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Tag:Big Ten
Posted on: February 3, 2012 6:19 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 6:36 pm
 

Iowa loses Ken O'Keefe to the NFL

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Kirk Ferentz is the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten, patrolling the Iowa sideline since 1999. Over that span, Ferentz has had only one offensive coordinator with him at the school, Ken O'Keefe.

That will no longer be the case.

According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, O'Keefe is leaving a program to take a job with the Miami Dolphins. New Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin spent several years on Iowa's staff, coaching the offensive line from 1999 to 2002.

Ferentz confirmed the news in a release saying that "Ken O'Keefe has decided to leave our staff for another coaching opportunity."

All of which means there will be a lot of turnover on a coaching staff that hasn't had much at all ever since Ferentz was hired. Defensive coordinator Norm Parker retired following the 2011 season, and defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski left to take a job with Nebraska in December.

As for whom Ferentz will find to replace O'Keefe, it's still to early to know for sure. After all, Iowa still has to find a replacement for Parker to run the defense.

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Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:26 pm
 

Big Ten division names more popular now

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Back in December 2010 the Big Ten unveiled the new divisions in its conference, naming the divisions "Legends" and "Leaders."  As you'd probably expect when a conference creates new divisions and gives them names that aren't "East" or "West," there was quite a reaction to the announcement. Most of which was negative, be it by people who just didn't like the names, or people mocking them.

In fact, the reaction was so universally negative, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said that the conference would "revisit" the names it had selected for its divisions.

The Big Ten did just that, as the conference hired an independent research firm to survey conference fans throughout the 2011 season on their feelings for the names. Turns out, that initial response to the names that was so negative has lost a bit of its momentum as time has passed. In fact, the names are actually proving to be pretty popular.

From ESPN:
Of the 516 fans surveyed, 57 percent either liked the division names "somewhat" or "very much." About 35 percent disliked the names somewhat or very much, while only 8 percent were neutral.

The study found that fans warmed up to the names as the season went along and saw them as unique and reflective of Big Ten history.

It also found that despite strong awareness of the names -- 91 percent of respondents knew about Legends and Leaders -- many fans felt they were confusing. The confusion went away for some when the names were explained through public service announcements and other marketing ventures.
All of which means that it looks as though the Big Ten will have a Leaders Division and a Legends Division for the forseeable future. So if you were still carrying a torch and pitchfork demanding that the conference change them, it's time to find another cause.

And that's fine. Personally I felt the names were silly when they were first announced, but not as silly as the reaction I saw to them. At the end of the day they're just division names. It's not as if they have any impact on the football being played at any school within the conference. Yes, it would be easier to remember which schools are in each division had the Big Ten gone with geographically based divisions, but it didn't. It decided to go with competitive balance.

Using that formula, it'd be even more confusing if Wisconsin were in the "East Division" while Michigan played in the "West Division" anyway.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 12:04 pm
 

Barry Alvarez: Recruiting is 'open season'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It doesn't sound like Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez is as concerned about Urban Meyer's recruiting tactics the way his own head coach and others in the Big Ten seem to be.

Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, along with Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, made it clear that they were not fans of the way Urban Meyer had conducted himself during his first recruiting season with Ohio State. Specifically the way Meyer recruited players that had previously given commitments to other Big Ten schools, including Wisconsin and Michigan State.

Bielema also said on Thursday Barry Alvarez would be talking to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany about Meyer when the two met. While that conversation may still happen, if you listen to what Alvarez told ESPN's Joe Schad on Friday, it doesn't sound like he's going to be asking Delany to make Meyer change his habits.

"Urban was very aggressive but there is no pact within the conference not to continue to recruit," Alvarez told Schad in regards to the supposed "gentleman's agreement" amongst Big Ten coaches. "Open season." 

Which makes it sound like if Bielema doesn't want Meyer coming around his recruits, he's just going to have to work even harder to make sure those recruits come to play at Wisconsin, not Ohio State.

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Posted on: February 3, 2012 10:33 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 3:28 pm
 

Urban Meyer responds to fellow coaches' criticism

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It seems Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer heard the complaints from fellow Big Ten coaches Bret Bielema and Mark Dantonio about his recruiting tactics on Thursday, and not surprisingly, he doesn't care.

According to Buckeye fansite the OZone, Meyer fired back while at the Ohio High School coaches clinic on Friday morning.

"You're pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got 9 guys who better go do it again," said Meyer. "Do it a little harder next time."

Meyer also released a statement on Friday afternoon.

“I was pleased to take part in a productive, regularly scheduled meeting of the Big Ten Conference coaches today in Chicago," said Meyers in the release. "We had an opportunity to discuss a number of issues with each other and conference staff, including those that have arisen this week. It should be noted that my coaching staff is in full compliance with our recruiting efforts, and no one on this staff did anything illegal or unethical. We will continue to comply with NCAA rules and recruit with relentless effort, especially the great state of Ohio.
 
“I want to thank Commissioner Delany for his insight and leadership, and at this point we all look forward to moving past this week and getting ready for the start of spring football.”

This all started when Wisconsin's Bret Bielema and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio publicly criticized Meyer's recruiting tactics. Of the ten players that committed to Ohio State after Meyer became head coach, eight had previously committed to other schools. That includes offensive tackle Kyle Dodson (Wisconsin) and defensive end Se'Von Pittman (Michigan State).

Bielema also said on Thursday night that Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez was going to be talking to Jim Delany about Meyer's recruiting tactics. All because of a supposed "gentleman's agreement" -- an agreement that even Alvarez himself denied exists on Friday -- within the Big Ten that says coaches aren't supposed to go after another coach's commits while recruiting.

