Jim HarbaughRick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh, full-time football coach at Michigan and part-time first-base coach for the Oakland A's, finally discovered something he couldn't win.

I mean, he didn't try to ... but still.

According to The Michigan Daily, Harbaugh's 115 votes in the Central Student Government election for president added up to 1.26 percent of the vote, falling short of The Defend Affirmative Action Party (765), The Team (4,036) and the winning ticket by a grand total of FIVE votes, Make Michigan (4,041).

But you don't care about that. You care about Harbaugh. Let's let the Daily tell you about the creative ways the football coach landed on various ballots:

Harbaugh received 115 votes for president in total, including 82 votes for “Jim Harbaugh,” another 18 simply for “Harbaugh” and four for the joint ticket of “Jim Harbaugh and Diag Squirrel.”

Other voters were more creative with their write-in submissions, with the tickets “Jim Harbaugh and Jabrill Peppers,” “Jim Harbaugh and His Khakis” and “Jim Harbaugh and Jesus Shuttlesworth” receiving one vote each.

Jesus Shuttlesworth, eh? America, is this the unifying 2016 ticket we've all been waiting for?

Jim Harbaugh, Ray AllenUSA TODAY Sports, NBAE via Getty Images

With spring practices under way, it was a big visit weekend in the Big Ten. A number of programs within the conference had some big visitors on hand, so here is a look at some of the top prospects who were on campus and what a few had to say about the visits.

PENN STATE

The Nittany Lions had a ton of big visitors on campus and that included quite a few 2017 prospects.

Lineman Robert Hainsey was one of those recruits on hand, and Hainsey tweeted a picture of the visit.

Cam Spence was another 2017 target in Happy Valley and he too took to Twitter to show off his experience.

The Nittany Lions also had some 2016 prospects, including Damar Hamlin, Michal Menet and Khaleke Hudson to name a few.

NEBRASKA

The Cornhuskers also had some big visitors on campus in Lincoln. Offensive lineman Nathan Smith was one of the bigger targets on hand and Smith tweeted his thoughts on his time on campus.

OHIO STATE

The Buckeyes picked up a huge commitment in 2016 running back Demario McCall, but the coaches had quite a few other big visitors on hand outside of McCall.

ESPN Jr. 300 tight end Luke Farrell was one of those visitors and Farrell currently holds Ohio State very high on his list.

"It went well," he said. "I liked getting to see practice and I liked how they run the position meetings."

Farrell is still planning some other visits, but wants to decide before his season starts.

One of the more important prospects visiting was Texas quarterback Tristen Wallace, who tweeted out quite a few pictures of the visit and time spent with current Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller.

MICHIGAN STATE

The Spartans were yet another Big Ten program with a lot of traffic on campus, including Georgia prospects Isaiah Pryor, Russell Halimon, Korey Banks and Jamyest Williams.

Their time spent with the coaching staff was memorable, especially for Williams, who is a defensive back.

"I was just thinking while Coach [Mark] Dantonio was talking, that he can turn two stars into first-round draft picks, imagine when he gets a four-star athlete and what he could do for me," he said.

Michigan State also had ESPN Jr. 300 receiver Justin Layne in for a visit, and Layne tweeted about his time with the coaches.

Layne got a chance to hang out with ESPN Jr. 300 quarterback Messiah DeWeaver, who took a return trip to see Michigan State. DeWeaver will be deciding at the end of April, so this could be an important visit for Michigan State in that race.

"I was there for a couple days," he said. "I saw the ins and outs of practice and had a great time with the coaches and players."

South Carolina was also well represented in East Lansing with Nick McCloud, Josh Wilkes, Greg Ruff, Quay Brown, Jamari Curren and a few others taking the trip.

MICHIGAN

The Wolverines and Buckeyes had the chance to host one of the biggest visitors of the weekend in ESPN Jr. 300 defensive lineman Rashan Gary as well as a few other New Jersey prospects.

ESPN Jr. 300 receiver Ahmir Mitchell was among that group and tweeted out some pictures from their time at Michigan, including one picture at breakfast with Jim Harbaugh.

