Former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien is no longer under the governance of the NCAA, so he is as free as he has ever been to speak his mind about the situation Penn State’s football program is in. Speaking with NFL media at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday, O’Brien said it is ridiculous Penn State is currently serving a postseason ban.
“The fact that there is a bowl ban at Penn State, is ridiculous,” O’Brien said, according to the quote sheet provided by the Houston Texans. The quote came mixed in to a question about his decision to not leave Penn State without informing his players of the decision. O’Brien explained the team was on Christmas break because of the postseason ban, but he attempted to make contact with every player before leaving to be named the head coach of the Texans.
“I didn’t ever want to be somebody that just rode off in the middle night and never said a word,” O’Brien said. “I mean, I love those kids and had a great relationship with all those guys. I don’t know if I reached every one of them but I at least left a message for all of them.”
Penn State was issued a four-year postseason ban in the summer of 2012, just as O’Brien was getting prepped for his first season on the job in State College. The sentence was part of larger sanction parameters including a $60 million fine, significant reduction in football scholarships and the vacating of all wins dating back to the 1999 season. The landmark sanctions were dropped following the release of the Freeh Report, an investigative look at how the Jerry Sandusky crimes were handled by the university leadership in place, including former university president Graham Spanier and former head coach Joe Paterno. Penn State will enter the 2014 season, the first for new head coach James Franklin, with two full seasons remaining on the postseason ban.
The NCAA has already taken measures to restore football scholarships. Penn State jumped up to 20 available scholarships for the Class of 2014 and will return to the 25-scholarship limit in the Class of 2015. Penn State will be able to get back to a full-scholarship count by 2017. The decision to return scholarships was inspired by the latest annual report by George Mitchell to the NCAA, which complimented Penn State in acting on improvements within the structure of the university. If the NCAA is to make any other adjustments to the sanction terms in the event of another positive report from Mitchell later this year, a reduction in the postseason ban would appear to be the most likely possibility at this point.
Helmet sticker to Ben Jones of StateCollege.com.
Oklahoma State (3-2, 101 Big 12) had the look of a Big 12 contender Saturday afternoon against No. 22 Texas (2-2, 0-1 Big 12). It also looked like Texas still has a long way to go to play up to the level Charlie Strong would prefer in Austin. Oklahoma State and Texas played a wild second half with four lead exchanges, but it was the Cowboys who took control of the Big 12 contest in the second half en route to a 49-31 victory.
Mason Rudolph passed for 392 yards and three touchdowns without an interception for Oklahoma State. Jalen McCleskey was on the receiving end for 109 of those yards and two of the touchdowns and Justice Hill led the Oklahoma State ground game with 137 yards and a touchdown. Barry Sanders Jr. also contributed a touchdown on the ground. As a team, Oklahoma State rolled up 557 yards of offense and converted seven of 15 third down plays against Texas. The Longhorns have looked shabby on defense this season, and this was just the latest example of how far off Strong’s defense is from where he would like to see it.
Oklahoma State’s defense gave up some big plays and yards as well. Texas actually out-gained Oklahoma State with 568 yards, including an astounding 329 on the ground. But the Longhorns had the one turnover of the game and could not find a way to stop Oklahoma State every time it looked as though Texas could seize momentum.
Texas running back D'Onta Foreman was forced to leave the game with an injury in the third quarter. He went down without contact after taking a handoff, clutching his right rib and going down voluntarily before being touched by an Oklahoma State defender. Before his awkward exit, Foreman had rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Oklahoma State’s James Washington was also knocked out of the game following a big hit, but Gundy said after the game he expects Washington will be available next week.
This was Oklahoma State’s first home win against Texas since 1997. The Longhorns had won eight straight meetings in Stillwater. All but one of those wins had come by a double-digit margin. Oklahoma State will look to keep the good vibes going next week with another home game. This time, Iowa State comes to town after suffering a gut-wrenching loss at home this afternoon against Baylor. Iowa State blew a 14-point lead and lost on a game-winning field goal by the Bears.
