Big Ten: Joe Daniels
Mike from Cincinnati writes: Adam, Big fan of the blog. I know that today is a busy day with everything that went on this weekend. However, I have to say that I was a little surprised that you didn't mention anything about the passing of Joe Daniels. I know it's been a busy few days, but I think everyone can agree that Coach Daniels was not only a great coach, but a great man as well. His battle with cancer was well noted, but it is a sad day for Buckeye Nation.
Adam Rittenberg: Mike, thanks for the note, and my apologies for not posting something sooner on Coach Daniels' passing. Very sad to hear about it. He meant a great deal to Ohio State's program and had an impressive coaching career. I would encourage all Big Ten fans to consider making a donation to Uplifting Athletes, an organization that helps raise funds and awareness to fight rare diseases such as kidney cancer, which Daniels fought courageously until his death.
Brian from Storm Lake, Iowa, writes: What do you think of Bo Pelini's chances are that he will land Mike Stoop's in as DC?
Adam Rittenberg: Stoops is in high demand as a defensive coordinator, and he'll have his pick of top programs to join in that role. He'd clearly rather have another head-coaching position, and some jobs are still out there. If Stoops goes the coordinator route, Nebraska should have a good shot because of Pelini's friendship with the Stoops family. That connection likely would need to be the deciding factor if Stoops is to join the Huskers' staff.
Andrew from Cleveland writes: Hey Adam, I wasn't sure who I should make this comment to, but I guess I'll go with the old vet. Did you notice that Michigan is the only team in the nation to have played 10 bowl teams? Not only that, but 11 of the teams we played were bowl eligible. I know that being a bowl team doesn't mean the same thing as before, but I think it shows consistency to be able to go through that many solid teams and end the season with only two losses.
Adam Rittenberg: I'm the Big Ten blog vet, but Bennett is MUCH older, trust me. Good point about Michigan's schedule. The Wolverines beat only one team (Nebraska) that appears in the final BCS standings but also recorded some decent wins (Notre Dame, San Diego State). Still, as you note, being bowl eligible isn't really that impressive any more. Six of Michigan's wins came against teams that had six or seven wins. It would have been nice to see Michigan face two of the better Leaders Division teams in Wisconsin and Penn State.
Neal from Atlanta writes: Northwestern is Playing Texas A&M in Texas. Purdue is Playing W. Michigan in Michigan. Illinois is playing UCLA in California. Penn State is playing Houston in Texas. Ohio State is playing Florida in Florida. And Nebraska and Michigan State are playing SEC teams in the Southeast. Iowa is the only non-BCS Big 10 team playing on a neutral fieldDon't you think it is more than a little disadvantageous to the Big 10, a conference trying to regain some respect, to be playing almost all of their opponents in their home states?
Adam Rittenberg: Sure, Neal, but what can you do? No one wants to play bowl games in Big Ten territory outside of the indoor facilities like Detroit's Ford Field. Most bowl games are affiliated with at least one conference that has teams near to its location. Would it make a difference to play the ACC in Florida? Or an SEC West team in the Cotton Bowl? This is just the way it is. The Big Ten could add some more bowl games against teams from non-AQ conferences, but that's not commissioner Jim Delany's style. He wants to play the best teams in the best leagues in the biggest games. The result is an incredibly difficult bowl lineup. It's why a .500 record for the Big Ten in bowls is like the ACC going 7-3.
Scott from Williamsport, Pa., writes: Adam, We PSU fans are a little less than thrilled with our bowl selection. Why did the conference not fight harder for one of its better teams? PSU has to bring in as much revenue to the conference as any of the other teams. Makes us wonder if the ACC would treat us better, they have more teams we would like to play anyway.
Adam Rittenberg: Scott, you make some good points, and Penn State's players deserved a better bowl after having nothing to do with the sex-abuse scandal. It's a tough situation but not a surprising one. But you have to look at this from the Big Ten's point of view, too. The league has valuable relationships with these bowls and their corporate sponsors. You also have an unprecedented situation at Penn State that will drag on for a while and bring negative publicity to the bowl game (again, not the players' fault). You had the Insight Bowl group that had dealt with its own negative-publicity situation in the past year. You had the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas not wanting to pair two teams (Penn State and Texas A&M) without permanent head coaches. Could the Big Ten have done more? Sure. But the league has bigger interests than Penn State -- again hard for Penn State fans to hear, but true -- and creating tension with its bowl partners might not be the smartest way to go. Again, I'm not saying it's right, but you have to look at it from both sides. Would the ACC have done more? We'll never know.
