Today's links: Andersen, Meyer go way back

I have to begin my daily links with more news about the new Wisconsin football coach. It’s big doings. In fact, today is the day when Wisconsin introduces Gary Andersen. And here is something you may not know: The former Utah State coach has ties to Ohio State’s Urban Meyer.

Andersen served on Meyer’s staff as defensive line coach at Utah in 2004, when the Utes posted a 12-0 record and were the original BCS-buster, topping Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl.

Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State-Journal reports that Meyer and Andersen remain extremely close. In fact, a Utah source said Meyer tried to hire Andersen as the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator a year ago. The source, who spoke to Andersen directly about the offer, said it would have included a slight raise at the time. Andersen never gave the offer more than a passing thought, the source said.

Amid the tumult that comes with a coaching change, the players are trying to remain focused. They do have to play in the Rose Bowl, remember?

Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that the loss of Bret Bielema and the impending departure of more than half the coaching staff cannot be minimized. Although all the assistants are staying at Wisconsin through the Rose Bowl, the coaches who have accepted jobs know they will be uprooting their families. The assistants who have yet to accept other offers – Thomas Hammock, Bart Miller and Ben Strickland – won’t be able to relax until they learn whether they will be retained by Andersen. Hammock and Strickland are expected to stay on; Miller also could be retained.
Stay tuned.

***

There is something to be paid about not playing down to your opponent—and for playing up to your ranking. Well, Michigan didn’t do the former and certainly did the latter by overwhelming Eastern Michigan—a team that beat Purdue earlier this season—93-54.

This looked like the No. 2 team in the nation. And it’s good. Very good.

***

Remember recently when Penn State alum and ex-Steelers great Franco Harris questioned NCAA president Mark Emmert about his handling of the Nittany Lions’ case? John Ziegler has the real/full story here on what actually happened, along with the audio of Emmert’s stunning answers.

***

Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a look at the Gophers’ coming Big Ten schedule in this video.

A key topic: Why isn’t Trevor Mbakwe in the starting line up? A possible answer: Why mess with success? The Gophers are playing well with the big fella coming off the bench.

***

Nebraska lost out of some key junior-college recruits, but you won’t see Bo Pelini sweat.

“We always have Plan As and Plan Bs,” Pelini told Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star. “I mean, it’s an ever-changing thing, recruiting is. We have guys we’re recruiting. We’ll see how it plays out as it moves along.”

By the way: Nebraska has 16 verbal commitments and its current haul is ranked 36th by Rivals.com.

While being told “no” hurts, the Huskers still can count on Taylor Martinez being a calming force in the face of adversity. And that’s good, because Nebraska may face some adversity in the bowl game vs. Georgia. And a win over the Bulldogs sure would go a long way in boosting the program’s sagging psyche.

***

We heard from former Illinois coaches about their memories of the Braggin’ Rights game. Now, let’s hear from some former Fighting Illini players.

Jim Rossow of the Champaign News-Gazette catches up with Marcus Liberty, Brian Cook, Damir Krupalija, Kendall Gill and—my all-time fav—Kiwane Garris, among others. The Mizzou-Illinois hoop game is the most underrated rivalry in the nation.

***

Michigan State lost out on landing the services of uber-recruit Jabari Parker, who picked Duke over the Spartans yesterday. Check out the reaction on Twitter.

And, life will go on for Tom Izzo and the Spartans. The guy has won his share of recruiting battles and broken his share of hearts at other schools. It happens. Move on.

During his “news” conference, Parker alluded to the presence of Branden Dawson as being a reason why he opted for Duke. Really? Parker was scared off from picking Michigan State because he would have had to compete with Branden Dawson? Since when was Dawson Michael Jordan? And if Parker—the purported No. 2 player in the nation–is afraid to compete, he is in for a rude awakening.

Speaking of Michigan State, the strange journey of football player Lawrence Thomas continues. He arrived on campus as a linebacker, moved to defensive end, then fullback and now will player defensive tackle in the Outback Bowl. This has to be some sort of record, right?

“Athletically, you watch him run and there’s no doubt that he could play defense,” said MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. “I think he’s going to be a great player, and I’ve told this to him a year ago, and I told him when I moved him to fullback: He will be an all-conference defensive lineman, whether it’s an end or a tackle I don’t know.

“I’ll predict that real early.”

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Did Sipple REALLY have to bring this up?

My take: Losing Joseph would be a big blow to the Husker staff.

My take: It will be fascinating to see who Andersen tabs as OC.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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