Web links: Big Ten's best ever in gallery form

I’m leading Daily Links with baseball. Yes, that’s right: Baseball! It’s all a celebration of Indiana’s trip to the College World Series, the Big Ten’s first entrant in the grand event since 1984. The Indianapolis Star has a neat photo feature that looks at over 20 of the best all-time MLB players produced by Big Ten schools.

Nice list! Among others, there are Minnesota’s Dave Winfield, Purdue’s Moose Skowron, Illinois’ Lou Boudreau, Indiana’s Ted Kluszewski, Michigan State’s Kirk Gibson, Michigan’s Barry Larkin and my fav–Ohio State’s Frank Howard!

BADGERS LOSE MITCHELL: This isn’t good news for Wisconsin: projected starting safety Reggie Mitchell is transferring.

The secondary already was an area of concern in Madison with safety Shelton Johnson and cornerbacks Devin Smith and Marcus Cromartie gone. Safety Dezmen Southward is the lone returning full-time starter. What’s next as a solution? Junior Michael Trotter started three games last season and is improving, but his play was uneven in 2012. Donnell Vercher was inked from a junior college. Another possibility: RB Jeff Lewis could be moved to safety. Seems extreme. Stay tuned. Hey, at least the front seven is strong for the Badgers.

HINDSIGHT is 20-20: Remember when Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien was the apple of the eye of Penn State fans? Many wanted O’Brien to pick Penn State. Well, he broke some hearts and chose Wisconsin. In the end, it was a recruiting battle the Nittany Lions have to be thrilled they lost!

O’Brien was a bust in Madison and already is bolting. But imagine if he had landed in State College and beaten out Matt McGloin for the job. Hmmm. Of course, we all know McGloin went on to become a top Big Ten passer last year during a fun 8-4 season and now is impressing with the Oakland Raiders. O’Brien? Who knows where he’ll land.

Life sure is funny.

HOKE GETTING BIG RECRUITS: Brady Hoke already has the makings of a top 2014 recruiting class, highlighted by a pledge from the Rivals.com’s No. 2 ranked prospect in the nation in CB Jabrill Peppers. Now, Michigan apparently has a shot at landing Rivals.com’s No. 1 prospect in the nation in DT Da’Shawn Hand.

OK, you can stop hyperventilating, Michigan fans.

SPARTANS BACKFIELD: Michigan State left spring ball with some questions at running back. Is ex-linebacker Riley Bullough REALLY the guy? Training camp will hopefully help clear up the position, as three freshmen could impact—including Gerald Holmes, who is built and even sounds like departed stud Le’Veon Bell.

TALKING PSU FRESHMEN: Audrey Snyder of PennLive.com wonders: Which Penn State true freshman will make the biggest impact?

The easy answer is quarterback Christian Hackenberg. But don’t forget about tight end Adam Breneman. Linebacker Brandon Bell and defensive backs Jordan Smith and Anthony Smith also are good choices.

EARLY RETURNS FOR NEW COACHES: Good guy Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com looks at the early recruiting success of the 31 new FBS coaches.

Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen is off to a good start. Purdue’s Darrell Hazell? Not so much so.

STEELE ON RETURNING YARDS: Another cool chart from Phil Steele, who I like to call the “Professor.” This time, Phil looks at which schools have the highest percentage of returning yards.

Indiana is No. 2; Ohio State is No. 5; Northwestern is No. 6; Illinois is No. 7. So, let’s call 2013 the “Year of Offense” in the Big Ten. In case you are wondering, Purdue is the Big Ten squad with the lowest percent of returning yards (118th). Darrell Hazell is gonna earn his money this fall. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

KAFKA DRAWS PRAISE: A few days after being picked up on waiver from New England, former Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka is in the mix to start for the Jacksonville Jaguars. At least, that’s what Jacksonville GM David Caldwell is saying.

Kafka’s competition? There’s former first-round pick and bust Blaine Gabbert, former Michigan standout Chad Henne and undrafted rookie Matt Scott.

NU HEAVY ON RUNNING BACKS: This just in: Northwestern will have one of the best collections of running backs in the Big Ten.

IN BO HARBAUGH TRUSTS: We all knew Bo Schembechler was great. But Jim Harbaugh says the word of Bo was “as close to the word of God as you can get.”

Here is the full outlandish Harbaugh quote, which came in response to a rash of suspensions for the Seattle Seahawks for taking PEDs.

“So we want to be above reproach in everything. … Because if you cheat to win, then you’ve already lost, according to Bo Schembechler. And Bo Schembechler is about as close to the word of God as you can get, in my mind. It’s not the word of God, but it’s close.”

I have only one word for this: wow.

BAD NEWS FOR PURDUE: File this item under “W” for weird: One of Purdue’s top signees isn’t coming to West Lafayette. Nope. Instead, he’s going to play at … wait for it … Grand Valley State!!!!

You can’t make this stuff up. Oh, and feel free to dunk your head in a cold bucket of water, Purdue Pete.

MORE HUNTER REACTION: The hiring of Georgetown assistant Kenya Hunter even has the great Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald in a tizzy as he sits at his keyboard.

How big is this? Shatel thinks it may be the most important assistant hire in Cornhusker annals. I guess that’s impressive. But, frankly, I can’t think of one other Cornhusker assistant men’s basketball coaching hire … ever.

MICHIGAN NBA DRAFT DUO: With the NBA draft around the corner, Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to rise up draft boards. Meanwhile, Trey Burke continues to slide.

If the draft was six months away, I guarantee the speculation on these two would reverse. This is a classic case of too much time to evaluate/opine/write/speculate. Please, hurry up and get here, NBA draft. End this madness.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: See, I’m not the only one who loves Nebraska.

My take: He is correct. But Mbakwe kicked a lot of people’s butts.

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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