- Penn State would be better off with the stability of Al Golden or Mike Munchak than James Franklin's more exciting offense, David Jones writes.
- Noah Spence's father speaks out about his son's three-game suspension for ecstasy, which the family says Noah took by accident.
- Northwestern's Kain Colter is preparing for his shot in the NFL -- as a wide receiver.
- Other than the money, the BCS was not kind to the Big Ten, Tom Oates writes.
- Shilique Calhoun won a national award. Watch Mark Dantonio fire up the Michigan State basketball crowd.
- A new crop of starters will have to step up for Nebraska's offensive line, which will be hit hard by graduation.
- A breakdown of how Michigan's offensive line, uh, broke down in 2013.
- Illinois and Kansas agreed to a future home-and-home series (like, way in the future).
- A Purdue linebacker is transferring to Duquesne.
- Reasons for each Big Ten team to feel optimistic in 2014.
Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams told CBSSports.com that he expects to not only keep Franklin in Nashville, but also plans to revise his contract -- among other things -- in order to keep Franklin happy with the Commodores.
Reports surfaced earlier this week that Franklin, who has led Vandy to back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time in school history, was the front-runner for the Penn State opening.
It makes sense, really. Not only is Franklin a Pennsylvania native, he's become one of the hottest coaching names out there with his success at Vanderbilt. He's led the Commodores to bowl games in three consecutive seasons and back-to-back bowl victories. Both are firsts in school history. He can sell the program with the best of them and he's a hard-nosed worker and recruiter. He's also exceptional at developing talent.
It's tough to say how much we can put into what Williams is saying. Was he supposed to say anything different? Franklin has been on the short list of a few college jobs, including the Texas one, and NFL teams have come calling. When you talk to people around the program, it sounds like the NFL might not be Franklin's true calling. But it would be hard for him to turn down a big-time college job, such as Penn State.
Williams and Franklin have a very good relationship, but even Williams has to know how tough it would be for Franklin to turn down a much bigger job. It's how the world works, especially the world of coaching.
While there's no question that Franklin loves his current employer, but his head-coaching life is very young. With what he's done at Vandy, just imagine what he could do at a bigger school with more resources and more clout. With a bigger platform, Franklin might do wonders.
Whether Franklin stays at Vandy or not in 2014 is still unknown, but the reality of it all is that it's going to be very tough for the Commodores to keep him around for the long haul.
Here is a look at some of the most important prospects left for each program.
DL Daniel Cage (Cincinnati, Ohio/Winton Woods)
6-foot-3, 290 pounds
Cage is a bit of a long shot for Illinois, but he would be a big get if the Illini can get him. Louisville was very much in the picture for Cage, but with coach Charlie Strong taking the Texas job, there might be opportunity to move in. Illinois will have to fight off Michigan State for the defensive tackle.
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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Penn State University has to become involved in a lawsuit filed by Joe Paterno's family and others against the NCAA in order for parts of it to proceed, a state judge ruled Tuesday.
The 25-page opinion by Judge John Leete delivered a mixed decision by dismissing some elements, keeping others alive and leaving the door open for an amended lawsuit to be filed.
Leete said breach of contract claims, however, cannot continue without Penn State's participation because the school is an "indispensable party," given that the lawsuit could affect the university's interests and contractual rights.
The lawsuit seeks to void a consent decree between the NCAA and Penn State over handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, an agreement that imposed a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on postseason play, a reduction in scholarships and other penalties.
"If the consent decree is declared void, as plaintiffs request, Penn State would lose the benefits it bargained for, including avoiding harsher sanctions and limiting further loss that could result from a prolonged investigation," Leete wrote. He added that the NCAA had indicated earlier that the football program could be shut down if the decree was invalidated.
Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers said the decision allows the critical claims in the lawsuit to go forward. The ruling will let "the bright light of legal discovery" shine on the facts and records, he said.
Paterno died in 2012, weeks after the scandal erupted and he was fired as football coach.
A Penn State spokesman declined to comment.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner says efforts to replace Bill O'Brien are on "schedule" and he anticipates having a new coach in "a matter of days."
In a statement released by his office Tuesday, Joyner said the search to replace O'Brien, who left last week to become coach of the Houston Texans, is "robust as we anticipated and we have an excellent pool of candidates."
He was not specific about possible candidates but added he has "heard from many coaches, or their representatives, who have expressed their interest in the position."
San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman interviewed for the job on Monday in Chicago, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Larry Johnson, who has been on staff for 18 years, was named interim coach. He's expressed interest in the job permanently.
Only three coaches, including Johnson, remain on the Nittany Lions' staff.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Al Golden appeared to be a favorite over the weekend -- several outlets reported he had taken the job -- before that news turned out to be false. Some still haven't counted him out of the race.