DaReganOnDaTrack from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: I love you guys. And I love where both of you had Michigan State: in the the top 13 at least. Im a die hard spartan fan and was in Lucas Oil. Seeing the ref throw the flag nearly brought tears to my eyes. Toughest Spartan loss since the the 07 michigan loss. I understand why Michigan State is not in BCS bowl. Its a business and its about money. But shouldn't they get the rankings right? Michigan State dropped 4 spots losing to the best team in the B1G by 3 points. Yeah, wisconsin was a 2 loss team. But one of their losses came to Michigan State!!!! In addition, how the heck is michigan 13, four spots better than MSU?!?!?! We have the same number of wins, plus the head to head and a tougher schedule!!! Im not complaining about the BCS bowl picks, Im complaining about what goes in to the ranking formula. Michigan State should not be four spots behind a team they beat and have the same number of wins, not to mention AFTER THEY LOSE A THE B1G TEN CHAMPIONSHIP BY THREE POINTS!!!! This needs to be fixed for all Conference Championship losers!!!
Adam Rittenberg: We love you, too, Regan. I think you have the right perspective on the whole BCS bowl selection/BCS standings situation. BCS at-large berths are based on brand name, fan base and other factors that have little to do with on-field performance. The Sugar Bowl is a business that made what it believes is a smart business decision by inviting Michigan. Hard to argue it from a business perspective. My bigger issue, like yours, is with the final BCS standings and the final coaches' poll. You can argue Michigan and Michigan State are evenly matched teams. Michigan State was one spot ahead of Michigan on both mine and Bennett's latest ESPN.com power rankings ballots. But to see the gap between the two schools on some of the coaches' final Top 25 ballots is ridiculous -- looking at you, Nick Saban, Les Miles and Bret Bielema. These teams shouldn't be six or eight spots apart. Michigan State should be higher than No. 17 in the final BCS standings.
Ted from Iron River, Mich., writes: Hey Adam; simple question for you. How does Russell Wilson miss out as one of the five candidates for the Heisman? Why couldn't you make the case for two players from one team, on that great offense, making the list? I think the two losses that supposedly tarnished his Heisman status, is easily restored given what he did in UW's final games, especially the B1G Championship. Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg: Ted, it's strange how Wilson fell so quickly out of the Heisman race. Even in Wisconsin's two losses, he rallied the team in the fourth quarter. It's not his fault the defense can't knock down a pass. To be fair, he wasn't nearly as sharp on the road this season than he was at Camp Randall Stadium, but he didn't bomb like some other Heisman candidates. The guy had one of the best statistical seasons in Big Ten history, much like Montee Ball did. But it's very hard for a team to send two players to New York that isn't competing for a national title. Also, it's hard to argue Wilson had a better season than Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck, the two quarterbacks invited to New York. The case for Ball being better than Trent Richardson as the nation's best running back is a little stronger.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's no secret that many college football players spend an absurd amount of time playing video games, but the Ohio State Buckeyes are putting their favorite pastime to good use.
Ohio State is holding a video game tournament Wednesday to raise funds and awareness to fight Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, an inherited neurological disorder similar to muscular dystrophy. The event, run by Ohio State's chapter of Uplifting Athletes, will pit offensive and defensive players against each other in NCAA Football for Xbox.
The father of Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor suffers from CMT, which is classified as a rare disease and doesn't get the same funding for research as more common conditions. Pryor and approximately 60 of his teammates will attend today's tournament.
Ohio State held a similar event last year to raise funds and awareness for kidney cancer, a disease that former quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels has battled for several years.
Wednesday's event takes place from 3-6 p.m. at Damon's Grill, 3025 Olentangy River Road in Columbus. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students.
The winner of Ohio State's video game tournament will face Penn State defensive lineman Devon Still, who won an NCAA football video game tournament in March as part of Global Rare Disease Day. The funny part is that Still used Ohio State's team to win the title.
