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Tag:Northwestern
Posted on: February 6, 2012 5:58 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 6:05 pm
 

Big 10 "kicking around" idea of Plus One

Maybe it’s the declining interest in college football for the first time in years.

Although a BCS official said it wasn’t.

Maybe it’s the unrest regarding the BCS system.

Although the system has been defended vigorously – by the BCS.

Or maybe it’s just time.

The Big Ten – the Leaders and Legends themselves – have taken a significant step in adjusting the sport’s postseason beginning in 2014. The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that the Big Ten is “kicking around” the idea of a four-team playoff with the semifinals played on campus sites. 

While the idea of a Plus One is nothing new – it has been mentioned prominently as a replacement for the BCS – the Big Ten’s apparent increased interest is intriguing.

The Tribune quoted Northwestern AD Jim Phillips as saying, “The Big Ten is open and curious.”

Since spring 2008, various administrators from four of the six BCS leagues (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12) have supported a Plus One. Most recently, ADs from the Big Ten and Pac-12 supported a Plus One in a straw poll in August.

The BCS pays out $180 million to participants per year. One powerful BCS AD indicated that a Plus One would be worth significantly more than double that amount. The 11 FBS commissioners next meet to discuss the issue later this month in Dallas. No final decision is expected. Significant progress is expected to be made in late April during the annual BCS meeting, this year in South Florida.

“I think sports fans are conditioned to playoffs,” Delany told the Tribune. “I don’t begrudge them that. They’re looking for more games, but we’re trying to do the right thing.”

The Big Ten Plan – what else you going to call it? – involves having the semis played on the campus of the higher-seeded team. This past season that would have meant Stanford playing at LSU and Oklahoma State playing at Alabama. The problem, as you may have noticed, is that in 2011 a Plus One would have included Stanford from the Pac-12 but not the Pac-12 champion, Oregon.

Right now, that may be a mere detail. The Big Ten is seemingly onboard in light of recent lower attendance numbers and TV ratings.  Regular-season attendance declined, if only slightly, for the second time in three years. Average bowl attendance hit a 33-year low this season. Overall BCS bowl ratings were down 10 percent from the 2011 bowls and  down 21 percent from when Fox last had the contract in 2009.

The 13.8 rating from the LSU-Alabama game was down 14 percent from last year's Auburn-Oregon game and down 24 percent from the Alabama-Texas game two years ago. BCS executive director Bill Hancock cautioned last month to reacting too early to attendance and TV ratings.

But perhaps a convergence of all those factors is now forcing change. If a Plus One is adopted expect more games grouped around the traditional Jan. 1 date. ADs and presidents are not only concerned about ratings and attendance but about second-semester football. The BCS Presidential Oversight Committee is particularly concerned about the BCS bowls being played further and further away from Jan. 1. There have been several times when teams had to get back from those games just in time for the second semester or the second semester had already begun after a BCS bowl.

“We had two experiences where we had to fly back the night of the game,” Ohio State AD Gene Smith said of two recent national championship games. “We played Florida [2007 in Glendale, Ariz.] and flew back right after the game. I remember stopping at the In-N-Out Burger. Our kids had to go to school the next day.

“We can’t do that, we can’t.”

The chairman of that BCS oversight group, Tulane president Scott Cowen, said the sport must proceed carefully.

“Two-thousand eleven was not a great year for intercollegiate athletics in America,” Cowen told CBSSports.com “I think all university presidents want to find more ways that we can cooperate and repair intercollegiate athletics.”

At least 50 different postseason plans were exchanged among the FBS commissioners Jan. 10 in New Orleans. There was no consensus but it is clear powerful people are getting used to the idea of a four-team playoff. NCAA president Mark Emmert has said on multiple occasions that there would be some interest in what he termed a football “Final Four”. SEC commissioner Mike Slive as well as Delany have been quoted as warming up to the idea.

If semis are played on campus sites then that could mean the championship game could be bid on. With the Cotton Bowl played in Cowboys Stadium, waiting on the doorstep to join the BCS that could be a huge step. One touchy issue for current BCS bowls is the preference to stay in the current four-year rotation for the championship game because of concerns about retaining sponsorships.

The Big Ten would have to consider the impact on the Rose Bowl. If one or more of the bowl's partners – Big Ten and Pac-12 – were in the playoff, how would that affect the Rose? The conferences and Rose Bowl are already uncomfortable with losing teams to the BCS championship game.  