Which wasn't the way Meyer, or any coach, did things in the SEC, and it doesn't look like Urban is willing to adapt.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 6:08 pm
 

Barry Alvarez to talk to Delany about Meyer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Earlier on Thursday we went over the first stage of lost recruit grief when writing about how Wisconsin's Bret Bielema and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio were upset with Urban Meyer and his recruiting tactics.

Well, we've now reached the second stage: run to the principal's office.

Apparently airing his grievances wasn't enough for Bielema, as the Sporting News' Matt Hayes wrote on Thursday night that Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez would be talking to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany about Meyer on Friday in Chicago.

“We at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC -- in any way, shape or form," Bielema told Hayes.

The jokes are just too easy with that remark, even if Bielema was only referring to recruiting.

Honestly, though, what else can you do but laugh at all of this? These are supposed to be grown men, yet they're acting more immaturely than the high school kids they're fighting over to begin with.

You don't want Urban Meyer or any other coach coming in to "steal" your recruits, then recruit the kid harder. Sell him on your program so hard that when Meyer does come around that kid will tell him "no thanks." Don't go running to your conference commissioner and hope he'll force Meyer to stop so it makes your job easier.

Either that or just take your ball and go home. None of the other kids are going to want to play with you anyway.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 3:31 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 8:36 pm
 

Big Ten head coaches already upset with Meyer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It appears that the grace period for new coaches in the Big Ten lasts for 65 days or only one National Signing Day. That's how long it took for fellow Big Ten coaches to publicly speak about being upset with new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer.

Not surprisingly, the complaints from Wisconsin's Bret Bielema and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio are related to Meyer's recruiting tactics. Particularly the part where he just shows up, swoops in and then causes recruits to suddenly change their minds and flock to Columbus.

“There are a few things that happened early on that I made people aware of that I didn’t want to see in this league, that I had seen take place in other leagues,” said Bielema on Wednesday. “Other recruiting tactics, other recruiting practices that are illegal. 

“I was very up front and was very pointed to the fact, actually reached out to Coach Meyer and shared my thoughts and concerns with him. The situation got rectified.”

Michigan State's Mark Dantonio was a bit more to the point.

"(Ohio State has) a new coach, and it's different," Dantonio told the Detroit News. "I would say it's pretty unethical, in the end." 

It seems that Bielema and Dantonio aren't used to the recruiting tactics Meyer has brought along from his days in the SEC, where the gentlemanly rules of the Big Ten do not exist. It seems SEC coaches know that no commitment means anything until a letter of intent is signed, so the race for any recruit they might want doesn't end before February.

Question the morality of it all you want, but you'll notice the SEC has won the last six national championships while the Big Ten has been rather uninspiring.

Meyer's first class at Ohio State was good enough to finish ranked third in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25. In that class of 24, 10 of the commits didn't come on board until after Meyer became head coach at Ohio State. Of those 10 players, eight had previously given commitments to other school.

Including offensive lineman Kyle Dodson (Wisconsin) and defensive end Se'Von Pittman (Michigan State). Hence the reactions of Bielema and Dantonio. Still, of the other six, four had been committed to Penn State and two to Notre Dame. You don't hear Bill O'Brien or Brian Kelly crying foul about it today.

Not that complaining will do anything to deter Meyer. He's a head coach that realizes in order to build a successful program, not only do you need to have a good coaching staff, but you have to have good players. Players that are found through recruiting.

So whine about how he does all you want, he's seen the fruits of his efforts and has a couple rings to show for it. Nothing anybody can say will change that.

Other Big Ten coaches can either get on board, or run the risk of being left behind.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 11:37 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 12:20 pm
 

Minnesota AD Joel Maturi retiring

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi will retire on Thursday, the school announced. The school has a press conference scheduled for 11am to make the announcement. 

Maturi's contract was expiring and the school did not want to renew it.

Maturi sent an email to Minnesota's student-athletes, coaches and staff on Thursday morning to inform them of his retirement.

“It is with mixed emotions that I share with you that ... I will announce my retirement as the director of athletics at the University of Minnesota effective June 30th,” Maturi said in the email. “There is sadness because I have enjoyed every day of this 10-year journey. There is excitement because President [Eric] Kaler has asked me to remain next year as a special assistant to the president.” 

Maturi became Minnesota's athletic director in 2002, and was the first athletic director in school history to run an athletic department that had united both men's and women's programs. He also oversaw the fundraising and construction of the football team's TCF Bank Stadium. Still, in spite of his accomplishments at the school, it was the school's lack of success on the football field that may have ultimately led to his retirement.

Maturi hired Tim Brewster in 2007 after firing Glen Mason even though Brewster had never been a head coach or even a coordinator above the high school level. Minnesota went 15-30 under Brewster, who was fired after a 1-6 start in 2010 and received a buyout from the school. After Brewster's firing, a group of former Minnesota football players rallied against allowing Maturi to lead the next coaching search.

Minnesota then hired Jerry Kill from Northern Illinois with the help of former president of the alumni association, Dave Mona.

Maturi's contract runs through June 30th, and a search for his replacement will begin soon, as president Eric Kaler plans to have a replacement in place for July 1st.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 10:53 am
 

Ohio State doesn't list Michigan on its schedule

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Were you aware that Ohio State and Michigan had a rivalry? It's true, they do.

The two schools actually aren't very big fans of each other, even though they play in the same conference and are practically neighbors. They've both tried to fix things, even resorting to neighbor's counseling at times, but it seems that no matter what the two schools try, just nothing works.

The relationship has gotten so bad as of late that the two schools won't even refer to the other by name. Heck, Ohio State won't even list Michigan on its schedule anymore.



What a shame. I thought those two kids were going to make it.

Photo via MGoBlog

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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