Latest Tom Dienhart News

Dienhart: Illinois hires Ohio's John Groce

What has been anticipated for a few days became reality Thursday as Illinois named Ohio’s John Groce as its men’s basketball coach. Will it be a good hire? A bad hire? Who knows? It’s absurd to draw a conclusion on something like that on the day of an introductory press conference. But a few things are without dispute.

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Football Fix: Talking Michigan Football

As far as debuts go, Brady Hoke’s was a hit at Michigan. Hoke sauntered into Ann Arbor and ripped off a stunning 11-2 mark, finishing second in the Legends Division and capping the remarkable season with a triumph over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. It almost made memories of the mercurial three-season Rich Rodriguez tenure vanish. Almost. Now, the question begs: What will Hoke do for an encore? I talked to three top writers who cover Big Blue to gather their thoughts on Michigan’s to-do list this spring.

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Roundtable: Talking Penn State Football

For the first time since 1965, Penn State will have a new coach prowling the sideline. Joe Paterno was forced out amid scandal late in the 2011 season—and subsequently died. In steps Bill O’Brien, a first-time head coach who comes freshly minted from the New England Patriots, where he served as offensive coordinator for arguably the NFL’s top franchise.

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See Wednesday's best B1G spring football links

Big doing today, as the Danny O’Brien sweepstakes have ended with the Maryland quarterback picking Wisconsin. This is two years in a row the Badgers will welcome an ACC QB transfer. Russell Wilson from N.C. State worked out pretty good. If O’Brien is anywhere close to Wilson, 2012 will be a fun year in Madison. Fire up the grill and open the brats! Find more on that and other happenings in this post.

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Gophers outlast Huskies, advance to NIT title game

(AP) Freshman guard Andre Hollins scored 20 points, including five in overtime, and short-handed Minnesota beat Washington 68-67 on Tuesday night to advance to the NIT title game. With the shot clock winding down and the Golden Gophers clinging to a one-point lead in the final minute, Hollins banked in an off-balance shot to put Minnesota up 68-65. The sixth-seeded Golden Gophers (23-14) will face No. 3 seed Stanford in Thursday’s title game at Madison Square Garden. The Cardinal beat Massachusetts in the first semifinal. Read the full AP recap, see the box score and interactive NIT bracket and get Tom Dienhart’s analysis in this post.

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Football Fix: Kirk Ferentz Q&A

Who is the longest-tenured coach at his Big Ten school? It’s Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, who is entering his 14th season in Iowa City. And as he embarks on another spring practice, he faces a unique set of challenges he never before has encountered. Chief among the challenges is developing chemistry on a coaching staff that long has been a beacon of stability but has been shaken up like never before on Ferentz’s watch. On top of the staff overhaul, Ferentz also has some key personnel issues to deal with this spring. I caught up with the Iowa coach this week to discuss those issues—and others.

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Football Fix: Penn State opens practice & much more

Big week in Big Ten football, as the last three schools begin spring practice this week. Penn State kicks off today; Michigan State on Tuesday; Ohio State on Wednesday. If you can believe it, the first spring games will begin on April 14. Clean up your Weber Smokey Joes and mark your calendars.

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Roundtable: Talking Ohio State Football

The Urban Meyer era has dawned at Ohio State. And with it comes big dreams—national championship dreams. Why not? Meyer led Florida to BCS titles in 2006 and 2008. Yes, Ohio State is ineligible for the Big Ten title and a bowl this season as it serves probation incurred under Jim Tressel. But Meyer still wants to lay the foundation for future greatness for a team that went 6-7 last season, the program’s first losing season since going 4-6-1 under John Cooper in 1988 and the school’s first seven-loss season since 1897.

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NOLA Bound! Buckeyes advance to Final Four

(AP) Jared Sullinger recovered from first-half foul trouble to score 19 points and grab seven rebounds, helping Ohio State beat Syracuse 77-70 on Saturday to advance to the Final Four. It will be the Buckeyes’ first trip to the NCAA semifinals since 2007. Deshaun Thomas scored 14 with nine rebounds for Ohio State (31-7), which led by eight points with 59 seconds to play and held on after the Orange cut it to three. The Buckeyes made 13 of 14 free throws in the final 68 seconds. Read the full AP recap, see the box score and get Tom Dienhart’s analysis in this post.

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Dienhart: Huskers announce Miles as coach

Nebraska announced Colorado State’s Tim Miles as its new basketball coach Monday. Miles takes over for Doc Sadler, who went 101-89 in six seasons in Lincoln. He took the Cornhuskers to the NIT three times but never earned an NCAA bid. Nebraska went 12-16 overall and 4-13 in the Big Ten this season, finishing last in its first season in the conference.

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Roundtable: Talking Huskers Football

I pulled together a virtual roundtable of three prominent writers who cover Nebraska to get their thoughts on the program as it works through spring drills and into 2012. Here are their thoughts, and I’ll do more of these as spring ball continues and I file my Football Fix posts.

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Football Fix: Tracking Spring Gridiron News

Who’s battling for the the left tackle spot at Iowa? How has Michigan’s Denard Robinson improved since last season? Can Purdue’s Ralph Bolden hold up? I found some great stuff from the beat writers in the Big Ten today, so come have a look. I’ll continue to track updates from around the Big Ten during this spring football season in my Football Fix posts.

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Buckeyes ride Thomas, Sullinger into Elite Eight

Three Big Ten teams entered Thursday night with hopes of staying alive in the NCAA Tournament but only one of them survived as Ohio State moved on to the Elite Eight while Michigan State and Wisconsin head home.We’ve got full box scores for all three games on our scoreboard page, and I’ll get ready for Friday night’s game between Indiana and Kentucky, too.

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Reader Mail: NCAA Tourney, Illini Search & More

You have questions, I have answers in my weekly mailbag. There is a lot going on, with the NCAA tourney at the Sweet 16 stage and spring football in full swing across Big Ten territory. Which of the four Big Ten teams has the best shot to reach the Final Four? What will Wisconsin do at quarterback? I address those questions—and more—in this week’s mailbag.

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NIT: Gophers top MTSU, off to Big Apple

(AP) Rodney Williams and Andre Hollins each scored 24 points to help Minnesota advance to the semifinals of the NIT with a 78-72 win over Middle Tennessee on Wednesday night. Elliott Eliason added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Hollins also had six rebounds and four assists. Marcos Knight led Middle Tennessee (27-7) with 19 points and nine rebounds. Minnesota (22-14) will face Pac-12 regular-season champion Washington at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (NIT bracket). It will mark the Gophers’ first appearance in the NIT semis since 2003. Read the full AP recap, see the box score and get Tom Dienhart’s analysis in this post.

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