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CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: Big Ten Predictions

Purdue v Wisconsin AP

As the 2014 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the Big Ten. 

And while we’re at it, check out our CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository for our team’s looks at the upcoming season.

BIG TEN EAST

1. Michigan State (Last year: 13-1; beat Stanford in Rose Bowl)
Michigan State will have the best defense in the Big Ten, despite losing some key players from 2013. Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will figure out how to get the most out of his defense and players like defensive end Shilque Calhoun and safety Kurtis Drummond will help make that task easier. The defending champs will be unlikely to start so slow on offense this season, as they did in 2013, with quarterback Connor Cook back and seasoned (and most importantly, confident). Michigan State’s offense should be balanced and reliant on the run with Jeremy Langford coming off 1,422 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Getting Ohio State at home is key as far as Big Ten play is concerned, but a week two trip to Oregon could keep the Spartans playing catch-up in the playoff discussion from the start.

2. Ohio State (Last year: 12-2; lost to Clemson in Orange Bowl)
Here’s the thing with Ohio State. With or without quarterback Braxton Miller, Ohio State may still be the best team in the Big Ten this season, but with Miller lost for the entire season the idea of Ohio State running through the regular season unscathed becomes much less likely. In a season that was expected to be layoff or bust, the Buckeyes may have already gone bust, but this is still a talented team that could be favored in every game of the season, with the likely exception of a road trip to East Lansing in early November. JT Barrett will take over under center, lacking much experience and with a fraction of the potential of a healthy Miller, but the Buckeyes will find some ways to make it work. Afterall it is not as though the rest of the roster is lacking for players ready to leave their mark. Look for Ohio State to get a bit tougher on defense this season, with Michael Bennett anchoring the defensive line and Noah Spence on the edge after serving a suspension.

3. Michigan (Last year: 7-6; lost to Kansas State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl)
Is this the year Brady Hoke turns the Michigan trends back in his favor? Only a handful of players on the roster now were not recruited by his staff, so his stamp is officially on this Michigan football program. The addition of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier comes with high expectations for improving the offense, which was dismal at times in protecting quarterback Devin Gardner and protecting the football. This was a team on the brink of losing at home to Akron but a play away from taking out Ohio State. You try figuring this Michigan team out. Moving tight end Devin Funchess to wide receiver was needed to improve the receiving position and should work well, and the running backs look to improve as well. Michigan’s defense is in the most in need of improving, cutting down on big plays allowed being the biggest concern. Adding star recruit Jabrill Peppers at defensive back could give a boost in that area.

4. Penn State (Last year: 7-5)
The James Franklin era gets underway with great enthusiasm but lingering concerns over roster depth. Penn State will have the talent at positions to do some good things and win a game they probably shouldn’t along the way (Ohio State and Michigan State at home?), but the depth concerns to lose a game they probably should not (Indiana in Bloomington, again?). The light at the end of the tunnel is there for Penn State, which is good news. Penn State also has one of the best young quarterbacks in the nation with sophomore Christian Hackenberg. Offensive line concerns are legitimate of course, as they have been for years, but if Hackenberg stays healthy the offense can be effective. The defense on the other hand, could use some playmakers and some more brute force up front to bring pressure on opposing QBs and close down running lanes.

5. Maryland (Last year: 7-6; lost to Marshall in Military Bowl as ACC member)
Maryland receives no favors on the schedule in their debut season as a member of the Big Ten, but the Terrapins join the new conference with possibly the best wide receiver unit in the conference. Stefon Diggs has the ability to break open a big play at any moment, and he plays in a division that sees some weaknesses in secondaries all over (except Michigan State). And do not forget about Levern Jacobs and Deon Long. Maryland’s biggest concern is keeping quarterback C.J. Brown upright to be able to get those receivers the football. The defense hit walls against explosive offenses in 2013 but returns a good number of upperclassmen, which is usually nice. A fourth-place finish is not all that unrealistic, but probably a reach for Maryland in 2014.

