When I first saw reports of a private plan for a Joe Paterno statue in downtown State College, Pa., I instantly thought of the cult of personality. Make no mistake about it: The power of Penn State’s former football coach remains large, engulfing a school, a city, a state and a region, if not the entire country. That’s what happens when you’re head coach of a program for 45 years and win more than 400 games along with two national championships.
Talent evaluation is a dicey proposition. Even with all of the resources that NFL teams have to learn about college players—the NFL Combine, interviews, on-campus workouts, an army of scouts, reels of video—teams still can mess up a pick or stumble into a pleasant surprise.
Northwestern’s union vote will take place on Friday. Hard to really tell what will happen, but results of the vote may not be known for months as the NLRB hears the school’s appeal of it the players are employees. In the meantime, NU is taking no chances, as it has put on a full-court “no union” campaign.
To unionize or not to unionize. That’s what Northwestern players will vote on Friday in what could be a watershed event in the annals of college sports.
Is there a more hip and social media savvy coach than Penn State’s James Franklin? Nope. Oh, but there are pros and cons. He discusses it here. Franklin’s embrace of social media is a stark contrast to Bill O’Brien, who abhorred it. In fact, as legend goes, O’Brien called Facebook “Spacebook.” So, there you go. It’s gonna be a blast to see where Franklin can take this Penn State program.
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The dust has settled on another basketball season. And, it was a good one for the Big Ten, as three schools advanced to the Elite Eight (Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State) and one made it to the Final Four (Wisconsin). Another won the NIT (Minnesota).
On Thursday, the NCAA Board of Directors is expected to OK a new model of how its organization is run. Bottom line: major changes appear to be coming, as it appears the NCAA is trying to get a lot of this done to thwart multiple lawsuits vs. the Indianapolis institution and also to unplug the union movement.
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The Big Ten announced a six-game prime-time schedule for BTN/BTN2Go that is highlighted by a mid-November telecast and two appearances by Nebraska and Rutgers. Rutgers is the only Big Ten team that will play host to two BTN night tilts, kicking things off with a visit from East rival Penn State on Sept. 13 in the Scarlet Knights’ first Big Ten game. Rutgers also will welcome Michigan on Oct. 4.
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We are inching closer to the NFL draft. And the Big Ten can only hope the 2014 draft is more fruitful than the 2013 draft. The Big Ten had just one first-round pick in 2013—and it didn’t come until No. 31 overall, when the Cowboys tabbed Wisconsin center Travis Frederick.
Hey, I’ll be one of the first to admit it: I like Iowa’s chances this coming season. The Hawkeyes have enough to win the new Big Ten West, with Nebraska and Minnesota looking like the top competition. But Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register thinks fans should be concerned because guys like me like the Hawkeyes.
The Big Ten has put a bow on the basketball season, while spring football is about to wrap up. Lots going on. Keep those cards and letters coming. Now, let me get to some of your queries. This week, I was asked about the Penn State quarterback situation and losses on the Ohio State offense. One reader asked if Nebraska could win the Big Ten this fall and my answer may surprise you.
The Big Ten has suffered some big attrition when it comes to players leaving early for the NBA Draft as Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross, Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Michigan State’s Gary Harris and Michigan’s Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III all declared. Michigan’s Mitch McGary still is weighing his options. If he bolts, it will leave another gap to fill.
Nice piece by Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com on how the Big Ten is excelling at developing NBA players. It’s also nice that most are guys who stayed at least two years. Lesmerises says it’s those guys in the middle – good enough to go early but not sprinting out the door from day one – who have elevated the play in the Big Ten.
The speculation machine is in overdrive with chatter that Minnesota coach Richard Pitino is a target to fill the recently opened Tennessee job. Nebraska’s Tim Miles also has been mentioned. Bottom line: Neither is likely to leave their current posts. As Amelia Rayno from the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague said on the Dan Barreiro show on KFAN that Pitino is not interested in the job.
Can’t get enough college player union talk? Good. Here’s more: David Jones of Pennlive.com talked to a law professor about Northwestern’s fight to unionize. Long story short: expect a long battle. Jones writes that “many hoops remain through which the process must jump before we see college athletic unions at even the private institutional level, let alone for public universities such as Penn State. Even if NU players vote to unionize, there certainly will be appeals.”
Maryland is prepping, it’s getting ready for its maiden Big Ten voyage. The ride begins this fall. Randy Edsall is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that come with the new venture. And Edsall will bring what looks like his best Maryland team yet, as he enters his fourth season in College Park, Md.
It’s official: A.J. Hammons will return to Purdue for his junior season. Let the celebration along State Street begin.
Hope springs eternal at Purdue, as it searched for myriad answers coming off a 1-11 season that arguably was the worst in school history. Offense? Defense? You name it, it needs to be addressed in West Lafayette.
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The Big Ten released its ABC/ESPN schedule of night games. And—big shock—Ohio State led the way with three prime-time slots. Nebraska and Penn State each have two. Michigan and Michigan State have one, while Iowa and Wisconsin have none. Weird how Iowa hasn’t had one since 2009.
Slowly but surely, Kevin Wilson is building at Indiana. It has been a slow, steady process. He has gone from one win, to four to five last year, inching the Hoosiers closer to their first bowl since 2007. That breakthrough finally may come to fruition in 2014 – if a new 3-4 defensive scheme offers a modicum of improvement to what has been a woebegone unit.
Few programs in the Big Ten can match the feel-good vibe that’s circulating in the Twin Cities. This is a Minnesota program that’s ascending and looks to have a legit shot to perhaps win the new Big Ten West. Jerry Kill continues to put his stamp on this team, a squad that plays smart and is stocked with personnel that fits what Kill wants to do on both sides of the ball.
Michigan sophomores Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III both declared for the NBA draft at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Fellow sophomore Mitch McGary is still weighing his future plans.
If you watched closely, you could see the improvement in Illinois this spring. Good thing, because Tim Beckman needs to pad his win total as he embarks on this third season in Champaign. He is 6-18 overall and 1-15 in the Big Ten. And that one league win came vs. arguably the worst Purdue team in that school’s history. But, I digress. All eyes in Champaign this spring were on the quarterback derby and defense.