Tag:Big Ten
Posted on: October 5, 2010 1:54 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2010 1:55 pm

Denard Robinson resting, will play against MSU

Posted by Chip Patterson

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has quite literally done it all this season, and can be credited as the biggest reason the Wolverines enter Saturday's showdown with Michigan State 5-0.  Head coach Rich Rodriguez finally developed the weapon he needed to run his option-based offense that worked so well at West Virginia.  Robinson, the early Heisman frontrunner, has accounted for 1913 of Michigan's 2822 total yards of offense on the season.  Robinson has been able to accomplish all of that while sitting out three quarters of Michigan's 65-21 rout of Bowling Green with a bruised left knee.

Robinson returned on Saturday against Indiana and racked up 494 total yards and five touchdowns, including the game winning touchdown.  Robinson did miss a few plays are tweaking the same knee he injured against Bowling Green, but returned to action and appeared to be fine.  After all the work Robinson has done, it is not surprising to see Rodriguez limiting Robinson in practice this week.
“Yeah, he'll be a little limited, just because he’s been running so much,” coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday. "You want him 100 percent on Saturday. Denard is one you have to jerk out of there because he wants to take so many reps. He’s walking around fine. Everything is fine.”
Robinson is currently the nation's leading rusher, and has already become the first player in FBS history to pass and rush for 200 yards in a game twice in a season.  When the Wolverines welcome MSU to the Big House on Saturday, they will need a 110% Denard to emerge victorious.  The match up between in-state rivals now has conference implications as well, with the Wolverines and Spartans being two of the four remaining undefeated teams in the Big Ten.  

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Posted on: October 4, 2010 7:39 pm

Tim Brewster: Gophers could be '5-0 right now'

Posted by Adam Jacobi

There is a tiny nation in the South Pacific named Vanuatu, home to less than a quarter million people, mostly of aboriginal descent. Though the country didn't gain independence until 1980, the islands have been inhabited for up to 4,000 years, which means the people are steeped in a rich, but largely isolated culture.

So when the American military arrived on the islands during World War II, the native people were amazed by what they witnessed. The soldiers were so technologically advanced (and non-hostile!) that the people began to assume that the marching, paperwork, and other daily rigmarole was actually ritual, all to curry favor with the gods, favor that was rewarded when goods just arrived via parachute at the island for the Americans.

The wonderment continues to this very day, as a mythical American soldier named "John Frum" is revered by locals, and he's the basis of both a religion and a political party in Vanuatu. These adherents, believing in the "rituals" they or their recent ancestors had personally witnessed from the Americans, began copying these rituals in an attempt to recreate the success and prosperity of the Americans that had come decades before. They carved guns from wood, made landing strips in the jungle, and marched in matching clothes.  

This type of group is referred to as a "cargo cult," and historically, these cargo cults have been confined to South Pacific nations like Vanuatu. Shockingly, though, there appears to be another one popping up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and its leader is Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Tim Brewster:

The Gophers are 1-4, but as coach Tim Brewster insisted Sunday, "we could be sitting here 5-0 right now." Brewster said he was pleased overall with how the Gophers played and the improvement they showed, but they blew an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to a team that committed 10 penalties and made three costly turnovers.

Recall, of course, that Brewster has also demanded that his school spend more on football infrastructure, even as they enjoy the benefits of a brand new stadium. Brewster displays a replica national championship trophy in the locker room of this new stadium, and he frequently touts his proximity to the title-winning 2005 Texas program as a rare merit, proof of his ability to deliver the cargo of a crystal football to TCF Bank Stadium. His public persona is one of great bravado and confidence, as he's seen other, more successful coaches behave. In short, Brewster pretends -- at great effort -- to be a very successful football coach. And Minnesota is 1-4.

That, friends, is a cargo cult, right in the heart of America. At this rate, the only thing left for Brewster to do is hire a John Frum (any will do) as an assistant coach.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 4, 2010 6:00 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2010 6:02 pm

Ohio State takes aim at unauthorized preview mag

Posted by Adam Jacobi

One of the more ubiquitous features of the run-up to the start of college football play every summer is the preview magazine, and lately, some team-specific magazines published by Maple Street Press have been popping up. You can find mention of them on several different blogs, as they're primarily written by sports bloggers. For the record, none of the writers of this blog have ever written for Maple Street Press.

