Big Ten: Dominic Jones

Penn State went through a spell of player arrests. So did Iowa. Michigan State wants to finally move past the residence hall mess that resulted in 11 players pleading guilty to assault.

Now Minnesota appears to be the Big Ten team struggling to keep its players out of the blotter.

Gophers junior linebacker Gary Tinlsey faces two felony charges and three misdemeanors following his arrest early Sunday. According to Minneapolis police, Tinsley, 20, and another person were driving mopeds in the wrong direction down a one-way street when an officer ordered them to stop. Both kept driving and one of them, later identified as Tinsley, fled on foot before being caught by University of Minnesota police.

Tinsley, a projected starter at linebacker, faces felony charges of fleeing police in a vehicle and on foot, as well as misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and traffic law enforcement. He remained in Hennepin County jail as of Monday night. No disciplinary action has been announced yet, but Minnesota officials, including athletics director Joel Maturi, are gathering more information about Tinsley's case.

"We're disappointed," Maturi told the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press. "We're frustrated. I believe we'll handle it appropriately. Once we know all the facts, we'll make a decision on how to respond."

Tinsley also was cited for underage drinking and fleeing police following an alleged fight in late September, though he wasn't suspended from the team.

Minnesota has endured several other player arrests in the last four months. Starting safety Kyle Theret was indefinitely suspended last month after being cited for driving while impaired. Linebacker Sam Maresh, a candidate for a starting position whose comeback from a heart ailment attracted national attention, twice has been cited for underage drinking in recent weeks.

Two other Minnesota players, running back Kevin Whaley and offensive lineman Ryan Wynn, were arrested during the team's trip to the Insight Bowl in Arizona. Whaley, who came to Minnesota with a checkered past, left the team following a suspension, while Wynn is practicing this spring. Cornerback Michael Carter was arrested in November but didn't face a suspension.

The incidents are adding up, which isn't a good sign heading into a pivotal year for this program and its coaching staff.

Head coach Tim Brewster started his Minnesota tenure by making a strong statement on conduct when he dismissed four players allegedly involved in a rape of an 18-year-old woman, including star cornerback Dominic Jones.

"We spend a considerable amount of time addressing our players regarding their personal conduct and we will not compromise our values," Brewster said in a statement at the time. "We are establishing a culture of integrity and we will demand that our players are held accountable for their actions."

Sounds like it's time for this message to be relayed to Minnesota players once again.

Big Ten lunch links

July, 8, 2009
7/08/09
12:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

There's a lot on your plate today. 

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

A judge in Minnesota ruled Wednesday that former Golden Gophers star Dominic Jones would not be allowed to leave the state to participate at Ohio State's Pro Day on Friday. 

Jones, a standout safety and kick/punt returner for Minnesota in 2006, recently completed an eight-month sentence in a workhouse after being convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault in April. But Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum said Jones, a Columbus, Ohio, native, could not return home until he completes his sex offender assessment and begins treatment. 

The issue here is whether the court is simply following standard protocol or preventing Jones from pursuing a pro football career. Jones' conviction stems from a truly despicable act, but he hasn't had any transgressions since his arrest in July 2007.

"[Defense attorney Earl Gray] said Jones had 'proven himself all throughout this proceeding' and now wanted one 'slight break' to return to Ohio, participate in the tryouts, and see his mother and his son. He initially asked that Jones be allowed to leave Thursday and return Sunday. He later asked that he be allowed to leave Thursday and return Friday.

Assistant County Attorney Marlene Senechal, who heads the violent crimes division, argued that Jones should not be allowed to go because he is an 'untreated sex offender' and his chances of playing in the NFL are 'unrealistic.' She said, 'It would be inappropriate for him to leave the state.'"

Unless Senechal doubles as an NFL scout, her statement about Jones' NFL potential is ridiculous. She doesn't know how he'll perform at pro day. But I also wonder why Jones can't participate in Minnesota's pro day. That way, he wouldn't need to leave the state. 

