Monday's web links: Cook, Urban & Spartan finances

Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook is doing all he can to move up the depth chart. In fact, he has worked out with QB guru George Whitfield in California. Smart move.

Whitfield has worked with the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Johnny Manziel, Devin Gardner and Braxton Miller. Not a bad list of clients.

SUPPORTING URBAN: Urban Meyer’s time at Florida has come under scrutiny. Many critics point to the myriad arrests and allege that he ran a “loose ship” in Gainesville. Well, an author who had inside access to the Gator program during Meyer’s tenure says he didn’t see any evidence of a renegade program while he was chronicling information for a book he wrote called “Urban’s Way” that was published a few years ago. Just know this before reading the link: The book was an “authorized” biography. Enjoy.

TALKING IOWA’S SCHEDULE: Iowa is a program in need of some success. Any observer of the program knows that. The Hawkeyes are coming off their worst season since 2000, which was Kirk Ferentz’s second season in Iowa City. Well, here’s some good news: It looks like Iowa will get a boost from its future schedules, which aren’t filled with a lot of heavy-lifting. At least that’s what Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register thinks.

Listen to Logue:

This upcoming season, the Hawkeyes will face 10 opponents that earned a bowl berth last fall and won 64.4 percent of their games.

That’s daunting for any team, let alone an Iowa squad coming off a 4-8 record in 2012.

The slate for 2014 appears more appealing, with dates against Maryland, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota and Illinois. Not to mention manageable non-conference matchups with Pittsburgh and Ball State.

In 2015, the Big Ten flips the sites and shuffles the order, but Iowa still plays the Terrapins, Boilermakers, Hoosiers, Gophers and Illini.

AND OHIO STATE’S SLATE: Speaking of schedules, Ohio State needs to play tougher ones in the future. Its slate this fall is, well, weak.

In fact, as Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch says, “its worthiness as a national championship contender will be hotly debated because of its perceived soft schedule.” But in the future, Ohio State will play a much tougher schedule—and that will be a good thing. I can’t wait to see where the Buckeye program is in another two or three seasons. It could be spectacular.

MICHIGAN’S O-LINE: There is a lot to like about the Michigan offense, but keep an eye on the line. The tackle tandem of Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield should be among the best in the Big Ten. But the interior is being reworked. Kyle Meinke of MLive.com projects Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis to start at guard with Jack Miller at center.

No matter who starts on the inside, this unit needs to get a better push in the run game. Here is an uber-detailed breakdown of the Wolverine front.

HEADED TO IRELAND: Many people are stoked about Penn State opening the 2014 season vs. Central Florida in Ireland. Check out all of these tweets.

It’s a smart move for a program that is shackled by NCAA probation, as the trip will serve in some respects as a de facto bowl game.

NITTANY LIONS IN THE GYM: More Penn State: In this video, strength coach Craig Fitzgerald says the Nittany Lions are ahead of schedule with their offseason program.

This helps reinforce my thinking that another 8-4 season could be in the works.

IN-DEPTH LOOK AT MSU FINANCES: Interesting stuff and great work by the Lansing State Journal, which took a deep dive into the Michigan State athletic department financial books to examine the dollars and cents of each sport.

I am always amazed at how few scholarships are allotted for the Olympics sports. So, parents, even if Junior or Sissy earns, say, a baseball or field hockey scholarship, it almost certainly won’t be a full-ride. Heck, the Spartan hockey team has just 18 scholarships for a 28-man roster. Do the math. It’s easy.

The series on MSU finances also has a piece on how the school is reinvesting in facilities.

And look at where all the money goes.

I’d love to see something like this for each Big Ten athletic department.

IOWA’S YOUNG GUARDS: Iowa rising sophomore guards Anthony Clemmons and Mike Gesell learned by playing vs. some top guards in the Big Ten last year. It’s called “baptism by fire.” Now, it’s time to show what they learned in what could be a huge season for the Hawkeyes.

“I learned a lot. Those are some of the best guards in the country,” Gesell told Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “They proved it all year. Just learned little tricks of the trade. They’ve been around. You can take things from every guy.”

TWEET THAT MATTER

My take: Of course, Penn State will play UCF in Ireland in 2014 to break that 20-year skein.

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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