We must confess that we can't wait each year for the crunch of shoulder pads; for cleats churning up chunks of turf and red-faced coaches screaming from the sidelines. But enough about lacrosse. College football season is upon us, and to celebrate, we're going to get back into tiny tidbit mode and present four things you didn't know about each major conference. If you have a little-known fact about your team or conference, strap it to a freshman, point him in our direction and whack him on the ass. Or, mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Today: The Big Ten.
• 1. Hardware Wars. The Big Ten probably has more trophy games than any other conference in Division I-A.. Seriously, on any given Saturday, the following trophies are up for grabs: The Little Brown Jug (Minnesota-Michigan), Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa-Minnesota), Paul Bunyan's Axe (Minnesota-Wisconsin), The Governor's Victory Bell (Penn State-Minnesota), The Paul Bunyan-Governor of Michigan Trophy (Michigan-Michigan State), The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk (Illinois-Northwestern), The Old Oaken Bucket (Purdue-Indiana), Illibuck (Ohio State-Illinois), The Purdue Cannon (Purdue-Illinois), The Old Brass Spittoon (Indiana-Michigan State), The Land Grant Trophy (Penn State-Michigan State), The Heartland Trophy (Iowa-Wisconsin). (Thanks to Craig D. Barker).
• 2. Holy Toledo. The Michigan-Ohio State matchup was ranked as the greatest college rivalry by ESPN in 2000; the schools have met in football 102 times (the Wolverines holding a 57-39-6 edge), predating the Big Ten itself, which was formed in 1918. Battle lines are clearly drawn, except in Toledo, Ohio, which is considered right on the border, with an even split of Michigan and Ohio State fans. There is even a combination Buckeye-Wolverine souvenir shop there. The most famed Michigan product at present would have to be Tom Brady. Jack Nicklaus and Jesse Owens both attended Ohio State, and Mike Cooper wore the sweatshirt, although we're not sure if he attended.