Michigan coaches offered 2017 defensive lineman Corey Bolds on the visit, who happens to be teammates with Gary.

Athlete Korey Banks received an offer on his visit to Michigan this weekend, and the Georgia prospect came away very impressed with what the Wolverines have to offer.

"It's a Michigan offer. It's always exciting to get a Michigan offer, especially from coach Jim Harbaugh," Banks said. "Of course I'm going to keep them in the running, they pack 118,000 fans in the Big House. What kid wouldn't love that offer, that's a big achievement for me."

Isaiah Pryor isn’t your typical recruit. He is 6-foot-2 and has offers from some of the biggest programs in the country, but there’s something even more unique about the 2017 Georgia prospect. Pryor doesn’t have a Twitter account. He decided that he didn’t have time for it, so he deleted his account. A decision that is rare among kids his age. “I was a little kid and everyone had one, so I created one. I just didn’t use it, so there’s no point in having it,” he said. “Apparently coaches like that, because I’m staying off social media.” That’s not the only unique aspect about Pryor, though. He used to play the saxophone, but had to stop because football prevented him from being in the marching band. He also understands that football allows him an opportunity to get the education he desires. “I want to major in psychology because I’m interested in the human mind and helping people with mental disorders. My mom and dad are nurses and they help people every day, so I just want to be in that field,” he said. “If I have the opportunity to make it to the NFL, I’m definitely going to take it, but I feel like the reason we’re doing all of this is to get an education. After football is over, all you have is your education.” Pryor has already started to do some research on programs and says Ohio State is a school that has stood out for his major. With so many offers already, he is going to have a big decision ahead of him. He and a few fellow Georgia recruits took a few visits over the weekend before heading to the Adidas showcase at the EFT football academy in Illinois.
There is little doubt Ohio State will ink a top-10 class in February 2016. Judging by the start to the class and the perfect ending to last season, a top-five finish is a high-percentage bet. The Buckeyes' class added another key and impactful piece on Saturday in the form of running back Demario McCall, giving Urban Meyer five ESPN Junior 300 verbals.

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The Adidas football showcase on Saturday had plenty of talent from all over the country. The prospects competed throughout the day in various drills and one-on-ones while honing their craft with some top-notch training. Here is a look at the camp and some of the prospects through the eyes of social media.

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With some recent exceptions, Indianapolis is the epicenter of major Big Ten sporting events. But the Big Ten now must consider whether it wants to keep its biggest showcases in the Hoosier State after the signing of a controversial new Indiana law that some think could allow businesses to discriminate against gay people.

A day after NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a statement expressing concern about the new religious freedom bill, the Big Ten put out the following statement:

The Big Ten Conference and its member institutions believe in promoting an inclusive environment in which athletic competition can operate free from discrimination. The conference is aware of the bill that was recently signed into law in the state of Indiana and will further review its impact at the next scheduled meetings of its administrators, presidents and chancellors.

It's too late for the NCAA to move next week's men's basketball Final Four from Indianapolis, and Emmert said the NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, will "work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors ... are not impacted negatively by this bill."

But the Big Ten could change venues for one or more of its upcoming events if its presidents and chancellors believe it's warranted because of the new law. A spokesman for Indiana Gov. Mark Pence said the law would not undermine anti-discrimination laws already in place in the state.

The Big Ten's first four football championship games have taken place at Lucas Oil Stadium, and the league is contracted to have the game there through 2021. The Big Ten men's and women's basketball tournament is set to be played in Indianapolis next year. The men's tournament is scheduled for Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2020 and 2022, and the women's tournament will be played there every year through the 2022 event.

Indianapolis is unquestionably a great location for major Big Ten events, but it's not the only option. The league has an opportunity to take a stand. Friay's statement wasn't as strong as the NCAA's, but commissioner Jim Delany and other top league officials eventually will have to speak more extensively about the new law.