At any rate, one of those preview magazines is called Buckeye Battle Cry, which is taken directly from the name of one of Ohio State's fight songs. For whatever reason, the school decided today -- months after the magazine's publication in mid-July, and years after its first edition in 2008 -- to sue Maple Street Press:

The school is alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition in Maple Street’s Buckeye Battle Cry publication.

According to the suit, the publication contains player information, schedules and photographs that feature OSU-licensed trademarks, but isn’t licensed by the school. [...] 

Ohio State sells its own 150-page, game-day publication and licenses its trademarks to other money-making ventures. The school is asking a federal judge to block Maple Street Press from violating OSU trademarks, hand over profit from the publications, pull copies of Buckeye Battle Cry from distribution and pay damages.

Ohio State enjoys a great deal of popularity in the state, of course, and that popularity makes their licenses extremely lucrative. In fact, just last month, the school sued a Wisconsin website and publication over its coverage of the team, citing its lack of a license sold by the university. And while this type of coverage normally screams "fair use," the fact that it's done under the title of the school fight song means there's a likelihood of confusion, and that's a problem for Maple Street Press here.

In fact, it's a problem for Maple Street Press pretty much everywhere in their college coverage, as most of their titles ("Yea Alabama," "We Are Penn State," and others) are the same as those of their respective schools' fight songs. In that sense, the Ohio State magazine wasn't even particularly egregious compared to the rest of the college magazines MSP publishes. It's just that Ohio State's lawyers have been more aggressive toward the company than any other schools' have, and depending on how favorable the judge is in this case, other schools may -- pardon the term -- follow suit shortly thereafter.

Posted on: September 30, 2010 11:34 am

Ohio State AD says Big Ten 'done with expansion'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Ohio State and Michigan just to refues to agree on anything, don't they?

A day after former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr looked into his crystal ball and predicted that Notre Dame would one day be a part of the Big Ten, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith picked up Carr's crystal ball and smashed it against a wall.  In an interview with Ohio State's student newspaper, The Lantern , Smith said the Big Ten is done with expansion.

"We're done with it," Smith said. "We're finished. The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us. So, we're not going to go out and say we're thinking about expansion."

Smith also went on to say he thinks there are some schools out there that might contact the Big Ten or any of the other conferences, but unless they bring something -- money -- to add to the conference, they won't be considered.

So, in other words, the Big Ten isn't really done with expansion, they're just not actively seeking new members.  Which I'm not sure I totally believe, either.  When this all started Jim Delany said it would be a 12-18 month process, and though Nebraska sped that process up a bit, it's still going on.  Maybe Smith is right in that the schools won't be talking about adding teams when they meet in October, but that's just because they have to figure out what they're going to do with their current 12-team situation.

Once they're done with all that, though, the process will begin again.

Hat tip: CFT

Posted on: September 29, 2010 4:08 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2010 4:15 pm

Lloyd Carr: Notre Dame will join Big Ten

Posted by Tom Fornelli

You know, it's just been too long since somebody mentioned the idea of Notre Dame joining the Big Ten.
The whole situation reminds me of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, when Judge Reinhold fantasizes about Phoebe Cates shedding her top.   Notre Dame shedding its independence has been dreamt about by many, but who knows when or if it will ever happen.

The latest dreamer begging to be caught in the bathroom is Lloyd Carr.   The former Michigan head coach was in Montgomery, Alabama speaking to a group on Tuesday night when he looked into his crystal ball and told them all what the future holds.

"There are lots of changes ahead," Carr said at the Club, according to the Montgomery Advertiser's Wednesday website. "I'll give you one prediction and this is just a personal prediction, but I think Notre Dame is going to come to the Big Ten.

"The Big 12 loses Colorado (to the Pac-10) and Nebraska, so you know something is going to happen there.  I think we're entering a new era of expansion. What we saw last year, I just think (expansion) is not over."
As I said, this is nothing new.  The Big Ten has invited Notre Dame to join the conference on many occasions, only to be rebuffed time and again.  The conference tried to woo Notre Dame again this season before Nebraska decided to make the move and the Big Ten decided to stand pat for now.

The key phrase there being "for now."  Jim Delany has said that the Big Ten will continue to explore expansion, and that could include another dozen roses and box of candy for Notre Dame.  On a lot of levels it makes perfect sense for Notre Dame to make the move since it already has set rivalries within the conference.  At the same time, Notre Dame is a school that is steeped in -- and to some degree suffocated by -- its own tradition, and making such a move goes against just about everything else it wants to be.

