Coaches: Big Ten's big footprint a plus


Coaches: Big Ten's big footprint a plus

Big Ten football coaches endorsed the league's growing membership Tuesday, noting that the addition of Maryland and Rutgers will likely lead to tens if not hundreds of millions of new dollars.

A couple of them said they thought the players ought to share in the payday, too.

``Hopefully through all this we'll make some decisions to be able to distribute this money to the players as far as, if we're getting ready to go to postseason play here, it would be great to be able to take care of their families or guardian, to be able to help them fly to a bowl game,'' Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. ``And take some of the money and allow them to get more money from bowl gifts and things of that nature that they've earned.''

The NCAA doesn't allow players to be paid beyond scholarships and doesn't allow schools, for instance, to help players' families get to games. The NCAA is considering whether to allow $2,000 stipends for athletes.

Many coaches agree with Fitzgerald, Nebraska's Bo Pelini said, but the decision isn't theirs or the Big Ten's to make.

``Obviously, the NCAA has a big say in whether that ever comes to fruition,'' he said.

Most of the coaches said that, based on the addition of Nebraska two years ago, they'll have little input on how two new teams affect the alignment of the Big Ten's two divisions. When news that Nebraska would join the Big Ten broke, Wisconsin's Bret Bielema put considerable thought into the best way to bring the Cornhuskers on board.

``I even wasted probably a couple days of my life trying to come up with a great answer and had some input, but the way it all kind of shook out it was out of my hands,'' he said. ``But I couldn't be happier with the way they got laid out.''

Michigan State's Mark Dantonio said that, given the four or five years most coaches stay in one job, schools and the conference understandably don't ask for much input from them.

``I think these decisions are made for the longevity of college football and the longevity of the institution, which is the way it should be,'' he said.

Most coaches said Tuesday that - much as they did when Nebraska joined the conference - rivalries are the most important thing to try to preserve as divisions are realigned and schedules made.

With Nebraska's addition the conference allowed schools to preserve annual games against preferred rivals even if the schools were in different divisions, such as Illinois and Northwestern.

Those longstanding rivalries are ``the backbone of college football,'' first-year Illini coach Tim Beckman said, and should be a priority.

``I think first of all it's a sign of times - clearly the landscape in college football has changed very dramatically in the last 20 years,'' said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. ``I think that the people that make those decisions in our conference do a fantastic job. ... And I think overall it's going to be the best thing for our conference, just like adding Penn State years ago and then Nebraska have proven to be good for our conference.''



Wisconsin's Bret Bielema said he hopes to keep a school on the schedule that he believes is growing into a strong rival for the Badgers: Penn State.

The teams play this weekend and the schools' athletic directors have talked about making it a trophy game, he said, like Paul Bunyan's Axe that the Badgers and Minnesota now play for.

``I sure do like playing Penn State,'' he said. ``I'd love to protect that in any way, shape or form.''



The addition of two East Coast teams will mean long road trips for some of the Big Ten's westernmost teams, but Iowa's Kirk Ferentz isn't worried about how well Hawkeye fans will travel to Maryland or New Jersey.

``One thing about Iowa, there are Iowans everywhere,'' he said, then recalling road trips across the country when he was an assistant coach with the Cleveland Browns in the mid-1990s. ``My first year in Cleveland, we played in Seattle, and there were Browns backers everywhere.''


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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 24, 33 days before the NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

Free agency update: What's next for the Redskins on the D-line? The Redskins have been casting out lines for defensive linemen since before free agency officially started but they haven’t been able to reel one in. Part of the issue might be that they know that Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne are likely to be available in the draft. They have to balance spending big on a lineman vs. being able to get one pretty cheap for the next five years.

Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility—Speaking of the D-line, the team negotiated the removal of a salary guarantee for one player to give themselves more flexibility when it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 in September. See the post for details.

Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract—In the words of Joe Biden, this is a big f-----g deal. It showed that the Redskins aren’t afraid to pay a quarterback big money if they think it’s the right guy. It should be noted that whether or not they chose the right guy is something that remains to be seen. Although the post shows that it’s plausible for the Redskins to terminate the deal after three years, I anticipate Smith playing out at least four if not all five years of the contract.

Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign Scandrick—Orlando Scandrick has struggled with injuries the past few years and Redskins fans did not greet the news of his signing with great enthusiasm, to say the least. To point out the bright side, his contract is not pricey by NFL terms ($2.6 million cap hit this year, no guaranteed money beyond a $1 million signing bonus) and from what I have been able to gather it’s possible that change of scenery might give him a boost for a year or two.

Tweet of the week

Well before free agency started, I wrote that the Redskins’ top priorities in free agency should be to get extensions done for Smith, Brandon Scherff, and Jamison Crowder. They should have about $15 million to work with after a few more free agent signings and that would be plenty to get all of those extensions done. And if they do score a big free agent signing, it would be worth it to restructure the contract of someone like Ryan Kerrigan to get them done.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 23
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 124
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 169

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