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Why is this news?: Cardale Jones graces regional Sports Illustrated cover, Luke Fickell was finalist for Pitt

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All of today's Ohio State news, in one helpful place.

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones has already made the Sports Illustrated regional cover for SI's College Football Playoff preview, with just one start under his belt. After leading the Buckeyes to their first Big Ten championship under Urban Meyer, Jones has been showered with hard-earned praise after his impressive performance against Wisconsin in his first ever start.

With Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett on the sidelines with season-ending injuries, Jones stepped up big and is now the sole starter for Ohio State as they head into the inaugural College Football Playoff. Sports Illustrated also ran a nice piece on Jones highlighting his upbringing and how he arrived in Columbus.

"Narduzzi topped a field that included Marshall head coach Doc Holliday, Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and Pittsburgh assistant Joe Rudolph."

- Pete Thamel, Sports Illustrated

In case you hadn't heard the news, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi accepted the head coaching position at Pittsburgh on Tuesday and will become the Panther's fifth head coach since 2010. Narduzzi has had a huge impact on the successful runs of Michigan State in the past few years, as he is considered the top defensive coordinator in the country.

While that bit of news might not be related to Ohio State, Luke Fickell being one of the three finalists is big news. After head coach Urban Meyer accepted the job at Ohio State, there were rumors that Fickell might bolt to Pitt to continue his head coaching career after finishing a season as interim head coach for the Buckeyes during the 2011 season. It would have been a bit surprising to see Fickell leave at this point, but it goes to show that Ohio State's coaching staff is sought after, without question.

"NFL sources tell me that the 49ers have told Michigan that if they reach and deal with Jim to become their next head coach, that the 49ers will release him from his contract and seek no compensation."

- Scott Roussel, The Football Scoop

Jim Harbaugh has been a name that Michigan (and their fans) have had circled since firing Brady Hoke after the regular season. Reports have been back and forth on the issue of whether Harbaugh would go to Michigan or not, contract disputes, and just about everything else.

Scott Roussel from The Football Scoop has released his latest updates from sources that claim that if Harbaugh goes to Michigan, that the 49ers will release his contract and seek no compensation. That line of thinking stems from the idea that if Harbaugh is in the college ranks, the 49ers won't have to deal with him in the NFL any longer. However, Harbaugh has also been linked to a head coaching job in Oakland. Long story short, the 49ers don't like that idea at all and will make things difficult for Harbaugh on his current contract to leave to another NFL team.

To sum it all up, the 49ers wanting Harbaugh essentially out of the NFL is good news for Michigan and might even help them land their dream coach at this point. While I'm not certain it will end up happening, there's still a chance Harbaugh might become the next head coach of the Wolverines.

"The Buckeyes have more than their share of freaky athletes, but I went with the 6-5, 255-pound tight end. Heuerman, who has caught 17 passes and two TDs this season, wasn't on our Freaks list this summer, but he should've been. In the Buckeyes' offseason testing, he did 24 pull-ups, benched 465 and vertical jumped 37 inches."

- Bruce Feldman, FOX Sports

Bruce Feldman over at FOX Sports ranked the top 10 biggest "Freaks" that fans should watch during the college football bowl season. Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman made the list (an honorable mention went out to Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry), coming in at ninth. As you can see above, Heuerman's stats don't tell the entire story. During the offseason, Heuerman completed 24 pull-ups, benched 465 and vertical jumped 37 inches.

If those numbers don't tell you he's a freak, I don't know what will. Dealing with nagging injuries for the better part of the first half of the season, Heuerman has still played an integral part on this Ohio State offense. While he might not be thrown many balls, his run blocking has been superb and helped the offensive line grow quite a bit to help form the Buckeyes into a contender.

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