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Posted on Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 5 p.m.

Big Ten's wide open race, Joe Paterno goes for No. 400 and Rich Rodriguez finds no magic button

By Pete Bigelow

One month remains, and the Big Ten race is wide open.

Four conference teams enter November tied atop the standings with one loss apiece. Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Iowa are all vying for the title.

“I thought going into the year that our conference would have a chance to have a presence in the national scene,” Ohio State’s Jim Tressel said. “I think after nine games, that’s proven to be true.”

A series of six tiebreakers would be used to determine the conference’s BCS representative should four teams finish tied for third place.

(See attachment at bottom of page.)

In reality, the Big Ten probably won’t need them. If anything, the conference has been in flux all season.

Consider that No. 1 Ohio State was clobbered by Wisconsin, which was soundly beaten by Michigan State, which was destroyed by Iowa. Perhaps the circle of cannibalizing their own will come full circle when the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes meet Nov. 20.

“It’s great that we have four teams ranked and, at the end of the season, it will be something comparable to that,” Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz said. “There’s a lot of football left. We’re only at the halfway point of the conference race.

“A lot of things can still happen.”

Iowa may have the toughest road of the four contenders ahead. The Hawkeyes play on the road three times, and host Ohio State in the Nov. 20 clash.


Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez and Penn State coach Joe Paterno talk before Saturday's game. The Nittany Lions' 41-31 win was Paterno's 399th career win.

Melanie Maxwell |

ONE WIN AWAY The last thing Joe Paterno wanted to talk about Tuesday afternoon was the possibility he’d reach win No. 400 of his coaching career this weekend against Northwestern.

“I don’t really care about it,” said Paterno, who notched No. 399 in Saturday’s 41-31 win over Michigan.

Others around the conference celebrated on his behalf.

“Let me put this in perspective,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “Jim Tressel just got to 100 in 10 years. … I’ve remarked to my wife, do we have 50 yet? So it’s amazing.”

Paterno has served 534 games as head coach, second in college football history behind the 578 coached by Amos Alonzo Stagg at Chicago. The other 10 current Big Ten coaches have been on the sidelines for a combined 601 games, winning 363 times.

“It’s hard to even have any of us in the business comprehend exactly what that is,” Tressel said. “It’s amazing.”

POSTSEASON GLUT? Iowa and Northwestern became bowl eligible with wins Saturday, giving the Big Ten five bowl-eligible schools. Three more are one win away from postseason eligibility.

For the first time, the conference has eight bowl alliances. But that might not be enough for all the eligible teams should Indiana or Purdue, both sitting at the four-win mark, also become eligible.

“We went through that a couple of years ago, and it’s not great,” Ferentz said of his 6-6 squad in 2007. “It’s always a nice reward, but I’m not sure what we did deserve it. It wasn’t much fun, but you get what you deserve a lot of times.”

MORE OF THE SAME In his appearance on the Big Ten conference call Tuesday, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez echoed many of the same sentiments he did on Monday regarding his team’s defensive woes.

“I wish it was just one thing,” he said, “because if it was, that’d be a lot easier to fix. It seems like it’s a different issue or different thing every week. We have a finger on what we have to do, but it’s not as easily solved as pushing a magic button.”


Tiebreakers for Big Ten.

Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.


Blueman Rick

Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 11:06 p.m.

Harbaugh is the only clear choice. Come on Brandon. Make the move.


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 7:01 p.m.

Lorain, Chris spielman is a Michigan man? What?


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 10:57 a.m.

out... show me where rr made up fake gpa stats??? GO BLUE...

Lorain Steelmen

Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 10:08 a.m.

Wasn't there a guy at Northwestern SEVERAL of years ago, named Barnett? He might be a guy that could come in, and handle the spread offense. Miles and Harbaugh are NOT the ansewer, and they are NOT coming to UM! The other alternative is for RR to throw Robinson, AND his assistants, under the bus. Then RR could hire a former UM defensive player...someone like, Glen Steele or Larry Foote, or, even Chris Spielman. Spielman has OSU ties, but would fit in. These guys would satisfy the fans who say thay want a UM man here, yet keep the top offensive coach in the country, in RR, as headman.


