Big Ten Notebook: Autographs and quarterbacks


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The Big Ten is no stranger to problems involving football players and autographs. Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s career in Columbus ended because he allegedly traded his signature for monetary gain.

Outside the conference, former Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was forced to missed time for punishment stemming from a similar situation.

The issue came back into the news last week. Georgia running back Todd Gurley was suspended indefinitely while being investigated for allegedly taking money for autographs. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, has also come under heat recently.

On the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday afternoon, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio weighed in on the matter.

“Just like everybody, our compliance people spend a lot of time talking about things that can happen and cannot happen in your football program,” he said. “I think the amount of attention that has been out there relative to other people and their signings, I would think giving our players pause as to what’s right and not right.”

The Spartan coach had thoughts similar to Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, saying the most important aspect in preventing potential infractions is educating players on what is legal and what is not legal.

Ferentz said it’s not important if the players agree or disagree with the rules, just imperative that they follow them.

“We all signed up for this activity. We’re members of the NCAA,” Ferentz said. “You have to abide by the rules.”

Illinois quarterbacks in flux

After starting quarterback Wes Lunt suffered a broken leg on Oct. 4 that put him on the shelf for four to six weeks, quarterbacks Reilly O’Toole and Aaron Bailey were left to carry the load for the Illini.

In last week’s 38-28 loss at Wisconsin, O’Toole went 12-of-19 for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Bailey went 2-of-5 for 29 yards and an interception.

Illini head coach Tim Beckman said Tuesday both would get equal reps during the team’s upcoming bye week.

Illinois has lost four of its past five games, so the team’s first bye seems to come at an ideal time for Illinois, which will need to formulate a plan while it waits for Lunt to get back to 100-percent.

“The intentions of this week will be to look at guys who play a lot of snaps,” Beckman said. “We have to get them better and make sure we take care of them, they’ve been through 10 weeks of football, counting two-a-days.

“The guys who haven’t played a bunch of reps, they’re going to get a bunch of reps.”

Quarterback showdown in Columbus

It’s no secret that Gary Nova and J.T. Barrett are quickly establishing themselves as two of the best quarterbacks in the conference. The Buckeyes’ Barrett ranks second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game with 270.8, while Rutgers’ Nova ranks third with 266.8 yards per contest.

Barrett also ranks second in the conference in completion percentage, while Nova comes in at fourth.

The two quarterbacks are set to lead their teams against each other this weekend when Rutgers travels to Columbus to play Ohio State. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday CDT.

The game might also have a significant effect on the Big Ten East standings. Ohio State ranks second behind Michigan State with a 4-1 overall mark, 1-0 in the Big Ten. Rutgers is in third at 5-1 (1-1).

“Certainly J.T. Barrett has gotten better with every game he’s been in there,” Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood said. “That’s what you would expect from a young player, if he’s the right kind of guy. And it seems like he is.”

Follow @dannypayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa football team.