Thursday links: Hoops recruits & football news

Yes, football season is starting to really heat up as we enter the second half of the season. But, let’s start with some hoops on this Thursday. I thought you’d enjoy this excellent breakdown of the incoming recruiting classes for each school done by Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Rayno points out that some of these classes are quite impressive (see Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Purdue); others are not (Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan State).

Is the Gophers’ class really the worst?

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Michigan is still tinkering with its offensive line. Erik Magnuson is now taking reps at left guard.

Nick Baumgardner of Mlive.com says two weeks ago, Michigan inserted sophomore Chris Bryant at left guard and pushed Graham Glasgow to center, sending Jack Miller to the bench. But last week, during a 30-carry, 28-yard running back showing, Michigan yanked Bryant during the second half in favor of walk-on Joey Burzynski.  Redshirt freshman Kyle Kalis, the team’s starting right guard through all six games this season, was also pulled for a brief stint — but, for now, his job seems secure. So, who, exactly, is in the running to start at left guard this week? A lot of people.

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Am I the only one stunned by the general ineffectiveness of the Michigan o-line? There is no lack of talent, right? I mean, the recruiting rankings tell me each February that stud after stud signs with Michigan. Oh, well.

Hmmmm. It sounds like Penn State is discussing a neutral-site meeting with LSU. Regular readers of this website will know Wisconsin has lined up a series with LSU that will pit the teams meeting in Arlington, Texas, and in Lambeau Field.

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Rick Brown of HawkCentral.com doesn’t think Iowa will take a nosedive in the second half of the season despite playing a tough schedule.

Brown says this is clearly a better Hawkeyes team than last season, on both sides of the ball. The offense, not a finished product, is on the same page more times than not. Last season, it looked like no one was even reading the same chapter. Still, that second-half schedule is tough. Iowa was 4-2 at this time last year and didn’t win another game. I think it will win at least two more this season. Write it down.

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The College Football Playoff announced the 13-members of its selection committee. And one of them is Wisconsin A.D. Barry Alvarez. Listen and watch Alvarez discuss his appointment to this prestigious club in this video.

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Minnesota interim head coach Tracy Claeys is the man in charge with Jerry Kill tending to health issues. And, he conducts his business with a lower volume level.

“Coach Claeys came in and talked to us last week and said he’s not as much of a big screamer [as Kill],” Gophers kicker Chris Hawthorne said to the Star Tribune. “But at the same token, the expectations and the standards don’t drop at all.”

Claeys has spent game days in the coaching booth as the team’s defensive coordinator, but he’ll call the defensive plays from the sideline and handle the head coaching duties until Kill returns. This Minnesota staff is a well-oiled machine that should be just fine.

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Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald says Wisconsin is boasting the Big Ten’s best players. And, I’m not gonna disagree with him. Check out his midseason report. It’s gold, Jerry. Gold!

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Poor Purdue quarterback Danny Etling. He gets to make his second career start this Saturday … at Michigan State … against the best defense in the nation. Ugh.

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Indiana is trying to strike a balance using two quarterbacks—Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson. Coaches and players have repeatedly stated that employing two quarterbacks has been neither divisive nor a distraction. Hey, it can work. It does at Northwestern.

“It’s not about who the starter is,” Indiana offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said. “Those guys know that they’re both going to play. They never know when their time is going to come. Some of it is dictated on flow of the game and about different situations.”

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Yes, the Big Ten is thin at top. But it still could have nine bowl teams. Well, Penn State is on probation and can’t go. Purdue is eligible but won’t qualify. Minnesota? I don’t think the Gophers will make it, but Illinois, Iowa and Indiana could and should.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: It’s almost a lifetime from now.

My take: This is good news.

My take: I think there should be one Big Ten game each week of the season.

My take: That’s still a lot of carries for a QB in a “power offense.”

My take: Good point. Maybe the committee can break into sub-committees and have lots of meetings and exchange lots of emails.

My take: No doubt, there has been progress.

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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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