MSU No. 12, U of M No. 14 in preseason Coaches Poll

By Blake Froling

Now that fall practice is starting and we’re less than a month away from real, live college football, it’s time to get riled up by preseason polls.

The Amway Coaches Poll was released Thursday afternoon and featured the usual suspects — Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State — at the top. Michigan State was voted No. 12 and Michigan came in two spots behind at No. 14.

The Spartans and Wolverines were two of the five Big Ten teams selected in the top 15, along with Ohio State (3), Wisconsin (7) and Penn State (9). Northwestern also received votes.

Looking ahead, Michigan State will play three ranked opponents this season and Michigan will face five, including the season opener in South Bend against No. 11 Notre Dame.

The Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 each had five teams voted into the poll, while the ACC had four and the PAC-12 had three. University of Central Florida, the self-proclaimed “national champions,” were ranked No. 23.

RK TEAM REC PTS
1 Alabama(61) 0-0 1621
2 Clemson(3) 0-0 1547
3 Ohio State(1) 0-0 1458
4 Georgia 0-0 1452
5 Oklahoma 0-0 1288
6 Washington 0-0 1245
7 Wisconsin 0-0 1243
8 Miami 0-0
9 Penn State 0-0 1050
10 Auburn 0-0 1004
11 Notre Dame 0-0 892
12 Michigan State 0-0
13 Stanford 0-0 768
14 Michigan 0-0 752
15 USC 0-0 691
16 TCU 0-0 530
17 Virginia Tech 0-0 524
18 Mississippi State 0-0 407
19 Florida State 0-0 328
20 West Virginia 0-0 310
21 Texas 0-0 265
22 Boise State 0-0 261
23 UCF 0-0 259
24 LSU 0-0 254
25 Oklahoma State 0-0 168

Others receiving votes: South Carolina 138, Florida 135, Oregon 105, Utah 81, Texas A&M 67, Northwestern 67, Kansas State 35, Florida Atlantic 27, Memphis 23, Boston College 23, NC State 22, Arkansas State 19, Troy 19, Appalachian State 16, San Diego State 15, Kentucky 8, Iowa State 8, Iowa 8, Washington State 7, South Florida 6, Duke 5, Fresno State 4, Louisville 3, Arizona 2, Houston 2, Army 1, Northern Illinois 1

Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images

Jon Reschke returns to Spartans year after insensitive comments

Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer

CHICAGO — Michigan State linebacker Jon Reschke, who made racially insensitive comments about a teammate in January 2017 and left the program soon after, is back on the Spartans roster and may return this season.

Coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday that Reschke, a starter in 2015, is taking the necessary steps toward a return this season but has permanently lost his scholarship. Dantonio said he’s largely leaving Reschke’s status up to the players.

“I talked to our football team and our players and said, ‘Hey, if you guys want him back, then you have to bring him back,'” Dantonio said Tuesday. “It has to be a decision made by our African-American players, led by them, and they have to support that.”

In a February 2017 statement announcing his decision to transfer from Michigan State, Reschke apologized for an “insensitive and totally regrettable comment involving a former teammate. In so doing, I have hurt and offended countless number of people, and for that, I am deeply sorry. If I could take my comment back, I would do so in a second.”

Reschke ultimately did not leave for another program and suffered a knee injury that kept him out for the 2017 season. He received approval for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, citing the injuries he had in both 2016, when he appeared in just two games, and 2017. Reschke has 101 career tackles playing for MSU between 2014 and 2016.

Dantonio brought up the idea of Reschke’s return to the team in January and has checked in with players each month. Reschke participated in some of the team’s offseason conditioning program.

“I’m hopefully allowing healing to take place among our players,” Dantonio said. “We’ll take a step-by-step approach. He’s not on scholarship, nor will he be on scholarship. He paid the ultimate price by being out of football for a year.”

Dantonio later added: “All indications from our players are they do want him in camp.”

Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/24182440/michigan-state-linebacker-jon-reschke-allowed-back-team

Big Ten power rankings: Can anyone catch Ohio State?

Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes have reloaded and are our early pick to defend their title as Big Ten champions. Here are ESPN.com’s preseason Big Ten power rankings:

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes finished atop the Big Ten last season and are returning 15 total starters from last season’s team. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins showed promise in his limited time, completing 40 of his 57 passes and throwing four touchdowns in the process. Haskins has an opportunity to shine this season and help lead Ohio State back to the conference championship game. Nick Bosa should help lead a defense that lost quite a bit to the NFL, but defensive backs Kendall Sheffield, Jeffrey Okudah and Jordan Fuller should all be poised to take on bigger roles and pick up the slack in the secondary.

