Big Ten

As worst season at Ohio State ends, Thad Matta upset vote of confidence was necessary


As worst season at Ohio State ends, Thad Matta upset vote of confidence was necessary

WASHINGTON — The list of things that upset Thad Matta on Wednesday night is probably rather long.

But after his Ohio State team fell to Rutgers by a 66-57 score on the opening night of the Big Ten Tournament, Matta's most vocal criticism wasn't of his team's poor shooting, lack of toughness or horrendous performance at the free-throw line.

Instead, Matta sounded off on the need for his athletics director, Gene Smith, to release a statement giving the head basketball coach a vote of confidence earlier Wednesday.

"I think it's ridiculous that we have to do stuff like that," Matta said. "Gene and I met a couple weeks ago. It's amazing what people do nowadays. This is a very fickle business that we're in. Unless you're intimately involved on a day-to-day basis, people choose the negative side of things. It's what they do. Obviously, gas is poured on the fire. It is what it is.

"You know, it's sad that sports has come to where you got to do stuff like that. Just coach your team. If they like it, they bring you back. If they don't, they don't. But it's amazing. Really is."

Smith expressed public support after Matta's job status had become a talking point. That might seem crazy for a head coach as accomplished as Matta, but this has been the worst season of his tenure at Ohio State, the first one of his Buckeye teams to fail to win 20 games. Wednesday's loss to Rutgers bottomed out Ohio State's overall record at 17-15.

Things have been going downhill for the past few years at Ohio State. In the past four seasons, the Buckeyes have finished fifth, sixth, seventh and 10th in the Big Ten standings.

This will be the second straight season without an NCAA tournament berth, the first time under Matta there have been back-to-back seasons without an invite to the Big Dance. It's a first for the program since a three-year drought from 2003 to 2005, the last of those seasons being Matta's first on the job.

But Matta's tenure at Ohio State has undoubtedly been a resounding success. In 13 seasons he's taken the Buckeyes to nine NCAA tournaments, including a pair of Final Fours and an appearance in the national championship game in 2007. His teams have won a total of five Big Ten championships.

Though even if Smith and athletics directors across the country aren't into the "what have you done for me lately?" thinking that so many fans and observers possess, there's no doubt that this season has been a very different one for Matta in Columbus.

He was asked after Wednesday's game if this was as tough a season as he'd ever had, and the 17-year Division-I head coach had to answer yes.

"I would say so, yeah. Just from the daily battles that we've had just in terms of getting guys ready to play, that sort of thing," Matta said. "We've said it all along, when this team has played not just great basketball, but consistent basketball, we've been a heck of a basketball team. We've beaten some pretty good teams this year. You know, tonight we weren't ready to fight at the level we needed to fight, for whatever reason.

"Rough one, no doubt."

Big Ten to play conference-only NCAA football schedule 'if able'

Big Ten to play conference-only NCAA football schedule 'if able'

The Big Ten announced on Thursday that they will not play any non-conference games this fall, if they’re able to play at all.

The move comes after the Ivy League cancelled all fall sports earlier in the week.

In the statement the Big Ten said, “By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.

“In addition, the Conference announced that summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary in all sports currently permitted to engage in such activities. Furthermore, Big Ten student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics at any time during the summer and/or the 2020-21 academic year due to concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarship honored by their institution and will remain in good standing with their team.”

The Big Ten also said they’re prepared to cancel their fall sports entirely, if needed to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes.

This all leads to more questions as to how the Big Ten schedule will ultimately take shape. For instance, the first three games on the University of Illinois’s schedule are all non-conference games. Will more in-conference games be scheduled to replace them, or will the Fighting Illini simply begin their season on Oct. 3 with their first conference game against Rutgers?

All of that remains to be seen, as the conference said more details regarding the conference-only schedule will be released later.

RELATED: Northwestern football will not host Wisconsin Badgers at Wrigley Field

Northwestern football will not host Wisconsin Badgers at Wrigley Field

USA Today

Northwestern football will not host Wisconsin Badgers at Wrigley Field

Northwestern football will no longer host their game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Wrigley Field. The university announced the decision on Wednesday.

The Wildcats were supposed to play the Badgers at the Friendly Confines on Nov. 7. Although the university didn’t officially announce it, team's website says the game will be played at Ryan Field.

“This is a disappointing conclusion to reach, but absolutely the right one in our current environment,” said Jim Phillips, Northwestern’s Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation. “The uncertainty of football and baseball schedules, and the possibility of limited attendance, made this an easy choice to make for our student-athletes and fans.

“We’re grateful for our outstanding partners from the Cubs, and look forward to bringing the passion and pageantry of college football gameday to the city’s north side when we can do so safely and securely with a packed house.”

Northwestern initially brought college football back to Wrigley in 2010. Previously the last college football game at Wrigley was played in 1938. Since then, Northwestern has hosted both lacrosse and baseball games at Clark and Addison.

The university is still on track to kick off their season on Sept. 5 at Michigan State.

RELATED: Pat Fitzgerald, Lovie Smith in top 10 of an intriguing college coach list