Three B1G Things: Gophers land 4-star CB, Wisconsin nixes return for senior spring-sport athletes & playing games in empty stadiums
Three B1G Things is a daily weekday update on some of the most unique and interesting stories from across the B1G. It ranges from recruiting to coach press conferences, funny anecdotes to serious situations. We provide our commentary, analysis and opinions on a few topics every day.
Minnesota gets highest-ranked commitment for 2021 class
P.J. Fleck and his staff have been working hard on the recruiting trail, receiving seven verbal commitments early in the cycle. But none have been bigger than Thursday night, with Minnesota getting a pledge from four-star cornerback Steven Ortiz Jr. He’s currently the highest-ranked player to commit to the Gophers in the 2021 class.
What’s particularly unique about Ortiz’s commitment is that he’s a native of Goodyear, Arizona. Recently, because of the nix on unofficial and official recruiting visits, several commitments across the country have come from local players. For Minnesota to add a player from the Southwest is a pretty significant achievement.
Per 247Sports, Ortiz ranks as the No. 20 corner an the No. 280 overall player in the 2021 recruiting class. He’s the second four-star prospect to commit to the Gophers.
Even when there are restrictions on the recruiting front, Fleck is getting his message across, not just to local talent, but across the country. This was a great addition for the Golden Gophers, as they now have seven commits in the 2021 cycle.
“It’s time to move forward with your life”
Tell it like it, Barry.
That quote is from Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez, who recently said that the university does not plan to pursue any waivers for its senior spring-sport athletes, whose seasons were canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The former football coach said that the goal for those Wisconsin students should be to graduate and pursue their next stages of life, despite getting permission to restore a year of eligibility from the NCAA.
It’s a dollars and cents thing for Alvarez and the athletic department, and there will likely be at least a handful of other schools to release similar sentiments. Still, it’s a tough pill for those student-athletes to swallow, after not being able to participate in a majority of their senior seasons.
Alvarez’s comments also make you wonder — what if this happened during football season? Or even during the winter sports season? If it involved a revenue-generating sport, would the decision be different?
Gene Smith doesn’t like the idea of empty stadiums
Playing games in empty stadiums sounds like a decent solution for a serious problem. For Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith, though, it conflicts with the idea of putting the health and safety of student-athletes first.
“I struggle with that concept,” Smith said, according to Bill Landis of The Athletic. “If we don’t have fans that means we’ve determined it’s not safe for them. So why would it be safe for the players?”
Smith brings up a fair point, and it’s something that should be given serious consideration.
It isn’t just simply the idea that “playing games in empty stadiums would be weird.” If fans aren’t permitted to attend games, then how much of a health concern is at stake for the players suiting up on Saturdays in the fall?
Playing in empty venues might be an option right now but it doesn’t appear to be a popular one.