Mail Call: Dienhart Answers Your Questions

You have questions, I have answers in this week’s mailbag. Plenty of questions about football with some spring drills about to conclude this weekend. But I start off this week with a hoop questions. Why? Because I can. Thank you.

How do you see the Big Ten stacking up next season in hoops? – Joey

Now that we know which players are turning pro (Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger) and which ones are coming back to school (Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas, Michigan’s Trey Burke, Indiana’s Christian Watford and Cody Zeller), I now have a better grasp as to what may transpire in 2012-13.
1. Indiana
2. Michigan
3. Michigan State
4. Ohio State
5. Minnesota
6. Wisconsin
7. Iowa
8. Purdue
9. Illinois
10. Northwestern
11. Penn State
12. Nebraska

How does that look, people? I think the top seven teams all should make the NCAA tourney. And I’m not counting out Purdue or Illinois also to perhaps make a push for the Big Dance.

Here are my All-Big Teams:

First Team
G Trey Burke, Michigan
G Tim Frazier, Penn State
C Cody Zeller Indiana
F Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
G/F Drew Crawford, Northwestern

Second Team
G Tim Hardaway, Jr., Michigan
G Keith Appling, Michigan State
G Aaron Craft, Ohio State
F Christian Watford, Indiana
F/C Jared Berggren, Wisconsin

Others to watch: Branden Dawson, G, Michigan State; Brandon Paul, G, Illinois; Jordan Hull, G, Indiana; Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana; Aaron White, F, Iowa; D.J. Byrd, G/F, Purdue; Ryan Evans, F, Wisconsin

Have you heard encouraging news on the Indiana football team this spring? How are Tre Roberson and Cam Coffman doing? Also how has the defense been looking? – Jim

So far, so good. Coffman has looked good. He’s a better passer than Roberson. And Kevin Wilson knows his team can’t move the ball, score and win like he wants to unless the passing game develops. Roberson showed flashes last year, but he needs to improve. Freshman Nathan Sudfeld arrives in the summer, so don’t count him out. The defense has benefitted from five JC transfers—two linebackers, two defensive backs and a lineman. Linebackers David Cooper and Jacarri Alexander deserve special mention. The JC players have increased the competition level for a defense that needs to get better. Much better. The Hoosiers ranked last in the Big Ten in total defense (458.7 ypg); last vs. the run (243.7 ypg); eighth in pass defense (215.0 ypg). And when it came to generating turnovers, Indiana was 11th with only 16. Sacks? The Hoosiers were 11th with 1.5 per game.

Should Ohio State’s Urban Meyer design his offense and defense to build for 2013, or play for 2012? – Kacey

Look, it doesn’t matter that Ohio State is on probation this season and can’t win the Big Ten or go to a bowl. I can guarantee that Urban Meyer is going to prepare and play this season like he can win the national championship. No use holding back, as he needs to get his schemes and philosophies entrenched this season to continue the building process. And do you know what? I think the Buckeyes have enough to post the best record in the Big Ten this season. The big keys: finding playmakers on offense, and building up the linebacking corps.

Will C.J. Fiedorowicz emerge as the tight end that Hawkeye fans think he should be? – Bill

Without a doubt, you will see C.J. Fiedorowicz become a big part of the Iowa attack. New coordinator Greg Davis has talked about how he wants to use the tight ends more, and Fiedorowicz is the top option. One of Davis’ big goals is to amp up the passing game to go along with what usually is a strong Hawkeye ground game. It will be fun to see the tight end be a big part of the Iowa attack again after the production of the position waned in 2011. This is a school that has produced tight ends the likes of Dallas Clark, Scott Chandler and Tony Moeaki of late. Maybe Fiedorowicz is the next star.

Seeing as how he is an Ohio native and Ohio State alum, Bo Pelini probably would’ve left for the Ohio State job, if offered. But he’s not going anywhere, despite that recent scuttlebutt linking him to Arkansas. Can you assess where the Nebraska job ranks among coaching positions? It seems like it’s at least a Top 25 job. – Oliver

Yes, Nebraska is one of the top 20 jobs in the nation. Among the positive traits:

- Unmatched tradition
– Vast resources and support
– Top facilities
– Great fans

The one thing the job lacks is the fact it doesn’t sit in fertile recruiting territory. That means the staff has to cast a wide net to assemble a roster. Schools like Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State—among others nationally—sit in areas rich with high school talent. Still, Nebraska is a great job that almost any coach in the nation would love to have. I don’t see Pelini leaving anytime soon.

How much stock can you put in the recent Sporting News report on Urban Meyer, considering the piece just seems like a vindictive article with little substantial material? I for one put little credence in attacks and accusations by one source and multiple anonymous sources. Seems like Meyer is an easy target, especially now at Ohio State. – Jonathan

When you are Urban Meyer—and you have had as much success as he has had—people always are going to try to bring you down. I’m guessing he’s used to attacks. There will be disgruntled players at every program that are ready to complain. And Meyer admitted he gave preferential treatment–to players who bought in on and off the field. So, I wonder: What exactly was the intent of the story? It just seemed an attempt to paint Meyer in a bad light. Why? Who knows?

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BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, and all of his work is atbtn.com/tomdienhart. Send questions to his weekly mailbag, subscribe to his RSS feed, and check out his video Q&A.

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