Big Ten: Gordon Gee
Will from Farmington Hills, Mich., writes: Predict and rank the following scenarios from most likely to occur to least likely to occur: Michigan develops a solid running game, MSU produces a consistent chain-moving offense, OSU has a top 20 defense, Nebraska has a top 40 defense, Wisconsin does not skip a beat under the new coaching staff, Northwestern beats 3 of 5 top teams (OSU, Wis, Mich, MSU, Neb).
Brian Bennett: Challenge accepted. OK, here goes:
1. Michigan develops solid running game: Sure, the interior offensive line is young, but the combo of Fitz Toussaint and Derrick Green should be pretty good. And I think the return to the pro-style offense will allow the Wolverines to focus on putting together a more consistent running package. Plus, you only said solid, not great.
2. Wisconsin does not skip a beat: I really like Gary Andersen's track record, and the Badgers return a lot of talent. With that schedule, I like Wisconsin to improve on last season's 7-5 regular-season record and contend for the division title.
3. Nebraska fields a top 40 defense: This might seem controversial given the Huskers' questions on that side of the ball, but it's not all that difficult to get into the top 40, statistically speaking. San Diego State was No. 39 last season. Hawaii was No. 41. Nebraska -- despite those terrible performances against UCLA, Ohio State and Wisconsin -- still finished 35th. I suspect the Huskers will be good against mediocre-to-bad teams, and hopefully not terrible against the great offenses. That could still be enough to finish in the top 40.
4. Northwestern beats three of top five: Right now, I'd only make Northwestern the favorite in one of those games: Michigan State at home on Nov. 23. Though both Ohio State and Michigan come to Evanston, the Wildcats have one of the weakest home-field advantages in the Big Ten. They are typically good for at least one road upset, though. I think two of five is more likely, but Northwestern has the talent to compete with all five.
5. Ohio State fields a top 20 defense: The top 20 is a different stratosphere than the top 40, obviously. With a veteran defensive line last season, the Buckeyes finished No. 34. An outstanding Stanford team finished No. 20 last season. Now, Ohio State is replacing six of seven starters in the front seven, and while there is a lot of talent, there are some question marks as well. The schedule could help, though.
6. Michigan State consistently moves the chains: Let's see: quarterback questions, no clear starter at running back, receivers with a lot to prove, and an offensive line that underperformed last season. And Le'Veon Bell is in Pittsburgh. I have to see it to believe it.
Sense of Humor from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Hey BB. As a 2 time OSU Alum (coincidentally during both of Gordon Gee's tenures as President) it is especially painful to me to see what has transpired here. First off, he shouldn't play the public like he is, we all know the Board forced him out. We aren't blind. But what bothers me even more is the fact that, as a nation, have we REALLY become so politically correct that we have completely lost the ability to take a joke?! Anyone who has listened to the actual audio can tell that everything said was said in jest, especially based on the crowd laughter. GOD FORBID SOMEONE DISSES THE ALMIGHTY SEC. You think they don't make fun of us for being farmboys up here in B1G country?! It just seems weird to me as well, that these comments were made in December of 2012 if I read correctly, and yet the firestorm starts 6 months later?! Makes no sense to me. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Brian Bennett: I never read Gee's comments for anything but what they were: poor attempts at humor. We received some emails bashing the media for its role in Gee's (forced?) retirement, but at no point did Adam or I ever say Gee should be removed from his job. This was more, I suspect, a matter of trustees and other university leaders growing tired of dealing with his embarrassing comments. The timing didn't help him, either, as they came to light in a slow news period, whereas they probably would have had a shorter cycle in December. I agree with you that we've become overly sensitive, but that doesn't change the fact that Gee had repeatedly stuck his foot in his mouth and was clearly never going to learn from that. I'd love for him to stay in his job for another 10 years, because he makes for great copy and headlines. But if the school leadership felt like he wasn't acting very, well, "presidential" with his inappropriate jokes, I can't blame them.
Ry from Greensburg, Pa., writes: You wrote: "Penn State's Allen Robinson, who finished with 1,013. Robinson is still only a junior, so he's the best bet to do it again this year, though he'll be catching passes from an inexperienced quarterback to start the season." So that means that Robinson is the No. 1 player in the B1G likely to repeat and not listed because he is assumed to be the most likely candidate, or is he excluded from the list because the inexperienced QB won't be able to get him the ball like McG could? Also, I agree that Penn State's QB should be listed with higher chances than Indiana's QB to hit 3,000 yards because I think BO'B is a better coach than Kevin Wilson with better prospects/athletes to make plays for him.
Brian Bennett: Yes, Robinson is clearly the top choice to reach 1,000 yards in 2013. He was the best receiver in the Big Ten last season, and it wasn't really close, so there wasn't much need to discuss him. As for the Indiana vs. Penn State debate, I do believe Bill O'Brien's system, Robinson, and all those tight ends, will help whoever plays quarterback wind up with some great numbers. But let's not discount the Hoosiers, who have as deep a receiving corps as anybody in the league, and some pretty good passers in their own right. Consider that Indiana -- which played three quarterbacks last season -- passed for 3,734 yards last year, as opposed to 3,278 for the Nittany Lions. And IU will have an experience edge at quarterback.
