Michigan State has been climbing a bit of an uphill battle on their way to a Big Ten championship last season. Always flying under the radar and playing with a chip on their shoulders, the Spartans opened some eyes last season by coming together to make a run for the Big Ten title by overcoming rough play early on, handing Ohio State their first loss under Urban Meyer and then shutting down Stanford in a defensive battle in the Rose Bowl. Now on top of the Big Ten, will the Spartans be able to stay there? If nothing else, quarterback Connor Cook is full of confidence heading in to the spring.
“Heading into 2014, our expectations are so high that I feel like anything less than a Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl would be a failure,” Cook told Bruce Feldman in an interview for CBSSports.com. “But it’s different now. I feel like we’re going to have more of a swagger heading into this season.”
Michigan State will be moving to a new division in the fall as the Big Ten expands. The Spartans will remain in the same division as in-state rival Michigan, but will also be in the fray with Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana and newcomers Maryland and Rutgers. The increased exposure in the east could not have come at a better time for the program as they currently hold the Big Ten’s title belt. And if they can get out of the Big Ten’s East Division, the odds may be pretty good they can play their way right back to Pasadena, or perhaps enter the College Football Playoff discussion.
“We won the Rose Bowl. We know what we’re capable of.,” Cook explained. “It’s everyone’s dream to win a national championship, and we feel like we can do that but you just have to take it one step at a time. The main goal at our program, which is what it is every year, is to win the Big Ten championship. If you win that, you’re in a BCS bowl. But it’s still the main goal is to win the Big Ten championship and then really everything else will take care of itself.”
Cook also discussed his trianing and how he is preparing for the upcoming season with Feldman, as well as a number of other topics. You can read the full interview on CBSSports.com.
Last week Florida head coach Jim McElwain confirmed Treon Harris will move from quarterback to wide receiver.
“Everybody has freedom, he doesn’t have to stay there,” McElwain said, via SEC Country. “But at the end of the day, look, we’re in this not here to hurt anybody’s feelings. But at the same time, it is what it is and we’ve got four guys who I’m really proud of. The room is really good and I’m excited about it.”
McElwain may not have wanted to hurt Harris’s feelings, but he may not have minded Harris taking a hint.
As first reported by Ryan Bartow of Gator Bait and later confirmed by the program, Harris has picked up what McElwain put down.
Harris, rated the No. 9 athlete nationally coming out of powerhouse Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, would have a myriad of options should he be open to playing a position other than quarterback. But, then again, if he wanted to play somewhere other than under center, one assumes he’d have stayed at Florida in the first place.
Florida’s leading returning passer — he completed 119-of-235 throws for 1,676 yards and nine touchdowns with six interceptions, good for a quarterback rating that placed 92nd nationally — Harris would have two years of eligibility remaining should he opt to remain at the FBS level.
Big Ten media days begin today — nominally a time of celebration, optimism and free food in the conference.
This year’s gathering will take on the direct opposite feel, at least at the start, as the conference continues to reel from the tragic passing of Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler.
Ahead of the event’s official opening, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany released this statement:
“We join the Nebraska and Michigan State communities in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families, teammates, coaches, administrators and friends who have been impacted by the tragic loss of Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler. While we are deeply saddened by their untimely loss, we also recognize the impact they had and the success they achieved as students, athletes, citizens and representatives of their respective communities and institutions. On behalf of the Big Ten, we greatly appreciate the enduring contributions made by these two young men, and our hearts go out to their families during this difficult time.”
Sadler concluded his Big Ten career in 2014 and was set to begin at Stanford Law School this fall. Foltz was still an active Husker.
Nebraska will skip this week’s festivities as it recovers from the beloved Foltz’s passing.
Iowa State senior cornerback Nigel Tribune was suspended indefinitely after he was arrested for OWI Sunday, according to the Des Moines Register.
Tribune, a former second-team All-Big 12 player, was pulled over in Ames just before 3 a.m. Sunday. From the Register’s story:
According to police, Tribune had watery and bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol. He performed and failed field sobriety tests. A preliminary breath test showed a result of over .08 — the legal limit.
“We are aware of the charges filed against Nigel and we are in the process of gathering more information,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said Sunday in a statement. “Nigel has been suspended indefinitely from the football team under the student-athlete code of conduct policy.”
Tribune, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., had 37 tackles and seven pass break-ups in 2015.
DeShaun Watson is back from last year’s College Football Playoff runner-up, and with that, there was little debate in the ACC media poll about who will repeat as conference champions in 2016.
Clemson, with 144 votes, was picked to repeat as ACC champions in the conference’s annual media poll. Florida State (39), North Carolina (seven) and Louisville (one) also received votes.
Watson, the Tigers’ junior quarterback, was picked to be the ACC Player of the Year with 164 votes. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook (18), North Carolina running back Elijah Hood (four), Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya (two), Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (two) and Duke cornerback/returner DeVon Edwards (one) also received player of the year votes.
Here’s how the voting broke down by division, with first-place votes in parentheses:
1. Clemson (148) – 1,293
2. Florida State (42) – 1,176
3. Louisville (1) – 961
4. NC State – 704
5. Boston College – 441
6. Syracuse – 426
7. Wake Forest – 347
1. North Carolina (121) – 1,238
2. Miami (50) – 1,108
3. Pitt (14) – 859
4. Virginia Tech (3) – 697
5. Duke (2) – 597
6. Georgia Tech (1) – 588
7. Virginia – 261