Chicago Sun-Times
With Sun-Times sports reporter Herb Gould

November 2011 Archives

Bruce Weber said the Cancun Challenge wasn't the field at Maui, but it wouldn't be easy to win there. He was right on both counts.
Illinois needed to rally back from a seven-point second half deficit, but it got the job done, beating Illinois State 63-59 late Wednesday to improve to 5-0.
While disappointed, ISU (3-2), which was led by forward Jackie Carmichael's 17 points, showed some potential that's encouraging for the rest of its season.
Redbirds guard Tyler Brown had a game-tying three-pointer wiped out with 29 seconds left because his heels were out of bounds as he took the shot. After an uncharacteristic turnover by Sam Maniscalco in the waning seconds, Brown's three-pointer bounced off the rim with Illinois leading 61-59.
Maniscalco, who led Illinois with 14 points, knocked down a three-pointer with 52 seconds left to give Illinois a 59-54 lead. Mansicalco, D.J. Richardson (13 points), Brandon Paul (12) and Meyers Leonard (10 points, eight rebounds) all played at least 33 minutes as Weber leaned on his starters again.
The basketball from Cancun will never be confused with what was going on at the same time in Maui, where former Illini coach Bill Self's Kansas Jayhawks were edged by Duke in the championship game.
But 5-0 is 5-0 for Illinois, which travels to Maryland on Tuesday and plays host to Gonzaga on Dec. 3 after hosting Chicago State on Sunday. The Terrapin and Zags' games will tell more.
One thing that's already becoming apparent: If Maniscalco, a clutch and gritty fifth-year senior, hadn't dropped out of the sky from Bradley, Illinois would have a much different looking team.

Some quick thoughts on Illinois' 70-61 victory over Richmond late Tuesday at the Cancun Challenge, a game in which Bruce Weber picked up his 300th victory. . .
If the trio of Meyers Leonard, Sam Maniscalco and D.J. Richardson can keep doing what they did when Illinois' schedule gets tougher, Weber will notch a lot more victories.
Leonard (22 points and 12 rebounds) did the necessary stuff around the basket as well as the outside things that give him a chance to be special. Richardson, who had 15 points in 38 minutes, also was active.
The biggest eye-opener, though, may have been Maniscalco, who had 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting in 29 minutes, all season highs for the senior transfer from Bradley. He not only steadied the Illini, who had nine turnovers after the 43 they'd piled up in their previous two games.
Maniscalco was an all-around offensive contributor who made his jumpers and cut well to the basket. A big question when the Illini take on Illinois State tonight in the Cancun Challenge championship (8:30 p.m CBS Sports Network) is how well Maniscalco's surgically repaired ankle holds up under the test of back-to-back games.
Interestingly, Weber, who's talking about going deep this season, stuck to seven players against the Spiders, who were a tricky Northwestern-like matchup. Richmond not only runs a Princeton offense; it does some different things on defense.
Joseph Bertrand (21 minutes) and Tracy Abrams (13) were the only reserves to play more than five minutes as Weber leaned heavily on four of his starting five--Richardson (38), Tyler Griffey (36), Leonard (35), Maniscalco (29) and Brandon Paul (19).

A few more thoughts on Zook ``walking out'' of his Tuesday press conference, after watching him get carved up on every TV sports/newscast I saw last night. . . 
* Big mistake to say he'd leave if anybody asked about his hot seat. He put himself in a lose-lose. He couldn't answer without backing down, and when he left, he'd set himself up for what happened.
The coaches' PR manual says, when a question like that comes up, you smile and say a few words about ``controlling what we can control.''
He'd already given answers about dealing with the distractions of the losing streak and the Trulon Henry shooting--answers that applied to his job situation as well. Just glaze over and do it again; that's what this media stuff is.
* By doing it this way, he put the focus on the exact place where he didn't want it. It was  just the kind of miscalculation in judgment that the anti-Zook crowd gobbles up during games.
* Not proud to be a member of the media when we're piling onto a guy who's worried about his job, who's worried about his team blowing up after 100 kids and a coaching staff have worked so hard, who's worried about the aftermath of a shooting. But we all have jobs to do. That's why I wrote a piece--when Illinois was 6-1--that a coaching change was possible. 
* Now, more than ever, it's clear that Illinois is pointing toward a coaching change.
Here's that Oct. 20 column. . . 