David from Nashville, Tenn., writes: Regarding your list of double-digit sack masters, I've decided I need to speak up about Ohio State's Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence. I've been reading a lot of hype surrounding the two, and after you listing both on you list, I have to ask, aren't you (and most everybody else) jumping the gun a little bit? Washington recorded 9 tackles, 4 TFLs, and 3 sacks last year while playing in 10 games, and Spence recorded 13 tackles, only had 1 TFL and 1 sack in 11 games last year. Brendan Kelly had 7 TFLs, 5 sacks (11 games), Frank Clark had 9 TFLs, 2 sacks (11 games), Jonathon Brown 12 TFL, 4 sacks (only 1 solo, 9 games). All these guys ranked below Washington and Spence 'both'? Why? Is it because of the spring game where they were paired on a DL together and faced a non-starting OL (remember OSU split the teams for the game so it wasn't true 1's vs 1's)? ... Shouldn't we pump the breaks a bit? I find it odd that so many are dumping so much praise on tow true sophomores with 4 combines sacks between them? Certainly spring hype lets you down about 50 percent of the time.
Brian Bennett: Some very fair points here, especially when it comes to spring hype. It's also true that we're often more excited about the potential next best thing than solid returning players. But here's what I'll say in defense of picking those two. I didn't base a whole lot off the spring game. I did attend a regular Ohio State practice this spring and saw Spence dominate against Jack Mewhort, a senior who's one of the top left tackles in the Big Ten. In talking with Mewhort, coaches and team observers later, I found out that this was a regular occurrence, and that Spence was simply too hard to handle. Many people believe Washington is even better, and in fact, he had a bigger impact last season.
As for last year's stats, you've got to remember that Ohio State had a very veteran defensive line, and that Washington and Spence saw limited time as rookies. This year, there's no doubt both will start, leading to a whole lot more opportunities. And finally, the talent is undeniable; ESPN rated Spence the No. 4 recruit in the nation in the class of 2012, and Washington was No. 65. Maybe they don't quite live up to the hype this season, but I expect both to be very, very good.
Rob NitLion from Morristown, N.J., writes: The media, and then like-wise the fans make a HUGE issue regarding recruiting class "rankings," but would you say that class rankings can perhaps sway some commits to choose one school over another? Tell me Michigan recruits aren't being swayed that they have some of the highest rated recruits for 2014 coming in and they want to be a part of it (they are like the college football version of Kentucky Basketball recruiting) The reason I ask this is because Penn State is at an seemingly unfair disadvantage (aside from the sanctions). They currently have a top 15-20 ranked recruiting class for 2014 depending on the website you use' however, with only 3-5 more open scholarship slots, they most likely will only drop in the rankings due to sheer volume of the number of recruits they are allowed, while other schools continue to sign upwards of 25-30 recruits. Now this class BO'B is putting together at PSU this year might be a solid, ranking worthy class, but because of the scholarship restrictions there is no way they can maintain a high ranking. I believe this puts them at a further disadvantage, recruiting-wise, in future years.
Brian Bennett: I do think there is such a thing as recruiting momentum, in that great players want to play with other great players, and once a program starts bringing in a bunch of high-profile prospects, others want to join the bandwagon. However, I think that mostly occurs within a given class. Kids have short memories and attention spans, and I find it hard to believe that a recruit will base his decision on where to go to school based on a previous year's recruiting rankings. What matters more from year to year is whether the team is actually winning with the recruits it has brought in.
Penn State shouldn't really worry about class rankings. The Nittany Lions will obviously try to bring in the best recruits they can, but with only 15 scholarships to offer in each of the next four years, they're never going to be rated among the national leaders, which doesn't really matter anyway. O'Brien needs to win as much as he can under the sanctions and sell his ability both to play an exciting style and to get players ready for the NFL.
Lance S. from Greensboro, N.C., writes: If IU wants a helmet based on the state flag, fine. But don't you think they should have to use the actual flag colors (gold on a dark blue background)? It seems pretty disrespectful to me to change the colors -- I suspect the Indiana law on the flag specifies the colors to be used.
Brian Bennett: For the uninitiated, here's what the Indiana state flag looks like, and here's Indiana's state flag helmet. I see it as more of an homage to the state flag than a straight reproduction, and I think it would be jarring if the Hoosiers came out wearing blue and gold when they are so associated with cream and crimson. I get the idea, but am still not too fond of the helmet design. Maybe we should just keep state flags out of uniforms. Or else we end up with things like this.
- Reactions to Gee's latest blunders can be found here, here, here and here.
- Michigan condemned its football radio announcers' comments in a column but did not discipline him. Brady Hoke said it hurt to see Denard Robinson lose the quarterback job late last year.
- Top candidates for a breakout year on Michigan State's defense. Mark Hollis wants to make sure the Spartans -- and other Big Ten teams -- get rewarded for upgrading their schedules.
- For Penn State, it's more about McGinn than McGloin this summer. Looking at the former Lions involved in the Paterno lawsuit.
- Iowa ranked last in Big Ten sports in 2012-13.
- Phil Steele ranks Michigan State (No. 23) ahead of Michigan (No. 24) and you can find his previews for both teams here.
- The Indiana-Michigan game gets a 3:30 p.m. kickoff on BTN. The Hoosiers continue to tease something new about their football team.
- A Wisconsin beat writer says goodbye. Travis Frederick, beardless and all, is doing well so far with the Cowboys.
- Illinois continues to wait on Wes Lunt.
- Nebraska's Rex Burkhead was honored for sportsmanship, as was Michigan's Jordan Kovacs. Four former Huskers are going into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.
