Today's links: Football news heats up

NCAA probation prevented Ohio State from winning the Big Ten or playing in a bowl game last season. But that didn’t stop the school from giving out rings for last season’s 12-0 mark. Let’s start daily links there.

Jim Tressel, the man at the center of the NCAA sanctions that put Ohio State in the quandary that kept them out of the postseason last year, reflected on the violations.

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Penn State didn’t play much nickel defense last season because of a lack of depth. But the Nittany Lions’ new-look defense under new coordinator John Butler is better equipped to do so in 2013.

“We’ve added depth there,” Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien said recently. “So we’ve added (former wideouts) Trevor Williams and Malik Golden over there, and both of those have been good moves. … So we have the ability to go to a five-DB personnel grouping, or even a six-DB personnel grouping.”

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Special teams haven’t been special at Iowa for a few seasons. But, the coaches are trying to change that this spring.

How serious is Kirk Ferentz about fixing this area of the team? For the first time in his 15 seasons in Iowa City, he has hired a coach dedicated solely to special teams in Chris White–who came from NFL.

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Purdue fans: Hold your horses on the quarterback derby. Darrell Hazell won’t name a starter until August in what essentially is a three-man race between Rob Henry, true freshman Danny Etling and redshirt freshman Austin Appleby. Actually, the race appears to be down to Henry and Etling.

In the end, I imagine Henry’s experience will win out.

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Steven Sipple and Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star put a wrap on the Nebraska spring football season in this video.

To summarize—offense: good. Defense: work to do. Check back in August. Thank you.

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Here is a nice Leaders Division spring roundup from Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln paper. It’s Ohio State’s division to lose. No shock there. But what will Wisconsin look like? Fascinating.

Wisconsin QB Joel Stave continues to make progress from the broken collarbone he suffered last October. In fact, he and Curt Phillips reportedly have been the most effective of the four scholarship quarterbacks in spring drills—splitting time with the first team. I still wanna see JC transfer Tanner McEvoy when he arrives this summer.

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The world waits to hear from Michigan’s quartet of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III about their futures. Meanwhile in East Lansing, the silence from Michigan State’s Adreian Payne and Gary Harris is deafening. What are they gonna do?

The deadline to enter the draft with the option to remove your name and retain eligibility is April 16. Players have until April 28 to opt into the draft. This is going to be fascinating. Stay tuned. As the great Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal points out, Payne—a junior–can make a smart move either way. But Harris has a balky left shoulder—and he’s an undersized shooting guard. I will be surprised if he leaves after his freshman season.

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Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas already has made his intentions know—he’s leaving. And, he’s confident he’ll be a first-round pick—even though most everyone else on the globe feels otherwise.

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Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette has lots of goodies in his latest column. My fav: The Fighting Illini are in the running for the nation’s top fifth-year transfer: 6-8 Josh Davis of Tulane. Another name to watch: 6-7 Jon Ekey of Illinois State. Seton Hall guard Aaron Cosby recently visited Illinois. Yes, the Illini need veteran help—now—especially up front.

Here is a look back the Michigan’s hoop season in photos. Thanks, Detroit Free Press!

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Indiana still has a numbers crunch even with Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo both declaring for the NBA draft. Tom Crean has 14 players but only 13 scholarships. Something has to give.

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Freshly-minted UCLA coach Steve Alford recently issued a statement saying he botched his handling of Pierre Pierce back when Alford was Iowa coach.

Alford said in a statement released by UCLA that he “instinctively and mistakenly” came to the defense of Pierre Pierce before he knew all the facts behind Pierce’s involvement in a 2002 sexual assault case against another student-athlete. He also said that his response “was inappropriate, insensitive and hurtful, especially to the young female victim involved, and I apologize for that.”

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Richard Pitino is filling out his staff at Minnesota. A recent hire is Kimani Young, who served one year in federal prison in 2000 for a felony drug conviction that involved possession of 96 pounds of marijuana in Texas. Ruben Rosario of the St. Paul Pioneer Press says we should focus on Young’s future—not his past.

Rosario points out that by all counts, the New York City native, widower and father of three has more than paid his dues. He has worked with at-risk youths and openly talked about his mistakes. The former UTEP basketball player and graduate has landed several assistant-coaching gigs. Hey, I am all for second-chances.

Here’s a nice Q&A from Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune with Minnesota A.D. Norwood Teague, who discusses a wide range of topics from Flip Saunders, Billy Donovan to Richard Pitino. Here’s a snippet:

Were you tempted to make a safer hire? Someone that had been a head coach for longer?

“I wasn’t at all. His background, where he’s been and as Billy and his dad said – the unrelenting pressure that his dad put on him when he was an assistant with him, I think helped and then being with Billy for two years I think helped a ton. And then he just proved it in one year at FIU, what he was able to do there with a limited situation – very limited.”

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

https://twitter.com/HuskerExtraSip/status/322472545666342912

Why should he have rooted for Louisville?

https://twitter.com/kmeinke/status/322424336306806784

(I am shaking my head.)

https://twitter.com/ScottDochterman/status/322462618247905280

And this is coming off a disappointing season. This is why Iowa football is great.

https://twitter.com/mark_may/status/322486209207234560

Few stir the pot like Mark May. Remember: It’s what he’s paid to do, people.

https://twitter.com/insidethehall/status/322474117133660160

This is a massive understatement, to say the least.

https://twitter.com/carminjc/status/322442559941132289

I’d pay to hear this.

https://twitter.com/JeffWashburnJC/status/322415778110529536

Yes, Indiana will struggle. But this is still an NCAA tourney team.

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1 Comment

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Show Comments (1 Comment)
J.C. on 4/12/2013 @ 2:12pm EST Said:

You don’t at all see a problem with having a network full of “analysts” who’s sole purpose is to “troll” or, as you say, “stir the pot?”

It’s a good reason why many have turned off ESPN for its coverage of college and professional sports, and actually look forward to the alternatives that are developing.

I hope BTN never finds the need to turn its coverage into WWE-style commentary or “Fake Debate” trolling to garner reaction. Having integrity should stand for something (rather than trying to trend).