Jay Paterno sues Penn State

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
4:45
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Jay Paterno and another former assistant football coach at Penn State are suing the university over how they were dismissed from the staff when Bill O'Brien was hired as head coach two years ago.

Paterno and William Kenney filed a lawsuit Monday in Philadelphia federal court that seeks more than $1 million.

Both served under Paterno's father, Joe Paterno, before he was fired soon after retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with child molestation in late 2011.

The coaches say they've been unfairly linked to the Sandusky scandal, making it difficult to find comparable coaching jobs.

Kenney is now an assistant at Western Michigan. Paterno is a writer and consultant.

A Penn State spokeswoman says it's common for head coaches to pick their own assistants but isn't offering more comment.


(Read full post)


Big Ten lunch links

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
12:00
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Oppressive heat returns to the Midwest. Must be almost time for the start of football practice.

Big Ten Monday mailbag

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
5:00
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The season of media days is in full swing, with the SEC in the books, the ACC wrapping on Monday, the Big 12 underway, and the Pac-12 set to start on Wednesday. The Big Ten, of course, is scheduled for next week in Chicago. It's never too early to answer questions, though. Keep them coming here and to me. I'll be back soon for more.


Mitch Sherman: I like what I've seen so far from James Franklin, but he's yet to coach a game in Happy Valley. It's all about attitude and recruiting, and that's great. Still, the hardships of probation are difficult to shake. And even with the reduction in sanctions, Penn State still faces a climb to return to the top tier of the Big Ten, let alone the national elite. The presence of Christian Hackenberg during this era of transition helps mightily, but I think the Nittany Lions face some difficult times before the resurgence can start.

As for Michigan, yeah, sure, the depth is better. With Brady Hoke in his fourth season, that's expected. Hoke has largely recruited well. The problems involve player development and a lack of offensive innovation since Denard Robinson stopped improvising. The Wolverines remain way too green on the offensive line, and questions at quarterback have not been answered. Other than three tough road trips, the schedule sets up well. But yes, if this year looks like the second half of last season, the coach has reason to worry.

 





Mitch Sherman: I don't, but any time after that, I could see it. Ultimately, as we all know, money drives the playoff, like everything in big-time college athletics. And the more money the new postseason generates, the louder the calls will grow to expand the thing and create more opportunities to sell tickets and merchandise.

Five years is about the right amount of time to test the four-team format. To change it before 2019 would not give this system the time it needs. We learned long before the BCS era that every season brings a new set of potential controversies. In some seasons, like 2013, a two-team playoff provided a better solution than would a four-team system. More often, the four-team approach would have been more effective in crowing a champ.

The momentum for an eight-team playoff will grow with the every season that provides controversy in the selection of four teams. Expect the calls for a revision to get loud in at least two of the first five seasons. After that, the system is ripe for expansion.

 





Mitch Sherman: Well, Tommy Armstrong Jr. is a sophomore, so at worst, you need only fear three years of inconsistent play, but I understand the concern. You're suffering from a condition that resulted from watching Nebraska over the past four years. Its quarterback play under Taylor Martinez was anything but consistent, and Armstrong, as an eight-game starter, extended the trend, throwing eight interceptions and nine touchdowns on 52-percent passing.

I think you'll be pleased, though, with Armstrong's improvement this fall. My takeaway from the spring is that he's set to play much more consistently. Armstrong possesses all the intangibles for which the Huskers search at quarterback. The same could not always be said about his predecessor.

As for Johnny Stanton, he has to beat out Ryker Fyfe before the redshirt freshman can think about taking over the top spot. At this stage of their development, it would take a meltdown by Armstrong for Bo Pelini and Tim Beck to make a change. But things can change quickly in September, especially once the Huskers hit that stretch of five consecutive night games.

B1G awards watch list roundup

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
3:00
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College football preseason awards watch lists are, at best, little more than a summertime curiosity these days and, at worst, an easy punchline.

For one, there are far too many awards -- only country music likes to give itself as many trophies as this sport. There are often way too many players on these lists -- the Rimington Trophy list, for example, includes 64 players, or basically half the starting centers in the FBS, and 10 from the Big Ten alone. And, of course, eventual winners of these awards sometimes come out of nowhere, making the preseason lists even more meaningless.

