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President Trump praises Urban Meyer as ‘great coach, great guy’

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Given the main characters involved, there’s no way this one slides sideways or goes completely off the rails in the comments section/on Twitter, right?

President Donald Trump was in Lebanon, Ohio, Friday night for a “Make America Great Again” campaign rally a month ahead of the midterm elections.  As Lebanon is a little over an hour away from Columbus, the POTUS — and no doubt his staffers — was well aware that his audience would be littered with fans of The Ohio State University.

According to the Washington Examiner, Trump did the obvious and invoked the name of Urban Meyer to what was a very receptive crowd.

“It sounds like we’re in the middle of an Ohio State football game. And speaking of Ohio State, they’re not doing too badly are they?” Trump said according to the Examiner. “They have a great coach, a great coach — a great guy. A great guy.”

There should be little argument that Meyer is a great coach, one of the greatest of all-time and a future College Football Hall of Famer.  Some outside of Buckeye Nation, though, might quibble with the “great guy” label slapped on the Buckeyes head coach by the most powerful man on the planet.

Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 1 as questions into his handling of domestic abuse allegations made against his now-former assistant coach, Zach Smith, surfaced.  The university announced the launching of an investigation into Meyer’s actions the day after the head coach’s leave was announced.

In a statement Aug. 3, Meyer claimed that he has “always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels.” Allegations of domestic abuse stemmed not only from Zach Smith’s time at OSU, but while he was on Meyer’s Florida staff in 2009 as well.

In late August, it was announced that Meyer would retain his job as the Buckeyes’ head football coach but would be suspended from coaching the first three games of the 2018 season.  As part of the findings from the report stemming from the investigation into Meyer’s actions — or lack thereof, as some would say — it was revealed that the coach’s initial reaction to a damning report released Aug. 1 was to have a discussion with his director of football operations about how to delete text messages older than a year.  The investigative report also learned “that Coach Meyer has sometimes had significant memory issues in other situations where he had prior extensive knowledge of events. He has also periodically taken medicine that can negatively impair his memory, concentration, and focus.”

That memory loss has been attributed to an arachnoid cyst that causes chronic headaches, and the medication he takes to treat the issue.  This past weekend, Meyer was seen on camera dealing with the pain of one of those headaches on the sidelines during OSU’s win over Indiana.

After the press conference announcing his three-game suspension Aug. 22, Meyer was roundly criticized for his tone-deaf failure to use the public forum to apologize to Courtney Smith, who had accused Zach Smith of spousal abuse.  Two days later, the embattled Buckeyes head coach released a statement in which he “sincerely apologize[d] to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through.”

Despite the apology, which many deemed as too little, too late, Meyer remained the subject of intense media scrutiny not only for his initial fumbling of the press conference but also for his handling of the domestic abuse allegations levied against his former assistant.  Aug. 31, Meyer issued yet another statement through his personal Twitter account, writing that “there have been a number of things reported in the media about President Drake’s decision and the Investigative Team’s Report that have not been correct and must be clarified.”

Meyer’s main point, it seems, was to reiterate that he “was not suspended because I knew about or condoned Zach Smith’s alleged domestic abuse.” Additionally, the coach acknowledged that it was “my fault [for] not taking action sooner against a troubled employee about his work-related issues.”

“With respect to Zach Smith and the events that led to his termination, it’s clear I could have done a better job,” Meyer wrote in a statement released on Sept. 17, the day his three-game suspension officially came to an end. “I should have done a better job, and I’ll always regret that I didn’t.”

During the campaign leading up to Trump’s 2016 election, the future POTUS claimed that Meyer had “said some awfully nice things about me.” Meyer’s response to that claim?

“My job description is very clear, and that’s to coach Ohio State football, and the focus is on 17 to 18 to 22-year-olds,” the head coach said in early March of 2016, two weeks before the Ohio primary. “I have strong beliefs, but I’m not going to share that with you guys. I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

It remains unclear whether Meyer has ever publicly or privately ever said awfully nice things about the most polarizing human being on the face of the Earth.

Two days later, Jim Harbaugh still lobbing barbs toward Mark Dantonio

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No. 5 Michigan beat Michigan State 21-7 on Saturday in a game that, thanks to a weather delay, lasted close to five hours. But the grudge between the Wolverines and Spartans well before the game and continues well after.

We all saw Michigan linebacker Devin Bush tear at the Spartans’ midfield logo, but Wolverines players and staffers exited the game accusing Michigan State players of clothes lining Michigan defensive lineman Lawrence Marshall and ripping the headphones out of defensive back Lavert Hill‘s ears during the Spartan Walk.

Jim Harbaugh said the alleged acts were “bush league” and Mark Dantonio responded in kind.

On Monday, Harbaugh fired back directly at Dantonio.

“I’ll go one step further and use Coach Dantonio’s words from a few years back,” Harbaugh said. “‘It’s not a product of the team, but their program.’ Again, that’s using his words. That could’ve been an unfortunate deal. I’m proud of our guys for keeping their cool.”

This now marks the second time in three trips to East Lansing that’s ended with hurt feelings on one side or the other, to put it mildly. Michigan players drove a stake into the Spartan Stadium turf in 2014; the Spartans got the last laugh in that game, beating Michigan 35-11 as part of a run of eight wins in 10 games that ended Saturday.