Big Ten athletic directors, faculty representatives and senior woman administrators meet May 18-20, and the league's Council of Presidents/Chancellors next meets June 7. Both meetings will take place at Big Ten headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois.

Get those polling fingers ready because we've reached the final game of Round 2.

SportsNation

Which game day setting is better?

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Discuss (Total votes: 2,944)

After a first round short on upsets, we're down to our own version of the Elite 8 in best game-day atmospheres in the Big Ten. But this is where it starts to get tricky and where fans might disagree with our seedings.

Before we dive head-first into the final matchup, let's recap the other games this round:

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Minnesota
No. 4 Nebraska vs. No. 5 Michigan
No. 2 Penn State vs. No. 7 Michigan State

And now ...

No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Iowa

Tournament résumés:

Wisconsin: Where to begin? The bratwursts are big, the crowds are loud, and the atmosphere is electric. The marching band performs a pregame concert at Union South -- listen for "On Wisconsin" -- an hour before every game. Regent Street/Breese Terrace are packed with fans and bars blaring House of Pain before and after the game, and the entire downtown takes on a football flavor. Inside Camp Randall, the excitement really picks up. The most famous tradition is "Jump Around," when the song sends the entire stadium rocking between the third and fourth quarters. But there’s also the wave, singing along to "Build Me Up Buttercup," and remaining seated after the game listen to the marching band perform once more. And after all that? It’s time to take that energy back downtown to continue the party.

Iowa: Rich history, good food, loud crowds -- there’s plenty to like about Iowa City’s game day atmosphere. Like most destinations, the real atmosphere starts in the parking lots, where fans buy turkey legs on Melrose Avenue before heading to the pregame concert inside the Rec Building. Players and coaches will touch the 20-foot statue of football legend Nile Kinnick before entering Kinnick Stadium, where fans will listen to Kinnick’s moving 1939 Heisman acceptance speech on the big screen before every home game. Inside, fans will line up behind the visitors’ bench -- so close they can reach out and grab the opponents -- to make the stadium a truly intimidating venue. They’ll chant I-O-W-A after every touchdown, sit entranced at the pregame intro and hope to hear the Hawkeye Victory Polka at game’s end. Plus, opponents are still treated to a pink visitors’ locker room.

As the NCAA tournament whittles its field down even further on Friday, so too does our Big Ten bracket challenge. This is your opportunity to sound off on the best game settings around the league.

SportsNation

Which game day setting is better?

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Discuss (Total votes: 5,017)

The results are in from the first round, and we're into the quarterfinal round. Today's matchup features Penn State, which received one of two first-round byes, and Michigan State, which easily outpaced Maryland in its first-round matchup. The polls close Tuesday at 4 p.m.

No. 2 Penn State vs. No. 7 Michigan State

Tournament résumés:

Penn State: Beaver Stadium truly turns into its own city during game days. RVs and other tailgaters take up what seem like miles of terrain as Nittany Lions fans flock from all over to see their favorite team. More than 100,000 fans regularly pack the place and make things very uncomfortable for opposing teams. Night games and white-outs are especially impressive scenes. Penn State has one of the largest and most engaged student sections you'll find anywhere, and chants of "We Are!" will ring in your ears coming into and out of the stadium. A picturesque setting and a charming college town also enhance the environment. The only real drawback is getting into and out of State College in a timely fashion. Then again, why are you in such a hurry to leave?

Michigan State: Fans at Spartan Stadium have had plenty to cheer about in the past five years, but head coach Mark Dantonio and athletic director Mark Hollis haven’t tried to hide their continuous struggle to make sure all 75,000 seats are filled, especially in the student section. Tailgating stretches across a large part of the surrounding area, leaving plenty of places to park and set up a grill for the afternoon. Fans welcome players at the stadium tunnel hours before kickoff. Once inside, the “Go Green! Go White!” chorus echoes around the stands throughout the game. The movie “300” also gave the fans a new chant to bellow on command. The eight-story press box helps hold the sound inside the stadium.

Vote now to choose who advances.

Ohio State football players received their College Football Playoff championship rings on Friday morning, the first of three rings that the school will give the players.

