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.”
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 our first quarterfinal matchup pits Ohio State, which received a bye to open, and Minnesota. The Gophers pounded Rutgers in a mild upset. The polls close Monday at 4 p.m.
No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Minnesota
Ohio State: The reigning Big Ten and national champion Buckeyes play in one of most iconic and recognizable settings in all of sports. Ohio Stadium, expanded by 2,500 seats last year to an official capacity of 104,944, ranks as the fourth-largest on campus facility in the nation. The Michigan game last season drew a record crowd of 108,610. More than 36 million fans have attended Ohio State games at the Horseshoe, which is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Situated on the banks of the Olentangy River, the stadium is known for its unique design and close proximity of fans to the field. The Rolling Stones played at the venue in 1997 and might come back this year. What else do you need to know? From the Ramp Entrance to the Buckeye Battle Cry, this place is uniquely O-H-I-O. Oh, and nowhere else can boast this awesome tradition.
Minnesota: The $303 million horseshoe-style stadium opened in 2009 and is a big upgrade over the last venue. About 20,000 seats have chairbacks, the team store boasts two floors, and the name of every Minnesota county is etched in stone at the stadium. Fans don’t mind braving the cold here -- or eating ice cream while doing it -- and look forward to starting every game with the traditional Battle Hymn of the Republic. They’ll chant one of the oldest fight songs in the Big Ten (Minnesota Rouser), yell “Ski-U-Mah” (Ski is a Sioux battle cry for victory; U-Mah means Minnesota) and then ask beloved mascot Goldy Gopher to spin his head. And, win or lose, fans will incessantly answer the age-old question, “Who hates Iowa?” (“We hate Iowa!”)
Will Be Making My College Choice April 3rd! @ Ocean Lakes High School 6pm... Anyone Can Come, No Charge Decision, Decisions, & Decisions.=— Levonta Taylor (@iamlevonta) March 24, 2015
The senior quarterback deleted the post from Tuesday that featured a picture of him next to AdvoCare products and included his email as a distributor of the products, but not before it was widely seen and prompted questions about whether his amateur status might be in doubt due to his celebrity and an apparent endorsement.
"We are aware of it," an Ohio State spokesman said Wednesday. "We are looking into it."
The NCAA allows for outside employment of student-athletes, and Miller would not be in violation of any rules by selling AdvoCare products.
But players like the two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year can't use high-profile status in an effort to personally profit, which makes Miller's situation something of a gray area. The Ohio State compliance office hasn't publicly issued any sort of verdict on the situation, but Miller told The Columbus Dispatch "it's all good."
Is there anything better than Big Ten football in the fall?
We think not, which is why we're dreaming of our ultimate Big Ten road trip in 2015. In case you've missed the previous installments, we've been giving our picks for which game we would attend each week if money and editorial decisions were no object. We can each pick only one game per week.
Time to look at Week 8:
Saturday, Oct. 24
Wisconsin at Illinois
Penn State vs. Maryland
Indiana at Michigan State
Northwestern at Nebraska
Ohio State at Rutgers
Byes: Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota Purdue
Austin Ward's pick: Northwestern at Nebraska
By this point there should already be an understanding of where these programs stack up in the West Division, and there probably won’t be huge stakes in the race unless the Wildcats have truly recovered from their recent rough patches and found some consistency on offense. But if the Huskers are going to be a factor, this is a matchup at home it can’t afford to overlook. And for Pat Fitzgerald, taking his team into a tough place to win and pulling out a victory would have value not only in climbing back up in the standings and potentially into the postseason again, but it might have a long-term impact establishing the Wildcats as a threat again.
Mitch Sherman's pick: Ohio State at Rutgers
I’m off the High Points Solutions Stadium, because it’s the closest Ezekiel Elliott or any of Ohio State quarterbacks will get to New York City until December. Maybe Urban Meyer can steer the team bus through Times Square to offer extra motivation for the Buckeyes’ Heisman candidates. Really, this is not a great week of matchups in the Big Ten, and OSU squashed Rutgers 56-17 a year ago. I’m not expecting a compelling game, but I want to see the atmosphere for this in Piscataway, and I’m wondering if Rutgers cast of running backs can penetrate the Ohio State defense. Probably not, but hey, a stopover in New York beckons.
