Big Ten Endzone

The Problem With This Time Of Year by Otto
July 9, 2008, 11:28 am
Filed under: Big Ten

The problem with college football this time of year is exactly what you see when you look at’s College Football headlines.  Six out of the nine headlines have to do with the law. 

This is a problem that the NCAA needs to combat in some way.  Teams are accountable for their players, and in the case of Kellen Lewis, it’s borderline embarrassing for Indiana.  He was kicked off the team for four months, only to be reinstated, just in time for the start of camp.  I’m all for giving guys second chances, but why even suspend him for a training period. 

The NCAA might need to step in the way the NFL has.  If you haven’t noticed, with the exception of Adam Jones, NFL teams have stayed away from problem players.  I believe that the NCAA or the conferences should be suspending these players, not the money-hungry, win-at-all-cost teams.  The NCAA needs to get a grip on it, before it becomes an image problem, like the NBA.

RichRod reportedly agrees to pay WVU by Otto
July 9, 2008, 8:40 am
Filed under: Big Ten

Update: Michigan agrees to pay $2.5 million of the $4 million that Rodriguez owes WVU

According to the Associated Press and other sources, Rich Rodriguez is ending the public battle between him and West Virginia University (and really the whole state of West Virginia).  The case was set to go to trial this fall, something that would clearly be a distraction to a Michigan team that is already filled with distractions.

RichRod has not been welcomed to the Big Ten, so to speak.  An article in ESPN Magazine by Bruce Feldman shows that he may or may not be the best fit for Michigan, all the while portraying him as the sleezebag of the Big Ten.  I don’t want to alienate our Michigan readers, but he is clearly walking on thin ice with other coaches by recruiting players that have already committed to other Big Ten schools.  In Feldman’s article, Jim Tressel was quoted being asked “Should there be a gentleman’s agreement between the Big Ten coaches?” to which Tress replied, “I guess only between the gentlemen.” 

This cleans up Rodriguez’s act a little, but if he doesn’t win right away, a lot of Wolverine alumni will be asking questions.

Maresh At A Crossroads by theonerudy
June 10, 2008, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Minnesota

As reported by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Golden Gopher recruit and stud middle linebacker Sam Maresh is going to undergo open-heart surgery later this month to repair or replace his aortic valve. Slated to be a freshman this fall at Minnesota, Maresh may never play football again after this surgery.

According to an e-mail sent to the Star by Maresh’s father, Bill, Sam went to Minnesota June 2 for a physical and tests revealed he had a heart murmur. It was a few days later that the family found out that Sam had a congenial heart defect.

While it is difficult to think of football around this, the news of Maresh’s future on the field is a huge blow to Gopher football. Maresh was one of Head Coach Tim Brewster’s first recruits, hailing from nearby Champlin Park, Minn. On National Signing Day this past February, Brewster called Maresh “the flag bearer for University of Minnesota” and “the No. 1 most important football player to the program in this recruiting class.”

The four-star recruit as rated by, Maresh (6’4”, 235 lbs.) had a good shot to start as a true freshman and would have been a big help to a Golden Gopher defense that ranked almost dead last in every statistical category.

Pac-10 Commish To Retire July ’09 – Playoff Push To Follow? by Otto
June 10, 2008, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Big Ten

Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen will step down from his post in July of 2009, many media outlets like are reporting.  I kind of doubt this site had anything to do with him stepping down.  The question that relates to this blog is what that will mean for the BCS/Playoff talks, and how they might intensify.  Hansen and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney are obviously the 1-2 punch that continues to shut down any talk of a playoff format.  If you know the history, the Rose Bowl is obviously a big sticking point since it has all the “history” between the Pac-10 and Big Ten, and it’s a huge pot of gold for the two conferences.  Adam Rittenberg of recently wrote a great piece about how much the Big Ten has benefitted from the BCS.

The answers will come out soon as we figure out more about the new commissioner, but right now, Jim Delany might be a little disappointed that he is losing another piece of his chess game.