Each player will receive $828 worth of rings, said Ohio State spokesman Dan Wallenberg, which is less than the maximum the school was permitted to spend.

To read Darren Rovell's full report, click here.

Michigan’s cornerbacks will be operating in close quarters this season. The Wolverines want to play a more aggressive defensive scheme in 2015, which means more press coverage in the secondary.

Lining up facemask-to-facemask with opposing wide receivers was common in coordinator D.J. Durkin’s schemes when he was running Florida’s defense the past two seasons. Michigan dabbled in tight coverage in the recent past, but never fully committed to playing that way. This year’s team, says cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich, will make it a fundamental part of what they do. That might come with a few growing pains.

“That’s coach Durkin’s defense,” Zordich said. “We’re totally 100 percent committed. We just have to find the guys that can catch on the fastest and handle the technique the best. … It’s a lot of work. It’s new, a total concept for the defense for these guys that haven’t played it.”

[+] EnlargeD.J. Durkin
AP Photo/Butch DillD.J. Durkin's defense at Florida was built around press man coverage.

The new technique might be a challenge for players who have grown used to operating with a larger cushion during the past few years at Michigan, but they’re excited about the opportunity to do something different. Fifth-year senior Blake Countess said he’s slowly improving his footwork and learning to get his hands on opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage.

“It’s a more aggressive scheme, so we’re definitely going to be pressing,” he said. “We’re going to be up in receivers’ faces. It’s going to be fun.”

Countess is one of three cornerbacks who have separated themselves on the initial depth chart as spring practice winds to a close. Zordich praised Countess’ work ethic. He said returning starter Jourdan Lewis is the most natural press corner on the roster and junior Channing Stribling’s 6-foot-2 frame makes him a strong candidate for playing time as well.

Zordich is open to rotating as many as four or five cornerbacks onto the field on game days as long as the coaching staff believes they can trust all of them equally. The rest of the group in Ann Arbor still has work to do to reach that point, but reinforcements are on the way.

“They’ve been told. The room has been told that there are going to be three guys coming into this secondary,” Zordich said. “They know their backs are against the wall, and we’ve got to see how they handle it.”

Former Stanford starter Wayne Lyons is expected to be on campus this summer and to spend his final year of eligibility with the Wolverines. His 41 games of experience in the Pac-12 should be an immediate boost to Michigan’s depth in the defensive backfield. Freshmen Keith Washington and Tyree Kinnel will also have a chance to compete for spots among the cornerbacks.

Their progress will be monitored by Zordich and safeties coach Greg Jackson, who so far have split the defensive backfield responsibilities equally. In meetings, Zordich takes the cornerbacks and Jackson takes the safeties. At practice, each coach watches half of the field and directs both positions to make sure the unit is working together.

Zordich said the somewhat unorthodox arrangement has worked out well for the first full month of practice. Zordich and Jackson played on the same Philadelphia Eagles defense for two seasons in the 1990s, which he said made it easy to get used to coaching together.

“When I first walked in here and saw him, it was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy,’” Zordich said. “It absolutely helps. Greg and I were both very headsy players – lining people up, directing traffic, telling people where to go. Then to play two years together on a really successful defense, yeah, I think it helps, absolutely.”

Together they are responsible for getting as many cornerbacks as possible ready to play in a new, tougher, riskier defense than in the recent past at Michigan.

Time to break out the heavy coats, scarves and gloves. Our ultimate Big Ten road trip has reached November.

ICYMI, we've been putting together our choices for the games we would attend each week during the 2015 season, if money and editorial decisions were no object. We can each pick only one game per week.

