Elliot Mann's Blog

Posts tagged TCF Bank Stadium

0 notes &

LINKS: Gopher football Mother’s Day Edition

In this episode:
• Why the Minnesota Golden Gophers should win at least five games in 2011;
• Why MarQueis Gray is more likely to run for 1,000 yards than pass for 3,000;

• A Cedar Rapids Gazette journalist writes that he likes Ryan Field more than the Big House; he also says Beaver Stadium is his favorite in the Big Ten without even the slightest snicker or laugh;
• How a Boise State tennis coach driving an tennis player to a bank to deposit thousands of dollars she illegally gave to the athlete relates to Boise State football recruits sleeping on couches, and how that in turn relates to Jim Tressel turning a blind-eye to a “gold pants for a used Chevy Tahoe” scheme.

Also, don’t forget — in your best Mark Wahlberg voice — to say hello to your mother today.

Gophers Spring Practice (Credit: Pioneer Press)• ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg released his “Post-Spring Power Rankings,” ranking the Golden Gophers 11th. (I have to admit for a second I thought, “How can the Gophers be lower than Indiana?!” Then I quickly remembered that there are now 12 teams. Early morning blogging. Image credit: Pioneer Press)

Here’s Rittenberg’s take: “New coach Jerry Kill made his demands crystal clear this spring, and we’ll now see how many players are up to the task. Kill said Minnesota must get a lot tougher, a process that typically takes a season or two to fully sink in. Quarterback MarQueis Gray drew favorable reviews and established himself as the leader of the offense, and the linebackers should be a strength this fall. Many question(s) remain, however, especially along both lines and at receiver.”

I’d rather expectations start low for Jerry Kill rather than, I don’t know, people parading around with a patch of grass from the Rose Bowl, but I think Kill’s squad has the ability to approach six wins this year.

I can’t begrudge Rittenberg for putting the Gophers at the bottom; most would put Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota in a three-way toss up, with Northwestern and Michigan not far ahead. Yes, that means that at least five teams in the Big Ten are going to be middle of the road, not including Indiana at the bottom. The teams right above that group aren’t separated by much either: many have Iowa taking a slight step back, due to heavy losses on both offense and defense; and Michigan isn’t ready to win its division quite yet. Meanwhile, the Gophers have a favorable schedule this year; they don’t face Ohio State or Penn State and get to face Iowa and Illinois at home. Those are two winnable games, as are other home games against New Mexico State, Miami (OH) and North Dakota State. The road schedule includes winnable contests at Purdue, Northwestern and Michigan. Now, only an insane person would count those as bankable victories, but those are eight games that the Gophers should be able to keep close; five of which are at home.

Maybe the above paragraph only convinces the people over at Homesota.com, but last year’s team made a marked improvement by the end of last year with wins against Illinois and Iowa. Also, count me in the class that believes the change to mobile quarterback MarQueis Gray will account for at least a win or two, as will the coaching change to Kill and Co. from the likes of Tim Brewster and Kevin Cosgrove.

This might be a dangerous question, but how can this Gophers team not improve from last year? After 15 practices, Jerry Kill’s coaching staff already has the players operating under a completely different mindset. The main two losses were defensive tackle Jewhan Edwards and quarterback Adam Weber, but defensive line is a position of relative depth and Weber’s graduation is addition by subtraction, in that the move puts Gray behind center.

This team has talent — the cupboard isn’t bare — but it was rudderless the past few years under Brewster and the revolving door of coordinators. It’s tough to take too much from spring practice, but the positive change in intensity and play from players like Troy Stoudermire is palpable.

The defensive backfield and overall depth are big questions marks — which Michael Carter will show up this year, will Kim Royston recover from injury, will Da’Jon McKnight need to be a one-man receiving army — while the team’s starting QB has thrown a total of 23 collegiate passes. But barring injuries and those questions, the Gophers should approach five wins. Does that put them above the cluster of Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue? We’ll see.

• Elsewhere, Rittenberg rolled out his spring summary ammunition, profiling his “Potential 3,000 yard passers" — Gray was mentioned as an outside candidate — and his "Potential 1,000 yard rushers" — Gray wasn’t. I have a post coming soon about Gray’s projected 2011 stats and in previewing that, I think Gray has a much better shot at reaching 1,000 yards by foot than 3,000 by air. (Over at FringeBowlTeamBlog, MV agrees.) For one, we’ve seen what Gray can do by running the ball and we’ve also seen what question marks exist with the Gophers receiving corps. Added to that, Kill’s system didn’t have a 3,000-yard passer in three years at Northern Illinois.

• Is Penn State’s “Beaver Stadium” the best stadium in the Big Ten? It is according to Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette it is (he didn’t rank Kinnick).

The Gophers’ home comes in sixth; while the most surprising entry is Michigan at No. 8. Hlas also really likes Northwestern’s Ryan Field, although he lists reasons like, “I like the fact that, with the toughest academic standards and smallest stadium, Northwestern can still field teams that can beat anyone on any given day.” That seems like a good reason to support Northwestern to be in the conference, but I don’t see how that line of thinking brings into account things like sight lines, game atmosphere and bathroom/concession lines when ranking stadiums. (If I’m dancing like a three-year old while I wait for a urinal, I’m not going to be comforted by the Rockwellian-romanticism that, “Gosh, it sure is great that a private school can compete in the Big Ten, that totally makes me forget about this warm stream running down my leg.”) But hey, I can’t blast Hlas too much, he ranked TCF Bank No. 6.