"Each year, we get to choose a rare disease that is relevant to the team," said Ohio State safety Kurt Coleman, the president of the team's Uplifting Athletes chapter. "Last year we helped put kidney cancer on the map, so this year we wanted to do something different. CMT is a disease that has affected the father of one of our teammates, Terrelle Pryor, and we felt like we were in a position help improve the situation for all CMT patients."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Ohio State announced several changes to its football staff Wednesday, most of which come on the operations side.
The biggest change is probably the least surprising, as Nick Siciliano has been promoted to quarterbacks coach after serving as an offensive quality control assistant. Siciliano takes over for Joe Daniels, who will serve as associate director for personnel development after 39 seasons as an on-field coach.
Daniels has been battling kidney cancer since 2006 and has scaled back his work on the field. Siciliano essentially served as quarterbacks coach this spring and has worked very closely with Terrelle Pryor for some time. Daniels, who was Pryor's primary recruiter to Ohio State, surely will keep close tabs on the quarterback situation.
Other notable changes include Greg Gillum being promoted to director of football operations for player personnel. Gillum previously served as assistant recruiting coordinator and will continue to assist John Peterson in those efforts.
Former Ohio State player Todd Alles takes over as associate director of football operations after holding a similar position at Alabama the last two seasons.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
If you haven't done it already, check out our signing day primer. As part of the story, I was asked to identify several Big Ten recruiting superlatives, including the league's best recruiter.
Former Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley owned the title before he left to become New Mexico's head coach, and several Big Ten assistants could lay claim to the designation. Most of Michigan's staff is new to the league, so it's hard to judge their recruiting clout just yet. I settled on Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who has landed several top prospects from the Maryland/Washington, D.C., area and elsewhere.
Here's my list of top recruiters for each Big Ten team. Many of you follow recruiting as closely or more closely than I do, so please e-mail me your suggestions and votes and I'll post the responses later in the week.
Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell -- Illinois might have lost its pipeline to D.C. with Locksley's departure, but Mitchell continues to get the top players from the Chicago area. The team's recruiting coordinator has brought linebacker Martez Wilson and others to Champaign, and was instrumental in landing 2009 top prospects Terry Hawthorne and Kraig Appleton. The departure of O-line coach Eric Wolford hurts Illinois' recruiting, but co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch does well in Florida.
Wide receivers coach Billy Lynch -- The head coach's son is responsible for nearly half of Indiana's 2009 recruiting class. He recruits locally extremely well and last year brought running back Darius Willis to Bloomington.
Offensive line coach Reese Morgan -- Iowa has a tradition of recruiting and developing elite offensive linemen, and Morgan is a big reason why. He recruits the state extremely well and brought in players like Jordan Bernstine and Tyler Sash to go along with seven commitments for 2009. Assistant linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson successfully recruits the surrounding states and has brought players like quarterback Marvin McNutt and Christian Ballard to Iowa City.
Quarterbacks coach Rod Smith and wide receivers coach Tony Dews -- As I stated earlier, it's a bit premature to make final determinations on Michigan's staff. Running backs coach Fred Jackson is a holdover and has recruited the Detroit area well in past years. But both Smith and Dews have distinguished themselves on the recruiting trail, luring top 2009 prospects like Tate Forcier, William Campbell and Craig Roh to Ann Arbor.
Running backs coach Dan Enos -- The former Spartans quarterback has played an instrumental role in upgrading the program's recruiting, which will play dividends Wednesday with a potentially program-changing class. Enos recruits the Detroit area extremely well and has brought in players like wideout Fred Smith and quarterback Kirk Cousins, as well as 2009 prospects like Edwin Baker, Larry Caper and Dion Sims.
Defensive line coach Tim Cross -- The team's associate head coach and lead recruiter played a key role in signing Minnesota's nationally ranked 2008 class, landing players like Troy Stoudermire and Keanon Cooper. Head coach Tim Brewster does much of the heavy lifting in recruiting, but Cross and co-defensive coordinator Ron Lee chip in as well.
Superbacks coach Adam Cushing -- He coaches a group rarely used in Northwestern's offense, but Cushing's contributions as a recruiter have been invaluable. Cushing serves as the team's recruiting coordinator and landed players like defensive end Vince Browne, safety David Arnold, linebacker Brett Nagel and top 2009 prospect Patrick Ward.
