Urban Meyer opened up at Big Ten Media Day, but will anyone listen?

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We’ve cited it before and we’ll cite it again: according to the New York Times, 31 players were arrested under Urban Meyer at Florida. Some of the arrests were of your basic boys-will-be-boys variety, while others were far more disturbing.

But by adding them all up, Meyer’s developed a bad reputation — fair or not — as a lenient coach who cares more about winning than discipline.

Speaking at Big Ten Media Day, Meyer didn’t even attempt to defend himself against the narrative that unfairly went to a new level with the arrest of former New England Patriots and UF tight end Aaron Hernandez.

I don’t worry about my reputation, I worry about my players,” Meyer said in response to one of several questions related to off-the-field headlines. In fact, there was only one question — one — about how the Buckeyes might perform as preseason national title contenders in 2013. The rest? They centered around Carlos Hyde, dealing with behavior problems, “turning in” Florida for a secondary recruiting violation, and the like.

Meyer had to know those questions were coming. He certainly conducted himself in a way that indicates he’d prepared for them. The second-year Buckeyes coach never got angry and he didn’t call out reporters. More importantly, he didn’t administer blame to anyone or play a victim. Perhaps the closest he came to that was admitting “It’s been a rough couple of days,” toward the beginning of his opening statement.

But that comment set Meyer’s tone for the entire Q&A. It was not one made out of martyrdom, but seemingly, openness. Meyer was reflective and anything but shy, with words like “evaluating” coming up more than a few times. There are plenty of qualities you can debate about Meyer, but he is unquestionably constantly looking for ways to improve.

Even, according to him, in the off-the-field department.

“I want to make sure our discipline is as hard or harder than anything out there,” Meyer said.

Critics can… and will… and already have… scoffed at that statement. But even if Meyer has evolved in his approach to player discipline — he says he has, and wondered aloud if he gave some players too many second chances — the narrative is so strong that few will likely change their opinion about him. That’s the reality that Meyer will deal with for the rest of his coaching days.

The only thing Meyer really can control is how he affects his players, something Nick Saban praised Bear Bryant for during SEC Media Days. The embattled Ohio State coach understands that as well as anyone.

“A head coach needs to set a standard, direct, push,” Meyer said. “But ultimately every person is responsible for the decisions they make.”

Including Aaron Hernandez.

Is Meyer guilty of giving some players one too many chances despite their poor decisions? Sure. Name a coach who isn’t (besides Nick Saban). As Meyer explains, it’s similar to dealing with his own children. Has his approach to off-the-field issues changed? We’ll find out soon enough. For all we know, Meyer may be yanking our collective chain. I would venture to guess that plenty of people think he is. And maybe they’re right.

But here’s something we do know Meyer is being truthful about:

“I’m a human.”

Billion dollar club: Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma named most valuable CFB programs

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Alabama is No. 1 in just about every college football poll… except one.

That would be the Wall Street Journal’s annual ranking of college football programs. While you might think that the paper gives Clemson the edge instead, you have to know that they are not examining teams’ performance on the field in 2017, but rather their overall evaluation. Much like Forbes does in ranking NFL franchise values, WSJ attempted to find out how much college football programs were worth and came to the conclusion that Ohio State reigns supreme in the sport with a nearly $1.5 billion sticker price.

The Buckeyes’ value shot up nearly 60% in just a year so you can thank a College Football Playoff appearance and that huge new Big Ten television package for boosting their bottom line. The WSJ came to the conclusion by citing a study performed by Ryan Brewer, an associate professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus.

Not far behind Ohio State and still in the billion dollar club were Big 12 rivals Texas and Oklahoma. The Longhorns were an annual mainstay atop estimates like this for years but the team’s recent malaise on the field seems to have held them back lately. While the SEC did not have a team crack the 10 figure mark (shockingly), the league did make up half of the top 10. All said, the most valuable conference in college football averaged nearly $523 million per team overall.