I’m still enthused by the new-stadium smell of TCF Bank — compared to the stale, old urine cake smell of the Metrodome — and I also like the Gophers’ new digs more than Kinnick in terms of bathroom and concession lines. But Minnesota still has miles to go in terms of gameday atmosphere and pre-game festivities; Iowa City on a fall Saturday is a thing to experience in person (and then struggle to recall later).

Boise State Quarterback Kellen Moore• Allowing a potential recruit to sleep on the couch or the floor of another student’s room — sometimes as simple as $2 and some loose change from the couch cushions — is an NCAA violation, according to this report about Boise State University’s football program apparently violating NCAA secondary violations.

In response, the football team will forfeit three scholarships over the next two years and also three preseason practices next year; the NCAA will decide June 10 if that is enough of a punishment or to lower the ax further on BSU. (Note: The photo of Kellen Moore in no way asserts that he was involved in anything unethical; it was just a stock photo of the Broncos best player.)

The football program was involved on the fringe of a much larger investigation of the Boise State athletic department, particularly the tennis team, which has been accused of severe penalties, according to the Idaho Statesman. How severe are the infractions? Severe. How about a coach driving an athlete to a bank to open what was essentially a slush fund, which the coach then filled with more than $1,000 to provide for an Intensive English Program that would allow the athlete to qualify for Boise State enrollment?

Meanwhile, the football team had arranged for recruits to stay with other current BSU athletes, sometimes for free. Since that isn’t an option offered to all prospective students, the Smurf Turf thoroughbreds got flagged.

Here’s the actual wording from BroncoSports.com:

The NCAA alleged that, during the summers of 2005 through 2009, the assistant football coaches and staff members arranged summer housing and transportation in Boise with other student-athletes, sometimes for free or at a reduced cost, for 63 prospective student-athletes so they could participate in otherwise valid summer workouts. In each case, the prospective student-athletes were provided housing by existing student-athletes and slept in spare rooms, on couches or sometimes on the floor. The total dollar value, as determined by the NCAA, for all of the housing, transportation and meals provided to the 63 prospective student-athletes over five years was $4,934.

As Matt “Dr. Saturday” Hinton of Rivals/Yahoo Sports figured: “A total benefit of $4,934 accumulated over five years comes to less than $1,000 a year, and accumulated over 63 individual cases amounts to an improper benefit of $78.32 per case. The actual number is a little higher: In 23 of the 60 cases, recruits paid the full value of housing, transportation and meals themselves. … Values of individual benefits ranged from a low of $2.34 to a high of $417.55, all for free or reduced-cost housing and transportation, and all of it later paid back by the recruits.”

It will be interesting to see what the NCAA does here, being that Ohio State University is also under investigation due to players who sold game-worn jerseys and team memorabilia for tattoos and, in one case, a used Chevy Tahoe. Actually, more issues with car sales are being investigated, according to ESPN. (Oh, and tOSU ballcoach reportedly lied to NCAA investigators about his knowledge of the larger memorabilia scheme for several weeks/months.) A certain population of college football fans online have opined that the NCAA is often light on the big programs, while hammering the smaller ones.

If Boise State’s football program — essentially the college football version of the Tampa Bay Rays winning the AL East — gets hammered by the NCAA while Ohio State gets slapped lightly on the wrist, then they might as well just allow the helmet schools to operate SMU-type slush-funds, while the other guys adhere to a set of antiquated rules that no one seems to follow anyway.

• Here’s an interesting read also from Hinton comparing the current size of the most recent top NFL Draft picks to when they entered college. (In Julio Jones’s case, he actually lost weight from his reported figures, while some of the other guys seemed to morph into completely different people.)

Of the top 20 picks, I thought it would be interesting to see how the college recruiting stars broke down. Now, when Rivals evaluators rank players, they aren’t necessarily ranking the player’s NFL potential, they are ranking their possible success at the collegiate level.

Top 20 picks:
(6) • Five star: Cam Newton (FL), A.J. Green (GA), Julio Jones (AL), Patrick Johnson (LSU), Tyron Smith (USC), Blaine Gabbert (MIZ)
(5) • Four star: Jake Locker (UW), Robert Quinn (UNC), Michael Pouncey (FL), Corey Liuget (ILL), Adrian Clayborn (IOWA)
(8) • Three star: Von Miller (TAM), Marcel Dareus (AL), Aldon Smith (MIZ), Christian Ponder (FSU), Nick Fairley (AUB), Ryan Kerrigan (PUR), Nate Solder (CU), Prince Amukamara (NEB),
(1) • Two star: J.J. Watt (WI, CMICH).

There’s nothing here that shouts “Recruiting rankings are meaningless!”, but it is worth noting how many three-star recruits can become solid, if not star, contributors at the collegiate level with hard work and the right system.

Filed under Big Ten Football Boise State University MarQueis Gray Minnesota Golden Gophers Football NCAA violations NFL Draft Ohio State Buckeyes links TCF Bank Stadium Big 10 Football Stadiums