Despite manufacturing a running game by committee this season, Purdue has lost only three fumbles in nine games.
Even more astonishing is the fact that none of the fumbles the Boilermakers have lost have been committed by the 17 players who have taken turns carrying the football.
“We’d be in trouble now if we hadn’t done a good job from a ball security standpoint,” said Purdue coach Danny Hope, whose team is 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the Big ten entering Saturday’s home game against Ohio State.
The rushing attack has accounted for nearly 48 percent of Purdue’s offense this season with 1,574 yards on 346 running plays.
The two fumbles committed by the Boilermakers’ offense have come in the passing game after receivers were stripped of the ball. the other fumble came on a punt return.
Hope said that turnovers cost the Boilermakers chances to win the minimum six games needed to qualify for a bowl game in 2010 and 2009. Additionally, he said research by his staff showed that teams that won the turnover battle over the course of the season averaged twice as many wins as teams that were on the wrong end of the take-away/giveaway equation.
“The teams that have stayed on the minus side of zero only average about four wins a year. the teams that are on the plus side of zero average about eight wins a year,” said Hope on the Big ten teleconference on Tuesday. “Those are some pretty loud numbers.”
The problem for Purdue is that its opponents also haven’t committed many turnovers with just four lost fumbles and eight interceptions. that means the Boilermakers have turned it over only two fewer times.
Still, progress is progress. Boilermaker ballcarriers put the ball on the ground 15 times in 2009 and 10 times in 2010.
“There is a real sense of urgency on our football team. We know we have to take care of the ball,” said Hope. “We do a lot of things in practice to emphasize it.
“We have ball security drills and our team spends a lot of times trying to strip the ball out during the play. And even after the play is over, the defense is allowed to try to rip it out so he (the runner) has to carry the football all the way back to a manager. We don’t throw the football back.”
With three weeks to play in the regular season, only Indiana has been eliminated from the possibility of at least earning a share of a division title.
The teams in the driver’s seat — at the moment — are Penn State in the Leaders Division and Michigan State in the Legends Division.
The Nittany Lions are unbeaten after five league games, but face Nebraska on Saturday before making trips to Ohio State (3-2) and Wisconsin (3-2).
Michigan State (7-2, 4-1) has a one-game lead over Michigan, Nebraska and Iowa. the Spartans face the Hawkeyes in a road game Saturday before finishing with games against Indiana and at Northwestern.
“We’ve got everything in sight, and our goals are in sight, and that is a positive thing,” said Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio. “If we can play 14 (games), we know we’ve at least won this division, and we have an opportunity to play for the Rose Bowl. And that is our challenge.”
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said he will use the bye week to reinforce fundamentals and take a better look at younger players who haven’t seen much game action “so we can see what our recruiting needs are as we get into a recruiting mode.”
Penn State president Graham Spanier put a gag order on head coach Joe Paterno on Tuesday, forcing him to cancel his weekly news conference and bow out of the Big ten teleconference as the school deals with the child-abuse scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Purdue’s Raheem Mostert was named the
Big ten Freshman of the Week after he set school records for total kickoff return yardage (206 yards on five returns) and average kickoff return yardage (41.2 yards) against Wisconsin. the New Smyrna Beach, Fla., native broke records set in 1969 by Stan Brown.
November 09, 2011, 3:24 PM EST
By John Hechinger and Sophia Pearson
(Updates with board to meet today in second paragraph.)
Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) — Graham Spanier, after 16 years as president of Penn State University, is under mounting pressure to resign amid allegations that a former athletics department assistant molested boys inside the school’s sports complex.
The Harrisburg Patriot-News and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review called for Spanier, 63, to step down, and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi questioned whether he could continue to hold office. Football coach Joe Paterno said today he’ll resign at the end of the season. The university’s board will meet later today, according to the school’s public information office.
The scandal ranks among the most serious governance crises at U.S. colleges, including the handling of rape allegations involving Duke University’s lacrosse team in 2006, said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, which represents college presidents. Penn State’s board has a tough decision, especially since Spanier is credited with raising the school’s stature and selectivity, he said.
“The ultimate issue is what’s in the best interest of the university, how do we continue to run a very large institution in light of these extremely serious charges,” Hartle said in a telephone interview from Washington. “One of the questions that the board will have to ask is, ‘Can Graham continue to lead the university?’”
In a statement, the board said it is taking “swift, decisive action,” and will appoint a committee this week to conduct an investigation into the allegations.