So, all that being said, it's not 100 percent clear what Penn State's next move might be. But ESPN.com confirmed it's looking at at least four candidates, so here's a closer look at each:
James Franklin, Vanderbilt head coach
Cons: Franklin is a hot commodity this offseason, as he already interviewed for the Houston Texans' head coaching job and has fielded requests to speak with both Cleveland and Washington. That might not sound like a con, but the Nittany Lions are in need of stability now -- and it'll be hard to get that from a coach who'll have the option to the jump to the NFL. Also, some accusations still hang over Franklin's head involving the Vanderbilt rape case. PSU might not be able to risk another hit to its image.
Mike Munchak, former Tennessee Titans head coach
Pros: He has NFL head coaching experience, and his loyalty has been well-documented. Since 1982, he has only ever played/coached for one franchise (Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans) and was fired when he refused to fire his assistants -- even with a raise on the table. He brings stability, and Penn State's offensive line would almost certainly grow leaps and bounds if he were the head coach. If he brings a member or two of his NFL staff, that would be even better.
Cons: He has no previous college coaching experience. The game is obviously different from the NFL, and it could take some time for him to adjust. Recruiting could be a gamble in his hands. His businesslike approach -- no hats in the building, no headphones while working out, etc. -- might not be a big hit with players either.
Al Golden, Miami (Fla.) head coach
Pros: He has Penn State ties, and he definitely has shown he can guide a team through hard times. He took an awful Temple team and made it respectable. With the specter of sanctions hanging over the Hurricanes' heads, he also made sure they never suffered a losing season. He's a strong recruiter, someone whom fans see as made in the mold of Joe Paterno, and Penn State is widely believed to be his dream job. It'd be difficult to see him leave his alma mater.
Cons: He has been knocked for his inability to win against elite competition. Golden has never finished a season with a winning record against teams above .500. In this past year, in which Miami finished 9-4, his team was 3-4 against teams with winning records. And it was winless against teams that finished with more than seven victories. His defensive coordinator, Mark D'Onofrio, has long been seen as a liability -- and PSU fans could be in for John Butler: Part Deux if Golden hops on board.
Larry Johnson, Penn State interim head coach/DL coach
Pros: He's the player favorite, and many current and former players have tweeted their support for him. He has been on the staff since 1996 and is the only remaining coach from the Joe Paterno tenure. As a result, he's already familiar with commits and future recruits, and he's also known as a hard-nosed recruiter. He brings the most stability out of any of the candidates, and he'd likely coach at Penn State for as long as the school would have him.
Cons: Despite his popularity, he never has held a permanent title above position coach. He has no head coaching experience outside of high school. He's not as big of a name as the others on this list and, with his lack of experience, he's a bit of a wild card. Like with Munchak, there'd likely be a transition period needed to learn the nuances of being a college football head coach.
Much will change between now and August. Heck, much will change between now and spring practice. But for right now, the 2014 Big Ten season is shaping up as one that possibly lacks a clear-cut, slam-dunk favorite in either of the new East or West divisions.
In colleague Mark Schlabach's way-too-early Top 25 for next season, Michigan State tops all league teams by checking in at No. 6. Makes plenty of sense, as the Spartans went 13-1, won the Rose Bowl over Stanford and return the vast majority of their offense, along with a solid core on that outstanding defense.
"I have held all along that the Buckeyes, close as they were in 2013, were built for '14," Haney writes. "The talented 2013 freshman class that Urban Meyer brought in [ranked third in the nation according to ESPN's RecruitingNation] had bright spots, such as Joey Bosa at defensive end, but it'll really start to have an impact next season. The defense could quickly go from liability to strength, with young players such as Bosa, safety Vonn Bell and end Noah Spence becoming bigger pieces."
I think there's a lot of truth to that about the defense, which started six freshmen or sophomores against Clemson in the Orange Bowl loss. But Ohio State also loses Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby from a defense that struggled down the stretch, and the offense must replace 80 percent of the offensive line, leading rusher Carlos Hyde and leading receiver Philly Brown. Plus, the Buckeyes have to play at Michigan State.
Those two will headline the new East, and it's up to teams like Michigan and Penn State to get better and make that more than a two-team race. The West Division looks even more wide open.
Schlabach ranks Wisconsin No. 15, which comes as a bit of a surprise considering all of the valuable seniors the Badgers lose on defense, plus receiver Jared Abbrederis. The Badgers also have to open the season against LSU, though the schedule is much more favorable after that with no Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State on the docket.
