1) Chew spit — As far as starts go, first-year Illinois head coach Tim Beckman might want to call timeout and regroup. First, when Penn State’s player were made free agents last spring, Beckman sent eight assistant coaches to State College to set up a presence and let Nittany Lions know, hey, we’re here if you want to split. As you can imagine, it didn’t go over well with first-year PSU coach Bill O’Brien, whose Lions shattered Illinois 35-7 on Sept. 29. Now, it’s Skoal-plosion. During the Illini’s loss at Wisconsin last week, Beckman was caught on the sideline with a tin of Skoal and dipping chewing tobacco. This forced Illinois to report a level 2 secondary violation to the Big Ten and a letter will be placed in Beckman’s personnel file, according to a school spokesman.
Last summer, I wrote about the can of chew in former Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker’s golf cart. Before the Hawkeyes’ scrimmage, Norm called me over and asked me not to rat him out anymore. I asked Kirk Ferentz about it, too, and he smiled one of those smiles that aren’t really smiles. Anyway, it’s a violation in the NCAA and a necessity in Major League Baseball.
2) Scheduling up — One of the great (greatest?) benefits of the BCS blowing up and yielding to a four-team playoff beginning in 2014 is the return of “real” scheduling. For a definition of “real,” take a look at Ohio State’s recent appointment book. In 2018-19, the Buckeyes will play a home-and-home with TCU. The coup de grace, though, is a home-and-home with Texas in 2022-23. Wisconsin is talking about a possible home-and-home with Alabama in 2015. The Badgers tried this once before with Notre Dame only to see it fall through. Iowa plays two MAC schools again next season, but then brings back Pitt in 2014-15. The Hawkeyes next shot to add a biggie would be Sept. 24, 2016. The school hasn’t announced where it’s headed.
Here’s why it could be a “biggie,” there will be a selection committee approach for the final four in 2014. ADs across the country believe that will bring a degree of analysis to a “body of work” rather than just a quick glance at the records. Even if a strength of schedule component isn’t added, a committee will presumably have a brain and will, again presumably, give a team a little more oomph for losing to an Alabama than it will for beating a Missouri State (Iowa 2013, week 2).
Boise State, anyone?
3) War on seniors — Congratulations, senior. You’ve made it through four or five years of the wars for your college. Oh wait, say hi to your new coach. And hey, you don’t quite fit the culture the new coach is bringing, so you go over here and try to stay out of the way as we install a whole new deal here. This is what’s going on with Charlie Weis and Mike Leach. At Washington State, Leach has called seniors “empty corpses.” Leach enjoys glorious national press because he’s funny and he thinks he’s a pirate, but he’s way out of line here when he says, “Some of them quite honestly have an empty-corpse quality. That’s not pleasant to say or pleasant to think about, but that’s a fact.” Mike, shhh. Don’t say anything. Take care of it quietly. Not everything you have to do has to be a national statement, something that you’ll find is a few-and-far-between notion in Pullman, especially when you’re 2-4.
At Kansas, Weis held a Sunday practice with no seniors involved, saying the focus has to be on the future. The seniors didn’t get the day off, but that’s hardly a statement on team, especially for a group that’s been through three coaches and a lot of losing.
“I think the team needs to understand that there is only so much developing you can do with the seniors,” Weis told reporters. “They are already five games into their senior year and have seven games to go. It is what it is, and for everybody else, you got to see progress being made on a daily level if we are ever going to get any better.”
I understand culture change. KU and Washington State need it and need it badly. You can probably send that message without belittling your senior class.
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