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Posted on Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 10:26 a.m.

The Big Ten needs Ohio State back on its feet and more notes

By Nick Baumgardner


Ohio State coach Luke Fickell.

Associated Press

So, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith says the school doesn't have a systemic problem with its football program.

The program itself is fine, Smith says. It's just a few individuals causing a stir.

Terrelle Pryor, Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, DeVier Posey, Solomon Thomas, Jim Tressel, Marcus Hall, Marvin Fellows, Etienne Sabino, Jordan Hall, Travis Howard, Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown, Edward Rife and Bobby DiGeronimo. Just a few individuals. In no way a systemic issue.

I'm not sure where Smith bought his dictionary, but a refund may be in order.

The Buckeyes will be without starters Herron, Posey and Hall again this weekend when they travel to Nebraska.


Ohio State AD Gene Smith told reporters on Monday that the latest suspensions of football players did not reflect "a systems problem."

Associated Press

Meanwhile, coach Luke Fickell continues to walk a gauntlet with half of a team, the student-athletes at Ohio State that kept their noses clean are taking a beating by association and Smith seems to be putting all his eggs in the "head-in-sand" basket.

Dumpster fire, anyone?

It's no secret that there are more than just a few Buckeye haters out there. But before you start your "Ohio State #fail" firework show, remember that the Big Ten Conference (and the fabric of college football, for that matter) is suffering here, too.

Like it or not, the Big Ten (yes, even Michigan) needs a healthy Ohio State. The Buckeyes have been the flag bearer in a league that hasn't exactly sparkled nationally during the Bowl Championship Series era.

A rising tide lifts all boats. And currently, the Big Ten's boat isn't stocked with elite teams.

Wisconsin's the real deal. But beyond that? Nebraska looked like a junior varsity squad against the Badgers last week, Michigan says itself that it’s overrated, Illinois is unbeaten (barely), Michigan State slugged through a slop fest to topple struggling Ohio State and shot its own foot off in a loss to Notre Dame, Penn State nearly lost to Temple and Iowa has a non-league loss against Iowa State.

The Big Ten needs Ohio State to fix this, one way or another.

And in order for that to happen, Smith needs to figure out the proper definition of "systemic."

Or resign.

Whichever comes first.


After Michigan's 58-0, Little Brown Jug-clinching win over Minnesota, the Wolverines are the Big Ten's "sky high" team and the Gophers are at "rock bottom".

Melanie Maxwell |

Sky high: Michigan (5-0)

Brady Hoke thinks his team's overrated, Ryan Van Bergen says a top 25 ranking is a curse and somewhere Rich Rodriguez is conjuring up feelings of deja vu.

But does it matter?

Michigan is undefeated, the Wolverines are tied for second overall nationally in scoring defense, Denard Robinson is still really fast, Devin Gardner is getting on the field and Hoke seems to have Ann Arbor in the palm of his hand.

There's no telling where Michigan goes from here, and Wisconsin seems to be the unquestioned powerhouse in the league. On top of that, the possibility exists that the Wolverines' wheels could rattle off into another late-season implosion.

But, for now, Michigan fans seem to be confidently smiling for the first time in a long time. And there's little reason to find fault in that.

Rock bottom: Minnesota (1-4)

Atrocious? Horrendous? Abominable? Embarrassing? Take your pick, they all pretty much sum up the Golden Gophers' showing last week in the pillow fight for the Little Brown Jug.

Now, to be fair, coach Jerry Kill has had a rough season off the field, and is dealing with health issues. And he team was without its top offensive weapon in MarQueis Gray due to a toe injury.

But are those reasons enough to overlook a 58-0 dump-trucking? I think not.

The Golden Gophers are last in the Big Ten in scoring offense, scoring defense, total defense, pass efficiency, pass defense efficiency, third down offense and defense, sacks by and turnover margin.

When will the Gophers next win a game? They've got Purdue at home this week.

