Posted on: October 29, 2010 2:16 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:09 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
When it comes to conference expansion, just about everything has been moving along quicker than anticipated in the Big Ten. Jim Delany originally said that the process would take 12 to 18 months, yet here we are, less than 12 months later, and the conference has already added Nebraska and figured out the new divisions, and where the conference championship game is going to be played.
Yet, somehow, it seems that the part that really should be the easiest, naming the two new divisions, is going to miss a self-imposed deadline. When the divisions were announced, Delany said that they would have names no later than December 1. Well, it's nearly November now, and Delany is saying that he might be off on that by two months.
"I could be off by 60 days. I think it's going really slow," said Delany, speaking at Thursday's Big Ten Basketball Media Day. "Why? Because we're trying to get to the logo, and that's going slow. Then we're getting lots and lots of good selections that we're not coalescing very well. So, I think that there's absolutely -- other than missing my deadline by a day or 60 days -- there's really no compelling reason to rush until we get my comfort level."
Seriously? It's going to take another three months to come up with a couple of divisional names? I can come up with some in the next 30 seconds.
Great Lakes and Plains.
Bo and Woody.
Or, how about this one, and it might be pretty crazy, EAST AND WEST.
Wow, I just blew your mind, didn't I, Delany? Yes, I know that the divisions aren't exactly aligned geographically, but what the hell does that matter? This is a conference with 12 teams that insists on calling itself the Big Ten, after all. They're just division names, they don't actually mean anything.
Posted on: October 29, 2010 1:33 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's three of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern) :
East Carolina (5-2, 4-0) at UCF (5-2, 3-0) , 3:30 p.m. It's a straight-up, head-to-head battle for first place in Conference USA 's East division, but there's plenty of other reasons to pay attention to what ought to be the C-USA game of the year. With Houston 's Case Keenum out for the season and Southern Miss having already lost to ECU at home, these appear to be the best two teams in the conference; the Pirates have the league's best nonconference win, over Florida State conquerors N.C. State , but UCF boasts C-USA's stingiest defense by a mile. Both teams have brand-name playmakers in elusive ECU quarterback Dominque Davis and explosive UCF defensie end Darius Nall. Thus far this season ECU has specialized in winning barnburners (51-49 over Tulsa , 44-43 over Southenr Miss) and this should be another tight contest on the road in Orlando, but with starting quarterback Rob Calabrese out, expect the Golden Knights to play things as close to the vest as possible.
Cal (4-3, 2-2) at Oregon State (3-3, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. His brother may be lost for the season, but any time Jacquizz Rodgers suits up for the Beavers, it's worth paying attention to. Beyond that, despite their nonconference losses at TCU and Boise State , the Beavers can still have a major say in the Pac-10 race with a win here; they'll play host to both USC and Oregon and must still travel to take on Stanford . Cal, meanwhile, has been more up-and-down than a yo-yo taken for a bungee-jump. After destroying Arizona State a week ago (a week after being destroyed at USC), they'll be expected to fold at Corvallis. But if you look past the margin of defeat, there's no particular shame in losing in Los Angeles, or at Arizona or Nevada . Both teams will still feel like their season to-date is a success with a win ... but both might also start to feel like the year might be a lost cause with a loss. The game promises to be a turning point for both.
Michigan (5-2, 1-2) at Penn State (4-3, 1-2), 8 p.m. It's pretty simple: at some point, Rich Rodriguez must start winning Big Ten games that aren't against Indiana to keep his job. (Against all other Big Ten teams, he's lost his last 11 in a row.) There's no time like the present, what with the Nittany Lions giving a sophomore walk-on his first start and their banged-up front seven looking like an excellent matchup for a fully-armed and operational Denard Robinson . On the other sideline, last week's win at Minnesota stopped the bleeding for Joe Paterno and Co., but a second straight home defeat to one of the conference's middle-of-the-pack teams -- particularly one with a Swiss cheese defense like the Wolverines' -- is not going to sit well with the Happy Valley faithful. Both teams will feel like they have reason to win this game, and as with the matchup above, the victor will wind up with plenty of reason to feel good about itself going forward. But the loser is going to have some very, very difficult questions to answer.