6. Indiana (Last year: 5-7)
The Hoosiers have an offense that is capable of giving every team in the Big Ten some fits. Credit head coach Kevin Wilson for making that happen since he arrived in Bloomington, but the defense is not a unit that will cause much fear on a weekly basis. The Hoosiers averaged 38.4 points per game last season, but the defense allowed 38.8 points per game. If the defense can just improve a little bit, then the Hoosiers should be seriously thinking about making plans for a postseason bowl game. It could be a rough start with the schedule though with road games at Bowling Green and Missouri. Getting to six wins may be a reach for Indiana unless they can get off to a good start. Running back Tevin Coleman could become one of the top running backs int he Big Ten.

7. Rutgers (Last year: 6-7; lost to Notre Dame in Pinstripe Bowl)
Rutgers is going to have a tall mountain to climb in year one in the Big Ten. Rutgers must go on the road to Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan State and hosts Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Getting to six wins to return to the postseason is a reach for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers does add Ralph Friedgen as offensive coordinator, which should result in some better scheming and preparation, but Gary Nova is still the best option at quarterback and Rutgers has lost some key players over the last couple of years. Experience is thin. The defense could be picked apart by most teams n the schedule, which should be a constant area of focus for Rutgers.

BIG TEN WEST

1. Wisconsin (Last year: 9-4; lost to South Carolina in Capital One Bowl)
The Badgers fell shy of playing for yet another Big Ten championship last season, but now in a new division it looks as though Wisconsin has the easiest road to travel back to Indianapolis this fall. The Badgers will be led by one of the top running backs in the country, Melvin Gordon, and have a schedule worthy of legitimate playoff consideration if things go their way. A season-opening game against LSU in Cowboys Stadium is far from impossible and a home game against Bowling green should deserve more respect than it may get. Avoiding Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State in crossover games is nice too. On offense there is a need to see some players step up to support Gordon and quarterback Joel Stave needs to be a bit more consistent. The defense will be good, not great, but needs to find a way to create more turnovers in 2014.

2. Iowa (Last year: 8-5; lost to LSU in Outback Bowl)
The Hawkeyes may not dazzle with their style of play, but it should be effective enough to make a realistic run to an appearance in the Big Ten championship game. The Hawkeyes are anchored on the offensive line by left tackle Brandon Scherff and the rest of the line should do well in creating space for running back Mark Weisman. Iowa’s offense is designed to win some ugly games, and the defense should be capable of allowing for that to happen. Defensive tackle Carl Davis will lead the way up front along with defensive end Drew Ott. Iowa allowed just 18.9 points per game last season. The most challenging game on the schedule before late November may be a road game at Pittsburgh, but Iowa ends the regular season with Wisconsin and Nebraska at home on back-to-back weeks, with the division potentially on the line and Iowa in control of its own path.

3. Nebraska (Last year: 9-4; beat Georgia in Gator Bowl)
Nebraska will also have one of the top running backs in the Big Ten and the nation with Ameer Abdullah, but the Cornhuskers have some work to do in improving the supporting cast to become a top contender in the Big Ten. The Huskers will have some help on the defense with Randy Gregory entering the season as one of the top defensive ends in the conference, but Nebraska’s defense is a long time removed from the great defenses of the past. Bo Pelini‘s team has been consistent with the win total, but inconsistent on a game-to-game basis at times. With road games at Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa, it looks like Nebraska could be staring at another nine-win season.

4. Minnesota (Last year: 8-5; lost to Syracuse in Texas Bowl)
Head coach Jerry Kill has done a tremendous job with building something at Minnesota, but the bar may have been reached by the Gophers for now. Minnesota needs to see big leaps from multiple positions in order to make a run at a top three finish in the west division. Minnesota needs consistency out of the quarterback position from Mitch Leidner. Running back David Cobb should help take some pressure off Leidner, but there will be a time when Minnesota needs a big third-down completion. The schedule is a challenge as well, with a road game at TCU and back-to-back road games in conference play at Nebraska and Wisconsin to end the regular season.

