Big Ten links: Ott's fifth year, Albrecht's transfer & more

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: Ott's fifth year, Albrecht's transfer & more

The top 16 combination football/basketball schools in America? The Sporting News has ‘em. And four Big Ten schools made the cut.

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This is difficult to believe: The saga of Iowa’s Drew Ott’s pursuit of a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA continues. This is reality TV. Ott’s position coach, Reese Morgan, said this week that the defensive end has had his petition denied “several times” but is still in the appeal process for a medical hardship following elbow and knee surgeries during his shortened 2015 season.

“He has an appeal in again, and the process just seems to be extremely frustrating,” Morgan said, “because no one from the NCAA has talked to anybody in this building about it or him, OK? Which seems to be unusual.”

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Speaking of odd, Michigan is limiting the transfer options of guard Spike Albrecht even though he has graduated. He has been recruited over by John Beilein and been told there is no role for him on next year’s team. This is beyond wrong. The kid should be allowed to go wherever he wants. How many times are we told by athletic administrators “it’s all about the kids”? Why is this happening? Especially at Michigan, whose football team just benefitted greatly from Iowa grad transfer QB Jake Rudock.

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Nice late get for Michigan State, which has just gotten a letter-of-intent from four-star DE Auston Robertson. Mlive.com notes that Robertson originally committed to the Spartans last June, but Michigan State didn’t send the Fort Wayne, Indiana, prospect scholarship papers on national signing day on account of off-field issues that involved previously ongoing litigation.

Robertson, who also held scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Alabama, Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska, entered into a diversionary program earlier this month, according to online records. Robertson’s off-field issues stemmed from a misdemeanor battery allegation last October.

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Here’s a look at Penn State’s defensive line. There is work to do here for what has been one of the Big Ten’s best fronts in recent years. Carl Nassib, Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel are gone.

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Who will call plays for the Rutgers’ defense?

“What (Chris Ash) told me most recently is that I’m going to be calling the game,” said DC Jay Niemann said. “I think that’s the way it’ll work out. I’m sure that he’s going to have his input, like any head coach would want. But that’s our plan right now.”

Niemann said it hasn’t yet been determined if he’ll be in the press box or on the sideline during games. He has a strong history with Ash, a former DC who will be involved with the unit.

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The suspensions of Gopher hoopsters Nate Mason, Kevin Dorsey and Dupree McBrayer have been lifted and all three will be back next season. That’s good news for a Minnesota hoops squad that needs a big season.

Mason, a sophomore guard, led Minnesota (8-23) with 13.8 points and 4.5 assists a game this season. Dorsey (6.8 points) and McBrayer (5.9 points) were key contributors as freshman guards. In their absence, the Gophers were forced to finish the season with no guards on scholarship and five scholarship players total.

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There is a new approach on special teams for Nebraska. Sam McKewon of Omaha.com notes Nebraska hasn’t done much full-team work this spring on punts or kickoffs, special teams coordinator Bruce Read said this week. Instead, by head coach Mike Riley’s design, the focus has been on individual details and assignments.

“We haven’t covered a kickoff and we really haven’t covered a punt yet, since we only had punt the first couple days,” Read said. “It’s really all been drills. It’s been good. It’s been kind of interesting. We’re really focusing on technique and ‘how-to’ rather than ‘here’s the whole scheme everybody needs to know.’ It’s been kind of fun, really — and challenging. We haven’t really gone through a spring like that.”

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Ohio State’s wideouts have potential. And, Urban Meyer hates that. He wants production. And, that figures to come this fall, especially with J.T. Barrett at the controls. In fact, Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com thinks the 2016 receivers could be better than the 2015 wideouts. And, he’s correct.

Michael Thomas (56 catches, 781 yards) is a potential first-round NFL Draft pick, but he was underused in 2015. Lesmerises thinks that’s the kind of player Noah Brown could be this season, but maybe more athletic. Interesting. Jalin Marshall (36 catches, 477 yards) was a fine player but far from irreplaceable. Austin Mack or Torrence Gibson or Johnnie Dixon or someone like that could scare defenses more. Braxton Miller (26 catches, 341 yards) in his first year as a receiver was more potential (there’s that word) than performance last season. Curtis Samuel might be better, and between Samuel, Dontre Wilson and K.J. Hill this season, the H-back could and should be more involved in the offense.

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Good Q&A with new Purdue defensive line coach Randy Melvin from Stacy Clardie of GoldandBlack.com. Melvin has a history at Purdue, coaching some good d-lines under Joe Tiller. Melvin has a HUGE task this fall trying to develop a front on a defense that often got trucked last season. If his unit flops, the defense will flop. No pressure, Randy.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

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, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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