October 20, 2011 Thursday
Zook, Illini at crossroads; 
Purdue game looms large for coach who still has his critics despite team's 6-1 start

By Herb Gould
Earlier this year, a newspaper in Omaha, Neb., asked me to write a column to introduce Nebraska fans to Illinois sports.
''The main thing you need to understand about the University of Illinois,'' I began, ''is that nothing is simple. Everything is complicated.''
That seems even more true now. Even last week, despite a 6-0 start by coach Ron Zook and his re-energized Illini, there was a lot of squawking from the anti-Zookers.
Jumping on Zook's two-point-conversion confusion at Indiana and the wobbly special teams that Zook coaches, some Illinois fans were trying to come up with scenarios in which offensive coordinator Paul Petrino moves up to head coach and Zook somehow moves out.
That was at 6-0.
After the Illini dropped to 6-1 with their unappetizing 17-7 loss Saturday to Ohio State, the anti-Zookers probably are sharpening the knives - even though 6-1 would have looked awfully good in August.
Talk about complicated.
Some people admire the Zook who wears his heart on his sleeve and uses that to lure recruits and pump them up. Others cringe at Zook's head-scratching decisions on game day and wonder whether his hyper side becomes a distraction to his players.
Zook downplayed the unrest Tuesday when I asked him if Illini Nation appreciates his team.
''I don't know,'' he said. ''All I can do is worry about the football team. The large majority of Illini fans are great fans. Like anywhere else, there's a small percentage of people who have opinions. We're no different than any other place. That's why it's such a great game. That's why it's at an all-time high for interest.''
That said, considering its fast start, Illinois' home attendance could be better. A crowd of 55,229 for Ohio State brought the average up to 48,365, but that's still 12,000 empty seats per game at 60,670-capacity Memorial Stadium. When you're in a league that averages more than 70,000 in attendance--and competing with six or seven big boys who average way more than that--that can't be overlooked.
It seems crazy to question Zook's future in Champaign if the Illini keep it going this fall. But he has 2 1/2 years left on a deal that pays him $1.75 million a year, and coaches tend to be signed for more than two years out.
That means athletic director Mike Thomas probably will need to act one way or another in the coming offseason.
If Illinois finishes strong, Zook will have delivered on the overhaul he began after the 2009 season - and apparently have earned the right to keep moving forward. But it's a trickier deal if fans aren't buying tickets because of Zook, especially in the likely event Petrino is weighing head-coaching offers.
Talk about complicated.
For now, the key will be to keep winning. And that starts Saturday at Purdue. There was more attention on the Illini's attempt to stay unbeaten against Ohio State, but Purdue is a bigger crossroads game.
If Illinois stumbles, the momentum of the 6-0 start will take a big hit. And Zook's critics will be emboldened.
All in all, this shapes up as a pivotal game for the Illini. One big key will be to tune out the pressure, an area where Illinois came up short against the Buckeyes.
''Ohio State did what they do,'' Zook said. ''We maybe sat back instead of going after it. I don't want to say we played tight, but we didn't play the way we're capable of playing. Sometimes you want something so bad . . . maybe we [coaches] put too much pressure on [the players].''
Ironically, the Illini will take on the Boilermakers just two days short of the two-year anniversary of Zook's low point, when Illinois lost 24-14 at Ross-Ade Stadium and fell to 1-6 on Oct. 24, 2009. That's the day former athletic director Ron Guenther answered calls for Zook's ouster by saying, ''There won't be a change at the top.''
That started the revamping that brought in Petrino and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, who have been instrumental in putting the Illini in line for their first back-to-back bowl trips in 19 years.
Finish off this season nicely, and it's a pretty impressive turnaround - one Zook, his staff and his players can be proud of.
The trouble is, winning games is one thing; winning fans is another.
It's always complicated at Illinois.