Brian Bennett's pick: Penn State vs. Maryland
"Let the rivalry begin." Those were Randy Edsall's words when Maryland pulled off the historic win in State College last year. Don't think Penn State has forgotten that -- or that the Terps refused to shake hands before the game. This might just be turning into a heated new rivalry in the Big Ten, and with this game being in Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium, I'd expect some Nittany Lions fans to make it closer to a neutral site. Save me a crab cake, and I'll see you there.
Josh Moyer's pick: Penn State vs. Maryland
Our choices are thin in Week 8, so I'm going with a matchup that could wind up blossoming into a nice rivalry. Call it what you will right now, but this game is sure to be an interesting one after last season's no-handshake escapade (and don't forget about the pregame scuffle either). The Nittany Lions tried to downplay how they felt after the Terps' 20-19 win, but it's clear they weren't fans of the move. Outside of the theatrics, this could be another close contest -- or at least has less blowout potential than the other games.
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
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The loaded quarterback competition hasn't really even started yet at Ohio State, and already the strain is starting to show on coach Urban Meyer.
Even with J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller still limited by injuries early in spring practice, leaving Cardale Jones as the only healthy option, Meyer is beginning to look ahead. And he doesn't seem particularly excited about the fact that he'll have to leave two talented options on the sideline.
"That's the only thing that's starting to eat away at me a little bit," Meyer said Tuesday. "It didn't for a while because you're just so busy. But now that I'm seeing what I'm seeing, I have such great respect for all three guys."
Offensive coordinator Ed Warinner echoed similar sentiments about the team's quarterback derby later in the week.
"It's a great problem to have," Warinner said Thursday. "It's one of those ones that will take care of itself down the road. Right now, it's just watch Cardale grow and develop and get better and those other guys are doing what they can do to continue to grow and develop and get better. We'll have to figure that out when the time comes, but not right now."
Meyer has been watching them all closely through three practices, and while each of the decorated candidates is participating at a different level in workouts, their relationships with one another appear to add to Meyer's difficulty in eventually establishing a pecking order.
Urban Meyer makes news when he thinks about the quarterback decision that he faces before next season. He actually talked about it Tuesday.
Meyer said the dilemma has started to "eat away" at him.
In this report by Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, Meyer praised the Ohio State quarterbacks for their positive attitude in spring practice, specifically mentioning a compliment offered by Braxton Miller to Cardale Jones. Miller and J.T. Barrett talked a little football at practice, he said.
These are insignificant details, though they remain fascinating in the context of the OSU QB race, especially when offered by Meyer. The battle won't actually hit its stride until August of course, when all three accomplished players presumably will enter preseason camp in good health.
Meyer said Tuesday that he was moved to feel this way about the quarterbacks because he has "such great respect for all three guys."
He also offered a dose of reality. "The negative: Two people are going to have to watch."
This storyline has already taken on a life of its own. It's in danger of spinning out of control at some point before August, at least in the uncontrolled environment away from the Ohio State campus. Twelve practices remain for the Buckeyes this spring -- more time for the media and fans to anticipate and overanalyze every minor twist.
And if Meyer is already feeling a burden now, imagine how he'll feel in August.
Let's get to the links:
- Five pressing questions ahead of spring practice at Rutgers, which opens work Monday, and at Iowa, which starts Wednesday.
- A spring preview of the Indiana wide receivers.
- Maryland’s backup QB competition is back on track after a hiatus from practice for spring break.
- Previewing Penn State's spring and the importance of the improvement on the offensive line.
- Poignant words from former Michigan center Jack Miller.
- Receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. and running back Delton Williams are not listed on Michigan State’s spring roster or depth chart.
- Purdue will play the Big Ten’s toughest schedule in 2015, according to the NCAA formula and listed by Phil Steele.
