"Each year is its own story, and this is a big story."
- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, via Adam Rittenberg, ESPN.com
One of the beautiful/terrible things about college football fans is that it's not hard to find a group of them who will argue any point you could possibly dream up: Urban Meyer should be fired, or there's a conspiracy keeping Keenan Reynolds off the Heisman stage, or Connor Cook's case as the best quarterback in Big Ten history. (Puke.) One such viewpoint that emerged this season, evergreen, was that the Big Ten was a conference of cupcakes playing cupcakes, undeserving of being taken seriously. Whoops.
The conference currently boasts the No. 4, 5, and 6 teams in college football, by the playoff rankings. No conference, including the SEC, has more than three teams in the top 15...except the Big Ten. Five teams from the country's blue collar-est conference have that distinction.
It would be a windfall for the conference to put two teams into the playoff this year, a feat that hasn't happened in the storied one-year history of the tournament. Ohio State needs a good amount of luck to fall its way (and an awful lot of ugly early-season games to be overlooked) to have a chance to crack the top four, but it's not an impossibility. Otherwise, the Buckeyes would likely end up in the Rose Bowl in a showdown against Stanford or USC.
"Under the terms of the new contract, Herman's original buyout of $2.25 million gets extended a year, to...2019."
They say if you love something, you're supposed to let it go, and man, do we love Tom Herman. Herman, a bird too beautiful to stay caged, has been doing big things at Houston all year, and rather than jump ship for one of college football's high-profile coaching vacancies after a single season, Herman and the Cougars have officially agreed to terms on a contract extension.
Herman's offensive wizardry was perhaps most apparent in his departure from Columbus. A season removed from a championship run with a dazzling, high-powered offense, the Buckeyes struggled mightily to maintain an offensive identity in 2015. At no time was this more apparent than the crapfest that was Ohio State-Michigan State, the game that in all likelihood will cost the Buckeyes a chance to repeat in the Playoff.
The five-year deal will pay Herman $2.8 million per year, and it's certainly no surprise that Houston was so willing to open up its wallet for the former Urban Meyer disciple. Herman, as you may have heard, took the Cougars to an 11-1 record this season, good enough to be ranked No. 19 in the country. UH will host Temple, a 10-win team (including one over Penn State), in this weekend's AAC championship game. To paraphrase college football's own Ronald Reagan, it's morning in the American Athletic Conference.
"When I don't have anything to do as far as class, I come to the gym...whatever free time I have, I try to get in here as much as possible."
- Ohio State basketball's Kelsey Mitchell, via Jim Massie, The Columbus Dispatch
Believe it or not, there's some college basketball happening in Columbus that already deserves your attention. Sophomore Kelsey Mitchell is a big reason why. Mitchell, the Buckeyes' leading scorer, was recently featured by The Dispatch thanks to her incredible work ethic and basketball acumen. Mitchell is the definition of a gym rat, the kind of player who considers every moment not improving her game a wasted one.
"It's a mental thing for me. I always have to work on something," she told Jim Massie. Given that Mitchell led the country in scoring last year, that's a little bit like hearing that Steph Curry doesn't think he's playing well enough. But it's that kind of attitude that makes Mitchell such a stone-cold killer.
You know a player is special when even her arch-rivals can't help but praise her. Michigan coach Suzy Merchant said, per Massie, that she doesn't think "[Mitchell] is stoppable. She is the one...you have to hope to slow down or hope she has an off night...I just think she's really, really special."
"Hoban has a lot of good players, including...Ohio State commit Todd Sibley...but without Clark, Hoban isn't a champion."
- Ari Wasserman, Cleveland.com
This morning, Cleveland.com's Ari Wasserman profiled Ohio State QB commit Danny Clark, who last night led his high school team -- Archbishop Hoban, from Akron -- to a state championship victory. Clark won't graduate high school until 2017, but he's already been committed to Ohio State for a ridiculously long time, and so has had ample time to visit Ohio Stadium to take in games.
Wasserman credits Clark's poise last night, in part, to all of those trips to the 'Shoe. Clark has had plenty of time to get familiar with the sideline (Hoban lined up where the Buckeyes normally do), the atmosphere, the noise of the stadium, and as a result has become pretty much unflappable.
While Clark's numbers in the game weren't the stuff of legend, going just 4-of-12 passing for 125 yards, two of those throws were for long touchdowns, and Clark didn't get picked off. He was also victimized by a drop or two from his receivers. That didn't faze him. He was a supportive teammate and the picture of a leader, according to Wasserman. It looks like Ohio State's cupboard is well-stocked for the future, and it certainly doesn't hurt that the eventual quarterback has come up playing with the eventual running back.
"I'm not sure they have his best interest in mind in terms of this situation."
Mickey Mitchell is still not eligible to play, thanks to the NCAA, and now Ohio State doesn't know when, or if, Mitchell will be cleared this season. Matta confirmed that Mitchell isn't out because of academics, but that is all he can say given NCAA rules, and it's obvious that he's become frustrated with the situation. Whatever the issue is for Mitchell, it should have been resolved earlier, and now Ohio State is missing out on another possible playmaker and passer, and Mitchell is missing on valuable college playing time. That hurts for everybody, given Mitchell's age, and Ohio State's turnover problems, but it's not like the NCAA is acting with the best interests of anybody but the NCAA on a regular basis.