Co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Luke Fickell -- Several recruiters stand out on Jim Tressel's staff, but Fickell repeatedly lures top prospects from the Cleveland area and far-flung regions like Georgia and Florida. Quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels landed Terrelle Pryor last year, and wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell is a proven recruiter. Cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson is a rising star on the recruiting trail.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson -- Johnson gets the nod after bringing in players like Aaron Maybin, Maurice Evans, Navorro Bowman and Jared Odrick. No assistant played a bigger role in Penn State's 2009 nationally ranked class than Johnson, who recruited Derrick Thomas and Darrell Givens, among others. No wonder Ron Zook wanted Johnson to join his staff at Illinois.
Defensive line coach Terrell Williams -- This is another mostly new staff to the Big Ten, and coach Danny Hope does much of the recruiting himself, but Williams has proven to be a major asset so far. Williams helped to land half of Purdue's incoming recruiting class, including top running back Al-Terek McBurse. He recruits Florida extremely well, which falls right in line with Hope's approach.
Offensive line coach Bob Bostad -- Health issues forced top recruiter Henry Mason away from the program in 2007, and his absence is missed. Head coach Bret Bielema has a strong reputation as a recruiter, and Bostad is doing a solid job early in his tenure. Bostad's fingerprints were all over Wisconsin's 2008 class, as he landed offensive lineman Peter Konz and others. Defensive line coach Charlie Partridge and defensive coordinator Dave Doeren are also solid recruiters.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The spotlight remains on Iowa City, where the state Board of Regents held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the University of Iowa's response to an alleged sexual assault involving two former Hawkeyes football players and a female student-athlete in October. The Regents unanimously voted to reopen their investigation in light of a letter sent by the mother of the alleged victim that was not received during the Board's initial investigation, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.
University president Sally Mason apologized for not releasing the letter, expressing "profound and sincere regret." She added that the university would fully cooperate with the new investigation. Regents president David Miles called the school's failure to release the letter a "serious breach of trust." The school might have committed another no-no by not seeking permission from the alleged victim before releasing her mother's letter to the public on Monday. A spokesman said that by releasing the letter to the Press-Citizen last week, the alleged victim's family was comfortable with it going public. Meanwhile, former Hawkeyes star Tim Dwight is bothered by the program's recent rash of off-field problems, but he places blame on the players, not Kirk Ferentz or the coaching staff.
All in all, not a good situation for the Hawkeyes.
- Former USC quarterback Carson Palmer backed off his anti-Ohio State comments, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch. He's just fired up about the game. Who isn't?
- ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman lists his top 10 must-see games for 2008. Not surprisingly, Ohio State-USC is No. 1, while Wisconsin's trip to Fresno State comes in at No. 9. I'd include Ohio State at Wisconsin on the list, but I'm Big Ten-biased.
- Missed this one Monday from The Indianapolis Star's Terry Hutchens, who writes that Indiana's days of being at the bottom of the league's recruiting rankings will end in 2009. Also, Hoosiers standout defensive end Greg Middleton has been named to the Ted Hendricks Award watch list.
- Wisconsin added a wide receiver (Jeff Duckworth) for its 2009 recruiting class but might be losing a commitment from tackle Jon Lechner, Mark Stewart writes on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Badgers Blog.
- Jack Bogaczyk of the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail thinks Rich Rodriguez will shake up the Big Ten.
- Ohio State has become the second Big Ten school, along with Penn State, to establish a chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Earlier this month I wrote about Penn State's Lift For Life event, which raises funds and awareness to fight kidney cancer. Ohio State's chapter will hold its first event, a college football video game tournament, on July 27 at Eddie George's Grille 27 in Columbus. The event also will benefit the Kidney Cancer Association. Buckeyes quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels has been battling kidney cancer since 2006.
- The Detroit News' Angelique S. Chengelis lists her five favorite college football uniforms. Both Penn State and Ohio State make the rundown. As a Michigan beat writer, she'll probably take flack for including the Buckeyes, but I like the pick.
Unfortunately, our country has a pecking order when it comes to diseases, and kidney cancer is low on the depth chart.