We relegated almost all the watch list releases to tweets, but if you're interested, we thought we'd compile all the Big Ten players who were nominated in one place. If nothing else, you can come back to this page in December and perhaps have a good chuckle. Here you go:

Maxwell Award (Player of the Year)
Walter Camp (Player of the Year)
  • Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
  • Chi Chi Ariguzo, LB, Northwestern
  • Shilique Calhoun, DE Michigan State
  • Stefon Diggs,WR, Maryland
  • Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
  • Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
  • Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
  • Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Bednarik Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Bronko Nagurski Trophy (Defensive Player)
  • Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
  • Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
  • Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
  • Frank Clark, DE, Michigan
  • Blake Countess, DB, Michigan
  • Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
  • Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State
  • Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
  • Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan
  • Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Outland Trophy (Interior lineman)
Davey O’Brien Award (Quarterback):
  • Connor Cook, Michigan State
  • Devin Gardner, Michigan
  • Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
  • Braxton Miller, Ohio State
  • Joel Stave, Wisconsin
Doak Walker Award (Running back)
Butkus Award (Linebacker)
Rotary Lombardi Award (Lineman/Linebacker)
  • Chi Chi Ariguzo, LB, Northwestern
  • Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
  • Austin Blythe, C, Iowa
  • Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
  • Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
  • Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
  • Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
  • Ron Havenstein, T, Wisconsin
  • Kaleb Johnson, G, Rutgers
  • Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan
  • Brandon Scherff, T, Iowa
Biletnikoff Award (Wide receiver)
Jim Thorpe Award (Defensive back)
  • Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern
  • Blake Countess, Michigan
  • Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
  • Jordan Lucas, Penn State
  • Trae Waynes, Michigan State
Mackey Award (Tight end)
Rimington Trophy (Center) Lou Groza Award (Kicker)
Ray Guy Award (Punter)

Finally, watch this list of my preseason awards watch list, uh, awards:

Most nominated: Thanks to his inclusion on multiple defensive award lists as well as one player of the year recognition, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory leads the way with four nods.

Biggest "snubs:" We use the word "snub" very, very lightly here. Still, it was a mild surprise not to see Venric Mark on the Doak Walker list (he was, after all, nominated for the Maxwell) or for Maryland defensive lineman Andre Monroe to not show up anywhere. Apparently, Monroe's 9.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss last year weren't good enough to get him on the same list as dozens of other less productive players.

Weirdest list: The Butkus Award folks, bless them, either know something we don't or really swung and missed this year. Neither Maryland's Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil nor Ohio State's Curtis Grant were on anybody's radar for a major award, and you could make a very strong argument that neither is even the best linebacker on his own team (the Terps' Matt Robinson and the Buckeyes' Joshua Perry would have made more sense here). And then there's the omission of Rutgers' Steve Longa, who had 123 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. Just plain odd all around.

Just happy to be nominated: Northwestern's Chi Chi Ariguzo and Michigan's Devin Funchess are both outstanding players who should be in strong contention for all-conference and quite possibly All-America honors this season. But they have about as good a chance of winning a national player of the year award (which almost always goes to quarterbacks or running backs, anyway) as I do. Funchess was nominated for both the Maxwell and Walter Camp award, which means he has a great public relations man. Meanwhile, Wisconsin's Joel Stave isn't even guaranteed to start at quarterback this season for the Badgers, yet he found himself on the Davey O'Brien watch list. As usual, it doesn't hurt to cover all the bases when compiling a preseason watch list.

Big Ten lunch links

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
12:00
PM ET
Saw Jack White perform "Seven Nation Army" live this weekend. Felt like I was back in a Big Ten football stadium. Soon enough.

B1G media day preview: Penn State

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
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At this time next week, we'll all be reporting from Chicago and letting you know just what the conference's coaches and players have to say. But, until then, we're continuing our series by looking at three questions facing each Big Ten team and the potential answers we could hear at the Hilton Chicago on July 28 and 29.

