Tag:Big Ten
Posted on: March 5, 2012 2:49 pm
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Nebraska wants brains, BRAINS!

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Nebraska's athletics department will be teaming up a new lab located on the east side of Lincoln's Memorial Stadium. The school's Board of Regents unanimously approved the $5 million project on Friday, and the new lab will open in 2013.

Essentially, what Nebraska is looking to do is to study the effects of head injuries on the brains of athletes. Since my brain is only capable of discussing football-related information (and even that's debatable), I'll just quote the Omaha World-Herald's story to give you the details of the study.
On average, [developmental psychologist Dennis] Molfese said, a college football team suffers 20 to 22 significant head injuries each season. The 12 football teams in the Big Ten thus would create a pool of more than 240 student-athletes to study.

Molfese hopes to obtain baseline pictures of incoming athletes' brains to examine how they change through injury and recovery. He envisions developing iPad applications to diagnose concussions on the field. He wants to study athletes' brain patterns before and after a performance.

Molfese said the Committee on Institutional Cooperation — the Big Ten's academic arm — has received inquiries from the Ivy League, Pac-12 and other conferences about joining the effort. 
So not only could this study help football teams identify concussions faster, it could also help us understand the effects concussions and head injuries have on the brain.

Given what we've only just begun learning about concussions and their long-term effects, the more information that scientists, coaches and players can have at their disposal, the better off everybody is.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:42 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Illinois



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Illinois.

Spring Practice Starts: Wednesday, March 7

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14

Returning Starters: Six on offense, seven on defense, one specialist

Three Things To Watch For:

1. A brand new coaching staff. Ron Zook and just about his entire coaching staff is gone (defensive line coach Keith Gilmore returns) and Tim Beckman is now the man in charge of Illinois football. Which means that not only will spring practice be the first chance for Beckman and his coaching staff to see his new team at work, but also the time to begin implementing a new system on both sides of the ball. There's no way the team will learn everything over the course of a few weeks, but the process begins now.

2. The quarterback battle. Odds are Illinois won't know who its starting quarterback is until the end of the summer, but the battle will begin this spring. Nathan Scheelhaase has been the starter the last two seasons, but he regressed a bit in 2011, and now that there's a new playbook, he isn't guaranteed to retain his starting job. Scheelhaase will be competing with Reilly O'Toole for the job, though if Tim Beckman's time at Toledo teaches us anything, it's that he's not afraid to go with two quarterbacks if needed.

3. The Star Position. Tim Beckman brought in Tim Banks as his defensive coordinator, and Illinois will be running a 4-2-5 defense that includes the "Star" position. Which is a hybrid of a linebacker and a safety. It'll be an interesting battle to see who claims the position, though outside linebacker Ashante Williams is probably the favorite. Williams may get some competition from safety Supo Sanni and incoming freshman TaJarvis Fuller, a playmaker out of Florida. Those two would be well-served to make an early impression over the next few weeks.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:58 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: Nebraska



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Nebraska.

Spring Practice Starts: Sunday, March 4

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14

Returning Starters: Seven on offense, seven on defense, both specialists.

Three Things To Watch For:

1. Finding replacements on defense. The Cornhuskers may have seven starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, but there are also four pretty big departures that need to be replaced. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Jared Crick are all gone. That's one key player on each level of the defense and none will be easy to replace. Though having Cameron Meredith on the defensive line will make the loss of Crick easier to absorb. That being said, Dennard and David were two of the best defenders in the Big Ten last season. It's not easy to just plug in new playmakers of that caliber, and as if the job wasn't hard enough, Nebraska will also be breaking in a new defensive coordinator this season. John Papuchis was promoted to defensive coordinator after Carl Pelini left to take the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic.

2. Rediscovering the T-Magic. Taylor Martinez's first two seasons as Nebraska's quarterback have been a bit of a roller coaster. He was able to stay healthy last year, but he also completed only 56% of his passes, which was actually lower than the 59% he completed as a freshman. Martinez's yards per attempt went down over a full yard as well. Some of this was likely due to it being Martinez's first year in Tim Beck's system, and Nebraska is hoping Martinez will improve in his second season under Beck. In fact, if Nebraska wants to make a serious run at a Big Ten championship in 2011, they'll need him to. So it's important for Martinez to have a strong spring and make sure that the Cornhuskers head into the summer with a clear cut leader at the quarterback position.

3. Giving Burkhead a breather. Rex Burkhead had a great season for Nebraska in 2011, rushing for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns en route to making the All-Conference team. While there's no reason to believe Burkhead won't have another solid season in 2012, Nebraska would be better served to find a bit more depth at running back to keep Burkhead fresh. In Nebraska's first 8 games, Burkhead averaged 110.25 yards per game, but that number dropped to 95 yards per game over Nebraska's final five contests. The Huskers went 2-3 in those games. So if backs like Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green can show that they're capable of taking some carries this spring, it could go a long way in the fall.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:29 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 5:30 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Indiana



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Indiana.

Spring Practice Starts: Saturday, March 3

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14

Returning Starters: Eight on offense, nine on defense, both specialists.

Three Things To Look For:

1. Growing pains. Indiana has more starters returning than any other school in the Big Ten this season. Now, considering the Hoosiers went 1-11 last season, there are two different ways you can look at that information. I'm inclined to believe that Kevin Wilson is hoping this is a good thing for his second year in Bloomington, and is hoping that the experience gained last season will lead to better performances this season. Of course, it's important to realize that this is still an extremely young team. Even with so many returning starters, there are still only three seniors projected to start in 2012. So the growing pains are still going to be there.