The current deal with ESPN expires after the 2013 regular season/2014 BCS bowls. BCS commissioners are expected to have a new model for consideration by presidents by summer. 

Posted on: September 16, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 10:02 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Team/coach/player/name of the week: Iowa State/Paul Rhoads/Steele Jantz. In his three seasons the Cyclones' coach Rhoads has picked off Nebraska, Texas and, last week, Iowa in overtime.

The plucky Cyclones are guided by Jantz whose All-American name is only slightly less noticeable than his quarterback talents. Jantz went to high school in California, played scout team for a season at Hawaii, then went to City College of San Francisco before winning the job at Iowa State.

As for the name, Steele's grandmother started the tradition that carried over with his father (Fox), a brother (Wolf) and an uncle (Truk).

Rhoads has become the toast of Ames as Iowa State goes to Connecticut Friday night with a chance to go 3-0 for the first time since 2005. The former Missouri Western defensive back grew up a few minutes from Jack Trice Stadium. When Iowa State called him at Auburn following the end of the 2008 season, Rhoads would have crawled to Ames.

With conference realignment swirling, he may be single-handedly holding the program at the BCS level.


The road to Atlanta for the SEC title game goes through Nashville: Or another way to identify surprising 2-0 teams.

Vanderbilt: The administration whiffed on Gus Malzahn. James Franklin has brought a steadying hand. A 3-0 start is doable with the SEC opener at home against Ole Miss.
Kansas: A shootout win over MAC power Northern Illinois sets up Jayhawks for a trip to Georgia Tech. Two of the top passing teams in the country.
Northwestern: Dan Persa's injured Achilles could have wrecked the season. Instead the Wildcats have rallied around backup Kain Colter heading into Army.
Illinois: One of the more entertaining games of September Saturday night in Champaign vs. Arizona State.
Colorado State: For the first time since 1941 the Rams plays Colorado with a record of 2-0. For the first time since 1939, the Buffs come into this game 0-2 or worse.
Eastern Michigan: The Eagles first 2-0 start since 1986 gets a test -- a big one -- at Michigan. At least Eastern won't have to travel far from Ypsilanti to get whipped.
Washington State: Lose starting quarterback? No problem, Cougs lead the country in scoring offense.
Florida International: After beating Louisville, Mario Christobal is the nation's new "it" coach.


Scorching SEC: Now the Strength Everywhere even leads the country in scoring offense averaging 39.12 points per team. Two of the top four scoring teams include Arkansas (51.5 points) and South Carolina (50.5). The Big 12 is second at 36.66 points per team.

Best wishes: Minnesota's Jerry Kill is expected to coach Saturday against Miami (Ohio) after suffering seizures last week during the New Mexico State game. Kill has a history of seizures, one of which led to the discovery of his kidney cancer in 2005


More Bobby Bowden on Jimbo Fisher and Florida State: "Jimbo is an excellent football coach. A lot of people forget I was the one that hired him. I've known him since he was a child. He played for my son Terry in college. Terry told me 20 years ago this kid is going to be a great coach.

"I do not feel like Oklahoma's players they're superior to Florida State's. They might be more mature.
"We've been out of that [national picture] for the last 10 years. During the '90s we were up there every year. During the 2000s, we'd gone 10 wins every year for 14 years. Then we fell to eight, went to nine, went to 10. I said, 'Oh boy, we're back.' But instead we went kind of down."


Quote of the week: Tennessee's Derek Dooley describing what it means to go into SEC play (this week against Florida). "How many scars do you have?"


Meaningless stat: Wisconsin and Georgia Tech are first and third nationally in passing efficiency this week. Russell Wilson you can kind of understand making a difference for the ground-based Badgers. But Tech starter Tevin Washington has passed only 21 times in two games. (The Jackets have thrown 26 passes overall.)

Two traditional rushing powerhouses, Georgia Tech finished first and Wisconsin was 12th in that category in 2010.


Signal-stallers: Going into Week 3 Miami, Texas, Penn State and Notre Dame all have quarterback issues. Those schools have produced a total of four Heisman-winning quarterbacks.