5. Northwestern (Last year: 5-7)
The Wildcats were a trendy pick by many in the west division throughout the offseason, but the late departure of Venric Mark and the loss of wide receiver Christian Jones will take a big toll on Northwestern’s offense, which was to be the strength of the team for head coach Pat Fitzgerald. That is a lot of offensive production lost by the Wildcats, and that does not even account for a new full-time starting quarterback in Trevor Siemian. Fortunately, Siemian is not without some experience in this offense without Mark, with Treyvon Green playing a solid role last fall. On defense, linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo will rack up the tackle numbers but the rest of the defense can be exposed and the special teams break in a new kicker and punter.

6. Illinois (Last year: 4-8)
What will save head coach Tim Beckman? Three years in, Illinois needs to make a push for a postseason game if the heat is going to be turned down on Beckman’s job security. To get there, the Illini defense needs to improve in a hurry. The Illinois defense was shredded routinely last season and the offense was unable to keep up. Adding quarterback Wes Lunt after sitting out the 2013 season should help stabilize the offense, and should help the Illini keep up with the opposition, but the defense needs to find away to come up with some turnovers after not being able to last fall. re there six wins on the schedule? Yes, but it will be a battle to get there until the defense starts showing signs of improvement.

7. Purdue (Last year: 1-11)
There is nowhere to go but up for Purdue, hopefully. A trip to the postseason is a dream at this point, but the Boilermakers should make some improvements this fall. Head coach Darrell Hazell is in year two and the team should be starting to find its identity. On offense, Purdue managed just 14.9 points per game last season and the defense allowed 38.0 points per game. What should the realistic goal for Purdue be in 2014? Getting an extra touchdown per game and cutting one on defense would be a nice way to go. It still will not result in a winning season, but it would be a huge step in the right direction.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTION
Michigan State over Wisconsin

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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Key offensive Sooners should be ready for Russell Athletic Bowl

Samaje Perine

With the bowl season about the get started, Oklahoma is optimistic about the status of three key players on offense. Quarterback Trevor Knight, running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Sterling Shepard are all expected to be available to play for the Sooners when they face Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Head coach Bob Stoops provided the optimistic update of his three main offensive ingredients on Wednesday. Knight was cleared to play in the bowl game last week. That has been the plan for a while, since Knight was knocked out of a game against Baylor in early November. Knight has missed playing time due to a neck injury, but a return for the bowl game was always the goal. Nothing appears to have changed on that front, and that is good news for Oklahoma.

Perine has been working through a sprained ankle that was suffered in Oklahoma’s regular season finale loss to Oklahoma State. The star freshman running back led the Sooners with 1,579 rushing ards and 21 touchdowns this season.

Shepard is one of Oklahoma’s top wide receivers. He has been out of action since suffering a groin injury on November 1. Shepard leads Oklahoma with 957 receiving yards and five touchdowns despite the injury slowing him down at times.

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Former winners Swinney, Patterson two of 12 finalists for Dodd Trophy

David Cutcliffe, Bill Curry

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and TCU’s Gary Patterson claimed the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Trophy in 2011 and 2009, respectively.  In 2014, both coaches are up for the same honor yet again.

Tuesday evening, the Dodd Trophy released its list of 12 finalists for this season’s version of the trophy.  Five of the dozen finalists coach in the SEC, with the ACC and the Big 12, with two apiece, the only other conferences with more than one finalist.

Three of the four coaches whose teams earned a spot in the College Football Playoff made the cut: Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban.  The only playoff coach left out”  Oregon’s Mark Helfrich.

Of the 12 finalists, 11 hail from Power Five conferences.  The lone exception was Boise State’s Bryan Harsin.

Last year’s winner was Duke’s David Cutcliffe.  The winner of the 2014 Dodd Trophy will be announced in Atlanta during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl week.

2014 Dodd Trophy Finalists

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Report: Oregon fears Ifo Ekpre-Olomu sustained serious knee injury

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

When it comes to the first-ever College Football Playoff, this could turn into a significant development.

