Pat Fitzgerald wants Northwestern players to vote “no” on union

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Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald wants the best for his football players, but he does not want them to vote in favor of a players union later this month. Fitzgerald is encouraging his players to hear his views and take that with them when it comes time to vote on whether or not the players will form a union, a right that has been granted by a ruling last week by the National Labor Relations Board.

“We want to make sure that they have all the information, so that’s a process we’re starting to work through right now,” Fitzgerald said before a spring practice Saturday, according to the Big Ten Network. “I’m honored to have that opportunity with our guys and we’ll work through it day by day.”

This is all unique territory of course. No coach has ever had to lead his program through spring practices while knowing his players are either focused on or discussing the idea of starting a players union. Fitzgerald is not going to stand in the way of his players and their desires, but he does want them to make their decisions with as much information as possible.

“I’m very proud of them for trying to work for national change, I’m incredibly proud of them – I’ve been greatly outspoken about that,” Fitzgerald said. “My job is to help educate them, my staff’s job is to help educate them, our athletic department our university, and to find other folks who can tell them what this means, potentially.”

Northwestern players will vote on April 25 on whether or not they will take the next step in forming a union at Northwestern University. The school has already stated they will appeal the ruling by the regional NLRB office in Chicago.

It’s the middle of November and Illinois can still win the Big Ten West

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The fate of the Big Ten West appears to largely be a two-team race between frontrunner Minnesota and perennial division contender Wisconsin. But there is still a mathematical chance the Iowa Hawkeyes can take home the division crown. To make that happen, Iowa will have to hand Minnesota its first loss of the season tomorrow afternoon in Kinnick Stadium to keep hope alive. But there is one more team in the division that still has a mathematical chance to win the division, and they actually have more scenarios that could potentially pan out in their favor than Iowa.

Say hello to the Illinois Fighting Illini. That’s right. With three weeks left in the regular season, Illinois can still win the Big Ten West this year. Who would have predicted that at the beginning of the season?

Lovie Smith already has the program heading to its first bowl game since 2014, the first with him as the head coach, but why stop there? Let the Illini dream big, er… B1G?

Yes, Illinois would need some help from the rest of the division, but here is how Illinois could win the Big Ten West:

Scenario No. 1

  • Illinois wins games against Iowa and Northwestern
  • Iowa beats Minnesota
  • Purdue beats Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin beats Nebraska and Minnesota
  • Northwestern beats Minnesota

Scenario No. 2

  • Illinois wins games against Iowa and Northwestern
  • Iowa beats Minnesota
  • Wisconsin beats Purdue and Minnesota
  • Nebraska beats Wisconsin
  • Northwestern beats Minnesota

Minnesota is undefeated after their win against Penn State but faces Iowa on the road this weekend and closes out the regular season against Wisconsin, and the Badgers would love nothing more than to spoil things for the Gophers after losing Paul Bunyan’s Ax in Madison last season. The biggest hurdle may be asking 1-8 Northwestern to take out Minnesota, but the Illini would be eliminated from the race entirely if Minnesota wins either of their next two games against Iowa or Northwestern.

Want to know all of the different division-clinching scenarios that are still in play for the final three weeks of the season? Then check out this Reddit post breaking down all of the combinations still out there. And you better believe that includes the mess that is the ACC Coastal Division. Enter at your own risk.

Two-game suspensions for Louisiana Tech’s starting QB, star WR

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Suffice to say, Louisiana Tech’s offense will be at less than full strength when it takes the field in Week 12 later on today.

Thursday night, the Tech football program announced that three players, junior wide receiver Adrian Hardy, senior outside linebacker James Jackson and quarterback J’Mar Smith, have been suspended for Friday night’s game against Marshall.  Hardy and Smith will also be suspended for next Saturday’s road game against UAB.

Per the school, all three players were slapped with their respective suspensions because of violations of unspecified athletic department policies.

“This matter is being handled internally,” the program said in a statement. “Neither [head football coach Skip] Holtz nor athletic department officials will address this further.”

Smith is in his third season as Tech’s starting quarterback and has thrown for 2,483 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2019.  Smith will be replaced in the starting lineup by Aaron Allen, who has thrown nine passes this year and will be making the first start of his collegiate career.

Hardy leads the Bulldogs in receiving yards with 482 and is second in receptions with 39.

Tech is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak that has them sitting atop the West Division of Conference USA at a perfect 5-0.  Their only loss came in the season opener against No. 19 Texas.

Report: Florida State no longer considers Bob Stoops a candidate

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It appears you can put this particular piece of drama to bed.

In the days after Willie Taggart was fired as Florida State’s head coach, Bob Stoops‘ name was connected to the opening through various levels of speculation.  At one point, FSU’s athletic director, David Coburn, publicly stated that the current head coach and general manager of the XFL’s Dallas franchise is a candidate for the job; Stoops subsequently stated that “the rumors/reports of him being a candidate for the Florida State job opening are not accurate.”

Nearly two weeks later, and citing two sources familiar with the search, the Tallahassee Democrat is reporting that “Florida State has been in contact with representatives of former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and does not consider him a candidate for its vacant football coach position.”

With the former Oklahoma coach out of the running — if he was even in the running in the first place — FSU could turn its attention to current FBS head coaches such as Memphis’ Mike Norvell, Penn State’s James Franklin and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.  Interim head coach Odell Haggins is also drawing support from current Seminole football players to take over the job permanently.

Coburn has long maintained that the university is on track to have a replacement in place before the end of November.

Nick Saban says he suspended unnamed Alabama player for Miss. St. game for not going to class

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Let the sleuthing and/or Internet message-board speculating commence in earnest.

Thursday night on his weekly radio show, Nick Saban revealed that he had suspended one of his Alabama football players for this Saturday’s game against Mississippi State in Starkville.  The head coach even gave a specific reason for the suspension — the player didn’t go to class.

What Saban didn’t do?  Divulge the name of the player who has been suspended.

Alabama will be looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season last weekend against a Mississippi State squad that the Crimson Tide has beaten the last 11 times they have played, with the Bulldogs’ last win coming in 2007.  That, of course, was Saban’s first season in Tuscaloosa.