- Breaking down the Northwestern secondary.
- Off Tackle Empire puts Purdue under the microscope.
- Tom Dienhart ranks the Big Ten offensive lines.
- Police say they have no record of former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary reporting an alleged sexual assault by Jerry Sandusky. McQueary has become one of the main figures in the scandal, Sara Ganim writes.
- A lawyer representing an alleged Sandusky victim says his client will testify about the abuse he endured.
- A posting on an Internet forum helped investigators in the Sandusky case, Jo Becker writes.
- Penn State's trustees won't escape scrutiny in the school's internal review of the sex-abuse scandal .
- Doug Lesmerises examines the complicated return of WR DeVier Posey to Ohio State. Ohio State president Gordon Gee called AD Gene Smith a "role model" in a recent performance evaluation.
- Better communication has helped Michigan's defense make strides this year. Former Wolverines recruit Demar Dorsey tries to capitalize on a second chance.
- Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio isn't rooting for Michigan because he doesn't have to, Jamie Samuelsen writes. Safety Trenton Robinson has evolved into a team leader for the Spartans.
- The Big Ten Network's Dave Revsine goes inside the numbers for Week 12.
- Purdue AD Morgan Burke admits there's no rhyme or reason for the Purdue-Iowa crossover series other than every team needed one.
- Bob Flounders looks back at another strange week for Penn State's football team.
- Rick Morrissey writes that Ron Zook's track record at Illinois indicates it's time for a change. Illinois has been up and down, but does it mean the end for Zook?
- Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson deserves to be back in the Heisman Trophy mix, Tom Mulhern writes. Badgers DE David Gilbert likely will seek a medical hardship waiver, Jeff Potrykus writes.
- Nebraska's banged-up offensive line knows this is no time to complain about pain. Brett Maher's success as the Huskers' do-it-all specialist is no surprise to his mentor.
- Saturday marks a reunion of sorts for Northwestern and Minnesota players from Chicago, Tina Akouris writes.
- Barry Alvarez sees hope for Minnesota. Patrick Reusse wonders which Minnesota football team becomes competitive again first: Vikings or Gophers?
- Rivals.com's David Fox previews Week 12 in the Big Ten.
- Some good news for Iowa on the recruiting trail. RB Mika'il McCall's medical hardship case with the Hawkeyes is a bit complicated.
- Indiana adds a juco cornerback. Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson has some connections on the opposite sideline Saturday.
- The Big Ten will have a bunch of bowl teams, but it doesn't mean the league is strong, Nick Baumgardner writes.
Curt from York, Pa., writes: Adam, don't you think the B1G jumped the gun a little bit by taking Paterno's name of the championship trophy? I mean, no one knows the whole story yet. Delaney is basing his decisions on assumptions and media reports. I think it's total B.S. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg: Curt, I understand the anger from those who wanted Paterno's name to stay on the trophy. While you can argue the move was made too soon, there are several factors in play here. The Big Ten is preparing for its first league title game, a signature event for the league that will generate national attention. Given what has happened at Penn State, it looks bad to be awarding a trophy with Paterno's name on it right now. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has a lot of respect for Paterno, and the decision to remove JoePa's name wasn't an easy one. The Big Ten wants to see how things progress at Penn State with both the internal and external investigations. But the timing and the attention on the title game and the trophy makes it very difficult for the Big Ten to keep the name. You can argue Delany caved to the pressure, but he needs to look out for the Big Ten first and foremost, not just one school or one individual.
Andrew from Ossining, N.Y., writes: No one wants to lead the B1G this year! 4 weeks in a row the highest ranked team in the conference has lost. Do the Hoosiers pull the stunner of the year and make it 5 in East Lansing? Adam Rittenberg: Andrew, anything is possible in the Big Ten this season and Indiana has been playing better, at least offensively, since Tre Roberson took over at quarterback. But if Michigan State plays at or near its potential, the Spartans will win. They need to control their emotions and avoid the slow start we saw against Minnesota a few weeks ago. Michigan State has been very solid on its home field this season, so I would expect the Spartans to take care of business.
Matt from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: If you had to give the B1G a letter grade on the season what would it be? It seams to be missing a National Title contender but the depth is pretty good if not the best in recent history. Adam Rittenberg: Good question, Matt. I'd give the Big Ten a B-minus. The overall depth actually is better than it was last year, when you had three 11-win teams at the end of the regular season and no other squad with more than seven victories. While the lack of a nationally elite squad is concerning, the Big Ten could be set up for a much stronger performance in the bowls, depending on the matchups.
Glenn from Kilburn, Ohio, writes: Adam, While wearing my PSU hat at an Ohio Wal Mart, a man wearing a Buckeyes sweatshirt told his young children to back away from me and said, "here comes a child rapist". What do you think the fan reaction will be when the Nits run onto the field at Ohio Stadium? I've been to most BIG stadiums, and it's no exaggeration to say that Big Ten fans consider OSU to have the most rude and arrogant fans in the league. I can only hope and pray that the Buckeye team shows as much class as Nebraska displayed last week. PSU's players are hurting over this terrible incident, but are completely innocent of any wrong doing. I would like to think those attending the game will acknowledge that. Do you think the OSU AD and/or President will ask the fans to show respect? Adam Rittenberg: Glenn, I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I think Luke Fickell and his Ohio State team will show respect toward Penn State on Saturday, much like Nebraska did this past week. How will the fans at Ohio Stadium react? I'm sure there will be some idiots, as there are at any stadium, but I would hope most folks realize that the Penn State players had NOTHING to do with what happened. They don't deserve any ill will for something adults should have handled better. It will be interesting to see if Gordon Gee or Gene Smith issues any public statement urging fans to act respectfully toward Penn State, which will be playing its first home game since the scandal broke. Might be a good idea for Ohio State to say something.
