Tag:Illinois
Posted on: July 26, 2011 6:15 pm
 

'Unofficial' Big Ten poll puts Nebraska at top

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Coming into this year's media gathering, the Big Ten decided not to hold its annual media poll with the usual preseason player of the year, predicted order of finish (heretofore limited to the top three finishers), and all of that. It seemed odd, but from the Big Ten's perspective, it wasn't exactly a vital aspect of the whole operation.

Funny thing, though; just because the Big Ten isn't holding a poll doesn't mean it's not going to happen. So lo and behold, 24 beat writers from around the conference -- two per school -- got together and held their own poll anyway.

Here's the breakdown from the Detroit Free-Press, listed with the total amount of voting points (six for first, five for second, on down the line) with first-place votes in parenthesis.

LEGENDS

1. Nebraska (19) 139
2. Michigan State (4) 118
3. Iowa 82
4. Michigan (1) 71
5. Northwestern 69
6. Minnesota 25

LEADERS

1. Wisconsin (22) 141
2. Ohio State (1) 113
3. Penn State (1) 95
4. Illinois 76
5. Purdue 52
6. Indiana 27

Title game matchups:
Nebraska over Wisconsin (10)
Wisconsin over Nebraska (7)
Wisconsin over Michigan State (3)
Nebraska over Ohio State (1)
Nebraska over Penn State (1)
Wisconsin over Michigan (1)
Michigan State over Wisconsin (1)

First of all, there are scant few surprises herein. Nebraska's the class of the conference, Wisconsin's next, and there's a pretty big dropoff after that. That said, whoever decided Michigan was going to win the Legends Division in Brady Hoke's first year -- the rebuilding period right after another rebuilding period -- should stop sending joke ballots and ruining it for the rest of the readers. Another demerit for whoever decided to put somebody below Minnesota, since the Gophers are just a mess right now.

As for the Leaders Divison, no surprises here, aside from a preposterous first-place vote for Penn State. Ohio State would be worth a look here if Terrelle Pryor were still on the five-game suspension, but with Joe Bauserman (or whoever else) under center, the Buckeyes are decidedly inferior to Wisconsin -- so long as Russell Wilson's healthy, anyway.

Speaking of quarterbacks -- this would be the year to celebrate them. The top three offensive players are all QBs, according to voters, and five of the 10 players who received votes were QBs. Here's the breakdown (again, with first-place votes parenthesized):

1. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan (14) 52
2. Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern (4) 26
3. Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State (2) 18
4. Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State (1) 16
5. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin (1) 14
6. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin (2) 9
7. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska 4
8. James White, RB, Wisconsin 2
9. Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State 2
10. Derek Moye, WR, Penn State 1

Yes, that's two different Wisconsin tailbacks on the list, and at least one will likely be in the top five of voting at the end of the season. As for the leading vote-getter, it's worth pointing out that Robinson's most dangerous weapon is still his feet... and Michigan's planning on limiting his carries this season. Yes, that's a wise move for keeping Robinson healthy, but the more he's standing still in the pocket and throwing, the less he's playing to his strengths. He'll still make it work, in all likelihood, since it's Denard flippin' Robinson we're talking about here, but those gaudy numbers we saw last season may be coming down a bit. Just a bit.

In other voting, Jared Crick dominated defensive player of the year voting, and Bret Bielema was named the top coach in the Big Ten over close runners-up Kirk Ferentz, Bo Pelini, and Pat Fitzgerald (in that order). Crick is a fine choice, and the four coaches who led voting deserved to. One could make a good case for Pat Fitzgerald to be higher, but these are small quibbles; we're not talking about Ron Zook ending up in second place or anything.

Posted on: July 20, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:23 pm
 

Big Ten Network revenues up 21 percent

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Earlier today, we discussed how the Big Ten Network's increasing revenues are no doubt putting pressure on the SEC to find a way to change their 15-year television deals--and the static, locked-in revenues that come with them.

So it's not bad timing that Illinois just made public exactly how big an increase the Big Ten is seeing in those BTN revenues (emphasis added):
The conference will pay Illinois a record $22.6 million, with $7.9 million coming from the network, according to figures provided by the university. That's a 21 percent increase over last year's $6.5 million share from the BTN ...

