Big Ten: Troy Calhoun

Player safety and specifically helmet-to-helmet hits have been major points of emphasis for college football officials and coaches in recent years, especially as we learn more about the effects of concussions. The NCAA Football Rules Committee underscored this in its latest list of proposals.

The committee unanimously voted to increase penalties for targeting a defenseless player above the shoulders. Not only would a team be assessed a 15-yard penalty, but the guilty player would be ejected from the game. How many times has your team's star defender been flagged for targeting? If the proposal is approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel at its March 6 meeting, those players would be watching the rest of the game from the locker room.

So this is a big deal.

"Student-athlete safety will always be one of our primary concerns," Air Force coach and rules committee chair Troy Calhoun said. "We all have a role to embrace when making a positive impact on our game. Taking measures to remove targeting, or above the shoulder hits on defenseless players, will improve our great sport."

The proposal essentially likens targeting to fighting, which merits an automatic ejection for a full game. If the targeting foul occurs in the second half, the guilty player would miss the remainder of the game and the first half of the following game. The Big Ten in the past has tacked on additional penalties for fighting or for high hits.

The committee also proposed that the ejection portion of a penalty is subject to replay review.

From the NCAA release:
The replay official must have conclusive evidence that a player should not be ejected to overturn the call on the field. Additionally, a postgame conference review remains part of the rule and conferences always have the ability to add to a sanction.

Other proposals -- the full list is at the bottom of the NCAA release -- address blocking below the waist, spiking the ball to stop the clock, changing jersey numbers during games and clock issues. One proposal already bumming out Boise State fans would require teams to wear jerseys or pants that had different colors to the field. The only Big Ten team this could affect is Michigan State because all Big Ten fields are, well, green.
There has been a ton of rumored candidates for Minnesota's head-coaching vacancy, but one of the issues appears to be establishing mutual interest.

Well, recently ousted Miami coach Randy Shannon is interested in the Gophers' job, colleague Bruce Feldman reports (ESPN Insider).
The Minnesota job hunt has been going on for a while. Add former Miami coach Randy Shannon's name to the mix. I spoke with Shannon on Tuesday. He's interested. He said he would love to stay in college coaching because "you can make a difference in young people's lives."

Could Shannon go from the U. to the U?

He's certainly an intriguing candidate. Shannon got fired from Miami because he didn't win enough, but he cleaned up the program and had very few issues with player discipline or academics. In fact, the Hurricanes excelled from a conduct standpoint during his tenure.

While Shannon has no ties to the Big Ten or to the Midwest, he knows the city of Miami inside and out. In case you haven't heard, there are recruits in Miami. Lots of 'em. Really good ones. If Shannon could convince them to head North to Minneapolis, the Gophers would have some solid players.

Shannon also likely wouldn't be that expensive.

(Side note: Minnesota and Indiana both have expressed interest in minority candidates. The Big Ten has had only three black head coaches in its history, a number that needs to increase at some point. Shannon would obviously add to it.)

The big concern is he was unable to take all that talent at Miami and convert it into division titles in the mediocre ACC. Could he make Minnesota a factor in what figures to be an even tougher Big Ten?

The two names I've heard for Minnesota from the start have been San Diego State's Brady Hoke and Air Force's Troy Calhoun. But there seems to be some hesitancy on the coaches' part.

Feldman breaks down why:
I spoke to another coach about the Gophers job, which reportedly has not been well received by some coaching targets. The school had a bold list that was interested in. The problem is with a lame-duck AD and an unstable power structure, the stability of the job scares some folks. Yes, it's a Big Ten school and has a great new stadium, but the kind of deal the school has been willing to dangle, according to sources, isn't going to be enough.
"They need to be offering a minimum of six years," said the coach. "Who is going to take that job because you just don't know what will happen in two years when your new boss could walk in and say 'we don't like this guy,' and then you're stuck. Most of these coaches that are on their list have more stability and better chances to win where they're at. Yeah, it's a Big Ten school, but it's not Michigan or Ohio State."

Very interesting.

Athletic director Joel Maturi's biggest task might be selling candidates on the stability factor at Minnesota. The school has a retiring president, and Maturi's time as AD likely won't last much longer. Coaches want to know they'll be OK during a transition period.

It's a tough sell.

Brady Hoke meets with Minnesota

November, 24, 2010
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Minnesota's coaching search is about to kick into high gear, and one of the school's targets has been identified.

San Diego State coach Brady Hoke recently met with a Minnesota official, most likely athletic director Joel Maturi, to discuss the Gophers' head-coaching vacancy, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Hoke confirmed he "had an informal conversation about an opening that's out there" but didn't specify the school or the official.

Maturi returned to Minneapolis from San Diego on Tuesday. He wasn't there to visit Sea World.

Hoke told the Union-Tribune that multiple schools have initiated contact with his agent about his availability and that Minnesota is one of them. San Diego State plays its regular-season finale Saturday against UNLV.

Hoke has turned around two downtrodden programs -- Ball State and San Diego State -- and would face a similar task with the Gophers. He has Midwest ties as an Ohio native, a Ball State alum and a former Michigan assistant. His buyout from San Diego State decreases to $1 million after Dec. 15, and he's making $675,000 this season.

Expect to hear more of Hoke's name in the coming days, although Minnesota likely will look at Air Force's Troy Calhuon, Temple's Al Golden and others.

Big Ten lunch links

November, 24, 2010
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I'm chatting right now, so join in! The links aren't going anywhere.

Big Ten lunch links

November, 2, 2010
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And follow me on Twitter throughout the Big Ten coaches' teleconference, which kicks off right now.

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