Each week, Saturday Tradition managing editor Dustin Schutte offers his spin on what matters most in the B1G.

Adrian Martinez leaves an incredible legacy behind at Nebraska

Sometimes, making the right decision can be difficult. I have to believe that was the case for Adrian Martinez when he decided to enter his name into the transfer portal and end his time at Nebraska.

Is it possible to be stunned but not shocked at the same time?

Martinez has been the heart and soul of Nebraska’s program for the past 4 seasons. He’s embodied everything Huskers fans want the Block “N” to represent: toughness, resiliency, courage and loyalty.

During his final season, Martinez played with a broken jaw and a high-ankle sprain. That’s not to mention all the other bumps and bruises a quarterback takes throughout the course of the season. He played in 11 games, missing the season finale against Iowa because of shoulder surgery.

Martinez ends his career as Nebraska’s all-time leader in total offense (10,792 yards), completions (670) and 250-yard passing games (16). He started 38 career games and scored 80 touchdowns over 4 years.

There was never a gripe. He never pointed the finger. Not once did the 3-time captain throw a teammate under the bus. He handled all of his success, and all of Nebraska’s failure, with pride and dignity.

Autographs were signed. Photos were snapped. Martinez was the kind of player parents across the state of Nebraska hope their kids admire. Even his farewell message was pure class.

“The University of Nebraska will always be a place I can call home,” Martinez wrote. “It has been an honor and a privilege to represent the N for 4 years. … I will always be a Nebraska Cornhusker at heart and a proud Alum.”

I’m stunned Martinez won’t be wearing the red and white in 2022.

The reason I’m not shocked (if the two can co-exist)? The past 4 years haven’t exactly gone according to script. The hope and optimism that surfaced after a promising end to Scott Frost’s first season in 2018 has since been stifled by a string of heartbreaking and gut-wrenching losses.

Nebraska is 15-27 since 2018. The Huskers are an astonishing 5-20 in games decided by 1 possession. A 3-9 record in 2021 didn’t help anything, even with 8 losses coming by 8 points or less. The largest margin came in a 26-17 loss to Ohio State in early November.

As close as the Huskers have gotten, they haven’t been able to clear the hurdle. Something isn’t working. A change might be the best decision for both sides. That shouldn’t be viewed as slander on either party involved.

With his job hanging in the balance, maybe it’s best if Frost tries another option under center to see if it generates the spark Nebraska needs in order to “get this thing to pop.” Maybe the program Martinez is meant to lead to new heights isn’t the one located in Lincoln.

Peyton Ramsey left Indiana for Northwestern following the 2019 season after starting multiple years in Bloomington. He led the Wildcats to a B1G Championship Game appearance. Indiana finished the regular season with a 6-1 record.

Who’s to say something similar won’t happen for Nebraska and Martinez? Sometimes, change is necessary.

It’s impossible to predict what will happen at Nebraska next season without its longtime quarterback and captain. Who knows whether Martinez will have the opportunity to lead a new team to success?

What I do know, though, is that the legacy Martinez left at Nebraska should be remembered for a long time. He poured his heart and soul into a program he truly loved.

Personally, I hope Martinez enjoys the magical season he deserves, even if it’s not in the B1G.

Brian Kelly’s fake accent in the bayou

This is a B1G website. Typically, I stick with conference conversation. But this can’t be ignored. Plus, Notre Dame has enough rivals in the B1G for this to be a somewhat relevant topic.

Set aside what you think about Kelly’s decision to ditch the Fighting Irish for LSU, despite owning an 11-1 record and an outside shot to reach the College Football Playoff. Ignore the fact that he met with his players for only 4 minutes. Erase from your memory the moment that he said it would take the “fairy godmother” with a $250 million check to lure him out of South Bend.

Forget all that.

Let’s focus on this fake southern accent Kelly attempted to use during his first public appearance since taking the job with the Tigers. It happened during an LSU basketball game, and it can only be described by this video:

Is that a skit from the “Murder Mystery” episode of The Office? Did he watch Nicholas Cage in Con Air and decide that was the route to take?

This entire week was really awkward for Kelly. Somehow, that moment might’ve been the worst.

Ferentz & Harbaugh: More than football guys

In a profession that focuses primarily on wins and losses, it’s pretty easy to overlook the kind of impact a head coach can make on his players, his staff, the university and even the community. That’s why, before we dive into the B1G Championship Game, it’s important to recognize the two men coaching in it.

The recognition doesn’t come because Kirk Ferentz led Iowa to a 10-win season for the second time in 3 years. It’s not because Jim Harbaugh is 11-1 and registered his first win over Ohio State last weekend. Instead, we acknowledge the good will and character of the two leaders heading to Indianapolis.

First, it was Harbaugh revealing that the bonus money he earns this season will be returned to Michigan’s athletic department in an effort to assist employees who took a voluntary or mandatory pay reduction during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“We decided that any bonus money that I am to receive through this season will be redirected to reimburse UM athletic department employees who have stayed while taking a voluntary or mandatory pay reduction during the last 18 months during the pandemic.” – Jim Harbaugh, Inside Michigan Football

A few days later, Ferentz stood at his lectern to preview this weekend’s upcoming B1G title game, the second time he’s led Iowa to Lucas Oil Stadium. Squeezed into all the conversation about injuries, schematics and the rest of the on-field discussion, Ferentz wanted to mention the character of his players.

It wasn’t just the words that escaped Ferentz’s mouth, it was the emotion that was released when he spoke:

“I’ll just share this, so it’s important — Friday was a really good day. Maybe as good as any. We came out, got our Chick-fil-A snacks, not sure if I’m allowed to say that — I’m not trying to advertise for anybody — got our snacks. The guy that does the meals complimented me a couple of times in a row now, just about how well our players act. It’s just as important (as how they play).”

The wins and losses are important. Nobody will ever argue against that. But these are the kind of moments we take for granted too often in college football.

Saturday’s B1G Championship Game will feature two really good football teams. There will also be two pretty good head coaches on the sidelines, as well.

Quick draw

#13 Iowa vs. #2 Michigan: Regardless of outcome, we’re going to have a first-time conference champion since the inaugural B1G Championship Game a decade ago. What better way to close out the wild and chaotic 2021 season? All season, Iowa has thrived on creating turnovers, using special teams to its advantage and capitalizing on great field position. Conversely, Michigan has been one of the nation’s best at securing the ball, hitting on explosive plays and forcing opposing quarterbacks to panic.

In Iowa’s 2 losses, to Purdue and Wisconsin, it allowed 10 total sacks and scored just 7 points in each game. How will the Hawkeyes be able to move the ball on one of the nation’s top defenses, especially with edge rushers Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo playing so well right now? That’s why field position is pivotal.

If Michigan takes care of the football and establishes its strong running game with Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, it’s going to be difficult for the Hawkeyes to pull out a win.


B1G Championship Game (Under 43.5) 

A really strong line thrown out by Vegas. Why? Because 13 of the 24 games these two teams have played have hit the over while 11 have fallen under that 43.5-point total. Iowa’s last 3 games have hit over that total, same with Michigan’s last 2 contests. It might be easy to take the over.

But when you look at some of the better defensive teams the Hawkeyes and Wolverines have faced this season, it’s much easier to trust the under. Plus, it feels like betting the under has been a pretty successful move across the B1G this season, right?

If you like history, then you’ll love this: In the two meetings between Kirk Ferentz and Jim Harbaugh, the point totals haven’t even combined to hit 44 points. Michigan won 10-3 in 2019 and Iowa was triumphant with a 14-13 victory in 2016. That’s a total of 40.

Take the under.