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Michigan has a lot to like about next season’s team which is in pursuit of the school’s first Big Ten title since 2004, but one glaring issues is the lack of a pass rusher. Who will it be?
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What to do on a cold, wet May day? How about answering some reader mail. Lots of nice emails this week, including a bunch of good questions on the Big Ten Conference’s announcement to have new football divisions in 2014. Remember that you can always email me on this page, or find me on Twitter (@BTNTomDienhart). Keep those cards and letters coming, America! And be safe out there.
Penn State’s roster will be limited to 65 scholarship players — other schools are allowed 85 — for four years beginning in 2014. Here’s how Bill O’Brien plans to cope. “This is really a six-year sanction,” Bill O’Brien said during a caravan stop. “We have until 2014 to get down to 65 scholarships. We’re at 65 in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and we’re already at 65, probably, in August of 2013. So it’s not just a four-year sanction.”
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The Big Ten put a bow on spring practice last Saturday, but many questions still loom as the schools enter the offseason.
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April 28 was the deadline for underclassmen to enter the NBA Draft, so the draft pool is now set. The big day comes June 27, but before that comes the draft lottery on May 21.
If you are tired of the current lineup of Big Ten bowl games, fear not as change may be coming, according to Commissioner Jim Delany. The Big Ten will remain tethered to the Rose Bowl, Capital One and Outback Bowls. But, changes could ensue beyond that trio of games.
The 2013 NFL draft wasn’t kind to the Big Ten. Just 22 players were selected—the fewest since 1994. Just one pick came in the first round, as the selection of Wisconsin center Travis Frederick No. 31 overall by the Cowboys was considered to be a massive reach by anyone with Internet access and a mock draft. But, fear not: The 2014 NFL draft should be much more fruitful for the Big Ten. Check out this way, way, WAY early mock draft from SI.com.
Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck has the keys to one of the top offenses in the Big Ten—if not the country. He knows it.
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The Big Ten put a wrap on spring football last weekend, with Iowa and Minnesota playing the final spring games in the conference. Now, the long offseason begins. But, honestly, this is when players get better—not from September to December.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as league MVP last year as a sophomore. Now, he has improved and could be better than ever—and a legit Heisman contender. “If Braxton was a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10 when we got here, he finished (last) season around a four,” Buckeye offensive coordinator Tom Herman told Ozone.net. “By the end of spring ball he was around a six, but the cool thing with him is he could be about a 12.”
The announcement of the new divisions created a buzz across the Big Ten landscape. Leaders and Legends are gone. East and West are in. And a nine-game Big Ten schedule is coming in 2016. Here are 13 observations about the new arrangements.
It was a busy weekend in the Big Ten. A REALLY busy weekend, with the NFL Draft as well as the big announcement of a new divisional alignment and a nine-game schedule for the venerable Big Ten. So much to cover in daily links. Let’s start with a view on the conference’s new configuration from a few Big Ten ports-of-call.
Mandatory Credit: Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE
The Big Ten had just 22 players picked in the 2013 draft, but many others recently signed free-agent deals. And there are some good players. Here is an All-Undrafted Big Ten football team, with the team that each player signed with in brackets.
Iowa had a lot of work to do in spring drills coming off a 4-8 season that was the program’s worst since 2000. The offense, which struggled mightily last season and had just seven touchdown passes, may have turned a corner this spring under second-year coordinator Greg Davis. No doubt, the offense looked good in the spring game. The defense also may have found a playmaker up front.
It’s official: Adreian Payne is returning to Michigan State for his senior year, stamping the Spartans as the Big Ten favorite and top national title contender next season. Payne struggled with the decision, waiting until the final day (April 28) to render a choice. He was projected by many to be a first-round draft choice. Payne will return to a roster that welcomes back all of its key components, save for departed senior big man Derrick Nix.
The Big Ten had just seven players selected through the first three rounds of the NFL draft. The league almost equaled that total with five picks in the fourth round. And so it went on the final day of the draft, when rounds four through seven were conducted on what was a big day for the Big Ten with 15 picks. The headline pick was Michigan’s Denard Robinson, who went with the second pick of the fifth round (135th overall). Four other Big Ten players were selected before him today, but Robinson was the big name many had been waiting to hear.
Minnesota officially is pointed toward Year Three under Jerry Kill, putting a cap on spring drills with a game today. The team showed improvement from its first year under Kill to last season. The 2013 season could be the best yet, as it looks to pass better and make more big plays on offense, while tightening up the run defense.
The second and third rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft were more kind to the Big Ten than the first round when only Wisconsin center Travis Frederick was chosen No. 31 overall by the Dallas Cowboys. On Friday night, six Big Ten players were picked – and there are plenty of good players left for Saturday’s final day of the draft.
David Banks-US PRESSWIRE
There is still so much to talk about, with spring football winding down and the NFL draft in full swing. Can Illinois win? What’s up with expansion? What’s the deal with football ticket prices? Time for me to reach into my mailbag.
Two years into the Jerry Kill era, and progress at Minnesota is tangible. The Golden Gophers went from 3-9 in 2011 to 6-7, earning a bowl bid. The next step: move out of the basement of the Legends Division and win a postseason game for the first time since 2004. Year Three has been a charm for Kill at his last two stops, going 10-3 at Northern Illinois and 10-2 at Southern Illinois. To continue that trend in Dinkytown, big keys will be developing some big-play ability on offense and tightening the defense vs. the run. And the special teams need lots of improvement. This is an underrated coaching staff that’s capable of doing it all.
Apparently, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner and wideout Jeremy Gallon have some good chemistry and mojo. Check out this video posted by Gardner on his Twitter account of him hitting Gallon with a pass—with his eyes closed.
Pretty neat deal here: A U.S. Senator honored Jack Hoffman with a resolution that was adopted by unanimous consent that notes pediatric brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among children. Of course, little Jack gained fame for his brilliant 69-yard touchdown run in the Nebraska spring game earlier this month.
There is a sense of urgency in Iowa City, as the Hawkeyes look to rebound from the school’s worst season since 2000. There has been plenty of work to do on both sides of the ball, but the offense has the most heavy lifting. Except for running back and line, Iowa has questions on offense. The defense? A search for playmakers up front is on. That has made this an interesting spring for the Hawkeyes, as Kirk Ferentz begins his 15th season on campus.
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