Just so this is clear, while Ron Zook walked out of his press conference when asked about his job status--after saying he'd walk out if his job status--the question came about eight seconds before he would have walked out, anyway. He'd gone as long as he goes every week--20 minutes--which is a lot of time to fill about a team that's lost four straight.
He didn't storm out. He walked out. And he had answered every question ad mauseum to that point.
Just to play mediator here. Hats off to Shannon Ryan, who does an outstanding job for the Chicago Tribune, for being a bulldog and asking the hard question.
But let's cut the Zooker some slack here, too. He answered repeated questions about how he and his players are dealing with the losing streak, one of several distractions that have added to Illinois' woes.
When a guy makes it clear he's not going to answer a question about his feelings, and his players' feelings, and you ask it anyway, what do you expect him to do?
Shannon has a job to do and she does it well.
All I want to do is give a little context for people who were not in that room.
If you want to judge Zook, don't watch the 55-second highlight video. Watch the whole 20 minutes.
If you're in the four-game-losing-streak version of your life, and a job you love is on the line, and people keep picking at the scab, what would you do?

The Big Ten removed former Penn State coach Joe Paterno's name from its new championship trophy on Monday.
The move was made because of the sex scandal that has rocked the Penn State program, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.
``We believe that it would be inappropriate to keep Joe Paterno's name on the trophy at this time,'' Delany said. ``The trophy and its namesake are intended to be celebratory and aspirational, not controversial. We believe that it's important to keep the focus on the players and the teams that will be competing in the inaugural championship game.''

The trophy, which will be present to the winner of the inaugural Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis on Dec. 3, will be called the Stagg Championship Trophy.It honors Amos Alonzo Stagg, the legendary University of Chicago coach. A founding member of the Big Ten in 1892, Chicago left the league in 1932, concerned about where big-time college athletics were headed.

Here's my Nov. 11 column on Penn State. Had some requests from readers who were having trouble finding it at . .

Say it ain't so, JoePa.

With one inexplicably monstrous lapse in judgment nine years ago, Joe Paterno cast a cloud over not merely Happy Valley, but the passionate world of college football.

When Penn State, a beacon for winning with good values, goes so horribly wrong, it raises questions about an entire sport. That's why the shocking accusations -that school officials covered up the predatory ways of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky - has transcended sports pages to become a national-news obsession.

Interim coach Tom Bradley, who replaced Paterno, will guide the No. 12 Nittany Lions Saturday vs. No. 19 Nebraska. It will be Senior Day, a time when seniors ought to be celebrated. Instead, the spotlight will be on the sideshow of Penn State playing under the cloud of scandal, and without JoePa coaching for the first time since 1949.

Paterno and his supporters seem to have a disconnect about the seriousness of his failure to stop Sandusky when informed of an appalling sex act with a 10-year-old in the Penn State locker room in 2002.

But the rest of the world knows. College football may never be the same.

Schools can never again let a coach have that much discretion or power, even one as beloved and seemingly noble as Paterno, the winningest coach in major-college history who had a reputation for doing things the right way.

Faced with a new level of potential disasters, coaches and administrators everywhere have a new set of worries, and another reason to devise new safeguards.

"I don't think it's a game changer in that you would hope you're being vigilant at all times,'' Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas told the Sun-Times Thursday. "Will this be a wakeup call for some people? I'm sure that's the case. But I would hope it would be a part of people's DNA already.''

The Big Ten already was on alert when Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who had won six straight league titles, was felled last spring by a scandal in which his players sold jerseys and other team trinkets for tattoos.

"Everything that's happened in the last year has forced all of us to re-evaluate,'' Illinois coach Ron Zook told the Sun-Times. "You have to know what's going on in your program. Is that possible? I'm not sure, but I know we sure try.''

It's an imperfect science. Like virtually every other coach, Zook has had trying moments - some of them deserved, some not.

Beyond expressing compassion, neither Zook, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald nor Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly felt comfortable commenting on the wrenching Penn State situation.

