Iowa v Nebraska

Nebraska developing new concussion test for sideline use


A significant amount of time and energy has been spent in the past couple of years when it comes to the issue of player safety, and specifically, head injuries.

The University of Nebraska has taken an important and interesting step forward on that subject. The university’s Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior (CB3) has been working on an electrode-covered mesh cap that would act as a functioning MRI on the sidelines. CB3 director Dennis Molfese says the mesh cap, which measures brain waves and can tell within minutes if a player is okay to return to the field or not, is still another one to two years away from use.

The device has gotten the attention of the NCAA as well.

“There are a lot of things that are very important with the NCAA as far as the health and safety of the student-athlete,” NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline said in an interview with the Associated Press, “and concussion is right up there as first and foremost. It’s the elephant on the table, and we, with everyone else, we have to solve it.”

Solutions have been hard to come by. Game rules have been changed to penalize targeting, but that only solves a part of the larger problem.

What Nebraska is doing is fantastic, but the university can’t be alone in taking the lead on these steps and a conference like the Pac-12 can’t be the only one limiting the amount of contact in practice. Concussions are a sports problem, not a Nebraska problem, so the responsibility for member-wide research and, most importantly, practical application falls under the NCAA’s umbrella.

College athletics’ governing body understands that and the NCAA Concussion Task Force was created for that very reason. The problem, as with most NCAA-related items, is the time it takes to accomplish, well, anything. Even getting third party physicians on the sideline could take a while. Still, all athletes have the right to access to the best doctors and equipment possible. They only get one brain, after all.

Wisconsin announces 10-year agreement with Under Armour

Joel Stave
Associated Press

What has long been rumored became fact Friday, as Wisconsin announced a 10-year agreement with Under Armour.

“I am absolutely thrilled about our new partnership with Under Armour,” AD Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “Kevin Plank and his team have established a brand that fits perfectly with the Wisconsin athletics story and culture. Our primary focus at Wisconsin is, of course, our student-athletes, and Under Armour’s passion and commitment to high quality and innovation will benefit our student-athletes for years to come. Our entire department is looking forward to a long and mutually productive relationship with the Under Armour team.”

The new deal will pay the Badgers a total of $7 million in cash and product in 2015-16 and is valued at $96 million over the life of the contract, good for second in the Big Ten, trailing only Nike’s new contract with Michigan.

Hidden within the contract are two nuggets that UA offered to sway the Badgers away from Adidas, from the Portland Business Journal:

Wisconsin will get as much as $500,000 from Under Armour to “rebrand” athletic facilities. It’ll get $150,000 to build out an Under Armour retail space in a campus gift shop called Bucky’s Locker Room. It also gets two summer internships for students at Under Armour’s Baltimore headquarters.

“The University of Wisconsin is an institution built on the highest values of academic excellence, and we are extremely proud to be teaming up with one of the most vibrant, distinctive and successful athletic programs in the country to help elevate the performance of all Badgers with innovative footwear and apparel,” added Plank.

Wisconsin’s departure continues to weaken the stronghold Adidas had built in the Midwest after losing Michigan to Nike and Notre Dame to Under Armour in recent years (the company still owns apparel rights for Indiana and Nebraska). The Badgers are now the 41st Division I athletics department and 17th FBS program to join UA.

Video: There’s nothing wrong with Cardale Jones

Getty Images

In the minds of some in the media and even more in the fan base, Ohio State in general and Cardale Jones specifically have been underwhelming through the first five games of the 2015 season.

Jones, in particular, has been a rather large target of much of the angst.  Coming off a Cinderella-like three-game postseason run that helped OSU to a national championship, the perception is that Jones has been underwhelming and underperforming; even head coach Urban Meyer appeared to be leaning in that direction as he considered making the switch to J.T. Barrett prior to the Western Michigan win before reaffirming his commitment to the redshirt junior.

Is that perception valid?  Statistically, he’s not that far off from where he was in the 2014 postseason, at least in a couple of categories.

He’s completing 61.3 percent of his passes this season compared to 59.4 percent in the games against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon.  It was 9.9 yards per attempt in that three-game stretch last season, 8.2 in five games this season.  When it comes to scoring and turning the ball over, however, that’s another matter entirely.

He threw a touchdown pass every 15 pass attempts in the 2014 postseason; this season, it’s one every 21 attempts.  Even more glaring, he’s currently throwing an interception every 21 attempts as well.  During the run that made him a household name, it was one pick every 37.5 throws.

So, fewer touchdowns plus more turnovers equals validation of the angst, right?  Not so fast, at least as far as the college arm of Pro Football Focus goes.