Spanier shouldn’t remain as Penn State’s president if there isn’t an explanation of why university officials didn’t report the allegations, said Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Pileggi.
Spanier, appointed president of the university in State College, Pennsylvania, in 1995, was formerly chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A sociologist and marriage and family therapist, he has been popular on campus as an executive who helped student move into dorms and dressed up as the school Nittany Lion mascot.
“He is a widely recognized and admired leader,” said Robert M. O’Neil, former president of the University of Virginia and University of Wisconsin system, who called the scandal “a novel and deeply troubling situation” that he hadn’t seen in half a century in academia.
Spanier said yesterday he was postponing the 35th annual Renaissance Fund scholarship dinner, scheduled for tomorrow. The dinner, which was to honor him and his wife, Sandra, an English professor, was postponed “until spring” because “our attention is so heavily focused right now on the troubling charges by the Attorney General,” the university said in a statement.
“Spanier needs to step aside,” according to an editorial, posted on the Patriot-News website. “if he doesn’t, the university board of trustees needs to take that step when it meets this week.”
Gerald “Jerry” Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator for the football team, is facing 40 criminal charges tied to alleged sexual assaults on eight boys stretching back to 1995, when he was running a charitable organization for young people. A centerpiece of the investigation is an eyewitness account of a late-night assault that allegedly occurred in March 2002 in the locker room of the Lasch Football Building on the University Park campus.
Timothy Curley, Penn State’s athletic director, and Gary Schultz, vice president for finance and business, were charged by state prosecutors on Nov. 5, the same day as Sandusky, with failing to report allegations related to Sandusky and then lying to a grand jury about their knowledge of the allegation.
Criminal Versus Civil
On Nov. 6, Spanier issued a statement saying the two men had his “unconditional support.” Later that day, Schultz, 62, retired, and Curley, 57, requested administrative leave so he could defend himself.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said Nov. 7 that Paterno, 84, who set a record for coaching longevity, isn’t a target of her office’s investigation and had cooperated in the inquiry. Kelly wouldn’t comment at a news conference when asked if Spanier was a target of the probe.
Spanier could face legal liability if he knew the details of the allegations and failed to report them to authorities or if he wasn’t truthful with authorities, said Michael Bachner, a New York criminal defense attorney, who isn’t involved in the case.
“if Spanier was aware of it and put his head in the sand, that raises possible exposure issues greatly,” Bachner said.
Ken Julian, a former federal prosecutor now with Los Angeles-based Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP, said Spanier may avoid criminal charges, though not civil claims.
Grand Jury Testimony
if Spanier “did not get information that it was sexual it might insulate him from criminal liability, however there is a huge competency question,” Julian said in a phone interview. “He should have conducted a full internal investigation and had people interviewed and really run this to ground.”
Jack Raykovitz, chief executive officer of the Second Mile youth group Sandusky was associated with, told the grand jury that Curley informed him the information had been internally reviewed, according to a statement on Second Mile’s website.
Spanier testified that Curley and Schultz came to him in 2002 to report an incident with Sandusky that made a member of Curley’s staff “uncomfortable,” according to the grand jury report. Spanier described the incident as “Jerry Sandusky in the football building locker area in the shower with a younger child and that they were horsing around in the shower,” according to court documents.
The Penn State president said he didn’t know the identity of the staff member who reported the behavior, and denied that the incident was reported to him as sexual. He acknowledged that Curley and Schultz didn’t tell him they had plans to report the matter to law enforcement. Spanier also denied being aware of a 1998 University Police investigation of Sandusky for incidents involving children in football building showers, according to court papers.
The board of trustees will have to evaluate Spanier’s response and the university’s control structure, said Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.
“It’s what did he know and when did he know it,” Elson said in a telephone interview.
Steve A. Garban, a former Penn State treasurer, chairs the university’s board. Its vice chairman is John P. Surma, chief executive officer of U.S. Steel Corp. Chuck Rice, a company spokesman, said yesterday Surma declined to comment and referred questions to the university. Messages left at the office of the board of trustees and for Lisa Powers, a university spokeswoman, weren’t returned.
–With assistance from Erik Matuszewski and Curtis Eichelberger in New York, Dawn McCarty in Wilmington and Romy Varghese in Harrisburg. Editors: Lisa Wolfson, Larry Siddons
To contact the reporters on this story: John Hechinger in Boston at . Sophia Pearson in Philadelphia at .
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jonathan Kaufman at .