3-point shot: Coaches should be on watch

1. Coaches are under more scrutiny from the NCAA, conferences and their administration than at any other time in the sport's history. The NCAA is pushing to suspend and penalize coaches if there are violations by them or their staff and conferences haven't hesitated to suspend coaches, too. Now, Rutgers has taken it one step further with the three-game suspension and $50,000 fine on coach Mike Rice for inappropriate conduct and language (i.e. his treatment of players in practice). Rice has apologized. But the timing couldn't be worse. Rice has made improvements with the Scarlet Knights, but he needed to dial it back in his climb back to relevance. And with Rutgers heading to the Big Ten in 2014, the school can't afford any embarrassments. Rice needs to be on his best behavior and win as the school transitions into the Big Ten. But the message has been sent by Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti that he isn't messing around with poor behavior. And other coaches should be on watch because of it, too.

2. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said on the ESPNU College Basketball Podcast Thursday that the Irish had talked to the other seven Catholic schools about forming a national Catholic conference. If the ACC option didn't occur then the Irish would have bolted with the rest. That shows how much this has been discussed and was a distinct possibility. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon also said on the same podcast that he was told the reason Marquette and DePaul were added 10 years ago was to ensure the five Catholic schools had seven members to retain an NCAA bid if they decided to leave. He said the eventual split of football and non-football was always inevitable, and may have actually happened later than predicted.

3. The Minnesota staff has been high on their team for three years running. But this is the first time the Gophers truly believe there is staying power with this crew, and for a few key reasons: The returning players have completely bought into the team concept; the bench is as deep as it has been under Tubby Smith; Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe are a pair of tough, interior players who can be counted on to play their role and Andre Hollins is having an all-star season. But the Gophers will know immediately in the Big Ten if they are pretenders or contenders. Minnesota has a brutal start to the league. It hosts Michigan State and Northwestern before road games at Illinois and Indiana, with a home game against Michigan wedged in before games at Northwestern and Wisconsin -- all from Dec. 31 to Jan. 26.