Moving on to Week 10:

Saturday, Nov. 7

Iowa at Indiana
Wisconsin at Maryland
Rutgers at Michigan
Michigan State at Nebraska
Penn State at Northwestern
Minnesota at Ohio State
Illinois at Purdue

Josh Moyer's pick: Michigan State at Nebraska

I haven't yet scheduled a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, this season -- and now seems like the perfect time. Connor Cook and Tommy Armstrong both threw for 2,500-plus yards last season and make up half of the B1G's four returning passers to do so. Both teams will be showcasing new running backs to fill the big shoes of Ameer Abdullah and Jeremy Langford. And Wisconsin's new offensive coordinator, Danny Langsdorf, will have to game-plan around Michigan State's new co-defensive coordinators, Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel. Maybe I'll even get in a day early and say hello to Sherman.

Dan Murphy's pick: Michigan State at Nebraska

This game will be Mike Riley’s toughest test in his first year with the Cornhuskers, a measuring stick to see how far Nebraska is from breaking its string of seven consecutive four-loss seasons. For Michigan State, the Buckeyes still loom a couple of games ahead on the calendar, but a trip to Lincoln is a significant hurdle to be cleared. A win on the road against Nebraska would set up two weeks worth of hype surrounding a trip to Columbus with division title hopes -- and probably a whole lot more -- on the line. The product on the field and the implications for the game’s winner makes this weekend’s travel an easy choice.

Austin Ward's pick: Minnesota at Ohio State

The cross-division matchup last year turned out to be far more competitive than might have been predicted before the season, thanks in large part to the impressive job Jerry Kill has done building a contender at Minnesota. The Gophers gave the Buckeyes one of their toughest tests on the way to the national title, and just about the only thing Urban Meyer didn’t win last season was Big Ten Coach of the Year -- which is sitting in Kill’s office instead. Watching these two go to battle again on the field should provide some entertainment once more.

Mitch Sherman's pick: Michigan State at Nebraska

Considering Nebraska’s recent struggles in big games and Michigan State’s run of success on the national level, this series has been surprisingly tight since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011. Even last year, Nebraska rallied late from a big deficit in East Lansing. So expect a close game and a live atmosphere in Lincoln. For the Huskers to succeed in the first year with new coaches, the defense must likely lead the way. Can the Blackshirts solve Cook? Can the new-look Nebraska offense find a formula for success against the tried-and-true Spartans defense? It’ll be an interesting matchup, as always.

Previous trippin'

Week 1: Bennett and Murphy at Ohio State-Virginia Tech; Ward at Michigan-Utah; Moyer at Wisconsin-Alabama
Week 2: Unanimous: Oregon at Michigan State
Week 3: Sherman and Murphy at Rutgers-Penn State, Bennett and Ward at Nebraska-Miami
Week 4: Bennett and Ward at Maryland-West Virginia, Sherman and Moyer at BYU-Michigan
Week 5: Unanimous: Iowa at Wisconsin
Week 6: Unanimous: Nebraska at Wisconsin
Week 7: Moyer and Ward at Penn State-Ohio State, Murphy at Michigan State-Michigan, Sherman at Nebraska-Minnesota
Week 8: Bennett and Moyer at Penn State vs. Maryland, Sherman at Ohio State-Rutgers, Ward at Northwestern-Nebraska
Week 9: Bennett, Moyer and Sherman at Michigan-Minnesota, Murphy at Rutgers-Wisconsin

We've reached the height of March Madness as another week nears an end, which begs this question: How to best incorporate basketball into the weekly #B1GFridayFive? A wise editor suggested that we scour the Big Ten football rosters for players we'd like to see lace up the sneakers.

This is, by no means, an all-inclusive list. We want your input. Who plays football in the Big Ten but would make a formidable power forward or point guard? Let us know, and use the hashtag #B1GFridayFive. Here are our selections, listed alphabetically:


Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun

Shilique CalhounTim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports 


Really, this choice is all about our desire to see what happens to a poor defender intent to draw a charge on the 6-foot-5, 256-pound Calhoun as he barrels downcourt toward the goal. The two-time All-Big Ten lineman, one of the nation’s most ferocious pass rushers, earned his reputation as a powerful dunker on the hardwood in the New Jersey high school ranks. He received offers in basketball from the likes of Wagner, Monmouth and Lehigh and averaged 17.5 points and 10 rebounds as a senior in 2010-11 at Middletown South. At the Buc Holiday Classic in January 2011, Calhoun was named MVP for his three-game performance, capped by a 38-point outburst in the championship.


