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.

Posted on: June 12, 2010 9:49 am
Edited on: June 12, 2010 9:51 am

Expand-O-Meter, Saturday, June 12

Days college athletics has been held hostage (since Big Ten announced expansion exploration on Dec. 15): 179
Having a good day: Nebraska. At the beginning of the week, a Baylor yahoo lobbyist call its fans "corn shuckers". Good luck in Conference USA, dude. The Big Ten is going to love Lincoln. It's bigger than West Lafayette, flatter than State College and more, um, culturally enlightening than East Lansing. It's got cool clubs, a new 16,000-seat arena going up and minor league baseball. Entry into the Big Ten is a game changer for Nebraska. Can't wait until Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State come marching into Memorial Stadium. One of the best game day experiences anywhere just got kicked up a notch.

Having the bad day: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. He just can't help himself. Nixon ratcheted up the angst in the Big 12 early on by disparaging the conference's academics (as compared to the Big Ten). Now his alma mater is beginning to look a lot like Tom Hanks in Castaway in conference realignment. With the dominoes tumbling around him, Nixon -- the governor, mind you -- weighed in on college football with the Columbia Tribune.

“We need to have a football playoff system,” Nixon said. “Maybe getting some of these mega-conferences will get some order there. We’ve got this BCS system of Mizzou beating Kansas and Kansas going to the Orange Bowl … and having votes to decide which is the best team when every other sport — EVERY OTHER SPORT — has playoffs. I look at this potentially as an opportunity for the larger conferences to have more sway vis-à-vis the NCAA and get what I think fans across America need and deserve: a real playoff for NCAA football. When you’ve got a larger conference they’ve got a bigger voice, and they’re the ones negotiating with Fox, ABC, NBC, ESPN, CBS, then you’re not in that old boy network of the bowls, which I think is the relic of the past.”

Given that Nixon has become the Babe Ruth Curse of Mizzou, you can now bet a playoff is what isn't coming.

Quote of the day: "This beautiful girl, quite honestly, wasn't going to be there forever." -- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany welcoming Nebraska into the league.

Link of the day: A heart-wrenching look at the demise of the Big 12 from the center of the conference, Kansas City.

On tap: A 16-team Pac-10 by Wednesday.

Posted on: June 7, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: June 7, 2010 12:40 pm

Latest from Expansion Central. Syracuse?

The latest scuttlebutt Monday morning has to do with Syracuse being the key to prying Notre Dame loose for the Big Ten.

If Missouri and Nebraska say yes to the Big Ten, I'm hearing that then either Pittsburgh or Rutgers would be paired with Syracuse to form an expanded eastern boundary of the new league. The key, apparently, is taking The 'Cuse into the Big Ten. The fit already looks good. Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor is a former chancellor at Illinois and provost at Michigan.

In this scenario, the addition of Syracuse collapses the Big East and potentially forces Notre Dame to find a conference home for its minor sports. Not to mention a conference home for football.

In other words, Notre Dame needs a compelling reason to join a league in football. I reported yesterday that if Notre Dame came to the Big Ten, that league's expansion might be capped at 12. That might not be the case now. The two biggest words to remember in this entire process is that it is always a "fluid situation."

Adding to the intrigue is that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Sunday that expansion could happen in stages

If all of the above comes to pass, we'd be looking at two 16-team leagues (Pac-10, Big Ten), the collapse of the Big 12 and Big East and a whole lot of chaos. Does the SEC react?

Posted on: April 18, 2010 4:09 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2010 5:36 pm

New developments in Big Ten expansion

It seems that some values may have to be compromised in this expansion-go-round that was turned up a notch on Sunday.

The Big Ten prides itself on the academic exclusivity of its institutions. All 11 universities are members of the Association of American Universities. As you can read here, the AAU is a "nonprofit organization of 62 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada.  Founded in 1900 to advance the international standing of U.S. research universities ...

"AAU member universities are on the leading edge of innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to the nation's economy, security, and well-being.  The 60 AAU universities in the United States award more than one-half of all U.S. doctoral degrees and 55 percent of those in the sciences and engineering."

Neither Connecticut nor Notre Dame, two schools prominently mentioned in Big Ten expansion, are AAU members. One line of thinking has it that commissioner Jim Delany wants Connecticut because it would help the conference's reach in the Northeast (New England and New York area).  The addition of Notre Dame would have a national impact.

Even without Notre Dame, Delany could conceivably make a run at the New York market with a three-school combination of Rutgers, UConn and Syracuse. 

