CHICAGO – With the recent Supreme Court ruling that allows states to legalize gambling on sports, college football eventually could follow the lead of the NFL and use weekly injury reports. In the Big Ten, that could come with a twist in the form of an “availability report’’ that would list if a player was available for the game.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany supports such a report.
“It’s something that we should do and probably should have done it before,’’ he said Monday.
P.J. Fleck, who did not release injury reports in his first year at Minnesota, said he would be fine with such a report, with limits.
“I’m all for it,’’ he said. “Now, [releasing] the specific reason why somebody’s not playing, I don’t agree with. There’s a lot of things that our university and our policies that we have to protect with the student-athlete’s rights. … I don’t need to know why, whether it’s a suspension, whether it’s an injury, whether it’s a knee, whether it’s grades, whether it’s discipline.’’
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, whose team uses injury reports, let people in on a secret. “I’ve been accused of being honest and not-so-honest [on the reports],’’ he said. “I would agree with that.’’
Friday games will stay
Last year, Big Ten teams played six games on Friday nights, including three in intraconference play. Though there has been pushback from high school football officials, don’t expect the Friday games — aired by ESPN or Fox — to go away.
“A number of the schools said ‘We’d actually like a Friday game,’ ’’ Delany said. The Gophers have a Friday home game this year, on Oct. 26 against Indiana.
Big Ten coaches were split when it comes to expansion of the College Football Playoff from four teams to eight. Nebraska’s Scott Frost, whose undefeated Central Florida team was left out of last year’s playoff, wants an eight-team field. Penn State’s James Franklin would prefer it stay at four, citing the wear and tear of additional games. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh favors a 16-team field.
“The [Division] I-AA teams have been very successful with that model,’’ Harbaugh said.
East vs. West
Since the Big Ten adopted the East and West divisions in 2014, the East champion has won every conference title game. Delany doesn’t see the need to alter divisions to address competitive balance.
Harbaugh wore a game-day look to his news conference, with khakis, a navy-blue polo shirt and a baseball cap with Michigan’s “M.’’
Harbaugh didn’t give an opening statement, and he kept his responses to questions short. When asked what he had to do to demonstrate his program is on the right path, Harbaugh responded succinctly, “Improvement will lead to success, will lead to championships.’’