There's also this interesting nugget:

"Throughout the case, Rosenbaum has shown no affinity for the defense. She rarely has acknowledged or greeted Jones in court, and most of her rulings have favored the prosecution. She declined to allow into evidence at trial the fact that Jones' victim had sex with three other players that night. None of them has been charged."

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Before getting to the links, I spoke today with Minnesota coach Tim Brewster (Q&A to follow soon), and he said former Gophers star safety Dominic Jones, who is serving a year in the county workhouse after being convicted of fourth-degree sexual conduct, will not address the team tonight, as originally planned. Brewster didn't elaborate on the reason for the change and said he wasn't sure if Jones could talk to the team at a later date.

Around the league:

  • Wisconsin cornerback Aaron Henry underwent a second surgery on his right knee Friday, this time to repair a torn meniscus. Despite the setback, the sophomore expects to be ready for the Badgers' Big Ten opener at the Big House on Sept. 27, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus writes in his blog.
  • There was a Big Ten flavor in FoxSports.com's recent rankings. The league is No. 4 in the conference rankings, which isn't as much of a surprise as the Big 12's selection at No. 1. Ohio State tops the preseason power rankings, while Wisconsin comes in a surprising 10th. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz rounds out the coaches on the hot seat chart, while Michigan State's Mark Dantonio is No. 5 among coaches on the rise. I guess Wisconsin's Bret Bielema has already risen. Ohio State-Michigan is the sports top rivalry, and the Buckeyes rank No. 4 among the best teams of the last decade.
  • Ohio State stars Beanie Wells, James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins occupy the top three spots in SI.com's list of 10 best Big Ten players. It was nice to see Indiana's Greg Middleton get some love at No. 9, but no Arrelious Benn? That'll change.
  • Rich Rodriguez isn't what Michigan fans are used to, but the Old Blues will acclimate as long as the team wins, Jamie Samuelsen blogs in the Detroit Free Press.
  • Leave your cameras at home if you're headed to Ohio State's open practice tonight. Offensive lineman Andrew Moses will be there, and his brother Chris will be watching, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
  • If you missed it on the ESPN.com preps page, Bill Kurelic takes an early look at Big Ten recruiting for 2009. No surprise that Ohio State is excelling, but Michigan State has also joined the lead pack.
  • The Lansing State Journal's Joe Rexrode reveals his AP Top 25 ballot. He's big on Ohio State (No. 1) but not so hot on Wisconsin (No. 18). Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan are on the outside looking in. Joe has a nice explanation for his voting.
  • Bobby Bowden says Florida State's succession plan has helped him in recruiting. Would a similar setup aid Penn State and Joe Paterno?

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Happy birthday to me. I'll wish for ... a bunch of links. Here ya go:

  • Projected starting wideout Jeff Cumberland missed Illinois practice with a sore foot, Bob Asmussen writes in The [Champaign, Ill.] News-Gazette. Also, Asmussen takes a look at the defensive tackles, where Josh Brent looks to step into a starting spot after Sirod Williams' season-ending knee injury. Illinois is returning to its roots as a football school, Mark Tupper writes in the Decatur Herald & Review.
  • Indiana kicker Austin Starr fends off the one-and-done perception about the Hoosiers, Mike Lucas writes in The Capital Times. Here's a breakdown of Indiana's defense from The Indianapolis Star's Terry Hutchens.
  • Standout tight end Tony Moeaki is expected to rejoin the mix at Iowa this fall, Susan Harman writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. There's a report he's injured again, which will be clarified on Saturday at the open scrimmage.
  • Here's a look at Michigan Stadium's steel-clad facelift from Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press. The Wolverines go bowling next week to raise money for the paralyzed brother of offensive lineman Elliott Mealer, John Heuser writes in The Ann Arbor News.
  • Oklahoma transfer Keith Nichol could set up an interesting competition at quarterback with Kirk Cousins next year at Michigan State. Here's a look at Nichol's journey, courtesy of Andrew Mouranie in the Lansing State Journal. The Spartans are getting local for the 2010 recruiting class, Matt Dorsey writes in the Detroit Free Press. 
  • If you didn't know already, the Big Ten Network launches on Comcast today, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press. 
  • Former Minnesota star safety Dominic Jones, now serving jail time for sexual assault, will address the team next week, Dennis Brackin writes in the [Minneapolis] Star Tribune. Jones requested the chance to talk about his experience.
"I think it will be a very positive message, and I know that I'm looking forward to it,'' head coach Tim Brewster said. "The exciting thing for me is that it seems like he's really trying to make something positive out of this. You look at different situations and try to learn from them, because that's all you can do.''
Minnesota's defensive renaissance hinges on better line play, Marcus Fuller writes in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Hope you enjoyed Hater Tuesday. There will be a little carry-over today, as I boldly make predictions on the league's top rivalries. But first, here's a look at what's happening around the league.