Iowa checks in at No. 21 in Schlabach's rankings and has to be considered a West contender after going 8-4 in the regular season. The Hawkeyes' offense could make strides in 2014 with most of the key pieces returning, but replacing those three senior starting linebackers won't be easy.
Schlabach does not rank Nebraska, which surprises me. The Huskers finished 9-4, which apparently is an annual federal requirement under Bo Pelini, and bring back just about everybody on defense, plus Ameer Abdullah, Tommy Armstrong Jr., Kenny Bell and several other key players on offense. If forced to choose right now, I'd make Nebraska the West favorite, even though the Huskers have to go to Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan State in the fall.
Northwestern figures to bounce back from an incredibly unlucky 2013, and Minnesota won eight games with a lot of young players in major roles this year. Neither can be counted out in the division.
The East looks stronger at the top in 2014 than the West, at least for now. But unlike the 2013 season, when Ohio State was the clear favorite after going 12-0 the previous year, there's no slam-dunk, clear-cut favorite in either division.
- In the final AP poll of this season, MSU finished third, Ohio State finished 12th and Wisconsin finished 22nd.
- Drew Sharp says the Big Ten isn't "mourning the death of the BCS," and the Spartans can look forward to the playoff system.
- During the title game Nebraska managed to steal some spotlight as Bo Pelini tweeted at Faux Pelini … and it was glorious.
- Andy Baggot takes a look at which of Wisconsin's five BCS bowl teams was the best.
- Even if QB Braxton Miller returns to Ohio State, Urban Meyer is going to have a lot of rebuilding to do this offseason.
- The Wall Street Journal ranked Iowa as No. 11 (as far as value), and Marc Morehouse says the Hawkeyes have the fans to thank for that. Also, OL coach Brian Ferentz might be headed back to the NFL.
- Minnesota deputy AD David Benedict, who was in charge of Gopher football, is headed to Auburn to oversee day-to-day operations of the athletic department.
- Michigan had seven early enrollees, but will any of them be able to make an early impact?
- Al Golden is definitely not headed to Penn State and here's his transcript from WQAM radio talking about that. Een with the uncertainty in staff, several of the Nittany Lions' top recruits remain committed.
- Four-star WR Dominique Booth will be choosing between Indiana and Missouri on Tuesday night.
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The Wall Street Journal has published a list of the most 50 valuable college football programs, according to research from a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus. Ryan Brewer assessed values based on "revenues and expenses and made cash-flow adjustments and risk assessments and growth projections."
Not surprisingly, Texas tops the chart with a value of $875 million, followed by Notre Dame at $811.5 million. Michigan comes next and leads off the Big Ten contingent at $685.5 million. Although Michigan has had a rather forgettable decade on the field, particularly since 2008, it consistently finds ways to make money. Athletic director Dave Brandon has successfully transitioned his success in the business world to Michigan's athletic department.
Ohio State is fourth in value at $674.8 million. Four other teams are in the top 15: No. 11 Iowa ($479.1 million), No. 12 Nebraska ($432.5 million), No. 13 Wisconsin ($406.4 million) and No. 14 Penn State ($377.6 million).
Here's where the rest of the Big Ten comes in:
No. 29: Michigan State, $212.9 million
No. 36: Minnesota, $179.7 million
No. 40: Northwestern, $154.5 million
No. 46: Indiana, $125.8 million
No. 48: Purdue, $114.6 million
Illinois is the only Big Ten program not to appear in the top 50. Future members Rutgers and Maryland aren't there, either (they came in at Nos. 61 and 62 last year, respectively).
The chart reaffirms the gulf that exists between the bigger programs and smaller programs, even within certain leagues.
Only three coaches, including interim head coach Larry Johnson, remain on the Nittany Lions' staff.
Assistant coaches John Butler, Stan Hixon, Charles London and Anthony Midget have submitted their resignations, effective Monday, as did Jim Bernhardt, special assistant to the head coach.
Strength coach Craig Fitzgerald also resigned, as did his assistants, Dwight Galt IV and Sean Hayes.
At least six of those who resigned are heading to the Texans, sources told ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli. The only two that could not be confirmed were Galt and Hayes.
The eight coaches' names were taken off Penn State's online list Monday afternoon, and a spokesman confirmed soon afterward that they were no longer with the program.
O'Brien opted to clean house in Houston as he fired all but one position coach and coordinator. He retained only defensive line coach Bill Kollar, while many of the meetings with former Texans staff lasted less than 5 minutes.
Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner said Thursday that a new head football coach could be announced "in a matter of days rather than weeks." Reported candidates for the position included Miami (Fla.) coach Al Golden, former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak and Vanderbilt's James Franklin. Interim head coach Larry Johnson also hoped to be considered.
ESPN.com Texans writer Tania Ganguli contributed to this report.
