Big Ten: Bobby Bowden

Earlier this week, we asked you to pick the nonconference opponent you'd most like to see your favorite team play in the near future. You could pick a team already on the upcoming schedule or one that inexplicably hasn't been added.

The response, not surprisingly, has been tremendous. If you haven't done so, send us your picks here and here and be sure to identify your Big Ten allegiance and why you're picking a certain nonconference foe.

Let's kick things off with one of the blog's most active fan bases, Nebraska.

Tom from Omaha: You can keep Nebraska-Texas. If I owned Austin and Hell, I'd rent out Austin and live in the other. A dream home-and-home would be Nebraska-LSU. B1G vs SEC and the Pelini connection are obvious but the biggest reason is the CWS. LSU fans are already familiar with Nebraska and have picked up plenty of support around here thanks to their success in Omaha over the years. I've made friends from LA and been to LSU, and they've been to games in Lincoln with me. Both fan bases seem to be plenty gracious once you're outside of the stadium which at the end of the day makes for a good trip.

Ike from Chicago: I'm a native Nebraskan living here in Illinois, and while the thought of playing our old Big 12 foes does strike a chord with me (especially Texas), I'd love to see a matchup of a team closer to my current home, particularly Notre Dame, or if for a more early schedule team Ohio, so we can play ol' Frank Solich and his Bobcats for old times sake. However, if I were to be scheduling to aid our recruiting, then most definitely we'd need to be scheduling more big time Pac-12 teams like UCLA, maybe challenge Scott Frost's offense up in Eugene, or take on USC like we did a few years ago. And of course schedule games with the SEC, I'm thinking Ole Miss, they've gotten some great classes together recently and are definitely on the rise. Or get something going with LSU so Bo can head back down there.

Nick from Omaha: As a Nebraska fan, we all know there is nothing I would love to see more than Oklahoma on our schedule every year. I realize OU chose Texas and the Big 12 South over us, but there's no bad blood here. I would just love to see one of the biggest rivalries in college football back again. Back in the 70s and 80s this game was about as big, if not bigger than, what you Big Ten folk refer to as "The Game". But the thing about bringing this rivalry back is two years (2020, 2021) just doesn't cut it. I want to see them maybe do a 2 games every 4 years format. Both teams will have 9 game conference schedules so this would make it possible to schedule other top tier teams in the off years. I realize the 2 games every 4 years is what supposedly ruined the rivalry, but lets be real here- Nebraska joining the Big Ten effectively ended the rivalry and I would just rather see them play every now and then than not at all. I just believe that even in today's changing sports landscape, both schools and fan bases have great respect for each other and there is still room for this rivavlry. And I know I can speak for both sides when I say everyone misses this game. I spend a great deal of my summers down in Oklahoma and when they find out I'm a Husker fan its always a fun and enjoyable conversation about the history they have together and how they would love for the game to be back. So please, Shawn Eichorst and Joe Castiglione, if you're reading this. Please make this game a more permanent fixture on our schedules.

Quinten from Columbus, Neb.: Brian:As a Nebraska fan who spent his formative years in the 90s (I began heavily watching football in 1994), I didn't know much about what it felt like to watch my team lose. The first game I clearly remember watching, however, was a loss in the Orange Bowl after the 1993 season to a team that didn't lose very many games in the 90s either: the Florida State Seminoles. During the decade, FSU was 109-13-1 with 2 national championships, while Nebraska was 108-16 with 3 crowns. Strangely enough, each team's explosion of success was somewhat sparked by the other. Bobby Bowden regularly points to the Seminoles' 17-13 win in Lincoln in 1985 as the moment his program had arrived, and it was that Orange Bowl loss to FSU that really put the fuel into the best part of the Huskers' 90s run. This is the nonconference game that Nebraska needs to schedule: the two teams of the 90s squaring off a decade-and-a-half later.

Sky from Norfolk, Neb.: No Nebraska fan likes Texas, but we owe them for several games they stole from us. Yes, you read that right, stole, as in illegally. The 2009 Big 12 championship for one. I'm still convinced that it was a conspiracy to let Texas into the National Title game against 'Bama and thank goodness 'Bama won, which actually makes me feel weird that I was rooting for an SEC team. But that tells you just how strongly I feel about Texas. Bring 'em on.

Nicholas from Vermillion, S.D.: In regards to your question on future nonconference opponents fans would like to see, I think a home and home between Nebraska and Mizzou would be great. It would renew an old rivalry game from the Big 12/8 days, and it would set up a B1G vs SEC showdown as well. I understand Illinois v Mizzou might put a wedge in this proposal, but it seems like a very possible one in the future.

Jerome from Toronto: I'm a Husker fan, and since we already have series scheduled with Oklahoma, Miami, Tennessee, and Colorado I will pick another team. My first instinct is Florida State as we owe them after some battles in recent bowl games. However, it will be difficult to convince FSU to come to Lincoln since they already have a non-conf. game they play with Florida each year. So then my next vote would be for LSU. This is for recruiting purposes as we've always targeted Louisiana for recruits, and have played LSU six times without ever losing. It could be a fun series!

Nate from Fort Sill, Okla.: Husker fan here, I would like to see Nebraska take on...wait for it... North Dakota State. Several reasons 1. They win nat'l titles in their division 2. it's regional and 3. They are coached by former Solich/Osborne assistant Craig Bohl who was fired, in my opinion to save Solich ... Since taking over the Bison he's won like 3 national titles. It's obscure, but there is definately some revenge factor for this one. They are actually a great offensive team and with our recent struggles on def they may give my big red a game.

