Big Ten links: Football title game vote coming at NCAA Convention

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: Football title game vote coming at NCAA Convention

The 2016 NCAA Convention is next week, and a vote will be taken on the Big 12 and ACC’s proposal to deregulate rules surrounding league title games. Matt Brown at SBNation.com gets into all of the details and scenarios here. If the Big 12 and ACC get what they want passed, conferences will no longer be required to have 12 teams to have a football title game, which lets them each decide how to set one up. If it fails, Brown writes, at least one national college football writer thinks there’s a good chance the Big 12 expands.

It’s worth a read just to get caught up on what’s going on.

Frankly, I hope the measure fails so the Big 12 has to expand from 10 teams to 12, and I suggest adding Houston and Cincinnati. That would bring more uniformity to the Power Five conferences. We need all of these big leagues set up the same. Now, about the issue of everyone playing nine league games …

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This is pretty cool. Michigan State’s Jack Conklin writes an open farewell letter to fans after declaring for the NFL draft.

I had the chance to interview Conklin on the BTN bus tour this summer. He is a great kid who has an amazing story, arriving in East Lansing as a walk-on and leaving early for the NFL Draft as a likely first-round pick. Amazing. It shows us again how talent can be groomed within a college program.

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Penn State’s Adam Breneman also has written an open letter to fans after having to end his career because of injury.

With Breneman gone, how does the tight end spot look for Penn State?

James Franklin doesn’t throw much to tight ends, asking them to block more than catch passes. As Bob Flounders points out, Penn State’s tight ends weren’t overly productive in either blocking or receiving; the position coached by now former offensive coordinator John Donovan totaled just 33 catches in 2015, and only one score, while blocking was a tremendous issue shared by a handful of positions. The future of the position now falls into new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s hands, and he should be getting an assist from expected tight ends coach Ricky Rahne. Tight end Kyle Carter leaves too, meaning just Mike Gesicki, whose struggles with drops were notable in 2015, and Brent Wilkerson return with game experience.

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Ohio State had nine players declare for the draft, almost matching the record 10 LSU had in 2013.

Urban Meyer figured he’d have a few guys go pro. But, not nine.

Gone are Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, Vonn Bell, Tyvis Powell and Eli Apple on defense and Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Cardale Jones on offense.
“Nine’s a lot, nine’s a lot,” Meyer said. “I’ve been in scenarios where there aren’t a lot of conversations about the NFL because you don’t have those caliber players.”

He prefers this, though he admitted he was preparing for more like six underclassmen leaving.

“This was over the top,” Meyer said. “This started on Jan. 13.”

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Lost amid the hub-bub around Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine has been the play of Nebraska’s Tai Webster, who is redefining himself in his third season in Lincoln, according to the great Lee Barfknecht of Omaha.com.

“It said a lot about his mentality,” NU coach Tim Miles said. “He came ready to play. Tai is doing better and better. He came in with all these expectations, and that was difficult for him emotionally and mentally.

“He’s been a lot better for us this year.”

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Meet the seven early enrollees for Michigan. This is shaping up as a nice class for Jim Harbaugh, who will put the finishing touches on it in February. Keep an eye on QB Brandon Peters. He may be special.

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Illinois search for an AD continues. Colorado’s Rick George has been the apple of Illinois’ eye, but it sounds like he’s not coming.

“I have not spoken to anyone from Illinois and I did not send my application in for the position,” the Colorado athletic director wrote in an e-mail to The Champaign News-Gazette Wednesday afternoon.

Despite earlier statements that he was happy in his current AD job at Colorado, the 1982 Illinois grad’s name has continued to come up in media reports and fan postings about who’ll replace Mike Thomas.

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Iowa is 3-0, maybe the hottest team in the nation. But the Hawkeyes must cool their heels for a while, as they don’t play again until Jan. 14—a nine-day vacation.

“Personally, I don’t like having breaks. It gets me off-kilter. It gets me out of rhythm,” Jarrod Uthoff said. “I like playing games back-to-back-to-back and kind of having your back against the wall. It’s going to be kind of tough for me, but we’ll all stay in the gym. Get extra shots up. Work on our individual games.”

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