Big Ten slaps Gholston with one-game suspension

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Ahead of their huge Big Ten matchup with Wisconsin, and as expected, Michigan State has learned it will be without one of its top defensive players for the game.

In a release, the Big Ten announced that it — not the school, incidentally — has suspended defensive lineman William Gholston for one game based on his actions during the win over Michigan.  Why head coach Mark Dantonio or the athletic department didn’t pull a Miami and preemptively suspend Gholston for throwing a punch at a UM offensive lineman — or for violently twisting the facemask of a prone Denard Robinson — instead of forcing the conference to intercede remains unclear.

Officially, Gholston will be suspended “for violating the Big Ten Sportslike Conduct Agreement during Michigan State’s game against Michigan on Oct. 15, 2011.”  Here’s a portion of the conference’s release:

The Big Ten determined that Gholston’s actions at the end of the third quarter of the Michigan contest violated Big Ten Conference Agreement 10.01.1.A.1 – “Striking or attempting to strike or otherwise physically abusing an official, opposing coach, spectator or athlete.” The conference office also publicly reprimanded Gholston for his actions.

The Big Ten Sportslike Conduct Agreement states that “It shall be the responsibility of each member university to ensure that all of its students and all individuals employed by or directly associated with it comport themselves in a sportslike manner when representing their university, especially at intercollegiate athletic contests.”

While MSU’s athletic director said that his university is accountable and “takes a great deal of pride in vigorously promoting positive sportsmanship”, he also intimated that the player on the receiving end of Gholston’s right-hand cross should shoulder some of the responsibility for what led to the incident.

“Make no mistake; there is no place for a thrown punch in a football game,” Mark Hollis said in a statement. “At the same time, it was important to get beyond the two-second video clip. It is critical that we strive to reduce and eliminate the sporadic incidents that detract from the game. In order to do that, we all must understand, be accountable and manage the environment to reduce these types of reactions.”

The loss of Gholston could have a significant impact on a showdown rife with Big Ten implications.  Gholston is currently second on the Spartans in tackles for loss with seven, and is second among defensive linemen in tackles.  Sophomore Denzel Drone is listed as Gholston’s backup on MSU’s latest depth chart.

Gholston himself took the tack of his athletic director, attempting to shift some of the blame toward the UM lineman.

“I deeply regret momentarily losing my composure late in the third quarter of last Saturday’s game against Michigan,” Gholston said in his statement. “Although provoked, my response was inappropriate. Coach (Mark) Dantonio regularly reminds us that actions have consequences, and I will be better prepared to handle these circumstances in the future. I look forward to my reinstatement.”

Purdue QB David Blough cleared for spring practice

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In a stark change from most offseason news in the sport, Purdue has something positive personnel-wise to hang its hat on moving forward.

By way of the Indianapolis Star, head coach Jeff Brohm revealed Friday that David Blough is “way ahead of schedule” and has been cleared to participate in spring practice, which kicks off this coming Monday, for the Boilermakers.  Just how much of a participant the quarterback will be remains to be seen, though.

“He’s doing a great job and he will be out there at spring practice and will be participating,” Brohm said according to the Star. ‘Whether it will be fully that remains to be seen. He will be out there Day 1 and doing some portions of practice.

“We’ve got to make sure we protect him, especially in 11-on-11 settings. We’ll see how the first week goes if we can progress on that.”

Blough suffered a dislocated ankle in a November win over Illinois and missed the remainder of the 2017 season.  At the time of the injury, it was thought that it and the subsequent recovery process would keep the junior out of spring practice.

Blough had started the two games leading up to his season-ending injury, with Brohm confirming that the rising senior will be the starter as this offseason kicks off in earnest.  Elijah Sindelar, who reclaimed the starting job after Blough’s injury, will miss spring practice as he continues to recover from a torn ACL on which he played for the last month of the regular season plus the Boilermakers’ bowl game.

Illinois adds longtime NFL assistant; DC Hardy Nickerson given beefed-up title

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There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.

Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach.  Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.

“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”

Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season.  This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.

In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach.  Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.

Texas to give Todd Orlando raise to $1.7 million per year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: ‘Resource issues in ACC vs. SEC’

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.