Big Ten: Eric Olsen
Purdue-Michigan isn't considered a major rivalry, but there's some bad blood brewing between head coaches Rich Rodriguez and Danny Hope.
After today's Purdue victory at Michigan Stadium, Hope reportedly introduced Rodriguez to Boilers offensive lineman Zach Reckman and said, "Thanks Coach, we appreciate what you did." The Big Ten suspended Reckman for a game in September after he delivered a late hit to a Northern Illinois player after Purdue lost to the Huskies.
"I was a little disappointed that after the game their coach seemed to bring the lineman over like I was the reason that his lineman got suspended for that one game," Rodriguez told reporters in Ann Arbor. "I don’t know where that came from. I talked to him on the phone and told him that wasn’t me that -- this is way back when. I didn’t have anything to do with that young man getting suspended for that one game."
Rodriguez had previously he would be alert the Big Ten of any conduct issues after the league suspended Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton for punching Notre Dame's Eric Olsen. The Michigan coach made a reference to seeing a conduct issue on Sept. 19, presumably Reckman's late hit.
"As a coach you say, 'OK, the precedent will be set,' and that's why I saw we’ll look at every act," Rodriguez said in late September. "And, in fact, it's funny you say that, I saw a Big Ten game, in the locker room as we were leaving, highlights, and it was the end of the game and a guy jumped on someone on the last play of the game and did a little of this right here. Now is that a non-football act? It probably is, so that may be turned in and see what happens."
I'm not sure where this is going to go. Unlike the SEC, the Big Ten rarely has coaches publicly sniping at one another.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten might lack a top 5 team, but the league leads the nation in suspending its own players.
Ohio State star safety Kurt Coleman on Monday became the third Big Ten player in as many weeks to be issued a one-game suspension from the conference office.
Coleman will sit out this week's game at Indiana because of a helmet-to-helmet hit on Illinois quarterback Eddie McGee in the final minutes of Saturday's 30-0 Ohio State victory. Officials flagged Coleman for a personal foul, and though he wasn't ejected, he left the field and did not return.
In issuing Coleman's suspension, the Big Ten cited a new NCAA rule requiring conference to review flagrant personal fouls, especially those involving helmet-to-helmet contact and "targeting an opponent."
From the Big Ten's news release:
In the 2009-10 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations, Rule 9-6, Article 2, states: “When there is a foul called for initiating contact/targeting an opponent [Rule 9-1-3] that does not result in a player disqualification, there shall automatically be a video review by the conference for possible additional sanctions before the next scheduled game.” Rule 9-1, Article 3.a., states in part that “no player shall initiate contact and target an opponent with the crown [top] of his helmet.” Rule 9-1, Article 3.b., states in part that “no player shall initiate contact and target a defenseless opponent above the shoulders."
The Big Ten reviewed the play and consulted with NCAA National Coordinator of Officials Dave Parry before imposing the one-game suspension for Coleman.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and head football coach Jim Tressel issued a joint statement Monday disagreeing with the league's decision.
"Obviously, we will abide by the one-game suspension from the Big Ten Conference, but we feel as if there was poor judgment throughout," Ohio State's statement reads. "We concur that Kurt’s hit was late and a result of poor judgment; he was thus penalized and removed from the game by his coaches. We do not agree that it was 'premeditated' or that he was 'targeting a defenseless' player. The decision to suspend points to the conference office's feeling as if there was poor judgment by the game officials for their decision not to eject at the time. In our estimation, the final 'poor judgment' is in levying a one-game suspension in this particular case. We will abide by the decision, learn from it, and move forward."
Wow. It doesn't seem like the Big Ten's recent string of suspensions is sitting well with its members.
The league suspended Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton for punching Notre Dame's Eric Olsen in a Sept. 12 game, while Purdue offensive lineman Zach Reckman was suspended for Saturday's game against Notre Dame after a late hit at the end of the Northern Illinois loss.
The difference here is neither Mouton nor Reckman drew penalties for their actions. Michigan wouldn't have suspended Mouton had the league not intervened, while Purdue planned a one-quarter suspension for Reckman.
Coleman is a co-captain at Ohio State and by all accounts a fabulous representative for the team and the university. Ohio State understandably hates to see a guy like Coleman cast in a negative light.
The league, by the way, had no comment on Ohio State's response when I checked in this afternoon.
By suspending a prominent player like Coleman, the Big Ten reiterated the message that on-field conduct will be closely examined and severely punished, if necessary. It'll be interesting to see if other conferences follow suit or not.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten has suspended its second football player in six days, providing more evidence of the league's hardline stance on player conduct this season.