Great responses from Big Red fans. Oklahoma would be my No. 1 choice and I'm excited to see the Sooners return to Nebraska's schedule. I also like the ideas mentioned here for Florida State, LSU and, of course, Texas. I'm a little surprised to see no Husker fans mention Miami, as the teams have some history and will renew their series in 2014 and 2015.

Ike and Nate, while Ohio and North Dakota State are creative choices, I'd rather see the Huskers take on a higher-profile opponent.

Video: No celebrating for Bobby Bowden

July, 23, 2012
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Bobby Bowden, reacting to the sanctions levied against Penn State, said he can't celebrate owning the record for most wins in FBS history.
With the sanctions levied against Penn State's football program Monday, former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden now owns the record for most wins in FBS history.

It's an honor his son, former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, said will be forever overshadowed by the circumstances in which Bobby Bowden overtook Joe Paterno in the record books.

"His record speaks for itself, and it's my father so you'd like to be happy for him," Tommy Bowden said. "But under the circumstances, it pales in comparison to how significant those problems are and the lives that have been affected."

Paterno, the longtime Penn State head coach, had 111 wins dating back to 1998 vacated from his record as part of the NCAA's sanctions announced Monday, which also included $60 million in fines, a four-year bowl ban and a loss of scholarships in light of the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault case.

That leaves Paterno with an official win tally of 298, well behind Bobby Bowden's official career tally of 377.

Of course, Bowden's actual record on the field included 12 additional wins that were also vacated due to an academic fraud investigation surrounding several FSU players in 2009.

"Even though he did not know about his (infractions), he was the head coach and, as the head coach, you're held responsible," Tommy Bowden said of his father's vacated wins. "The NCAA merited a just discipline for that infraction, and with Penn State they did the same thing."

Bowden said he believed the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State were fair, but he said it was important not to view the wins record as a victory for his father.

"It's such an insignificant thing," Bowden said. "You have to put it in context."
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno is no longer major college football's winningest coach.

As part of the punishment delivered to Penn State on Monday for its inaction in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal, the NCAA ordered the Nittany Lions to vacate their victories from the 1998 to 2011 seasons.

Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January, had a career record of 409-136-3 in 46 seasons at Penn State when he was fired on Nov. 9. Under the NCAA's decision, the Nittany Lions will have to vacate 111 victories, leaving Paterno with a career record of 298-136-3.

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who went toe-to-toe with Paterno for the NCAA coaching record at the end of their careers, becomes major college football's winningest coach with a career record of 377-129-4. Bowden was forced to vacate 12 victories from the 2006 and 2007 seasons, after the NCAA ruled the Seminoles used academically ineligible players during those seasons.

Former Grambling coach Eddie Robinson is NCAA Division I's all-time winningest coach with a 408-165-15 record in 55 seasons from 1941 to 1997. John Gagliardi, who is still coaching at Division III St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., has a 484-133-11 record after 63 seasons.

Bowden and Paterno were close friends until Paterno's death.

Bowden, who was forced to retire as FSU's coach after the 2009 season, was playing golf with a former assistant coach on Monday morning, when the NCAA ruled Penn State would have to vacate the victories.

"He's not happy about what happened to Penn State and he's not happy that Joe's wins are being taken away," Bowden's wife, Ann, said. "Joe was very sympathetic when the NCAA took away wins from Bobby."
The Joe Paterno statue, located on the west side of Beaver Stadium in State College, has been one of the most-discussed topics in the wake of Louis Freeh's scathing report on the failures of top Penn State officials, including Paterno, to stop child rapist Jerry Sandusky.

SportsNation

What should Penn State do with the Joe Paterno statue?

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Many have called for the statue's immediate removal, including former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, while some others, including Penn State running back Silas Redd and Penn State fans/students I spoke with for this piece, want it to stay. One student I met Thursday night at the statue said, "If it's really coming down, all hell's breaking loose." Penn State's trustees on Thursday said no immediate decisions have been made on the Paterno statue or how to honor or not honor Paterno.

"We feel honoring coach Paterno is a sensitive issue," Penn State board of trustees chair Karen Peetz said. "It's going to take a lot of dialogue with the community. We want to be reflective and take our time. There's not a timeline or deadline. That's not necessary. It's going to take a lot of discussion."

Penn State issued a statement on the statue Sunday, saying no decision has been made on its future.

ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. reported Saturday that the trustees will leave the statue standing for now, and some hope, forever. Not surprisingly, though, there's disagreement among the group.

From Van Natta's story:
"You can't let people stampede you into making a rash decision," a trustee said. "The statue represents the good that Joe did. It doesn't represent the bad that he did."

Although some trustees said in discussions Thursday and Friday in board meetings in Scranton, Pa., they believed the statue eventually would have to be torn down, most quickly reached a consensus it should remain standing in the coming weeks and months, trustees and a person briefed on their discussions said. Some trustees went even further, insisting Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., never should be removed.

"It has to stay up," said another trustee. "We have to let a number of months pass, and we'll address it again. But there is no way, no way. It's just not coming down."

What do you think Penn State should do? You couldn't blame the school for wanting to distance itself from Paterno as the former coach's legacy has been marred by what's come to light. The national demand is strong for the school to act, and act now.

On the flip side, Paterno's positive accomplishments at the school cannot be ignored. As one fan told me, "He donated a lot to the library and so forth. What are they going to do, knock the library down?" While there's no way Penn State names its stadium after Paterno, the school could keep it existing tributes.

Penn State could wait until things have quieted down a bit to make a decision. Or the school could wait until after the trials of former officials Gary Schultz and Tim Curley.

Time to vote. Make yours count.
Joe Paterno has become a polarizing figure in recent months, but all parties would agree that he defines Penn State football.