Next up is Penn State, which will bring head coach James Franklin along with a trio of seniors: Running back Bill Belton, linebacker Mike Hull and kicker Sam Ficken. Here's some of what they may be asked:

1. How will Penn State once again overcome its depth issues?

This has been a recurring issue for the Nittany Lions since the sanctions hit two seasons ago. They've overcome this obstacle so far, but this year brings about its own set of challenges. For one -- and this is something we've talked about at length here -- the offensive line is thinnest, depth-wise, and the biggest question mark on this team. With a serious injury to offensive guard Miles Dieffenbach, Penn State returns just one starter on the line and might give a lot of playing time to two guards who were at defensive tackle six months ago. The linebacker position is also an overall point of concern, and the receiver position lacks experience. Expect Penn State's players at media day to deflect or downplay this matter all the while stressing how important the freshmen will be this season.

2. How will the defense be different in 2014?

Penn State's new defensive coordinator, Bob Shoop, is tasked with turning around a defense that many thought underachieved last season. The Lions' secondary was simply porous in 2013 and its red zone efforts weren't much better. This season, Shoop wants to keep opposing offenses on their toes by playing upon two premises: “Relentless pursuit and never-ending pressure.” Shoop sacrificed some strength for speed inside by moving Anthony Zettel to defensive tackle on a permanent basis, and he's committed to using a safety/linebacker hybrid at one of those linebacker spots. MLB Hull will be given a lot more free rein to roam around the field, and you can bet he'll praise the changes at media day. Shoop is giving Hull a lot more responsibility this season, and Hull is welcoming it.

3. Can Franklin live up to all the hype?

Franklin came in on Day 1 and made three bold statements: Penn State would dominate the region in recruiting, it would sell out every home game and it would eventually return to national prominence. Since then, he hasn't just doubled-down on those comments, he's made a point to reiterate them at just about every media outing. With the splash he's made in recruiting -- between drawing the ire of the SEC and seeing his 2015 class ranked at No. 4 nationally -- it wouldn't be premature to already check off that box. He's enlivened this fan base, but the real question here is can he win? Franklin is one of the few must-see podium interviews at media day, but he tries to avoid controversy when he can. He declined to discuss the SEC's statements regarding his satellite camps and he believed one of his comments was overblown when he said regional opponents didn't stand a chance. But Franklin can be bold and entertaining when he wants to, and it'll be interesting to see if he delivers around this time next week. What will he say? Well, other than maybe tossing in a joke about Christian Hackenberg's recent haircut, it's anyone's guess. He's a wildcard.
Penn State is putting together one of the nation's top recruiting hauls in 2015, and the Class of 2016 is off to a quick start as well now with Saturday's pledge from ESPN Junior 300 No. 190 Miles Sanders.

Sandusky's family stands by him

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
5:20
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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Other members of Jerry Sandusky's family say they're standing by him after one of his adopted sons described to Oprah Winfrey allegations of sexual abuse by the former Penn State assistant football coach.

The family released a statement on Friday saying none of them ever saw abuse or any indication of inappropriate activity.

Matthew Sandusky said in Thursday's broadcast that his adopted father subjected him to a range of sexual abuse, including oral sex.

The statement is from Sandusky's wife, Dottie, and the couple's other five adopted children.

It says attacking Matthew will provoke him and they're worried about what he'll say about the family.

Jerry Sandusky is serving a prison term for sexual abuse of 10 boys. He has not been charged with abusing Matthew Sandusky.


(Read full post)


Big Ten Friday mailbag

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
5:00
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The weather feels like fall already in Columbus. The only thing missing is a football game, but at least we have some Twitter questions to bring us one day closer to the season. Be sure to follow me here to get a jump on the next mailbag.

Austin Ward: There is no reason to think Rutgers won't eventually be able to compete in the Big Ten if it is able to use the league's resources to its advantage, but it certainly seems like it's going to be a difficult transition in the short term. For starters, joining the East Division did the Scarlet Knights no favors, and on top of that they drew both Nebraska and Wisconsin from the West to give them about as rude of an introduction to the league as possible. Considering their struggles in a weaker conference a year ago, a sub-.500 finish thanks to their bowl-game loss to Notre Dame and some lingering questions about how explosive the offense can be, I think even climbing into contention for a postseason appearance might be a stretch for the Scarlet Knights this fall.

