Big Ten links: Your post-holiday weekend news digest

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: Your post-holiday weekend news digest

New Minnesota AD. Mark Coyle has hit the ground running. Good thing. Let’s just say he has a lot on his plate.

“Mark’s new job here is a big one, with large challenges to tackle and exciting opportunities to seize,” U President Eric Kaler said while introducing Coyle this month. “My expectation of him is that he will lead a department that is not only strong in competition and excellent in the classroom, but also exemplary in character and citizenship.

“I expect him to set a high bar and ensure that this department makes news for winning Big Ten and national titles and producing admirable student-athletes, and not for unacceptable behavior by anyone in the department.”

More A.D. talk: Iowa’s Gary Barta detailed his vision recently to HawkCentral.com. Barta addresses the impact a winning football team has on an entire campus, negotiations for a new Big Ten media-rights deal, the status of a renovation project that would alter the north end zone at Kinnick Stadium, and more.

Remember when many in the fan base were grumbling this time last year? Neither do I. Now, Barta is coming off a banner year.

“It felt great,” Barta told HawkCentral.com as he wraps up a 10th year that makes him the third-longest-tenured athletic director in the Big Ten (Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez and Ohio State’s Gene Smith have been in place 11 years). “Anytime someone validates what you’ve been doing and says 1. we want you to stay and 2. we want you to be compensated similar to your peers.”

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Flooding has displaced the Purdue football team from its locker room. Not ideal.

It’s an inconvenience, but not an overwhelming one, says Tom Schott, Purdue’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communication. “The belief is that by the time the balance of the roster gets here for summer school on June 13 that the current locker room will be usable,” he said.

“Not too big an inconvenience for (players). Obviously for those 30 or so guys who are here, they’re displaced. But we expect everyone to be back home by the time summer school starts.”

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Remember that spring break junket Michigan took to Florida? Well, it wasn’t cheap, costing almost $350,000. If Michigan wins the Big Ten, it will have been worth every penny.

Of that sum, the bulk was spent on renting the facilities and housing at IMG ($146,912) and airfare ($107,148). Additional costs included ground transportation ($51,395), and meals and per diem ($39,519). An additional category, designated in records provided by U-M as “other,” tallied $3,580. All told, Mlive.com says Michigan’s trip consisted of roughly 16 hours of on-field work at IMG.

In explaining the rationale for the trip, Jim Harbaugh said beforehand: “Everybody’s going to get a spring break. There won’t be a youngster who can’t afford to fly somewhere and not enjoy a spring break. What better way to be doing that than playing football?”

Hey, what Harbaugh wants, Harbaugh gets. It’s pretty simple.

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Good podcast from Pennlive.com that looks at the Penn State-Pitt series with Jerry DiPaola of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The rivals hook up for the first time since 2000 this fall.

Pittsburgh and Penn State kick off a four-year rivalry series this September at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Panthers opened as a nine-point favorite in that matchup. That surprises me a bit.

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Nice to see Ezekiel Elliott take care of his mother by buying her a house!

Elliott, who received a $16.3 million signing bonus from the Cowboys, bought his mother, Dawn, a new home in the St. Louis area where he grew up, according to dallasnews.com.

“It just feels really good to reward my mom,” Elliott said. “The hard work she put in raising me and all she sacrificed, finally being able to do something for her for the first time feels really good.”

Elliott, who finished his storied Ohio State career second all-time on the Buckeyes rushing list with 3,961 yards, behind only two-time Heisman Trophy-winner Archie Griffin, was drafted No. 3 overall by the Cowboys.

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Even with Deyonta Davis off to the NBA early, Michigan State still should be a top-10 team.

NBC Sports ranks Michigan State the highest, at No. 6 overall. Despite the personnel losses, the Spartans remain high in the rankings due to their incoming recruiting class, which has been ranked the No. 4 incoming class by the 247sports composite. The Spartans lose a ton — Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes, Matt Costello — but they also add a ton, bringing in a class headlined by Miles Bridges that is as talented as any that Tom Izzo has brought in in recent years.

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Ever wonder why Cody Zeller and his brothers all wear No. 40? It’s the number one of their grandfathers wore. Neat story.

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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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Tomorrow
7:00 PMFlorida Gulf Coast at Rutgers Watch
7:00 PMTemple at Penn St.Watch
8:00 PMSt. Louis at WisconsinWatch
Wednesday Sep 28
4:00 PMBowling Green at Michigan St.Watch
7:00 PMSIUE at Ohio St.Watch
7:30 PMButler at IndianaWatch
7:30 PMDetroit Mercy at MichiganWatch
8:00 PMMaryland at IowaWatch

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