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B1G Changes & The Big Ten Title Game

It’s been a busy and happenings-filled week for the Big Ten since Thanksgiving.  Some good, troche some not so much.

The biggest news of the B1G, recipe that surprised absolutely no one – Brady Hoke was released Tuesday as Head Coach of the University of Michigan.  It really wasn’t a matter of if, ailment but when.

Interim Athletic Director (you’ll recall they got rid of Dave Brandon not that long ago) Jim Hackett stated that he understands the team is young but also “I believe Hoke has had enough time to produce results and they’re just not there.”  He added that he wants to get rid of the term “Michigan Man.”  Good idea, because how’s that been workin’ out for ya Wolverines?

I think Rich Rod is loving that PAC-12 Coach of the Year Award, btw.

The combination of his buyout and compensation allows Hoke to walk away with $4.95 million.  That will buy a lot of spicy wings and ribs.  Next job suggestion?  You’d make a hell of a follow-up to Jessica Simpson over at Weight Watchers.  Hey, if it’s good enough for Charles Barkley…

After an 11-2 starting season, Hoke’s tenure recorded a downward spiral over four years, ending this season at 5-7 and ineligible for a bowl.  Players that were stars regressed under his tutelage.  And The Game remained one-sided and stale in his reign.  All despite the oh-so-cleverest of burns, calling Ohio State by the wrong school.  Four year-olds everywhere applauded you, Choke.

So long, Easy Target.

One last jab, for old times' sake

One last jab, for old time’s sake

And so the Head Coach search is in full effect and the speculation will become more rampant than it already was.  Listen, weasels (the wolverine is a member of the weasel family, kids) stop planning for Harbaugh.  NFL Coaches don’t step down to go to the NCAA.  Harbaugh has had opportunities to take the job in the past, and if the University and opportunity really do mean as much to him as you allude it does, note that he didn’t take them.  He hasn’t shown an ounce of interest.  Let the dream die.

But when you say your prayers at night, maybe give a shout out to Les Miles.  That guy would be unbelievable for you and, as much as I hate to say it as a Buckeye, for the conference.  Michigan would be scary again and a version of The Game featuring Urban Meyer and Les Miles?  I can’t even.

The other B1G news that a lot of people didn’t see coming – Bo Pelini was released Sunday as the Head Coach of the University of Nebraska.  He seemed to be in the hot seat last year due to some rough comments, namely negative ones regarding fans, but appeared to have it together this year and produced another 9-game-winning season for the Huskers.  But apparently a 67-27 overall record and 71% winning is not enough for Nebraska.  Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst has himself some very lofty goals and wants some of them there Conference and National Championships he hears about.  Part of his explanation of the decision: “We weren’t good enough in the games that mattered against championship caliber opponents.  I didn’t see that changing.”

pelini

This guy…is pretty cool

And before you could even google “National Titles,” Nebraska has announced their new head coach.  Oregon State’s Mike Riley will helm the Huskers in 2015.  Ummmm…..okay.

As for Pelini, several million dollars could get me over any break up, right quick.  Per his contract – just renewed in March, 2014 until February, 2019 – were Pelini to be terminated he would receive the remainder of his $150,000 per month agreement, which rings up to a nice cha-ching of $7.65 million.

fauxpeliniI will miss you on Twitter, FauxPelini.  And Bo, I know an awful lot of Columbus folks who would like to see your former Buckeye self hired to head Ohio State’s defense in 2015.  Let us know if you need Urban’s number.  (And for those who were hoping for Florida’s Will Muschamp for defensive coordinator– Auburn beat us to it.)

Now can someone please explain to me how Kirk Ferentz still has a job?????

 

The Big Ten handed out awards this week, and two Ohio State players received major ones – defensive end Joey Bosa was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year while quarterback J.T Barrett took Freshman of the Year.  Huge and deserved congrats to them both.

Joey Bosa shruggin it out

Joey Bosa shruggin it out

HOWEVER, Jim Delaney….you passed over Urban Meyer yet again, for B1G Coach of the Year.  What this guy has accomplished – losing a Heisman contending quarterback just before the season starts and then taking a one loss team, that the nation completely counted out, to one tiny little spot away from the final four of the inaugural college football playoffs nine games later, creating an award-winning, Heisman-caliber QB who’s set new school records from a redshirt freshman back-up along the way – is outstanding.  It’s unprecedented.  You couldn’t have made this up nine games ago.

Minnesota’s Jerry Kill (collector of the trophy) couldn’t do that.  We will probably never see him do that.  And if we do, give it to him.  Sure, he improved his team, but isn’t that what coaches are paid to do??  I see nothing about Kill’s year that warrants it.  I see a good hire who did what he was supposed to.  And showed us some bad dancing and staged ice cream eating along the way.  Sure, we’re all very supportive and happy that your health issues did not affect you so horrifically this year, but if that’s our Coach of The Year, no wonder everyone laughs at the Big Ten.  I call BS.