Ward: Typically, sizing up the quarterbacks is a pretty handy way to forecast the favorites, but the West is something of an exception this offseason. Nebraska has some uncertainty even with Tommy Armstrong Jr. returning, and Wisconsin doesn't exactly have Russell Wilson under center this fall either, yet the running games those two programs boast are strong enough that they have generally been accepted as the top candidates to advance to the Big Ten title game on that side of the league. Wes Lunt's physical tools and the dynamic offense he will lead if he can finally, officially win the starting job make him an intriguing pick as the best of the bunch, and it seems a safe bet that he will put up impressive individual numbers. But don't count out Jake Rudock as somebody capable of giving Iowa steady production and turning that team into a threat in the West, provided he can cut down on the turnovers and the coaching staff actually does open up the attack a bit more this season.

Ward: The recruiting work Urban Meyer has done on the defensive side of the ball is starting to show up on the roster, and the Ohio State Buckeyes are going to need some of their younger, highly touted players to have a big impact if they are going to make a serious run at the playoff this season. Joey Bosa, as mentioned, might be one of the most destructive defensive linemen in the country this fall, and he is obviously going to be critical in generating a pass rush that could take some pressure off the revamped secondary. But it is a new full-time starter in the back end that might actually have the greatest influence in restoring Ohio State's proud defensive tradition, and Vonn Bell already raised the sky-high expectations when he snagged that one-handed interception in the Discover Orange Bowl. His spring was cut short by injury, but Bell is a young guy the Buckeyes desperately need to deliver..

Big Ten lunch links

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
12:00
PM ET
If anybody needs me this weekend, you can find me here. First, let's rock out to these links:

Jerry Sandusky's son details abuse

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
10:27
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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Hearing the first victim to take the witness stand against Jerry Sandusky helped push the former Penn State coach's adopted son Matthew to come forward with his own allegations of abuse, he said in a television interview.

Matthew Sandusky said in a Thursday broadcast of "Oprah Prime" that he recognized elements of his own abuse when he sat through testimony by a young man described in court as Victim 4, someone he knew better than any of the other seven who testified at the trial. Sandusky was convicted of various types of abuse involving 10 boys, including all eight who testified.

"But his story isn't his story -- it's my story," Matthew Sandusky told Oprah Winfrey about Victim 4. "At this point, that's where the door really opened up and it kind of just hit me from every single detail that this man is talking about."

He said he wonders if it wouldn't have been easier to simply keep quiet and not turn against his adopted father, knowing it would alienate family members who helped him in many ways over the years.

Winfrey asked him how people can know that what he's saying is the truth and not an adaptation of Victim 4's experience.

"I would say my story has been well-documented," he said. "And if you really want to find out what my story is and you really can objectively look at it, it's in the record."

Matthew Sandusky said his sexual abuse at his adopted father's hands consisted of oral sex, a more serious allegation than he made to detectives two years ago.

He said Jerry Sandusky would tickle him, blow on his belly and wrestle on the floor, and the encounters would gradually become more sexual.


(Read full post)


Big Ten lunch links

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
12:00
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Better Big Ten Bane: Braxton Miller or Shilique Calhoun?

Big Ten sleeper picks: Teams, units

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
6:28
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SEC | ACC | Big 12Pac-12

There's no argument that the SEC has been the nation's top conference over the last, well, forever. And there's no argument that the group sorest about that subject has been the Big Ten. So what will it take for the B1G to get over the hump -- of their own making and of their image nationally? Perhaps it needs a conference member to make an Auburn/Missouri/Florida State destiny-type run to the postseason to capture the public's imagination. We know that Ohio State will be good. It always is. We also know that Michigan State should be in the College Football Playoff conversation.

But which team among the others has the best chance of waking up as a big-time sleeper ? Here's two to think about, along with a breakout player and sleeper unit.


Which Big Ten teams are best fit to surprise in 2014?

Iowa Hawkeyes

That grinding noise you hear coming from the Hawkeyes football office is Kirk Ferentz throwing last year's schedule into the shredder. In 2013 Iowa played Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. This year the Hawkeyes face none of the above. From the Big Ten East, they get Indiana and Maryland. And within their own division, they will host their three biggest threats -- Northwestern, Wisconsin and Nebraska -- all in Iowa City.