2. Wisconsin Badgers

The Badgers lose some big contributors on defense, including Conor Sheehy, Derrick Tindal and Natrell Jamerson, but there is still a lot left to like. After finishing 13-1 last season, with the only loss to Ohio State in the conference championship game, quarterback Alex Hornibrook returns some of his bigger weapons, including running back Jonathan Taylor. The sophomore broke records last season and finished third in rushing yards behind only Rashaad Penny and Bryce Love. Taylor will have his entire offensive line returning to help propel his rushing stats even further this season, and potentially help launch the Badgers back to the league title game.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions

This was an interesting offseason for head coach James Franklin as he saw star running back Saquon Barkley get drafted No. 2 overall, his offensive coordinator and running backs coach leave for Mississippi State and his wide receivers coach leave for Alabama. On top of that, the Nittany Lions lose eight defensive starters, including linebacker Jason Cabinda and defensive backs Grant Haley, Marcus Allen and Troy Apke. But Franklin and staff have recruited so well the past few years that there is talent on the depth chart that should be able to come in and fill those gaps. Young stars such as Miles Sanders, Justin Shorter and Micah Parsons can rise fast and help keep Penn State among the Big Ten’s best programs.

4. Michigan State Spartans

This one might cause some debate between Spartans and Wolverines, but Michigan State loses only four total starters from last season. That team had 10 wins and brings back one of the more important pieces in quarterback Brian Lewerke. All of Lewerke’s offensive weapons are coming back, and the Spartans are really only replacing center Brian Allen on the offensive side. Defensively, linebacker Joe Bachie and defensive back Josiah Scott should be able to build off strong 2017 campaigns, which will make Michigan State tough to beat in 2018.

5. Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines once again have the talent to contend for a Big Ten title, but four years into the Jim Harbaugh era they have to start proving it on the field before they climb any higher in the rankings. The defense returns bona fide NFL prospects at all three levels and should once again be good enough to keep any game close. Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson — the front-runner to take over at quarterback — and some new blood on the coaching staff will be tasked with jump-starting an offense that struggled in 2017.

6. Northwestern Wildcats

Clayton Thorson returns as the Big Ten’s most experienced quarterback, but he’ll have to up his game without his old backfield partner and the Wildcats’ all-time leading rusher, Justin Jackson. If the coaching staff finds a way to replace a couple of big losses in the secondary, Northwestern’s defense should have the strength to dictate field position and the pace of many of its games. Pat Fitzgerald’s program has averaged nine wins in each of the past three seasons and should remain a team to be wary of in 2018.

7. Iowa Hawkeyes

The steady Hawkeyes finished last season in third place in the West, and that’s where they start 2018. Leading rusher Akrum Wadley is gone, as are three fast, veteran linebackers, headlined by All-American Josey Jewell. This season’s Iowa team will have to lean more on its deep defensive line and its passing game. Nathan Stanley returns at quarterback and has a pair of sturdy tight ends (Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson) to serve as a good foundation for moving the ball through the air.

8. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Scott Frost’s arrival makes the Cornhuskers one of the country’s most interesting teams to watch at the start of the season. With a first-year starter at quarterback (redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia and freshman Adrian Martinez are front-runners in the upcoming training-camp battle), it might take some time for the talent level and the understanding of Frost’s new offense to match the level of excitement in Lincoln. Not to mention that the new staff got saddled with having to play Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan from the East this fall. Playmakers like Stanley Morgan Jr. and JD Spielman make Nebraska a dangerous opponent for schools with title hopes.

9. Purdue Boilermakers

Jeff Brohm did a remarkable job getting Purdue to a bowl game — and a bowl victory — in Year 1. Momentum is building in Boiler Country, and Brohm’s offense once again should be fun and productive. Quarterbacks Elijah Sindelar and David Blough both return from major injuries, along with a deep running backs group and wideout Jackson Anthrop. But Purdue lost almost all of its top contributors on defense, a vastly underrated unit that became stingy in Big Ten play and helped the team to bowl eligibility. Purdue will score a lot, but it also probably will give up a lot unless it can build around lineman Lorenzo Neal Jr. and linebacker Markus Bailey.

