“You’re aware of Rich Rodriguez, the high-priced football coach at Michigan who has been having a rough time adapting to the rigors of the Big Ten?
“Well, don’t feel too sorry for him. Just remember that ‘Fraud-Riguez,’ as the T-shirts proclaimed him last winter, bolted West Virginia, where he had six years remaining on his contract, a mere 17 days before his team faced Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
“Rodriguez, who watched the bowl game on TV while an assistant coached the Mountaineers to victory, isn’t even a fellow to face up to his deviousness. He sent a graduate assistant to deliver his resignation letter to West Virginia’s athletic director.” — Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times
1. Penthouse State: Alone atop the Big Ten stands Penn State after its 13-6 win at Ohio State. Finally, the Nittany Lions played someone of repute.
“I thought it was a good football game,” Penn State Coach Joe Paterno said after his 381st win. “I’ve been around a lot of football games.”
Still, there are always critics. Not everyone is convinced Paterno’s squad is worthy of a national title game.
“I don’t know if they’re a better team than Texas, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, USC or Alabama,” former Auburn coach Pat Dye told Sportingnews.com.
He neglected to include Texas Tech.
2. One in a Row: Wisconsin, which used to win games with frequency, snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Illinois, 27-17.
“It feels like we just won the national championship,” said Wisconsin’s David Gilreath, who had a 49-yard touchdown reception.
“It’s a game on the schedule that we needed to win,” Badgers Coach Bret Bielema said. “I don’t know if there is any more importance to win at any time.”
“That’s a lie,” UW strong safety Jay Valai said, grinning. “Let’s keep it real. This game was more important than any of the ones we played because we finally (won), thank God.”
3. Spartans Have Hart: Michigan State fans congregated in a corner of Michigan Stadium Saturday, chanting “Lit-tle Sis-ter! Lit-tle Sis-ter!”
Last year, Michigan running back Mike Hart referred to Michigan State as “little brother.” The Wolverines beat MSU last year for their sixth straight triumph over their state rival.
A banner was hung outside Michigan’s stadium after the game. It read: “Little Brother Just Kicked Big Brother’s (Backside)”
What would MSU people do if their team ever won two in a row over the Wolverines?
4. Gophers Golden: Minnesota was 1-11 last year with the defense that was ranked last in the nation.
This year’s Gophers are 7-1 after a 17-6 win at Purdue.
“We just fly around,” said Minnesota safety Kyle Theret, who had nine solo tackles and an interception.
The Gophers fly with an attitude. They had four personal foul penalties at Purdue.
“We were running our mouths and did a little extra activity that we shouldn’t have,” senior defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg said. “But we won.”
1. Joe the Bummer: It’s been a fine 12-year run for Joe Tiller as Purdue’s coach. The first 11 seasons were good, anyway, with 10 bowl trips.
The 2-6 Boilermakers are alone in the Big Ten basement at 0-4 in this, Tiller’s final season. Some way to go out.
“This isn’t how I envisioned it,” Tiller said.
His team managed a paltry 226 yards in its 17-6 loss to Minnesota. The 109 passing yards were the fewest in Tiller’s Purdue tenure.
When asked about a slight shoulder separation that kept Boilermakers quarterback Curtis Painter on the sideline the entire second half, Tiller told a radio reporter “Most guys would play with that. I don’t know why he didn’t. But he didn’t . . .”
Tiller’s frustration carried over from midweek when he reacted to comments made by running back Kory Sheets that questioned Sheets’ confidence in Painter.
“Well, as I said to our own coaches,” Tiller said, “(Sheets) has grown physiologically but not intellectually the last four years. So, if you know him, it’s not a surprise. It’s a disappointment.
“So, if any person thinks that they’re going to carry the team, then perhaps we should just hand him the ball and stand on the sidelines and cheer. I don’t know what type of game plan that would be, but perhaps we could try it.
“One thing about it, I don’t really ever sugarcoat stuff.”
2. Northern Exposure: The Big 12 North is 2-10 against the South. The North’s best team would be the South’s fifth-best. A team from the North will play a team from the South in December for the league title.
The Hlist’s question: Why?
From the Kansas City Star’s Blair Kerkhoff:
“An incredible football game was waged on Kansas soil Saturday.
“Texas Tech took the early lead on Oklahoma, but the Sooners roared back to edge ahead.
“From there, the teams exchanged leads, and late in the proceedings the Red Raiders grabbed a 56-55 lead.
“Finally, Tech prevailed 63-58.
“Sadly for Kansas and Kansas State, the Sooners and Red Raiders played around the same time but not against each other. Instead, they toyed with the Sunflower State institutions of higher learning and lower football prowess.
“Texas Tech blew the doors off Kansas 63-21, and Oklahoma ran away from Kansas State 58-35.”
3. Boo Hoo, LSU: It’s not easy being mortal.
LSU defensive end Rahim Alem pointed the finger at his team’s offense after Georgia ripped the defending national champion Tigers, 52-38.
“There were two touchdowns we couldn’t do anything about,” Alem said, referring to LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee’s two interceptions that Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble returned for touchdowns.
“Everybody has turnovers, but when you throw two interceptions for touchdowns, those are game-changers,” Alem said.
At least he shouldered half of the blame.
“On defense, we messed up big. On offense, we messed up big.”
Coach Les Miles got a big raise and a contract extension from LSU last December when Michigan wooed him. So someone with the program didn’t mess up big.
4. Ground Yuck: Navy beat SMU 34-7 without attempting a single pass. Using a triple option, the Midshipmen rushed 77 times for 404 yards.
It’s khaki-ugly football, though, and it’s a military thing. Army and Air Force also have won games this year without completing a pass.
“If you can do this to LSU in frothing Tiger Stadium, you need have no fear of Florida or anything reptilian.” Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Georgia plays the Florida Gators Saturday.