Paterno was affiliated with the Nittany Lions program for 62 years of its 125-year existence. He served as Nittany Lions coach for nearly 46 seasons before being fired in November. And his impact is particularly significant in the program's victories total.

[+] EnlargeJoe Paterno
Michael Hickey/US PresswireAccounting for nearly 50 percent of the program's wins, Joe Paterno was the face of Penn State.
Of Penn State's 827 all-time victories in football, Paterno coached the team for 409, the most of any coach in Division I history. Other than former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who accounts for an astounding 64 percent of the Seminoles' all-time wins (304 of 475), Paterno's percentage of Penn State's wins (49.4) places him in select company. Only Air Force's Fisher DeBerry (49.1 percent) and BYU's LaVell Edwards (49.2 percent) have accounted for a similar chunk of program wins -- among FBS programs that have been around for more than 30 years -- as Paterno has at Penn State.

ESPN.com is taking a closer look at coaches this week, and today's topic examines which programs are defined by one coach. Penn State fits the description because of Paterno's long and successful career. Penn State also is unique because its program has been around so long, and while there was success before JoePa -- eight undefeated seasons between 1894-1947, a Rose Bowl appearance in 1923 -- almost all of the program's significant achievements (two national titles, 24 bowl wins) occurred on Paterno's watch.

What about the other Big Ten teams?

In terms of winningest coaches, here's how they look:

Illinois: Robert Zuppke, 131 of program's 580 wins (22.6 percent)
Indiana: Bill Mallory, 69 of 449 (15.3 percent)
Iowa: Hayden Fry, 143 of 593 (24.1 percent)
Michigan: Bo Schembechler, 194 of 895 (21.7 percent)
Michigan State: Duffy Daugherty, 109 of 638 (17.1 percent)
Minnesota: Henry Williams, 136 of 646 (21.1 percent)
Nebraska: Tom Osborne, 255 of 846 (30.1 percent)
Northwestern: Lynn Waldorf, 49 of 488 (10.04 percent)
Ohio State: Woody Hayes, 205 of 837 (24.5 percent)
Purdue: Joe Tiller, 87 of 586 (14.8 percent)
Wisconsin: Barry Alvarez, 118 of 635 (18.6 percent)

As you can see, no coach comes close to Paterno in terms of percentage of his program's wins. But this ratio is just one gauge of a program-defining coach.

Another important factor is a team's history both before and after a coach took the job. Look at Wisconsin before Alvarez arrived in 1990. The program had endured five consecutive losing seasons and had just six winning seasons since 1963. Wisconsin's previous two coaches, Don Morton and Jim Hilles, had gone a combined 9-36 at the helm.

Alvarez transformed Wisconsin into an upper-tier Big Ten program, leading the Badgers to three Big Ten titles and three Rose Bowl championships. His hand-picked successor, Bret Bielema, has carried on Wisconsin's momentum, but Alvarez fostered the change. He is Wisconsin football, period.

Two iconic coaches regarded by many the faces of their respective programs are Ohio State's Hayes and Michigan's Schembechler. They tied for the most Big Ten championships with 13. Hayes won the most Big Ten games (152 to Schembechler's 143), while Schembechler owns the record for best winning percentage in conference games (.850).

But both men led programs that had success under other coaches. Michigan was a national superpower under the likes of Fielding Yost (.888 career win percentage), Harry Kipke, Fritz Crisler and Bennie Oosterbaan, while Schembechler never won a consensus national title. The Wolverines boast six coaches who have served 10 or more years, most recently Lloyd Carr (1995-2007).

Ohio State carved a place among the nation's elite under shorter-tenured coaches like Francis Schmidt and Paul Brown, while Jim Tressel won a national title and more than 81 percent of his games during his 10 years in Columbus.

Are Michigan and Ohio State defined by Schembechler and Hayes, respectively? Depends on your perspective. My take: both are iconic, but Hayes is more defining.

Iowa's Fry fills a similar role to Alvarez. He took over a program on the downturn for several decades and put it in the Big Ten's top half. Fry is the coach people think of when Iowa comes to mind, although his successor, Kirk Ferentz, has put his own stamp with a solid run since 1999.

Other Big Ten programs seem to fit into different categories.

Programs with two great coaches:

  • Nebraska -- Osborne (255-49-3) and Bob Devaney (101-20-2)
  • Purdue -- Tiller (87-62) and Jack Mollenkopf (84-39-9)
Programs that had its most successful coaches many years ago

  • Illinois -- Zuppke (131-81-13 from 1913-41); Arthur Hall (27-10-3 from 1907-12)
  • Minnesota -- Williams (136-33-11 from 1900-21; Bernie Bierman (93-35-6 from 1932-41 and 1945-50)
  • Michigan State -- Daugherty (109-69-5 from 1954-72); Biggie Munn (54-9-2 from 1947-53); Charles Bachman (70-34-10 from 1933-46); Chester Brewer (58-23-7 from 1903-10, 1917, 1919)
Historically weak programs with a lot of coaching turnover

  • Indiana -- No coach with career winning record since Bo McMillin (1934-47), no coach with 70 or more wins at school
  • Northwestern -- No coach with 50 or more wins at school, only one coach with tenure longer than 10 years

You could argue Zuppke remains Illinois' defining coach, even though he hasn't coached in more than 70 years. Osborne is undoubtedly the face of Nebraska's program, but is he the Huskers' defining coach? Tough to say that after looking at what Devaney did (two national titles, eight Big Eight titles).

Could any current Big Ten coach end up being a program-defining figure? None will occupy his job as long as Paterno did at Penn State. Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is just nine wins shy of Waldorf's victories mark, and he turned 37 in December. Fitzgerald's strong ties to the program, plus Northwestern's poor history and absence of coaching greats, create an opportunity should Fitzgerald have success for a long period.