According to Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports, Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu sustained what’s believed to be a serious knee injury during practice Tuesday. Getlin writes that the “[c]oncern [is] it’s a torn ACL.”  Aaron Fentress of CSNNW.com subsequently confirmed the original report, adding that the player is “done for the playoffs.”

UO officials have yet to address Ekpre-Olomu’s status moving forward. The fear is, though, is that the senior will miss the CFP semifinal matchup in the Rose Bowl with Florida State.

If that were to happen, it’d serve as a significant blow to the Ducks.

Ekpre-Olomu was recently named first-team All-Pac-12, the third consecutive year its been accorded that honor, as well as a first-team Associated Press All-American. He’s started 40 straight games for the Ducks, and is viewed as a likely first- or second-round selection in next year’s NFL draft.

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Former ‘Bama RB Alvin Kamara officially a Vol

Alvin Kamara

In June, Alvin Kamara verbally committed to continue his collegiate career at Tennessee.  Six months later, the running back followed through on that verbal pledge.

Wednesday, UT confirmed that Kamara has signed with the Vols.  Today is the first day junior college players can sign with FBS programs; Kamara spent the 2014 season at the JUCO level.

It was confirmed in January of this year that Kamara would be transferring from Alabama after just one season.  During that one year in Tuscaloosa, Kamara racked up more suspensions (two) than carries (zero).  In February, Kamara was arrested on multiple misdemeanor traffic offenses.

Coming out of Norcross, Ga., as a four-star recruit, Kamara was rated as the No. 2 all-purpose back in the country in the Class of 2013.  He’s rated as a four-star prospect this go-around too.

Prior to settling on Tennessee, Kamara had also shown interest in Clemson and Georgia.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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USC will go bowling without starting DT Antwaun Woods

Colorado v USC Getty Images

An injury will leave USC’s defensive line at less than 100-percent for the postseason.

According to the Orange County Register, Antwaun Woods sustained what was originally described as a strained pec during practice this past Saturday.  However, the injury was more than a simple strain as Woods posted a picture of himself on Instagram laying in a hospital bed.

“Fresh outta surgery, I told Coach I’m ready to play, I got too much heart for this s***! I promise I’ll be back even stronger than before!” Woods wrote on the social media website.

Woods surgery

Despite saying he’s “ready to play,” the redshirt junior nose tackle is expected to miss the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl against Nebraska.

This season, Woods started 10 of the Trojans’ 12 games after starting six in 2013 and four in 2012.  He’s currently third among USC lineman in tackles with 37.

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North Texas hires Chris Cosh as DC

Chris Cosh

Lil’ Ben, this post’s for you.

At the end of the 2014 season, John Skladany retired as North Texas’ defensive coordinator.  A couple of weeks later, Dan McCarney has his replacement as UNT announced that Chris Cosh has been hire to take over the Mean Green defense.

Cosh spent the 2014 season as the University of Buffalo’s defensive line coach.

“Chris has a tremendous blend of experience and success and comes highly recommended by some of the most respected football coaches at both the collegiate and professional levels,” the head coach said in a statement. “He has a proven track record as a coordinator and linebacker coach in the Big Ten Conference, the SEC and the Big 12 and his reputation as a tireless recruiter precedes him. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Chris to the Mean Green family.”

Cosh has served as a coordinator for 16 of his 30 seasons in coaching, including time at Kansas State, Maryland, South Carolina, Michigan State, Illinois and USF.

(Photo credit: Buffalo athletics)

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Travin Dural puts off NFL, will return to LSU

Travin Dural, Brian Poole

More so than any other football program of late, LSU has been hit hard by early departures to the NFL.  At least on one front this year, however, the Tigers were spared such a hit.

In a conversation with Baton Rouge television sports reporter Michael Cauble Tuesday, Travin Dural confirmed that he will forego early entry into the NFL draft and return to LSU for another season.  A redshirt sophomore, Dural would be eligible for early entry into the NFL draft as he’s three years removed from high school.

