Three Thoughts is a new feature GoldandBlack.com will run every Monday morning in-season.
ON TRAINING CAMP
Jeff Brohm said that his defense won Saturday’s scrimmage in Ross-Ade Stadium, “which is what I wanted.”
Taking Brohm at his word, hard as it may be to envision him ever wanting something other than his offense rolling everything in its path, that seems like a fairly positive thing for a defense that has to be something more this season, and has to do it with a wholly new defensive staff and a whole bunch of new faces.
Defensive progress was arguably Job 1 of the off-season. If it wasn’t, there probably wouldn’t be four new guys on the staff and however many transfers they’ve brought in. Hard to keep count.
That said, the best case scenario for the preseason would be for defensive progress to come on the losing end of the ledger, because the defense can be twice the unit it was last season and it may not matter a whole lot if the offense doesn’t make a similar move.
And considering the offense’s experience, specifically at quarterback now, that would seem like a reasonable expectation. (And, yes, I know the offensive line is banged up.)
I didn’t see the scrimmage, obviously, nor did any other civilian. But Brohm wouldn’t have said the defense won if the defense didn’t win.
Now, for the remainder of camp, it would be preferable, I’d imagine, for the defense to keep showing well, but for those efforts to fall well short against an offense that’s going to have to score more, and play situational football more effectively, this season.
ON THE BIG TEN’S NEXT MOVE
In the wake of the SEC laying waste to the Big 12 by usurping its two alpha football programs and revenue sources — Texas and Oklahoma — reports say that the Big Ten has engaged in talks with the Pac-12 and ACC about the possibility of an alliance, which is so very Dwight Schrute, but also the position everyone finds itself in right now.
As I understand it, this would mean the three conferences would strike a scheduling pact that would beef up their own non-conference slates to the point where their College Football Playoff selection cred would likely match that of an SEC that would have Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas, the latter of which might be selling itself out, considering the Longhorns need to start winning some damn games again before acting like they run college football. And it would enhance those conferences’ television appeal with more high-end games to rival the SEC’s near-monopoly on college football’s best rivalries.
Anyway, my immediate reaction was this: This would be a practical move for the Big Ten to be part of this in response to the SEC’s power grab, but that the Big Ten should be the one grabbing power, and not responding to someone else doing so.
All due respect to the Pac-12 and ACC, but the Big Ten has long stood eye to eye with the SEC, those two conferences representing the sport’s two most powerful entities. Jim Delaney flexed those muscles most notably when he changed the sport with the Big Ten Network, then grew the conference to the monstrosity it is today.
Now, it was just a year ago at this time that the Big Ten tried to play the role of ethical beacon — however flawed that approach and its execution may have been — and no one followed. That’s not a shot at Kevin Warren as much as it is a reflection of the power Delaney took with him into retirement. Had Delaney done what Warren did 12 months ago, however unlikely that might have been, everyone else would have at least listened.
Anyway, the SEC just made the sort of move the Big Ten might have made before, and now the Big Ten may be huddling up with everyone else among college football’s upper middle class, while the SEC becomes what SEC people simply will never shut up about the SEC being.
This consolidation of power — both in the SEC’s growth and the potential alliance between the other three power conferences — is another step toward the inevitable: Power 5 football becoming its own entity, whether officially or unofficially. Last summer was a big signal of that direction, when the NCAA forfeited any measure of authority on COVID to the conferences to do what they wanted.
If Purdue is playing only ACC and Pac-12 opponents pre-conference, then what happens to Connecticut and Ball State and Memphis and the academies and all of them? Here’s guessing it doesn’t matter to anyone with power one bit. Every man for himself these days. Beefing up your schedule for your postseason résumé is important competitively, but would matter to maybe three or four Big Ten teams a year. For Illinois, it would just mean more losses.
What would a partnership between the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 mean? Would this take the place of potential expansion one day, because if so, that may be a bad deal for the Big Ten, which would be wise to keep its options open. Right now, it feels like it’s settling in to just being part of everyone else.
ON SAMPSON JAMES
Imagine for a second if it was three weeks before the start of the fall semester and Eric Hunter announced he was going to go play basketball for Indiana instead, or if Trayce Jackson-Davis said he’d be coming to Purdue.
It’d be weird wouldn’t it? (I think it’s more effective to use players whose faces you can see when they play to put a face on this.)
That’s essentially what happened last week when Sampson James announced he was moving from IU to Purdue. Not all that long ago, James was touted as the most touted recruit in IU program history, so there’s some name cache there that makes this more of an attention-grabber.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and claim this to be some sort of coup for Purdue, that it struck a below-the-belt sort blow at its rival here. James’ role this season in Bloomington was TBD and there were no guarantees, by every account, he’d get the workload he’d certainly want at this stage of his career.
For Purdue, when this becomes relevant remains to be seen. If there’s a path to Immediate eligibility for him In West Lafayette, I’ll be damned if I know what it is.
James departing Indiana probably shouldn’t come as a shock. He decommitted from Ohio State out of high school and already had one prior dip Into the transfer portal pool. As Don Henley sang long ago — specifically about the transfer portal, I believe — “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
James departing IU wasn’t surprising. Him landing at its up-state rival, that was.
It’s worth a shot for Purdue, even if he has to sit out a year, a nod to the long and dying history of transfers doing that.
Purdue knows as well as anyone, because last time it saw him, It couldn’t tackle him. Last time Purdue fans saw him live — hell last time Purdue fans saw anyone live — he ran for 118 yards in Ross-Ade Stadium.
And Purdue could use another able body at running back. Didn’t expect one to show up a week into camp, but whatever.
We’ll see what comes of this, but it’s fascinating, the second Indiana player to jump the rivalry’s border this off-season.
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