Noting: Georgia Tech (hosting Kansas) has five plays of at least 70 yards. No other conference has produced that many ... USC (vs. Syracuse) has outscored its opponent in the fourth quarter only twice in the last 11 games ... Didn't you used to be the Holy War? Utah and BYU meet early this year due to the Cougars' move to independence and the Utes migration to the Pac-12. Something has been lost in this rivalry with no conference implications ... Jimbo Fisher claims that Doak Campbell Stadium has the most bricks of any building in North America. Will Oklahoma be another brick in the wall?


Heisman picks going into Week 3: 1. T.Y. Hilton, FIU: 2. Denard Robinson, Michigan; 3. Robert Griffin, Baylor; 4. Kellen Moore, Boise State; 5. Tyrann Mathieu, LSU.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 8:04 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 8:12 pm
 

Five things about the Big Ten

With the Big 12 media days kicking off Thursday here are five key issues to consider: 

1. The 800-pound Buckeye in the room: The world is waiting to see how the second-richest athletic department comes out of possibly its most disgraceful period in school history. Following a Watergate-like cover up, the head coach "retired" but not before allowing five players to compete while ineligible. No big deal. All it meant was that Ohio State won its sixth straight conference title and a $20 million BCS bowl. There are enough leftovers in this mess to be the subject of lectures in finance, history, ethics and sports law classes for years. While the NCAA weighs the football program's penalties, this year's Buckeyes will be the slow-down-and-look wreck on the highway. Everyone will be gawking. It is rookie coach Luke Fickell's job to unite Buckeye Nation and what is still a talented roster. Don't be surprised if Ohio State wins the Leaders Division and the Big Ten. Call it Jim Tressel's going-away present.

2. Quick, name the members of the Leaders and Legends divisions: No, really. I'm serious. All those corporate goofs talk about branding and synergy. In this case, the Big Ten paid some consultant or another six figures to confuse the public. Commissioner Jim Delany was looking for competitive balance so North-South or East-West were probably out. I get that. What I don't get is why the words "Schembechler" "Hayes" or "Grange" couldn't have been worked in there somewhere. This is a conference that is about to profit off the grainy images of old Joe Paterno coaching shows from the 1960s (on the Big Ten Network). Instead, the corporate goofs have succeeded in making the Big Ten (really 12) teams anonymous. Why is Ohio State a Leader given its current rep? Why isn't Penn State a Legend given that it is coached by one. An enterprising reporter could embarrass some coaches at the media days by asking them to name the members of each division. For now, the easiest way to remember is this: All the Ms (Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State) and the Ns (Nebraska and Northwestern), plus Iowa, are in the Legends. The Ps (Penn State, Purdue) and the remaining Is (Indiana, Illinois) are in the Leaders. That leaves Ohio State and Wisconsin to memorize on your own. A nursery rhyme, it ain't.

3. Nebraska assimilation: A tight-knit family hasn't been this charged up for a big move since the Clampetts figured California is the place they oughta be. In this case it's the Big Red loading up the U-Haul and moving to the Big Ten. Nebraska can't wait, per the wishes of Tom Osborne who had enough of Texas. Football-wise not much has changed. Some of the road trips are daunting. The Huskers move from one 12-team conference to another. They still haven't won a conference title since 1999. They still aren't "back". The Big Ten won't change those story lines. Talent-wise, Nebraska will compete just fine. It could make the Big Ten's title game in its first season. Other than that, Nebraska feels a lot better about itself having already inheriting some of that Big Ten arrogance on its way out the door from the Big 12. One thing, though: If the Big Ten is such a respected academic league why is Nebraska the only school not a member of the Association of American Universities. Expansion was not just about football. Yeah, right.

4. The rise of Sparty: In 2010, Michigan State won its first Big Ten title since 1990. (Tying with Wisconsin and Ohio State.) Next stop: The Rose Bowl. It's been 22 years since the Spartans got to Pasadena. After four seasons of steady improvement, Mark Dantonio has a chance to do it. To some, Michigan State is more than the trendy pick to win it all in the Big Ten. Kirk Cousins is one of the best pocket passers in a country in love with the spread offense. Edwin Baker (1,201 yards, 13 tds) may be the conference's best running back. A strong linebacking group must be rebuilt, although the schedule breaks Michigan State's way. It gets Ohio State in Columbus in the last game of the player suspensions. Michigan and Wisconsin come to East Lansing. Dantonio won't wow you with quotes but this is as solid a program as there is right now in the Big Ten. When the coach survives a heart attack and the team still wins 11 games something is going right. If it comes together, who knows Michigan State could get revenge on Alabama in a BCS bowl? (Bama trounced the Spartans 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl.)

