Now that we know that it is possible to play a championship game of football outside in the cold elements, the idea is one that seems to be gaining traction in cold weather cities. Hosting a Super Bowl is the biggest ticket there is in the football world, but hosting a college football championship or a conference championship is not all that bad of a gig either. With Chicago making a push to one day host a Super Bowl, perhaps the Windy City could become a more ideal destination for the Big Ten Championship Game as well.
According to Pro Football Talk, Chicago is reviewing plans to potentially add 5,000 seats to Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears. The goal would be to make Soldier Field an attractive venue for a potential Super Bowl by increasing the seating capacity to a more desirable number for the NFL. But hey, if the whole Super Bowl thing does not work out, the Big Ten Championship Game could make a nice home in Soldier Field. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has suggested the conference is not glued to Indianapolis and that rotating between cities could be an option down the line. If that is the case, Chicago would easily be one of the top targets. The Big Ten is based in Chicago and can easily serve as the central point for the entire conference even with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers this year. The biggest obstacle in place would be the NFL schedule. Because Chicago has a natural grass field, hosting an extra game not involving the home town Bears does come with some mild concerns, but there are a number of stadiums that serve dual purposes for the NFL and college football even with a natural turf (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Tampa for example), so it can be done, especially for just one game.
The first three Big Ten Championship Games have been held in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The ability to host the game under a roof is an attraction for the Big Ten, but it takes the conference away from what is supposed to differentiate Big Ten football from other brands. Games being played in the elements in the fall are supposed to be what makes the Big Ten different, but playing the championship game inside gets away from the typical Big Ten image.
In 2012 the game attracted just 41,260 fans and in the first year the Big Ten was accused of paying people to fill seats. Last fall the Big Ten Championship Game welcomed 66,002 fans to watch Michigan State upset undefeated Ohio State. Would moving the game outdoor sin a larger city, that is supposedly much more convenient to travel to, have an impact on the future ticket sales of the game? Perhaps not as much as the game’s participants and the fan bases they would bring with them.
Ohio State will help pack the stadium no matter where the game is played. Michigan will as well. Perhaps Illinois or Northwestern would do their part if the game was played in Chicago, but there is evidence that would argue otherwise.
Duke may have beat Notre Dame over the weekend, but it lost one of its very best players for the season in the process.
Redshirt senior safety and kick returner DeVon Edwards suffered a torn ACL and torn MCL in his left leg Saturday, an injury that will end his college career.
In 44 games for the Blue Devils, Edwards returned six kicks for touchdowns and totaled 327 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 10 1/2 sacks, five interceptions, six forced fumbles, 21 pass breakups and eight quarterback pressures. Edwards also ran track for Duke in 2014 and 2015.
Duke has reached a bowl game every year since 2012, and will have to make it five in a row now without Edwards as well as quarterback Thomas Sirk, who’s out for the season due to a torn Achilles’.
On the bright side for Duke, running back Shaun Wilson picked up where Edwards left off and returned a kick 96 yards for a touchdown against Notre Dame.
Police have identified and arrested a 29-year-old Auburn, Ala. man after he allegedly set fire to one of the oak trees at the famous Toomer’s Corner.
Fans traditionally celebrate a Tigers victory by “rolling” the trees with toilet paper and did so once again on Saturday night following an 18-13 victory over LSU. However, video surveillance showed a suspect lighting some of the paper on fire, setting the tree ablaze as he walked away.
The Auburn city police department, in a release obtained by USA Today, stated that “witnesses at Toomer’s Corner identified a suspect, who was immediately detained and taken into custody by police on an unrelated charge of public intoxication.” Several reports identified the suspect as Jochen Wiest.
Firefighters quickly responded to the fire and extinguished the burning tree but university officials are still evaluating the damage to the oaks.
“From the ground we can easily see damage to the leaves and base of the tree. It is significant,” Professor of Horticulture Gary Keever said in a statement released by the school. “I expect the foliage will continue to drop. The full extent of damage may not be known for several weeks. The best case scenario would be to see a flush of new growth next spring, but right now it’s too early to tell how the tree will respond.”
The incident is all the more emotional for Auburn fans given that the tradition had just been revived this season following a three-year absence as a result of an Alabama fan poisoning the oaks. Hopefully the area around Toomer’s Corner can recover in time for the Tigers’ next win, which might be as soon as Saturday when they host Louisiana-Monroe.
Notre Dame has officially parted ways with embattled defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.
“This is a difficult decision,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn’t where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.”
Notre Dame has allowed 134 points through their first four games and are just 1-3 after extremely high preseason expectations. This was VanGorder’s third season in South Bend but the Irish have regressed significantly and ranked 101st in FBS scoring defense after Saturday’s home loss to Duke.
Defensive analyst Greg Hudson, a former Notre Dame linebacker who has served as defensive coordinator at Purdue, East Carolina and Minnesota, was elevated to fill VanGorder’s role.
“It’s never easy to make a change on your staff, but I’m confident in Greg’s ability to lead our defense,” Kelly added. “As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he’ll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms.”
The move to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball isn’t exactly surprising to Irish fans who have seen the team play this year but the timing is notable. Kelly remarked that the coaching was not the problem on defense after the loss to the Blue Devils but still opted to make a change on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if a very young defense will respond, and perhaps even rally, now that a big message has been sent.
Notre Dame plays Syracuse on Saturday at noon ET.
The firing season in college football is getting started earlier and earlier. Just ask Ron Turner.
The Florida International head coach was fired early Sunday in a move that was hardly surprising aside from its timing.
“I want to thank Coach Turner for his contributions to the FIU football program, most importantly his commitment to academics and community service,” athletic director Pete Garcia said in a short statement. “At this time Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper has been named interim head coach.”
Turner went 10-30 over four years at the school but was 0-4 to begin the season after a 53-14 loss to Central Florida last week. While he is far from the first coach fired in 2016, Turner did become the first head coach to be fired after the season got underway.
Cooper had a 45–55 record in nine seasons as a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. He was elevated to FIU’s defensive coordinator prior to the season and notably served as LSU’s defensive backs coach when Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu starred in Baton Rouge.
The Panthers are set to play local rival Florida Atlantic on Saturday.