With Nebraska off to its worst nine-game start since 1960, athletic director Shawn Eichorst released a letter to fans Monday expressing confidence that "the future is bright" under first-year coach Mike Riley.

Eichorst's 450-word letter, posted on the athletic department's website, came two days after the Cornhuskers' 55-45 loss at Purdue and in advance of their toughest matchup to date, against No. 6 Michigan State.

Riley made a 12 -minute opening statement at his weekly news conference, using the last four to directly address his team's poor performance, which he called "the elephant in the room." He said he appreciated Eichorst's support and understood the fans' frustration with Nebraska (3-6).

Eichorst hired the 62-year-old Riley away from Oregon State four days after firing Bo Pelini last November. Riley's Mr. Nice Guy personality runs counter to the volatility of Pelini. But there was consternation among some fans because Riley, who signed a four-year contract, was only 93-80 in 14 years with the Beavers and never finished higher than third in the Pac-12.

Concerns about Riley being up to the task have resurfaced now that the Huskers face the prospect of not going to a bowl after Pelini won no fewer than nine games in his seven years and made it to three conference championship games.

"There's no doubt we have failed in the eyes of what everybody wants to do," Riley said. "That's a given."

Beamer says it's time

An emotional Frank Beamer wanted everyone to know that his health wasn't the reason he has decided to retire.

The longtime Virginia Tech coach said he didn't want Virginia Tech's fan base to be divided. In the midst of his fourth consecutive mediocre season, and with questions swirling about his health and his future, Beamer decided it was time to walk away.

"I've always said I think I'll know when it's time, and I think it's time," Beamer said, wiping away tears numerous times in a football room filled with his team, coaching staff, Virginia Tech administrators and boosters.

"You know, there's been some difference of opinion out there. Any time you're in the public life, there's going to be difference of opinion. I understand that, but the last thing I want is for Hokies to be divided," the 69-year-old Beamer said. "I want everybody to be in the same direction and I think it's right in that regard."

Beamer will coach at least three more games in his 29th season at his alma mater, and if the Hokies (4-5) win at least two of them, he'll lead them to a postseason game for an NCAA-leading 23rd consecutive season.

Barrett to lose some aid

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett will forfeit his summer financial aid as part of his punishment for being cited for drunken driving.

Barrett was cited for the misdemeanor early Saturday morning by Columbus police and suspended one game by coach Urban Meyer.

Barrett will sit out Saturday's game when the top-ranked Buckeyes play Minnesota at home. Cardale Jones, who started the first seven games of the season, will start in Barrett's place.

Honored anyway

Corn Elder, the Miami player who scored a touchdown on a wild final play against Duke — a play the Atlantic Coast Conference later said shouldn't have counted — has earned a weekly award from the league. Elder was chosen as the ACC's specialist of the week as chosen by a 14-member media panel.