Michigan QB Zach Gentry

Zach GentryMax Olson/ESPN


This list needs a quarterback, and we couldn’t find a better option than Michigan's recently signed freshman, who will join the Wolverines this summer. Gentry, arguably the best New Mexico prep quarterback ever, was nearly as good in basketball. He earned all-state honors as a junior at Albuquerque’s Eldorado High School, averaging 19.6 points and 10 rebounds. Even at 6-7, Gentry is an athlete. He rushed for 220 yards in a game last season. Gentry did not play basketball as a senior because of his football plans. He turned down Alabama, among others, to pick Texas last year. But when Jim Harbaugh came calling, Gentry reconsidered, committing to Michigan at, yes, a January basketball game in Ann Arbor.


Purdue DE Gelen Robinson

Gelen RobinsonAP Photo/Michael Conroy 


Maybe this is a stretch. Robinson, admittedly, is not a good basketball player. But come on, his dad, Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson won the Naismith and Wooden awards at Purdue in 1994, averaging more than 30 points per game as a junior. Glenn was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and scored more than 20 points per game over 11 seasons. Gelen’s older brother, Glenn Robinson III, plays for the Philadelphia 76ers after a career at Michigan. And Gelen, expected to contend for a starting spot on the defensive line in 2015 after collecting 20 tackles as a true freshman, wears his dad’s No. 13 at Purdue. Gelen also competes in wrestling and throws the shot put at Purdue. He can take on another sport, right?


Ohio State DT Adolphus Washington

Adolphus WashingtonEvan Habeeb/USA TODAY Sports 


Washington is a legitimate basketball talent. He was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio as a senior at Cincinnati’s Taft High School after averaging 23.1 points and 14.3 rebounds per game. He led the school to the state’s final four and earned a scholarship offer for basketball from Xavier. Washington got serious about football early in his high school career after Cincinnati was the first to offer. Last year, Washington came into his own on the Ohio State line, notching 4.5 sacks. At 6-4, he would surrender several inches in the post, but we’d like to see the 295-pounder battle in the Big Ten paint.


Minnesota TE Nate Wozniak

Nate WozniakAP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack 


How did this happen -- a 6-foot-10 kid from Indiana with soft hands and good feet who gave up basketball? There's no doubt that Wozniak gets mistaken regularly around the Twin Cities for a member of Richard Pitino’s basketball team. He quit the sport, according to reports at the time of his 2013 football commitment to the Golden Gophers, before his senior year of high school to focus on his work as a tight end. Yes, he is the tallest player in the Big Ten, playing behind star Maxx Williams in 2014 as a redshirt freshman. At 267 pounds, Wozniak could eat space and block shots in basketball, if nothing else. Alas, it’s not going to happen.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There's no sense wasting any energy worrying about a position battle that hasn't even started yet, and Ed Warinner has more than enough patience to wait.

Before diving into the quarterback race, the new Ohio State offensive coordinator has plenty to keep him busy elsewhere, starting with a competition that certainly won't receive as much attention but could be just as crucial to the Buckeyes' national-title defense in the fall.

[+] EnlargeEd Warinner
Khris Hale/Icon SportswireOhio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner has just one spot to fill on the line, with Chase Farris and Jamarco Jones the leading candidates at right tackle.

Regardless of who winds up taking the snaps, protecting that guy and continuing to pound open holes for the running game is going to once again be a top priority. And with four returning first-team blockers up front, the options at right tackle are under Warinner's microscope during spring camp, with Chase Farris and Jamarco Jones pushing for the last open spot.

"[Farris] hit a stride where we thought he was really playing good by the middle, toward the end of the season," Warinner said Thursday. "But you’ve got a starting lineup, we’re on a roll, Darryl Baldwin is playing his butt off, so we spot-played him here and there but didn’t really shake up the rotation. I mean, he was ready to be a starter toward the end of last year, and if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll be able to take that position over.

