Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, May 16, 2014

If it?s Friday, it must be time for another football-is-bad-for-your-brain story. (That?s your cue to act shocked.) Then again, these stories are churned out seemingly every day. And, for good reason. THIS JUST IN: Football is a dangerous sport and really can?t be made into a safe sport, no matter how hard P.R. folks or the NFL try to convince you.

Raise your hand if you are worried about the future of the sport? That?s what I thought. Look, we all know why the NFL is behind that ?Head?s Up? football tackling campaign. The league?s future is at stake. Soccer Mommies won?t let their little Zachs, Colins and Aidens play football for fear of ? you know ? getting their brain scrambled.

What would these billionaire NFL owners do with their billion-dollar stadiums if there was no football? There are only so many tractor pulls.

And what would TV networks show on Saturdays and Sundays? Lumberjack Games? World's Strongest Man? (I admit, I am a fan of Magnus Ver Magnusson.)

The NFL-and colleges, for that matter-have a LOT of money at stake in convincing Joe and Jane Suburbia who live on leafy cul-de-sacs in fairytale suburbs that are a 30-minute drive from downtown that football is safe.

I don?t care what you teach or how you teach it, football is just a dangerous sport that?s gonna result in violent collisions that aren?t good for the head. Period. End of story.

Head?s Up tackling? Really? That?s the solution to make football safe? You can?t make football safe or free from head collisions. Stop it.

And some even question the Head?s Up program.

Will Head?s Up make any impact? Will it prevent some injuries? Perhaps. But, it?s not a panacea for head injuries. No technique is. Again, it?s football. It?s like riding a motorcycle, an inherently dangerous activity that can never be made totally safe-unless you just don?t ride a motorcycle.


The ACC recently said that it would use a 30-second shot clock in exhibition games next season.

A 35-second shot clock has been in use since 1993-94. The ACC?s hope for using a truncated clock is to speed up the game and have more possessions. Hey, I?m all for a quicker tempo. It will be interesting to see if scoring increases.


The Big Ten A.D. meetings this week created a stir, as many vital topics were discussed. NCAA reform was a big one. caught up with Ohio State A.D. Gene Smith to get his opinion on a subject that promises to forever change collegiate athletics.

?You can hold on to the principles and essence of the collegiate model, but the collegiate model has to adjust to the 21st century,? Smith said. ?Intercollegiate athletics has changed. We need to shift within the model in recognition of that change. The student-athletes have changed, the families have changed, the K-12 system has changed, society has changed.

?Our scholarship model is four decades old, so that?s why it?s so important to get this autonomy because the bureaucracy of 351 schools and 32 conferences makes it impossible to change the way we need to change.?


The Ed O?Bannon lawsuit vs. the NCAA continues to weave its way through the courts. And some Big Ten powers have been called to testify as part of the NCAA witness list: Michigan A.D. Dave Brandon, Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman and Michigan State A.D. Mark Hollis.

O'Bannon is the lead plaintiff in an antitrust class action lawsuit against the NCAA. The case argues that players — after graduation — should be paid for the NCAA's usage of a player's image or likeness. It?s kind of a big deal. The trial is set for June 9 in Oakland, Calif.


There has been lots of chatter already about the 2015 NFL Draft (I know, I know). So, here?s something on where Braxton Miller may land.

Bottom line: I think if Miller is drafted-a big IF–it will be very late. If Troy Smith couldn?t make it in the NFL, I doubt Miller will. He?s a special quarterback because of his running skills-not his passing skills. And, as we all know, running quarterbacks have no future in the NFL.


Michigan?s talent-depleted hoops roster could get a lift if West Virginia?s Eron Harris picks the Wolverines. But competition includes Michigan State and Purdue. This is gonna be interesting.

Harris, who averaged 17.2 points as a sophomore last season, will have to sit out the 2014-15 season and then will have two years of eligibility.


The NBA Draft Combine is going on, and several Big Ten players are trying to impress. Among them are Ohio State?s Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross. Here is a shot-by-shot breakdown of how each guy did yesterday.

And there?s this from the NBA Combine: Michigan State?s Gary Harris measured 6-2 ½. He always was listed a 6-4 by MSU. Really?

Even funnier: Harris seemed shocked by the revelation. A 6-2 shooting guard? In the NBA? Some of the pro shooting guards are 6-6, 6-7, 6-8. Who will Harris guard?

?Yeah, it was pretty funny to me ? well, not really funny,? Harris said. ?I was measuring 6-4 1/2 in shoes, and I don?t think I have 2 1/2-inch soles in my shoes. It was like 6-2 1/2 - still, I don?t think my soles were two inches. I don?t know what?s going on with that, but at least I?m not playing barefoot, I guess.?

This was another interesting NBA Combine factoid: Nik Stauskas measured at 12.1 percent body fat, which stunned him. Really?


My take: Interesting.

My take: I am sure Izzo would do well in the pros. But, we?ll never find out.

My take: Sounds about right.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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