More than 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year, but because it's a small amount relative to other diseases, the illness is considered rare and lacks the support for research and new treatments. But a group of football players are trying to change things.
Friday afternoon, Penn State will hold the sixth annual Lift For Life event, a weightlifting competition for players designed to raise funds and, perhaps more important, awareness for kidney cancer. Ninety-six Nittany Lions players will participate, with teams of four competing in 11 events ranging from the traditional (leg curls, bench press) to the bizarre (tire flipping). Fans will be able to support their favorite players, who will sign autographs after the competition. Proceeds will go to the Kidney Cancer Association.
So if you're in the vicinity of Holuba Hall -- Penn State's indoor practice facility -- around 2 p.m. today, try to get there. It's worth it.
Former Penn State wide receiver Scott Shirley started the Lift For Life event in 2003, the year after his father, Don, was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Don passed away from the disease in October 2005.
After Don's diagnosis, the Shirley family went from hospital to hospital, seeking some degree of hope. All they got was heartache.
A trip to Johns Hopkins proved to be the final straw.
"It was like going to visit the Wizard of Oz," Shirley said. "If anybody had the answer, Hopkins would. And the doctor came in and said the reality is there's nothing we can do. At that point, we were kind of at the end of road."
Shirley called the Kidney Cancer Association on his way back to State College and learned that because the disease was rare, it lacked the financial backing to push for new treatments. There was only one FDA-approved treatment, and it had just a 10 percent survival rate beyond five years.
Walking into his apartment, Shirley told his roommate and teammate, Damone Jones, the discouraging news.
"I said it's unfortunate 30,000 Americans a year get this disease and they're all told that nothing can be done because there's not enough of them," Shirley said. "Then Damone shrugged his shoulders and said, 'We're Penn State football. If I wipe my [butt] sideways, it's on the front page of the paper.
"Why not take advantage of that?'"
Their teammates, three of whom had fathers fighting the disease, immediately got on board. They decided that a weightlifting competition, open to fans and media members, would be the best way to generate attention. The first event was small, but it has since grown.
So has awareness and progress with the disease. Three new treatments have been approved in the last five years. One of the drugs, Sutent, is being used by Ohio State quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels as he fights kidney cancer.
Daniels and his son, Matt, a walk-on fullback for the Buckeyes, first contacted Shirley two years ago. Matt is organizing an Ohio State chapter of Uplifting Athletes, a nonprofit organization that helps college football players organize to raise awareness about rare diseases.
"It makes sense someone should be there to help diseases that don't have a voice," Matt Daniels said. "This has been his idea since the beginning, even from when he was playing. I really have a lot of respect for him."
Seeing Joe Daniels make progress against kidney cancer has hit home for Shirley, who quit his job as an engineer in August to become the full-time executive director of Uplifting Athletes.
"Unfortunately, my dad didn't live long enough to benefit from those treatments," Shirley said. "Having become good friends with the Daniels family, that's really when it comes full circle for me. ... It's never really been about [Don Shirley] or for him. It happened because of his situation and what I learned and what the team learned about rare diseases. And it's really grown because of the opportunity to impact so many people."
While organizing Lift For Life as players, Shirley and Jones realized they were gaining real-world event-planning experience not usually afforded to football players. The same possibility hooked Penn State sophomore wide receiver Brett Brackett, who serves as president of the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes.
Uplifting Athletes also has a chapter at Colgate, which will hold a Lift For Life event July 25, and hopes to form chapters at Ohio State and Maryland.
"We don't have time during the year for internships," said Brackett, a business major. "Every part of the organization, besides the financial committee, is run by a Penn State football player. It's pretty unique."
Because of the structure, it's not hard to get teammates to pitch in.
"We try to do a lot of outreach things," said Daniels, who is planning a benefit for Uplifting Athletes in Columbus later this month. "When it's a player-initiated thing, players have more pride in that."
There will be plenty of pride in Holuba Hall Friday. After all, competition is competition.
Brackett's scouting report says look out for Team Maryland, which includes Derrick Williams, Navorro Bowman, A.J. Wallace and Aaron Maybin. Another contender is Team The Real Deihl, featuring Brackett and Mark Rubin, both of whom were on last year's winning team.
"A couple teams are pretty stacked," Brackett said.