"It's really sad,'' Fitzgerald said. "I don't have a whole lot more to say besides that.''

Asked if he's been following the news out of State College, Kelly said, "I didn't know that you couldn't. It has been on TV, on the radio. It's just a sad, sad situation. I just don't know too much about it because I've been focusing on here, but certainly my heart goes out to all the victims.''

"It's just an awful thing,'' Zook said. "I don't know the details, I won't comment on that. But it's something that, once again, you have to do things the right way in every aspect of your life.''

For all of his ups and downs, Zook, in his seventh year at Illinois, now stands second in Big Ten seniority, behind Kirk Ferentz, Iowa's 12th-year coach.

"There's so much out there now,'' Zook said. "Believe me, it's not just football. There's a lot more to being a head coach than just X's and O's. There's not nearly as much X's and O's as I wish there was.''

Penn State's inability to do something as obvious as refer child-molesting charges to the proper authorities should drive home the need for having better policies in place.

But disaster is always in the back of a coach's mind.

"You worry about driving down the road, and somebody being drunk and killing you,'' Zook said. "But you can't live like that. You just do the best you can and put it in God's hands.''

Senior safety Trulon Henry, the older brother of former wide receiver Arrelious Benn, was shot in the hand at an off-campus party early Sunday and will be sidelined for the rest of the season, Illini coach Ron Zook said.
Two other unidentified men also were wounded when shots were fired during a fight that broke out at the party.
Henry wasn't planning to attend the party, but went there to give a ride home to five or six teammates who wanted to leave an increasingly unruly scene, Zook said, adding that Henry was wounded when he attempted to play peacemaker.
``I spoke with Trulon, he called me around 4:30 or 5 a.m. and apologized,'' Zook said. ``He said all he was trying to do was help. He's a team leader, he's trying to help, and he ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time.''
Zook said he was informed of the incident, in which shots broke out during a fight at the party, at about 3 a.m., shortly after it took place. Henry, who was shot in a ring finger, underwent surgery for the wound.
``When the phone rings at that hour, you know it's not good,'' Zook said, adding that he's not planning disciplinary action. ``This is the first issue we've had like this, with a curfew thing. It was late. I'm not going to deny that. But most college football teams don't normally have a curfew on Saturday night.''
Henry's brother, Benn, is the most high-profile recruit Zook has brought to Illinois. He now plays for Tampa Bay, which made him a second-round pick in 2010,
Henry, 27, who lives with his wife and daughter in Champaign, played at College of DuPage before transferring to Illinois. Since serving a four-year prison sentence for the armed robbery of a bank branch in a supermarket in Washington, D.C., Henry has been a model citizen.
Although it appears that Henry's college career is over, Zook said Henry is expected to make a full recovery, which will enable him to pursue a pro career.
This is the second time in three years that an Illinois football player has been wounded in a peacemaking role. Martez Wilson, a star linebacker from Simeon who now plays for New Orleans, was hospitalized in December, 2008, with stab wounds in the stomach and back after coming to the aid of former teammate D'Angelo McCray, who was being beaten outside a Champaign tavern.

With four touchdowns in three games, Illinois needs to get its offense going. Where to start? These stats say rushing yards lead to passing touchdowns, and the Illini agree.