What are your thoughts? Which Big Ten programs are defined by a coach, and which are not? Share them here.
The Big Ten on Monday expressed its strong desire for a selection committee to choose teams in a potential four-team college football playoff. League commissioner Jim Delany was pointed in his criticism of the polls (biased, statistically flawed) and the computer systems (non-transparent), and Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said those at his level would be comfortable with a committee, as long as it receives certain guidelines.

Is the selection committee a perfect solution? No. Would there be challenges in assembling such a committee and concerns about biases? Without a doubt. Would the group need to earn the public's trust over time? Absolutely. But the committee seems like a better solution than the current methods, as long as it has some transparency.

My sense is the selection committee component ultimately will bring the leagues together on a model during the next few weeks. It shouldn't be that hard of a sell to most conferences.

The big question, then, is who serves on such a committee? Brian Bennett and I debated the topic this week. Brian is more open to former coaches being on the committee than I am, although neither of us have closed the door.

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden says he'll serve. Colleague Joe Schad reports that other former coaches, including former Ohio State boss John Cooper and former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, also are up for the job.
"I would love to do this," Cooper said. "I would love to be a part of it. My life revolves around college football and coaching. I would vote for the best team, regardless of conference. And I know we all would operate that way."

My top criteria is to find individuals who have connections to multiple conferences.

A committee clearly has to represent the sport nationally as best as possible, so who would be best to rep the Big Ten in the room? There are so many possibilities, but I tried to narrow them down a bit.

My top pick is actually a former coach who is still involved in the sport as an athletic director: Tom Osborne. The Nebraska AD is well respected throughout the sport. He's smart and fair. And he has been affiliated with multiple conferences (Big Ten, Big Eight/Big 12), which I think is key for selection committee candidates. The committee won't need to be in place until 2014. Osborne, 75, might be retired by then, which could be better than having him on a school's payroll.

Here are a few other potential candidates with Big Ten ties:

Former coaches


John Cooper, 74: Coached at Ohio State from 1988-2000. Also was a Pac-10 head coach (Arizona State) and an assistant in the SEC and Big Eight.

Lloyd Carr, 66: Coached at Michigan from 1995-2007. Also a Michigan assistant from 1980-94. Retired as an associate athletic director in 2010.

Hayden Fry, 83: Coached at Iowa from 1979-1998. Texas native played at Baylor, and made several coaching stops in former Southwest Conference.

Bill Mallory, 77: Coached at Indiana from 1984-96. Also coached in Big Eight at Colorado, and has roots in the Mid-American Conference.

George Perles, 77: Coached Michigan State from 1983-94. Served as Michigan State's athletic director from 1990-92.

Joe Tiller, 69: Coached at Purdue from 1997-2008. Also coached at Wyoming, and served as a Pac-10 assistant at Washington State.

Current administrators

Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin athletic director: Wisconsin football coach from 1990-2005. Played at Nebraska, and served as an assistant at Notre Dame and Iowa.

Jim Delany, Big Ten commissioner: Has served in role since 1989. Worked for NCAA from 1975-79. Served on several NCAA committees. Played basketball at North Carolina.

Mark Hollis, Michigan State athletic director: Has served in role since 2008. Also worked at Pitt and for the Western Athletic Conference. Recently named 2012 athletic director of the year by SportsBusiness Journal.

Tom Osborne, Nebraska athletic director: Has served in role since 2007. Nebraska football coach from 1973-97. Nebraska assistant from 1964-72. Former member of U.S. House of Representatives.

Jim Phillips, Northwestern athletic director: Has served in role since 2008. Former administrator at Notre Dame, Tennessee and Northern Illinois, and also spent time as a basketball coach at Arizona State.

Gene Smith, Ohio State athletic director: Has served in role since 2005. Led athletic departments in Big Ten, Big 12 (Iowa State), Pac-12 (Arizona State) and MAC (Eastern Michigan). Former Notre Dame football player. Former chair of NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee.

Looking outside the coach/administrator model, Tony Dungy might be an interesting candidate. He's a Michigan native and a former quarterback at Minnesota who is well respected throughout the sports world. Former longtime Big Ten ADs like Ron Guenther (Illinois) and Pat Richter (Wisconsin) also might be potential options.

Who would you want to see on a selection committee?

Video: Remembering Joe Paterno

January, 22, 2012
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Bobby Bowden, Beano Cook, Rece Davis, O.J. McDuffie, Joe Schad, Urban Meyer and Adam Taliaferro reflect on the life of Joe Paterno

Bobby Bowden on Paterno's passing

January, 22, 2012
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Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who spent nearly a decade battling former Penn State coach Joe Paterno for the most victories in NCAA Division I history, said he was saddened by Paterno’s death on Sunday morning.

[+] EnlargeBobby Bowden, Joe Paterno
Al Bello/Getty ImagesFormer Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said of the passing of Penn State coach Joe Paterno: "The guy had the most illustrious career in the history of college football."
Bowden said he learned of Paterno’s death from lung cancer after returning to his home in Tallahassee, Fla. Bowden, 82, coached in the Battle of Florida All-Star Game in Boca Raton, Fla., on Saturday night.

“I hated to hear it,” Bowden said. “It is really sad. The guy had the most illustrious career in the history of college football, probably all of football. To put the years together and have the success he had and then have it all end like this, it’s just tragic. I’m just going to remember the good things because he did so many good things at Penn State.”