Jim from Okemos, Mich., writes: Although I think this scenario has at most a 0.0000023% chance of actually happening, do I have the tie breakers right if:(1) Penn State loses out to OSU and Wisconsin (both on the road)(2) OSU beats Penn State but loses at Michigan(3) Wisconsin loses at Illinois and beats Penn State(4) Purdue beat Iowa at home and Indiana on the roadPurdue, Penn State, and Wisconsin would all be 5-3 while Illinois and OSU would be 4-4. In addition, the three teams at the top would all have identical 3-2 division records. So, is the next tie breaker how each of the three teams did against OSU and Illinois (or just OSU since OSU beat Illinois and would have a better division record)?If so, Wisconsin would be 0-2 (0-1 against OSU), Penn State would be 1-1 (0-1 against OSU, and Purdue would be 2-0.If you look at the head-to-head results among the three teams, Wisconsin would be 2-0, Penn State would be 1-1, and Purdue 0-2.Would Purdue really be heading to the title game? Adam Rittenberg: Jim, you're skipping a step that would prevent Purdue from heading to the title game. Before going to how the tied teams fared against the next best in the division, the tiebreaker is how the tied teams fared against one another. Because Purdue lost to both Penn State and Wisconsin, it would be eliminated and a head-to-head tiebreaker would go into effect, which Wisconsin would win if your scenario plays out.
Connor from Miami writes: Adam,First of all, I love the blog...keeps me sane during the week. My question is how is Russell Wilson and Montee Ball not getting more Heisman love? Also, How can the Badgers still be so low in the computer polls?!?! Who are these people and what planet are they from?!?! Four out of the six don't even have the Badgers in the top 25!! Adam Rittenberg: Connor, don't get me started on the BCS computers. They're based on questionable metrics, and Wisconsin's nonconference schedule hurt the Badgers significantly with the machines. The Big Ten as a whole isn't a highly rated league, and every Big Ten team in the BCS standings is doing better with the humans than with the computers. As for Wilson and Ball, I think both men should be getting more recognition for the Heisman. Ball has been an absolute machine who has had only one mediocre performance (Ohio State) this year. While Wilson wasn't spectacular in Ohio State's two losses, he didn't make the mistakes Andrew Luck did against Oregon. But people saw those two losses and basically wrote off Wilson and Ball. They can help themselves with some big performances down the stretch.
Bryce from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: So neither of you want to talk about or even acknowledge the blatant flopping by MSU in the win over Iowa? Why is that? Yeah the game was mostly in hand but isn't it curious that it happened when Iowa was driving in the second half? The Giants did that with the rams, and the NFL put the kibosh on that real quick. Any thoughts? Adam Rittenberg: It's a topic worth discussing, although I didn't think we saw a sequel of Cal-Oregon from last year (and I'm a Cal fan). There did seem to several Spartans defenders going down and then returning to the game moments later. Coach Mark Dantonio was asked about it and said the injuries were real, but again, most of the players returned. Asked about the injuries, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said, "I don't know. I mean, it was a high number. Seemed like a high number, but I wasn't counting. Don't know if it disrupts us or not. No way to measure that one." I'm sure the Big Ten will examine what happened. Either way, it's notable that we're talking about the possibility of opposing players intentionally trying to slow down Iowa's offense. Who saw that coming before the season?
Ben from St. Louis writes: Why do you always list the Insight Bowl ahead of the Gator Bowl in your bowl projections? It was my understanding that the picking order for Big Ten teams was BCS > Capitol One > Outback > Gator > Insight > etc. Adam Rittenberg: Ben, I'm glad you asked this because Brian and I actually had listed the wrong order for the first few weeks of projections. The Gator Bowl and Insight Bowl flip-flop the No. 3 and No. 4 Big Ten selections after the BCS bowls make their picks. So the Gator Bowl will pick first in even-numbered years (2010, 2012) and the Insight Bowl will pick first in odd-numbered years (2011, 2013). The order you've seen in the last few weeks of projections is the correct one.
Actually, you do. Because here's the chat wrap-up. I've always got you covered.
Justin from TN: So Adam, if I understand you correctly, you do not think Michigan will really do much as far as creating turnovers this week? If you remember correctly, when UM played SDSU, Hillman had not fumbled the ball since his first carry of his freshman year. UM then got him to do it twice. Persa is not a guy that is going to throw picks on Saturday IMO, but with their leading RB out, I would assume that running load is going to be transferred to Persa to a decent extent. He appeared to not be as comfortable running around last week as he has in the past. I bet Bennett would agree with me......haha
Adam Rittenberg: He might, Justin, but you didn't understand me. All I'm saying is to assume the turnovers will continue without really studying the opponent doesn't make much sense. Northwestern hasn't turned it over much this season (two giveaways in four games). Persa had only four interceptions all of last season. Could Michigan get a turnover or two? Sure, it's always possible. But to base your defense on hoping for turnovers isn't a sustainable model. The more important elements, which Michigan is improving on, are tackling, being in the right spot, not missing assignments, etc.