- Adam Weber, Minnesota’s most prolific all-time quarterback, is back with the Golden Gophers to help tutor Mitch Leidner.
- A highly motivated walk-on is headed to Nebraska from Loveland, Colorado.
- Should Illinois and Tim Beckman be happy about a 6-7 record? Spencer Hall makes the case.
- Paul Chryst has confidence in Corey Clement to replace Melvin Gordon in the Wisconsin backfield.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- At some point there's nothing left to prove in spring practice, and Ohio State isn't going to force anybody to go through the motions when it's well aware of what a veteran is capable of and his spot is secure.
And while Urban Meyer is more than qualified to make that evaluation on his own, the Buckeyes' coach also has a numerical threshold that can simplify the process for him and provide some evidence that a break has been earned.
Removing a handful of starters from camp might make for uglier practices than Meyer might enjoy watching, though, and Tuesday's workout was certainly not one he'll remember fondly. But considering the physical toll on the bodies of some upperclassmen and the need to develop a bit of depth behind them as the Buckeyes gear up to defend their national title, when the ticker hits a certain number of reps, there's not much point in watching proven commodities work.
"Just being smart with the guys, the 2,000-rep club," Meyer said. "The guys who have had a lot of competitive snaps, you've got to be really smart.
"I love it, I think we're on the cutting edge of being smart about the wear and tear that the student-athlete goes through. And we're being smart."
There's a chance the Buckeyes might not always be looking that sharp on the practice field without some of their most valued leaders and contributors in action, but that's a small price to pay in the long run -- particularly when there isn't a game to be played for months.
Removing offensive linemen Taylor Decker and Pat Elflein from the rotation can disrupt the chemistry and create some confusion in the trenches, and not having linebacker Joshua Perry, safety Tyvis Powell or end Joey Bosa lining up on defense doesn't make that unit look as fearsome. But whether it's for injury in the fall or down the road when their careers are over, at some point the Buckeyes are going to need to replace those guys -- and building the rep count on the backups is one way to speed up the process.
"Here's the thing, you really have to think this through," Meyer said. "The issue is you're losing a little bit of chemistry in the unit. In the offensive line, you hear stories about a cohesive offensive line. When you hear that story it's absolutely correct, and I think we were a great example the last three years with an extremely close group that has a little chemistry going. You lose that completely because you are sticking some guys in there who are not quite ready yet.
"Same thing with the defensive line, those are the two areas where you just lose it and sometimes it looks really bad."
The Buckeyes would obviously rather deal with those growing pains in the spring, though, and Meyer made it clear there have already been some after just three workouts.
Aside from limiting the snaps of the 2,000-rep club members, Ohio State also has a few starters on the sideline dealing with injuries, which gives the first-string a vastly different appearance than the one that knocked off Oregon and Alabama in the College Football Playoff. Star running back Ezekiel Elliott has a cast on his wrist, center Jacoby Boren is nursing a couple injuries, H-back Dontre Wilson is recovering from a broken foot and quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett are both still rehabbing their respective injuries before jumping back into competition.
That leaves plenty of work for young players who haven't had much of it yet thanks to all those talented veterans in their way, and based on the early feedback, they can use it. For now, they're a long way from 2,000 reps, and there's still plenty for them to prove.
"Today was not a pleasant one," Meyer said. "I'm not going to blame players or coaches yet, but that's coming if we don't get better.
"I think we are being smart even though you look out and see how awful it is sometimes watching practice. It's still the right thing to do."
With more than 400 prospects in attendance at the Atlanta Nike The Opening regional camp on Sunday there were several trending topics scene and heard throughout the day. Here's a closer look at some of the top trends from Sunday's events.
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Future uniform possibilities have created some buzz for multiple Big Ten teams this week. A day after Cardale Jones got Buckeye fans excited about a darker look, Michigan fans debated the merits of going retro.