Paterno, who spent his last two months battling lung cancer, won 409 games and two national championships in 46 seasons at Penn State. Bowden was ahead of Paterno in all-time victories for a time, but Paterno passed him before Bowden was forced to retire as FSU’s coach near the end of the 2009 season. On Oct. 29, Paterno won his 409th game, moving him past legendary Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson for the most victories among Division I coaches.

Bowden won 389 games in 44 seasons as a coach, including 34 at Florida State. FSU was ordered to vacate 12 victories as part of NCAA sanctions in January 2010, leaving Bowden with a career record of 377-129-4.

“I thought I could outlast him,” Bowden said. “That was kind of my goal in my last years of coaching, but my record wouldn’t allow it. I enjoyed [the battle with Paterno] and kind of fessed up to it. Joe would always say, ‘Oh, I’m not interested in it.’ At one time, I was ahead of him. He was the best.”

Bowden said he first met Paterno in 1962, when Bowden was coaching at Howard College in Birmingham, Ala. After watching the Nittany Lions defeat Georgia Tech 30-15 in the 1961 Gator Bowl, Bowden called Penn State coach Rip Engle to ask if he could observe spring practice in 1962. Paterno was Engle’s 35-year-old offensive coordinator at the time. Bowden later coached against Penn State when he was coach at West Virginia from 1970-1975.

Bowden and Paterno faced each other in two bowl games while Bowden was at Florida State. FSU defeated Penn State 24-17 in the 1990 Blockbuster Bowl, and the Nittany Lions beat the Seminoles 26-23 in three overtimes in the 2006 Orange Bowl.

In 2007, Bowden and Paterno were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame together. At the time, the National Football Foundation waived its rule which said coaches had to be retired to be inducted.

Bowden and Paterno became close friends during their trips together to Nike conventions.

“Joe and I would spend a lot of time together because we were older than everyone else,” Bowden said.

Bowden said he hopes Paterno will be remembered as a great leader and coach, and not for his role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked Penn State last year. Sandusky, a longtime Paterno assistant, is accused of molesting children over a 15-year period.

“It’s amazing,” Bowden said. “You can do so many good things in your life and then have one mistake. You can’t ignore the great years he had at Penn State and the great things he did for Penn State. That university is known for Joe Paterno and [his wife] Sue. It’s just a great tragedy.”

Big Ten Friday mailblog

December, 23, 2011
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Have a great holiday weekend! Big Ten bowl season is just around the corner.

AK from Monroe Township, N.J., writes: Hi Adam. OSU fan here. I don't think the bowl ban next year is all that bad. First, I don't see OSU contending for the national title yet. Second, if there are no practices for the bowl game, that means Urban Meyer will be fully hitting the recruiting trails like this year. If he can do an incredible job this year in limited time and scholarship, imagine what he can do next year?

Adam Rittenberg: AK, you're definitely putting a positive spin on things. I see the situation a bit differently. Ohio State would have been the favorite in the Leaders division as the Buckeyes return most of their key players. The bowl ban prevents the Buckeyes from reaching the Big Ten championship game with a chance to go to Pasadena. So it's definitely a blow for next year as things were set up well for the Scarlet and Gray. Also, coaches can still be effective recruiters while preparing their teams for bowl games. Ohio State's team undoubtedly would have benefited from the extra practices next December. Long term, the ban shouldn't sting too much, but it definitely has some drawbacks for the Buckeyes. We do agree on this: Ohio State is more likely to compete for a national title in 2013.


Dave from Pasadena, Calif., writes: Hey Adam! Upon reading all the news re Wisconsin football the last couple days, it stinks to lose Coach Chryst to Pitt (though it's very deserving and expected), lose out on the battle of Dayne Crist (though maybe it's better to groom the current QBs on the roster), and most likely losing Ball to the NFL (again, deserving and understandable). I know last year, everyone on the team is alluding the Rose Bowl loss to distractions. How do you suppose the Badgers will block out these distractions now??

Adam Rittenberg: Dave, this is a really good question. Brian and I talked with Montee Ball for next week's podcast and he brought up the distractions last year and the need for better focus heading into this year's Rose Bowl. Several factors should help the Badgers. It's not their first trip to Los Angeles, and they shouldn't get as caught up in the glitz and glamor this year. Wisconsin had a similar coaching situation last year with defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, who had accepted the top job at Northern Illinois but still coached the bowl game. Doeren's situation didn't seem to negatively affect the Badgers, and Paul Chryst is the type of guy who will do all he can to keep the focus on the team and on the task at hand. Chryst cares a great deal about his players and wants to get this win. I also think it's good that a guy like Ball, who has a big decision to make, understands the potential distractions and has taken a proactive approach toward keeping the team locked in on the game.


Daniel from Lincoln, Neb., writes: I need some understanding behind the move of Rick Kaczenski leaving Iowa to go to Nebraska for the same job. Essentially, he is going to be doing the same thing but just different school. Usually coaches that do this move up, i.e. bigger school, conference, division, ect, but I see this as a lateral move. What do you think is the motivation behind this move? It's obviously not for the better scenery, however, we do have better looking women.

Adam Rittenberg: Ha, no comment on your last point. It's interesting that Kaczenski would take the same position on Nebraska's staff. He's not really closer to a coordinator job as John Papuchis, 33, was promoted to the role on Thursday. Sometimes, you just need a change, and Kaczenski had been at Iowa for a while. We'll see about Kaczenski's salary at Nebraska, but he almost certainly received some sort of bump. The Hawkeyes are changing defensive coordinators when Norm Parker retires following the Insight Bowl, and Kaczenski wasn't going to get the job. He's now working for a defensive-minded head coach in Bo Pelini, and at a program where it might be easier to springboard to other things. I hope to visit with Kaczenski soon and see why he made the move.