Here’s the overall top 10 teams and how much they’re worth per the report:

  1. Ohio State – $1,510,482,000
  2. Texas – $1,243,124,000
  3. Oklahoma – $1,001,967,00
  4. Alabama $930,001,000
  5. Louisiana State – $910,927,000
  6. Michigan – $892,951,000
  7. Notre Dame – $856,938,000
  8. Georgia – $822,310,000
  9. Tennessee – $745,640,00
  10. Auburn – $724,191,000

Boise State QB Brett Rypien cleared to play vs. Virginia, unclear if he’ll start

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Boise State got their starting quarterback back.  Whether he’ll be back to starting remains to be seen.

Bryan Harsin confirmed Wednesday that Brett Rypien has been cleared to play in Friday’s game against Virginia.  Rypien sustained a head injury in the first quarter of the Washington State loss in Week 2 and didn’t return, then was sidelined for the Week 3 win over New Mexico as well.

While there has been no confirmation from the school, it has been reported that Rypien sustained a concussion.

“Brett has been practicing, he’s been cleared,” the Broncos head coach said according to the Idaho Press Tribune. “He’s good. He’s been back in the mix and there’s no issue there.”

Left unsaid is whether he or Kansas transfer Montell Cozart will get the start against the Cavaliers.  In his first start for the Broncos, Cozart directed an offense that finished with its lowest yardage output (264) in five years.  Individually, Cozart produced solid stats in the win as he completed 15 of his 19 passes for 137 yards while adding 71 on the ground.  He also accounted for three touchdowns — two passing, one rushing.

Regardless of who starts, Harsin acknowledged that both Cozart and Rypien will play in the non-conference game.

Shawn Eichorst’s firing at Nebraska increases heat on Mike Riley

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If Mike Riley wasn’t feeling the pressure to win before, he certainly is now.

Thursday afternoon, Nebraska announced that Shawn Eichorst, the man responsible for firing Bo Pelini as head football coach and hiring Riley as his replacement, has been ousted from his position as athletic director at the university.  The move is effective immediately.

Eichorst was hired by NU in October of 2012, and still has $1.7 million remaining on a contract that runs through June of 2019.  The university will be responsible for paying Eichorst that entire amount.

“Shawn has led Nebraska Athletics in many positive ways, but those efforts have not translated into on-field performance,” chancellor Ronnie Green said in a statement. “Our fans and our student-athletes deserve leadership that drives the highest levels of competitiveness, as well as excellence across all facets of Husker Athletics.”

The fact that the chancellor mentioned lack of on-field performance should be especially worrisome for Riley.

The Cornhuskers won at least nine games in each of the seven seasons under Pelini.  His last two seasons, they finished a combined 18-7.  In Riley’s two-plus seasons, they’ve gone 16-13, including a 1-2 stumble out of the gate this year.

The move to fire Eichorst comes less than a week after Nebraska lost 21-17 to Northern Illinois at Memorial Stadium.

That loss marked NU’s first defeat at home to a Group of Five team since falling to Southern Miss in 2004.  That was the first year of the Bill Callahan reign in Lincoln, a season that would finish with a 5-6 record; that was the program’s worst since going 3-6-1 in 1961.

The NIU loss was also the first time, ever, that the Cornhuskers have lost to a team from the MAC, either at home, on the road or on a neutral field.

USC optimistic Uchenna Nwosu will play against Cal

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Already battered by injuries on defense, USC may have avoided what would’ve potentially been a significant loss on that side of the ball.

Uchenna Nwosu suffered a sprained MCL in his knee during USC’s double-overtime win over Texas in Week 3.  After being held out in the early part of the week, the linebacker, armed — or kneed as the case may be — with a brace, returned to practice Wednesday.

Afterward, head coach Clay Helton seemed optimistic about Nwosu’s availability for the Week 4 game against Cal, their first road trip of the season.

Nwosu is currently second on the team in tackles with 20, while his seven pass breakups rank second nationally.  He’s started the first three games of the season for the Trojans after starting every game in 2016.

That brings us to the end of the positive injury news portion of the program as fellow linebacker Porter Gustin is very unlikely to play against the Golden Bears.  Gustin, who leads the Trojans in sacks with three, has been dealing with a surgically-repaired big toe.  While it didn’t keep him out of the Texas game as expected, he was sidelined again at practice Wednesday.

Additionally, defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle) and slot cornerback Ajene Harris (knee) are questionable for the road trip to Berkeley after sitting out practice yet again.