"But Jamarco Jones is not by any means just going to let him have it. It’s just a difference in age and where they’re at -- fifth-year guy versus second-year guy."

If that winds up being the difference between the two, Farris would be in for the gig and could potentially become the latest in a string of one-year wonders for the Buckeyes at right tackle. Reid Fragel, Taylor Decker and Baldwin all held down that position without much prior experience and thrived under Warinner for a season before moving on, either due to graduation or by earning a promotion to the left side, as was the case with Decker.

For the moment, Warinner is getting no shortage of opportunities to evaluate both candidates, with the Buckeyes resting some of their veterans. During one period open to the media during practice on Thursday, Jones lined up at left tackle with the first-team offense with Farris bookending him on the right, providing a relatively even playing field for the top contenders for the job.

That doesn't necessarily mean Warinner will be able to reach a conclusion any faster than he and the coaching staff might with their quarterbacks. But at least their options all are on level ground in spring, ensuring one key battle already is underway.

Barrett bouncing back: Urban Meyer suggested earlier in the week that J.T. Barrett's recovery from his fractured ankle might be ahead of schedule, and the redshirt sophomore certainly turned some heads with his performance in drills open to the media. Barrett and Cardale Jones took turns delivering passes that showed off what they do best, whether it was pinpoint accuracy from the former or rockets out of the right hand of the latter. Barrett has been able to jump back into mini-field and seven-on-seven reps early in camp, and he looked as sharp as ever delivering the football on Thursday.

Percy position: Maybe it's just a spring tradition now, but another multipurpose tailback is getting reps with the wide receivers and sparking conversation about the famous Pivot position in Meyer's offense. Last year it was Dontre Wilson; this year appears to belong to Curtis Samuel. The rising sophomore shined in his opportunities in the backfield behind Ezekiel Elliott last year, and it was something of a surprise to see him catching passes instead of taking handoffs with the starter and potential Heisman Trophy candidate currently on the shelf after wrist surgery. But the Buckeyes have left no doubt they will find ways to use all of the talent on hand, and Samuel isn't short on that.

Man in the middle: Living up to the hype might have been impossible given the abundance of chatter that swirled around Raekwon McMillan, but the middle linebacker certainly showed off his potential during his limited opportunities to play behind Curtis Grant last fall. Now it's up to the rising sophomore to become a leader and fill the shoes of his mentor on a full-time basis, and defensive coordinator Luke Fickell is pushing him as much as possible to embrace that role and fight through any uncomfortable moments. Having Darron Lee and Joshua Perry returning at linebacker is invaluable in the process, but McMillan has the makings of a star and the Buckeyes are trying to tap into that as quickly as possible.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The career elevator is still on the rise for Ed Warinner.

The newly promoted Ohio State offensive coordinator just won’t need a literal one to get to his job on game day.

Warinner has a different title, more responsibilities helping run the system and perhaps more pressure to keep the Buckeyes and their high-scoring attack rolling along heading into his fourth season with the Buckeyes. But he’s going to do all that from exactly the same place he has for the last three years -- on the sideline instead of upstairs in the press box.

“I went through that thought process,” coach Urban Meyer said. “But his value, to pull him away from that group, the whole offense goes to him before they take the field the last three years and you can’t change that right now.

“I’m going to keep him down. He’s too good. He’s the one, you pull him out now, you’ve got a problem.”

[+] EnlargeEd Warinner
Khris Hale/Icon SportswireOhio State offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Ed Warinner is staying on the sidelines on game day.

The Buckeyes clearly haven’t had any issues putting up points with Warinner at field level, and they’re in no hurry to fix something that isn’t broken, even as the offensive staff undergoes a bit of a facelift.

The loss of former coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman to Houston is certainly the most noticeable difference for Ohio State after his wildly successful three-year stint with the program, and losing running backs coach Stan Drayton to the Chicago Bears created both another vacancy and a chance to reorganize on game days, if Meyer wanted.