10. Indiana Hoosiers

Tom Allen’s first season as Hoosiers coach featured four single-digit losses and no bowl game. To close the gap, Allen will rely on young players, particularly with a defense returning only four starters and just one in the front seven. Allen is a terrific defensive coach, but the personnel situation will test him. Indiana has some nice pieces on offense with running back Morgan Ellison and wide receivers Luke Timian and Nick Westbrook, who returns from an ACL tear after a 54-catch season in 2016. The immediate question is quarterback as Peyton Ramsey, who started four games last season and will compete with Arizona graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins and others for the starting job.

11. Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Gophers probably will get younger this season, as P.J. Fleck wants to get an upgraded recruiting class into the mix sooner than later. Fleck is playing the long game at Minnesota, which was exposed for much of Big Ten play last fall. The Gophers need to build their passing game behind a yet-to-be-determined new quarterback (Tanner Morgan or Zack Annexstad) after finishing 121st nationally in pass offense last fall. Senior running back Rodney Smith is a reliable producer, and the defensive backfield should be a strength with Antoine Winfield Jr. returning from a hamstring issue. But Minnesota might be a year away from a substantial step forward.

12. Maryland Terrapins

A promising start disintegrated in coach D.J. Durkin’s second season last fall as injuries at quarterback took a huge toll — first with the loss of Tyrrell Pigrome in the season-opening victory over Texas and then when Kasim Hill went down in Week 4. They’re both back, as is Max Bortenschlager, who started eight games in 2017. Much-traveled Matt Canada is in as offensive coordinator. Defensively, the Terps might get a boost from high-profile transfers Byron Cowart and Marcus Lewis, formerly of Auburn and Florida State, respectively.

13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

The Scarlet Knights enter camp after the recent dismissal of two key players on defense amid a potential scandal involving a reported credit-card scam that could derail this season before it starts. Third-year coach Chris Ash brings back some talent on defense, led by senior linebacker Deonte Roberts, and might start a true freshman at QB in Artur Sitkowski, once pledged to Miami (Fla.). Aside from a Week 2 visit to Ohio State, the early schedule is manageable ahead of a brutal stretch in November.

14. Illinois Fighting Illini

Things went from bad in coach Lovie Smith’s first season to worse in his second year with the Illini. That is the nature of a complete rebuild, but patience will wear thin if Illinois fails to show notable improvement this fall with a youthful roster that features promising skill at running back with Mike Epstein and the return from multiple injuries of veteran wideout Mike Dudek. Defensive end Bobby Roundtree and safety Bennett Williams are back as talented sophomores.

Photo: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/24150992/big-ten-preseason-power-rankings

Beilein signs rollover contract extension

By Blake Froling

The University of Michigan just locked up the best coach in program history for a very long time.

John Beilein signed a new rollover extension today that runs through the 2022-23 seasons, according to the university. With the rollover, the contract will automatically be extended every year until Beilein or the university decide not to exercise the option. Essentially, Beilein has a lifetime contract.

“I am grateful for the opportunity the University of Michigan has given to me over the past 11 years,” said Beilein in a statement. “Kathleen and I love Ann Arbor, our University, our fans and the state of Michigan. We will continue to work very hard in the future to have our basketball team reflect the greatness of this University. I thank Mark Schlissel and Warde Manuel for their faith and commitment to our coaching staff and basketball program. The future of men’s basketball is bright and I am excited to be a part of it.”

Beilein, 65, recently flirted with the idea of leaving Ann Arbor for the Detroit Pistons, but ultimately pulled his name out of consideration when the news went public.

“I am thrilled to ensure John’s leadership of our basketball program today and into the future,” said Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel. “I am very pleased with our shared dialog throughout the process, and I am extremely happy that one of the game’s great coaches is representing the University of Michigan.”

The Wolverines are fresh off their second National Championship appearance in the last six seasons and have the No. 16 ranked recruiting class according to ESPN. Michigan also returns Charles Matthews, who was the team’s second-leading scorer last season. Beilein is the winningest coach in program history.

Photo: Mark J. Terrill/AP

Beilein: Offer from Pistons would have been tough decision

Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — John Beilein said he was never offered the Detroit Pistons’ coaching job.

“I never really had to make the decision,” the Michigan coach said. “That would have been a tough one.”

Beilein is now looking ahead to another season of college basketball after briefly emerging as a candidate for the Pistons. Not long after the news broke about Beilein’s talks with Detroit, he said he would be back at Michigan. The Pistons eventually hired Dwane Casey earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Beilein held a news conference to talk about the offseason. He led Michigan to the national title game this year before falling to Villanova, so the possibility of losing Beilein to the NBA was a jolt to Wolverines fans.

