Thursday Links: More Football Playoff Chatter

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany says teams that don’t win their division shouldn’t be part of a playoff. Good idea? Bad idea? I’ll tell you what I think, then you tell me what you think, but only after you check out my take on Thursday’s selected Big Ten football headlines.

Rule talk: So, about Commissioner Delany’s thoughts on teams that don’t win their division shouldn’t be part of a playoff.

On the surface, this might make sense. But, it’s not a great idea. Take last season. The SEC West had the nation’s two best teams in LSU and Alabama. The Tigers won the division. That would have meant that the Crimson Tide wouldn’t have been in a playoff. And that would have been wrong! Remember: Bama ended up winning the national title.

The lesson here: Why penalize a team for playing in a rugged division, and reward a champ from a weak division with a playoff spot? Makes no sense.

Bottom line: Take the four best teams. Period.

Singing coach: Check out Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at Wrigley Field. Isn’t Fitz a White Sox fan? Oh, well. Enjoy!

Early draft birds: Yes, the dust has settled on the 2012 NFL draft, but Mel Kiper and his hair are still breaking down film in preparation for … drumroll, please … the 2013 draft! And Mel and his hair like Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson … as a receiver?

The news is even better for Michigan State. Mel and his hair have three Spartans—defensive end William Gholston, running back Le’Veon Bell, cornerback Johnny Adams–ranked on their early board. That’s more than any other school. Guess who is the highest rated of the trio? Go ahead … guess. Now look.  Bet you get it wrong.

Big backer: Is there a more underrated linebacker in the nation than Michigan State’s Denicos Allen? Of course not. The junior looks primed for a big season.

Allen will anchor a linebacking corps that also returns starters in Max Bullough and Chris Norman. It’s Allen who injects the speed and athleticism to a corps that may be the best in the Big Ten. A strong-side linebacker, Allen paced Michigan State with 11 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss in 2011. He also was second on the squad with 83 tackles. The guy may be the top playmaker on the Big Ten’s best defense. Yes, he’s that good.

Illegible receiver: You think your John Hancock is unique? Check out the signature of former Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt. WARNING: Put on your glasses.

Nice touch: The college football world was shocked this offseason with the sudden and sad passing of former Minnesota linebacker Gary Tinsley. But the late Tinsley—who died of an enlarged heart last month–will punctuate his Gopher tenure with a degree in business and marketing, which will be accepted by his mother. Read the touching story at TwinCities.com.

My Take On Their Tweets

My take: I wish I was making this up. But, alas, I am not. Good luck, Ndamukong … I think. Will Chuck Woolery be there?

My take: Please tell me you aren’t surprised. Now, the real question: What flavor will be named for O’Brien? I hope it isn’t “Rocky Road Bill.”

My take: If this didn’t make you laugh out loud, well, then you need professional help. That’s why I love Wilson, whose candor and frankness are refreshing in an increasingly homogenized coaching world.

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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