Big Ten media days kick off Thursday in Chicago, so I thought I’d release my preseason Big Ten player rankings. I’m going to do these a little different this year. In previous years, I’d rank the top 10 players, which often became a tough task with all the talent on both sides of the ball. To account for both sides, I’ll rank the top six offensive and defensive players each week.
Already debuting new football uniforms for the 2012 season, the Minnesota Gophers also will introduce a pair of new patches to their jerseys. Like the rest of the Big Ten, the Gophers will don the rectangular “B1G” logo patch on their jerseys. Above the conference-wide patch, they will honor late former teammate Gary Tinsley with a black circular patch that reads: “GT 51”. @GopherGridiron tweeted a picture of the patches, and you can see them in this post.
In a world where it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up with all of the uniform changes going on across the college football landscape, Penn State is a breath of fresh air. With the exception of a minor detail here or there, Penn State’s uniform looks a lot like it did in our grandfather’s day. But with all the changes going on around the school, is this the time for the team to finally alter its look?
Michigan opens the 2012 football season in grand fashion, playing reigning national champ Alabama at Jerry World in Dallas. To commemorate the highly anticipated game, the Wolverines will don a new alternate uniform, designed by adidas, which the school released Monday night. According to MGoBlue.com, the uniform is a one-time thing, meaning Michigan will wear its traditional home and away uniforms the rest of the regular season. See MGoBlue.com’s picture of the uniform in this post.
From this day forward, Joe Paterno’s final win is Penn State’s 35-10 victory over Wisconsin on Nov. 22, 1997. That’s the case because Mark Emmert and the NCAA vacated all of Penn State’s victories from 1998-2011 as part of their sanctions against the school in the wake of the Freeh Report findings. @Ben_Jones88 tweeted a photo of the game program from that now historical1997 game, and, interestingly enough, its headline reads: “End of the Line.” See the photo in this post.
Whether you like it or not, get used to the Big Ten’s “B1G” logo. This fall, every football team will wear the logo on its jerseys (here’s a look at Illinois’ patch) and it also will appear on the teams’ fields. @AdamWidman, assistant director of athletics communications at Ohio State, tweeted a picture of the freshly added logos at Ohio Stadium. They sit at the 25-yard line on each side of the field.
How do you know you’re a big deal? When your likeness is plastered on a vending machine, that’s how. Former Wisconsin defensive end and current Houston Texan J.J. Watt now knows the feeling. The ex-Badger is featured on a vending machine that @JJWFoundation tweeted Thursday. Watt’s Twitter response: “Wow. I hope it dispenses sacks at will.”
Is it possible for the Big Ten’s best football player to be underrated? I ask only because I think Montee Ball is being slighted by media and non-Wisconsin fans alike entering the 2012 season. Yes, I’m saying the 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist is underrated. Plain and simple, the senior back who’s fresh off a season in which he scored 39 – 39!!! – touchdowns and ran for 1,923 yards isn’t getting the respect he deserves.
The Summer of Steele continued Wednesday, as well-respected prognosticator Phil Steele posted his favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Few things are more meaningless and yet hugely popular than preseason Heisman hopefuls — or preseason polls, for that matter — so don’t treat this as science. Steele’s list of the top 10 candidates, to no surprise, includes Montee Ball and Denard Robinson. See what Steele says about the two Big Ten stars in this post.
Now that the Big Ten and Pac-12 decided to put the kibosh on its scheduling plan across all sports, the Big Ten has a decision to make when it comes to future football schedules. Will the conference remain at eight conference games, or will it move to nine? Prior to the previous announcement with the Pac-12, it looked like the Big Ten was entertaining the latter.
Like many of us, Big Ten products are all over Twitter. They let us into their lives and put their personalities on display in 140 characters or less, and they often delight and enlighten in the process. Our goal is to present these tweets to our Big Ten fans, whether they’re on Twitter or not. See some of our favorite Big Ten-centric tweets from Monday in this post.
TheBigLead.com’s Jason McIntyre posted his list of the 50 best players in college basketball for the 2012-2013 season Friday, and Indiana rising sophomore Cody Zeller topped the list. Zeller beat out highly touted UCLA recruit Shabazz Muhammad for the No. 1 spot and was one of seven Big Ten players who made the cut. See the entire Big Ten list in this post.
