Phil Miller's college football insider: Whatever it takes to win

  • Updated: October 4, 2012 - 10:52 PM

 That seems to be the attitude now among some Big Ten coaches in their high-stakes and high-pressure jobs.


Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer.

Photo: Kyle Robertson, Mct - Mct

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The silence was the best part, an awkward stillness that effectively dismissed both the question and any further discussion.

Urban Meyer gave a vintage Urban Meyer answer on the Big Ten teleconference this week, six simple words and then a stony stillness. Did he believe, the first-year coach was asked, that Michigan State's public complaint about doctored video received last week from Meyer's Buckeyes might damage his relationship with his Big Ten colleagues?

"It doesn't concern me at all."

Perfect. That may serve as a suitable slogan for this entire league these days and perhaps college football as a whole. This is a cutthroat, bottom-line business, with reputations and legacies and millions of dollars at stake on the unpredictable actions of teenage kids and the bounce of an oddly shaped ball.

The Big Ten increasingly reflects the triumph of competitiveness over collegiality, especially with the coaching changes at the top of the league over the past couple of years. In the past five years, such perceived "nice guys" as Lloyd Carr, Ron Zook, Jim Tressel and especially Joe Paterno have been replaced as the public face of Big Ten coaches. Now, it's the ultra-competitive leaders who set the tone, such fiery coaches as Brady Hoke, Bo Pelini, Tim Beckman, Bret Bielema ... and Meyer.

Football coaching can often resemble a fraternity, with its members sharing an us-against-the-world mentality. But they never forget that their success depends on the other guy's failure, on the field and in a recruit's living room, and most are willing to do whatever it takes -- within the limits of NCAA rules, we can be certain, right? -- to get an edge.

"We wouldn't have all those rulebooks," said Gophers coach Jerry Kill, whose own red-faced competitiveness comes to the fore every Saturday, "if everyone did what they were supposed to do."

Still, what's wrong with a little steely-eyed nastiness between football teams? Rivalry and antagonism are the lifeblood of college football. It's why we watch. It's fun for the fans, and it makes for great story lines. If I'm a fan, I want my coach thinking about how he can beat my most bitter rival, not being a good friend during the postgame handshake. Did Tim Brewster have a better moment in Gophers fans' eyes than when he told off Bielema at midfield?

It also creates delicious tension, such as when Penn State coach Bill O'Brien seethed over Illinois openly recruiting Nittany Lions players for transfers. Or when Bielema and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio accused Meyer of trying to "flip" their recruits' verbal commitments.

Or last week's incident, when MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi revealed that the game video that Ohio State provided the Spartans -- the Big Ten requires members to electronically send video of their own games to each other a week before they play -- was edited to remove pre-snap alignments and shifts. "They changed the tape, I'm not gonna lie to you," Narduzzi told the Detroit Free Press.

Michigan State got complete tapes from Ohio State opponents, and Meyer denied knowing anything about the editing. "That's between the video coordinators," he said, and the schools' athletic directors resolved the issue.

Kill has seen similar gamesmanship during his career, he said. "But we don't do that. Never have, never will," Kill said. "It's about doing what's the right thing to do."

Maybe so. But adding a little spice to the Big Ten is kind of fun, too.

  • related content

  • Phil Miller's Big Ten short takes

    Thursday October 4, 2012

    • Barry Alvarez trained quite a few future head coaches during his years running Wisconsin's football team, from longtime Iowa State coach Dan McCarney to former Raiders and Cornhuskers boss...

  • Big Ten power poll

    Thursday October 4, 2012

    1. Ohio State (5-0; vs. Nebraska)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


St. Louis - A. Wainwright 11:35 AM
Pittsburgh - J. Locke
Texas - C. Lewis 2:40 PM
Seattle - E. Ramirez
Washington - D. Fister 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick
Tampa Bay - D. Smyly 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Boston - J. Kelly 6:07 PM
Toronto - M. Stroman
NY Yankees - S. Greene 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Atlanta - J. Teheran 6:10 PM
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Latos
Cleveland - C. Kluber 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi
Minnesota - P. Hughes 7:10 PM
Kansas City - L. Hendriks
Oakland - D. Pomeranz 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 8:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw 8:40 PM
Arizona - W. Miley
Miami - H. Alvarez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
Colorado - F. Morales 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:02 PM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
D.C. 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pm
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: Which football team will have the best record in 2014?

Weekly Question