LSU has lost 16 players to early entry the last two years, but, as noted by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the NFL has somewhat tweaked its procedures for this year’s class.

A maximum of five players from each school will receive a draft grade [from the NFL’s advisory panel] and the grades will be of three types: first round, second round or to return to school.

Regardless of the why, Dural’s return is a significant one.

In 2014, Dural was far and away the Tigers’ leader in receptions (37) receiving yards (758) and receiving touchdowns (seven).  The next closest was Trey Quinn‘s 17 catches and Malachi Dupre‘s 318 yards.

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Colorado State to interview UGA OC Mike Bobo for vacancy

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When it comes to Mike Bobo, the Georgia faithful has a love-hate relationship — a sizable chunk of them love to hate him.  Depending on how things go over the next few days, though, they might not have the offensive coordinator to kick around anymore.

Tuesday, speculation began bubbling just below the surface that Bobo was potentially a candidate to fill the head-coaching vacancy at Colorado State.  That speculation surfaced again Wednesday, with UGA athletic director Greg McGarity confirming that Bobo will interview for the CSU job.

Bobo informed head coach Mark Richt of the impending interview Tuesday, with Richt informing McGarity later that day.  Per 247Sports.com, “Bobo’s contract requires him to make higher-ups aware of legitimate interest from other employers.”

For those excited about a potential Bobo departure, you might want to tap the brakes on the excitement.

Bobo, a former Bulldog quarterback, has been a part of Richt’s staff since 2001.  At first solely the quarterbacks coach, Bobo was promoted to coordinator in 2007.

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Oliver Luck stepping down as WVU AD, taking job at NCAA

Colorado Rapids v Houston Dynamo Getty Images

In October of 2013, Oliver Luck was reportedly the top target for Texas in its search for a new athletic director.  While West Virginia held onto its athletic director then, it appears there’s no such luck, so to speak, this time around.

According to Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail, Luck will step down as WVU’s athletic director to take a position with the NCAA.  In confirming Casazza’s report, ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy tweeted that “Luck’s new position at NCAA will be second in command behind NCAA President Mark Emmert.”

An official announcement is expected at some point today.

Luck was hired by WVU in June of 2012, coming back to his alma mater from the private sector.  In the late seventies and on into the early eighties, Luck played quarterback for the Mountaineers.

Andrew Luck, Oliver’s son, is the starting quarterback of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.  As luck would have it, the NCAA’s offices are located in the city of Indianapolis.  Whether that had any impact on the elder Luck’s decision is unknown.

The impact of Luck’s departure won’t be limited solely to WVU. This year, Luck was one of the 12 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee.  Each of the Power Five conferences have one current athletic director on the committee; because of Luck’s new position, the Big 12 will be forced to find a replacement for 2015.

Look for Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione‘s name to be mentioned heavily in that capacity.

UPDATED 11:01 a.m. ET: The NCAA confirmed in a press release that Oliver Luck has been named as the executive vice president of regulatory affairs. The newly-created position is described as bringing “the national office regulatory functions – academic and membership affairs, the Eligibility Center and enforcement – under one umbrella.” “In particular,” the release stated, Luck “will be charged with developing stronger integration among regulatory staffs, improving efficiency and strengthening relationships with NCAA colleges and universities.”

“I am very pleased to have Oliver joining our team in the national office,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “He brings to us wide ranging, hands-on experience from across athletic, academic, and business worlds. Most important, his commitment to the success and well-being of our student-athletes is unquestionable. He has demonstrated that commitment on the ground and throughout his life. I’m anxious for him to get started with us.”

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San Diego State OC Bob Toledo to retire after bowl game

Bob Toledo stands with his team

A coaching career that began nearly a half a century ago is set to come to an end.

At a press conference Tuesday, San Diego State offensive coordinator Bob Toledo announced that he will be retiring at season’s end. Toledo’s last game will be SDSU’s San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl matchup with Navy Dec. 23.