Shawn from Omaha: I'm an Iowa alumn and love the Hawks. My fiance is a Husker student. I'm telling her this new Iowa offense can put up a good game against Nebraska this Black Friday. And Iowa's D is young and they can improve. She is just overlooking Iowa completely.
Adam Rittenberg: Ha, quite the dilemma you have, Shawn. What are your plans for Black Friday? Watching the game together? Nebraska shouldn't overlook Iowa, which could have one of the league's best offenses. We'll see how the Huskers rebound from the Wisconsin debacle these next few weeks, and it will be tough for Iowa to win in Lincoln. But I think that'll be a close game.
Bret Bielema from Madison: If you don't answer one of my questions I'll have one of my O Linemen sit on you... Why do you think LSU and Bama are on another level than everyone else, We're better than Oregon and I wouldn't consider 10 points better on another level.
Adam Rittenberg: OK, Bret, you win. I will ask if you've watched LSU and Alabama play this season. LSU destroyed Oregon in that game, which wasn't as close as the final score. Both those teams have defenses that just abuse their opponents. The speed and strength of those two units is a sight to behold. That said, I'd love to see RussellMania and the Wisconsin offense go up against the LSU or Alabama D.
Phil from Cleveland: I know alot of people are making fun of Gee's best compliance department quote. But in reality he is right. It's not the compliance department's job to hand hold the players, but their job to catch them when they break the rules.
Adam Rittenberg: Phil, that's part of the job, but not all of it. It's also to provide rules education and monitor potential problems -- and problematic individuals -- both inside and outside the program. There are certain issues with Ohio State, namely memorabilia sales involving players, that are hardly new. It didn't start when Terrelle Pryor signed his letter of intent. The inability to effectively get a handle on these problems and these individuals is why Ohio State's compliance crew is taking so much heat.
Thanks again for the questions. Let's do it again next week.
But there are some things Gee is better off leaving alone. Like anything that has to do with the Ohio State football scandal.
A day after athletic director Gene Smith chalked up the latest NCAA violations by football players to "individual decisions ... made to go off the reservation," Gee had this to say in his annual fall address to the Ohio State faculty Tuesday night.
"We are the poster child for compliance, and whenever we discover a possible infraction, we resolve and report it to the NCAA, no matter how minor the violation. That’s what we have done here."
Gee is right about Ohio State's self-reporting skills, which could very well save the program from major violations. If USC had these same skills, the Trojans would be playing bowl games.
But the line that will be repeated -- much like "I'm just hopeful the coach doesn't dismiss me" -- is the one about "poster child for compliance." Really? After what we've witnessed in recent months?
Self-reporting is a big part of compliance. I get that. But so is monitoring potential problems before they become actual problems. To suggest Ohio State has the model compliance department is, well, pick an adjective.
Here's more from the Columbus Dispatch story:
Ohio State is making changes to its compliance program, but Gee said he doesn’t think the most-recent incidents are a result of a larger, systemic problem. And despite growing calls from some fans and sports columnists for Smith’s firing, Gee said he doesn’t blame the athletic director for what has happened.
No surprise there. If Ohio State indeed avoids major violations, which most experts think it will, the changes won't be dramatic.
Again, Gordon Gee is a smart guy. Love the bow tie. But it's probably best for him to clam up until the NCAA's infractions committee renders its decision.
It's not surprising that the meeting finished rapidly, since the NCAA sent its case summary to the Buckeyes last month, and both sides agreed to most of the details. Athletic director Gene Smith said while reading from a statement that he expects final word on a punishment in eight to 12 weeks, at which time the school can put this whole thing behind it.
The situation is still not closed, because the NCAA isn't quite finished investigating. In a letter from the enforcement staff to the infractions committee dated July 13, it was revealed that one additional issue remained under inspection and that extra allegations "may form the partial basis for a failure to monitor [or] lack of institutional control" when combined with the original notice. That's the last thing Ohio State fans wanted to hear.
But it might not be all that serious. We don't know exactly what that additional issue is, but reporters such as the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Doug Lesmerises have surmised that it involves another player who traded memorabilia for tattoos. Ohio State had included that fact in its response to the NCAA. It's hard to believe that having one more player involved will make that big a difference, and the fact that the NCAA still held the committee meeting Friday and didn't delay it is most likely a good sign.
The Buckeyes must hold their breaths that something more doesn't come out just in case, but unless the NCAA unearths some new allegations or other sources come forward, this case looks headed toward the adjudication phase.
Ohio State also announced it had added another penalty to itself, in addition to vacating last year's wins, placing itself on two years' probation and suspending several players. The Buckeyes will give back the $338,811 they earned from the Big Ten's Sugar Bowl payout. A lot of people criticized Ohio State for vacating the win over Arkansas but not giving back any money. This act shows contrition on the school's part, which is always something the NCAA wants to see.
Of course, Ohio State, with its coffers of cash, is a school that can afford such a refund, and the Big Ten still gets to keep its Sugar Bowl payout. But it's the gesture that counts, and this was a wise move by the Buckeyes to further humble themselves before the judge, jury and executioner that is the Committee on Infractions.
So now what? If Smith's suggested eight-to-12 week time frame holds, Ohio State could find out its NCAA fate anytime from right before the Nebraska game Oct. 7 to early November. While a postseason ban seems highly unlikely, NCAA officials did issue some tough talk about enforcing rules during the presidential retreat in Indianapolis earlier this week. Who knows whether the committee will decide to make an example of one of the sport's marquee programs to show that it is serious?