By comparison, the Southeastern Conference distributed an average of $18.3 million to each of its member schools for 2010-11. The Big 12 divvied $145 million among its members for an average of a little more than $12 million.
We didn't major in economics, but we're confident nonetheless that a 21 percent increase over the space of one year in a sluggish economy is a mighty fine figure for any business. Even if the BTN doesn't continue that kind of explosive growth, multiplying any kind of similar figure over the next several years would equal massive, massive payouts to the Big Ten's schools.

And, again, over those same several years the SEC is scheduled to earn the exact same amount in television revenue as they did this year. It would take quite some time for the resulting difference in payout to have any noticeable impact on the field, if it ever did. But at the very least, the BTN is helping put the Big Ten in position to compete with any conference in the country.

(Now, if the Big Ten's teams would just spend some of their money on assistants ...)



Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:42 pm
 

LaMichael James headlines Doak Walker watch list

Posted by Chip Patterson

Keeping the watch lists coming here at the Eye on College Football, with the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announcing the initial list for the prestigious Doak Walker Award. The award, which was first given to Washington's Greg Lewis in 1990, celebrates the nation's top running back.

Oregon running back LaMichael James won the award last season, and he is back on the watch list for 2011. In the award's history, only two players have won in back-to-back years: Ricky Williams (1997-1998) and Darren McFadden (2006-2007).

Here is the rest of the watch list, which will continue accepting nominations through October



Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Illini's Jones pleads not guilty to assault

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Illinois defensive lineman Chris Jones was in a Champaign County court room on Thursday where he pleaded not guilty to the aggravated assault charges he's facing. The charges stem fron an incident on July 3rd in which Jones allegedly attacked two gay men.

The men told the police that they had been outside of a bar in Champaign when a car drove by them with someone inside it shouting gay slurs at them. That man was apparently Jones, and apparently the words weren't enough for him. The men said that Jones then got out of the car and punched both of them, as they each suffered minor facial injuries from the encounter.

Jones was suspended from the Illinois football team and is currently being held in jail on $100,000 bond.

This wouldn't be Jones' first run-in with the law, as he has a prior conviction for cocaine possession in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.

Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:52 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 11:02 am
 

Outland Trophy Watch List released

Posted by Chip Patterson

Check the time, we got another watch for you. 

The Football Writers Association of America also released its 2011 Outland Trophy Watch list on Friday.

The trophy is awarded annually to the best interior lineman in college football. Only tackles, guards and centers from both sides of the ball (defensive tackles are included) are eligible for the award. Of the 65 players currently on the watch list, 16 of them are defensive tackles.

The Outland Trophy dates back to 1946 and is one of the oldest annual awards in college football.

This award honors the often-thankless positions that fight in the trenches and establish the line every Saturday. Last year's winner was Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi.

Who do you have pegged as a favorite in 2011? Let us know in the comment section below.

2011 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST (65)
Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State, OT Ryan Miller, Colorado, G
Jeff Allen, Illinois, OT David Molk, Michigan, C
Don Barclay, West Virginia, OT Al Netter, Northwestern, OT
Chris Barker, Nevada, G Lucas Nix, Pittsburgh, OT
Kelvin Beachum, SMU, OT Xavier Nixon, Florida, OT
Tony Bergstrom, Utah, OT Trevor Olson, Northern Illinois, OT
Mike Brewster, Ohio State, C Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State, OT
James Brown, Troy, OT Moe Petrus, Connecticut, C
Jared Crick, Nebraska, DT Ken Plue, Purdue, G
Andrew Datko, Florida State, OT Dontari Poe, Memphis, DT
David DeCastro, Stanford, G Nate Potter, Boise State, OT
Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech, OT Tydreke Powell, North Carolina, DT
Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech, G Kheeston Randall, Texas, DT
Joel Foreman, Michigan State, G Riley Reiff, Iowa, OT
Marcus Forston, Miami, DT Kendall Reyes, Connecticut, DT
Dalton Freeman, Clemson, C Matt Reynolds, BYU, OT
Garth Gerhart, Arizona State, C Mitchell Schwartz, California, OT
Cordy Glenn, Georgia, OT Kawann Short, Purdue, DT
Ben Habern, Oklahoma, C Bradley Sowell, Ole Miss, OT
Braden Hansen, BYU, G Akeem Spence, Illinois, DT
Logan Harrell, Fresno State, DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington, DT
Dan Hoch, Missouri, OT Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State, G
Khaled Holmes, USC, C Chris Thompson, Houston, C
Jaye Howard, Florida, DT Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech, G
Malik Jackson, Tennessee, DT William Vlachos, Alabama, C
Chris Jacobson, Pittsburgh, G Larry Warford, Kentucky, G
T.J. Johnson, South Carolina, C Brandon Washington, Miami, G
Barrett Jones, Alabama, G Rokevious Watkins, South Carolina, OT
Ben Jones, Georgia, C Billy Winn, Boise State, DT
Matt Kalil, USC, OT Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati, DT
Jonathan Martin, Stanford, OT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State, DT
Mike Martin, Michigan, DT Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin, G
Zack Martin, Notre Dame, OT  
By conference: Big Ten 13, SEC 11, Pac-12 9, ACC 7, Big 12 7, Big East 6, Conference USA 3, Independents 3, Mountain West 2, WAC 2, MAC 1, Sun Belt 1.
Tackles, guards and centers are eligible for consideration
Candidates may be added or removed during the season

Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:40 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 10:53 am
 

Bronko Nagurski Watch List released

Posted by Chip Patterson

The "Watch" Watch continues on as the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have released the first watch list for the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

The award is given annually to the nation's best defensive player, as selected by FWAA All-America Committee members. Players can be added or deleted from the watch list at any time throughout the season, a player not on the list can work his way on by being name Defensive Player of the Week by the FWAA.

Check out the full watch list below. Any snubs? Who's your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.

2011 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST (87)
Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami, S Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State, S
Mark Barron, Alabama, S Mike Martin, Michigan, DT
Jake Bequette, Arkansas, DE Chris Marve, Vanderbilt, LB
Brandon Boykin, Georgia, CB Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy, DE
Nigel Bradham, Florida State, LB Michael Mauti, Penn State, LB
Tanner Brock, TCU, LB T.J. McDonald, USC, S
Arthur Brown, Kansas State, LB Chase Minnifield, Virginia, CB
Zach Brown, North Carolina, LB Charles Mitchell, Mississippi State, S
Vince Browne, Northwestern, DE Roosevelt Nix, Kent State, DE
Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State, LB Donte Paige-Moss, North Carolina, DE
Miles Burris, San Diego State, LB Dontari Poe, Memphis, DT
Tank Carder, TCU, LB Tydreke Powell, North Carolina, DT
Morris Claiborne, LSU, CB Shaun Prater, Iowa, CB
Quinton Coples, North Carolina, DE Kheeston Randall, Texas, DT
Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State, DE Kendall Reyes, Connecticut, DT
Jared Crick, Nebraska, DT Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, CB
Vinny Curry, Marshall, DE Adrian Robinson, Temple, DE
Lavonte David, Nebraska, LB Josh Robinson, UCF, CB
Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, CB Keenan Robinson, Texas, LB
Tony Dye, UCLA, S J.K. Schaffer, Cincinnati, LB
Marcus Forston, Miami, DT Kawann Short, Purdue, DT
Jerry Franklin, Arkansas, LB Mychal Sisson, Colorado State, LB
Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, CB Shayne Skov, Stanford, LB
Zaviar Gooden, Missouri, LB Harrison Smith, Notre Dame, S
Logan Harrell, Fresno State, DT Akeem Spence, Illinois, DT
Cliff Harris, Oregon, CB Sean Spence, Miami, LB
Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt, CB Alameda Ta'amu, Washington, DT
Dont'a Hightower, Alabama, LB Keith Tandy, West Virginia, CB
Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, CB Kenny Tate, Maryland, S/LB
Jaye Howard, Florida, DT Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech, LB
Delano Howell, Stanford, S Devin Taylor, South Carolina, DE
Bruce Irvin, West Virginia, DE Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB
Malik Jackson, Tennessee, DT Taylor Thompson, SMU, DE
Brandon Jenkins, Florida State, DE Danny Trevathan, Kentucky, LB
James-Michael Johnson, Nevada, LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama, LB
Coryell Judie, Texas A&M, CB Prentiss Waggner, Tennessee, S
Mychal Kendricks, California, LB Bobby Wagner, Utah State, LB
Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, CB Brian Wagner, Akron, LB
Jake Knott, Iowa State, LB Korey Williams, Southern Miss, LB
Luke Kuechly, Boston College, LB Nathan Williams, Ohio State, DE
Robert Lester, Alabama, S Billy Winn, Boise State, DT
Travis Lewis, Oklahoma, LB Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati, DT
Brandon Lindsey, Pittsburgh, DE Jerel Worthy, Michigan State, DT
Brad Madison, Missouri, DE  
By conference: SEC 19, ACC 14, Big Ten 10, Big 12 9, Pac-12 9, Big East 6, Conference USA 5, Mountain West 5, Independents 3, MAC 3, WAC 3, Sun Belt 1.
Players may be added or deleted from the list before or during the season
Posted on: July 6, 2011 4:02 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Big Ten not spending enough on assistants?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