2. The development of Tre Roberson. Roberson was an intriguing player last season. He received a lot more time at quarterback over the final half of the year as Wilson looked to get his quarterback of the future some experience, and he was just as inconsistent as you'd expect. What will truly be interesting this spring, though, is to see what kind of improvements Roberson can make under new offensive coordinator Seth Littrell. Littrell comes to Indiana from Arizona, where he was in charge of one of the most prolific passing attacks in the country last season.

3. A deeper defense. While Indiana has nine returning starters on defense, that doesn't mean all of them will be starting in 2012. It will be interesting to see the battles that take place this spring as the Hoosiers welcome five new players from the juco ranks on the defensive side of the ball. While we can't be sure which players will lay claim to the starting positions, at the very least it gives Indiana some depth on the defensive side of the ball. Something a unit that gave up 37.3 points a game last year desperately needs.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 4:13 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Northwestern



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Northwestern.

Spring Practice Starts: Saturday, March 3

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14

Returning Starters: Five on offense, five on defense, both specialists.

Three Things To Look For:

1. Can Kain Colter take over the starting quarterback job? When Northwestern was without Dan Persa last season, Colter did an admirable job filling in. Even after Persa returned Colter continued to see time on the field, though mostly as a running and receiving threat, tallying 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Northwestern offense. The question, though, will be whether or not Colter can take on full-time responsibilites as a passer. There's reason to believe he can, because even though he only threw 82 passes last season, he completed 67% of them and had 6 touchdowns with only 1 interception. Still, he'll have to prove it this spring or Pat Fitzgerald may be forced to look in a different direction.

2. Another playmaker on offense must emerge. While Colter is likely to be the focal point of the Northwestern offense in 2012, his life would be a lot easier if somebody else on the Wildcats offense stood up to help carry the load. Whether it's running back Treyvon Green or receiver Demetrius Fields, somebody will have to step up to replace the talent lost to graduation and Colter's likely move.

3. Northwestern needs to stop somebody. A major problem in Evanston the last few seasons has been the defense and its inability to keep opponents off the board. Against Big Ten competition last season, Northwestern's defense allowed 32.75 points a game. I repeat, that was against Big Ten offenses. If there's reason to be optimistic, it's that the Wildcats played a lot of freshman and sophomores on defense toward the end of the season, so hopefully that experience will lead to improvement in 2012.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 12:04 pm
 

Jordan Whiting transferring to Louisville

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Linebacker Jordan Whiting is going home.

The Ohio State linebacker announced via Twitter on Thursday morning that he would be transferring from Ohio State to Louisville to finish his college career. Whiting is from Louisville.



Whiting, a sophomore, only had 1 tackle for Ohio State in 2011 and found himself buried on the depth chart at linebacker. Obviously, given this recent development, he doesn't foresee those circumstances changing under the new regime in Columbus.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 5:51 pm
 

Iowa hires Greg Davis as offensive coordinator

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While the decision had been hinted at and rumored for over a week, Iowa officially announced on Monday that it had hired Greg Davis to be Kirk Ferentz's new offensive coordinator.

"We are thrilled to have Greg Davis join our staff" said Ferentz in a statement. "Greg has enjoyed great success during his career and I believe that can be attributed directly to the combination of his football expertise and teaching skills.

"Greg's units have demonstrated impressive production and they have done so using a variety of systems and styles - he has done an outstanding job of playing towards the strengths and abilities of the players with which he has worked."

Davis took the 2011 season off, but was last seen coaching at Texas where he'd been offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for 13 seasons before being replaced by Bryan Harsin last year following a 5-7 campaign in 2010. While at Texas Davis helped put together a national championship winning team in 2005 and played a pivotal role in the development of quarterbacks like Vince Young, Colt McCoy and Chris Simms.

He will be only the second offensive coordinator at Iowa since Kirk Ferentz took over the program in 1999. Davis replaces Ken O'Keefe who left Iowa to take a job with the Miami Dolphins earlier this month.

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:56 pm
 

Larry Scott talks postseason changes

Posted by Tom Fornelli

With every passing day it seems that the idea of college football adopting a playoff system comes closer and closer to reality. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and former SEC commissioner -- and founder of the BCS -- Roy Kramer have both spoken publicly about the idea in recent weeks, and now the Pac-12's Larry Scott sounds as though he's in favor of a change as well.

Larry Scott talked of his preferences for college football's postseason with the New York Times.

Scott told the paper that while he isn't focusing solely on devising a system to determine a champion, he is thinking about changes to the entire bowl system, conference championships and even rankings.

"The more I think about it, the more opportunity for improvement I see," Scott told the paper.

Scott also said that he agreed with the Big Ten's proposed model of playing semi-final games on the campuses of the schools involved while playing the championship game itself at a neutral location. Scott also supports the idea that only conference champions should be eligible for playing in any sort of playoff format.

“So much of the passion of a move to a playoff is to see it earned on the field,” Scott said. “What more clear way to have intellectual consistency with the idea of a playoff than to earn it as a conference champion? It would de-emphasize the highly subjective polls that are based on a coach and media voting and a few computers.”

Thoughts that echoed the ones Roy Kramer told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd last week.

"It makes the conference championship games bigger," Kramer told CBSSports.com. "It makes the regular season bigger."

An idea that likely must be heeded in order to satisfy both those that prefer a more concrete method of determining a champion, such as a playoff, and those who want to make sure college football's regular season doesn't lose its significance.

Now, while nobody can be sure exactly when or if a playoff will be instituted -- no matter the model chosen for one -- it is readily apparent that it will be coming at some point in the near future. An actuality that seemed impossible not too long ago.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com