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Coaches: Big Ten's big footprint a plus

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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.''

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NEW RIVALRLY, NEW TROPHY?

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.''

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LONG ROAD TRIPS

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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Follow David Mercer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidmercerap

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Ravens' Jimmy Smith suspended for multiple games without pay

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Ravens' Jimmy Smith suspended for multiple games without pay

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has been suspended for four games without pay for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

The suspension, announced Tuesday, stems from Smith's behavior toward his ex-girlfriend.

The Ravens released a statement that in part read: "The Ravens fully support the NFL's decision. The NFL found evidence of threatening and emotionally abusive behaviors by Jimmy toward his former girlfriend that showed a pattern of improper conduct. Our player's behavior was inappropriate and wrong."

The suspension will take effect after the final mandated roster cuts on Sept. 1 and extend through Baltimore's game at Pittsburgh on Sept. 30.

Smith, in a statement issued by the Ravens, said: "I promise that I have already learned much and will continue to learn more from this experience. ... I take full responsibility for my past conduct."

Smith will be allowed to participate in all of the Ravens' preseason activities, including games. The 30-year-old is one of Baltimore's best defensive backs.

The team said it reviewed the case to decide whether to keep Smith on the roster.

"We convened a group of Ravens women and men executives, not directly involved with our football operations, to review the matter. We also engaged in conversations with Jimmy about his past behavior and his intention to change," the statement said.

"Additionally, it is our understanding that following a long-running and difficult custody dispute with his former girlfriend and mother of his son, Jimmy has resolved his custody and support issues."

As a result, the Ravens will allow Smith to return after his suspension.

"Jimmy has acknowledged his behaviors were wrong and accepts full responsibility for them. He has completed a clinical evaluation and has agreed to undertake any follow-up care or treatment that may be recommended. ... Jimmy has assured us that he is fully dedicated to making this change. He also understands the consequences if he does not."

Smith has played seven seasons for Baltimore since being drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. He started in 12 games last season before an Achilles tendon injury forced him to miss the team's final four games. During those four weeks, he chose to accept an NFL suspension for using performance enhancers.

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Two other Redskins RBs intend to learn whatever they can from Adrian Peterson

Two other Redskins RBs intend to learn whatever they can from Adrian Peterson

A few weeks ago, running backs coach Randy Jordan floated a hypothetical out to his unit: If you could start a franchise with any guy, who would you pick?

Rob Kelley's answer was Adrian Peterson. And as fate would have it, Peterson is now a part of Kelley's franchise, a fact that has the third-year back floored. 

"I was kind of amazed," Kelley said on Tuesday, which was Peterson's first day as a 'Skin. "I have a opportunity to play with Adrian Peterson, it feels surreal."

Kapri Bibbs' reaction was much of the same.

"It's amazing having him in the building," he told reporters. "I couldn't hope for anything better."

Samaje Perine wasn't in a position to speak to the media by the time the locker room was closed, but at least in the eyes of Kelley and Bibbs, Peterson's arrival is something to embrace. It's not too often you get to go through drills and meetings with a guy who's going to have a bust in Canton sometime soon.

"I don't think there really is a cap to that," Bibbs answered when asked what he's hoping to pick up from Washington's new No. 26. "There's not too much you can learn from him."

"I got him here, what can I learn from him?" Kelley said in reponse to a similar question. "What can I gain from this situation? How can I make myself a better player by watching him?"

Bibbs revealed that Peterson is already "spilling information" to him, which lines up with Peterson saying at the podium in Ashburn he wants to come in and be a positive influence on the rest of the group.

However, Peterson also said in his presser that he "without a doubt" wants to be the starter, and if that does eventually happen, it'll come at the expense of someone else's spot on the roster or someone else's reps in a game, whether that be a Kelley, a Bibbs or a Perine.

That's not something that bothers two of the options already in the Burgundy and Gold's backfield, though.

"I'm always gonna come in every single day, regardless," Bibbs said when Peterson's resume and talents were brought up as something that could pressure him.

Kelley isn't stressed, either.

"Right now, I'm just putting my head down and working and trying to get better."

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