The school said it hasn't made any official decisions about uniforms yet, but a report Tuesday said the Wolverines plan to reinstate pride stickers on their helmets and do away with the short-lived Legends jerseys. Michigan handed out helmet stickers during half of Jim Harbaugh's playing career in the mid-1980s, but got rid of them a decade later. The Legends jerseys, introduced in 2011, were supposed to reward current stars by letting them wear the same numbers as former Michigan greats.
The big wardrobe decision for Michigan comes this summer, when the school has to decide whether it will pursue its contract with Adidas or look for another supplier. The school reportedly polled its student-athletes over the weekend, and like most young Americans, they said they would prefer to wear Nike.
Michigan is Adidas' biggest brand in college sports and its most expensive contract. If the Wolverines opt for a different logo, it could be a potential blow to the company's recent efforts to be cool again in in America. The German-based shoemaker tied its fate to soccer globally and has consistently lost market share to Nike and relative newcomer Under Armour in recent years in the U.S.
Adidas is rethinking its strategy in the U.S., according to an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal this week. Adidas is making changes to try to win back the loyalty of young Americans. Michigan would be a good vehicle for that project, but upping the cool factor in time to convince the school to stick around will be difficult.
Speaking of things that make you cool, don't forget to vote for your favorite college gameday settings in the Big Ten blog's version of March Madness.
And now, onto the links…
- Iowa's steady tradition of producing NFL-ready linemen gives this year's crop of prospects the benefit of the doubt among pro scouts.
- Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave is showing improvement so far in the spring season.
- A few Penn State coaches turned down job opportunities elsewhere to help the program establish stability this year.
- Michigan State starts spring practice today and hopes to answer a few of these questions.
- Stefon Diggs' relationship with Maryland might be paying major dividends on the recruiting trail this year.
- Indiana ironed out a deal to play Ball State three times during the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons, including one match-up at Lucas Oil Stadium.
- The new staff at Michigan has been pleased with how quickly their players bought in and got to work.
- What do you call your newborn child if your last name is Victory and you root for Ohio State? This couple went with Scarlet Grey.
- Tommy Armstrong's development under Mike Riley will be a popular topic during Nebraska's spring practice.
- Former Purdue standouts brought high school students from their hometown on a tour of campus this week as part of Kawann Short's youth literacy program.
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The picture? A photoshopped rendition of a black-and-red Ohio State uniform, something not yet in the Buckeyes' repertoire. "How Sick Would This Be," Jones wrote.
A special uniform like that would be long (and somewhat) overdue for the Buckeyes. Rumors of a black alternate uniform circulated last season before Urban Meyer halted the fun by saying there were no such plans. Still, Meyer said he would be fine with it "somewhere down the road."
It's definitely pretty slick. But, for whatever reason, it just seems like black is a great choice for a uniform. (Just ask Iowa fans.) Twitter was aflutter just three months ago for a similar wardrobe change at Penn State. Defensive back Jordan Lucas and running back Akeel Lynch excited the fan base with this Photoshop, and James Franklin was eventually asked about the possibility. The answer? Possibly, but time moves slow on uniform changes.
Maybe we'll see something similar in The Horseshoe soon enough. Or maybe schools should open up some sort of concept contest to fans because there's been some cool-looking mock-ups floating around. (Hint, hint, Maryland.)
Now, on to the links ...
- If Nebraska DE Joe Keels was a bust last season, he had his reasons -- he learned his brother and father were killed in separate incidents on back-to-back days.
- Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is one of seven finalists for the Sullivan Award, which goes to the nation's top amateur athlete.
- Retired ex-Wisconsin LB Chris Borland will return three-fourths of his signing bonus to the San Francisco 49ers.
- Illinois QB Wes Lunt is welcoming the pressure.
- Michigan WR Devin Funchess says he's still not 100 percent because of a severe toe injury that occurred during the season.
- Quarterback Jake Rudock could still transfer to Michigan, and his former high school coach called him a "tremendous leader."
- Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford wants to remain in-state at the next level by landing with the Detroit Lions in the NFL.
- Redshirt freshman DeAndre Thompkins is one of a handful of standouts early on in Penn State's spring practice, according to coach James Franklin.
