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Big Ten Q&A: Iowa Linebacker James Morris Talks About the Perception of the Big Ten & Upcoming Playoffs
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31 Dec 2013 03:28 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: James Morris led Iowa with 15.5 tackles for loss this season. (Image Source: Brian Ray/AP Photo)

New York, NY—Iowa linebacker James Morris was a stellar performer on and off the field this season. The senior was the only player in the Big Ten with at least 90 tackles, four sacks and four interceptions on his way to second-team All-Big Ten honors. Morris was also named to the Capitol One Academic All-American team and a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, where I was able to sit down with him and talk some football. Scroll down to listen to the entire podcast. 

How important is New Year’s Day for the Big Ten?

The Big Ten for whatever reason seems to be a conference that a lot of people like to kick dirt on. Some of it’s deserved and some if it isn’t. There are a lot of good football players in the Big Ten. Within the last five years or the last decade, since, I don’t know what National Championship Game it was, but it was when Ohio State played Florida and they got beat pretty badly. It just seems like ever since that time the Big Ten’s sort of been second fiddle to the SEC in some regards. So for a Big Ten team, who is an underdog to come out and play well against an SEC opponent that would benefit the reputation of the conference and hopefully try to dispel some of those myths and stereotypes that the Big Ten is somehow inferior. We can talk about it all we want, we gotta go out and do it. Now it maybe the case that the SEC is vastly superior to the Big Ten and this is just wishful thinking, but I’m hoping that’s not the case. I’m going to do everything I can in my power to make sure that we’re prepared and that when we go out there we play well and have a chance to win the game. Time will tell, we’ll know on the first.

Wins on the field does do a lot more than talk…

But if we didn’t talk then you might not have a job.

(Laughs) That’s all I can do… Staying with this theme. Does it bother you that Michigan State was 12-1, a conference champ and they were not part of the conversation to make the BCS Championship Game?

Oh, yeah, I never even thought about that, because so much of it is when you win versus when you lose. Michigan State lost early, to a good opponent. If you look at how Michigan State was built, coming in, all the question marks they had on offense. Inconsistencies at the receiver position, didn’t know who their quarterback was at the time. Max’s (Bullough) brother (Riley Bullough) was the starting running back in spring ball. They were getting a lot of things figured out and against Notre Dame they kinda of got settled in, in the second half of that game and then we played them. They’ve been trending upward ever since that game. In my opinion they’re an attractive team but it’s interesting how you look at the way they’ve been playing the last couple of weeks and they’re not getting any conversation. There’s also the component of where maybe offense sells, points sell. You look at these two teams playing (Florida State and Auburn), Heisman Trophy candidates on both teams, score a lot of points, that SEC Championship game... In every argument I just made for Michigan State you can probably make the same argument and then some for Auburn too, in how they’ve played at the end of the year.

That will be the beauty of next year. As a player I assume you’re in favor of a playoff?

Yeah, I am. I don’t know exactly what the system is going to be… The bowl system is great in that it gives people an opportunity that wouldn’t be in that playoff to have some meaning at the end of their season. A team like us, so we’re very thankful for that. There are a lot of great things about the bowl system, but there’s no perfect system. I think when you go to a four-team playoff…the next inevitable problem… well, who’s the four teams that get in? Because now all of sudden you have three or four teams that are 11-2. Somebody is going to get left out, but I do think a four-team playoff is better than just picking two.

Big Ten Links:

Q&A: James Morris Talks About Corralling the Program & New Year’s Day Bowl

One-On-One With Penn State Offensive Guard John Urschel

One-On-One: MSU LB Max Bullough Talks About Winning the Big Ten Championship

One-On-One: Michigan State’s Max Bullough Talks Playoffs & Defines Spartan Dawg

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. 

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