Jim Delany

Updated: Big Ten’s working plan on Penn State ‘just one of many ideas’


Those wishing Penn State to be kicked out of the Big Ten for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, you’re allowed to get excited for about 10 seconds. Then you’ll have to come back to reality.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education (which requires a subscription to read), Big Ten leaders are considering a series of proposals in an 18-page plan prompted by the current situation at Penn State. Among the ideas being thrown around include removing the university from the conference.

Currently, the league’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors must approve any decision to suspend, expel, or place any member on probation. The Big Ten handbook requires at least a 60 percent vote for expulsion, though a Big Ten spokesperson told the Chronicle that number will increase to 70 percent (or, eight members) for 2012-13. If a recommendation is made to expel a member, that institution would have to show cause why it should not be expelled.

To vote Penn State out of the Big Ten would be unlikely, but the fact it’s reportedly being considered is some serious stuff nonetheless.

Additionally, the plan would also allow Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany to enforce financial penalties, suspensions, or fire individual athletic officials, including coaches, should their actions merit it.

News of the proposal comes days after NCAA president Mark Emmert said he would not rule out any punishment against PSU, though he doesn’t have the authority to do anything himself. Interim university president Rodney Erickson said the school will respond to NCAA requests for more information within the next week.

Updated 3:45 p.m.: In an email obtained by the Associated Press from Big Ten headquarters, the idea of a plan giving Jim Delany the authority to punish or outright fire an athletic individual is simply that — an idea —  and not finalized.

“It is a working document intended to generate ideas, not draw conclusions,” according to the email. “One provision in the document addresses `emergency authority of the commissioner’ – it is just one of many ideas.”

The Big Ten did not officially comment on the matter to the AP, though.

The statement corroborates how this 18-page plan should have been viewed to begin with: a discussion of last resorts for extreme cases. If Delany and Big Ten presidents agree to fire an athletic individual — if they’re actually given the go-ahead to do so, that is  — it has to be over actions that  “significantly harm the league’s reputation”, and that’s assuming the member institution hasn’t already taken action.

Same idea applies with expelling an institution. It would seem there would not only need to be a cause worthy of expulsion, but an equally blatant disregard for any kind of self-discipline by the university.

The Big Ten is doing what it should: addressing a case of institutional failure on an astonishing scale.

Not everybody seems happy about USC’s hiring of Clay Helton

Clay Helton

If there is one thing that can be said about USC hiring Clay Helton as head coach on a permanent basis, it is that it provides stability for the program moving forward. Current players have responded well to Helton. Future Trojans players are responding well to Helton on the recruiting trail. Former USC players? Well, that’s a different situation.

We saw some of this at Miami in recent years with former Hurricanes ripping now former head coach Al Golden. That was a bit of a different situation with Golden being a coach that went against the grain of all that was perceived to be representative of The U. Helton is different because he has been loyal to the program as an assistant coach during a turbulent time. He at least deserves respect of those following and those who have played for USC for that alone. The problem is Helton lacks the kind of appeal most wearing USC lenses expect from their coaching hire and it seems more likely to believe athletics director Pat Haden settled for Helton instead of being able to expand the coaching search and bring in a high-quality coach for the job.

There is one way to swing the emotions the other way for those unhappy with the decision. If USC beats Stanford to win the Pac-12 championship this week, that would be one step in the right direction for the Helton haters and the Haden skeptics (myself included). The pressure will be on more next season regardless of what happens this week in the Pac-12 championship game and whatever bowl game USC ends up playing. USC will be loaded with talent and will be a trendy pick to make a run in the Pac-12 and, perhaps, even the College Football Playoff.

USC names Clay Helton permanent head coach

Clay Helton

The top coaching vacancy in college football has been filled. USC has announced it will remove the interim tag from Clay Helton and make him the permanent head coach moving forward.

Helton has gone 5-2 since taking over the program following the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian as head coach. The most recent win this weekend against UCLA both snapped a three-game losing streak to the crosstown rival Bruins and clinched USC’s first trip to the Pac-12 championship game as Pac-12 South Division champions. Helton has been with the USC program since 2010 under various assistant roles. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013 and named interim head coach that season following the firing of Lane Kiffin. He stayed on the staff following the hiring of Sarkisian from Washington.

Helton had become a clear player favorite in the program, as Helton calmed a troublesome environment of uncertainty in the middle fo the season and delivered a division championship. The only losses under Helton came on the road against Notre Dame in Helton’s first game as interim head coach and more recently at Oregon, a program that revived itself as well. If nothing else, Helton’s being named the head coach provides for some stability for the program, although there should be some questions moving forward whether it will be the right move or not in the long term. The USC job was thought to be the top job on the market and worthy of some high-caliber candidates. There had been rumblings USC reached out to Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, a former Oregon coach of course, but the odds Kelly was going to leave the Eagles on his own a year after getting general manager power were always low.

USC will continue to bring plenty of pressure to win, and win big. Helton will continue to guide a roster packed with talent and getting back to full strength after a stretch of sanctioned seasons. If Helton does not win, he will quickly enter the hot seat conversation.

USC plays Stanford for the Pac-12 championship this week.

Will Mark Richt coach again? “Oh yeah, no doubt”

Mark Richt

On Sunday the end of the line for Mark Richt at Georgia was finally reached. The Bulldogs and the head coach will go separate ways after a 15-season run in Athens, but this will not be the final stop for Richt as a head coach. On Monday, during a press conference with the media to address the coaching change, Richt was asked whether he will coach again.

“Oh yeah, no doubt,” Richt said in his response. “I’m going to listen to anybody that’s interested in talking to me,” Richt said when again asked about what’s next for the now former head coach of Georgia.

The press conference with Richt was a bit unusual for these types of settings. First, Richt continued to show his Georgia pride by wearing a black coat and red tie and had a Georgia pin on his coat. Second, he sat right next to Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity, who offered no insight whatsoever on what’s next for Georgia. When asked about the coaching search or the status for assistants, McGarity continued to shift the focus on Richt.

Richt expressed his enthusiasm for getting to coach one final game for Georgia. He will coach Georgia’s bowl game, wherever that may be, giving him one last chance to end a season with a bowl victory, which he has done nine times previously.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.