5. The traditional mob boss: And I mean that in the best possible way about Delany. He is simply -- with the possible exception of SEC counterpart Mike Slive -- the most powerful man in college sports. Delany doesn't speak often publicly but when he does, he is usually provocative. Look for more of the same when Delany speaks Thursday during his annual state of the conference address at the media days. This is the guy who deftly tried to lure Notre Dame to the Big Ten (remember the rumblings about breaking up the Big East?), then ended up with a hell of a consolation prize -- Nebraska. This is the guy who slapped down the non-BCS conferences with impunity during a December forum in New York. "The problem is," Delany told the BCS wannabes, "your big stage takes away opportunities for teams to play on the stage they created in 1902." This is the guy who created the model for the conference network. Remember, there is still no guarantee the Pac-12, Longhorn and all these other networks will succeed. Ask Delany. It was a long slog to get to this point. With all the issues in play -- Ohio State, NCAA reform, conference realignment -- expect Delany to make his opinion known this week.
Posted on: December 13, 2010 1:37 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 6:05 pm
 

Dungeons, Dragons and Big Ten divisions

The new Big Ten has 12 teams and will start every season with two Ls.

If this has you confused, it's meant to in the new Large Dozen. The Big Ten made a big deal Monday out of revealing the names of its two six-team divisions. Then it underwhelmed us. The divisions are named Leaders and Legends. Not to be confused with Dungeons and Dragons or Abbott and Costello.

Leaders Division:  Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

Legends Division:  Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern


"There's nothing, maybe, like it out there," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.

That's certainly true. With all the great history and tradition available to it, the haughty Big Ten went low brow, corporate, generic. Leaders and Legends? That's the name of the trophy store down the street. What were "Gods" and "Superheroes" already taken? One thing for sure: The league won't be getting any cease and desist letters from famous people unless it's this guy. Sign ups are now being taken for summer school classes just to memorize the members of each division.

"Maybe if people don't embrace it in the first hour," Delany said, "they will in the first 24 or 36."


It's likely to take longer, if ever. If you're like me you're already wondering how the league promotes a Leaders Division showdown between Purdue and Indiana. It also prompts the question: Are the Leaders not legends and the Legends not leaders? And the alliteration thing is about as clever as a handoff to Archie Griffin. Delany was asked if the "two Ls" thing won't be associated with losses.

"You're the first one who has mentioned it," Delany said.

Apparently the commish wasn't on Twitter Monday which blew up with general mockery and disgust. A firm no doubt got six figures to "consult" on the division names and new logo. You'll love that when you see it. The league was cute with its embedded "11" in the old logo. In the new one, the "I" in "Big" has turned into "1". The "G" is meant to kind of simulate a "0". Maybe, but the "G" also looks like a "6". The league might be sending us a Da Vinci Code message on its future expansion plans.

"Now that you mention it ...," Delany said of a possible interpretation of "Big 16" in the new logo.

What is this a trademark or an M.C. Escher print?

All those names, all those (lower-case) legends and the league completely blew it. Schembechler and Hayes divisions would have been perfect. If Delany was worried about favoring individuals, then consider none of what went on Monday would have been possible without Bo and Woody enhancing the brand.

Instead the league used some of those people names for its conference awards, hyphenating them to get as many leaders and legends into the mix as possible. That makes the league's major awards look like chick-flick characters from your basic Lifetime movie. Who can forget Meredith Baxter-Birney playing Colleen Stagg-Paterno in "Looking For Love in Iowa City"?

My take on the subject wouldn't be complete without a list of suggested division names from myself and Twitter followers earlier on Monday. We got your generic right here.

Posted on: November 17, 2010 1:05 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2010 1:06 pm
 

National notes/Illinois-Northwestern fiasco

Northwestern and Illinois are playing this week at Wrigley Field. The NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee might want to have a word.

Whoever sanctioned this mess probably came from the state boxing commission. Those folks don't care who the hell gets hurt either. Seriously, how does any adult in good conscience put an end zone up against Wrigley's right field wall? There's also precious little out-of-bounds room on one side of the field. If you haven't seen the pictures, they're here and here.

