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Big Ten mistake?

Published July 14. 2017 02:46PM

The league whose commissioner was named the most powerful man in college sports by Forbes magazine appears so weak at times, it can't bench-press the bar.

Tuesday was one of those times.

The Big Ten released its list of players who will appear in Chicago in two weeks for Big Ten media days and the annual Kickoff Luncheon for fans, and that roster of 42 is missing its top three Heisman Trophy candidates - Ohio State's J.T. Barrett and Penn State's dynamic duo of Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley.

Barrett made first-team all-Big Ten last season and McSorley the second team. Barkley was the league's Offensive Player of the Year after setting Penn State's record for rushing yards as a sophomore (1,496).

McSorley threw four touchdown passes in the Rose Bowl. Barrett is a national champion who has had one of the most compelling up-and-down careers in Ohio State history.

All three, by the way, are excellent public speakers. Barkley was listed No. 1 on SI.com's "Freak List" of the top athletes in college football.

And yet, all three are staying home.

Why? Because the Big Ten, in its infinite wisdom, cedes power to the schools, allowing them to essentially bring whichever players they want.

Commissioner Jim Delany tipped the domino that ultimately led to a mass of expansion and national conference restructuring, and yet he can't be bothered to instruct Ohio State and Penn State to bring its Heisman Trophy candidates to media day.

Is this a joke?

Penn State is bringing tight end Mike Gesicki, linebacker Jason Cabinda and safety Marcus Allen. Good players. More importantly, they are seniors. And that is the first qualification for coach James Franklin.

"It is that simple," a Penn State spokesperson said.

Franklin has primo marketing skills, but he's stuck in a 1970s mindset on this one.

An Ohio State spokesman said Barrett was not selected because he came to Chicago last year, and the school wanted to give other players the opportunity.

Hey, folks, Tom Brady won't be coming to Super Bowl media day because he was there last year.

I actually understand the schools' perspective on this. If I were given the choice, I might also treat a trip to Chicago as a reward for putting in the thousands of hours of hard work.

That's why the league needs to take the decision out of their hands.

Quit being so afraid to offend the schools - and looking so weak.

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