Thursday links: On pay-for-play, QB games & more

Among the latest Big Ten headlines: This pay-for-play argument in college athletics won’t go away. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany discusses the issue here, and Delany makes many good points. I just don’t know where all of this is going. Part of me wants to see players get compensated—but I think the only players who should are ones in revenue-generating sports: football and men’s basketball.

It’s those sports that fuel the coffers of athletic departments and line the pockets of coaches and administrators with fat wads of cash. The cross country runners and swimmers? Their scholarship is sufficient compensation.

Hey, no one said life is fair. Society and the free market place different values on things all the time. Why should it be any different when it comes to compensating collegiate athletes? It shouldn’t. The volleyball player and football AREN’T equal. Just accept it and move on, OK?

On that front, check this out: Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter may have rankled some by wearing wrist bands that said “APU” as a sign of support for players last week

The Chicago Sun-Times says Colter is at the forefront of a movement called “All Players United.” He is a part of weekly conference calls that include players from across the nation. On one of those calls, it was determined that last Saturday players would wear the wristbands during their games. Apparently, Colter didn’t ask Pat Fitzgerald if he could this.

“Like I said to him, I’m fully in support of what he’s doing,” Fitzgerald said. “I just, again, would like it to be within the team structure. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him as a person, for him as a student and obviously for him as a player. And I have been pretty steadfast in my comments about believing what is best for our student athletes.”

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So Thursday is here, which means one thing: We are a day closer to Saturday! And that’s beautiful. What’s not so beautiful? Michigan’s offense. Turnovers and general ineptness have plagued the attack with all eyes focusing on the quarterback—as usual. But Wolverine offensive coordinator Al Borges says Devin Gardner’s problems can be fixed. I sure hope so. Because if not, well, let’s not go there. It’s not even October yet.

Borges emphasized these turnover problems — 10 by Gardner of Michigan’s 12 this year, including eight interceptions — are less about poor decision-making and more about poor fundamentals. Either way, Gardner has almost two weeks to figure out things.

Urban Meyer says Braxton Miller is close to 100 percent and figures to start. That’s good enough for me.

“I think Braxton will probably start,” Meyer said. “He had a good day today and it looks like he’s pretty close to 100 percent. I just want to make sure running the ball that he is good, too.”

But what impact will Miller’s layoff have? Hmm.

An interesting storyline around the big Wisconsin at Ohio State game is the fact Gary Andersen and Urban Meyer have a history.

Andersen served as Meyer’s defensive line coach at Utah during the Utes’ unbeaten run in 2004, capped by a win over Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl. That made Utah the first “BCS buster.” Meyer bolted for Florida the next year, while Andersen stayed in Salt Lake City and became defensive coordinator for Kyle Whittingham.

“We’re very close,” Meyer said.

And now big enemies.

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With full-blown Big Ten action on our doorstep, Tom Oates of Madison.com thinks the best teams are … drumroll, please … Ohio State and Michigan.

I think Oates has it right. But, I think you could make a case for Wisconsin being the second-best team in the league behind OSU.

So, Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan isn’t going to apologize about being 4-0. No doubt, it’s better to be lucky than good.

“I’m not going to apologize for being 4-0,” Lewan said. “Obviously, I said some strong things after the Akron game and things didn’t (work) the way I wanted them to. But this team’s still 4-0.

“We did do something right.”

Easing by Akron and UConn is one thing. Easing by Big Ten teams? Well, that’s entirely different.

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Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com asks the question that never seems to go away: How long will Penn State and Bill O’Brien be together?

Flounders thinks O’Brien will honor his current deal, which runs through 2016. Let’s just take this all one year at a time. But, no doubt, as Flounders points out, the loosened recruiting restrictions certainly make O’Brien’s job much easier—and attractive.

Penn State players remain optimistic that a bowl ban will lifted early at some point.

I think it will. No doubt.

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Michigan State’s Damion Terry will serve as the scout team quarterback—for now.

“He’s not going to get the reps with the ones or twos, but you never know how things shake out,” said Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.

The 6-foot-3, 222-pound Terry being redshirted looks increasingly likely as time passes, though Dantonio said, “We make redshirt decisions as we go. We’re not making a decision right now.”

So, it looks like MSU won’t use the bye week to prep Terry for the Big Ten opener at Iowa on Oct. 5.

More Spartans: OC Dave Warner owns up to a bad play call on a pivotal trick play gone bad that was costly vs. Notre Dame. He said Mark Dantonio suggested it, but Warner still made the call.

“He doesn’t force anything on me,” said Warner. “It’s something I wish I wouldn’t have called. I mean, I’m not … it’s obvious, I wish I wouldn’t have called it. I take it back, absolutely. Bad call.”

And Connor Cook wishes he hadn’t said this after the game, in which he was inexplicably pulled for the last series.

“I would have wished the coaches had faith in me to keep me in there in a critical situation like that.”

Don’t be so hard on yourself, Connor.

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Interesting story here: Former Nebraska star and 1971 Heisman winner Johnny Rodgers is asking the state for a pardon of his ’71 robbery conviction.

The story points out that “the Nebraska Board of Pardons’ Oct. 8 agenda says there’s a “favorable” chance that Rodgers’ application for a full pardon will be granted a hearing. Rodgers said he requested the pardon to set a good example for young people by “completing something I thought was taken care of a long time ago.”

When Iowa visits Minnesota on Saturday, it will be like looking in the mirror for each squad.

Each is a physical rushing team that can stop the run. Something must give. Rick Brown of HawkCentral.com says Iowa averages 244 yards on the ground, 24th nationally. Minnesota is allowing just 102.8 rushing yards a game, 21st nationally. The flip of the coin is just as intriguing. The Hawkeyes are allowing just 91.5 rushing yards a game, 12th nationally, and are one of two teams in the Big Ten to not allow a rushing touchdown this season. Minnesota is averaging 282.3 yards on the ground, 13th nationally, and has scored 16 rushing touchdowns.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: No doubt, JC transfer Randy Gregory has been as good as advertised.

My take: Haters are always gonna hate.

My take: Nebraska is off this week. So, no worries.

My take: The fact this even is being mentioned is interesting, isn’t it?

My take: Oh, Bradley.

My take: My guess: Mitch Leidner will get the start.

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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3 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (3 Comments)
Grant on 9/26/2013 @ 1:28pm EST Said:

Maybe one of the writers here can clear this up for me, I hate talking about pay for play, I don’t think it should happen. So here is my question. Can an athlete take out a student loan? Is there something stopping a student from going into about any bank and getting a student loan to cover add’l costs, or even the college financial aid dept? That is how most college students make it by with extra spending cash, so what is stopping them from doing this?

Ben24 on 9/26/2013 @ 11:12pm EST Said:

The MSU vs Iowa game is at Iowa and MSU will play Iowa, not themselves…

    BTN.com staff on 9/27/2013 @ 8:23am EST Said:

    Thanks, Ben. Our mistake. The story above has been corrected to reflect this change.