From there? Well, let's just say they'd better focus in on Purdue.

Last week's heavy lifter:
WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois

Jenkins did his best Plaxico Burress vs. Michigan impression in Illinois' 38-35 win over Northwestern on Saturday.

The senior from Jacksonville hauled in 12 catches for 268 yards and three touchdowns as the Illini stayed perfect on the year.

Jenkins' big performance pushed him in front of Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham on the stat list, as he now leads the league in catches (40) and yards (633).

Standout stats:


Points allowed, through five games, by Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan. The Spartans, Badgers and Wolverines are all tied for the No. 2 spot in the country in scoring defense with 10.2 points allowed per contest.


Total touchdowns scored by Wisconsin junior running back Montee Ball this season. He has rushed for 13 touchdowns (a national best) and caught one scoring pass. If you're a college fantasy football fanatic (if such a thing exists), I'd suggest putting Ball in your lineup this week.


Knee to the groin against Northwestern that earned Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown a public reprimand by the Big Ten and a one-game suspension from the Illini.


Yards per rush by Ohio State in a 10-7 loss to Michigan State last week. The Buckeyes technically carried the ball 39 times for 35 yards. Most of that stat can be attributed to the Spartans' pass rush, as MSU sacked quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman nine times.

Set your DVR for:


Nebraska coach Bo Pelini in his Ohio State uniform in 1989.

Associated Press

Ohio State at No. 14 Nebraska (8 p.m., ABC)

Subplot city.

The Cornhuskers continue their Big Ten welcome tour with a home date against the conference's flag bearer over the past few seasons.

The Buckeyes are struggling (on and off the field) right now, but that doesn't take any luster off this one, especially considering Nebraska coach Bo Pelini played at Ohio State from 1987-90, has been mentioned as an eventual candidate for the head job at OSU once the year ends, and will likely continue to be a part of that rumor mill whether he wants to or not.

Chance Pelini snaps at a reporter at some point this week for asking if he's considered the possibility of coaching at his alma mater? On a scale of calm to conniption? I'll go with controlled rage.


"I didn't watch every play in that Wisconsin game, it's tough for me to stay awake that late on a Saturday night." — Penn State head coach Joe Paterno on how he felt the primetime game between Wisconsin and Nebraska went last weekend.

Off the cuff

Purdue coach Danny Hope was asked earlier this week to explain his thoughts on speculation that he's on the hot seat after an embarrassing home loss to Notre Dame last week.

Hope's reply: "What do you mean by that?"

Well, Danny, the term hot seat has little to do with any unseasonably warm West Lafayette weather and everything to do with the fact that you're 11-17 in your third year with the program.

How hot is Hope's seat, exactly? According to the folks at, his chair is warmer than anyone's in the Big Ten. The site (which ranks all 120 FBS coaches, 1 being the hottest, 120 being the safest) ranks Hope's seat as the 17th hottest in the country. That's three spots above Ohio State's Luke Fickell.

The safest Big Ten coach? Wisconsin's Bret Bielema (No. 116). Michigan's Brady Hoke comes in at No. 104.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Fri, Oct 7, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

osu may WANT to remain relevant-----the delany offices may WANT the denizens of columbus to remain relevant----espn/abc may desire that the buckeyes remain relevant. but trust me on this----NO michigan fan wants the team from ohio to become prominent again. my fervent desire is that the pot currently simmering in columbus continues to boil and boil for the next five or seven or more years. let them pay the price for their transgressions.


Fri, Oct 7, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

Yeah! The Buckeyes enjoyed 9 years of the Jim Tressel era with ineligible players! lol Let them be the B1G doormat for the next 9 years. hahaha


Fri, Oct 7, 2011 : 11:18 a.m.