Scoring 34.7 9.3
Passing TDs 11 2
Rushing yds 226.2 129
Passing yds 221.5 169.3
Coming off its bye week, Illinois faces a perplexing task.
Shut out in the first half of its last three games, it now will try to snap its three-game losing streak against No. 22 Michigan, which defeated it 67-65 in triple overtime last year, the highest scoring Big Ten game in history.
If this is going to be another shootout, the Illini say they'll be ready.
``We're always prepared to put points on the board,'' quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase said. ``If we take care of business, we'll be fine, regardless of what the score is.''
Since averaging 34.7 points when they opened with six straight wins, the Illini have put up just 28 points in their three losses, 21 of them when they were playing catch-up in the fourth quarter.
Coach Ron Zook remains optimistic that the offense has been recharged by last week's bye, which enabled the team to go over its fundamentals, heal up and recharge for its final three games.
``The signs that maybe we're coming out of it a bit?'' Zook said. ``We are a refreshed team. The attitude, the way they're running around out there. They're rested.''
Where did it get away from the offense? 
``I  don't have the answer exactly why,'' said Zook, who also saw his offense lose its swagger. ``You go back to the Ohio State game and they were pressing a bit. It really kind of started at the beginning of the Indiana game.''
One obvious explanation is that Ohio State, Purdue and Penn State are better defensively than the teams Illinois faced when it was winning.
Zook's point of emphasis during the bye week?
``Let's go back and do what we do,'' he said. ``Don't worry about having big plays. Just take what they give and line up and play.''
Another explanation: The offensive line wore down, and didn't give Scheelhaase the time he needed to connect with A.J. Jenkins on the deep balls that were a signature of the winning streak.
And another: Scheelhaase also wore down, a combination of the offensive line's decline and his aggressive running style. Since throwing 10 touchdown passes in the first six game, he has thrown two in the last three games.
``Nathan may have been [banged up], but he's not going to tell you unless it's  serious,'' Zook said. ``But there's no question the time off has helped everybody.''
Scheelhaase, who took some knocks on his throwing shoulder early in the season, said his throwing arm is fine, but said the week off has been a good time for the offense to regroup.  
``In the bye week, you get a chance to get back to basics,'' the quarterback said. ``So its does build some confidence. You're breaking things back down, it's always nice to have that. It's been very helpful to us as an offense.''
Illinois again will ``saddle up and ride'' senior running back Jason Ford, who has rushed for 183 yards on 34 carries, a 5.4 average, the last two games. In the four games before Zook and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino made him the horse, Ford had 117 yards on 37 carries, a 3.2 average.
``The better you run the ball,'' Petrino said, ``the better you're going to be, and the better you're going to protect the passer. We've worked real hard on our timing, our execution and all the little details. I expect us to go out and execute it better.''
Restless fans will question the play-calling if Illinois continues to sputter.
But the running game buys the quarterback time to make throws, Scheelhaase knows. Which means the Illini need to do everything better.
``It's going to come down to execution,'' Scheelhaase said.

   With only one scholarship open, Illinois wasn't going to get quantity. But Bruce Weber added a point guard Wednesday who has a chance to provide quality.
   The lone signee, Michael Orris, is a 6-2 playmaker from Crete-Monee who brings a different look than freshman Tracy Abrams.
   Calling Orris ``the best point guard in the state of Illinois,'' Weber described him as a gym rat who's always coaching up his teammates, and is very content to pass the ball. And Weber expects him to assume a significant role quickly.
   ``He has the maturity and competitive spirit and toughenss. He'll make a push right away,'' the coach said. ``With our guard situation a year from now, Tracy gives us the toughness, the physicality--kind of a bulldog point guard. Michael is a little more cerebral.''
   Orris averaged 10.2 points and 6.2 assists last season, helping Crete-Monee (25-4) to its first sectional championship. 
   Orris, who played his first two prep years at Palatine, may even be bringing along a friend. Mike LaTulip, a 6-foot guard from Prospect who's a pal of Orris, turned down some mid-major offers for the opportunity to become a preferred walk-on at Illinos.
    Orris originally committed to Creighton because he apparently preferred a smaller school. But he decommitted last spring and agreed to come to Illinois in September.
   ``He loves to play; he plays all the time,'' Weber said. ``I don't know if he's ever answered the phone straight up when I've called him.''
    Beyond his smarts and enthusiasm, Weber likes Orris' hard-nosed approach.
    ``It's kind of ironic because both of his parents are ministers,'' the Illini coach said. ``Off  the court, Michael's a good quality kid. But when he gets on the court, he has a little feistiness to him, which is always a positive thing. We're really pleased.''