Purdue offensive lineman Zach Reckman received a one-game suspension from the league for a late hit on Northern Illinois' Sean Progar last week at Ross-Ade Stadium. Reckman lowered his shoulder and speared a sliding Progar after Progar had secured a Purdue lateral attempt on the final play of Northern Illinois' 28-21 victory.
Reckman, the Boilermakers' starting left guard, will sit out Saturday's game against Notre Dame (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET). The Big Ten ruled that Reckman violated a league agreement prohibiting "striking or attempting to strike or otherwise physically abusing an official, opposing coach, spectator or athlete," and issued him a public reprimand.
“We appreciate Purdue’s and head coach Danny Hope’s attention to this issue and feel a one-game suspension is appropriate,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement. "The behavior of Zach Reckman at the end of the Northern Illinois game is unacceptable and could have triggered a larger incident."Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke contacted the Big Ten about the play Sunday after talking with Hope, and Hope decided to suspend Reckman for the first quarter of the Notre Dame game.
But the Big Ten went with a harsher penalty.
“We talked with our guys before the game about maintaining their composure, and Zach made a mistake,” Hope said in a statement released Thursday. “But I know Zach and firmly believe that he would not attempt anything of a malicious nature. Morgan and I agreed that a one-quarter suspension would be appropriate in this case, and that is what we presented to the Big Ten. They saw it differently, and we have to live with their decision.”Asked about the play on Sunday, Hope said he didn't think Reckman's play was "all that vicious."
"I don't think Zach Reckman should've jumped in there on that guy at the end of the play but maybe he was hoping the ball would come out," Hope said Sunday. "He was trying to find a way to win."
The Big Ten suspended Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton for last week's game after he punched Notre Dame center Eric Olsen on Sept. 12. Like Reckman, Mouton didn't draw a penalty.
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez, who wasn't going to suspend Mouton before the league stepped in, said he would be watching every Big Ten closely to find similar instances of non-football acts. Rodriguez said Monday that he had seen an example during last weekend's games but didn't specify the play.
Junior Justin Pierce is listed as Reckman's backup at left guard on Purdue's depth chart.
The game officials didn't blow the whistle on Jonas Mouton. Neither did Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez.
But after further review, the Big Ten decided to suspend Mouton for one game for punching Notre Dame center Eric Olsen during Michigan's victory last week in Ann Arbor. Mouton will sit out Saturday's game against Eastern Michigan for striking Olsen following a run play with 8:42 left in the second quarter.
No penalty was called, and when asked about it Wednesday, Rodriguez said he saw no reason to discipline Mouton.
"What are you talking about?" Rodriguez told local reporters on Wednesday. "I know they were talking about one incident on film, and I didn't see anybody throw a punch or anything like that. The little bit I saw on the clip, I saw guys got tangled up together, and Jonas tried to free himself. There's a whole lot of officials out there, and I'm sure if there was an infraction, then they'd call it."
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany saw things differently and determined Mouton, a starting outside linebacker, struck Olsen and violated the league's sportslike conduct agreement. The video evidence substantiates the league's decision.
The Big Ten issued a public reprimand to Mouton, and Michigan accepted the suspension.
A Michigan spokesman told me the team had no comment on Mouton's suspension, though Rodriguez will address the issue following the Eastern Michigan game.
"The actions of Jonas Mouton during the Notre Dame game are unacceptable," Delany said in a statement. “Mouton’s behavior has no place in the sport of football or the Big Ten Conference."
The suspension isn't a huge deal, but Rodriguez's decision not to take action casts a negative light on Michigan. Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis alluded to the incident last Sunday, and Michigan reviewed the same tape as the Big Ten.
This is the first time in recent memory that the Big Ten has suspended a football player without the team doing so first. The league issues public reprimands all the time, but almost always after discipline has been handed down by the school.
Sophomores Brandon Herron and Kevin Leach likely will fill in for Mouton against Eastern Michigan.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Michigan starting linebacker Jonas Mouton won't face suspension or any other punishment for a punch he threw in last Saturday's game against Notre Dame.
Mouton punched Fighting Irish center Eric Olsen after a run play midway through the second quarter of Michigan's 38-34 win. No penalty was called. Check out the video here (scroll down).
Reporters asked Wolverines head coach Rich Rodriguez about the incident before Wednesday's practice.
"What are you talking about?" Rodriguez said. "I know they were talking about one incident on film, and I didn't see anybody throw a punch or anything like that. The little bit I saw on the clip, I saw guys got tangled up together, and Jonas tried to free himself. There's a whole lot of officials out there, and I'm sure if there was an infraction, then they'd call it."
Rodriguez added that Mouton won't be disciplined.