By now, anyone who follows college football has seen enough "BREAKING: Football coaches somehow earn lots of money in billion-dollar enterprise" headlines to last us a lifetime. So at a glance, this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article -- "Assistant coaches' salaries soar in college football" -- doesn't appear to be one we haven't read plenty of times before.

But there's one highly interesting nugget from the Post-Dispatch's math that's worth paying closer attention to:
The SEC paid its assistant coaches an average of $276,122 in 2010, according to figures compiled by St. Louis attorney and agent Bob Lattinville of the firm Stinson Morrison Hecker.
The Big 12 was second at $232,685 and the Big Ten a distant fourth, behind the Atlantic Coast Conference, at $187,055. In each instance, the averages do not include salaries at private schools such as Baylor, Penn State and Vanderbilt.
It's no surprise to see the conferences of Gus Malzahn and the Manny Diaz-Bryan Harsin tag team topping the list, but ... the Big Ten? Fourth? Really?

They may not actually be a distant fourth, in fact -- Penn State probably pays better than the likes of Indiana, and Lattinville's salary-based figures don't appear to take into account Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's unusually structured $750,000 contract -- but it's baffling why the conference that distributes more money to its members than any other in the FBS should lag so badly behind anyone in coaching salaries. Some of that is Big Ten schools' insistence on spening their cash on crazy ideas like, say, men's soccer teams, but it's hard to see why the conference's highest-profile sport should be getting the short end of a stick this lucrative.

It's so hard, in fact, we won't speculate on the reasons. But we don't have any problem stating this for the record: the Big Ten's stinginess is hurting it on the football field.

Contrast the decisions from some of the SEC's and Big Ten's best assistants from 2010. Malzahn was offered the head coaching job at Vandy and had some interest (at least) from Maryland; he turned them both down when Auburn stepped up with its gigantic raise. In the end, the only SEC coordinator to take a head coaching job this offseason was Steve Addazio, who'd basically been dumped out of his Florida gig already.

Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Don Treadwell was busy guiding Michigan State into the national top 20 in yards per-play, winning multiple games as MSU's interim head coach during Mark Dantonio's health-related absence, and generally being the nation's most underpaid assistant as the Spartans won 11 games. He left East Lansing to take the head coaching job at Miami (Ohio). Dave Doeren capped years of outstanding work at Wisconsin by coordinating the defense that took the Badgers back to the Rose Bowl (and nearly won it); he left to become Jerry Kill's replacement at Northern Illinois. (PSU's Tom Bradley, one of Joe Paterno's longest tenured-assistants, also did some serious angling for the Temple job that went to Addazio, you'll recall.)

It's not just retention that's a problem, either. How much better would Michigan have been under Rich Rodriguez* if they'd made Jeff Casteel a Mattison-like offer-he-couldn't-refuse to tag along from West Virginia, instead of subjecting themselves to Greg "GERG" Robinson? Would Tim Brewster still be around if he'd been able to hire one legitimately great offensive coordinator instead of subjecting Adam Weber and Co. to a revolving door of schemes? Even the newcomers aren't immune--it's yet-to-be-determined, but one has to wonder if Nebraska couldn't have done better in replacing exiled OC Shawn Watson than promoting running backs coach Tim Beck (especially considering the Huskers' head coach's expertise is on the defensive side of the ball).