And if you somehow missed it, Ohio State’s savior of a quarterback J.T. Barrett suffered a fractured ankle against Michigan.  He couldn’t finish The Game and after surgery on Sunday, his season is over.  He said his first thought was “Why now?”  Mine too, J.T.  Mine too.

barrett injuredAnd now, here we are.  Ohio State’s third punch in the throat in 2014 – the loss of not one but two Heisman-caliber quarterbacks and the albatross that is Virginia Tech.  And meanwhile they sit one spot away from making the playoffs.

 

osu wiskyBut the Big Ten Title Game is here.  On Saturday night, East Division’s 11-1 and 5th-ranked Ohio State takes on West Division’s10-2 and 13th-ranked Wisconsin.  And this one has major implications for the Buckeyes as they sit at #5 in the first four-team playoff rankings.

Third string QB Cardale Jones will be starting.  Jones has completed 11 of 19 passes in his entire college career for 121 yards.  He is a big guy at 6’5” and a powerful runner and actually recruited by Jim Tressel.  He has ridden the pine for three years, was meant to be the starter after Braxton but was surpassed in the depth charts by Barrett, and started his career with Urban Meyer rather tumultuously with Meyer once stating that Jones had a “one-way ticket back to Cleveland.”

This is his first start of his whole college career.  It’s just for the conference championship…No Big Deal.  It’s just the one thing that could take #5 Ohio State up one spot and land them in the College Football Playoffs.  No pressure.  And no one has any clue whether Cardale Jones is capable of it or not.  Though Barrett has a lot of confidence that he can.  “I honestly feel like if I wasn’t starting this year, Cardale would have done the same things I did this year.  Cardale is that talented.  He definitely can do it.”  (J.T. seems so too good to be true…love this kid.)

cardale

Welcome to the show, Cardale

Wisconsin is favored in this match-up.  The Bucks are the underdogs now and the Badgers are bringing a lot to the table.  They boast the #2 ranked defense in the nation.  Their star running back Melvin Gordon is a top Heisman candidate and is #1 in the country for rushing yards with 2,260 and has recorded 26 rushing touchdowns.  Gordon set an NCAA record against Nebraska this year, rushing for 408 yards in a single game.  And he is going to use this one as a case for his candidacy to win the Heisman and may be Ohio State’s biggest problem.  The Buckeyes don’t exactly have the best run defense.

Wisky’s QB Joel Stave is a good quarterback and game manager.  Bleacher Report perfectly sums him up as “solid but not spectacular.”  He’s not a strong passer, having completed 58.1% for 1,042 yards, 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.  He’s also not a big rusher, only attempting it nine times, resulting in minus-26 yards.

Since Cardale Jones is an inexperienced passer, OSU will probably rely on the run game.  And on Ezekiel Elliott and Jalen Marshall. (We could see Jalen in at QB…he was an All-State quarterback in high school and they may need him.)  Wisky is going to try really hard to confuse Jones and rattle him, and at this point no one knows if he can handle it.  I think Urban, the team and even the fans have a lot of confidence in Jones’ talent and skill – it’s his inexperience that makes this game nerve-wracking.

melvin

Watch out for Wisky’s Melvin G.

I expect an attempt at a big day for Gordon and a big challenge for the Bucks’ rush defense.  And I hope that all the talk of “underdogs” and “not going to win” and the idea of another B1G Title Game loss will fuel Ohio State to a big fat W.  I can’t even talk about style points or what to do to make sure they jump that one little spot into the playoffs.  Ohio State just needs to find a way to win.  And if they can find one, well, that shows just how impressive this team is and how much they deserve to be in the final four.

It’s hard to not see J.T. Barrett get to wrap up an incredible season, show everyone why he is an outstanding player and lead the Bucks to their first conference win since 2009.  (2010 had to be vacated. Bunk.)  But don’t give up yet, Buckeye Nation – this is a good TEAM.  You still have all of your offensive weapons and maybe another talented QB can allow those weapons to keep firing.  You still have Bosa and Bennett and a defense that has its magical moments.  Urban Meyer is still steering the ship.  And he hates to lose more than he loves to win.  We’re just going to have to see.  But don’t quit on ’em.

kosta

Kosta Karageorge

Now.  Let’s win this one for Kosta Karageorge.  May his soul rest in peace.

GO BUCKS!!

Category: NCAA, Uncategorized

About the author: Kristin Conrad is a college football-loving graduate of Ohio State – she bleeds Scarlet & Gray and considers the Varsity Club hallowed ground. A PR pro who just moved back to Columbus from Manhattan Beach, Chicago and NYC, she’s been happy to find that some of her favorite friends ever are from schools she used to hate and that nothing brings people together like sports does.

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