- One blog believes Minnesota RB David Cobb could be a "mid-to-late round steal" in the NFL draft.
- Several former Rutgers football players took part in a charity basketball game over the weekend, hosted by ex-LB Antonio Lowery.
It’s time once again to start winding down your week with the last edition of the #B1GFridayFive. Take a few minutes at halftime during the NCAA Tournament to check out this week’s post and share your thoughts on our picks with social media. Join the conversation by using the hashtag and giving us your opinions directly by following @BennettESPN, @MitchSherman, @ESPNJoshMoyer, @DanMurphyESPN, @ESPNRittenberg, @AWardESPN, @TomVH and @ESPN_BigTen.
This week has already had its share of memorable buzzer-beaters thanks to the NCAA tourney. In honor of the excitement, we compile a list of five last-second victories in Big Ten football games that are sure to make you fall out of your chair.
Some ground rules: We stuck to games within the last 25 years to make sure we could provide you with video evidence, because what fun is a Hail Mary win without listening to the home team’s radio announcer lose his mind when describing it? All games also had to be between conference opponents. So you won’t find Iowa’s comeback against LSU in the 2005 Capital One Bowl or other classics like this one or this one.
With those qualifications in mind, here are our five favorite dramatic finishes in the Big Ten in chronological order.
1. Ohio State def. Iowa, 27-26, Nov. 10, 1990
Trailing by five, the Buckeyes had less than a minute to go 48 yards and complete a comeback against Hayden Fry’s Hawkeyes. Iowa was ranked No. 6 in the nation and had yet to lose a conference game that season. Ohio State quarterback Greg Frey worked his team down to the 3-yard line before connecting with receiver Bobby Olive, who managed to squeeze both feet to the ground in front of the end line for a game-winning score with one second left on the clock.
2. Minnesota def. Penn State, 24-23, Nov. 6, 1999
No. 2 Penn State invited Minnesota to Happy Valley for its homecoming in 1999. The Gophers had not been to a bowl game since 1986. But Dan Nystrom’s 32-yard field goal as time expired at Beaver Stadium changed all of that. Minnesota got its sixth win to qualify for the postseason. The Nittany Lions lost the two games that followed and fell to the Alamo Bowl instead of getting a shot at a national title.
3. Iowa def. Penn State, 24-23, Nov. 8, 2008
Nine years later, almost to the day, history repeated itself for Penn State fans. Their Lions were 9-0, ranked No. 3 and hoping to get Joe Paterno a national championship late in his career. A middle-of-the-pack Iowa team derailed those plans. Running back Shonn Greene put the Hawkeyes within striking distance with a fourth-quarter touchdown to make the score 23-21 with nine minutes to play. An interception gave the Hawkeyes a final drive late in the game and Daniel Murray finished the upset with a 31-yard field goal.
4. Michigan State def. Wisconsin, 37-31, Oct. 22, 2011
Kirk Cousins connected with Keith Nichol a true Hail Mary play to upset the Badgers in a meeting between ranked teams. The 44-yard pass ricocheted off one Spartans receiver in the end zone and dropped into Nichols’ arms at the 1-yard line. He wrestled his way toward the end zone, but was marked down just shy of the goal line. Referees reviewed the play and saw that Nichols had broken the plane before a pair of Wisconsin defenders threw him backward.
5. Nebraska def. Northwestern, 27-24, Nov. 2, 2013
What a scene in Lincoln, baby! That was the Nebraska radio call when Jordan Westerkamp pulled in a tipped ball on the final play of a 27-24 win over Northwestern in 2013. Ron Kellogg threw a 50-yard pass that skipped off of a pile of players at the goal line and on to Westerkamp who was waiting behind the crowd. The win gave the Huskers a 6-2 record. It was just another week for the Wildcats, who lost seven straight that season including overtime defeats in the week before and after the heartbreaker in Lincoln.