Sam Ehlinger working his way back into lineup for No. 6 Texas

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After the most well-timed bye week of all time, No. 6 Texas is back on the practice field to prepare for a trip to Oklahoma State on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, ABC). Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger left the team’s previous outing, a 23-17 win over Baylor, during the first drive with what was later diagnosed as a Grade 1 AC sprain in his throwing shoulder.

Ehlinger began throwing again over the weekend, and Texas head coach Tom Herman on Monday outlined the club’s plan to work its starting quarterback back into the lineup.

“I think he’s scheduled to do 25 or 30 (throws) with a regular football today,” Herman said. “He was out there at practice yesterday, doing everything in the run game, all the handoffs and run game checks and reads. Being very cautious with how we accelerate his throwing. There’s a protocol, if you will, for overhead throwers with AC sprains that we want to make sure we adhere to as aggressively as possible while making sure we don’t have any major setbacks that could be lingering.”

Texas does not practice on Mondays, so any real update as to Ehlinger’s availability for Saturday will have to wait until Tuesday. Ehlinger will throw 25 full-padded throws on Tuesday with the aim of “ratcheting” it up to 50 later in the week, Herman said. A normal practice day calls for 75 to 80 throws.

“Barring any setbacks from (a) pain standpoint or if we see something mechanically that’s just not right, we’ve got to make some decisions,” Herman said. “Probably won’t know anything as far as game status until Thursday, I would imagine.”

Herman said if Ehlinger feels healthy, he will start.

If Ehlinger does not start, Texas will go with backup Shane Buechele. A junior, Buechele is among the most experienced backups in the country. He started all 12 games as a true freshman in 2016 and threw for 1,405 yards and seven touchdowns in on-again/off-again duty last season. Against Baylor, his only action thus far this season, Buechele completed 20-of-34 throws for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

In six games plus one drive, Ehlinger is completing 65.7 percent of his throws for 1,534 yards (7.4 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. His ongoing streak of 168 passes without an interception is a school record. Crucially, Ehlinger has also run 76 times for 230 yards and six touchdowns, including 72 yards and three scores against No. 8 Oklahoma on Oct. 6. Herman said Ehlinger’s health and willingness to be a factor in the run game will be a data point in Texas’s decision this week.

TCU QB Shawn Robinson to have season-ending shoulder surgery

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It has been a rough morning for TCU football news. On top of news of an arrest of wide receiver KaVontae Turpin (who has now been suspended by TCU) on Sunday comes injury news that will impact the quarterback position for the rest of the season.

Shawn Robinson, who had been TCU’s starting quarterback this season, will see his season come to a premature ending after head coach Gary Patterson announced he will be undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Michael Collins, a transfer from Penn who stepped in to provide a spark on offense on Saturday against the Sooners, will take over as the starting for the Horned Frogs moving forward.

Robinson, a sophomore, played in all seven games for TCU up to this point in the season, in which he passed for 1,334 yards and nine touchdowns with eight interceptions. He also rushed for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Prior to being taken out of the Oklahoma game on Saturday, Robinson had completed just three of eight passes for 21 yards. Robinson started against Oklahoma, although Robinson appeared to have injured his shoulder in a previous game against Iowa State.

Collins came into the game in the second quarter and quickly led TCU to an offensive flurry before halftime, but the magic seemingly ran out in the second half as Oklahoma pulled away from the Horned Frogs in the Big 12 contest. Collins ended the day completing seven of 17 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

With Robinson unavailable and Collins taking over as the team’s starter, senior Grayson Muehlstein will be the new backup option for TCU. Muehlstein has appeared in two games this season, completing one of three pass attempts for 11 yards. He has appeared in just seven games for TCU during his college career.

TCU also has former four-star recruit Justin Rogers on the roster. The freshman has not seen any game action this season and the new redshirt rule could allow for the possibility of seeing what he can do in a total of four games without sacrificing a year of eligibility. But his status remains questionable according to recent updates offered by Patterson. Rogers was limited in training camp and has yet to be completely cleared by medical staff members as he is coming off a torn ACL from the season opener of his senior year of high school football last year.

Oklahoma State wearing Barry Sanders era uniforms vs. Texas

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Throwback uniforms have been all the rage lately, and Oklahoma State is getting in on the fun this weekend. With their big game coming up against the Texas Longhorns, the Cowboys will be suiting up in a look inspired by the 1988 Heisman Trophy season of legendary running back Barry Sanders.

Oklahoma State is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1988 Oklahoma State team that went 10-2 and featured Sanders on his run to the Heisman Trophy. Sanders, who won the only Heisman Trophy in Oklahoma State history, rushed for 2,850 yards and 44 touchdowns. He and members of the “War Pigs” offensive line are grand marshalls for Oklahoma State’s homecoming parade this coming weekend.

The uniform, as expected, is perfect and should absolutely be given more opportunities to be worn by Oklahoma State. The uniforms will also include a patch commemorating the anniversary of Sanders’ Heisman Trophy season.

At 1-3 in the Big 12, Oklahoma State needs to go on a big winning streak and hope for some help if the Cowboys are going to play for the Big 12 championship. The Longhorns are sitting on top of the Big 12 standings with a conference record of 4-0.