College Football Notes & Quotes: Week 13

Jonathan Schopp


Spartan Nation talked one last time to Coaches around the Big Ten earlier this week to gather some thoughts and get you ready for the Conference’s Championship weekend of play.

Mark Dantonio

On the whether the Penn St. matchup would present the year’s biggest challenge to the Spartan Offensive Line:

“I think in every football game versus Penn St., you’ve gotta win up front. When we beat them in ’07, we won up front. That’ll be critical as the game progresses. With that being said, you’ve gotta stop the run and make them somewhat one dimensional, as best as you can, on the Defensive side of the ball as well.

…To me, being able to be successful running the football and staying balanced against a football team like Penn St. is probably as crucial as anything.”

On whether Conferences should use the BCS (or any arbitrary ranking system) in determining a tie breaker, given the fact that the BCS was designed only to identify two teams for the National Championship game, and given the past problems other leagues have had using the BCS rankings in a tie breaking fashion:

“I think it’s difficult. That’s what we voted on as a Big Ten Coaches group this past May. And so that’s the way it is, and I really haven’t spent too much time thinking about that, I just know that’s the way it is.

Some people I do feel get more publicity than others, based on the nature of the programs, and that’s the thing I thought was a little unfair going into it, but there’s nothing you can really do to deal with that.

So the main focus that we want to have is, “hey let’s win a football game, be 11-1, be Co-Champions, or Big Ten Champions out right, depending on other aspects, but control what we can control, and not worry about the things that we can’t.”

Jim Tressel

On whether Conferences should use the BCS (or any arbitrary ranking system) in determining a tie breaker, given the fact that the BCS was designed only to identify two teams for the National Championship game, and given the past problems other leagues have had using the BCS rankings in a tie breaking fashion:

“You know what, I don’t even know exactly what the tie breakers are, and I’m not in the administrative end of things, I’m in the coaching end of things. Just like scheduling, or what weekends we’re playing, or what time we’re playing, or what the tie breakers have to be, I really don’t extend any time or energy in thinking about those things because, quite frankly, I have nothing to do with them.”

On the performance of Terrelll Pryor during the key stretch of the Buckeyes’ game winning drive last Saturday against Iowa, which included a Pryor scramble to convert a 4th and 10:

“The thing about Terrelle that I’ve known since I’ve gotten to know him back in High School is that he really is a perfectionist, and he wants things to go the right way, and he wants to compete, and all those things. There were times, I’m sure, when he was younger, that it was harder for him to put behind him, an unsuccessful play, whether it was unsuccessful on his part from an execution standpoint, or unsuccessful by someone else on his team, because he wants so badly for it to go well.

What I thought was pretty neat about that last drive was that, while things didn’t go exactly the way they should, he did a great job of moving on to the next play, and that is so critical for a guy playing that position because if you’re going to throw the ball 35 times, you know they’re not all going to be the way you hope, and I think he’s really growing in that area.”

Rich Rodriguez

On whether Conferences should use the BCS (or any arbitrary ranking system) in determining a tie breaker, given the fact that the BCS was designed only to identify two teams for the National Championship game, and given the past problems other leagues have had using the BCS rankings in a tie breaking fashion:

“Well I really haven’t thought much about it, probably because we haven’t been in the position to be part of the conversation…I think you have to have a way, because you don’t play everybody in the league, and with such a big league, it’s really impossible to do. You have to have some kind of method to do that, and I’m sure when they sat down, that looked like the fairest method…It’s a strange year that you have three teams…if you have three teams, or even four teams, you have to have some kind of method of picking at least the conference representative “

On the efforts his staff makes during a rivalry week to try to inspire an underperforming unit, like the 2010 Michigan Defense, to play above their previous performance level:

“They hear about it year round, so you don’t have to worry about getting their attention for the Ohio St. game, and I know they’re going to hear about it every day. We’ll remind them of that…that they will continue to hear about it, not only while their playing here, but for many, many years after they’re done playing. We have enough former players, enough history, enough tradition…we’ve got plenty of ways to try to remind them of importance of “The Game.”

