Have a look at my Big Ten links for Thursday plus my take on others’ tweets. It’s below, my Big Ten brethren. Enjoy and stay in touch with me via the comments section below in this post as well as on Twitter and Facebook. And you can email me via my BTN.com mailbag.
Up front: Is Wisconsin’s Ricky Wagner one of the nation’s top left offensive tackles? It just may be true.
I talked to Badger coach Bret Bielema last week, and he thinks Wagner is next in line of many great Wisconsin tackles. In fact, Wagner could join Joe Thomas and Gabe Carimi as the school’s next Outland Trophy winner.
And new Badgers offensive line coach Mike Markuson feels the same way, according to Tom Mulhern at the Wisconsin State Journal. And that’s no faint praise, considering he has coached the likes of Michael Oher, Jason Peters and Ton Ugoh. All were pros—the likely destination for 6-6, 322-pound Wagner, who played right tackle in 2010 before flipping to the left side last season when he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection.
Not bad for a guy who was a receiver as a high school sophomore, came to Wisconsin as a walk-on tight end, packed on 80 pounds as a redshirt in 2008 when he played offensive line for the first time.
New boss: Jerry Kill is entering his second season as Minnesota coach, coming off a 3-9 debut. Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press caught up with the Golden Gopher boss to get his feelings on new Minnesota A.D. Norwood Teague.
The thing Kill wants more than anything from Teague: The resources to compete. And Kill sites four areas: an academic center; weight training; taking care of assistants (read: big salaries); overall facilities (training table, etc.).
I hope Kill gets it all. But he’s in one of the most challenging jobs in the Big Ten, as Minnesota has the longest Rose Bowl drought in the league dating back to 1961. But, Kill has won big under similar situations at Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois. So I give him a good chance in the Twin Cities.
Fallout: Penn State is poised to spend $2.5 million on PR firms in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
What a shame.
The school already incurred $7.5 million in expenses through February in dealing with the scandal, according to the Associated Press story. I find it funny how schools, businesses, and institutions don’t proactively spend to stop problems but them spend to clean up the mess and send out spin control.
Open letter: On the subject, former Penn State great and Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris wrote an open letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert.
Old No. 32 is upset that Emmert recently included Joe Paterno on a list of coaches who were fired for “misdeeds.” Look, I loved Franco as a kid, but he’s wrong. Paterno did commit a misdeed by not doing more to stop Jerry Sandusky. That’s a major one that’s arguably worse than those committed by Jim Tressel, Bobby Petrino, Butch Davis and Bruce Pearl, who also were named by Emmert.
Paterno even admitted: “I wish I had done more.” Just because no “blood” was on Paterno’s hands doesn’t absolve him. He had knowledge about the creepy Sandusky and didn’t do enough. Paterno could have picked up the phone and made it all stop. It’s sad when people don’t want cold, hard, dead-on facts to get in the way of their perceptions.
Husker wrapup: Yes, spring ball ended at Nebraska over a week ago, but Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-News offers one last comprehensive overview. This will have to hold you for a few days, Husker fans.
Questions abound on defense. Is there a pass rusher in the house? Who will make plays at linebacker? Can the secondary limit big plays? Those are the big keys for a Nebraska team that I think has to be slotted behind Michigan and Michigan State in the ultra-competitive Legends Division.
Sites seen: Iowa athletic director Gary Barta wants to play more neutral site games. His Hawkeyes have one this year at Chicago’s Soldier Field against Northern Illinois. Barta says players like to play in pro stadiums and fans like it if the environment is right and it’s the right time of year in this story by Randy Peterson at the Des Moines Register.
I’m not a big fan of neutral site games. So much of what makes college football great is the campus environment. Why eliminate that by playing away from home in a sterile NFL atmosphere that likely will be devoid of many students who also makes college games great?
But it can be a great deal for schools. Here is the ideal set up that every BCS AD wants: Schedule seven home games. And also schedule a neutral site game against a foe from a lower conference that will include a nice money guarantee from whomever sets up the game. It’s basically like having eight home games.
Iowa will return to Iowa City on I-80 with at least $1 million stuffed in its pockets for playing in Chicago over Labor Day weekend. And the Hawkeyes also likely will come home with a win—and with seven home games left to play.
How can you top that?
My Take On Their Tweets
My take: If Carson Wiggs wasn’t already my favorite kicker, he is now. I’m rooting for you to go last!
My take: File this under the “I bet you didn’t know that” category. But doesn’t it make you wonder: How come Iowa hasn’t done better the last six seasons? In that span, the Hawkeyes have one BCS bowl (2009 season), three fourth-place finishes, a fifth-place finish and an eighth-place finish. Oh, well. Kirk Ferentz is still a great coach.
My take: Yes, I think Worthy, Iowa OT Riley Reiff, Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus and Wisconsin o-linemen Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler have the best chances among Big Ten players to hear their names tonight.
My take: Again, where’s the beef? It’s in the Big Ten.
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, and all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart. Send questions to his weekly mailbag, subscribe to his RSS feed, and check out his video Q&A.