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany commented Wednesday afternoon on the ``anger, confusion, and heartache'' of the sex-abuse scandal that is rocking Penn State. 
``The entire situation is so sad,'' Delany said in a statement. ``There is anger, confusion, and heartache on the part of many. First and foremost, our hearts go out to all those whose lives have been negatively impacted by this series of events, particularly the young victims and their families.
``We hear new information on an hourly basis and recognize that there is still much to be determined. We will wait until the Board of Trustees draws its final conclusions on personnel matters before commenting on such matters ourselves.
``Additionally, the Board is appointing a Special Committee to undertake a full investigation of the circumstances that gave rise to the Grand Jury report, and the Grand Jury investigation is ongoing. We will wait until these two entities have drawn their conclusions before we draw any of our own on the investigation and therefore have no further comment at this time.''
One question that is likely to be addressed--whether to keep Joe Paterno's name on the new Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy, which will be awarded to the winner of the league's championship game, which debuts in Indianapolis next month.

Here's a statement issued Monday by NCAA president Mark Emmert regarding the charges against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky:
 ``This is a criminal matter under investigation by law enforcement authorities and I will not comment on details. However, I have read the grand jury report and find the alleged assaults appalling. As a parent and an educator, the notion that anyone would use a position of trust to prey on children is despicable. My thoughts and concern goes out to the alleged victims and their families.''

A publicist sent me these Odds to Win the NCAA tournament, courtesy of Bodog. Beyond the increasingly rare $2 nassau, I don't bet. But I like numbers, and pondering whether these are good bets.

You hear things about people who bet on a longshot team before a season began. They look good when the team's in the Super Bowl, etc., but these kind of numbers always seem way too low to me.

For example, Ohio State should be 15-2 to make the Final Four, in my world of probability, not 15-2 to win the tournament. Many of those top odds have a similar feel.

For another example, Illinois is 75-1 to win the NCAA tournament. Who's putting money on that? I wouldn't wager 75-1 in Twinkies on Illinois to reach the Final Four. 75-1 would be attractive on Illinois reaching the Sweet 16, but I would advise betting people to keep the mortgage money far away from that proposition.

What would be the right odds for the Illini to even make the NCAA tournament field?

I'm not sure.

As Damon Runyon once said, ``Everything in life is 6-5 against.''


