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Why is this news?: Jim Delany tromps on the Big 12’s title game plans

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Plus, women’s volleyball makes the sweet 16, and the roots of Chris Ash’s work ethic. All your Ohio State news in one helpful place.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

"We don’t think he should have to expand to have the same options we have, but we feel he should have a structure similar to ours."

-Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, via Heather Dinich, ESPN

As the Big 12 ponders creating a conference championship game, such plans may be snubbed by none other than the Big Ten. The latter conference filed an amendment in November that would change the plans of the Big 12, which could ultimately force an expansion of the 10-team conference to 12 teams. The ACC and Big 12 had been working together on the deregulation, though the ACC commissioner says the conference is happy with its current structure.

While Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany says expansion is not the goal of the plan, he cites that all of the other Power-5 conferences--the ACC, Pac-12, SEC and the Big Ten itself--all have division champions play in the conference championship game, as opposed to the top-two conference teams. In the College Football Playoff era, it is easier to compare teams and conferences that play through similar structures, and the Big 12 is no exception.

A proposed deregulation would mean that divisional champions would not have to play one another in the championship game, and the matchup would simply be the top two teams in the conference.

The Big 12 would have reason to be uneasy about divisional matchups. The woes of the former Big 12 North, which included the likes of Kansas, Colorado and Iowa State and who competed against Oklahoma and a once-great Texas squad, make geographic divisions undesirable. In that case, the Big 12 South won 11 of 15 championship games in a horribly unbalanced conference.

The Big 12 was the sole Power-5 conference left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff last year, with many citing the lack of a conference championship game as the key differentiator. Despite Oklahoma making the playoff this year, the Sooners were still jumped by Michigan State, who did play in a championship game.

"He just had a great work ethic. The epitome of a Midwest work ethic...He was truly dedicated to be the best he could be."

-David Clement, former coach of Chris Ash, via Matt Arco, NJ Advance Media

In the small town of Ottumwa, Iowa, a midwestern gem of 25,000 people, family, friends and former coaches discussed their hometown hero, Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, as he prepares to move on to his first head coaching job at Rutgers University.

All who knew Ash personally in high school and beyond mention his outstanding work ethic. While he may not have been the most talented man on the field, he was dedicated to improving and working hard. In high school, he would wake up at 3 a.m. to work his paper route or to work in the corn fields to help pay for college.

Ash played his undergrad ball at Drake University of the FCS, where he played as a safety before taking a job as an assistant upon graduating. After graduating, Ash held various positions at Princeton, Iowa State, San Diego State, Wisconsin and Arkansas before being hired onto Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State two years ago. While he spent three years at both Iowa State and Wisconsin, Ash has been highly mobile throughout his career, with his outstanding work ethic and performance earning him new and exciting opportunities. David Clement, one of Ash’s former coaches, describes Ash’s journey as the American dream.

Ash has a long road ahead of him at Rutgers, which has struggled mightily since joining the Big Ten. An excellent recruiter, however, Ash will have ample opportunities in New Jersey to sign some outstanding high school players in a state teeming with talent. His reputation for improving defenses will also be put to the test at a school that finished 10th in the Big Ten in total defense and near the bottom of most defensive categories.

"We’re going to enjoy this tonight, we’re going to enjoy it tomorrow and then Monday get back in the gym. This is a big deal."

-Ohio State women’s volleyball coach Geoff Carlston

The Ohio State Buckeyes women’s volleyball team has made the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in six years. The squad swept American University on Saturday in Columbus with scores of 25-23, 25-11 and 25-17. Junior Taylor Sandbothe, who was unanimously selected to the all-Big Ten team, scored a team-high 20 points to lead the Buckeyes to victory. The squad had previously defeated Robert Morris in the first round of the tournament, also sweeping them with scores of 25-13, 25-16 and 25-11.

Ohio State, the No. 12 overall seed in the tournament, is playing in its 21st NCAA tournament, and its fifth in the last six seasons. The top-16 seeds all hosted the initial rounds of the tournament on their home courts.

The Buckeyes had ended the regular season on a relative skid, having lost two of its last three matches to Minnesota and Wisconsin, and dropping eight matches total in a loaded Big Ten conference. Nonetheless, five members of the Ohio State squad earned Big Ten honors to conclude the season, including Sandbothe.

Ohio State is scheduled to play Washington, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, Friday night in Lexington. Washington had swept Denver in the first round of the tournament before defeating Michigan State 3-1 in the second round on its way to the sweet 16. Despite its tournament ranking, Washington is top team in the nation according to volleyball’s coaches poll.

"Two legendary programs; we have a lot of respect for Notre Dame. A great bowl game, too."

-Urban Meyer, via John Marshall, AP

While Ohio State fans may be disappointed that the Buckeyes have found themselves out of both the College Football Playoff as well as the Rose Bowl, the fact is that they remain in a premier matchup in a New Year’s six bowl, while two fellow Big Ten teams, also in marquee matchups, are rounding out a strong conference showing in the 2015 season. No, the Buckeyes will not be vying for a national title, but the Fiesta Bowl is a great place to be, and for many young Buckeye fans, their best memories were made in Arizona.

The Buckeyes are 4-2 in Fiesta Bowls dating back to 1980, with the most famous victory coming in the 2003 game in which Ohio State won a national championship in double OT over Miami. For Buckeyes under the age of 30, this was the biggest win during their collective lives, and was the turning point from Ohio State being a contender to win the Big Ten to being a game changer in the national championship race.

Now, for only the fifth time in program history, the Ohio State Buckeyes will be facing off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale. Ohio State leads the series 3-2, having won the last three meetings, including the 2006 Fiesta Bowl by a score of 34-20. This year, both Ohio State and Notre Dame are entering the game just having missed out on the playoff with last second losses.

With ten of 14 Big Ten teams making bowl games following the 2015 season (including 5-7 Nebraska), the conference is tied with the SEC and Pac-12 for most teams in bowl games among Power-5 conferences. (Check here for a complete list of Big Ten teams in bowl games). The ACC is sending nine teams, while the Big 12 only had seven make bowl games. More importantly, the Big Ten is in three of six New Year’s Six matchups--the most of any conference--including one berth in the College Football Playoff.

So while the Fiesta Bowl might seem like a consolation prize, it is a pretty good one for the Buckeyes.

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