Big 10 East powers facing uncertainty
By KEITH JENKINS
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO — The two most important spots on a football team are the coach and the quarterback. Ohio State has questions at both.
The Buckeyes aren’t the only powerhouse program with uncertainty in the Big Ten’s East Division. Michigan and Michigan State each have a new offensive coordinator, and Penn State has to find a replacement for quarterback Trace McSorley, a sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens.
For the Buckeyes, Ryan Day has taken over for Urban Meyer, who resigned after seven seasons and a national championship. Day was the offensive coordinator and has already gotten a taste of being in charge on the sidelines: Last season began with a three-game suspension for Meyer following an investigation into his handling of allegations of domestic abuse against former assistant Zach Smith.
“I think the easy thing to do is to ask how are you different than Urban Meyer, and that’s not something I really like to answer because first off, you don’t replace a legend,” Day said Thursday at Big Ten football media days. “You don’t replace one of the best football coaches in the history of the game. What you can do is just be yourself, and I think that’s what I’m doing.”
Rival Michigan hired former Alabama wide receivers coach Josh Gattis as its offensive coordinator. Gattis, 34, spent one season as Nick Saban’s co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. He previously coached for six years under James Franklin at Vanderbilt and Penn State.
Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh threw out a tidbit on Friday.
“We’re close to announcing playing a team on foreign soil,” he said. “I think there’s something imminent; an announcement soon on that.”
It would mark U of M’s first game outside the U.S., likely in Mexico, since 1885.
Michigan State also has a new offensive play-caller with Brad Salem the new offensive coordinator. Dave Warner and Jim Bollman, who previously shared the role, were reassigned to position coaches.
Salem, who is entering his 10th season as an assistant, also is back to coaching running backs, which he did from 2010-12 before taking over as quarterbacks coach in 2013.