Dienhart: Is Illinois-Penn State rivalry growing?

With Illinois sending coaches to State College, Pa., to be available to talk to Penn State players interested in transferring out of the Nittany Lions program, there could be a growing rivalry between the schools. Does Beckman think things will be more intense than usual when Penn State plays at Illinois on Sept. 29?

“No different than competing against them before when I was in the Big Ten,” said the first-year Illini coach. “And even at Bowling Green when we played them there at Bowling Green, it’s Big Ten football. I believe the competition, week in and week out, if you don’t have your A game, that’s what this conference is all about.

“So I expect, against Penn State, it will be just like it will be our first Big Ten football game,” Beckman said.

[Watch Tim Beckman's video here.]

Like Beckman, Penn State coach Bill O’Brien is in his first year on the job.

[Watch Bill O'Brien's video here]

“I don’t know Coach O’Brien personally,” said Beckman. “We were not able to meet him at the Big Ten meetings in February. So this was the opportunity, really, for us to get together here earlier today. I have the utmost respect for him. I think he’s doing an outstanding job at Penn State and with the situation there at Penn State. He was a fabulous coach in the NFL and has been around some quality, quality leaders. So I expect great things at Penn State, as always.”

Again, circle your calendar for Sept 29.

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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