Thursday links: Big Ten headlines & notes

It’s good to be Pat Fitzgerald. He’s a hot, young coach whose program is on the rise as it’s ranked in 2013 coming off a 10-win season and the school’s first bowl victory since the 1948 season. If he was a stock, he’d have a “buy” rating. Now, he’s a whole lot richer, too.

Fitzy made $2.2 mil last season. This is the first time since 2005 that Northwestern’s tax return has shown a coach to be the highest paid employee of the university and its related organizations, according to documents compiled by USA TODAY Sports.

Boy, I never thought I’d see the day when the football coach was the highest-paid person on the Northwestern campus. Times have changed.

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I like Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. He’s a smart, quiet hard-working coach with an aggressive 3-4 scheme that will be fun to watch develop. One of the goals of his unit: create turnovers. So far, so good, as the Badgers had two vs. UMass.

Can’t wait to see how this group does at Arizona State on Sept. 13.

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The Notre Dame-Michigan series will end after a 2014 meeting in South Bend. And, Michigan A.D. Dave Brandon has no plans to negotiate a continuation of the series.

OK, let’s all move on from this storyline. We get it. It’s over for now. The world will go on. It has without Oklahoma-Nebraska and Texas-Texas A&M, two more-storied and longer-standing rivalries than Notre Dame-Michigan.

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Cleveland.com caught up with Terrelle Pryor to get his take on the suspension of Johnny Manziel. Did the punishment fit the crime, which in a way was similar to Pryor’s transgression that cost him five games?

Boy, Pryor has grown up.

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This is interesting: Urban Meyer says speedy freshman Dontre Wilson is more of a receiver right now than a running back.

I don’t care what he is: Just get him the ball.

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Nice story by Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune on Northwestern linebacker Collin Ellis, who pushes on even after his father committed suicide a few years ago.

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Watch Gophers writer Joe Christensen discuss, among other things, Minnesota’s lack of a go-to receiver.

It certainly doesn’t help that Jamel Harbison will be out a second game in a row because of a discipline issue. This offense needs some big-play explosiveness.

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Meanwhile in Champaign, Illinois A.D. Mike Thomas is looking for progress from Tim Beckman. What is progress?

‘‘There isn’t a magic number of games,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘We have to show we’re making progress and that we’re relevant, not just in the won-lost record, but that we’re relevant in games, that we’re competitive in games. And hopefully, it will be a season where we feel like we’re making progress.’’

So there is that.

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Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times notes that since Illini legend Ray Eliot left in 1959, only two football coaches have had winning records in Champaign — Mike White, who left because of a recruiting scandal, and John Mackovic, who bolted for Texas. This is amazing for the flagship university in a massive state like Illinois.

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Need to get caught up on more Big Ten happenings? Check out the chat replay from Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald.

On the subject of Nebraska, the Huskers have two of the most impressive looking true freshmen I saw during the BTN tour in linebackers Nate Gerry and Josh Banderas. Players like these will make the Huskers defense better.

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Nice feature on rising Michigan State star defensive end Shilique Calhoun by Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press.

The guy is gonna be a stud as he steps in for William Gholston.

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Big Wisconsin o-linemen Ryan Groy explains in this video why you won’t see the big fellas up front take part in the Badger tradition of “jumping around.

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It sounds like there’s a chance for a third quarterback to play for Michigan State this Saturday: Tyler O’Connor.

Oh, boy. Heck, we could see lots of different stuff to spark a struggling MSU offense. Spread … read option … wildcat … stay tuned. Give the coaches credit for trying to be creative. But it’s difficult to prep three quarterbacks for a game.

Here we go again: Denard Robinson has called Michigan State “little brothers.”

It’s easy to jab when you no longer are at Michigan, isn’t it? And “Shoelace” went 1-3 vs. the Spartans. Just thought I’d add that. Oh, Robinson also ranks Ohio State and Notre Dame ahead of Michigan State among Michigan’s top rivals. What?

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Those averages will go up after the Tennessee Tech game.

My take: This, Husker Nation, is great news.

My take: Breneman is good, but the tight end people tell me is the best at Penn State is Jesse James. NFL scouts love him.

My take: Too bad. Every stadium needs youthful energy in it.

My take: So, see: There is hope—and precedent.

My take: This would be great news for Northwestern. He’s a dynamic playmaker.

My take: My, how time flies. Seems likes yesterday I was reading about Katzenmoyer’s golf class.

My take: Does it really matter if he starts or not? Of course not. It matters how much he’ll play. My guess: a lot.

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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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