According to Toledo, he had essentially made the decision to retire prior to the start of the 2014 season, with Aztecs head coach Rocky Long saying that he was made aware of the coordinator’s final decision midseason.

“I miss ‘em, ” Long said of his children and grandchildren, both of whom were a significant impetus for his decision. “I mean, they’re growing up and I just wanna be with ‘em.”

The 68-year-old Toledo — he’ll be 69 in March — came out of an initial retirement, one that lasted all of one season, in 2013 to take over SDSU’s offense. At the FBS level, he’s served as a coordinator at Oregon (1983-88), Texas A&M (19889-93), UCLA (1994-95) and New Mexico (2006).

Toledo’s likely most known for his seven-year stint as UCLA’s head coach (1996-2002). He compiled a 49-32 record and won back-to-back Pac-10 titles (1997-98) as the Bruins’ coach. Four straight losses to cross-town rival USC — as well as a 24-22 record in that span — led to his dismissal.

In addition to UCLA, Toledo was also the head coach at Tulane (2007-11), Pacific (1979-82) and UC-Riverside (1974-75). His overall mark as a college head coach stands at 93-108.

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Shaq Thompson still mulling football future

Shaq Thompson AP

Shaq Thompson is officially the most versatile football player in the country. Whether said versatility will be on display at the collegiate or professional level in 2015 is still undecided.

Following practice Tuesday, the Washington linebacker/running back was asked about his football future, whether he would forego his remaining eligibility and declare early for the NFL draft or return to the Huskies for another season. According to the player, he will utilize the Christmas holidays to talk to his family and coaches and get a handle on the football direction in which he wants to head.

“Just sitting down with my family and Coach [Chris Petersen] and some of the coaches and just think about it,” Thompson said. “We’ll see. I don’t know. I’m just focused on this last game and going to see my family.”

Should Thompson opt to return to the Huskies, or leave early for the draft, he’ll still be one of the most intriguing players at either level.

This season, Thompson scored six touchdowns — four defensively, two on offense. The four defensive touchdowns (three on fumble returns, on an interception return) were the most at the FBS level.  Offensively, he was second on the Huskies in rushing yards with 456.

The Associated Press named him as a first-team All-American Tuesday. Earlier this month, he was named as the 2014 Hornung Award winner.

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Greg Schiano to Pittsburgh isn’t a crazy idea, it’s a solid plan

Louisville Cardinals v Rutgers Scarlet Knights Getty Images

Pittsburgh is expecting to have a coaching vacancy to fill in the next 24 hours, and apparently Pittsburgh Athletics Director Steve Pederson is not wasting time preparing to fill it. With Paul Chryst in Madison ready to accept a formal job offer to become the new head coach at Wisconsin — the Badgers are looking for a replacement for Gary Andersen, who accepted a job offer at Oregon State — Pittsburgh is in need of a coach that can provide some sense of stability with the program.

Among the first candidates known to be contacted by Pitt as a possible candidate for the upcoming vacancy is former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. It’s not a bad way to get started.

By now Schiano’s profile is pretty well known. It has its ups and downs, no question. The positives include going 68-67 in 11 seasons at Rutgers, and yes, that is a huge positive given the state of Rutgers football before Schiano took over. Rutgers won 67 games between 1984 and 2000 (17 years). It took Schiano six fewer seasons to win one more game than that span. Rutgers played in six bowl games under Schiano after playing in just one bowl game in its entire program history before Schiano was hired. Yes, there were more bowl games that needed teams to play, but Schiano still had to make Rutgers a bowl-eligible program (6 wins) just three times dating back to 1980 before he was hired.

From a stability standpoint, Schiano would seem to have plenty to offer. After all, if he stuck around at Rutgers for 11 seasons when potential opportunities elsewhere may have been available, Pitt should probably feel comfortable with the idea Schiano will stick around.

Just keeping a coach for a full length of a contract would be a refreshing change of pace for the Panthers at this point. Schiano would likely do just that. After his brief stint in the NFL became a notable tire fire, the chances he would be leaving for the NFL again are virtually non-existent.