That's why Sunday's reported meeting of high-ranking Big Ten officials is so important. The Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that the conference's expansion timetable has moved up. It would have been easy for those Big Ten officials to meet considering the AAU is meeting in Washington D.C. through Tuesday. That's the same day as when the BCS meetings begin in Phoenix, lasting through Thursday.

Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman is one of the 11 members of the AAU's Executive Committee.

To get an idea of how academically exclusive the Big Ten is, consider that the BCS conference with next most AAU members is the Big 12 (seven). The Pac-10 has six.

Posted on: April 14, 2010 11:20 am
Edited on: April 18, 2010 6:55 am

NCAA looks at West Virginia/Rich Rod

Several outlets are reporting that the NCAA is investigating West Virginia for potential rules violations during the time Rich Rodriguez was coach.

The association's investigators could be looking for a pattern of behavior in regards to rules compliance by Rodriguez during his time with the Mountaineers. In February, the NCAA alleged five major rules violations by Rodriguez' program at Michigan. They stemmed of reports of violations of the NCAA's 20-hour weekly work limit for athletes.

Michigan is scheduled to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in August in Seattle. Any penalties could come down during the season, Rodriguez' third at Michigan. Asked about the timing of those events, Rodriguez said during a Friday interview, "I don't know if there is ever a good time. From the standpoint of all the interviews, that all took place in midseason last year."

Rodriguez said 50-plus staff and players were interviewed by the NCAA.

"It's not anything anyone wants to go through but we did," the coach said.

Rodriguez also spoke of negative recruiting toward his program, although he did not say specifically it came from the NCAA investigation.

"You get negative recruiting even if you win 11-12 games," he said Friday. "We don't get much of that in the Big Ten. There's a couple of schools that negative recruit and then some other teams we play that we recruit against that are really negative.

"It's not Columbus [Ohio State]. It's up the road, South Bend [Notre Dame]. Even other places, [University of] Florida. Even where friends coach. We've dealt with it for two whole years. I tell our guys not to do it. Sell our program."

Michigan AD David Brandon said Tuesday there was no new investigation of Michigan and reiterated the Rodriguez will be Michigan's coach "this fall."

"I feel very confident in the AD, Dave Brandon," said Rodriguez' agent Mike Brown who had just gotten back in the country and not seen the West Virginia reports. "He's a good guy. He'll guide them through this."


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 23, 2010 6:50 pm

Rich Rod is on the clock

With one sentence Michigan's incoming athletic director put Rich Rodriguez on notice.

"Rich Rodriguez is our football coach, and he will be our football coach next year," David Brandon said Tuesday.

Next year.

At this point, anything past that has to be considered gravy for Rich Rod.  The NCAA notice of allegations came down on Monday and, well, let's just say things didn't go well. In fact the results were so distressing that a guy who hasn't even taken office yet (Brandon) is putting a cap on Rich Rod's Michigan career.
Next year.

There wasn't much code to break in Brandon's statement after Michigan received its NCAA report card regarding those alleged practice-time violations. Rich, what Brandon was trying to say was it would be a good idea to go to a bowl next season. At least. And along the way it would be an equally good idea to give the boys a few months off -- just to even things up. 

As if you needed to be reminded, the Detroit Free Press nailed it when it detailed the widespread abuse of the NCAA's 20-hour work week.

Now it's on Rich Rod first and Michigan second. It's clear that the losing has to end in 2010. Brandon didn't have to tell us that. Michigan wasn't going to wait much longer especially after Rodriguez dragged the school's name through the NCAA mud. Now it's just a matter of how many wins it will take for Rodriguez to save his job.

Eight? Seven? Six? Ten?

It's too much to take being embarrassed by the Big Ten on the field and by the coaching staff off of it.

The NCAA which likely will hear Michigan's side of things at the August committee on infractions hearing. (Preview: "We're sooooo sorry) By the end of the year we could have two monsters of the game both on probation, Michigan along with USC.

Lane Kiffin will keep his job, perhaps shy a few scholarships. But the pressure is ramped up on Rodriguez times 10. After winning eight games in two seasons, I'm not sure he can win the six it will take just to get to a bowl game.

It doesn't matter what I think, though. Rodriguez' boss just spelled out the terms of his future employment. No code-breaking needed.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Michigan, NCAA
Posted on: February 10, 2010 10:30 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 2:02 pm

More expansion: A proposed new look

The Mountain West is on notice.

