Big Ten officials must have listened to the points I made Monday, because the second day of Big Ten Media Days turned into an incredibly exciting show.
Michigan State Spartans Mark Dantonio stuck out his chest, James Franklin continued to stir the pot, and Penn State sanctions were revisited. Heck, even Tim Tebow got a shout out. That alone speaks to an entertaining media circus.
As mentioned earlier today, Dantonio drew controversy when he said his team would’ve won the national championship in a college football playoff last year. See what I wrote about that here.
In short, Dantonio had a point to say that his team was playing as well as anybody at the end of the year, and their only loss was by 4 points on the road to Notre Dame early in the season, as Connor Cook was still settling in as the starting quarterback. Also, there’s a chance they would’ve beaten Auburn or Stanford, but I don’t see how they could’ve beaten Florida State or Alabama, if the Tide got in over Stanford.
James Franklin and Penn State Continue to Make Headlines
In two days, Penn State Head Coach James Franklin already appears to own the Big Ten coaches in public relations skills. He’s also shown he’s not afraid to ruffle feathers, stirring up controversy in Maryland and creating tension with former fellow SEC coaches. But as he’s offered no apologies for doing so, rightly noting that his job is to think about Penn State and nobody else, comparisons to Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have come up.
Which brings us to Tuesday, when a reporter asked Franklin if he has any Urban Meyer in him, in a story on PennLive you can see here.
At first, Franklin played ignorant to not understanding the question, but then he made the point that he’s comfortable in his own skin and simply trying to be James Franklin. Honestly, with his personality, anybody can attest to the fact that it’s true there is only one James Franklin. And he’s owned this year’s Big Ten Media Days.
The Penn State sanctions were also brought up Tuesday. Penn State Linebacker Mike Hull talked about lifting the bowl ban on the program, saying that what was levied against the Nittany Lions was “basically the worst thing you can do to the program” next to the death penalty.
After two years of humiliation and suffering, lifting the bowl ban is something I think most people can get on board with. This is a completely different regime than the one that was running the program less than three years ago.
And Hull is right to point out that the program has done everything right since the sanctions were levied. But then he had to make this quote.
“I don’t think we did anything wrong in the first place.”
Really? Are you speaking for yourself, your players, or the university? Because nobody can deny that there was a lack of institutional control somewhere, and whether or not you were a part of it, I would dare you to look into the eyes of the mothers of those kids who were victimized and say nothing was done wrong on behalf of the university.
I’m not saying Hull claimed to speak on behalf of the university, but if he is talking specifically about the players and fans getting a raw deal for something they had nothing to do with, welcome to college football.
USC fans and players on the 2010 team had nothing to do with the Reggie Bush scandal, but they had to face the NCAA’s wrath because of it. The same holds true for Ohio State in 2011 and Alabama in the early 2000s. In the 1980s SMU…okay scratch that. Cheating was so rampant with that program I’d bet half the fans were involved in paying the players.
(I’m only joking SMU fans, before any of you come at me.)
However, Penn State alumni, fans, players and coaches all have to understand that NCAA punishments always affect innocent bystanders, and it’s always wrong. I’ve said that for years. But if that’s going to be the precedent for punishing programs, then you have to admit the governing body had no choice but to levy sanctions against the Nittany Lions because there is no way to describe how much of a lesser scandal pay for play is than child molestation, covering up for that child molestation, and finally allowing it to continue for nearly 15 years. Based on the dumb way the NCAA punishes programs, Penn State had to be punished.
So be careful, Mr. Hull, when you say you don’t think “we” did anything wrong in the first place. Be sure to clarify who “we” is.
But I do agree that it might be time to lift the sanctions on the program, which appears to be on its way back thanks to great coaching by Bill O’Brien and now great recruiting by Franklin.
Urban Meyer Baffled that Tim Tebow Isn’t in the NFL
As Big Ten Media Days continued Tuesday, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer brought up his former Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow.
Meyer said via NFL.com that he doesn’t understand how Tebow still doesn’t have a job in the NFL. See the story here.
“I still don’t get that part of it,” he said. “He’s the second-most efficient passer ever to play college football.”
While I’m a Tebow supporter and believe he deserves another shot as well, I have to say that the media circus has uttered that name so much the past few years that I got sick of hearing about it. Hearing his name from so many people that no nothing about football, it’s nice for somebody who actually coached him and helped make him a household name is now finally back commenting on him.
However, while Meyer’s facts are right, they’re incomplete.
Tebow’s passing efficiency came at a time when the spread offense was just taking on college football defenses by firestorm, and he was the perfect quarterback to run it with his strength and accuracy. Having Percy Harvin, Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, Aaron Hernandez, and a plethora of other weapons at Florida didn’t hurt, and neither did a supporting defense lead by Charlie Strong, which had amazing weapons on its own.
But overall I agree with Meyer because, while Tebow can’t be a superstar in the NFL, he’s efficient enough to be a serviceable quarterback on a good team, and he should’ve at least proven that.
Perhaps this is a recruiting tool for Meyer. Reminding people he coached Tebow right now could go one of two ways with quarterbacks.
They could say he turns them into household names, having done so with Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Tebow, and now Braxton Miller, or they could say that he’ll maximize their college shine but doesn’t necessarily develop them properly for the NFL. Smith took seven years to finally amount to something at the pro-level, Leak never made it, and although Tebow is efficient, everybody would agree he has terrible mechanics. I’m sorry, but bad mechanics means bad college coaching.
You don’t think some NFL-minded quarterbacks are realizing that about Meyer? He finds the perfect guys to fit into his system, and while spread offenses can work to a degree in the NFL with the right quarterback, that quarterback still has to have certain mechanics that weren’t needed in the college game.
Tebow’s throwing motion never improved, and his release never got quicker in four years at Florida. That’s what made him look so poorly at certain times his first full year starting. And the fact that those issues were never solved falls squarely on the shoulders of Meyer.