Hal from East Meadow, N.Y., writes: Adam, regarding Penn State's next coach there has been a lot of talk, including on this blog, about how it is very likely that Penn State hires from outside of the Penn State community. The main implication of this is that Tom Bradley has virtually no shot of remaining head coach because he is a JoePa disciple. From a PR standpoint this makes total sense, but how much is the school willing to sacrifice quality coaching in favor of what looks good? Bradley was going to be a top candidate to replace JoePa before the scandal, and that was with top flight national candidates competing for the job (presumably). But now, with most of the best head coaching candidates of this offseason either taking jobs elsewhere or denying that they have any interest in coaching at Penn State, it's looking more and more like Bradley is by far the best coach available (from a purely football standpoint) who actually wants the job. With that in mind, how much of a drop off from Bradley is the school willing to take for the sake of appearances?

Adam Rittenberg: Hal, while it appears as though elite coaches don't want the Penn State job, the school could still end up making a really good hire. I don't think we can definitively say Bradley is "by far" the best available coach who wants the job until we see how this saga plays out. There's a good number of good coaches out there, and it only takes one willing to take on the unique challenge at Penn State. No one questions Bradley's coaching ability, and the entire situation is really unfortunate for a guy who has a lot of respect in the Penn State locker room. But I'd be stunned if Bradley gets the job, as he was close to the key figures -- Jerry Sandusky, Mike McQueary, Joe Paterno -- involved in the sex-abuse scandal.


Joe from Chicago writes: Adam,In your budding rivalry take two commentary that compared Iowa-Nebraska and Michigan State-Wisconsin, you characterized Iowa and Nebraska as being in bordering states (implicitly drawing a distinction to Michigan State and Wisconsin). Michigan and Wisconsin do in fact border one another (remember the Upper Peninsula of Michigan), and the two states do in fact hate each other.

Adam Rittenberg: Aaargh! You're right, Joe. And to think I actually did well in geography. I'll have to turn in my card as an honorary Midwesterner for failing to point out that Michigan and Wisconsin also share a border. Beautiful part of the country, too.


Dave from Fredricton, New Brunswick, Canada, writes: Hi Adam, love the blog and the job you both do.A Dec 21 blog entry referenced Denard Robinson's paperwork submission to the NFL draft advisory board. Can you elaborate and explain this process for the uninitiated like myself? Thanks in advance!

Adam Rittenberg: No problem, Dave. It's a fairly common practice for draft-eligible juniors like Robinson to submit paperwork to the NFL draft advisory board, which then gives the players an evaluation of where they'd most likely be selected in the draft. The projections come from a panel of professional scouting experts and provide a good picture of whether the players will be first-, second- or third-round picks or fall to the later rounds or out of the draft entirely. The evaluations help players make their decisions on whether to stay in school or go to the draft by Jan. 15.


Steve from West Des Moines, Iowa, writes: If you'll indulge me, I have two memos with regard to today's lunch links:Memo 1 to Bobby Bowden - spare us what you would have done. Shame on your public posturing of a hypothetical when you were the captain of Free Shoes University.Memo 2 to Kirk Ferentz - you can stop reassuring your fans that you are happy at Iowa. Penn State was never interested, nor was the NFL. The more you issue statements the more you sound like Kristen Wiig's SNL character "Lillia" (don't make me say I'm happy at Iowa again).

Adam Rittenberg: Steve, I agree with you on the Bowden thing. He's entitled to his opinion, but he wasn't placed in the same situation with the same circumstances. It's always easy to say what you would have done. And as you say, Bowden didn't exactly run a controversy-free program at Florida State. Wonder if Joe Paterno would ever talk about Florida State's sparkling academic reputation under Bowden. As to the Ferentz thing, it was a bit surprising he chose to come out with the statement, but the Kansas City Chiefs job seemed a bit different from the positions he's been mentioned for in the past. Also, with the way recruiting goes, coaches don't want prospects thinking they're on their way out. While I don't think it was totally necessary, I don't have an issue with the statement, either.

Big Ten Friday mailblog

December, 3, 2010
12/03/10
3:00
PM ET
As always, send me questions and comments. And start following me on Twitter.

You're really missing out.

Joe from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: Very odd how the tone changed from supporting Brandon waiting until 2011 (see your previous post) to todays blog post about RichRod at the UM banquet (saying its big-boy football, Brandon needs to make a move.) Which is it? Is he being a good citizen by letting Harbaugh go to his BCS game without distractions and taking the high road or is Brandon being unfair? I can't see that both positions are consistent. I don't think that it really makes much difference if you go to Harbaugh now or in a month... its such a seismic change that such a 30 days won't really make the 2011/12 seasons any easier and its not like the recruiting class would be salvaged since he's start from scratch with new O recruits. Thanks for your blogging, its the best I read on the 'net.

Adam Rittenberg: Joe, the previous post was about how Brandon's patience might help Rodriguez, but I have never supported Brandon's decision to wait so long to make a ruling on the head coach. All I wrote was that it seemed more likely that Michigan would make changes among the assistants in January than right now. I was just trying to project what Brandon's wait-and-see approach meant for Rodriguez. So it's not two different positions. And after Rodriguez's emotional speech Thursday night, I think there's increased pressure for a resolution one way or the other. Brandon has had a lot of time to gauge interest from other candidates if he wants to make a change. And if he wants to stick with Rodriguez, why let him twist in the wind like this?


Jerry from New York writes: The Arizona State victory at Arizona last night improves Wisconsin's SOS while negatively effecting the SOS of Stanford and of Oregon; especially if Arizona drops from the rankings. An Oregon loss at Oregon State on Saturday -- though unlikley -- might propel Wisconsni past Stanford in the final BCS. Arizona losing at home to Arizona State last night also was not likely. Anything could happen.