The NCAA's 15-year old principles of student-athlete welfare states, " ... It is the responsibility of each member institution to protect the health of and provide a safe environment for each of its participating student-athletes."

Smashing one's face into a (padded) brick wall seems to violate some of those principles. Forget about the possibility of injury, both teams are going to have to alter their game plans. In other words, don't figure on seeing many skinny posts or go routes in the east end zone at Wrigley.

"They've got it padded up pretty good," Illinois coach Ron Zook said. "I was jokingly [saying] to our receivers, 'Got to get you ready for the Arena League.' Obviously, there was a lot concerns and a lot of thought put into that before the decision was made."

Zook he and officials surveyed Wrigley two years ago. Amazingly, none of the participants seem to have a problem with it.

"We had risk managers out here," Northwestern AD Jim Phillips told the Chicago Tribune. "We had civil engineers, safety engineers. We had so many people look at it because nobody wants to put the student-athletes in harm's way."

Noooo, who would want that? I guess to these guys, harm's way is actually putting the end zone in the bleachers.

"It will definitely be an element in the game," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

Thoughts and prayers, Illini and Wildcats, thoughts and prayers.



* Could a heart attack be a key to BCS bowl this season?

Hang with me on this: As crass as this sounds, TCU may have been distracted Saturday during a closer-than-expected 40-35 win over San Diego State. In the first quarter offensive line coach Eddie Williamson left the field because of a reported heart attack. Williamson had a stent put in and is expected to be back to the team soon. He didn't want the players to be seen in the weakened state, so he left the field as calmly as possible.

But the players had to know eventually that one of their coaches was gone. Did it have anything to do with the Frogs losing focus? They fell behind the Aztecs and came back to lead comfortably before a couple of late touchdowns by San Diego State.

The five-point victory margin probably had something to do with Boise cutting into TCU's lead for the automatic BCS bowl berth race. TCU is currently No. 3 in the BCS standings, but Boise is right behind with three games left. TCU has only one, Nov. 27 at New Mexico. Could the Broncos eventually pass the Frogs for that No. 3 spot if they win out?

It could come down to a close game caused by a distraction caused by Williamson's heart attack. Just saying ...



* The Pac-10's dirty little secret apparently is out. The Oregonian says it has a source who confirmed faking injuries was a "big part" of the game plan against Oregon's rapid-fire offense.

I reported Sunday that had been concerns inside the Oregon program over opponents' faking injuries since late September.

Oregon fans have taken to booing opponents' injuries whether legitimate or not.

"I know what our fans reaction is when someone's  carted off the field that looks like he's going off to surgery and is back immediately on the next play," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "We've played in games when three or four guys are down on a play. I think we have pretty intelligent fans at Oregon."



* There seems to be two parts to every SEC scandal -- the actual scandal itself and who ratted out the violator.

It's a conference tradition, one that commissioner Mike Slive has tried to eradicate with a code of ethics. The code requires those with knowledge of an NCAA violation to pass up the chain of command (AD to conference office to NCAA). That's obviously an issue lately with the Cam Newton situation. Mississippi State is on record as having turned in to the conference office Cecil Newton's alleged request for money for his son's services.


"The issue is you cannot turn a blind eye to misconduct," LSU coach Les Miles said. "If you do you're as guilty as the misconduct. I'm comfortable with the need to create a climate of compliance. I wish it wasn't anonymous. I wish everybody knew everything there was and it was open ... Then there would no behind closed doors."

Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:33 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 11:10 am
 

Halfway Son of Weekend Watch List

BCS bowl projections halfway through the season:

BCS championship: Oregon* vs. Alabama*
Rose: Boise* vs. Iowa*
Fiesta: Nebraska* vs. West Virginia*
Orange: Florida State* vs. Ohio State
Sugar: Auburn vs. Oklahoma

*-automatic qualifier

Notes: Oregon and Alabama win out to advance to the championship game. Alabama beats both LSU and Auburn assuring that there will be no undefeated teams in the SEC. It then beats the SEC East champion to advance. Despite one loss, it vaults over undefeated Boise, the TCU/Utah winner and perhaps even Oregon.  It doesn't matter for the Ducks who stay in the top two because undefeated Boise, Utah/TCU can't catch it in the BCS standings. Meanwhile, other current undefeateds Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Missouri also lose locking in Oregon. Alabama would be playing for the first back-to-back national championship since Nebraska in the 1990s. Oregon would be playing for its first.