Mark J. Terrill/AP

“I was not offered the job by the Pistons,” Beilein said. “We certainly had some mutual interest. I think they had a great candidate in Dwane Casey.”

Beilein said he was intrigued by the possibility of coaching in the game’s top league.

“I love coaching basketball a lot, and you’re watching the NBA playoffs, and you’re seeing what guys are doing, and you’re looking, like, they’re running stuff that we run,” Beilein said. “I don’t know if they watched us or I watched them. You can see, boy, if you have really highly skilled players — [Boston Celtics coach] Brad Stevens kept telling me, ‘I’m having a blast.’ When you hear those words, and your season’s over — so that was appealing.”

With the Pistons’ search behind him, Beilein can prepare for the 2018-19 season with the Wolverines. Michigan announced Tuesday that the team will go on a tour of Spain from Aug. 17 to Aug. 26 that will include exhibition games.

The Wolverines lost star big man Moe Wagner early to the NBA, but some key players return from what was one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson, Jordan Poole and Isaiah Livers will be joined by what is expected to be a strong group of new recruits.

So Beilein has plenty to look forward to at the college level, and he indicated there might not be any more flirtations with the NBA.

“I think that I ran that race, and you can’t run that race too many times,” he said. “I don’t know what I would have done, but I was really impressed with everybody in that organization, and I’ll be rooting for them like I always have.”

The other intriguing bit of recent news that at least partially involved the Michigan basketball program was Chris Webber’s appearance with Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh on Ann Arbor’s WTKA radio last week. Harbaugh asked Webber to be an honorary captain for the football team next season, and Webber sounded amenable to the idea.

A return to Ann Arbor by Webber — even if it’s for football — would be a big deal. He led the Michigan basketball team to the Final Four in 1992 and 1993, but a federal investigation revealed that a booster gave Webber and three other players more than $600,000 while they were student-athletes, and the NCAA forced the school to dissociate from them until 2013.

“There was five or six years where I was limited what I could say about that era. Since the ban’s been off, I’ve reached out to Chris several times,” Beilein said. “I continue to do that, and we’re going to continue to try and build bridges and just really work at making sure there’s a lot of healing going forward.

“I want every player that ever played here to feel like he’s a part of that building, including Chris and anyone else.”

http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/23919902/michigan-coach-john-beilein-says-was-never-offered-detroit-pistons-job

Michigan State lands No. 7 ranked prospect Devontae Dobbs

Tom VanHaaren
ESPN Staff Writer

Michigan State made a big recruiting statement on Monday when ESPN 300 offensive lineman Devontae Dobbs announced his commitment to the Spartans.

Dobbs is the No. 7-ranked prospect overall, and he chose Michigan State over Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC, among others.

The 6-foot-5, 304-pound lineman out of Belleville, Michigan, is the highest-ranked commitment for Michigan State since ESPN started its rankings in 2009. The next-highest ranking for a commit is William Gholston, who was No. 42 overall in the 2010 class.

Dobbs selected Michigan State over some of the top programs in the country, and he notably kept Michigan off his list for most of his recruitment. Landing the massive prospect keeps a big-name recruit away from rival Michigan, and it also prevents Ohio State from landing another recruit from the state of Michigan, as the Buckeyes were heavily involved in Dobbs’ recruitment.

The five-star recruit joins his Belleville High School teammate, wide receiver Julian Barnett, in Michigan State’s 2019 class. Barnett is an ESPN 300 recruit himself, ranked at No. 69 overall.

Both prospects are ranked in the top five for the state of Michigan, with Dobbs topping the list.

http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/23908316/michigan-state-spartans-land-espn-300-offensive-lineman-devontae-dobbs

Interview: Phil Steele, college football expert, June 12, 2018

National college football expert Phil Steele joined the SportsPen to talk Michigan and Michigan State and who has the best chance to make the College Football Playoff.

0:00-1:15 – What goes into making magazine every year
1:16-2:13 – Thoughts on MSU QB Brian Lewerke
2:14-2:37 – Ranking Big Ten QBs
2:38-4:20 – MSU’s defense one of the best in the country
4:21-5:18 – MSU set up for regression because of close wins?
5:19-6:40 – Impact of Shea Patterson for Michigan
6:41-8:07 – Michigan’s “nasty” defense
8:08-10:14 – Who is set up for CFP run, UM or MSU?