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

Theo You kill me. Gonzales? Richards? ROFLMAO!! That's funny stuff. I will hand you this, had Carr played those guys, we would not be in our current situation. Carr would have been let go years before he left and we'd probably by in year 5 or 6 of the Les Miles Regime, with us perhaps sitting w/a National Title instead of LSU. Next to last Ann Arbor stop on the RichRod Farewell tour this weekend!


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 8:50 a.m.

Isn't Bob Davey available right now? Sorry, only kidding. Somewhere there is a super coach out there and would love to coach Michigan. Another guy who can't miss: Bo, Schembechker, Urban Myer, Nick Saban, Jim Tressel, and many others were totally invisible at one point in their careers.


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

Les Miles is not the answer. He was undefeated earlier this year and LSU fan were trying to get him fired still. Harbaugh is not the answer. He has made it clear of his desire to coach in the NFL. He will be in the NFL. Get over it. To be completely honest with you, I do not see an availible coach who would be a fit for Michigan at this point in the season. This means that Michigan will have to "steal" another teams coach once again if they choose to fire RR. Will be interesting to see who in the world would want this job knowing the feat that is ahead of them. If I were a successful pro-style coach I would turn the job down in a heartbeat. It will take a couple of years to turn the program around and with Michigan fans demanding wins like they doit would be a nightmare. Will be interesting how this plays out.


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 6:53 a.m.

@MikeBush:?????? Have you read anything about LSU lately and how ticked off all their fans are at Miles? They can't get him out of Baton Rouge fast enough. HINT: There's a reason for that. Michigan does NOT want Les Miles any more. As for Harbaugh, again - wrong. Harbaugh is a proven motivator, recruiter, and coach. Whether or not we could coax him away from Stanford or the NFL remains to be seen. We'll see how the rest of the season plays out. But, at a minimum, we need an overhaul of our defensive coaches.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 10:18 p.m.

RR may win just enough to get UM to a completely mediocre bowl, keep his job, and keep UM in the doldrums for another year...


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:50 p.m.

JH for the next UM coach! Can't wait, Go Blue!!!

3 And Out

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 7:18 p.m.

have no problems with what JH said about is turning out to be true, as RR is showing with all of his kids that dont qualify academically, and it is time for a coach like JH to come in who has high standards for the team academically, rather than making up fake GPA stats like RR did.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 6:13 p.m.

and by the way jim is probaly going pro. and remember what he said about michigan.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 6:12 p.m.

how did jim do against oregon this year.and 10-12 years is better. gives him time to groom another coach. and that sand diego rich rod did well at west virgina and the lower schools also. les still runs the spread and knows how to coach a defense. it would be eaiser to convince tate or denard to stay and other recruits. esp when you have a national championship ring.

3 And Out

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 5:59 p.m.

^ I made a typo above and meant to say that JH has 3 wins vs. USC in 4 years... and that is impressive with Stanford talent.

3 And Out

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 5:57 p.m.

I agree with your ^ assessment to fire Rich Rod...that is a no brainer. My problem with Les Miles are that he is nearly 60 years old and his age may affect long term coaching status that we prefer to have at Michigan, and perhaps more importantly his loose gun-slinging gambling mentality would most likely not fit in here, PARTICULARLY after the loose mentality of Rich Rod. We just cant make the mistake of hiring another loose canon, or potentially loose canon. btw, you say JH has not proven anything? well he won big at San Diego, made the jump to Stanford which was 1-11 before he got there and had not had a winning season in 7 years(!).... and he now has them 7-1 and has 3 wins vs. Stanford and beat Oregon last year so he knows how to a) build a very good team from scratch and b) beat rivals and other top teams in his conference. He also knows and loves Michigan...and would put the fear in Sparty and OSU...those programs worst nightmares would be Jim Harbaugh coming to coach at Michigan.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 5:49 p.m.

les miles for next uofm coach. he wins chapionships he know michigan football and who better to prepare us vs alabama. he coaches in the tough sec.harbaugh is overated not only is he going pro but he only has 2 good years at stanford.go blue fire rich rod