Unlike other schools the Big Ten may target, who would receive a significant revenue bump by joining the conference, Notre Dame doesn't feel as though what it would get out of the deal would outweigh what it could lose.

Tip of the hat to Mr. Dodd.

Posted on: September 27, 2010 8:00 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 11:53 pm

For the Big Ten, the fight begins this weekend

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Big Ten Conference play begins this weekend*, and the race for the conference title is either already over (Ohio State) or wide open (the six other teams seemingly capable of winning the conference). We'll quickly find out whether many of the presumptive challengers to the Buckeyes' supremacy have what it takes to put together a great season. Considering the questions surrounding so many of them, the answer seems to be "maybe, but it's unlikely." In no particular order ...

Michigan (4-0): On one hand, Denard Robinson is a near-lock for Heisman candidacy this December; his stat lines are other-worldly, and there are few defenses in the conference that seem capable of containing this Michigan offense. But that defense. Ye gods, the defense. Michigan allowed 37 points to FCS stalwart UMass, and has given up more points thus far than every Big Ten team except Minnesota. Can Robinson and his teammates outscore enough conference opponents to justify the team's No. 19 ranking? They'll find out soon enough against Indiana this weekend; the Hoosiers have scored more than 40 points a game this season and have talent everywhere on offense.

Iowa (3-1): The good news: the Iowa Hawkeyes look materially better than last season, as wins that were close last year are blowouts now. Ricky Stanzi is far more efficient as a passer, and the only interception he's thrown all season came on a deflection. The bad news: the Hawkeyes have three kickers, which is to say they have none, and their cornerbacks are still rather suspect. And good heavens, that Arizona game. Iowa committed mistake after mistake in the first half, found themselves down 20 points at the break, then imploded on the offensive line with the game on the line. So what's there to make of the Arizona game? Was it an aberration, or is Iowa merely a bully of plainly inferior competition? Penn State comes to town this weekend, and intends to find out exactly how good the Hawkeyes actually are.

Wisconsin (4-0): No undefeated Big Ten team is more of an enigma than Wisconsin, who looks like it should be a Rose Bowl contender on paper -- and may very well be so -- but has underwhelmed against FBS competition. The Badgers needed a blocked extra point and a miraculous tackle at the 1-yard line at the end of the first half to help preserve a 20-19 win against Arizona State, and only beat an unimpressive San Jose State team 27-14. Yes, they won 70-3 over Austin Peay. Whatever. Wisconsin has the hogs up front and the stable of running backs (led by All-American candidate John Clay) to run over just about anybody in the conference, and Scott Tolzein is having another impressive and efficient season. Their defense isn't a weakness, and they get Ohio State (whom they've usually given fits) in Madison. But lo and behold, they face Michigan State in East Lansing this week, and it's basically a toss-up. Which Wisconsin will show up this Saturday -- and this season? 

Penn State (3-1): Joe Paterno made waves when he installed true freshman Rob Bolden at quarterback to begin the season, and for the most part, the decision has worked out; Bolden hasn't looked great, but he's playing with a maturity beyond his years, and he's certainly not a weak link in the offense. That weak link, however, would be the offensive line; Penn State hasn't blown anyone off the ball with any regularity yet this season, and that includes the likes of Youngstown State and Temple. That Penn State is still ranked after its somewhat underwhelming non-conference schedule demonstrates the deep level of trust voters have in JoePa to field a competitive team, and that's a trust that's rarely betrayed. Still, the Nittany Lions had better start playing like a quality team very soon, or they could find themselves in line for something like the Texas Bowl.

Northwestern (4-0): The Cardiac 'Cats have the inside track to a 6-0 record right now; they're two-thirds of the way there at 4-0, and their next two opponents are absolute doormats Minnesota and Purdue. Quarterback Dan Persa is one of the highest rated passers in the NCAA, and he's also Northwestern's leading rusher. That's sort of a bad thing. In fact, Persa and his stable of running backs all average less than 4 yards per carry, and they haven't even faced great rush defenses: of their three FBS opponents, only Central Michigan is in the top half of the nation's rush defenses. Let's face it: if you can't run on Vanderbilt (143 yards on 46 carries most certainly does not qualify), you can't run on most of the Big Ten. Can Persa keep up his efficient passing in the conference season, or is that 6-0 start going to turn into 8-4 and a mediocre December bowl bid?

