Why is this news?: ESPN lists Ohio State as playoff contender, Chris Ash's buyout not paid in full

How far will Braxton Miller be able to take the Buckeyes in the first year of the College Football Playoff? - Streeter Lecka

All the big Ohio State news in one helpful place.

"Ideally the Buckeyes wouldn't have to worry much about those health concerns in the fall if they're going to make a run at a title. But in the spring, they had no problem with it at all."

Austin Ward, ESPN.com

Ohio State made the cut of 16 teams that ESPN considers contenders (listed in alphabetical order) for the inaugural season for the College Football Playoff. Also making the list were teams such as Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas A&M, UCLA, and Wisconsin.

The SEC led the way with the most teams representing their conference with six, followed by the Big Ten and Pac 12 with three each. Michigan State, last year's Big Ten champions, and Wisconsin represent the Big Ten alongside Ohio State. ESPN will be breaking down their predictions each day this week by narrowing the list of contenders down to eight teams, to four, to two, and then finally wrapping it up on Friday when they reveal their favorites to win the first College Football Playoff.

"This spring, ESPN Stats & Information created an automated set of preseason ratings for all FBS teams heading into the 2014 season, designed to predict how strong each team (including its offense, defense and special teams) will be this coming season. This is essentially a preseason version of the Football Power Index (FPI) used last year."

Alok Pattani, ESPN.com

More preseason-ranking type of news, as ESPN released the 2014 Preseason Football Power Index. Looking at the rankings, Ohio State checks in at sixth, just outside the top five of Florida State, Oregon, Auburn, Alabama, and UCLA. Rounding out the top 10, following the Buckeyes, is Oklahoma, Stanford, South Carolina, and Texas A&M.

The data is not just taken from the previous year, however; Pattani explains that the method behind the rankings is fairly similar to how a knowledgeable writer would construct their own top 25, similar to how the polls of previous years worked: look at which teams were successful last season or have been good over the past few years, account for what each team has coming back, and assess teams' recruiting classes over the past couple of seasons.

Makes sense to me, although there are a couple of teams that are listed fairly high that I'm not sure should be in that spot. UCLA was 6-8 in 2011, lost to three unranked teams in 2012 (two more losses to fifth-ranked Stanford), but had a good year last season. I'm not totally sure how that computes out to the number five spot, but there are also other factors included in the formula such as recruiting, head coaches, etc. so I guess I'll survive.

"In addition, Ash had to pay reported buyout of $100,000 for leaving Arkansas, and OSU only covered $70,000 of that with a one-time 'transition payment.'"

Lori Schmidt, Fear The Hat

It would appear that Ohio State didn't fully pay for defensive coordinator Chris Ash's buyout of $100,000 and instead paid for $70,000. That leaves Ash with $30,000 owed to the Arkansas program. If either Ash or defensive line coach Larry Johnson were to leave Ohio State for most other college programs or to the NFL (not counting head coaching positions), the assistants would have to pay $30,000 each to buyout and leave the Buckeyes.

That buyout will only occur if the coaches decide to leave before December 2nd, 2015. So if the coaches stay on at least until that time, they won't have a buyout to worry about. The Buckeyes also protected themselves by including a provision that says if Ohio State fires a coach "without cause" before their contract expires, and that coach accepts post-termination benefits, then they have to sign a release and agree to not suing the school.

"The Big Ten is one big step closer to putting its flag in the New York/New Jersey television market."

Steve Politi, The Star-Ledger

The Big Ten Network's president, Mark Silverman, confirmed on Monday that the network had reached deals with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision to "broadly distribute its channel to the millions of homes in the market." Silverman is "optimistic" about also reaching a deal with another big-time cable company: Comcast.

Rutgers first two games against Big Ten opponents (Penn State and Michigan) are already set for primetime appearances on the Big Ten Network. This brings BTN one step closer into fully welcoming its two new members in Maryland and Rutgers.

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