But more than anything, particularly because we’ve got so many young guys playing, we just want them to go out and relax, not put too much pressure on themselves, yet get excited about the challenge, and how many memories they can make in this ballgame.”

Danny Hope

On whether a Defensive game plan might change, before or during a game, if the opposing Quarterback becomes hobbled, and is clearly playing at less than 100%:

“Well, you can. Obviously we were watching him (Kirk Cousins) warm up for the second half and it looked like it was questionable whether he was going to return to the game. So give him a lot of credit for having the courage to come out there.”

On the old “Goal Line” adage that the line that gets the lowest off the snap will be the line that wins the play:

“Well, it’s accurate in some ways. I guess it depends on the style of Offense that you run…If you’re gonna be a physical football team and knock ‘em out of there in the run game…then staying low, and leverage is critical. But with a lot of things people do now schematically, leverage is not always as the biggest difference maker on a given play.”

Joe Paterno

On his impressions of the career performance of Spartan Linebacker Greg Jones:

“He’s awfully good. He plays with so much enthusiasm, and he’s got great athletic ability for that position. Whether he’s one of the great ones of All-Time…I haven’t seen all of them, and sometimes we haven’t play some, year to year. There’s four or five guys in this league though, this year, who are Linebackers, that are awfully good, and he’s certainly one of them. He can play with anybody.”

P.A.T. (Perhaps Another Thought…)


When it comes to Bowl Games, it’s the Rose Bowl, and then everything else.

To me, there’s no real difference between the Sugar Bowl, Outback Bowl, Citrus Capitol Our House Tim Horton’s Bowl, and the rest. There just isn’t. The category of “BCS Bowl” on its own does absolutely nothing for me. Only the Rose Bowl and National Title game do.

In fact, if the Spartans can’t make the Rose Bowl this year, I’d like to see them play in the Bowl Game that gives State the best chance to win, not necessarily the best “matchup.” While Alabama would be more than personal for Spartan Nation, they’re already on the schedule five years or so down the road, so I see no need to rush into that matchup.

After 2008, the Spartans traveled to Orlando to play the most talented team of that year in the Georgia Bulldogs. Those Bulldogs lacked the upper-class leadership and season-long team health necessary to win the National Championship they had been pre-season favorites to capture. And if you recall, MSU lost that game more than they were beaten by the Bulldogs. Did the Spartans get much credit for playing Georgia tough? No. Especially when you compare it with the reaction to Iowa’s New Year’s Bowl that year.

The Hawks played a team far inferior to Georgia, The Ole’ Ball Coach’s Gamecocks, and beat them rather handily (31-10) if memory serves me correct. Going into the off season, Iowa was suddenly a team on the rise, and already set up for a terrific 2009. Yet, MSU did not enjoy a similar off season buzz and bump due to their “woulda-coulda-shoulda” loss with Georgia. Had the roles been reversed, the Hawks would’ve lost to Georgia, and MSU would’ve probably rolled over Southern Carolina and gained much more momentum moving ahead.

So unless MSU can make the Rose Bowl, gimme the Bowl Game that the Spartans are most likely to win, and let’s build off of that for challenging 2011 season ahead.


If it’s so bad for Big Ten football to play the week of Turkey day, the Big Ten should institute a Conference wide “Bye Week” during the week of Thanksgiving, or start the season one week earlier. Coaches have mostly griped about this change to Big Ten tradition, so why not start a new one. A universal bye would say a lot about the traditional values of Big Ten institutions, and would not take away that much from the end of the regular season. Some might counter that it would leave a number of “lame duck” contests to finish out the year, but I don’t see how that would be that much different from any other year. And starting the season one week earlier wouldn’t seem to cause that much harm. Perhaps better yet, it would leave the holiday week as a “bye” for the two teams set to play in the Big Ten Championship game. So how about it, Big Ten brass, go back to not playing during Turkey Week, if it’s that big a deal.

*Interact with Jonathan on Twitter @JPSpartan or inside the Phalanx Forum


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