Odds to Win the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

North Carolina                7/2

Kentucky                      9/2

Ohio State                     15/2

Duke                             10/1

Connecticut                   12/1

Louisville                       12/1

Syracuse                      12/1

Florida                          20/1

Vanderbilt                      20/1

Memphis                       22/1

Kansas                         25/1

St. John's                      25/1

UCLA                            25/1

Michigan State              28/1

Pittsburgh                     28/1

Texas                           28/1

Baylor                           35/1

Indiana                          35/1

Michigan                       35/1

Arizona                         40/1

Georgetown                   40/1

Gonzaga                       40/1

Notre Dame                   50/1

Villanova                       50/1

Wisconsin                     55/1

Kansas State                60/1

Temple                          60/1

Texas A&M                   60/1

Washington                   60/1

West Virginia                 60/1

Alabama                       65/1

Butler                            65/1

Florida State                  65/1

Boston College              75/1

Cincinnati                      75/1

Illinois                           75/1

Minnesota                     75/1

Mississippi State           75/1

Oregon                          75/1

Xavier                            75/1

Tennessee                    80/1

Arkansas                      100/1

California                       100/1

Marquette                      100/1

Maryland                       100/1

Miami FL                       100/1

Missouri                        100/1

New Mexico                  100/1

North Carolina State       100/1

Oklahoma                     100/1

Oklahoma State             100/1

Purdue                          100/1

St. Mary's                     100/1

UNLV                            100/1

USC                             100/1

Utah State                     100/1

VCU                             100/1

Clemson                       125/1

Colorado                       125/1

Georgia                         125/1

Georgia Tech                 125/1

Richmond                      125/1

Seton Hall                     125/1

Stanford                        125/1

Washington State          125/1

Arizona State                150/1

BYU                             150/1

Iowa                              150/1

Mississippi                    150/1

Old Dominion                 150/1

Penn State                    150/1

San Diego State            150/1

South Carolina               150/1

Virginia Tech                 150/1

Auburn                          200/1

LSU                              200/1

Rutgers                         200/1

South Florida                 200/1

Texas Tech                   200/1

UAB                             200/1

UTEP                            200/1

Virginia                         200/1

Wake Forest                 200/1


Penn State coach Joe Paterno released this statement on Sunday regarding his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, who was arrested Saturday morning and charged with seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse; eight counts of corruption of minors, eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child, seven counts of indecent assault and other offenses. He was released Saturday on $100,000 bail.

"If true, the nature and amount of charges made are very shocking to me and all Penn Staters. While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to  my attention, like anyone else involved I can't help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred.

"Sue and I have devoted our lives to helping young people reach their potential. The fact that someone we thought we knew might have harmed young people to this extent is deeply troubling. If this is true we were all fooled, along with scores of professionals trained in such things, and we grieve for the victims and their families. They are in our prayers.

"As my grand jury testimony stated, I was informed in 2002 by an assistant coach that he had witnessed an incident in the shower of our locker room facility. It was obvious that the witness was distraught over what he saw, but he at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report. Regardless, it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky. As Coach Sandusky was retired from our coaching staff at that time, I referred the matter to university administrators.

"I understand that people are upset and angry, but let's be fair and let the legal process unfold. In the meantime I would ask all Penn Staters to continue to trust in what that name represents, continue to pursue their lives every day with high ideals and not let these events shake their beliefs nor who they are."

SEC welcomes Mizzou

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Here's the official Southeastern Conference announcement on Missouri's move to the SEC. . . 

University of Missouri to Join Southeastern Conference


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (November 6, 2011) - The Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors, acting unanimously, announced today that the University of Missouri will join the Southeastern Conference effective July 1, 2012, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2012-13 academic year. 


The addition of Missouri will increase SEC membership to 14 institutions.  The additions of Texas A&M, announced on September 25, 2011, and Missouri, are the first expansions for the SEC since September of 1991 when the University of South Carolina joined the league.  The University of Arkansas joined the SEC in August of 1991.  With the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina, the SEC was the first conference to split into divisions and add a conference championship game in 1992.


"The Presidents and Chancellors of the Southeastern Conference are pleased to welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC," said Dr. Bernie Machen, President of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors and president of the University of Florida.  "The University of Missouri is a prestigious academic institution with a strong athletic tradition and a culture similar to our current institutions."


"The Southeastern Conference is a highly successful, stable, premier athletic conference that offers exciting opportunities for the University of Missouri," said Chancellor Brady J. Deaton. "In joining the SEC, MU partners with universities distinguished for their academic programs and their emphasis on student success. The SEC will provide our student-athletes with top flight competition and unparalleled visibility. We came to this decision after careful consideration of the long term best interests of our university.  We believe the Southeastern Conference is an outstanding home for the Mizzou Tigers, and we take great pride in our association with this distinguished league."


Missouri, located in Columbia, will also be the fourth institution in the Southeastern Conference to hold membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities, joining University of Florida, Texas A&M University and Vanderbilt University.  Missouri has an enrollment of 33,800 students, which would be the fourth largest institution in the SEC, with Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M having a larger student body.  There are more than 260,000 "Mizzou" alumni around the world.  The State of Missouri borders three SEC states: Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas, and they bring an existing rivalry with former conference foe Texas A&M.


Missouri athletic teams have excelled recently.  Its men's basketball team has made it to the NCAA Tournament three straight seasons and 24 times overall.  The Tiger football team has been to post-season bowl games for six straight years and 28 times overall.  The softball team has participated in the College World Series each of the last three seasons.  The Tigers have won Big 12 Championships in men's basketball, soccer and softball.


"I am pleased to officially welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC family on behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.  "Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program.  We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012."


