“It was not like we were awful by any means. We’ve got the train running, we just got to make sure it’s going full speed.”
-J.T. Barrett, via Mitch Stacy, Associated Press
There has been little question over the last three years of Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett’s on-field leadership. He has proven himself both to be an outstanding quarterback--even accepting the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award at Ohio State’s basketball game Sunday--and a quasi offensive coordinator on the field itself. But even Barrett’s leadership and skill were not enough to overcome the stagnated offense that was present for much of the 2016 season, and Barrett was one to recognize the need for a change at offensive coordinator in order to get things back on track--especially following the Buckeyes’ 31-0 defeat in the Fiesta Bowl at the hands of Clemson.
In fact, the change at offensive coordinator, in which Urban Meyer brought on former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson, played into Barrett’s decision to return to Ohio State for his senior season, as the quarterback stated that if he were to return to Columbus, he would have the opportunity to grow as a quarterback. It also makes good on Meyer’s promise to make Ohio State a passing team once again starting next season.
Meyer also hired Ryan Day, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, as quarterbacks coach. Day brings not only NFL coaching experience, but also an offensive mindset instilled by Chip Kelly both as player and coach. Barrett acknowledged that the change was a good thing, stating that “sometimes we get set in our ways,” especially as fans had come to expect an explosive offense like that seen under Tom Herman.
Barrett is already the career leader among quarterbacks in most statistical categories at Ohio State, including the record for touchdowns. His return, along with that of guard Billy Price, who is shifting to center next season, gives Wilson and Day at least two solid returners on offense to start with.
“It wasn’t about one institution. It wasn’t about some regional protection effort. It’s very simple, if we’re going to sit here and talk about being attentive to the time expectation and managing those appropriately for student-athletes, then we have to look at that type of out-of-season, off-campus, take-a-trip practice.”
-SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, via Mitch Sherman, ESPN
It would seem that Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh’s unconventional recruiting tactics are being further limited. After controversy last season in regards to his excessive use of satellite camps as recruiting opportunities, Harbaugh’s squad is facing similar issues this offseason in regards to off-campus practices taken by the Wolverines last March in Florida.
A new rule voted on by the Power 5 conference autonomy group would ban offseason, off-campus practices during vacation periods for NCAA athletes. And while student athletes opposed the measure 11-4, each of the Power 5 leagues had a majority vote in its favor, including an 11-3 response from the Big Ten.
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel took a different view of things: “The rule didn’t get proposed until after we took the football team down to Florida for spring break. So I think you can read into that as you will.” Last year, Michigan held four practices at IMG Academy in Florida, a recruiting hotbed which hosts six of the top 50 prospects in the ESPN 300. Manuel said that no Michigan players complained about their trip to Florida, and that the student-athletes acknowledged that they would “enjoy the opportunity and experience” of training off-campus.
The stated goal of the proposal is to improve time balance for student athletes. The committee voted on several other rules in conjunction with similar goals of remaining respectful of student-athletes’ time. One such proposal, passed by a unanimous 80-0 vote, prohibited any athletically-related activities between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., though competitions were excepted from this measure. The committee also passed rules which mandate off-days for student athletes during the academic year. In regards to the off-campus measure, however, basketball teams, which commonly have the opportunity to go overseas during the offseason, will still be able to do so.
“This has been a house of horrors for us, and a motivating force is to win in venues (like this). We said ‘Let’s be different. Let’s be a Northwestern team that’s tough enough.’”
-Northwestern head basketball coach Chris Collins, via Teddy Greenstein, the Chicago Tribune
Northwestern snapped a major streak with their win versus Ohio State Sunday. The 74-72 victory marked the first time in 40 years that the Wildcats have won in Columbus--a streak which included 34 straight road losses to the Buckeyes. But what does this win mean in the bigger picture of Northwestern basketball this season, as the Wildcats look to break their drought and make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history? The Wildcats remain the singular Division I school to have never made the tournament and, in a season where the Buckeyes cannot seem to find consistency on offense, seemed to have had a lot more riding on the result of yesterday’s matchup than Ohio State did.
Northwestern didn’t dominate the stat sheet in any way, shooting less than 38 percent from the field to Ohio State’s 45.6, and the two were nearly even on rebounds and assists. However, turnovers and free throws--which the Buckeyes have struggled with all year--proved to be a critical factor in deciding the close game. While Northwestern had just eight turnovers on the afternoon, the Buckeyes recorded 13. The Wildcats also went 19-of-24 from the line--including hitting their last five attempts in the final 31 seconds of play. Meanwhile Ohio State hit just 12-of-23 free throw attempts--including missing three in the last 10 seconds of the game. Northwestern was also able to play well as a collective unit with the combination of Scottie Lindsey, who led the Wildcats with 21 points on the day, Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh.
The Wildcats improved to 5-2 in conference play--their best start since 1968--and have ebraska up next at home Thursday.
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