--The Fiesta Bowl would gladly welcome Nebraska which it hasn't had since 2000. West Virginia would be making a second trip to the Valley of the Sun in four years.

--The Orange Bowl gets one of its more intriguing matchups as Florida State returns to the big time returning to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2005. Ohio State has to settle for an at-large berth after failing to win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title. The Buckeyes return to the Orange for the first time since 1977.

--The Sugar is filled with two at-large participants. Oklahoma returns to New Orleans for the first time since the 2004 (2003 season) national championship game loss to LSU.


Ranking the remaining MICs

11. Urban Meyer, Florida: Let's not forget that 20 years ago, Florida football didn't matter. Post-Zooker, Meyer made it a bigger national power than it was under Spurrier.

12. Joe Paterno, Penn State: No matter how his career ends, JoePa will leave the program in great shape.

13. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: An example of having patience with a good coach. Beamer started out terribly but the administration allowed him stay. Now he's one of the best in the country.

14. Al Golden, Temple: The nation's hottest young coach has got it back to the point where the Big East should consider inviting back the Owls.

15. June Jones, SMU: The first and only coach to lead the Ponies to a bowl game since the death penalty. That's good enough for me.

16. Mike Riley, Oregon State: Beavers win eight or nine each year and are always a factor in the Pac-10 race. Don't forget the Civil War is in Corvallis this year.

17. Larry Blakeney, Troy: In the same category as Snyder and Paterno on a smaller scale. Would Troy even exist without Blakeney?

18. Pat Hill, Fresno: Never won a WAC title but kept the Bulldogs relevant to the point that they're jumping to the Mountain West.

19. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: It's early but all the signs are good that FSU will soon be back on the national scene.

20. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU: Like Meyer, Bronco is allowed a down year.

21. Bo Pelini, Nebraska: If the NFL doesn't come calling, Nebraska will begin winning championships again under Bo.

22. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: Saturday's win allowed BB to make this list. Ohio State was his second win over a ranked Big Ten team. Barry Alvarez' hand-picked guy is trending upward.

23. Greg Schiano, Rutgers: The momentum has slowed since 2006 but Rutgers is back among the living under Schiano to the point that the Big Ten is sniffing around.

24. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: Operating with a low budget against Big Ten giants, the Wildcats are more than competitive with Fitz.

Oregon set the school season scoring record Thursday in the season's seventh game. The Ducks have 386 points and are averaging more than 55 points per game ... Strange how two Big Ten programs defined themselves by invoking Vince Lombardi this week. First Minnesota AD Joel Maturi said, "It's not like he would be replacing Vince Lombardi," of the new coach after firing Tim Brewster. Then Rich Rodriguez said this about his struggling defense: "Listen, Vince Lombardi could come too and [it's] not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense." ... Ohio State (at Minnesota) hasn't lost consecutive games since 2004 ... TCU has lost one fumble this season ... Texas A&M has lost 12 consecutive televised games dating back to 2008. The Aggies play at Kansas Saturday on Fox Sports Net ...

In this Week of the Head Shot in the NFL, it's interesting to note that Arkansas' Ryan Mallett was knocked out of Saturday's game with a concussion. He practiced Tuesday and will play Saturday against Mississippi ... The last six Auburn-LSU games have been decided by six points or less ... Mississippi State is ranked for the first time in nine years ... Until BYU kicked a field goal in Saturday's 31-3 loss, TCU had not allowed a point in almost three games -- 175 minutes, 10 seconds. A third straight complete shutout would have marked the first time in college football since Boston College in 1992.

 

Posted on: September 1, 2010 2:30 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 4:02 pm
 

Big Ten divisional announcement special

Give the Big Ten credit for building the hype.

The league will announce the much-awaited divisions for 2011 going forward during what is being called a "divisional alignment special" at 7 pm ET Wednesday night. There is already speculation and a report out there that Michigan and Ohio State are in different divisions.

The other key issue is when that game will be played. There is much consternation over moving "The Game" from its traditional spot during the last weekend in November. The 90-minute special will feature ADs Gene Smith (Ohio State), Dave Brandon (Michigan), Mark Hollis (Michigan State) and Tom Osborne (Nebraska).

