Every Tuesday, Matt Hayes tackles the 10 hottest topics in the Big Ten …

1. The B1G Story

Among the many wonderfully syrupy sayings of Mack Brown, none is more telling than the one his mentor, Darrell Royal, told him early during his wildly successful tenure at Texas.

The higher you climb the ladder, the more your (butt) shows.

Michigan’s pants have fallen further than a plumber’s, everyone. And here’s the best part: The guy who can fix it — enigmatic coach Jim Harbaugh — is deep in his own world.

Interviews with the NFL. Fighting with the NCAA. Usurping the power of his athletic director.

Now, the latest: 3 days ago — in a Friday news dump timed, no doubt, at limiting exposure — Michigan fired co-offensive coordinator Matt Weiss for alleged computer access crimes.

Harbaugh, the leader of the program, the face of the university, has said nothing. A white hot coach on the field, Harbaugh is oddly sabotaging it all off the field.

He interviewed with the Denver Broncos and spoke to Carolina Panthers owner David Tipper. But just like last year, after a botched interview with the Minnesota Vikings, Harbaugh returned to Ann Arbor and proclaimed love.

Meanwhile, Michigan is in the early stages of an NCAA investigation — the 2nd in the history of the program — that includes a handful of Level II violations of contact with players during the suspension of the Covid season.

There is also, however, a more serious Level I allegation: The NCAA claims Harbaugh failed to cooperate with the investigation. Yahoo reported that the NCAA and Michigan were trying to find a quick resolution but couldn’t because Harbaugh refused to admit he purposefully misled NCAA investigators.

If that’s not vintage Harbaugh, I don’t know what is.

Meanwhile, the unspoken but widely-known secret of friction between Harbaugh and Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel became public when Michigan president Santa Ono tweeted last week that he “just spoke” with Harbaugh and that he would remain as coach and not leave for the NFL.

Ono finished his announcement by proclaiming he had “communicated” the news to Manuel.

Let’s be perfectly honest here. If Harbaugh had lost the past 2 games to Ohio State, he’d probably be fired for once again flirting with the NFL, and having no relationship with his direct report in the athletic department.

He’ll instead cruise along, no worse for the wear — with 1 year to fade before the Playoff expands to 12 teams and The Game isn’t for a coveted spot in the postseason tournament.

It’s merely for seeding.

2. The move to 2023

Make no mistake, Michigan has another Playoff team at the ready in 2023 — and everything sets up for another championship run.

Ohio State will break in a new quarterback, and the Buckeyes still must figure out how Michigan has used brute force to change the dynamics of the rivalry.

Michigan, meanwhile, has added OT Myles Hinton and C Drake Nugent from Stanford, and G LaDarius Henderson from Arizona State. All 3 have extensive starting experience, and all 3 fit Harbaugh’s ideal of punishing football.

Sports Betting in Big Ten Country

There is big news coming to the upcoming 2022-23 Big Ten football season (and NFL season). Ohio online sports betting and Maryland sports betting are on the way.

21+ and present in OH. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.

Now, the problem: Weiss was the Michigan quarterbacks coach and play-caller, and had developed a fabulous working relationship with QB JJ McCarthy — who developed from 5-star project to elite college quarterback this season.

A year earlier, Weiss did another impressive job with Cade McNamara, who isn’t an elite physical athlete but played well enough for Michigan to beat Ohio State for the first time under Harbaugh and advance to the Playoff.

There are now significant questions at a critical spot on the coaching staff, one that must fit for both Harbaugh — who tends to lean to coaches he knows for hires — and McCarthy.

3. The offseason of Jim, The Epilogue

The quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator hire could take an odd offseason 1 of 2 ways: settle the noise in the system, or add more tension if McCarthy and the new hire don’t mesh.

Don’t be surprised if Harbaugh looks to Stanford, where he coached in the 2000s, for the hire. Cardinal offensive coordinator and QBs coach Tavita Pritchard did terrific work developing Davis Mills (now with the Houston Texans) and Tanner McKee (a Day 2 projection in this year’s NFL Draft).

Pritchard also fits the Harbaugh philosophy perfectly. He was a former walk-on quarterback at Stanford under Harbaugh in 2007, and famously started when the 41-point underdog Cardinal went into the Coliseum and beat heavyweight USC 24-23 — snapping USC’s 35-game home winning streak.

Harbaugh often speaks fondly of that 2007 team, and how set the foundation of winning with “character and cruelty.”

4. The wait is over for Penn State, QB

James Franklin isn’t waiting for a transition season with new quarterback Drew Allar. He’s making sure the talented former 5-star recruit, who sat this season behind Sean Clifford, has everything set for the 2023 season.

Case in point: the wide receiver room.