The Tigers sponsor 20 varsity sports.  Men's sports include baseball, basketball, football, golf, swimming and diving, wrestling, indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country.  Women's sports include basketball, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country and volleyball.  Missouri participates in every sport sponsored by the SEC except men's tennis and the SEC sponsors every sport the Tigers participate in except wrestling.



My picks for today's games. . . 

Minnesota at No. 17 Michigan State
Time: 11 a.m., BTN
The records: Minnesota 2-6, 1-3 Big Ten; Michigan State 6-2, 3-1
The story line: Spartans should return home feisty after 24-3 loss at Nebraska ended four-game winning streak. Gophers' 22-21 surprise of Iowa seems more a comment on Hawkeyes' woes.
The line: MSU by 28
Gould's pick: MSU, 35-10

Indiana at Ohio State
Time: 11 a.m., BTN
The records: Indiana 1-8, 0-5 Big Ten; Ohio State 5-3, 2-2
The story line: Buckeyes still not getting top-25 respect, but they're revived with Boom Herron back. IU's better at home, but remains a project for new coach Kevin Wilson.
The line: Ohio State by 27-1/2
Gould's pick: Ohio State, 38-13 

No. 13 Michigan at Iowa
Time: 11 a.m., ESPN
The records: Michigan 7-1, 3-1 Big Ten; Iowa 5-3, 2-2
The story line: Hawkeyes are a messy 0-3 on road, but remain a tough out in raucous Kinnick Stadium. Michigan needs a win to stay in division hunt.
The line: Michigan by 4
Gould's pick: Michigan, 27-20

Purdue at No. 19 Wisconsin
Time: 2:30 p.m., Ch. 7
The records: Purdue 4-4, 2-2 Big Ten; Wisconsin 6-2, 2-2
The story line: With backs to division wall after two heartbreakers on road, Badgers should be eager to get back in the win column against Purdue, which is 0-3 on the road.
The line: Wisconsin by 25-1/2
Gould's pick: Wisconsin, 41-13

No. 17 Kansas State at No. 3 Oklahoma State 
Time: 7 p.m., ESPN2
The records: Kansas State 7-1, 4-1 Big 12; Oklahoma State 8-0, 5-0
The story line: Their unbeaten bubble burst, the Wildcats wrangle with the Cowboys, who are positioned for the Big 12 title, if not a surprising national-championship game appearance.
The line: Oklahoma State by 21
Gould's pick: Oklahoma State, 45-20

No. 10 South Carolina at No. 8 Arkansas
Time: 6:15 p.m., ESPN
The records: South Carolina 7-1, 5-1 SEC: Arkansas 7-1, 3-1
The story line: In a measure of the SEC's strength, this top-10 matchup plays second fiddle to LSU-Alabama. Arkansas' potent offense is a big test for Gamecocks' defense, which has been critical due to loss of star running back Marcus Lattimore (knee) and upheaval at quarterback.
The line: Arkansas by 5-1/2
Gould's pick: Arkansas, 31-17

Texas A&M at No. 7 Oklahoma
Time: 2:30 p.m., ESPN2
The records: Texas A&M 5-3, 3-2 Big 12: Oklahoma 7-1, 4-1
The story line: Aggies who have folded late in all three of their losses, face ornery Sooners, who bounced back big at K-State after being outplayed by Texas Tech. Sooners can still grab Big 12 title if they don't stumble again.
The line: Oklahoma by 13-1/2
Gould's pick: Oklahoma, 38-21

No. 6 Oregon at Washington
Time: 9:30 p.m., CSN
The records: Oregon 7-1, 5-0 Pac-12; Washington 6-2, 4-1
The story line: Under the radar since their opening loss to LSU, the Ducks, who play at USC next week, have a tough November ahead. But they're looking tough enough. Solid Huskies could be a good test.
The line: Oregon by 16-1/2
Gould's pick: Oregon, 38-28


No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama
Time: 7 p.m., Ch. 2
The records: LSU 8-0, 5-0 SEC: Alabama 8-0, 5-0
The story line: 
The line: Alabama by 4-1/2
Gould's pick: Alabama, 28-20

SEASON ATS: 25-18-1

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