Regarding the headline to this article...No, we don't need OSU back on it's feet. It is refreshing to see the new powers of the B1G such as Wisconsin, and a Michigan team getting back on it's feet, the potential emergence of IL and the next evil empire: Sparty. OSU cheated for over 10 years and are not derserving to go to a bowl game this year. I hope they fall short legit with a 5 win or less season. OSU really needs to take a back seat for a few years. It is more fun to see the several teams and programs mentioned above battle it out. Honerable mention goes to Penn State, Iowa and Nebraska. The conference is alive and well. I can live in an OSU-less world for now and it will be better place.

Lorain Steelmen

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 9:23 p.m.

Thoughts at large... 1.Ever since I escaped from Lorain, Ohio, in 1965 to come to U of M, I have rooted against the Scarlet and Grey, so the recent troubles down there are, just fine with me. To put it another way, if THEosu were playing the Taliban, I'd root for the Taliban. 2. I hope....Danny HOPE....gets the ziggy this year after UM puts up a 49-7 pouning on them, (10/29/11), and then the Purdue AD hires Rich Rod, aka, the 'Snake Oil Salesman' to replace Hope. I'd just LOVE that. 3. UM, please take the Wildcats seriously this weekend.....Perna is the real deal. 4. It's too bad, markie dantonio, and the spartans will get TWO weeks to prepare for the Wolverines. If msu loses that one, maybe dantonio can put in for Fickells' job at the end of the season. Thought...does anyone else wonder, if Fickell is just a sacrifical lamb / place holder, until the buckeyes can bring in Urban Meyer? Hmmm.

Lorain Steelmen

Fri, Oct 7, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

So would Urban Meyere even want that job?. High pressure, and probable NCAA violations to work through....and this is a guy that left the Gators because of the pressure???? I the more I think about this, I think osu may be looking for someone else.


Fri, Oct 7, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

How about Al Qaeda against Ohio State? lolz When Danny Hope brought that player to Rich Rod in the after game handshake, that showed a very unclassy coach right there and when Hope made Rich Rod a classier man than he was, that is something. lol Of course OSU wants a big name, they just tested Fickel if he could do the job this year.


Fri, Oct 7, 2011 : 11:20 a.m.

Hope and the snake oil salesman...funny. Hope is going to canned soon. Even Purdue has standards and a little tradition. He knows what the hot seat means, it is something he doesn't want the press to ask him...He will be gone sometime in December. We would just soon he stays. The big ten needs at least 2 doormats in Indiana.


Fri, Oct 7, 2011 : 2:47 a.m.

#4 - no Lorain, I think you are the first one to mention that......ahem


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

Your suggestion about Purdue is quite funny, LS. Thanks for the laugh!!


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

"The Buckeyes have been the flag bearer in a league that hasn't exactly sparkled nationally during the Bowl Championship Series era." If one becomes the flag bearer by cheating, I want to part of it.


Fri, Oct 7, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

All of those teams since Maurice Clarret and when Jim Tressel is the coach, all of them have ineligible players! That includes games in 2006 when UM lose by 3!


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

"NO"not "to"


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

The B1G does not need Ohio State! They disgraced the conference since Jim Tressel was hired! All the conference needs is a good 3-4 teams in the top20 like Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska etc etc yearly and the conference is fine, if Ohio State goes on to catch up then that is okay, but the B1G is okay even if Ohio State is down. lol


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 5:32 p.m.

Absolutely do NOT need Ohio to be on top. Ridiculous. If blindly propping up cheaters and liars is the epitome of our conference the B1G is indeed in serious trouble.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

"No systemic problem" ranks right up there on the Pinocchio-meter with "I am not a crook."


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 4:21 p.m.

tsio living up to the old bumper sticker I used to see around Ann Arbor: "Directions to Columbus: South 'till you smell it, east 'till you step in it." Something is definitely rotten down there. Inspired by our new coach's spirited enthusiasm for this rivalry, my perspective is that it would be best for the Big 10 if tsio played by the rules, and I'd be just fine and happy if they went 0-12 next year, including a 87-0 drubbing by the Wolverines.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

stanley steamer could not clean this mess up. . . heads are going to have to roll from the top to the bottom!! GO BLUE!!!!!!!!!


