Monday's links: Painter's first 8 seasons vs. Keady's

Michigan has a lot to like about next season’s team which is in pursuit of the school’s first Big Ten title since 2004, but one glaring issues is the lack of a pass rusher. Who will it be?

Since Brady Hoke arrived, the Wolverines have been getting a pass rush by committee. It has worked. But the program could use one stud. In fact, the Wolverines haven’t had a stud rusher since Brandon Graham. The Detroit Free Press thinks Frank Clark may be the team’s best hope for a 2013 rushing stud. Other possibilities: Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton.

The great Tom Oates of Madison.com says the Big Ten’s poor showing in the 2013 NFL draft is just the latest sign that the conference is losing football relevancy.

As Oates notes, the conference’s worst performance in the draft since 1994 did serve to illustrate the real problem with Big Ten football: It has fallen behind the SEC in the most important area of all, recruiting. And Oates thinks this is more than a temporary image problem for the Big Ten, this is a crisis. The SEC has won seven consecutive national championships while the Big Ten hasn’t won one since 2002. Worse, the gap is widening. The Big Ten has gone five drafts without having a player taken in the top 10. Since 2010, only one of the conference’s 14 first-round picks did not play on the offensive or defensive lines.

But, Oates says Big Ten hoops provides hope, as it went through a similar down turn before a recent surge that has seen the conference rate by most as the nation’s best the last two seasons. See, it can be done.

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If you lived in Columbus, Ohio, would you rent out your house on the weekend of Buckeye home football games to earn some extra cash? A broker is starting to offer that service in the area.

I wish I had thought of this. It’s a brilliant idea.

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It looks like former Penn State quarterback Steven Bench is considering transferring to Mississippi State and South Florida.

Good luck. Seems like a great kid. Maybe getting back to the south will help the Georgia native.

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Nice to see Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner graduate last weekend at Michigan. Gardner did it in 3.5 years! Amazing. This is what it’s all about, people.

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Football Outsiders has predicted Wisconsin to go 10-2 this season, finishing in second place in the Leaders Division behind Ohio State.

A 10-2 mark? Wow. I’m not so sure about that. I like the Badger defense, but the offense concerns me a bit. Will Wisconsin be able to pass well enough to keep defenses honest? The lack of playmaking receivers scares me.

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Illinois received a commitment from Western Michigan transfer Darius Paul, the younger brother of ex-Illini Brandon.

Paul, 6-8, 225, was the Freshman of the Year in the MAC last season. He will sit out this season. Paul is the third transfer to join Illinois this offseason. Seton Hall guard Aaron Cosby and Illinois State forward Jon Ekey also have signed on. Ekey will play next season as a fifth-year transfer; Cosby will sit out along with Paul. John Groce has it rolling.

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Iowa coach Fran McCaffery expects incoming swingman Peter Jok to help next season. He will give the Hawkeyes another athletic shooter on the wing. Yet more reason to hop on the Iowa bandwagon now.

But P.T. may be tough to come by, as Jok must compete with Mike Gesell, Josh Oglesby, Aaron White, Jarrod Uthoff and Zach McCabe for minutes.

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The first eight years of Matt Painter’s Purdue tenure closely resembled that of Gene Keady, says Jeff Washburn of the Lafayette Journal and Courier.

I beg to differ on this. Keady did more in his first eight years than Painter. Keady won three Big Ten titles in the regular season; Painter has one regular-season crown. And Keady never had a losing record his first eight seasons; Painter is coming off a losing mark, just Purdue’s fifth losing season since 1965-66. And Painter is just 6-8 vs. Indiana despite competing vs. some of the worst Indiana teams in recent history; Keady was 8-8 vs. very strong IU teams led by Bob Knight. And Keady wasn’t at a cross roads after eight seasons; Painter is.

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It’s official: Nebraska has sold out 15,174-seat Pinnacle Bank Arena for next basketball season.

And just think, as Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World News says, some felt Nebraska had to sell beer to get people into the Cornhuskers’ new hoop digs. This all is impressive when you consider Nebraska hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament in 15 years, hasn’t won a conference title in 63 years and is coming off a 10th-place finish in the Big Ten. Yet, it could play to a full house for a full year.

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Michigan A.D. Dave Brandon thinks the Big Ten could stay at 14 teams “forever,” but that it could run with as many as 20.

Yes, this storyline is never gonna die. Me? I think the Big Ten will be at 14 teams for the foreseeable future—maybe 10 or 15 years.

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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