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Desktop Sportsman - 09/09/2010

As a Wisconsin fan you may hate the new divisions for football in the Big Ten conference, and have every right to since the Badgers had two traditional rivals (Iowa and Northwestern) taken away from them along with having to play Penn State and Ohio State every season. The breakdown should have been this way: Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State, Northwestern in one half and Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Nebraska and Iowa in the other half (basically a North-South split) with the Badgers getting an annual rivalry with Iowa.

But as a coach you have to like the fact you have four winnable games in your division every season, three coming against essentially basketball schools (Indiana, Purdue and Illinois) with only brief shots of football glory, your rivalry game with Minnesota, a Penn State that may be good now but faces an uncertain future post-Joe Paterno and Ohio State, who you have to beat at some point as UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said and who Badgers have had more success against than Michigan historically. It seems to me Alvarez viewed the situation with the eye of a coach more than a fan and who knows? If league play goes to nine games, UW would probably pick up another protected rivalry game (probably Iowa). So all of this may work out in the distant future before another round of expansion. But for right now? Yeah it stinks, there's no other way to put it. And they better not use these football divisions for the other sports.

If it's any silver lining, it's been a dream of mine to see UW play Nebraska and I can't wait until next season to witness it. They'll be more red in Camp Randall than in a cranberry bog.

Why would the Vikings let go of a competent back-up QB like Sage Rosenfels for the still unproven Tavaris Jackson? Because it costs the Vikings very little to keep Jackson around compared to Rosenfels. Well, Brett's extra dough had to come from somewhere, right?

What this means is the Vikings are not just doubling down on Favre this season, they're betting mortgage, the car titles, the keys to the camper maybe even the family jewels too on the NFL blackjack table. Is this a wise bet considering the man's age and fact even he admits his body might not make it for 16 games and the fact the Vikes' receivers are banged up? Well, with Adrian Peterson around and a still stout defense, the gamble may not be all that risky to attempt as the Super Bowl window slowly begins to close on the franchise. Handing off more often not only may save Favre for the playoffs, it may also curb his reckless tendencies. You know, the kind that throws interceptions on bad throws in OT in NFC Championship games.

The Brewers could cash in Ken Macha as manager at the end of the season unless they go on a massive win streak and finish at .500. Of course it really wouldn't solve anything since not even Tony LaRussa could win with such terrible pitching, particularly from the bullpen. But if Milwaukee believes its problems stem from a lack of emotion rather than personnel(which is typical of teams who don't want to spend the offseason trying sign free agents), then the front office needs to admit they made a mistake not hiring Dale Sveum permanently for the job after he led them to the playoffs in 2008 and fix it by hiring him for 2011.

Could the Twins finally win a division series this season? If the playoffs started now Minnesota would match up with Tampa Bay, a good team but a beatable club, before taking on either the Yankees, Rangers. At least then Twins manager Ron Gardenhire might be named AL Manager of the Year for getting this banged up and jerry-rigged club another division title and and playoff series win.

Congrats to former Prescott football players, Nick Schommer and Jake Filkins, for making it in the larger world of football. Schommer will be on the Tennessee Titans main roster this season and Jake just got a scholarship to play football at the University of Minnesota.