BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart offers his Northwestern offseason check list.
Jim Harbaugh enjoyed a smashing debut in 2015, posting 10 wins. And, his second Michigan squad has a good chance for success thanks to plenty of returning talent and another year of familiarity with the system. [ MORE: Get Tom Dienhart’s Michigan offseason to-do list ] Check this out: Michigan opens with five—yes, FIVE—home games. In fact, the Wolverines play six of their first seven in the Big House. The back half of the schedule is a challenge. But, by then, Michigan could be filled with confidence behind its new quarterback. Here is a breakdown of the 2016 schedule. Toughest
A commissioner for college football? It makes too much sense. Tony Barnhart has been beating this drum for years. The sport needs to have everyone pulling in the same direction instead of each league just looking out for what’s best for its own interest. United we stand, divided we fall, right? Look what lack of unity is doing to the Big 12. *** Outgoing Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman had an interesting exit interview. Among the revelations: former AD Steve Pederson had a “wow” coach from the NFL lined up but was left at the altar. Perlman told Omaha.com it was
Maryland is looking to get back on the bowl track under first-year coach DJ Durkin. But, a tough schedule could make that goal difficult for a team that has installed new schemes on both sides of the ball with some key personnel spots to fill. Here’s a breakdown of the Terrapins’ 2016 schedule. Toughest non-conference game: at Central Florida, Sept. 17. Absolutely no bite. In fact, this is one of the most bizarre non-league schedules in the Big Ten, as the Terps play road games at Florida International and Central Florida—non-Power Five schools–after opening at home with FCS Howard. The
Mike Riley’s debut didn’t go smoothly, but hope floats as the program looks to continue evolving in Riley’s second year in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 2015, it seemed each week, the Cornhuskers found a vexing way to lose a game. But the squad finished strong with a bowl win vs. UCLA in an otherwise trying 6-7 season that was punctuated by myriad tough losses. The Huskers welcome back lots of talent on both sides of the ball, giving the staff a nice nucleus to work with. But some areas need to develop. Here is Nebraska to-do list for the offseason. 1.
Look at this: Tony Mandarich has complimented and advised Jack Conklin. I guess this is a good thing. I found this very difficult to believe: Conklin became the first MSU offensive lineman selected in the first round since Mandarich was the No. 2 overall pick in 1989. “He’s a great player,” said Mandarich. “Just look at what he did at MSU. He’s a top-tier, top 10 player in the country, and that says a lot. “The only reason I paid attention to the draft this year was because of Conklin.” *** Great read from Omaha.com’s Tom Shatel, who received some
What can Iowa do for an encore to last year’s stunning success? The Hawkeyes raced to a school-record 12-0 start before losing their final two games of the season in falling in the Big Ten title tilt and the Rose Bowl. It will be difficult to top that this fall, but the schedule is built for success a season after having another favorable schedule. Here is a breakdown of Iowa’s 2016 schedule. Toughest non-conference game: vs. North Dakota State, Sept. 17. The battle for the Cy-Hawk trophy always is a humdinger. The proof: Kirk Ferentz is just 8-9 vs. the
The Tracy Claeys era has begun. And, change is brewing … it has been for several months. The program is on solid footing, having been to a bowl each of the last four seasons. But the staff has been altered with a new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and offensive line coach on board. There is momentum coming off a bowl win that capped a disappointing 6-7 season, but this shapes up as an interesting and critical season for the program under Claey’s stewardship. While the offense—which ranked No. 13 in the Big Ten in scoring (22.5 ppg), 11th in rushing (144.1
Is Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner a first-round pick? “Leidner shows some upside as a passer, but I’ll be looking to see if he can improve his accuracy (59.5 completion rate and 14/11 TD/INT ratio in 2015),” ESPN Todd McShay writes in an early look at the 2017 draft, tabbing Leidner the 25th pick in the draft. “Listed at 6-foot-4 and 237 pounds, Leidner has ideal size and has shown the ability to make plays with his legs off designed runs and scrambles. He’s a late riser to keep an eye on, similar to Blake Bortles and Carson Wentz.” I still
Michigan State is the defending Big Ten champ, coming off the program’s first College Football Playoff appearance. The 2015 season marked the fifth time in the last six years that MSU won double-digit games. And the program has played in major bowls each of the last three seasons. No doubt, a strong foundation has been laid as Mark Dantonio enters his 10th season in East Lansing. But there is significant work to do before the season kicks off with a visit from Furman. Here is my look at Michigan State’s to-do list. 1. Pick a QB. Mark Dantonio hasn’t named