It's seems more likely that Ohio State will get off with its self-induced penalties and perhaps a minor scholarship reduction. That's assuming, of course, that the "additional issue" doesn't open a whole new can of worms, which is always possible as long as NCAA investigators have their eyes on your campus. For Buckeyes fans, players and coaches, they can only hope this long saga is nearing its completion.
Lastly, here are the official statements from Smith and school president Gordon Gee following the hearing:
“The university was pleased to present to the Committee on Infractions our perspectives on the two violations that were covered in our self-report on March 8, 2011. As expected, the committee had numerous relevant questions about the issues in the case, which I believe the institution answered thoroughly and thoughtfully. We also had the opportunity to summarize information detailed in the university’s response and the institution’s reasons for its self-imposed corrective and punitive actions. Consistent with vacating the 2011 Sugar Bowl, and in addition to our previously announced corrective and punitive actions, we also shared with the committee our decision to forfeit our share of the Big Ten’s payment for having played in that game ($338,811).
“Following this hearing, we will be working with the NCAA staff to move forward to wrap up our inquiry into any remaining issues. We are aware of a letter that the NCAA enforcement staff sent to the Committee on Infractions nearly a month ago detailing the status of this case. The NCAA staff concluded that the evidence at this time does not warrant additional allegations and that our joint review of any remaining items did not necessitate a delay to today’s hearing. We now look forward to working together so that we can conclude this follow-up work as quickly as possible.
“In closing, we appreciate the efforts of the committee and its staff in the work it has completed to date and look forward to the committee’s report in eight to 12 weeks."
“I appreciated the opportunity to appear today before the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions. The committee treated us fairly and gave us ample time to share our perspective. Throughout, we have been determined to do what is right in responding to the information we discovered. As we move forward, I am committed to ensuring that The Ohio State University is a model for other colleges and universities. Our institution expects nothing less.”
A group of more than 50 university presidents, plus a handful of athletic directors, conference commissioners and other officials convene this afternoon in Indianapolis for a two-day retreat to discuss how to reform college sports. The issues that are officially on the agenda are fiscal sustainability, academic performance of student-athletes and integrity.
"I don't want to be melodramatic, but this meeting is very important," NCAA president Mark Emmert told ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil. "We do have serious challenges, and we do need to make some serious reforms. I don't think there is any debate about that. I want us to be able to build a consensus around those things that are most important for the NCAA to pay attention to and then address those things quickly."
Here are the Big Ten representatives at this week's retreat:
- Gordon Gee, Ohio State president
- Michael McRobbie, Indiana president
- Harvey Perlman, Nebraska chancellor
- Lou Anna Simon, Michigan State president
- Graham Spanier, Penn State president
- Jo Potuto, Nebraska faculty athletic representative, Nebraska
Gee will be spending a lot of time in Indy this week; Ohio State's case before the infractions committee will be held here on Friday.
The key question from this whole retreat will be whether the group comes up with specific recommendations and changes, or if like many university and NCAA endeavors, it simply leads to more reports and committees. The Big Ten, led by commissioner Jim Delany, has been out front in the call for changes to NCAA rules and practices, including cost-of-attendance increases to athletic scholarships. The league has some powerful people at the retreat to push forward those ideas.
I'll be here for both days and reporting on the developments. Stay tuned.
The Ohio State president, known for his signature bowtie and decorated academic career, twice has made national headlines because of his mouth since November. While Gee likely will never live down his infamous line about ex-Ohio State coach Jim Tressel -- "Are you kidding? I'm just hopeful the coach doesn't dismiss me," he said March 8 -- he's taking steps to atone for another ill-advised remark.
Remember what Gee told the Associated Press in November about national championship contenders TCU and Boise State?
"Well, I don't know enough about the X's and O's of college football," said Gee, formerly the president at West Virginia, Colorado, Brown and Vanderbilt universities. "I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it's like murderer's row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day."
Gee drew coast-to-coast criticism for his comment and has apologized several times. He continued his mea culpa mission Tuesday at the Ohio Statehouse, issuing a public apology to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who were being recognized by the state legislature.
The Little Sisters are based in Toledo and help the poor and elderly throughout the state. D'oh!
"I made the unfortunate comments about the fact that I compared some other football teams to the Little Sisters of the Poor," Gee said on Tuesday.
"He didn't know we were real," said Sister Cecilia Sartorius of the Little Sisters of the Poor. ...
"I am delighted about the fact that Sister Cecilia and I have now developed a wonderful relationship," Gee said. "I understand her work and value it deeply."
Sister Cecilia as Buckeyes coach in 2012? Let's start the rumor.
It's good to see Gee being proactive here. He's a very smart guy who said two very dumb things, but he has admitted his mistakes.
Gee will gain a deeper understanding of the Sisters' work when he visits their organization Aug. 17.
"We've got some great new friends who are helping us," Sartorius said. "We won't work him too hard when he comes to the home, maybe just cleaning here and there."
If only the NCAA would be so kind to Gee and the Buckeyes ...
Fast-forward to Memorial Day, and Tressel resigned under pressure. What changed?
Gee told the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises on Tuesday afternoon that the continued emergence of damaging new information forced the university to reverse course on its successful coach.