The BCS was very good to the Big Ten in terms of participation and money, but not so good when it came to results on the field (or national perception).
28: Big Ten teams participated in 28 BCS bowl games, more than any other conference. The SEC was second at 27.
13-15: Big Ten's record in BCS bowls, which includes Penn State's victory in the 2006 Orange Bowl and Ohio State's win in the 2011 Sugar Bowl (both later vacated because of NCAA sanctions).
10: BCS bowl appearances by Ohio State, the most of any team. (Oklahoma is second with nine.)
8: Number of Big Ten teams that appeared in BCS bowls. Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois and Purdue all made appearances. Nebraska had two BCS bowl appearances as a member of the Big 12.
84: Times Ohio State appeared in the BCS standings, most in the Big Ten and seventh in the FBS behind Texas, Virginia Tech, Florida, Oklahoma, LSU and Oregon. Michigan is next among Big Ten teams with 78 appearances, followed by Wisconsin at 73 appearances. Ohio State trails only Oklahoma in most weeks ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings with 15. (The Sooners were on top for 20 weeks.)
11: Number of Big Ten teams that made the BCS standings during its existence. Indiana is the lone Big Ten team never to do so.
5-11: Big Ten's record in Rose Bowl games and national title games during the BCS era.
8-4: Big Ten's record in all other BCS bowls.
12: Consecutive weeks Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings (the entire 2006 season and the first four weeks in 2007), which is the longest stretch in the BCS era.
246: Total rushing yards by Wisconsin's Ron Dayne against UCLA in the 1999 Rose Bowl, which, barring an incredible performance Monday night, will stand as the single-game record in a BCS game.
To the links ...
- David Jones with some excellent thoughts on Penn State's coach search, which could take a while. Mike Munchak could be the fallback choice for PSU.
- Michigan State assistant Pat Narduzzi could be on the radar for Louisville. Spartans WR Bennie Fowler won't return for a sixth year.
- Ohio State QB Braxton Miller has questions to answer no matter what he decides with his future.
- Nebraska might be an erratic team, but the Huskers have become very good in close games. Huskers assistant Terry Joseph discusses why he might leave for a post at Texas A&M.
- Meet David Blough, Purdue's decorated quarterback recruit (subscription required) who will enroll early at the school.
- Speaking of early enrollees, check out Michigan's list of seven, headlined by WR Drake Harris.
- Minnesota could have had Charlie Strong as its coach back in 2007.
- Wisconsin received mixed news on the recruiting front this past weekend.
- One-time Iowa recruit Trevon Young sticks with Louisville despite the coaching change there.
But the Big Ten Monday chat is still here. We can discuss all the postseason games, plus offseason news and what to expect next season. Here's the link to the chat, which starts at 3 p.m. ET.
See you there.
How often have Big Ten teams been favored in their games? How many times have you seen Big Ten teams keep pace for a half, three quarters or longer, only to come up short in the end?
Bowl games seem to bring out the worst in Big Ten teams, and the most recent bowl lineup, which mercifully concluded this season, underscored the league's struggles in postseason play. The Big Ten had a losing bowl record in all four years of the last postseason lineup, including a 2-5 mark this year. The overall record: 11-21 (including Ohio State's vacated win in the 2011 Sugar Bowl).
Losing is losing, and the Big Ten's postseason struggles reflect the league's current state, but the lineup did the conference no favors. It was extremely ambitious, and commissioner Jim Delany's desire to play the best competition in the best games is admirable, but it hurt the league's perception. Big Ten teams were favored in only eight of the 32 bowl matchups during the past four seasons.
As I've written many times, leagues are judged by their bowl records, not how tough their lineups are. No one rips the Pac-12, SEC or ACC for playing small-conference teams in bowls.
The Big Ten gets no credit for playing virtual road games, all against major-conference opponents, if the end result is losses.
Now here's the good news: the league's next bowl lineup should bring more wins and a boost to perception.
Not only will the Big Ten have more reasonable matchups, but the league will take a more active role in creating the pairings through the tiered system. You won't see as many repeat destinations or repeat opponents, but you also likely won't see as many obvious mismatches.
"You're going to see a lot of movement by teams among bowls," Delany said in June. "We're fortunate that all these are fantastic destinations, they're world-class cities with opponents coming from world-class conferences. We think there are great brands on our side and great brands on the other side, and together, that will produce great bowl matchups."
The new lineup isn't a panacea, and Big Ten teams must find ways to win close games after repeatedly falling short in bowls. But a reset in matchups should provide some hope for a league that, short of ending its national title drought, can benefit greatly from ending seasons on a much stronger note.
Challenges Facing Franklin at Penn State
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35