So much can happen on the first Wednesday of every February, keeping up can be hard, so here’s a look at some of the things that went down in the Big Ten.
Big Ten football could be said to have come back to Earth in week one, although there weren’t too many upsets around the league. If anyone was overly disappointed in the league’s weekend as a whole, their expectations were probably too high.
Only two teams unexpectedly won (Northwestern) or lost (Penn State), although it will be interesting to see what happens next for those teams (I’d say BYU-Nebraska was a tossup entering the day). Continue reading This Week In Big Ten Football looks at QB battle fallouts
So the intention is intended to be a weekender type thing, but sometimes life or other jobs get in the way, so here you go a little late…
We start with one championship-winning football coach from northeast Ohio passing some heavy praise on to another as Jon Gruden called Urban Meyer’s 2014 “the greatest coaching job of all time.”
I can admit I was a doubter prior to the Wisconsin game, and I declared Meyer should be the unanimous national coach of the year if the Buckeyes won that game, so I am inclined to agree with Gruden here. But more interesting than his declarative about what Meyer did as far as a coach is what Gruden said about Meyer’s recruiting.
“I think what happened at Florida, he won the national titles, and then he wanted to be the No. 1 recruiting coach in the league and probably signed some players that didn’t fit the Urban Meyer profile.
“When he went to Ohio State, I think he learned a little bit from that. He’s looking for guys that fit a certain profile, and he’s going to build his team around those guys. That’s clearly what he’s doing.”
This could be interpreted as a type of talent, but I think it’s more about personality. Meyer was so obsessed with putting together all-star teams at Florida, he ended up with a roster he couldn’t control. Now, every roster is going to have some questionable characters, in part because coaches are almost always willing to take a chance on a guy with talent and also because sometimes people just change — especially between the ages of 17 and 22. The best kid in high school could still turn into a problem in college when he gets away from his home and vice versa. That goes for those who grow up in Upper Arlington or South Florida, but the Ohio State players from Florida I’ve talked to over the years took pride in the chippiness and attitude their state is known for.
Meyer has to spread his recruiting over a larger geographic area, but he might find it easier to put together a more balanced roster at Ohio State than at Florida. This was something I’ve been curious about since the day Meyer took over in Columbus…
Further discussing the silly freshman ineligibility discussion with some interesting spins last week were Stewart Mandel of FOX Sports and Matt Hayes of Sporting News. Mandel wondered about the real motivation regarding starting discussion about something that won’t happen while Hayes suggested it’s just the first shot over the bow in an effort to overhaul things.
Essentially the idea is administrators are going to start paying players more but feel that means they also have to emphasize the student part in student-athlete more, whether that is for the good of the game, the good of their business or the good of the players. It’s probably all of the above.
The business goes kaput if they have to go to an open market because too many schools would be priced out and too many fans would lose interest if they began believing all that was going on was minor league football or basketball. Some fans would still watch because they like the sports and the competition, but the golden goose would be dead.
FWIW, I do think the administrators truly care about academics. They want there to be a balance. Like anything, there are pros and cons to the arrangement that has evolved over the decades since college sports went from pastime to big business. I even think the vast majority of coaches care about academics to a significant degree, though under the auspices that winning is not optional of course. And players care about academics, at least as much if not more than the average student…
- Here’s a fitting coda to the Mike Weber-Stan Drayton recruiting saga, via Cleveland.com. As suspected no lasting negativity has come of this as the kid says he is happy, Ohio State is still able to recruit the school and Drayton bettered himself, too. Weber himself explained his perspective on the recruiting process last week as well.
- The MMQB used Devin Smith as a poster boy for guys who went to the NFL Scouting Combine and showed scouts he can do more than they thought.
- Nebraska swiped Maryland’s defensive coordinator, continuing the theme of hiring coaches who were less successful at their last stop than the ones they are replacing in Lincoln.
- Bo Ryan is rude, and so is the Rutgers mascot. But at least one of them was kind of funny.
- Jim Harbaugh is expressive.
- Mark Dantonio isn’t worried Michigan State’s window is closing.
- Twitter can be dangerous for young athletes.
- I wrote about five issues facing Michigan in Harbaugh’s first round of spring practice in Ann Arbor.
Outside the sports world, the ever-changing fate of journalism and writing as a whole generally fascinates me, and Newsweek provided a moment that was even more ironic than it probably realized or intended over the weekend.
The magazine republished a column from 1995 titled, “Why the Web Won’t Be Nirvana” that as you might expect contained a bunch of amusing predictions about the Internet that turned out to be false and are thus hilarious to look back at 20 years later.
The writer mocked the idea of telecommuting, growth of virtual communities and the rise of online shopping and e-books. He was wrong to question the usefulness of making government data and documents available online (eventually), but I’m not too sure the Internet has improved democracy overall. It’s just made cheating a little harder to get away with (not to mention having a civil discussion about politics, but I digress…).
Most ironically he declared “no online database will replace your daily newspaper,” although I’m pretty sure magazines like Newsweek are in even worse shape, and it’s probably remarkable newspapers have held on for 20 years hence if we’re being honest.
Computers have enhanced the educational experience, but I think most would agree a good teacher still trumps learning from a computer as much as it does getting everything out of a book.
A “network chat line” beats being alone, but it is in fact “a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee.”
So like most things, this story had plenty of bad but plenty of good as well. A piece by piece examination could be rather fascinating, but i guess the person who runs the Newsweek Twitter feed didn’t agree.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) February 28, 2015
I guess nuance is just not something we do on the Internet in 2015. Did Clifford Stoll predict that?
I think this will be one of the better Big Tens we’ve seen in the past decade or so, but I’m not sure there is an elite team in the league. There should be depth, and that could set things up for a strong 2015, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Ohio State is rebuilding on defense, but that unit could hardly be worse than it was when the ’13 season concluded, so it’s hard to count that as a negative. Michigan State’s offense was a sore spot early last season but finished on a high and returns almost everyone of consequence. They’ll have some new faces on the offensive line, but that unit wasn’t great anyway so they can probably get by with an average front again this season all things considered. Teams may play them differently now that Connor Cook is a known commodity, though. How he responds to that will tell a large part of the tale this season. Recent conference history is littered with quarterbacks who looked good early in their career but plateaued.
Michigan State is, pardon the pun, green in some spots on defense, and it is unlikely the Spartans will be as tough there regardless of how good coaches Mark Dantonio and Pat Narduzzi have proven to be on that side of the ball. The same can be said of Ohio State’s offensive line, though, so it all could be a wash when the teams play Nov. 8. Continue reading 2014 Big Ten football picks
Earlier we took a look at the East. Now comes the West, which should have an interesting race.
Iowa and Minnesota both showed great improvement last season while Nebraska and Wisconsin have questions but remain contenders. Continue reading Big Ten West spring football review
1. At least three of the foursome of Alabama, Oregon, Clemson and Florida State take losses.
I don’t think the Buckeyes’ schedule is going to be strong enough on its own merits to get them into the title game ahead of any of those teams if they remain undefeated.
Stanford’s loss to Utah on Saturday was nice for Ohio State because it means Stanford could take out Oregon without being a serious threat to be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes. The winner of this Saturday’s Clemson-FSU clash is pretty much certain to be ranked ahead of Ohio State this time next week, but obviously there will still be a lot of season left to play. Perhaps the Buckeyes will benefit from both teams having historical out-of-conference rivals to deal with on the last week of the regular season, not to mention a tough potential matchup with Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game. Continue reading Ranking help Ohio State football needs to get into the BCS