Honorable mention: Michigan State def. Ohio State, 16-13, Nov. 9, 1974
You can’t mention Big Ten buzzer-beaters without including one of the more bizarre finishes in conference history. Ohio State, led by eventual Heisman winner Archie Griffin, was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. Michigan State held an improbable field goal lead late in the fourth quarter, but Griffin and the Buckeyes had one final drive. Spartan coach Duffy Daugherty told his players to expect Woody Hayes to go for the win rather than kick a field goal.
The Buckeyes drove down to the 1-yard line with less than 30 seconds remaining. Their first attempt from that distance fell just short. The players scrambled back into position for one final play. It crossed the goal line but referees said time had expired before the snap. Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke, who was at the game, forced both teams to stay in the stadium while he chased down the referees for an explanation. Forty-six minutes later, without the benefit of instant replay, they decided there was no buzzer-beater. Michigan State held on to win.
Throughout this week, all sorts of columnists and experts have chimed in with their opinions on Chris Borland's decision to retire. It's either the start of a trend, or the start of nothing. A significant and symbolic move, or a trivial decision in the grand scheme.
I'm not going to share my opinion -- every stance has already been expressed -- but I will pass on one that I feel deserves to be read.
Take a look at this essay by ex-Penn State offensive guard John Urschel: "Why I Play Football." Maybe no one in the NFL has more on the line than him. He's been published in major journals, graduated with a 4.0 GPA, and is intent on earning a chess title. Basically, by all accounts, he boasts a brain that seems more befitting a brain surgeon than a brawny ballplayer.
He doesn't need football. He says as much. He could make a living in mathematics instead of hitting grown men for a living. So, why does someone with so much on the line keep playing? Why does he keep risking his future on the present? His words:
"What my mother and a great majority of my friends, family, and fellow mathematicians don’t understand is that I’m not playing for the money. I’m not playing for some social status associated with being an elite athlete. No, the media has not brainwashed me into thinking this is what real men do. ... I play because I love the game. I love hitting people. There’s a rush you get when you go out on the field, lay everything on the line and physically dominate the player across from you. This is a feeling I’m (for lack of a better word) addicted to, and I’m hard-pressed to find anywhere else."
You can call him idealistic, but don't call him dishonest. Maybe no player's take is more relevant.
Urschel's words might not hold true for all players. Heck, maybe that truth is different for each player. But it's a take worth reading.
He ends with: "Simply put, right now, not playing football isn’t an option for me. And for that reason, I truly envy Chris Borland."
Now, on to the links ...
- Tanner McEvoy is ready to make an impact at safety for Wisconsin. Barry Alvarez discusses Borland's decision to retire.
- Defensive line coach Greg Mattison is fitting in just fine with the new Michigan staff.
- Indiana tight end Jordan Fuchs joined the basketball team in February and has been a physical presence at practice.
- Former Penn State tight end Matt Lehman worked at a pizza shop while preparing for one more shot at the NFL.
- The Hawkeyes' recruiting spending mushroomed between 2009 and 2013, from $240K to $477K, and only Penn State experienced a greater increase.
- Michigan State linebacker Taiwan Jones improved on his combine numbers and said he felt relaxed "back at home."
- The Nebraska freshman who blocked a punt in the Holiday Bowl, Kieron Williams, is intent on earning the starting job at safety.
- Ex-Rutgers star Brian Leonard said his NFL future remains "up in the air."
Halfway through Thursday's NCAA tournament action, there are just 4,655 perfect brackets of the 11.57 million entered in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. 1 percent of brackets correctly picked all four double-digit seeds (Georgia State, UAB, UCLA, Ohio State) this afternoon. However, 10-seed Ohio State was picked by 57.4 percent of brackets to beat 7-seed VCU.
President Obama hasn't done so well with his bracket, getting just three of the first eight games correct (Notre Dame, Arizona, Ohio State). He's lost an Elite Eight team in Iowa State and a Sweet 16 team in Baylor.
Did Ohio State Cheap Out On Championship Rings?
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
TBD Southern Illinois Indiana TBD Illinois State Iowa TBD Richmond Maryland TBD BYU Nebraska TBD Norfolk State Rutgers TBD Penn State Temple TBD Wisconsin Alabama TBD Stanford Northwestern