"We had the facts as we had them in our first news conference," Gee said while preparing to testify at the Ohio Statehouse on an unrelated matter. "... [The] decision made at the time was based on what we knew, number one, and number two, was based upon what was an incredible body of work as the football coach and as a university citizen.
"We have a process at the university in which we do not immediately make decisions. We try to be deliberate and that was the process. Two months later, I think there were a lot of additional facts, and I think there was also the reality that we were facing serious issues. And the coach realized that and made what I think is the best decision on behalf of the university, which was to resign."
Tressel's resignation came just hours before a Sports Illustrated article alleged a pattern of misdeeds under his watch. Other stories, including one in the student newspaper The Lantern, also contained troubling allegations. Gee said that "flurry of activity" and "accumulation of issues" made a change necessary.
Gee also said that Tressel was given a chance to defend himself from March to May.
"I think that it was important for us to give the coach an opportunity to make his case, and to also be able to engage in appropriate conversation regarding the mistakes he had made," Gee said. "I think snap judgments about issues are not in the best interest of the person. We don't do that with our students, we don't do that with our faculty, and we don't do it with our football coach."
Gee called the Tressel affair "a national black eye." The school president was not, in fact, dismissed by his football coach. But will the fall of that football coach also lead to the president's own demise?
"The university itself has not been damaged," Gee said. "Our fundraising is up, our student applications are up, but now we need to make our case on the national stage that it's a great university and when we stumble we take appropriate action to make sure we correct (those issues).
"But just remember, our university is doing very well. I live in the world of the university, which is a magnificent university doing very well. And I live in the world of football, in which we have problems we are addressing."
"In consultation with the senior leadership of the Board of Trustees, I have been actively reviewing matters attendant to our football program, and I have accepted coach Tressel’s resignation,” Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee said in a prepared statement. "The university’s enduring public purposes and its tradition of excellence continue to guide our actions."
Tressel's resignation comes after nearly three months of intense scrutiny that began after he admitted he had received information about players selling memorabilia items but didn't turn it over to anyone in the Ohio State athletic department. Since the infamous March 8 news conference, Tressel's track record in Columbus has been closely scrutinized.
It's unknown whether there's another layer coming to Ohio State's recent troubles under Tressel, but don't be surprised. The school was trying to hold on with The Vest in charge, but ultimately the two parties had to part ways.
Tressel finishes with a 106-22 record at Ohio State (66-14 Big Ten). He won a national championship in 2002 and seven Big Ten championships, including the past six, and posted a 9-1 record against Michigan.
"After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach," Tressel said in a statement. "The appreciation that [my wife] Ellen and I have for the Buckeye Nation is immeasurable."
Tressel said on March 8 that he never entertained the thought of resigning, even though most coaches who committed the same violation didn't survive in their positions.
"That wouldn't be something that would jump in my mind unless there came that point in time where I said, 'You know what? The best thing to do for those kids [OSU players] is if I do,' and I don't feel that way," he said.
Tressel self-imposed a five-game suspension and continued to coach the team through spring practice. He was preparing to present his case before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions in August. Tressel attended the Big Ten spring meetings this month in Chicago and received full support from athletic director Gene Smith.
And now the Tressel era is over. One of the Big Ten's most successful coaches has stepped down.
We'll have much more on the story throughout the day, so don't go anywhere.
- Ohio State president Gordon Gee is the latest big wig to say he's OK with the Buckeyes and Michigan ending up in separate divisions, the Dayton Daily News reports. Ohio State AD Gene Smith says no final decisions have been made on what to do with The Game, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Moving the Ohio State-Michigan contest is unquestionably the wrong move, Michael Rosenberg writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Iowa wants to have rivalries with Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska when the Big Ten divisions are unveiled, the Associated Press' Luke Meredith writes. For the Hawkeyes, being ranked No. 9 in the preseason AP Poll is just fine, Mike Hlas writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Wisconsin's group of six captains has been around for a very long time, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Badgers add UTEP to their 2012 schedule.
- Minnesota's big uglies hope their play along the offensive line is prettier than their haircuts, Dennis Brackin writes in the Star Tribune.
- The Big Ten still should consider geography when deciding divisions, Pat Harty writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. A North-South split makes the most sense, Mike Lucas writes in The Capital Times.
- The Chicago Tribune's Shannon Ryan previews Penn State in 2010. Some thoughts on Penn State and the Big Ten from The Times Leader's Derek Levarse.
- Ohio State's Week 1 depth chart features two mini surprises as defenders C.J. Barnett and Andrew Sweat are listed as starters, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- The Michigan-Notre Dame series might be put on pause after 2012, Michigan AD Dave Brandon says.
- Purdue's experience on defense stems from the linebacking corps, Stacy Clardie writes in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
- After safety Supo Sanni's season-ending injury, Illinois has moved two offensive players to the secondary, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette.
It doesn't take a code breaker to know what Delany meant by "hr additions."
When it comes to conference realignment, there are two obvious big prizes, or home-run additions, available: Texas and Notre Dame. Those two athletic programs bring the most fans, the most money, the biggest markets and, perhaps most important, the least amount of risk for a league. Both institutions are also very strong academically and fit the Big Ten's criteria outside of sports (Notre Dame isn't an AAU member, but the Big Ten has already tried to add the school before, so the conference is comfortable with ND's academic rep).
If you add Texas and/or Notre Dame, you have improved your league. End of story.
