Thursday's Links: Dreaming Up A Penn State Start

Just like clockwork, your daily Big Ten football links are here. Some interesting stuff, including talk of Penn State perhaps being a sleeper and a look at Phil Steele’s All-Big Ten grid teams. Life is good, people.

Fast starters? Could Penn State be a sleeper this season? It seems like a long shot, given the new schemes to learn and personnel issues at quarterback, receiver, tight end and in the secondary. But some feel the Nittany Lions could—COULD—start 9-0. Check out what Patriot-News writer Bob Flounders crafted.

Really. I’m not making this up. Their first nine games are:

  • Ohio
  • At Virginia
  • Navy
  • Temple
  • At Illinois
  • Northwestern
  • At Iowa
  • Ohio State
  • At Purdue

Yes, it does seem like a stretch. But, hey, it’s May. Everyone can dream in May, right? Instead of Penn State, I think Purdue and Iowa loom as better candidates to fill the role of “Big Ten sleeper” in 2012.

Steady now: Consistent success has been elusive at Minnesota. Second-year coach Jerry Kill wants to end that. And his cause no doubt would be assisted by an upgrade to the football complex. Kill has told new A.D. Norwood Teague as much, saying enhancing the Gibson-Nagurski football complex should be an “immediate” priority.

How fleeting has success been at Minnesota? The program has the longest Rose Bowl drought of any Big Ten school, dating to the 1961 season. And there has been just one winning season (7-6 in 2008) in the past six seasons.
Kill went 3-9 in his debut last season. But the guy has won everyone he has been. And I am confident he will make the Golden Gophers a winner, too. Kill is perfect for this job.

Reading time: A national holiday is almost among us. No, I’m not talking about Memorial Day. I’m talking about Phil Steele Day. That’s when his New York City thick college football preview magazine hits newsstands. I know the day is just around the corner, because he has released his 2012 All-Big Ten football teams.

There isn’t one team, two teams or three teams. Nope. Phil goes FOUR deep with his All-Big Ten teams!!!

Stunning.

But, that’s the kind of depth and detail we all have come to expect from Mr. Steele. How accurate his teams are? That’s debatable. But let’s just enjoy and revel in the obscene detail and miles of minutiae that is the Phil Steele preview mag.

Going deep: It’s no secret. I’ve written about it often this spring: the Michigan offensive line is a concern. To remedy some depth woes, the staff may turn to incoming freshmen Kyle Kalis and Erik Magnuson. Kalis is expected to compete at left guard, while Magnuson figures to battle at right tackle.

To take advantage of an array of skill-position talent headed by quarterback Denard Robinson and running back Fitz Toussaint, the big fellas will need to develop—and quickly, with that opener vs. Alabama looming.

My Take On Their Tweets

My take: That’s why Mark Hollis of Michigan State was named athletic director of the year. Among his top strokes of genius: laying the ground work to stage that hoop game on an aircraft carrier last November.

My take: It is stunning that Steele doesn’t have Iowa’s James Vandenberg as one of the top four quarterbacks in the Big Ten. Just a shameful omission. I can agree with Denard Robinson and Braxton Miller being Nos. 1 and 2. But Taylor Martinez and Nathan Scheelhaase? Over Vandenberg? No way.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart, and you can subscribe to it all via his RSS feed. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below.

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