It will not get easier next week for Texas as the Red River
Shootout Rivalry gets fired up in Cotton Bowl Stadium next week at the state fair in Dallas. Texas shocked Oklahoma last year, seemingly boosting Strong’s job security at least a little bit. Will he need some magic once again this season to defeat the Sooners?
No. 2 Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) opened its Big Ten schedule without giving up a point. J.T. Barrett tossed four touchdowns to become the school’s all-time passing touchdown leader and Mike Weber rushed for 144 yards and a score in a 58-0 victory over Rutgers (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) on Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
First year Rutgers head coach Chris Ash, a former Ohio State assistant, had the benefit of having some inside perspective on how Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer prepares his team. But Meyer had the benefit of having a stacked roster that could probably have gotten by with a fairly easy win if they juts used second and third-stringers against Rutgers. Rutgers did hang with Ohio State early on in the first quarter, including an interception of Barrett on Ohio State’s first offensive possession, but there was no matchup battle that wasn’t won by Ohio State the rest of the way.
At one point in the fourth quarter, Ohio State had 502 more yards of total offense than Rutgers. That included over 350 rushing yards. Ohio State also had 20 more first downs than Rutgers. It’s hard to pull an upset, or even sniff an upset, with that kind of box score.
There was a bit of a scare on the field for Rutgers this afternoon when linebacker Greg Jones was taken off the field on a stretcher and on a cart after apparently banging his helmet while attempting to make a tackle. He was taken to the hospital for further evaluation. Early indications appear to suggest Jones should be OK, as he has been communicating and moving his extremities.
Did we really learn anything from this game? No, probably not much. Ohio State was a heavy favorite over Rutgers anyway, and there was never much expectation Rutgers would make a game of this one. For Ohio State, it was just another week to get in gear, and they are certainly in gear. There is no team in the Big Ten as good as Ohio State. This is Ohio State’s conference to lose.
Ohio State will continue Big Ten play at home next week against Indiana. The Hoosiers host Michigan State Saturday night and have a knack for giving Ohio State some trouble in recent years, at least on offense. Rutgers will return home to host Michigan in a primetime game next week. Ohio State one week and Michigan the next? That’s juts cruel.
In what’s become an almost weekly occurrence, Illinois became the latest team to honor the life of Sam Foltz.
The Nebraska punter, along with former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler, were killed in a July car accident on their way home from a kick camp in Wisconsin. LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured in the wreck, but is kicking this season for the Tigers and honoring both by wearing special cleats.
The Big Ten announced earlier this week that, for the seven conference games in Week 5, a coin featuring Foltz on one side and Sadler on the other would be used in the pregame flip ceremony. As the Nebraska and Illinois captains met at midfield, Illini senior Michael Martin, after saying a few heartfelt words, handed his counterparts a signed Illini jersey with Foltz’s name on it.
With as much tumult and turmoil and negativity in and around the sport, these displays honoring Foltz have somewhat restored our faith in college football’s humanity.
Ahead of a huge Top 10 matchup, the Michigan football team has received a bit of inspiration from a pinstriped legend.
Derek Jeter, a Michigan high school graduate who signed with UM coming out of high school before embarking on what will end up being a Hall of Fame baseball career, has been somewhat of a fixture in and around the football program since the Wolverines became a part of Brand Jordan, a brand that Jeter also represents. Along with the brand’s namesake, His Airness Michael Jordan, Jeter was a part of the opener early this year at the Big House. He was at a star-studded National Signing Day event this year as well.
With No. 8 Wisconsin on tap, Jeter decided to leave a gift and, more importantly, a message in the locker of every single player on the fourth-ranked team in the country.
“It is my personal challenge to you all to remain humble, yet hungry, every day along this journey to achieving greatness,” a portion of Jeter’s note read.