Briefs – Running the Rumor Mill by Otto
June 9, 2008, 8:02 am
Filed under: Big Ten, Michigan State, Minnesota, Recruiting

– Tim Brewster’s positive mentality may have some Gopher fans thinking he’s nuts and a joke.  He talked of winning the Big Ten and playing in the Rose Bowl.  Then they lost 11 of 12 games. 

“I don’t know that was an overhype at all,” Brewster said. “This is who I am, so I’ve got to be who I am. What I wanted to do was raise the level of expectations of the fans and people of this state. I wanted the people of this state to think, ‘hey, yes, we can; yes, we will.’ I think they’ve lost that some. I think people in this state, people who backed the Gophers, had really lost a little bit of their optimism toward winning a championship and taking the Gophers to Pasadena. So I wanted to re-establish that as, hey, this is the mind-set.

Charley Walters of Twin Cities Pioneer Press has a good column about it.

– I know I promised not to talk about recruiting on this site too much, but this is a huge pick up for Michigan State and Mark Dantonio. and the Free Press are reporting that Patrick White (not that Pat White) of Pickerington (Ohio) High School committed to MSU.  He was a hot receiver, kind of that “sexy” recruit so to speak and had offers from Oregon, Louisville, and Kansas. 

Taking A Look At The Composite Schedule (Pt. II) by theonerudy
June 8, 2008, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Big Ten, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue


Sept. 20: Iowa @ Pittsburgh – This could be a make or break season for both of these featured coaches: Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz has been catching more and more heat after amassing a 19-19 record in the past three seasons and Pittsburgh’s Dave Wannstedt isn’t fairing too much better. This is also Iowa’s first road game of the year after three straight at home against the likes of Maine (Aug. 31), Florida-International (Sept. 6) and Iowa State (Sept. 13).


Central Michigan @ Purdue – Could be another high-scoring affair in West Lafayette in a rematch of last year’s Motor City Bowl where 99 points were scored. This game will feature a pair of signal-callers that could contend for the O’Brien Award in Purdue’s Curtis Painter (546 yds., 3 TDs against CMU in 2007) and Central Michigan’s Dan  LeFevrour (292 yds., 3 TDs; 33 rushes, 114 yds., 2 TDs vs. Purdue).


Sept. 27: Illinois @ Penn State – The last time Illinois went to a stadium that featured 100,000-plus screaming fans, they beat No. 1 Ohio State. Both teams have holes to fill; for Illinois, it’s finding someone to replace departed Rashard Mendenhall and for Penn State, it’s finding a guy to replace injured linebacker Sean Lee.


Wisconsin @ Michigan – In what will be RichRod’s first Big Ten Conference game, he and the revamped Michigan Wolverines will have to find a way to slow Wisconsin’s power rushing attack. Between P.J. Hill, Zach Brown, Lance Smith and John Clay, the Badgers’ quarterback (no matter who it is) might have an easy day at Michigan Stadium.


Oct. 4: Ohio State @ Wisconsin – It’s usually the Ohio State/Michigan game that decides the conference champion, but with Michigan in rebuild mode this year, the winner of this game could very well earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. Should be fun to watch as Wisconsin’s running game goes up against James Laurinaitis and the Buckeyes in Madison.


Iowa @ Michigan State – These two battled in out in double-overtime last year in Iowa City, with Iowa slipping by 34-27. The loser of this game could determine who stays home for the holidays and who goes bowling.

Taking a look at the composite schedule by Otto
June 8, 2008, 6:45 pm
Filed under: Big Ten, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue

The Big Ten composite schedule has been out for quite some time now, but I haven’t had a chance to take a good look at it and put some big games on the calendar.  And boy, are there some big games!  Here is the first few weeks.

Aug. 30: Illinois vs. Mizzou -This will be a huge border battle after the 2007 seasons these teams had.  Mizzou is pretty much returning A LOT, including Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin.  Danario Alexander might be out for awhile with an injury.  Illinois is returning plenty as well, and those stud freshmen that the Zooker had last year will only get better.  This will be a huge game for both teams, since it will greatly affect BCS standings, but I don’t expect the Illini to be in competition for that.