Adam Rittenberg: You're right, Jerry, anything could happen, especially with the BCS. But you're also forgetting TCU, which has an average computer ranking of No. 3, while Wisconsin lags behind at No. 7. The Badgers would really need to make a jump in the computers to get ahead of the Horned Frogs. I could see the Badgers leapfrogging Stanford even though neither team plays Saturday. It might take bad losses by both Oregon and Auburn to get Wisconsin in the title game against TCU.


CJ from Philly writes: Adam,What do think the probability is that PSU tells Joe after this year "Joe, we can do this anyway you want but we are not going to extend your contract past 2011. You can do this the easy way and say that you are going to go out on your own, or you can make this difficult and say we are forcing you out. Either way this is going to be the end result." Unlike Bowden (or even when they tried to get him to reign in 2004), Joe's contract will actually be up after next year so technically they are not forcing him out.

Adam Rittenberg: Penn State certainly monitored what happened with Bobby Bowden and wants to avoid a contentious ending with Joe Paterno. But there's a time to make a change, and it feels like next year is the time to do it. Then again, we could feel differently if Penn State wins a Big Ten title and shows upgrades both with the current players and with its recruiting. The problem is that there seems to be a stale feeling around Penn State right now: a so-so team, question marks on both sides of the ball, a slow start to recruiting. The Big Ten is about to get a lot tougher, and Penn State must maintain its status as a powerhouse. So timing is important in all of this, but there's no easy way to handle a situation like Paterno's.


Adam from Alpena, Mich., writes: What's the selection order between the Gator and Insight Bowls? Everything says they are both "4/5." In years past that has meant the bowls alternate picking 4th and 5th, but I can't find any definite statement about which is 4th and which is 5th this year.

Adam Rittenberg: Gator picks first and then Insight this year. Things will change in future years, but Gator will have the initial selection.


Richard from Andersonville in Chicago: Could you please take a minute and try to provide a rational analysis as to why the computers rank Ohio State ahead of Michigan State. Given record of opponents and strength of schedule It defies explanation why State is ranked lower and I was hoping perhaps an expert could shed some light on this is occurring. Much thanks.

Adam Rittenberg: Hello, neighbor! I don't know if "rational analysis" can ever go in the same sentence with BCS computers, Richard. I was really surprised at how low the computers continue to rank Michigan State, which has a more superior schedule strength than both Wisconsin and Ohio State. The computers don't factor in margin of victory like the human voters do. Mark Dantonio and I talked about this, and he's just as surprised as you and I are. He couldn't believe that Richard Billingsley carries over BCS rankings from one season to the next to determine his formula. The Spartans get hammered in the Sagarin ratings, just like Wisconsin and Ohio State. I don't get it.


Rob from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Today you have a recruiting story and a link regarding Big Ten teams, and you also have a lunch link story about Penn State's recruiting...the two stories are completely contadictory. So what is the message? Are you nothing more than a portal? Don't you have ANYTHING to bring to the table?

Adam Rittenberg: Rob, I am largely a portal, but when did presenting multiple viewpoints on a topic become a bad thing? I've offered plenty of original reporting and commentary, but the blog functions largely as a one-stop shop for all things Big Ten related. That means all kinds of links. The message is up to you to interpret, although I'm happy to help. My take on Penn State's recruiting: Things don't look good right now, but the final class won't be as disastrous as some are projecting.


Drew from Washington, D.C., writes: What has to happen at OSU (changing offensive coordinators or changing head coaches) for them to start utilizing an open, spread, and risky type of offense? I love Tressel and I think he is a great coach and a great guy, but OSU's offense is not even close to competing with most of the offenses in the SEC and even the up-and-coming Michigan offense. I understand that Tressel's record is indisputable, but it's not like OSU doesn't have the talent readily available to run such an offense. In this day and age in college football, speed kills and it's hard to compete for a national championship when you're running an offense that used to work reallky well. Your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Drew, Ohio State doesn't have to run an "open, spread and risky type of offense" to have success. What the Buckeyes need to do, and they've done this at times this season, is establish an identity on offense. They've struggled to figure out who they are on offense since Terrelle Pryor became the quarterback. But on the whole, this season has been a step forward for Ohio State, which ranks 10th nationally in scoring, 14th nationally in rushing and 20th nationally in total offense. I get that the spread is chic, but have you watched Wisconsin's offense? That's a traditional, pro-style, power-oriented system that no one stopped in the final seven Big Ten games, including Ohio State. It's more important for Ohio State to establish an identity on offense than just go with what's trendy.


Travis from St. Louis writes: Adam- in reference to Iowa's losing slide, see below. I have been a fan of Iowa since my dad came home with champagne when the Hawks knew they were going to the Rose Bowl in 81/82 (only to be crushed 28-0). It boils down to this simple FACT. Iowa football fans live a life on angst much like Cubs fans. We have a saying in our family, "Iowa, they were almost good... once." Much like the 81 season, or the 85, the 90, 91, 03, 06-07, 09, 10 season Iowa's hopes were high only to be dashed. We'll be back next year convinced they'll go 12-0. Go Hawks

Adam Rittenberg: Travis, some good thoughts here and I'm sure many Iowa fans agree with you. Iowa seems like a program that does best when it's under the radar, rather than dealing with the expectations like this fall. But the Hawkeyes were very good last year, and they were very good from 2002-04. Iowa fans are extremely prideful, and they'll always have confidence that their team will do big things. But Iowa still isn't at a point where it can expect special seasons year in and year out.