Team USA tips off its Olympic training slate with its first exhibition game Thursday in Las Vegas. USA is stacked, per usual, and it’s the favorite to win gold next month in London. With the action about to start, I got to thinking: what if Team USA was comprised of only former Big Ten players, starting with the 2007-08 season (the BTN era)? See what my 12-man roster would look like in this post.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are expected to wear a patch on their jerseys this season honoring the late Gary Tinsley. They’ll also have an impressive mural in the team locker room dedicated to their former teammate. @GopherGridiron tweeted a picture of the mural Wednesday, saying: “Gary Tinsley is going to be with us in ’12.”
Let’s be honest: the advertising campaign for NCAA Football 13 is nothing short of spectacular. Having not played the recently released game, the commercials alone are enough to entertain. The mastery behind the ads comes via a new wrinkle in the game that allows users to put Heisman Trophy winners on any team. Genius, right? One commercial features a young Ohio State fan playing with Michigan’s Desmond Howard, much to his father’s dismay. Watch the spot in this post.
Technology is great, isn’t it? Nowadays, we can watch games on the go from our smartphones. We can even sign contracts without paper or pen. Not all of us, but some of us. Like former Illinois star Deron Williams, who used an iPad to sign his contract with the Brooklyn Nets early Wednesday morning. In Las Vegas with Team USA, Williams tweeted a picture of himself signing the contract, the tweet reading: “Officially a Brooklyn Net! Signed my contract on an iPad Just thank God for this wonderful Opportunity #HelloBrooklyn”
Indiana fans love Cody Zeller. The rising sophomore not only brought the Hoosiers back to relevancy last season, he also put off the NBA to return to Bloomington for at least one more year. Grateful for both things, the Indiana faithful knows Zeller’s decision means the world, especially with the nucleus the Hoosiers have coming back in 2012-13. The fans are so excited, in fact, some of them created an entertaining YouTube video in Zeller’s honor. If you haven’t see it, watch the video in this post.
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart scribes a weekly Big Ten player rankings post during the college football season, and it’s a popular fall staple. Well, with the highly anticipated release of NCAA Football 13, we have a different kind of Big Ten player ranking for you. This one comes straight from the game’s top overall players. See its top 10 rated Big Ten players in this post.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: the college basketball season officially tips off in 99 days. Credit the guys at SBNation.com for alerting us. As a way to celebrate, the site published a fun post Tuesday that offers 99 college hoops thoughts, facts and predictions for the 2012-13 season. And, of course, the Big Ten is represented. See a sampling of some of the best ones in this post.
If you don’t know the names yet, familiarize yourself with Yogi Ferrell, Gary Harris, Sam Dekker, Mitch McGary and Adam Woodburry before the college basketball season tips off. The way talent evaluators speak of these Big Ten incoming freshmen — among others in the deep and talented class — the future of the conference is in excellent hands.
Team USA finalized its 2012 men’s basketball roster Sunday, and the Big Ten will be represented in Illinois’ Deron Williams. Williams, who helped the “Redeem Team” win gold during the 2008 games, will team with 11 other NBA superstars in search of another gold medal, starting July 29. Fifteen Big Ten players have suited up for USA and won a gold medal, not counting coaches, but Williams could become the first to win two. Check out the Big Ten’s history in the Olympics in this post.
Longing for some basketball? The 2012 NBA Summer League tips off July 9-13 in Orlando, with eight teams represented, and continues July 13-22 in Las Vegas, with a record 24 teams in action. They’ll be no shortage of Big Ten products involved, including 2012 first-round picks Meyers Leonard and Jared Sullinger. See all the Big Ten products who will be in action in this post.
Wisconsin is going to its third consecutive Rose Bowl — at least, that’s what Phil Steele foresees. Steele has the Badgers, losers of the past two Rose Bowls, headed to Pasadena, Calif., to play Southern Cal in his updated 2012-13 bowl predictions. In all, Steele predicts nine Big Ten bowl teams. See all of his matchups in this post.
A year ago at this time, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and Baylor’s Perry Jones were projected high lottery picks in the 2012 NBA Draft. Injuries, however, saw the two stars drop to No. 21 and No. 28, respectively, in last week’s draft. Using that logic, LostLetttermen.com’s Anthony Olivieri brought up this interesting question in a recent column: could Cody Zeller, the No. 1 pick in several 2013 mock drafts, regret coming back for his sophomore season?
We’re getting closer and closer to the release of the Northwestern football team’s new uniforms. On Monday, Northwestern athletics posted a fascinating video on its YouTube page (NUAthletics) that explains what inspired the designers as they created the school’s new look across all 19 sports. Watch the video in this post.