Michigan State (4-0): Here's what's scary: The relatively underhyped, unheralded Michigan State squad could end up being better than all the teams mentioned above. Kirk Cousins is 17th in passing efficiency in the FBS. True freshman Le'Veon Bell is a dynamo in the Spartans' backfield (and pancaked two defenders at once on MSU's game-winning fake field goal). Also, unlike Michigan, MSU doesn't have a giant honking RED ALERT attached to its defense. Oh, and the Spartans miss Ohio State on this year's schedule. Ten wins or more for Sparty? It's happened all of once (1999) since the NCAA went to 11-game regular seasons, but it could easily happen this year. Or MSU could revert to its usual self and drop four or five games in the conference. We'll start finding out when the Spartans and Badgers lock horns -- if, y'know, ancient Greek warriors and badgers had horns -- this Saturday.

So who's legit and who's not? To be honest, right now, nobody really knows. That's why this weekend's going to be vitally important for all the teams mentioned above. No more excuses, no hiding behind cupcake schedules; it's Big Ten season now.

*It's worth pointing out that the Big Ten is still something of a dinosaur in this respect; it's the only conference with an eight-game schedule that has yet to begin conference play. Sure, thanks to bye weeks, Indiana and Illinois each still have a non-con to squeeze in during the conference slate, but that's it; for the rest, it's the tried and true formula of out-of-conference, in-conference, bowl. A bit stale, to be sure, but it's somewhat nice to not have your conference title hopes completely ruined before it's even October; Georgia, after all, has already gone 0-3 in the SEC. Hopeless in September. That's no way for a fan to be, is it?

Posted on: September 1, 2010 10:11 pm

Big Ten division winners and losers

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The new Big Ten alignment doesn't come into effect until 2011, but who comes out the best and worst among conference members?

Winners: Most of the conference, actually. Michigan and Ohio State keep their end-of-season rivalry, and they're each the marquee members of their own divisions. If they're not to meet for the title, then effectively nothing has changed about their tradition; if they do, then so much the better, as far as the Big Ten's coffers go. Penn State and Nebraska are the second in command in their respective divisions, and they get to start a protected rivalry with each other that's sure to move needles for television rating. Northwestern and Illinois have an annual game guaranteed, plus their own divisions in which to play spoiler--and Wildcats fans must be especially pleased that they've now got an annual divisional game against the Hawkeyes in what's rapidly becoming a contentious showdown. Minnesota gets to be in a very geographically friendly division, and they get to play for every one of their trophies every year.

We'll call it a draw: Iowa and Purdue have no reason to be protected rivals, and Delany's explanation that "both teams have won conference titles recently" is at best a non sequitur. But Iowa was rewarded with a season-ending game against Nebraska, to the delight of both fanbases, and Purdue has all the protected games they could have asked for. Likewise, Michigan State-Indiana is a total head-scratcher, but at the very least, each team stays in the same division as their in-state rivals.  

Losers: Holy hell, must Wisconsin be upset about this new alignment. Consider A) that the Badgers were the only team in the Big Ten without a season-ending rivalry game up until Nebraska showed up, and B) the amount of work Barry Alvarez has done as the de facto mouthpiece of the conference during realignment talk. Surely the Big Ten would reward the Badgers, yes? Au contraire, bonjour: Wisconsin's request to get a rivalry game with Nebraska was flat-out denied, and the Badgers don't even share a division or protected rivalry with historical rivals Iowa anymore. Oh, also, they're in a league with Ohio State and Penn State, a top twosome that seems much tougher than Michigan or Nebraska do for the near future. Nobody's got more beef than the Badgers about this lineup.

Posted on: September 1, 2010 3:39 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 3:42 pm

ESPN: Sources reveal Big Ten division members

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Remember the clues the Big Ten may have been dropping about their new conference alignment? Yeah, maybe not. ESPN is citing multiple conference sources in this report about the new Big Ten divisions:

• Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern and Minnesota.

• And Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana and Illinois.

The new setup would also feature the protected "crossover" rivalries that have been expected--Michigan would play Ohio State every year, obviously, and ESPN's sources specifically predicted Wisconsin and Minnesota will have a protected rivalry. If true, that's bad news for Wisconsin brass, who had been lobbying for a protected end-of-year game with Nebraska.

If ESPN's reports are true, they're not terribly surprising; there's competitive balance all around, and where possible, the different tiers of teams are separated east and west (see Michigan and Nebraska staying west, and Penn State and Ohio State east). Expect this alignment (or, at the very least, something similar) to be announced by the Big Ten this evening.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com