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Congratulatory TCU Billboards Pop Up in Ohio State Territory

An unidentified person or group of people has paid for 20 billboards in the Columbus area — surrounding Ohio State — touting TCU’s victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. The billboards are an obvious jab at Ohio State’s president E. Gordon Gee, who stated a few months back that schools like TCU and Boise State don’t deserve a shot at a national championship because they don’t play enough quality opponents during the regular season.

Gee, the former president of Vanderbilt, claimed that those schools don’t have to go through gauntlets like the SEC and Big Ten. That’s true, but the Horned Frogs’ victory over the Badgers proved that schools from non-major conferences can compete against the “big boys,” despite soft conference schedules. Toss in the fact that Ohio State should have lost to Arkansas — granted they are an SEC school — in the Sugar Bowl, and Gee can officially insert his foot into his mouth. The billboards are “signed” by the “little sisters of the poor,” a reference to Gee’s estimation of TCU’s and Boise State’s conference competition.

The oddest aspect of this story is that someone in Columbus allowed it to happen. This is just an assumption, but wouldn’t the companies in charge of the billboards be able to block something like this from hitting the streets? Then again, money talks. In any event, Ohio State fans aren’t as rabid as I thought. Maybe the maze and blue faithful should look into spicing up the rivalry a bit with a billboard of their own.

Photo Credit: The Matador Sports

Brady Hoke Still Has Not Signed New Contract with San Diego State

It was only a month ago that we were raving about San Diego State’s stellar effort to retain head coach Brady Hoke. Hoke, who left Ball State and turned SDSU into a 9-4 team two years after they were 2-10, is a prime candidate for the Michigan head coaching job. He was a defensive line coach for the Wolverines from 1995-2002, and Michigan has made it clear they want a “Michigan Man” to lead the team.

Though it initially appeared as if San Diego State’s new offer would help them retain Hoke, the Michigan vacancy coupled with a new piece of information makes it more likely that he will eventually leave. The San Diego Union Tribune says not only has Hoke not signed his new deal, but paperwork for the new contract does not even exist. It’s pretty obvious that the announcement of the extension was a P.R. move as much as anything else.

The new contract was billed as a $5 million donation to boost Hoke’s salary and the amount of pay for the assistant coaches, and to upgrade the facilities. His “extension” also supposedly ran through 2015, though we know coach’s contracts are as strong as Nick Saban’s word. Hoke seems like a strong candidate for the Michigan job, largely because of his ties to the school. His 47-50 record is nothing special, but Gene Chizik, who went 5-19 at Iowa State, proves you don’t need a great career record in order to win at your next job (so long as you’re paying the right players). Don’t be surprised if an announcement is made in the coming days.

Andrew Luck Made the Right Call Staying at Stanford, Might Jim Harbaugh Follow?

Stanford sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck announced Thursday that he will stay at Stanford for junior season and pass on being the likely top overall pick in this April’s NFL Draft. Though Luck is returning for his junior year athletically, it will be his senior year academically; he will walk graduate with a degree in Architectural Engineering. In this day and age with a society that increasingly values the scheckle over the scruple, many fans — especially in Carolina — are calling Luck’s decision stupid. Before too many people crucify him for his decision, let’s examine the reasons behind his decision.

It’s become a trend for elite college quarterbacks to pass up the draft in favor of school. Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, and Matt Leinart all returned for an extra season with Leinart and Bradford likely passing up the top overall pick. This precedent has proven to work for many QBs, Bradford in particular.  At Oklahoma, Bradford was fresh off a Heisman win and a spot in the National Championship Game. Rather than leave and be (presumably) the number one pick in the 2009 draft, Bradford stayed, got hurt, and missed the whole season. Talk about worse-case scenarios: stay in college, get hurt, still get taken number one, and get paid accordingly. If Luck simply stays healthy and doesn’t have a Jake Locker-type disaster of a year, he will remain on top of team’s draft boards, this time armed with a degree from Stanford and possibly a Heisman Trophy.