Tags: Arizona, Arizona State, Big Ten, Boise State, Cal, Case Keenum, Conference USA, Darius Nall, Denard Robinson, Dominique Davis, East Carolina, Florida State, Indiana, Jacquizz Rodgers, Joe Paterno, Michigan, Minnesota, N.C. State, Nevada, Oregon State, Pac-10, Penn State, Rich Rodriguez, Rob Calabrese, Southern Miss, Stanford, TCU, UCF, USC
Posted on: October 29, 2010 3:38 am
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:09 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
What do the words "zero tolerance" mean to you? A simple, straight interpretation of the term would mean that there are certain things that are beyond the pale of acceptable behavior, and violation of that rule would necessitate exclusion from whatever group set the rule -- in this case, a football team.
Oh, but Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio operates on a different level than you, and don't ever forget that, because A) he used a fake field goal to survive a heart attack and that is completely ballin' out of control; B) his handling of star cornerback Chris L. Rucker defies normal logic and he doesn't care. Back when Rucker and a good fraction of the Michigan State football team was involved in a gigantic fight with an academic fraternity (yes, they exist, and they're more prevalent than you think), Dantonio made a public statement about a "zero tolerance" policy toward the players implicated in the fight and his decision to grant eligibility to most of them. Rucker was one of those players.
Thus, one would this that Rucker was being held to the strictest of standards on and off the field. And yet, Rucker was arrested just this past week for OWI and thrown in jail for violation of probation after Rucker copped to a reckless driving charge. So, zero tolerance means Rucker's definitely off the Michigan State team, right? Oh wait:
Mr. Dantonio? Some explanation?
“Our decision to immediately reinstate [Rucker] has been endorsed by the team's unity council and the program at-large,” Dantonio said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision. After much soul searching and dialogue with those who are vested in the program, I am comfortable and confident in the decision I have made.”
Well, wow. The excuse of "'zero tolerance' doesn't mean automatic dismissal," as Dantonio put it , doesn't hold an ounce of water, and it seems pretty clear that Dantonio knows that ... except Dantonio doesn't have a reason to care, and the fact that he won't be called out en masse about this decision only reinforces that point. If Dantonio can wrangle a logical justification to get Rucker on the field, he probably will, and it'll be less disadvantageous to Dantonio's job than if he leaves Rucker languishing on the bench.
That said, it's important to point out that there's a mountain of difference between Dantonio's description of Rucker's status (ssss) and outright reinstatement to the starting lineup. If a coach tells the press that something is "up to" a certain player, that statement is absolutely loaded with hidden meaning and conditions. What's up to Rucker? Does he have to give up alcohol forever? Is there an obligation he has to fulfill to the football team? There must be something of great merit that Rucker has to accomplish that'll let the cornerback stay on the Michigan State football team even after he serves 8 days of jail time as a punishment for violation of his probation.
But Dantonio seems to be okay with allowing whatever condition must exist be played out immediately, and if there's any reason why Rucker can't play at Iowa , it seems to be kept secret at this point. PRO TIP: if reasons why a star player wouldn't be able to play in an upcoming game aren't made public in any respect, they probably don't exist, and that player will play immediately. Absent any new information, that's what we should expect here.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 7:38 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 7:54 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Week in and week out, teams do their best to figure out a way to duplicate the athleticism and skill of Denard Robinson on their scout team. We are nine weeks into the football season, and still no one has picked up my suggestion of a jackrabbit with a jetpack, but that's their loss. Usually it is a backup wide receiver or defensive back playing Robinson, trying to mimic Michigan's potent offense that has burned opposing defenses for an average of 532 yards per game, good for second best in the nation.