Big Ten lunch links

November, 1, 2010
11/01/10
12:01
PM ET
Let's get to it.

Big Ten featured in 20 for '10

August, 16, 2010
8/16/10
5:00
PM ET
If you haven't done so already, check out the college football front page, where my colleagues have put together an excellent series entitled "20 for '10." They have put together all types of lists for the 2010 season -- hot and not, Heisman Trophy candidates, must-see games and more -- and the Big Ten is featured in most of them.

Let's recap:

HOT AND NOT
  • Expansion, Ohio State's Week 2 matchup against Miami, Penn State's Week 2 trip to Alabama, Michigan's Week 2 trip to Notre Dame, Purdue quarterback and Miami transfer Robert Marve, the Illinois-Northwestern game at Wrigley Field, Joe Paterno's improved vision and an expanded Michigan Stadium are listed among the "hot" items.
  • Embattled Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, Penn State's opener against Youngstown State, Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, Illinois coach Ron Zook, Illinois' struggles since the 2008 Rose Bowl and the Michigan-Ohio State series appear in the "not" category.
  • Big Ten fans will be pleased to also see Big Ten bashing listed in the "not" category. Colleague Mark Schlabach writes, "The conference everyone loved to beat up during the past five seasons stood its ground during 2009 bowl season." That's certainly true, but the league needs to do so again in 2010.
MUST-SEE GAMES
  • Miami at Ohio State, Sept. 11: Colleague Andrea Adelson writes, "This game is symbolic of so much -- the last time they met, Ohio State hung on to win the national title in a huge upset. That was the Buckeyes' last victory in the title game. For the Hurricanes, that game was the beginning of a downward slide."
  • Ohio State at Iowa, Nov. 20
  • Michigan at Notre Dame, Sept. 11: Adelson writes, "After the Wolverines' stunning come-from-behind win last season, this qualifies as must-see TV. Especially with Brian Kelly on the Irish sideline and beleaguered Rich Rodriguez on the other."
  • Penn State at Alabama, Sept. 11
  • Ohio State at Wisconsin, Oct. 16: Adelson writes, "Wisconsin has had trouble beating ranked Big Ten teams. Now the Badgers get the Buckeyes at home. They have beaten Ohio State only 17 times in 75 meetings."
HEISMAN TROPHY CONTENDERS
  • Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor: Colleague Ivan Maisel writes, "If the junior QB plays in the rest of 2010 the way that he played on Jan. 1 in the Rose Bowl, then he will attend the Heisman ceremony in December."
  • Penn State RB Evan Royster: Maisel writes, "A veteran line and a young quarterback translate into a lot of responsibility -- and opportunity -- for this senior running back." Completely agree here.
  • Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi: Maisel writes, "The senior QB produced one great fourth-quarter comeback after another last season. Now he must learn to play better in the first three quarters."

It's interesting to see Stanzi make the list ahead of Hawkeyes star defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn. And no John Clay? You kidding me? He's the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. I might need to have a little chat with Mr. Maisel.

BEST SHOT AT NATIONAL TITLE
  • Iowa (listed No. 1): Adelson writes, "The Hawkeyes get Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State at home. With 14 starters returning, that is quite a nice trifecta."
  • Ohio State (listed No. 3): Adelson writes, "Though the Buckeyes have Terrelle Pryor and 15 other starters returning, the schedule is going to make their run to the title harder. They host Miami and have Big Ten games at Wisconsin and at Iowa."
  • Wisconsin (listed at No. 10): Adelson writes, "They get Ohio State at home, and Penn State isn't on the schedule. The toughest road game is at Iowa on Oct. 23. But the knock on the Badgers has been their inability to win the big games against ranked teams in Big Ten play."
TEAMS TO BE WARY OF (yes, I know my grammar stinks)
  • Ohio State, when trailing in the fourth quarter: Schlabach writes, "Some fans might argue that Ohio State's Jim Tressel is too conservative in his playcalling, but the man knows how to hold a lead. Since Tressel took over before the 2001 season, the Buckeyes are 82-6 when leading at halftime."
  • Iowa, when hardware is on the line: Schlabach writes, "Iowa's Kirk Ferentz has led his teams to nine straight victories in games in which a trophy was on the line."
  • Wisconsin, when your defense is tired: Schlabach writes, "Wisconsin has long been known for its dominant running game, and the Badgers tied with Navy for the national lead in time of possession in 2009. Wisconsin held the ball for an average of 33 minutes, 55 seconds and had 16 five-minute drives in 13 games."
WHO WOULD YOU RATHER BE?
  • Rich Rodriguez or Ron Zook: Adelson picks Zook but writes, "The chances that both men are still employed by their respective schools at the end of the season appear slim at this point."
  • Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden: Adelson picks Bowden, writing, "After the age of 80, life just seems better on the golf course."
  • Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany or SEC commish Mike Slive: Adelson picks Slive.
  • Michigan helmet or Notre Dame helmet: Adelson picks the winged headgear. Good call.

Schlabach also includes Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and his late father, Craig, and Wisconsin receiver Nick Toon and his dad, Al, among college football's familiar surnames this season. Buck-I-Guy and other super fans from Michigan State, Purdue and Iowa appear on this top 20 list.

And, finally, Todd McShay lists Heyward, Clayborn and Wisconsin left tackle Gabe Carimi among his top 20 NFL prospects for the 2011 draft.

Safe to say, all this will keep you busy for a while.

Big Ten lunch links

August, 5, 2010
8/05/10
12:00
PM ET
Ready for camp?

Big Ten lunch links

July, 22, 2010
7/22/10
12:00
PM ET
Don't forget to chat with me today at 4 p.m. ET!

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