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.
The first month of the football season at Rutgers has had its share of off-field stories worth keeping an eye on, so the news on Tuesday that the university has hired Bond, Schoeneck & King, a law firm with a history of working on NCAA violation cases, is certainly a bit of an eye-opener. The NCAA is not, at this time, investigating Rutgers. Instead, this is a move to investigate a pair of concerns related to the football program so that they may be properly reported to the NCAA if and when needed.
“Rutgers has retained outside counsel with expertise in NCAA infractions to help identify any potential rules violations,” Rutgers senior vice president for external affairs Peter McDonough said in a report published by NJ.com. “This is an ongoing and rigorous process that helps us to identify any shortcomings, to self-report them as required by NCAA rules and to remedy them as best practices demand.”
According to the report from NJ.com, Rutgers is focusing on one allegation of an arrested player failing multiple drug tests while on the team and accusations related to the program’s ambassador program. The name of the former player was not identified in the report. The ambassador program has come into scrutiny following the evolving case related to wide receiver Leonte Carroo.
The hired firm tends to serve as a liaison with the NCAA, but Rutgers will be given a final copy of the firm’s investigation for review. If Rutgers determines any NCAA violations were commited as determined by the report, that information will be passed on to the NCAA. The information revealed or uncovered in the firm’s investigation will determine if the NCAA will have to do some of its own digging, or merely adopt the firm’s report at face value and decide on any appropriate punishment from there.
Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo could have a charge of simple assault dropped by a New Jersey court today. The woman he is accused of slamming to the concrete has agreed to drop the restraining order request and has asked the assault charge against the Rutgers receiver be dropped as well. NJ.com reports today the woman and Carroo each appeared in a family court on Tuesday, and the woman told the judge she is not scared of Carroo.
So, what does this mean for football? Simply put, it means Carroo may be eligible to play again as soon as this weekend. That would be good timing, as Rutgers is set to host Michigan State this Saturday night.
Carroo has been sitting out while serving an indefinite suspension while this legal process plays out. Carroo has missed each of the last two games for Rutgers, against Penn State and Kansas. Rutgers was off this past weekend. If this legal process does play out as it is expected at this point, Carroo could be reinstated quickly and promptly, making him eligible to return right away. Carroo is one fo the best players on the roster, so having him back and eligible to play is very good news for the Scarlet Knights offense.