Warinner’s track record as a coordinator at Kansas before arriving at Ohio State, his encyclopedic knowledge of multiple systems and his invaluable work with the offensive linemen over the last three seasons as a position coach and co-coordinator all but guaranteed he would be getting a more prestigious title after Herman left, and Meyer wasted little time giving it to him. But the Buckeyes also had to consider how crucial his presence on the sideline has been to their recent success when putting together a plan for the reconfiguration of the staff, and while there’s still plenty of time to adjust, if need be, it’s now quite clear how much they value it.

“We’re still working through that, but right now I’m on the field because the offensive line is on the field and I can take care of adjusting 11 guys and because we have some new coaches,” Warinner said after practice Thursday morning. “Coach [Meyer] and I are real comfortable down there. It’s been a pretty good deal for three years down there with him and me on the sideline, and we talk and make our adjustments.

“We’ll be good with that. I knew that was the way we wanted to go, and I don’t see that changing. It works.”

The offensive system does too, and Warinner also stressed that there was no reason for him to try to change it much or to try to put his own mark on the playbook just because he’s now in a slightly higher-profile position.

He might now be taking his “perfection and toughness” message to a larger audience than just the offensive linemen, and he admitted there is more on his plate this spring than in previous seasons. But it’s not just Warinner’s spot near the bench that is going to remain unchanged.

“You have to be careful with that,” Warinner said. “It’s not my offense, it’s coach Meyer and Ohio State’s offense. It’s my job to make sure that we continue to operate at a high level and then to enhance the offense as we move forward. I’m not going to try to do anything other than continue to carry the banner of execution. We’re based on toughness, execution, fundamentals; we want to continue to do that.

“[Meyer] sets the tone for that and he’s in a lot of offensive meetings, so I’m not going to steer this thing in a different direction. I’m going to steer it down the path that he wants, which has been a real successful path.”

The Buckeyes obviously have had to make a few changes over the offseason, and Warinner is certainly part of that overhaul. But taking a few elevator rides at the stadium won’t be one of his new duties.

As the NCAA tournament moves to its next round Thursday, so does our Big Ten bracket challenge. This is your opportunity to sound off on the best game settings in the league. Here in March, those autumn afternoons remain a distant dream. But it won’t stop us from wishing for tailgates and touchdowns.

The results are in from the first round. Eight teams remain alive, and it's about to get heated in the quarterfinals with two storied programs battling head-to-head. Kudos to Purdue for what was either voting irregularity or the largest international fanbase in the league, but the commissions met and it was unanimous that Nebraska was moving on anyway to face Michigan. The polls close Monday at 4 p.m.

No. 4 Nebraska vs. No. 5 Michigan

Tournament résumés:

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Which game day setting is better?

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    74%

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Discuss (Total votes: 11,858)

Nebraska: The game-day experience starts Friday evening at Misty’s, where local and opposing fans gather to hear the Nebraska marching band, eat prime rib and put down a few beverages. That hospitality continues straight through to the final buzzer, when Husker fans are known to stand and applaud the visiting team, win or lose. Before then, pregame festivities reach a climax during the Husker Power chant as the team prepares for its traditional Tunnel Walk, which is as hair-raising an experience as any Big Ten team has when taking the field. Don’t forget to pack your red balloons. Fans release them in the stadium after Nebraska’s first score in each game.

Michigan: The Big House is massive and claims to have hosted more than 100,000 spectators in every Michigan home game since Nov. 8, 1975. The maize-colored crowd can get the low-slung bowl rocking when the Wolverines are rolling, which hasn’t always been the case in recent years. Critics say the stadium is too quiet for its population, but there are few atmospheres more charged than a night game at Michigan. Late starts will come more frequently in the future. Before the game, the university's nearby golf course fills up with tailgaters, downtown Ann Arbor offers some must-eat restaurants within reasonable walking distance to the stadium, and the front lawns on State Street overflow with students ready to party. Michigan Stadium may have fallen behind its neighbor in Ohio in sheer numbers, but the winningest tradition in college football still knows how to do it in style.

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