Michigan State @ Cal – Not really sure how good either of these teams will be, but they could both be top 25 caliber.  Cal is always dangerous, and year two of the Mark Dantonio experiment will be interesting after the crazy off-season they’ve had.

Sept. 6 – Northwestern @ Duke – After the Blue Devils shocked the nation and beat the Wildcats to end the longest active losing streak in Evanston last year, Northwestern then got blown out against Ohio State and went on a tear, missing a bowl bid even though they were eligible.  Had they beaten the Blue Devils, they could have been in a bowl.  Look for NU to want revenge.  Duke is revived by new head coach David Cutcliffe (former QB coach at Tennessee).  This game is a night game.  Last year’s game is a night game.  This one will be interesting.

Sept. 13 (The “YOU BETTER BE IN FRONT OF YOUR TV OR ELSE TIVO ALL THESE GAMES” Week): Michigan @ Notre Dame – Michigan is coming off a disappointing year, has a new head coach in RichRod, a new offense, no clear cut quarterback, and all that could spell disaster.  Notre Dame is coming off a WORSE year, has a clear cut QB, and has someone else calling the plays.  Both of these teams could make a run at a BCS bowl if you ask me.  Probably on NBC.

Ohio State @ USC – This could very well be one of the games of the year and could determine who goes to the BCS title game.  OSU will need to be ready going into The Coliseum at night (8 pm ET start).  OSU is a clear cut BCS title contender, as are the Trojans.  I think USC might have reloaded with question marks at QB.  OSU still has a crazy good defense and will always be good on the lines.  This will be the ABC night game.

Oregon @ Purdue – Offense, Offense, Offense.  This one will be a high scoring game, a barn-burner.  Oregon is searching for a quarterback after losing Dennis Dixon, but I think is still a dangerous team.  Purdue STILL has no defense (when is Joe Tiller going to learn), but does have Curtis Painter, easily a contender for the Davey O’Brien Award.  Likely on the Big Ten Network.

IU Turf Damaged By Rains by Otto
June 7, 2008, 10:26 am
Filed under: Big Ten, FieldTurf, Indiana

Possibly the first public problem with FieldTurf, a “phenomenal amount of rain” was pushed under the turf by winds.  Indiana isn’t sure if they can replace it, according to the IndyStar article, and if they do have to replace it, it could cost up to $1 million.

“When it got down to (the south end), part of the turf just collapsed like one of those landslides you see in California where the foundation just goes out from under it,”  said Indiana AD Rick Greenspan.

I’ve never seen anything like this, and if you are like me, you love real grass.  It’s great for schools because it supposedly “doesn’t cost money,” but football was meant to be played on grass.

Phil Steele’s All-America Team by Otto
June 7, 2008, 10:08 am
Filed under: Big Ten

Phil Steele recently released his All-America and All-Big Ten teams…with not too many surprises.  Steele puts out arguably the most comprehensive and honest college football preview around, and often glorifies the Big Ten.  Although, he did not put Illinois in the top 25.

Here are a few highlights from the All-America team:

First Team: Beanie Wells, OSU; Alex Boone, OSU; James Laurinaitis, OSU; Marcus Freeman, OSU; Malcolm Jenkins, OSU; Vontae Davis, ILL

Second Team: Travis Beckum, WIS; Maurice Evans, PSU

Iowa’s Christensen Sticking To Football by Otto
June 6, 2008, 8:50 am
Filed under: Big Ten, Iowa

The Iowa City Press-Citizen has a good story about QB Jake Christensen and how he was drafted in the 50th round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the Reds.  He was projected as a 8th-12th round pick, but since he committed to play football at Iowa, teams passed.

I remember Christensen playing baseball in high school and I knew this kid had a chance at making a run to the pros.  According to his father, the pro scouts still stay in touch with him.

“The scouts know,” Jake’s father Jeff Christensen said Thursday. “His first love is football, even though he may be a better professional as a baseball talent.”

Many insiders say Christensen has not met expectations at Iowa after he was a top recruit out of Lockport (Ill.) High School.  Some of my sources tell me he could be out as QB soon, but with Arvell Nelson in legal trouble, he’s still the man.