Franklin landed 2 critical additions, both under-the-radar talents who will make the Lions 4-deep at the position. Dante Cephas, a deep threat who had 147 catches for 1,964 yards and 12 TDs the past 2 seasons at Kent State, committed to Penn State and hopes to enroll in the summer.

Then there’s Malik McClain, a physical presence (6-4, 215) stuck behind a talented group of receivers at Florida State. The former 4-star from powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., had 33 catches and 5 TDs in his first 2 seasons in Tallahassee.

Cephas and McClain will join KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Harrison Wallace III to give Penn State 4 deep at the position, a strong supporting cast for Allar, who is the most physically-gifted QB Franklin has recruited to Penn State.

5. The Weekly 5

The top 5 national championship odds for Big Ten teams, brought to you by our friends at FanDuel:

  • 1. Ohio State (+700)
  • 2. Michigan (+1200)
  • 3. Penn State (+2000)
  • 4. Wisconsin (+10000)
  • 5. Iowa (+20000)

6. Your tape is your resume

An NFL scout analyzes a draft-eligible Big Ten player. This week: Maryland WR Rakim Jarrett (6-foot, 190).

“He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s explosive after the catch. He has twitch, and he’s exciting with the ball in his hands. He gets to that second level, forget it. He’s a lot stronger than you think, despite that size. And he can leap. He can get up and high point and has strong hands. He’ll go get it. He’s a tough guy off the jam, too. I don’t expect that to change here, though some believe that will be a big problem. He’ll go in the 3rd (round) or so, and someone is going to get a steal.”

7. Powered Up

This week’s Power Poll, and 1 big thing: biggest loss/gain from the transfer portal.

1. Michigan: Loss: WR Andrew Anthony (Oklahoma); Gain: OG/OT Ladarius Henderson (Arizona State).

2. Ohio State: Loss: LB Javontae Jean-Baptiste (Notre Dame); Gain: S Ja’Had Carter (Syracuse).

3. Penn State: Loss: DT Fatorma Mulbah (West Virginia); Gain: CB Storm Duck (North Carolina).

4. Purdue: Loss: Edge Jack Sullivan (USC); Gain: QB Hudson Card (Texas).

5. Illinois: Loss DT Verdis Brown (undecided); Gain: QB Luke Altmyer (Ole Miss).

6. Minnesota: Loss: S Michael Dixon (Rutgers); Gain: WR Corey Crooms (Western Michigan).

7. Maryland: Loss: TE CJ Dipree (Alabama); Gain: S Ja’Quan Sheppard (Cincinnati).

8. Iowa: Loss: WR Arland Bruce IV (Oklahoma State); Gain: QB Cade McNamara (Michigan).

9. Wisconsin: Loss: QB Graham Mertz (Florida); Gain: QB Tanner Mordecai (SMU).

10. Michigan State: Loss: WR Germie Bernard (Washington); Gain: DT Jarrett Jackson (Florida State).

11. Nebraska: Loss: LB Ernest Hausmann (Michigan); Gain: TE Arik Gilbert (Georgia).

12. Rutgers: Loss: LB Kahyri Blanton (undecided); Gain: S Michael Dixon (Minnesota).

13. Indiana: Loss: Dasan McCullough (Oklahoma); Gain: QB Tayven Jackson (Tennessee).

14. Northwestern: Loss: DE Austin Firestone (Missouri); Gain: none.

8. Ask and you shall receive

Matt: Do you see a time soon when more great players with 1 more season of college football shut it down to protect themselves, like Jaxon Smith-Njigba? — Edward Dorman, Seattle.


It’s not fair to use Smith-Njigba as an example. A hamstring injury has 3 levels of damage, and if Smith Njigba had the worst of the 3, it easily could’ve taken most of the season to heal — leaving him with no reason to return.

Players must protect their future earning value, no matter the position they play. There’s too much to lose by playing injured, when further damage not only potentially decreases their first contract in the NFL, but could prevent them from playing altogether.

Every player must choose the risk/reward. Some, if the play and play well, can increase their draft value. But more times than not, if players are recovering from an injury, it’s more prudent to protect your future at the expense of now.

9. Numbers

103. Marvin Harrison Jr., and Emeka Egbuka return to Ohio State next season as the nation’s best wideout combination. If there were any doubt of QB Kyle McCord’s ability to take over in Columbus, check out the 2 guys helping him on the outside:

Harrison and Egbuka combined in 2022 for 13 catches of 10+ yards. They also combined for 40 catches of 20+ yards, 20 catches of 30+ yards, and 11 catches of 40+ yards.

That’s right, 11 catches of 40+ yards.

10. Quote to note

Penn State coach James Franklin: “As coaches, it’s hard to really watch a game (on television) and enjoy it. You’re looking at it, and I’m sending texts to me DC and OC, to my special teams coordinators about things that I saw in the game. A lot of times, they’re things I want to show the team the next day.”