Sitting well behind the competition with a 1-2 record in Big Ten play, Penn State cannot afford to fall short in any aspect of their preparation for Saturday's showdown with the Wolverines in Happy Valley. When outfitting Nittany Lions cornerback Evan Lewis as the scout team quarterback, Penn State spared no expense on the look. Lewis was doing his best impression of the speedy, evasive Robinson all week, wearing a wig with dreadlocks. Penn State linebacker Matt Mauti chucked about chasing down Penn State's version of the signature locks during Wednesday's teleconference.
"He does a real good job," Mauti said of Lewis. "He's a real good athlete. He gives us a real good look. This kid is shifty and he's making guys miss all week. Obviously, he's not going to have the blazing 10.2 100-meter speed (of Robinson), but he's shifty and he's making guys miss. I have to give the kid credit. He's been doing well all week, as he has all season on the scout team."
Evans may be doing his best job to mimic Denard, but Robinson is near impossible to duplicate. All the Nittany Lions can honestly hope to do is contain the superstar quarterback, and try and force him into making bad decisions with his arm. Robinson has thrown four interceptions in the last two games, both losses for the Wolverines.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 6:14 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
A week of intrigue over the identity of Penn State 's starting quarterback for their critical match-up with Michigan has apparently come to a close. Multiple outlets, including PSU Scout site FightOnState.com , are reporting that redshirt sophomore walk-on Matt McGloin has received the majority of first-team reps in practice this week and will start against the Wolverines.
A crucial late-season home game against a Big Ten opponent is hardly the preferred venure for handing a walk-on quarterback the first start of his career, but an injury to regular starter Robert Bolden and the continued struggles of dual-threat option Kevin Newsome (also reportedly dealing with a nagging injury) have apparently forced Joe Paterno 's hand.
If there's a silver lining for the Nittany Lions, it's that they'd be hard-pressed to find a more accommodating defense for McGloin to wet his feet against; Rich Rodriguez 's young and injury-wracked crew ranks a miserable 117th in the country in pass defense and 93rd in sacks. If McGloin can't find his footing at home, against Michigan, it'll be clear that the Nittany Lions will need Bolden back at the first opportunity if they want to salvage so much as a low-level bowl game from this disappinting season.
The reverse is also true, however, for Michigan, who have seen the expectations and stakes for this game increase dramatically. If the Wolverine defense can't give Denard Robinson and Co. a little bit of slack against the Big Ten's next-to-worst scoring offense playing without its starting quarterback, then who can they give that slack against? The parallels between Michigan's 2009 second-half collapse and this hypothetical three-game losing streak would be awfully tough to ignore any longer.
But first, McGloin has to prove he belongs on the Beaver Stadium field, and given the pressure and difficulty of the situation he faces, that's easier said than done.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 7:44 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2010 9:25 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Yesterday, we ran down the list of potential Big Ten champions and what it'll take for each of them to punch their ticket to the Rose Bowl. Now, let's look at the other half of the Granddaddy. Of course, if the Ducks win out, they're probably headed to the BCS Championship instead of Pasadena, but they'll still be the Pac-10 champions. It's worth mentioning, however, that in the event that Oregon finishes undefeated and goes to the title game (likewise with Michigan State and the Big Ten), the second-place team will, in all likelihood, not be taking its place in the Rose Bowl; this is the first season that the new BCS rules require an unused Rose Bowl berth go to a a BCS-eligible team from a non-AQ conference. Being that Boise State, TCU, and Utah are all in the Top 10, it's pretty safe to assume one will be available to crash the party in Pasadena. That said, the Pac-10's nine-game, round-robin schedule and its lengthy tie-breaking procedure mean we've still got a wide-open conference race unfolding.
Oregon can go to the Rose Bowl (or BCS Championship Game) if...
Stanford can go to the Rose Bowl if...
Arizona can go to the Rose Bowl if...
Oregon State can go to the Rose Bowl if...
USC can go to the Rose Bowl if...