  • High praise for Ohio State's Beanie Wells from two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, who thinks the junior running back is "the closest thing to Jim Brown that I've ever seen," The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises writes in his blog.
  • Former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr sounded off on several topics, including Rich Rodriguez's nasty departure from West Virginia and the outlook for the season.
  • Mike Barwis isn't the only strength coach in the state of Michigan, Dave Dye writes in The Detroit News. The Michigan State notebook also has an item about running back Javon Ringer possibly returning kicks this fall. Interesting.
  • A big check is supposed to travel from Ann Arbor to Morgantown by Thursday night, Mickey Furfari writes in The (Martinsburg, W.Va.) Journal.
  • In case you missed it, Illinois basketball player Jamar Smith may be in trouble again. If the allegations are true, this brings even more embarrassment to a program that should have cut ties with Smith a long, long time ago.
  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus continues his position-by-position look at Wisconsin. Next up are the running backs, considered the team's deepest position group despite the legal problems of junior Lance Smith.
  • Joe Paterno's reaction to the Outside the Lines piece about Penn State's off-field issues could play a role in getting the longtime coach out the door, Bob Smizik writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Interesting but sad story about former Minnesota star Dominic Jones, who has gone from wearing No. 2 as a cornerback to wearing No. 00425759 as an inmate serving time for sexual assault, Rochelle Olson writes in The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune.
  • Missed this one from CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, who lists five things to watch in the Big Ten this fall. He likes Ohio State and Wisconsin, while Michigan should expect seven or eight wins in RichRod's first season.
  • After losing stud offensive tackle David Barrent to Michigan State, Iowa's 2009 recruiting needs a boost in a hurry, Andy Hamilton writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
  • Michigan State's Brian Hoyer hasn't forgotten the Champs Sports Bowl, as if anyone would let him, Alex Altman writes in The State News.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

CHICAGO -- Before the coaches started their interviews on the dais, the Big Ten played a 15-minute Points of Emphasis video to highlight elements that college football officials will follow this season.

Officials will focus on two areas this fall -- player safety and sportsmanship. The video showed examples of plays that demonstrate the fouls that will be called.

Regarding player safety, officials will focus on protecting defenseless players who are targeted above their shoulders or above the crown of their helmets. Fouls will result in a 15-yard penalty and possible ejection.

A new rule prohibits horse-collar tackles, grabbing the back or side collar of the jersey to bring down a player. Horse-collar tackles will be called only when defenders use them to immediately bring down ball carriers.

The player safety examples shown included:

  • A massive hit by Michigan State's Nehemiah Warrick to the helmet of Wisconsin wide receiver Kyle Jefferson in last year's game
  • A Bowling Green punt returner getting steamrolled by a Tulsa gunner
  • Minnesota safety Dominic Jones crushing Ohio State's Santonio Holmes in a helmet-to-helmet hit.
The unsportsmanlike conduct portion covered the fairly obvious displays -- taunting, high-stepping, end zone celebrations. These were some of the examples.
  • A Southern Miss defender spiking the ball after an interception
  • An Alabama player somersaulting into the end zone against Colorado
  • A player leaping into the stands and taking off his helmet after a touchdown, which can result in two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
  • USC's Desmond Reed somersaulting into the end zone against Illinois in the 2008 Rose Bowl. Reed's teammate, Fred Davis, also drew a flag for taunting after a touchdown.

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