If you want to assume that a pair of schools are being represented, go ahead. 

My divisions: 

East (or Hayes) Division

Ohio State
Purdue
Minnesota
Wisconsin
Illinois
Penn State

West (or Schembechler) Division

Michigan
Indiana
Iowa
Nebraska
Northwestern
Michigan State

It appears that the Big Ten has used the "zipper" plan that essentially separates rivals. That makes it easier for the so-called 5-3-1 model. Five games against teams in your division, a set of three rotating games against teams from the opposite division and a designated rival. That would be a game played each year.

In my divisional alignment, Ohio State and Michigan would play each year along with Purdue-Indiana, Iowa-Minnesota, Michigan State-Penn State, Wisconsin-Nebraska and Illinois-Northwestern.
 

Posted on: August 2, 2010 9:38 am
Edited on: August 2, 2010 4:37 pm
 

Five things about the Big Ten

Sizing up the Big Ten going into the Big Ten media days in Chicago...

Divisional set up. Conference officials will begin talking this week about how to split the Big Ten in two beginning in 2011. That would be two six-team divisions and staging a championship, which is all but a certainty as league officials meet this week in Chicago. In a league that believes Dockers are a fashion statement, expansion to 12 teams is a radical step. Traditional rivalries are at stake. What do with the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana-Purdue)? More importantly, what to do with Ohio State-Michigan? Competitive balance is first on commissioner Jim Delany’s list of priorities. But today’s slug (Michigan) could be tomorrow’s power. Don’t screw this one up, fellas. You’ve got a good thing going as it is. We don’t want too many Iowa-Northwestern championship games.

Joe goes for 400. No one is talking about it, but Joe Paterno is six victories away from 400 career victories. Only two other college coaches have made it to that number (Eddie Robinson, 408 and John Gagliardi, 471). The way the profession is structured today, it’s doubtful anyone will ever get to 400 again. Incredibly, JoePa has gotten better with age. His teams go to BCS bowls. He keeps recruiting with fervor. His staff stays mostly intact. We’re talking a modern miracle here, folks. Joe has been under the weather during the offseason with an intestinal disorder so it will be interesting to see how he looks at the media days. The Lions become the first team ever to play three teams that won BCS bowls the previous year. Alabama, Ohio State and Iowa are all on the road. Penn State hasn’t won in Iowa City since 1999 and has lost six of the last eight to Ohio State. Still, save the date: The way the schedule shapes up, win No. 400 will come on or around Oct. 30 against Michigan.

Malaise and blue. This is either the last year of the Rich Rodriguez era or the takeoff point for Michigan getting back on track. There is no in-between with a new athletic director in place and pending NCAA penalties on the horizon. Rich Rod is going to have to win – big, it says here -- to save his job. With the school trotting out a $225 million refurbishment of the Big House this season, another losing season won’t be tolerated. The angst starts Sept. 4 against UConn.

Define “pause.” That’s the term Delany used on June 11 to describe the current state of Big Ten expansion.  That was also the day Nebraska formally announced it had joined the league. That means college athletics still is sitting with a tack on its chair. There’s this uncomfortable feeling that things aren’t settled. Notre Dame could decide tomorrow it wanted in and we’d be in for another round of expansion turmoil. Texas could spend two years in the 10-team Big 12 and decide it doesn’t want to go to Waco and Ames anymore. Those two scenarios aren’t likely but Delany isn’t closing the book on expansion either. Going into Monday’s media days, he hasn’t quite defined what hitting the pause button means. For now, the Big Ten, which has an 11 in its logo, will expand to 12 beginning in 2011. 

Ohio Statement. After winning its first Rose Bowl in 10 years, the Big Ten is on a roll. It beat four top 15 teams in bowls last season. Even in losing, it proved its worth. Northwestern gave Auburn a tussle in the Outback Bowl.  Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn may be this season’s Ndamukong Suh. Wisconsin seems to have the running thing down (a 1,000-yard rusher in 15 of the last 17 seasons). It’s up to Ohio State, though, to complete the comeback. The Buckeyes won their first Rose Bowl in 14 years, have a Heisman candidate in Terrelle Pryor and most probably will start the season ranked No. 2.  This season is a success in Columbus and around the Big Ten only if Ohio State plays for in a third national championship game in nine years.
 

 
 
 
 
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