Published Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 8:12 pm / Updated at 12:04 am
football
Notes: NCAA lessens penalties against Penn State

The NCAA Executive Committee on Tuesday substantially lessened the scholarship sanctions placed on Penn State in conjunction with the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal involving underage boys.

The NCAA had limited the Nittany Lions to 15 initial scholarships for 2013 (10 fewer than normal) and an overall limit of 65 (20 fewer than normal) starting in 2014. Those penalties were to run for four years.

The changes revealed Tuesday increase initial scholarships from 15 to 20 in 2014, then to 25 the next three years. The overall scholarship number also will change from 65 in 2013 to 75 in 2014 to 80 in 2015 and to 85 in 2016.

The added margin for error in recruiting and a closer-to-equal chance to compete made second-year Penn State coach Bill O'Brien a happy man Tuesday.

“This is tremendous news,” he said. “We are especially pleased for our players, who have proven themselves to be a resilient group.”

Penn State's four-year postseason and championship ban remains in place, but at least the NCAA got this part right. The scholarship limits were too severe as first imposed, especially in a case in which the NCAA had questionable jurisdiction. The folks who should be penalized are in prison or in court trying to avoid it.

Gardner in a funk

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner became the Heisman Trophy flavor-of-the-week with his 376 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in a win over Notre Dame.

Since then, the junior has wobbled badly against modest competition in Akron and Connecticut. In those two games, he completed just 50.9 percent of his passes for two touchdowns with five interceptions.

So is Gardner simply in a funk?

“I would think so,” UM coach Brady Hoke said. “He's pretty confident, as you know. Fundamentally, there's some footwork issues we need to do a good job on. At the same time, it's him getting back in the saddle a little and stepping up in the pocket more.”

Players of the week

Offense: Ohio State quarterback Kenny Guiton and Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon. Guiton, a senior from Houston, threw a school-record six touchdown passes in a win over Florida A&M. Gordon, a sophomore from Kenosha, Wis., ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Purdue.

Defense: Iowa defensive back B.J. Lowery. The senior from Cincinnati set a school record with two pass interception returns for touchdowns in a win over Western Michigan.

Special teams: Iowa split end Kevonte Martin-Manley. The junior from Pontiac, Mich., became just the third player in Big Ten history to return two punts for a touchdown in a game during a win over Western Michigan.

Freshman: Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner. The Lakeville, Minn., product rushed for 151 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start, a win over San Jose State.

Quote of the week

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer on Wisconsin running backs Gordon and James White, who rank No. 1 and No. 24 nationally in rushing:

“I haven't seen everybody nationally, but I can't imagine having two better backs on the same team.”

Bits and pieces

Ľ Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said “we're comfortable” going forward with sophomore Connor Cook as the starting quarterback — even though Dantonio benched Cook in the final two minutes at Notre Dame for senior Andrew Maxwell.

Ľ Spartans linebacker Jairus Jones, a regular in passing situations, will miss six weeks with a knee injury.

Ľ Northwestern running back Venric Mark (out three games with a lower body injury) is practicing, but coach Pat Fitzgerald still isn't saying when the All-America kick returner will play again.

Ľ Six of the league's 12 teams are idle this week.

Ľ Purdue has played 16 freshmen through four games, and coach Darrell Hazell said more are likely to because of recent injuries.

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht

lee.barfknecht@owh.com    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.

Read more related stories
PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

< >
SPOTLIGHT »
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Omaha.com? Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.
Omaha.com's Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from Omaha.com and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
BRT ON TWITTER »
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT »
< >