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

I don't need the convicts from OSU to EVER come back? What about the other 11 teams? Wisconsin? Michigan? PSU? Nebraska? I would rather 4-5 really GOOD teams than one outstanding team that lies, cheats and steals it's way to championships. But maybe that's just me. Nick, are you an OSU grad by any chance?


Fri, Oct 7, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

not an osu grad but an msu grad i'm surmising.

John of Saline

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

I'd like Indiana or Minnesota to finally pull it together and do well for once.

Buster W.

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

Well said, EyeHeartA2!!

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

You've make a good point, A2, in that it's not just about Ohio State. Everyone needs to improve. And everyone needs to go about improving the right way. And, no, I'm not an Ohio State grad. Not an Ohio native. A Michigander, actually. Just someone who enjoys really competitive college football.

Buster W.

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

I completely agree with "tim" above. OSU needs to be put in its place short-term (at least the next few years)...then let them work their way back by building a clean program. I don't think they can do that until they get rid of the likes of Gene Smith, and I even question Gordy Lee for that matter as he bowed to JT.

Ron Granger

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

Indeed. And I am willing to do my part in helping Ohio get back on their feet, and avoid temptations of the flesh, and of the dollar. That's why I am offering FREE TATTOOING to any Ohio football player. They just need to come to Ann Arbor to get the tattoos.

Stephen Landes

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

Every house needs a doormat. I don't mind if the Big House doormat has a big "O" on it for a while.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:20 p.m.

Montee Ball won't score many points during a bye week! As for tOSU, no program in the B1G should cheat. They are not a standard bearer in any way when they recruit athletes via under the table payments. Agreed that we need more teams winning bowl games at year's end, but I don't care which teams those are. The big 2, little 8 model is not a healthy model for a stable conference (see, UT, OU, Big 12 minus 3).

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

Great point, mcammer! But if anyone could get you points on a bye week, wouldn't it be Montee Ball???


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

It's ok with me if OSU stays down for a while -- say ten years or so.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

What planet does Smith live on when he's not making absurd comments to the press? "No systemic problem"? Really? The very fact he made this statement proves the opposite.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:04 p.m.

You wrote..."The Big Ten needs Ohio State to fix this, one way or another.' I beg to differ...The Big Ten needs MICHIGAN to fix this! And we will. Yes, a rising tide lifts all boats. That tide will be provided by our Wolverines. Go Blue!


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.

Nick, I agree with you 100% on that. I'm just tired of the media painting tosu as the darling of college football and the saviour of the Big10. Fact of the matter is..yes, Michigan has been down in the last few years, but we ARE the Big10, and we ARE college football. That's not being arrogant...that's stating fact! Tosu's record in the last few years means nothing if they aren't playing against top competition in their own conference. We will provide that competition, and we will do it the right way...NO CHEATING! Yes, we want a strong tosu, but we also want every other team in the conference to be strong as well.

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

That may happen, Raisin. But wouldn't you agree that two heads are better than one? Four better than two? ... When Michigan and Ohio State are both "right," that game (and the conference's appeal in general) elevates to a higher level. Be honest, now. How much more entertaining is a Michigan-Ohio State game when both squads have a shot at the league title?


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

"The program itself is fine, Smith says. It's just a few individuals causing a stir. " Gene, when you are part of the problem, you cannot be part of the solution. Resign.


Fri, Oct 7, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

The past articles were funny! lol! "....Suspended were Pryor, Herron etc and Jim Tressel..." Jim Tressel is a homie now? lolz Include Jim Tressel in those individuals.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

They won't fire him. That would be admitting that the rot was sytemic.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

Don't want Smith to resign. THat's the easy way out. He's a cheater and liar just like the Vest. He needs to be fired. That's only fair.