From looking at the video, Mouton definitely throws a quick punch, the type that probably happens a lot during games but isn't caught on tape.
It happens really fast so I can understand the officials missing it. If they'd seen it, Mouton certainly would have been flagged and Rodriguez probably would have a different opinion on the situation.
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis indirectly referred to the incident Sunday, when he talked about contacting the Big Ten office about "personal fouls that I'm going to send in with a couple of punches to the face after plays were over."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Sorry for the late start today. Had to make a quick trip to downtown Chicago and got caught in some morning traffic. The good news is, I got to hear Ohio State coach Jim Tressel on Mike & Mike in the Morning. He reiterated that running back Chris "Beanie" Wells is doubtful for Saturday night's game against top-ranked USC (ABC, 8 p.m. ET). He added that the decision likely will be to play Wells sparingly or not at all. So it's unlikely Wells will play a major role in the game, even if he gets off the sidelines.
Let's start the links with the game everyone's talking about:
- Former Ohio State running back Eddie George knows how much Wells wants to play Saturday, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch. Buckeyes star James Laurinaitis will be on the field for a linebacker showcase, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. USC expects to see Wells on Saturday, Adam Maya writes in The Orange County Register. The numbers don't look promising for Ohio State in a must-win game, the Big Ten Network's Dave Revsine writes in his blog.
- Louisiana-Lafayette's athleticism concerns Illinois coach Ron Zook, Terry Bannon writes in the Chicago Tribune. Juice Williams is pulling for the Big Ten in the Ohio State-USC game, while teammate Rejus Benn sides with the Trojans, Bob Asmussen writes in The News-Gazette.
- Indiana's defense needs to keep the momentum going for next week's clash with Nate Davis and Ball State, LaMond Pope writes in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
- Ricky Stanzi's poise under pressure and Iowa's line play will be put to the test against Iowa State, Andy Hamilton writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Iowa State appears to have the edge on Iowa in facilities, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Despite inconsistent results as Michigan's starting quarterback, Steven Threet is staying relaxed, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press. Michigan's John Ferrara and Notre Dame's Eric Olsen have a close connection to the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy, Michael Rothstein writes in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
- Michigan State cornerback-turned-safety Kendell Davis-Clark will miss his second straight game with a shoulder injury, the Lansing State Journal's Joe Rexrode writes in his blog. The Spartans plan to run a lot against Florida Atlantic's vulnerable defense, Steve Grinczel writes.
- Takeaways have sparked Minnesota's transitioning defense early on, Kent Youngblood writes in the Star Tribune.
- Northwestern linebacker Malcolm Arrington can thank his father for steering him toward defense, Shannon Ryan writes in the Chicago Tribune.
- Anthony Scirrotto is no longer part of the off-field problems at Penn State, and the senior safety spoke up in a big way last week, Ron Musselman writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane takes a look at the relationship between Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier.
- Joe Tiller grew up in a neighborhood that hated Purdue because of the success coach Jack Mollenkopf had. Here's a in-depth look at the man Tiller is trying to pass on Purdue's all-time coaching wins list, courtesy of Jeff Rabjohns in The Indianapolis Star.
- Wisconsin's defenders better not loaf around coordinator Dave Doeren, Jim Polzin writes in The Capital Times. Badgers star tight end Travis Beckum and linebacker Jonathan Casillas are expected to start against Fresno State, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- This probably needs a disclaimer, so here it is.
Michigan won't go 3-9. Michigan won't have the nation's worst rushing offense for most of the season. Michigan won't go three plus games without scoring an offensive touchdown. Michigan won't allow a nation-high 58 sacks.
But from a pure personnel standpoint on offense, there are some obvious parallels between what Michigan lost after last season and what Notre Dame lost following 2006. And unlike the Fighting Irish, the Wolverines are adjusting to a new coach (Rich Rodriguez) and a new system. That should be a good thing, given the conservative play-calling and wasted talent of recent seasons, but it's still something to consider.
Here's a position-by-position look at the two offenses, who was lost and who returned.
WHY MICHIGAN WILL BE BETTERMichigan returns more at running back and should be able to field a stronger group of wide receivers to help the new starting quarterback. The biggest key for the Wolverines will be developing the offensive line. Notre Dame's primary error in 2007 was not emphasizing physical play up front in the preseason. Michigan has made strength and conditioning the focus of the winter, spring and summer. The Wolverines should see it pay off this fall. Though both teams lost record-setting playmakers and Rich Rodriguez historically struggles in his first season at a new school, Michigan should adjust easier.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
End 3rd Qtr 20 Fresno State 13 25 USC 38 11:55 2nd Qtr Buffalo 0 San Diego State 14 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State