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Ohio State Wins Sugar Bowl on the Strength of Soon-to-Be Suspended Players

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 2011 Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, thanks in large part to the performances of players who never should have been on the field. By now you know that the Buckeyes have had five players suspended — all juniors — for the first 5 games of next season by the NCAA as a result of violations involving improper benefits.  However, the players were inexplicably allowed to participate in the team’s BCS bowl game.

As if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, the soon-to-be suspended players had a huge impact in the Buckeye’s bowl victory. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor passed for 221 yards and two touchdowns, with seventy of the yards and one score going to receiver DeVier Posey. Pryor also rushed for 115 yards.  Running back Dan Herron rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown while offensive lineman Mike Adams was the only player without a measurable impact.

The fifth player, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, made the play of the game after a blocked Ohio State punt gave the Razorbacks the ball on the Buckeyes’ 18-yard line with just over a minute left. On the second play of the series, Thomas dropped into coverage and intercepted Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett’s pass, falling to the ground with 58 seconds left to preserve the five-point victory.

After the game, much of the talk from Ohio State players and coaches emphasized the notion that the suspended players “stepped-up” in this game. Despite the adversity they were facing, they were able to buckle down and help the team succeed. The only problem is they never should have been on the field. The fact that they played well only underscores the fact that the NCAA gave them preferential treatment. Don’t be surprised if Cam Newton plays lights out in the National Championship game, too. What brave, brave student athletes.

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Terrelle Pryor Tattoo and Loaner Car Investigations Loom Over Sugar Bowl

The NCAA cemented its status as a shameful organization with its recent handling of Ohio State. The Buckeyes had a handful of players investigated for accepting improper benefits in the form of tattoos they received in exchange for autographs and other memorabilia. Tattoos are expensive and often cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, making it a wonder how so many of the Buckeyes could afford all the ink. Then it was revealed that several players sold Big Ten Championship Rings and other memorabilia, a similar charge that resulted in a four-game suspension this season for Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green.

And what happened to the Ohio State players Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, Devier Posey, Mike Adams, and Solomon Thomas? They were suspended the first five games of next season, and not at all for those who elect to enter the NFL draft. Somehow the players were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl under the grounds of the school not educating the players properly on the rules. Right, as if they didn’t know pawning off their goods was illegal.

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Will Jim Harbaugh Leave Stanford for Michigan or NFL?

After leading his team to an 11-1 season, there is plenty of speculation that Jim Harbaugh will leave Stanford following the Orange Bowl for another coaching job. He has been rumored to be targeted by Michigan in the collegiate ranks, and Carolina, San Francisco, Denver, and Oakland in the NFL. Quite simply, he is one of the most coveted coaches. The question is whether or not the former quarterback will be available.

It’s hard to get inside Harbaugh’s head to know what he’s thinking, and not even his brother knows what he’ll do (either that, or John Harbaugh won’t tell us the plans), but that won’t stop us from speculating. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck is projected to be the top pick in the NFL draft should he leave school. We shared a report suggesting Luck is leaning towards returning to school, which would be an incentive for Harbaugh to remain on the Farm. Still, I think Harbaugh’s leaving for the NFL after the game, and here’s why.

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Kansas State WR Adrian Hilburn Flagged for Unsportsmanlike Conduct (Video)

We’ve seen a lot of bad calls throughout our lives as sports fans, and this certainly is up there. You don’t even have to be a Kansas State supporter to realize that the Wildcats were hosed at the end of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

In what turned out to be a highly entertaining bowl game with the teams trading scores, Kansas State scored with 1:24 left to get within two of Syracuse. Carson Coffman hit receiver Adrian Hilburn on a quick hook, and Hilburn broke a tackle turning the pass into a 30-yard touchdown. After scoring the TD, Hilburn did a salute to the crowd and then was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. The penalty pushed Kansas State back to the 18 in their two-point conversion attempt and their pass fell incomplete. Here is the Kansas State Adrian Hilburn penalty video if you haven’t seen it:

That wasn’t anything close to excessive, and it hardly was an example of a player drawing attention to himself. That certainly was a situation where I wish the referee just let it go. It was too good of a game for a key play at the end to be ruined by an official’s poor judgment.