My how things can change in a short span with this glorious sport.
Just a week ago, Ohio State was seemingly in the Big Ten East’s driver’s seat thanks to its come-from-behind win over Penn State combined with Michigan State’s three-overtime loss to Northwestern. The Buckeyes stood at a perfect 5-0 in conference play, with a one-game lead on the 4-1 Spartans and what was essentially a two-game lead on the 4-1 Nittany Lions thanks to the head-to-head advantage.
With Week 10 nearly in the books, there’s suddenly a tie atop the division as MSU stunned PSU in a rain-delayed matchup while OSU was embarrassed by unranked Iowa in Kinnick Stadium. That leaves the Buckeyes and Spartans tied atop the East with three weeks left to play.
And, just who do Michigan State and Ohio State play in Week 11? Each other, in Columbus next Saturday at noon, with the winner really wresting total control of the division from the other.
After next weekend’s action, each team will have two games remaining in the regular season — OSU at home against Illinois and on the road at rival Michigan, MSU hosting Maryland and closing it out at Rutgers. The winner of the Week 11 game could afford one loss in those final two games and still win the division, even if there were a three-way tie with Penn State as the Nittany Lions lost to both teams. Of course, the Buckeyes and Spartans could technically lose its last two games after next week and the Nittany Lions could win its last two, handing the division to the latter. Or all three of those teams could lose out the last two weeks and Michigan, which lost to both MSU and PSU, could win out and oh no I’ve gone cross-eyed.
Either way, and outside of those highly-unlikely scenarios closing out the above paragraph, whichever team comes out on top next weekend in Columbus you will be seeing in Indianapolis in early December. And probably against an unbeaten Wisconsin team that currently serves as the Big Ten’s lone playoff hope, provided the “no two-loss team has ever qualified for the CFP” standard remains in place as the Badgers are the only B1G team with less than two losses.
And, looking even further ahead, if the Big Ten misses out on the playoffs for the first time, especially if conference-less Notre Dame qualifies? The cries from the B1G for expanding the CFP will come. Bank on it.
Nearly four months after ostensibly being fired as athletic director, John Currie has an official severance agreement with his former employer.
Tennessee announced Thursday evening that “it has completed an amicable resolution parting ways with former… Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics John Currie.” Currie had been earning $75,000 a month during a paid suspension; the university stated in its release that Currie will be paid a sum total of $2,220,454 (and 60 cents, for accounting purposes) no later than April 1 of this year.
Additionally, the release noted that Currie “will be paid his salary through March 22, 2018.”
In the midst of a football coaching search fiasco that included a Mike Leach hire that wasn’t, Currie was ousted as the AD at UT on Dec. 1 of last year and replaced by former Vols head football coach Phillip Fulmer. Between then and today’s announcement, Currie had been technically employed but suspended with pay by the university.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Currie had been hired as an executive-in-residence at Robert Morris University.
That certainly didn’t last long.
Tuesday, after the first day of spring practice, Lane Kiffin revealed that Chris Robison had been indefinitely suspended from the Florida Atlantic football program for unspecified violations of team rules; one report had the suspension connected to skipping a mandatory tutoring session. At the time, the second-year head coach indicated that the suspension was day-to-day and could be lifted at any time.
As it turns out, Thursday was that time as the quarterback returned to the practice field with the rest of his FAU teammates.
“He came in [Wednesday] and actually thanked me for it,” Kiffin said according to the Sun-Sentinel. “He said it really kind of embarrassed him nationally and humbled him that things could kind of be taken away. It was good to see.”
A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program. In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.
Robison and De’Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport. Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.
In the end, it appears to be much ado about (mostly) nothing.
Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his left (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.
Wednesday, it was reported that the injury was believed to be just a sprain and that Tagovailoa could return to practice soon. That report proved prophetic as Tagovailoa was indeed back at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis.
The quarterback was not doing the normal drills with his teammates but was off to the side working with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen. It looked like they were testing Tagovailoa’s ability to grip the football since the injury was suffered on his throwing hand. He replicated a few play-action roll outs with the ball in his left hand. At one point, he rolled over toward where Jalen Hurts was standing and they high fived.
Until Tagovailoa is fully recovered, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.
The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are entrenched in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.
Greene is turning orange. Well, Jalen Greene is at least.
The former USC wide receiver who announced he would pursue a graduate transfer earlier this month announced on Twitter that he would be heading East to play at Illinois in 2018. He will be immediately eligible to play for the Illini.
Greene was originally recruited by the Trojans as a dual-threat quarterback but eventually made the move to receiver. He caught eight passes for 98 yards at USC last season as a partial starter and added another eight receptions for 116 yards the year prior.
Illinois has already begun spring practice and has been trying several new players at wide receiver in the process to find a good complement to Mike Dudek on the outside. It seems Greene could find himself in the mix to be one of those guys when he arrives in Champaign.