As the Post-Dispatch article points out, it's not like the conference has to look very far to see the value of paying top dollar for assistants. After a miserable 2009, Ron Zook was thisclose to being fired at Illinois. So he went out and hired two top-shelf coordinators at salaries commensurate with the SEC's; in fact, one of them (Bobby Petrino brother Paul Petrino) was an SEC coordinator. Result: a job-saving 7-6 campaign and, in 2011, likely the program's first back-to-back winning seasons in 20 years.

It feels awfully awkward to tell anyone to follow Ron Zook's example. But when it comes to assistant salaries, it's high time the Big Ten at-large did exactly that.

*Rodriguez actually got the defensive coordinating hire right the first time, when he plucked away current Syracuse DC Scott Shafer from Stanford; Shafer's been a success everywhere else he's been, and his work with the Orange last year--the only team in the country to finish in the top 20 in total defense while also finishing in the bottom 20 in time-of-possession--was nothing short of remarkable. But RichRod and Shafer didn't appear to see eye-to-eye, and in came Robinson after just one season. You'll forgive Wolverine fans if they spend the rest of the afternoon banging their heads against the closest wall.


Posted on: June 24, 2011 6:30 pm
 

Hot Seat Ratings: The Big Ten And Zook's Quagmire

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's quick overview of the coaching situation this season, as per Dennis Dodd's 2011 Hot Seat Ratings

Big Ten    
Illinois Ron Zook 4.0
Indiana Kevin Wilson 2.0
Iowa Kirk Ferentz 0.5
Michigan Brady Hoke 1.0
Michigan State Mark Dantonio 0.5
Minnesota Jerry Kill 0.5
Nebraska Bo Pelini 0.5
Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 0.0
Ohio State Luke Fickell 3.5
Penn State Joe Paterno 2.0
Purdue Danny Hope 2.0
Wisconsin Bret Bielema 0.0
 
Obviously, this is a two-person list between Illinois head coach Ron Zook and OSU's interim coach Luke Fickell. One could theoretically argue that Fickell's rating ought to be higher, since he almost by default has to win big this year or he's out, but it's not exactly going to be a huge hit to Fickell's career if OSU ends up hiring a bigger-named coach after the 2011. It's not even a given that such a move would leave Fickell out of a job; wouldn't the transition period be softened if Fickell returned to being the assistant head coach for Ohio State under the new head coach, as was the arrangement under Jim Tressel?

As for Zook, though, his Illini are coming off a 38-14 thrashing of Baylor in the Texas Bowl (including this wholly unnecessary last-minute touchdown), and that 2010 squad set an all-time program record for most points scored per game with 32.54 ppg*. Considering the fact that QB Nathan Scheelhaase was just a freshman in '10 and all, the future would appear to be much brighter than Zook's job security would indicate.

But to think that is to ignore the history of Ron Zook, and the disappointment that defines his legacy.

It's to ignore the fact that the Texas Bowl berth was only Zook's second in six years at Illinois (the other being a still-unbelievable Rose Bowl, one in which Illinois was so thoroughly throttled by USC that ESPN eventually forced the Rose Bowl to start taking high-level non-BCS teams instead of marginally qualified Big Ten or Pac-12 teams). It's to ignore the fact that Zook couldn't go more than three games over .500 in any of his three seasons at Florida, while Urban Meyer turned Zook's players around and won a national championship with them two years later. 

Indeed, if there's any long-term method to Illinois' hiring of Zook, it was to replenish the talent stock to competitive levels, then to cut ties at the point when his teams started underachieving so a more disciplined coach can come in and take the program to new heights. Now, the fact that Zook's not only still around but the third-most tenured coach in the Big Ten means that A) it's been a weird decade in the Big Ten and B) Zook's actual accomplishments still do mean something. No coach is going to want to go to a football program that hasn't been to consecutive bowl games in almost 20 years, but will still fire a coach two years off a Rose Bowl bid, after all. Similarly, if Zook keeps getting to the postseason, he'll keep earning his paycheck year after year. So that's why he's still at Illinois and deserves to be.

It's just, well, it's hard to imagine that arrangement holding up on both sides for much longer. 

*Incidentally, that touchdown proved to be the difference-maker for Illinois breaking the record; they trailed the 2001 team by the slimmest of margins in PPG (32.50) before Zook called that bootleg. Now, a coach calling for a cheap touchdown long after a bowl game has been decided and his team breaking a program record on that play might just be a coincidence, but we're talking about Ron Zook here.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com