Big Ten has momentum leading into media days, but will it last?

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For the first time in what seems like a generation, the Big Ten seems to be sitting high and mighty in the world of college football as it prepares for its annual media day event in Chicago later this week. After hearing coaches and players and more from similar media day events in the SEC, ACC and Big 12, the Big Ten will finally get a chance to respond and address some of the larger discussions regarding college football in 2015. The Big Ten has plenty of reason to be proud this season, but the big question should be how the Big Ten can follow up the success of a season ago.

Ohio State will roll into Chicago as the defending conference and national champions, and high expectations for Urban Meyer, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Eliott, Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett (and position-changing Braxton Miller) and company in the playoff hunt with a target on their backs in 2015. Michigan will introduce new head coach Jim Harbaugh to the Big Ten world. Wisconsin and Nebraska will once again be top threats out of the Big Ten West, although with new head coaches leading the charge. The conference’s newest additions, Rutgers and Maryland, are entering year two and looking to prove last season’s bowl trips were no fluke. Yes, commissioner Jim Delany has much to brag about following the Big Ten’s most successful bowl season in years, headlined by Ohio State’s championship run with Michigan State’s Cotton Bowl victory (not to mention a winning bowl record against the ACC and Big 12 and breaking even with the SEC (the Big Ten went 1-2 against the Pac-12, but that one was pretty noteworthy).

Delany will once again sit in front of a microphone before the media to present his annual state of the Big Ten address, at which time he has been known to delve into some American history as a tangent to his overall points about the NCAA and the Big Ten. Delany will be expected to offer his latest comments on the College Football Playoff (bank on him being fine with things the way they are), the dreaded satellite camp issue and defend the stature of the Big Ten after the conference was the target of some SEC folks in recent weeks. In other words, expect the usual. Even with a national title and a second New Years Six bowl victory, the Big Ten will have to defend its image to some. But media days will not be the place to do it properly. That test must be taken int he early going of the 2015 college football season.

bigtenlogoMany were quick to write the Big Ten off last season just two weeks into the year after a dreadful Week 2 showing by the conference in its biggest spotlight games. Ohio State lost at home to Virginia Tech. Michigan State let one get away at Oregon. Michigan was taken down by Notre Dame. It was a rough week, but the conference rebounded along the way and flew under the radar until the bowl season. Now the Big Ten must look to avoid a slow start this fall in order to keep the momentum going forward, instead of taking a step back.

Wisconsin faces Alabama in Arlington in the Cowboy Classic. Michigan opens at Utah. Ohio State begins at Virginia Tech. Minnesota hosts TCU in the season opener. Nebraska will welcome BYU to Lincoln. These are the noteworthy tests for the Big Ten early on. Going 4-1 in these games alone would be a respectable start to the new year. A 3-2 mark would still be a step in the right direction. Anything less would not be so kind in the eyes of some critics. There will be  other notable games as well (Illinois at North Carolina, Iowa vs. Pittsburgh, Nebraska at Miami, Maryland at West Virginia, Michigan vs. BYU) well worth paying attention to, as the reputation of the Big Ten will be put to the test by more than just Ohio State and Michigan State (who hosts Oregon in Week 2).

Will the Big Ten jump ahead of the rest of the power conferences in the opening weeks, or will some be quick to cast the Big Ten aside once more? That should be the message Delany sends to the conference this week. The work is just beginning.

Iowa places longtime strength coach Chris Doyle on administrative leave after allegations from former Hawkeyes flood social media

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Iowa is the latest football program caught up in the maelstrom of needed, necessary change.

Saturday, Iowa announced that longtime strength & conditioning coach Chris Doyle has been placed on administrative leave.  Additionally, an independent review will be conducted into allegations that Doyle directly contributed to “racial disparities in the Iowa football program.”

The development came after former Hawkeye football players took to social media en masse in the past couple of days to accuse Doyle of creating a hostile environment. Specifically, as it pertained to black Iowa football players. One former player spoke of Doyle mocking black football players that “made you walk around the football facility on eggshells … and caused anxiety that could be unbearable at times with your dreams and career on the line.”

“There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program,” former starting offensive lineman James Daniels wrote in a tweet. “Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long.”

In a video statement, Kirk Ferentz described the past 24 or so hours as “a defining moment” for his program.

“I appreciate the former players’ candor and have been reaching out to many of them individually to hear more about their experiences in our program,” the longtime coach stated. “I am planning on talking to all of them in the coming days. This is a process that will take some time, but change begins by listening first.