The Pac-10 has some awfully complicated multi-team tiebreaker rules that, with five or six games left in the conference season, render a full accounting of what each team needs for a Rose Bowl berth nearly impossible. Enjoy:
(1) When three or more teams are tied in Conference play, if one has defeated all others, it shall be the Rose Bowl representative. If that is not the case, a comparison of the tied teams' records against the other tied teams shall be made and the team having the best record against the other tied teams shall be the Rose Bowl representative. If two or more teams are still tied after this comparison, the appropriate two-team or multiple-team tie-breaking procedures shall be repeated among those teams still under consideration. (2) If more than two teams are still tied after the process above is completed, each remaining tied team's record against the team occupying the highest position in the final regular season standings shall be compared, with the procedure continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage. When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, each team's collective record against the tied teams as a group shall be used. If at any point in the process the multiple-team tie is reduced to two teams, the two-team tie-breaking procedure shall be applied. If more than two teams are still tied after comparing their records all the way through the Conference standings, the team among the tied teams with the highest ranking in the final BCS standings shall be the Rose Bowl representative. If a tie remains, the teams most recently earning Rose Bowl or Bowl Championship Series automatic selection shall be eliminated.
Yeah. So until we see a couple more weeks' worth of results suss themselves out, a potential 3-way or 4-way tie scenario won't be in great focus yet. As a general rule, though, the more winning a team does, the less help they need to claim the league title. But you probably knew that already.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 1:13 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:10 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
On Saturday the Iowa Hawkeyes lost at home to the Wisconsin Badgers, meaning that if Iowa is going to win the Big Ten and get to the Rose Bowl this season, it's going to need help. What made the loss sting a bit more, however, were a couple of crucial mistakes the Hawkeyes made in the fourth quarter. The biggest one being deciding to call a timeout with 12 seconds left in the game rather than spiking the ball to stop the clock and give the Hawkeyes the chance to run another play before setting up for a possible game-winning field goal.
Instead Ricky Stanzi was hurried into throwing a shovel pass to Adam Robinson, who was tackled in bounds, and without that timeout available, the clock expired. Just in case you were inclined to blame either Stanzi or Robinson for the mishap, Kirk Ferentz wanted to make it clear on Tuesday that it was his fault, not his players.
"In retrospect, I wish we would've clocked it quite frankly," Ferentz said during his weekly press conference . "I wish I had done it over, could do over. I can't. So, live with it. Cost us one play."
Kind of cost you more than a play, coach. It also cost you a victory.
Of course, that wasn't the only play Ferentz wished he could have back. During the fourth quarter Wisconsin showed some onions when they ran a fake punt on fourth down at its own 26-yard line. Punter Brad Nortman took off for 17 yards and a first down, extending a drive that would lead to the game-winning touchdown. Ferentz also said that could he do it over again, he would have called for punt safe instead of dropping everybody back to block for the return.
I do get the feeling that should Iowa beat Michigan State this Saturday, those regrets will be forgotten.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 12:25 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:10 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Yesterday JoePa said that if he had to guess , Robert Bolden wouldn't be playing this weekend against Michigan. Today his mom said the same thing.
It doesn't look like the Penn State quarterback will be playing this week, a week after suffering a concussion during a win against Minnesota. Bolden is supposed to undergo tests on Wednesday to see if he has recovered from the concussion, but his mother says that he failed the same test on Sunday, and her son won't be on the field this week.
"He really wants to play against Michigan -- his heart is just going to be really broken," Tonya McNeal told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . "He failed that concussion test, which is not good.
"I think it's best for him if they sit him down this week. Hopefully, he can play next week [against Northwestern]."
Which is the right decision to make for Bolden, so hopefully no matter what the results say of Bolden's test on Wednesday, Joe Paterno will heed the advice of his mother. She always knows best, after all.
Since Bolden won't be playing this week, that means either Matt McGloin -- who replaced Bolden against Minnesota -- or Kevin Newsome will get the start against the Wolverines. Both have been taking snaps with the first team this week.