Wisconsin plays Michigan on Saturday and Im having trouble summoning the appropriate level of freakout. Ive yet to paint my face red and white. I havent prank-called Jim Harbaugh and asked him if his khakis remain Lululemon. I still havent ordered my keg. Or kegs.
ROSEMONT, Ill. — Thursdays conversations at Big Ten media day were mostly centered on basketball — among them discussions about Michigan State being picked to repeat as league champs despite losing two lottery picks, about Carsen Edwards going from a sub-100 prospect to arguably the best guard in the country, about Minnesota having the roster necessary for a nice bounce-back season, so and so forth.
Wisconsin is led by fourth-year head coach Paul Chryst, who has accumulated a 38-8 record as the coach of the Badgers, including a 13-1 mark last season. He has split his two meetings with Michigan.
But there was still a federal trial rooted in corruption within the sport taking place 800 miles east at literally the same time the conferences 14 coaches were taking questions from various media members. So it was always going to come up. And, I thought, Michigans John Beilein had the most direct message for the men who are either already engulfed in scandal or soon will be.
“If youre not going to follow these rules, get the heck out of the game,” Beilein said during an interview I conducted with him for CBS Sports HQ inside the Lambert B Room here at the Hyatt Regency OHare. “Well survive.”
This straight-forward request for rule-breakers would be met with a roll of the eyes if delivered by most. Glass houses and all that. But its different coming from Beilein because hes universally respected and regarded as a by-the-book coach. For evidence, consider that we at CBS Sports asked more than 100 college coaches, in August 2017, to name a high-major coach they genuinely believe operates completely within the NCAAs rulebook, and the leading vote-getter, by a significant margin, was Beilein. In other words, he has credibility on the topic because his peers do not question his tactics even though hes recruited well enough over the years to make eight of the past 10 NCAA Tournaments and coach in two of the past six national championship games.
What Theyre Saying: Wisconsin Week
“You dont have to [cheat] to win,” Beilein said. “I think at some of the programs that have been able to be successful [without cheating], like a Michigan, you never even thought of [doing] these things. You just try to get the right kids and grow through them.”
“He has really good stature in the pocket,” Harbaugh said. “He can get hot. He throws those intermediate dig routes as well as anyone can. He’s a very experienced guy, played in big games. He’s a really good quarterback. Really good quarterbacks, players, they’re going to give you problems.”
The Hall of Famer, whose Spartans are the pick to repeat as Big Ten champions, isnt having to face the same questions Kansas Bill Self and Arizonas Sean Miller are facing because nobody Izzo has coached has been accused, under oath, of having a family member, guardian or friend accept money in violation of NCAA rules. But Michigan State did come up in the opening statements of the trial — specifically when Christian Dawkins attorney, Steve Haney, said “Michigan State was one of the only schools that was not going to pay Brian Bowen to go there.”
“He was from Saginaw, and we had his cousin, Jason Richardson, [at Michigan State from 1999 to 2001],” Izzo said. “But it was just one of those things.”
Asked if it makes him proud for people to know he and his staff werent willing to do a deal, Izzo responded: “I feel good about it. But I dont think I should be canonized for it because thats what were supposed to do.”
“Lets face it. Youre out on the road. Im out on the road. There are problems in college basketball,” he said. “And some of it is people having to find different ways to get to places. But hopefully we can clean it up. Hopefully we find the right solution.”
Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife… Full Bio