“Many of the discussions have centered around our Strength and Conditioning program and Coach Chris Doyle. I have spoken with him about the allegations posted on social media. They are troubling and have created a lasting impact on those players. Therefore, Coach Doyle has been placed on administrative leave immediately while there is an independent review. He and I agree that all parties will have their voices heard and then a decision about how to move forward will be made.”

Doyle has been the strength coach at Iowa since 1999. Last year, he was the highest-paid at his position in the country.

Missouri adds 2026 game against Troy in Columbia

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For the second time in a week, Troy has added a Power Five opponent to its future football slates.

Late last month, it was Iowa added to the 2024 schedule.  This week, Troy announced a future football game against Missouri.  That one-off matchup will take place Nov. 21, 2026.

Obviously, the game will take place at Missouri’s Memorial Stadium.

Troy and Mizzou have played four times previously, the first in 2002 and the most recent this past season.  Mizzou won three of those matchups, with the Trojans knocking off a 14th-ranked Tigers squad in 2004 at Troy.  All three of the Missouri wins came in Columbia.

The game against Missouri will actually be the second in 2026 for Troy football against an SEC school.  Troy had previously announced a home-and-home series with Mississippi State that starts that season.  In 2027, the Bulldogs will travel to the Trojans.

Since becoming an FBS program in 2001, Troy has played 25 games against members of the SEC.  The Trojans are 3-22 in those matchups.  The other two wins came against Mississippi State in 2001 and LSU in 2017.

After winning 10-plus games in three straight seasons from 2016-18, Troy tumbled to a 5-7 record in 2019.  That was the Trojans’ first season under Chip Lindsey.  Lindsey replaced Neal Brown, who left to take the head job at West Virginia.

Ole Miss’ Charles Wiley enters transfer portal

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For the first time in a couple of a few months, an Ole Miss football player has hit the transfer portal.

In February, it was cornerback Deantre Prince hitting the transfer database.  Four months later, former Ole Miss football teammate Charles Wiley has done the same.  The Jackson Clarion Ledger was the first to report the move.

Wiley will be leaving the SEC as a graduate transfer.  That will allow the linebacker/edge rusher to play immediately in 2020.  The upcoming season will serve as his final year of eligibility.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Wiley was a four-star member of the Ole Miss football Class of 2016.  The Stockbridge, Ga., native was the No. 23 player regardless of position in the Peach State.  He was also the No. 17 weakside defensive end in the country.

Wiley took a redshirt as a true freshman.  The next three seasons, he played in a combined 33 games.  The 6-2, 244-pound defender started three of those contests, with all three coming in 2018.

All told, Wiley has been credited with 57 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 5½ sacks.  He set career-highs in tackles for loss (six) in 2018 and sacks (three) this past season.

Highest-rated signee in Duke’s 2018 recruiting class transfers to FCS Eastern Kentucky

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A touted member of a Duke football recruiting class a couple of years ago has found a new home.  And at a lower rung on the collegiate ladder.

In May, it was confirmed that Tahj Rice took the first step in leaving Duke football by entering the NCAA transfer database.  On Twitter this past week, Rice announced that he has committed to Eastern Kentucky.  And he’s changing his surname for good measure.

“Thank you Duke for the moments and memories it won’t be forgotten,” the defensive tackle wrote. “I’m excited to say I’ve transferred to @ekusports and I’ve decided to change my last name to Mcclung because it’s LONG [overdue].”

According to his official Duke bio, Rice is the son of Iana and Marcus McClung.

As Eastern Kentucky plays at the FCS level, Rice/McClung will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.  He’ll have another seaosn he can use in 2021 as well.

Rice was a four-star member of the Duke football Class of 2018.  The Louisville product was rated as the No. 15 strongside defensive end in the country.  He was also the No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Kentucky.

Most notably, Rice was the highest-rated signee in the Blue Devils’ class that year.  In fact, he was the only four-star signee for Duke that cycle.

Rice played in 24 games the past two seasons.  He would’ve played in a 25th, but an appendectomy cost him an appearance in the 2018 Independence Bowl.

During his time with the Blue Devils, he was credited with 16 tackles, 2½ tackles for loss and 1½ sacks.

Rice is one of at least five Duke football players ( the others are HEREHEREHEREHEREHERE) who have left the Blue Devils since the calendar flipped from 2019 to 2020.