Schiano will know how to recruit in traditional Pittsburgh recruiting battlegrounds. He did so at Rutgers, and he made inroads in the state of New Jersey. He would have the potential to see similar success in a competitive western Pennsylvania (Penn State, Ohio State, West Virginia).

This could also be a case where some time off pays off well for a head coach, who may have needed a break from the game as much as anyone. Schiano last coached in 2013 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After a year away from the game, now may be the time to bring Schiano back to the college game. A return to the college game after a rough spell in the NFL has served coaches well before (Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Pete Carroll).

Schiano could be next.

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Miami and Nike could be going separate ways after 26 years

Corn Elder, Tracy Howard

Nike will still own a large share of the college athletics apparel deals among division one football programs, but it could be losing one of its long-standing partners; Miami.

Earlier today Arizona State formally announced a new apparel deal with Adidas, which brought an end to its previous arrangement with Nike. According to Arizona State, the deal with Adidas was valued far more than what Nike paid for the previous contract. It appears money could be the reason Miami and Nike go their separate ways as well.

Palm Beach Post reports Miami has not renewed its contract with Nike. The contract does not expire until the end of August 2015, but apparel companies need time to prepare for the uniforms that will have to be worn once the new contract gets started. That requires time to plan and design the features of each uniform for each athletics program. Because of tat, Miami is in the midst of securing its apparel partnership for beyond August 2015 now.

Two suitors have presented offers to Miami, Adidas and Under Armour. Nike is given an opportunity to match any offer, but the price tag may be too high for Nike. Keep in mind that Nike has  more obligations to other schools than Adidas and Under Armour have combined, so Nike may not want to raise the expense too much on their end (otherwise Nike would risk other schools asking for a higher contribution, and that adds up quickly and likely results in losing partners to competitors).

According to the report from Palm Beach Post, the offers presented by Adidas and Under Armour are expected to be “several million dollars per year richer than Nike’s deal.”

Miami was one fo the first signature programs to sign an exclusive deal with Nike. It was the first of its kind, really, and came at a time when the Hurricanes were in their prime as a national title contender. The U profited from its deal with Nike, and the idea caught on like a wildfire across the college athletics scene.

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Contract for new UNLV coach unanimously approved

UNLV Introduces Tony Sanchez Getty Images

There was a brief conversation about whether or not UNLV’s new head coach was qualified for the position of head coach, but any concern was quickly put to rest by the Board of Regents. The regents voted unanimously in favor of a contract for new head coach Tony Sanchez, thus making his hiring formally official.

Sanchez is making the leap to head coach of the FBS program straight from high school, although a very successful stint as high school coach in the state of Nevada. Sanchez was named the head coach of the Rebels last week, but the board still needed to formally approve his contract.

According to information reported by Las Vegas Sun, Sanchez will be paid $2 million over the course of his four–year contract. His base salary is $500,000.

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Report: Wisconsin to introduce Paul Chryst as new head coach tomorrow

Paul Chryst

The worst-kept secret in the Big Ten, and the ACC, is Paul Chryst was likely to be named the new head coach at Wisconsin as soon as possible. This became much more obvious when Chryst informed his Pittsburgh players following a Tuesday practice he was on his way to Madison to discuss the coaching vacancy at Wisconsin. Reports surfacing Tuesday evening say Wisconsin will introduce Chryst as the new head coach approximately 90 minutes after it will become legal to offer the job to any candidate.

Benjamin Worgull of BadgerNation.com reports a press conference will be held at approximately 6:00 p.m. Central to introduce Chryst to the Wisconsin media.

If he has not already, Pitt Athletics Director Steve Pederson may want to start making some phone calls to potential candidates to be the next head coach in western Pennsylvania. Pederson had appeared somewhat optimistic about his chances of keeping Chryst in charge at Pitt, but perhaps that was a bluff or ignorance.

Chryst will replace Gary Andersen, who left Wisconsin for a head coaching job at Oregon State.

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