But what if the Big Ten's expansion doesn't include Texas or Notre Dame? Can the Big Ten still score without hitting a home run in expansion?
Some talk about Delany like he's the Babe Ruth of college sports because of all the clout he possesses. Without Texas or Notre Dame, Delany might start drawing comparisons to David Eckstein or Juan Pierre.
Keep in mind that the Big Ten has never been desperate to expand. The existing product of 11 members is both healthy and lucrative. And while adding a championship game in football will be a result of any expansion, it hasn't been the driving force behind the expansion push.
The Big Ten wants to strengthen its already strong brand. It wants to increase subscriptions for the lucrative Big Ten Network and bring in new media markets. It wants to increase its number of alumni in the northern half of the country to combat the population shift to the South. It wants more marquee games for its marquee sports. It doesn't want to sacrifice what makes the league cohesive, especially at a time where discord is tearing apart other conferences (ahem, Big 12).
Can the Big Ten achieve these goals without Texas or Notre Dame? Yes, but there's a lot less certainty.
Delany and his staff have been studying this since last fall and crunching all the numbers, and they won't expand without a strong belief that new members can help the conference grow. They already have a strong belief in the Big Ten's existing product.
The expansion candidates not named Texas or Notre Dame have their pluses. Nebraska is a big name in football with a national fan base, tons of tradition and a location near the Big Ten footprint. Rutgers is located near the nation's biggest media market (New York City). Missouri, Pittsburgh and Syracuse already have rivalries with Big Ten members Illinois and Penn State. All are solid academic institutions.
But all these candidates carry greater risks for the Big Ten. They're not slam dunks or home runs.
The Big Ten can reach its goal through an expansion that doesn't include Texas or Notre Dame.
The league just needs to find ways to manufacture runs.
Commissioner Jim Delany said no votes were imminent, and league sources said back then and again last week the process likely would go through the fall before a resolution.
Have the events of recent days changed things?
First, we saw the e-mails between Delany and Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee about "fast-tracking it" and "agility and swiftness of foot is our friend." And then Saturday night, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Big 12 presidents are giving Nebraska and Missouri a deadline of Friday to say whether they'll remain in the league or leave for the Big Ten.
"Nebraska has until 5 p.m. on Friday to tell us what they're going to do," one school official said, according to the American-Statesman. "The same deal for Missouri. They have to tell us they're not going to the Big Ten."
If they don't meet the deadline, at least six Big 12 schools, including Texas and Oklahoma, likely would bolt for the Pac-10, creating potential Armageddon in college sports.
Now the Big Ten hasn't extended any formal invitations to anyone and continues to work toward landing a major program, such as Texas or Notre Dame. Texas is obviously on the table for every league exploring expansion, and I'm told Notre Dame remains in the mix for the Big Ten and doesn't know what it wants to do.
While Nebraska and Missouri certainly are strong candidates, I've been told no formal meetings have taken place to discuss them. Are those schools confident enough they're part of the Big Ten's expansion plan? Will they demand an answer from Delany in the next week?
The Big Ten wants to take its time with this process, but Delany and his crew might need to pick up the pace. Then again, Delany isn't the type to cater to anyone else's ultimatums.
It will be very interesting to hear from the commissioner today at the meeting of Big Ten presidents and chancellors at league headquarters in Park Ridge, Ill. The agenda isn't public because the meetings are held in executive session, but you can bet expansion is the No. 1 topic being discussed. It just has to be.
Media aren't allowed in the building, but apparently Delany wasn't kidding when he mentioned all of us enjoying some beer and brats today. Yum.
Delany and Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon, the chair of the Big Ten's council of presidents/chancellors, will address reporters around 4 p.m. ET. My pal Teddy Greenstein has a good preview of the meetings.
I'm definitely planning to ask about the Big 12/Pac-10 buzz and how that affects the Big Ten's plans. Check back this afternoon, as I'll have a recap on the blog.
There aren't a ton of details available, but Ohio State president Gordon Gee e-mailed Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany in April and confirmed that he had spoken with University of Texas president William Powers.
"I did speak with Bill Powers at Texas, who would welcome a call to say they have a 'Tech' problem," Gee wrote in an e-mail that was among several obtained by The Dispatch through a public-records request for documents and correspondence related to Big Ten expansion proposals.
Texas Tech is one of Texas' rivals in the Big 12 conference. Ohio State officials declined a Dispatch request to explain the "Tech" problem.
"Public record laws do not require us to provide further clarification on meaning," OSU spokeswoman Amy Murray said in an e-mail. "While a few of the e-mails are cryptic, we aren't obliged to provide additional explanation."
In a previous e-mail to Delany, Gee wrote that the Big Ten controls its own destiny in expansion but, "the window will soon close on us. Agility and swiftness of foot is our friend." That statement seems to have proven prophetic with the recent news about the Big 12 and the Pac-10.
It's fun to try and decode the language in these e-mails. What do you think Delany meant by this sentence to Gee?
"Finally double chess # of moving parts including not harming brand as we executy."
Bottom line: the Big Ten is still thinking big with its expansion push, and as I wrote last month, Texas remains in play. But landing Texas isn't simple, especially because of its links to Texas A&M and Texas Tech. As The Dispatch's Bill Rabinowitz points out, both Texas and Texas A&M are AAU members, while Texas Tech is not.
Delany and the league are going to fight to land a big fish. Whether they reel one in remains to be seen.