They are also experienced, returning eight offensive starters, including quarterback Jake Rudock and Mark Weisman, who leads a group of six -- yes, six! -- running backs who received at least some playing time in 2013. And there's always plenty of power in the trenches.

"As long as they are playing football in Iowa, there will be a room full of big offensive linemen, but they kind of lost their way for a while up front," says a former Big Ten defensive coach. "But now they are back to strength. Their three guys on that line, Brandon Scherff, Jordan Walsh and the center [Austin Blythe] who are back to looking like typical Iowa bulldozers."


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Matt Sandusky tells of dad's 'ritual'

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
4:35
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[+] EnlargeMatt Sandusky
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarMatt Sandusky, one of six children adopted by the Sanduskys, alleges he was sexually molested by his father.

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- An adopted son of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky is providing details of the alleged sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his father.

Matt Sandusky, who was initially a foster child of the Sanduskys, tells Oprah Winfrey in a TV show airing Thursday night that his overnight visits with the family as a child were good "except for one part, bedtime."

At bedtime in the Sandusky's home in State College, he said, Jerry Sandusky's "ritual began."

"The overnight visits were -- they were good. I mean, except for that one part, bedtime. Bedtime was the bad part. But any other time that we were in the home, that we were doing anything in the home with the family, it was fine and it was -- again, you would look at that family and you would say, wow. Like I wish that I had brothers and sisters that cared about me. I wish that I had a mother who cooked dinner every night for the whole family. I wish that I had all of these things. But then at bedtime, his ritual began," Matt Sandusky told Winfrey in a brief clip released by the network.

The network said Sandusky discusses the grooming, methodical control and manipulation he faced as a child.

He had also discussed the alleged abuse in a documentary, "Happy Valley," shown earlier this year, and in an audiotape of a 29-minute interview with police detectives that NBC obtained at the time of Jerry Sandusky's 2012 trial.


(Read full post)


The moment you all have waited for has finally arrived. Nothing creates quite the angst and anticipation among Big Ten blog readers like the announcement of kickoff times and TV plans for the first few weeks of the upcoming season.

The announcement comes your way a little later than normal, but it's here! Stop everything you're doing immediately!

As a reminder, these are only games taking place in Big Ten stadiums. Kick times and TV plans for road games already have been announced by the leagues controlling those contests. Also, Big Ten-controlled prime-time games also have been announced and won't appear in this list.

OK, here's the list of new announcements ...

Aug. 30

Appalachian State at Michigan, noon ET, ESPN2
Indiana State at Indiana, noon ET, ESPN News
Youngstown State at Illinois, noon ET, BTN
Northern Iowa at Iowa, noon ET, BTN
Western Michigan at Purdue, noon ET, ESPNU
Florida Atlantic at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
California at Northwestern, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC regional (ESPN2 in outer markets)
James Madison at Maryland, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN

Sept. 6

Akron at Penn State, noon ET, ABC regional (ESPN or ESPN2 in outer markets)
Western Kentucky at Illinois, noon ET, BTN
Central Michigan at Purdue, noon ET, ESPN News
McNeese State at Nebraska, noon ET, ESPNU
Western Illinois at Wisconsin, noon ET, BTN
Howard at Rutgers, noon ET, BTN
Ball State at Iowa, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Middle Tennessee at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
Northern Illinois at Northwestern, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN

Sept. 13

West Virginia at Maryland, noon ET, BTN, Noon EDT
Kent State at Ohio State, noon ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2
Miami (Ohio) at Michigan, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
Iowa State at Iowa, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2

Few of you like the noon ET (11 a.m. CT) kickoffs but they're a reality in the Big Ten. We're seeing more variety in kickoff times with BTN and other broadcast platforms.

Northwestern once again gets later time slots after playing its first six games in the late afternoon or evening in 2013. Minnesota also gets afternoon or evening kickoffs for at least its first three games (Eastern Illinois and TCU are the others). Maryland and Rutgers both make their BTN debuts against FCS opponents.

The small group of games on Sept. 13 is due to five non-league Big Ten road games and three teams -- Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin -- having open weeks.

There you have it. Mark those calendars.

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