigan this year.

Minnesota Golden Gophers = Harry Crane

Harry is a very quite major character that is often bossed around by the bosses, but is still just happy to be part of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Minnesota is mid-level in just about every Big Ten sport, but they are happy to be on board and reap the sweet Rotel and Barbasol benefits of almost $25 million a year despite not having a nationally relevant program in anything outside of hockey.

Even when things go right they don't really go right. Harry was hit on by Paul's Hare Krishna girlfriend this year, but ended up getting told off and slapped. In the end, Harry has a good heart. You can't look at Goldy's face without smiling and liking him because he'll do pretty much anything to fit in.

Illinois Fighting Illini = Joan Holloway

At one time Joan had IT. She could sleep with any man she wanted, had the handsome doctor for a husband, and generally was the envy of everyone. With the second most conference titles across all sports that is Illinois, because they rarely win conference titles in the major sports anymore. Now they are growing older, firing coaches who failed to lead them to heights they had only in their minds, and aren't sure what they want.

Still, Joan has the assets to get by and she charmed her way into a partnership (even if Pete basically whored her out). Illinois' supposed Chicago recruiting base also has them as a dangerous team even though there isn't a ton of recent evidence to show this is true. The Illini's best asset is the Windy City, just as Joan's best assets are on her chest. Bonus points that Lane (Northwestern) wants to be in them desperately.

Iowa Hawkeyes = Betty Francis

Our Most Hated Rival is the greatest thing in its own little Corn Kingdom, but outside the state most people are like, "who?" Betty pops in and out of episodes now as the vengeful mommy dearest with the children that hate her and the life no one wishes they had that, on the surface, looks like the perfect life. She is secretly miserable as arm candy for Don or her new husband just as people in Iowa are secretly miserable they live in freakin' Iowa!

The Most Hated Rivalry between Purdue and Iowa makes about as much sense as a fight between Peggy and Betty on the show. To my knowledge, the two have barely met, yet they both have a strange effect on Don. Betty despises Don but has to stay attached to him because of conference ties. I am not sure if Iowa hates Ohio State, but given the distance between the two schools their bond seems based on conference only.

Wisconsin Badgers = Stan Rizzo

In both football and basketball Wisconsin puts forth a tough, hard-nosed attitude that often works well. They're brash and will run you over in football while in basketball they aren't afraid to ugly it up and win 45-42. Stan is the guy in the office that walks around with his biceps showing and a general "Come at me, Bro" attitude, at least as much as one can do that in 1966.

Still, as good as Stan is, he can easily be forgotten. People forget about Wisconsin at their peril. Stan is an ultimately likeable character, and I have to say I like Wisconsin's work ethic.

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