Today's links: Big Ten football & hoops notes

Much was made last year about Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez working with quarterback guru Steve Calhoun in southern California. But, the results were good. Well, Martinez will be back at it in May, looking to further hone his technique for a big senior season send-off.

According to Steven Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star: As a junior last season, Martinez improved his completion rate to a career-high 62 percent, up six points over his sophomore season. In terms of mechanics, he showed more consistency, Calhoun said.

However, “I think toward the end of the season, he did at times resort back to the way he used to throw the ball,” Calhoun told Sipple.

Old habits are difficult to break. That’s why Martinez is still gonna work with Calhoun. Could Martinez end up being the Big Ten Player of the Year? Maybe.

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Great story about how Wisconsin star tight end Jacob Pedersen was committed in 2008 to Eastern Michigan, which was then coached by now-Badgers special teams/tight ends coach Jeff Genyk. But after Genyk got fired, EMU forgot about Pedersen. Well, you know the rest of the story.

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Iowa is looking to spruce up Kinnick Stadium with an $8 million video and sound system. A great game-day atmosphere will become even better.

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Former Purdue quarterbacking great Bob Griese and ex-Boilermaker coach Jim Young know what it takes to win at Purdue and all college levels, for that matter: recruiting and quarterback play. The two spoke recently at the school.

Another note: ex-Boiler fullback Mike Alstott also spoke to the Purdue team recently. And, get this: He is a high school head coach in Florida. He went 0-12 last season. I’m not gonna make fun of him. Are you?

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Penn State has some pressing issues to deal with on offense in the spring game this Saturday.

To that end, look for the tight ends to perhaps play an even bigger role in the Penn State offense this year—if that is possible. Watch them Saturday, as well as the quarterbacks. And see how Bill Belton looks, as the talented player looks for a role behind Zack Zwinak in the backfield.

On the subject of Penn State, its offensive line has a chance to be good. And having Miles Dieffenbach up front will help.

“Yeah, I definitely feel like I’ve been improving,” Dieffenbach told PennLive.com. “I really wanted to work on my physical style of play and get my pads down and work on my pass ‘fits’. I really have been trying my hardest.”

So, PSU will have Dieffenbach at left guard; John Urschel at right guard; Donovan Smith at left tackle; Adam Gress at right tackle; Ty Howle at center. Not bad.

One last Penn State item: Check out this neat video feature on Matt McGloin.

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Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal says having Gary Harris return for his sophomore season is huge. No doubt. Couch also notes that getting Harris back was more critical than the return of Adreian Payne, who has yet to make a decision.

To summarize: You can’t win a national championship without a good big man. But you can’t even join the conversation without great guard play.

Speaking of Harris, he and Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III hope to work out together this summer.

“I heard (Harris) announced today (to return to MSU),” Robinson said to the Detroit Free-Press. “I talked to him a little bit. I don’t know if it’s similar but I did talk to him about what he was going to do and hopefully we’re doing stuff this summer. We’ve been close. I know a lot of fans won’t like that, Michigan State-Michigan, but we’ve worked together and worked over the summer in past year so hopefully we might be able to do that this year.”

Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary both announced they would return for their sophomore seasons yesterday. The decision by McGary leaves ESPN NBA mock draft guru Chad Ford perplexed. He doesn’t think McGary’s stock ever will be higher. Ford is correct.

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The early-signing period is in full swing. And Illinois coach John Groce has inked a couple of players he likes: Seton Hall guard Aaron Cosby and Illinois State forward Jon Ekey.

Groce and his staff recruited both players when they were at Ohio, so there is ample familiarity. Each will help with shooting for an Illini team that is retooling.

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Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports has graded each coaching hire.

Northwestern gets an A- for tabbing Chris Collins. Minnesota gets a B for hiring Richard Pitino. Future Big Ten player Rutgers received a B for nabbing Eddie Jordan. Have to mention that ex-Iowa coach and Indiana legend Steve Alford was graded a C-plus hire at UCLA. Seems generous to me.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

As if the challenges aren’t already big enough.

This is a nice lineup.

He is one of the most underrated coaches in gridiron annals. Great to see this.

I agree with this. Is Iowa fourth? Hmmm.

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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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