The Big East too.

Don’t forget the Big 12 which could be ripped asunder.

One or all of those conferences are going to be impacted if, as expected, the Pac-10 and Big Ten expand in the near future.

After writing about the big picture on Wednesday, we’re here to speculate freely about how other conferences might be impacted.

Mountain West: After leading his league to the brink of BCS automatic qualifying status, commissioner Craig Thompson has to be concerned.

A BYU-Utah defection to the Pac-10 makes a lot of sense. In basketball, the league has travel partners (Washington-Washington State, Arizona-Arizona State). The Utes and Cougars are bitter rivals but would be make ideal additions due to the far-flung nature of the league.

I still don’t know how the Pac-10 views the academic aspect of expansion, so I’m not sure how it views the combination of a state school (Utah) and what amounts to a private school (BYU). If there is a fallback, it could be San Diego State.

If the Big Ten were to take Missouri, that’s a potential three teams ripped from the Mountain West and could mean the end of the league.  The three most likely replacements would be Boise State, Fresno State and Texas-El Paso.

The best non-BCS league could find itself teetering on the edge of existence, or at least relevance.

Big 12: The biggest hit comes if both Colorado (Pac-10) and Missouri (Big Ten) leave.

If Missouri or Colorado leave, the Big 12 would go get TCU from the Mountain West. While that would wound the MWC, the league would most likely then invite Boise State.

If both Colorado and Missouri left, the Big 12 would get TCU and, maybe, Houston? Either way, the Big 12’s TV stature would shrink.

Big East: The league was almost wiped out when the ACC expanded five years ago. What happens if Pittsburgh, Syracuse or Rutgers is taken by the Big Ten?

Most likely the Big East would raid Conference USA for Central Florida. That would get the league further into Florida. UCF is third-largest school in the country (53,000) behind Ohio State and Arizona State. There's got to be some football players in there somewhere. Plus, the school has made a huge commitment to facilities.

Sooner or later doesn’t Big East football and basketball have to split? The unwieldy existence between the two sides (16 teams in basketball, only eight of which play football).

After the wounds caused by the ACC, another hit could cause the end of the Big East in football.

My latest look on how the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12 and MWC might look in the future.

Schembechler Division

Michigan State

Grange Division
Ohio State
Penn State

BIG 12
North Division
Kansas State
Iowa State

South Division
Texas Tech
Texas A&M
Oklahoma State


North Division
Oregon State
Washington State

South Division
Arizona State

Fresno State
Boise State
Texas-El Paso
Air Force
San Diego State
New Mexico
Colorado State



Posted on: January 15, 2010 6:53 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2010 12:33 pm

Breaking down the Tennessee search

Tennessee fancies itself a top 10 program in the best of times. In the worst of times, it just landed the coach of the team that tied for fifth in the WAC.

That’s one way to look at the hiring of Derek Dooley on Friday at Tennessee.

Rocky Flop? 

Here’s another, a formal list of names that I’m told were on the Tennessee list:

Will Muschamp, Texas defensive coordinator – Apparently turned down a $3 million-a-year offer.

Jon Gruden, Monday Night Football – What job doesn’t he apply for?

Troy Calhoun, Air Force – Happy at Air Force. Can do better if he aspires to return to the NFL.

Randy Edsall, UConn – A great coach who would be out of his element in Knoxville.

Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears – May be fired by the Bears. Apparently was a Tennessee assistant way back.

Kyle Whittingham, Utah – Turned down an offer Thursday night.

Doug Marrone, Syracuse – One year for the still-rebuilding Orange.

Gary Patterson, TCU – No way.

Kippy Brown, Tennessee assistant -- Interviewed on Friday. Apparently didn't do well.

Al Temple, Temple – A late well-respected addition.

Phil Fulmer, former Tennessee coach – Might have been AD and coach by Monday if the search dragged on.

A list of names that should have been considered

Mike Stoops, Arizona – Tennessee is into famous surnames lately. There is no more respected name in the sport right now than Stoops. Arizona is beginning to turn around.

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas – Hey, he lasted as many games with the Falcons as Kiffin did with the Vols, 13.

Tommy Bowden, former Clemson coach – Duh. Why wouldn’t you call this guy?

Rich Rodriguez, Michigan – Please tell me he wouldn’t take Mike Hamilton’s call. Then please tell me he wouldn’t take the job, if offered.

Chip Kelly, Oregon  – If you’re a top 10 program don’t you have to at least see if he’s interested?

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