Tuesday Links: Who Shines on Offense in 2012?

What is buzzing in Big Ten football circles? Keep reading and clicking your mouse, but here’s one question to ponder:  Is Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg one of the best offensive players in the Big Ten? Hmmm.

It’s a question posed by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg on his Big Ten blog and addressed by Mike Hlas at the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Rittenberg wonders which players are capable of challenging Wisconsin running back Montee Ball for top offensive honors. In addition to Vandenberg, Rittenberg likes Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead and Penn State running back Silas Redd. Who are some others? Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Michigan running back Fitz Toussaint.

Me? I think “Shoelace” Robinson has the best shot to unseat Ball as the Big Ten’s top offensive player. One guy not mentioned who I think could have a big season is Ohio State running back Jordan Hall, who is supposed to be the Buckeyes’ version of Percy Harvin. Tell me in the comments below what you think.

Here are some more headlines and tweets for Tuesday.

Breaking the news: The Detroit Free Press shares this video of former Michigan star and Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, who tells you how he told Bo Schembechler he was quitting football. And you thought breaking up with your high school girlfriend was difficult.

Rivalry renewed? If you are one of those fans who loves great rivalries—and, let’s face it: If you don’t like rivalries, you really aren’t a fan—then you have to love the fact new Penn State coach Bill O’Brien would like to see the Penn State-Pitt rivalry renewed.

The Nittany Lions boss told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “I would love to see that game played on an annual basis. I have a tremendous amount of respect for (Pitt coach) Paul Chryst and their program, and that’s a great rivalry.”

The schools used to meet annually but haven’t clashed since 2000. There is a short two-game series that starts in 2016. Alas, America yearns for more! But the story goes: When Penn State began play in the Big Ten in 1993, it effectively put the kibosh on the series with Pitt. It also didn’t help that JoePa insisted that Pitt played two times in State College, Pa., for every time Penn State played at Pitt.

Fair? Unfair? Who cares? Just play the game—every year.

To review …: With spring practices in our rear-view mirrors, the Champaign News-Gazette took one last look back at the Big Ten. News flash: Wisconsin and Michigan State are gonna be really good.

Old hands: Former Michigan State receiver Andre Rison is gonna be a student assistant for the Spartans? Maybe? Really? Check out what the Detroit Free Press says.

Too bad the 45-year-old—who is coming back to school to finish his degree–can’t suit up for a Michigan State team that needs some proven pass catchers.

Mascot moment: Who is that man behind the Willie the Wildcat head gear in this video? It’s not Rick Venturi, Dennis Green, Francis Peay or even Lee Corso. The Chicago Tribune uncovers the truth.

My Take On Their Tweets

My take: I always got a kick out of hearing about that pink visitor’s locker room at Iowa that Hayden Fry introduced back in the 1980s. Have a look yourself.

My take:  Brown is one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten—and nation. Other Big Ten players on the Lott watch list: Wisconsin LB Chris Borland; Michigan State LB Max Bullough; Penn State LB Gerald Hodges; Michigan S Jordan Kovacs; Ohio State DE John Simon; Purdue DT Kawann Short; Nebraska DT Baker Steinkuhler; Wisconsin LB Mike Taylor. I am a Lott voter. And, for now, I would go with John Simon from this list of Big Ten players.

My take: Anyone who doubts Pat Fitzgerald’s ability to recruit needs to cut and paste this Tweet.

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.

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