Iowa is coming off a nice rebound season in 2013, forging an 8-5 mark (5-3 Big Ten) a year after going 4-8 (2-6). Now, expectations are high in Iowa City for a Hawkeyes program that brings back lots of talent and could win the inaugural Big Ten West as Kirk Ferentz begins his 16th season.
Rutgers is ready to turn the page on a 2013 season that began with the promise of a 4-1 start but melted into a 6-7 finish. The program seemingly has been energized by its maiden Big Ten voyage. Great possibilities loom—as do challenges. Is this roster up to the challenge? Kyle Flood has some talent to work with.
The Spartans put a bow on spring drills on Saturday. And, this team looks good. Yes, it has some areas to shore up, like defensive tackle and the offensive lines. Still, there is a lot to like. So much so that there is … national championship talk? Yes, your ears aren’t deceiving you.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Those were real, live hits on quarterbacks in today’s Michigan State spring game. What else would you expect from a Spartans program renowned for its toughness?
Mitch McGary turning pro puts another big chink in Michigan’s hopes for next season. The Wolverines already have seen Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III turn pro, two of their top players from last season’s Big Ten championship squad that advanced to the Elite Eight. The team also saw Jordan Morgan graduate and Jon Horford opt to transfer out for his last season.
The Big Ten will conduct its final three spring games this weekend, with Iowa, Michigan State and Rutgers putting a bow on things. Here’s a look at what to watch for on Saturday as the Big Ten heads into the offseason with its eyes on 2014.
It’s that time of the week, time to reach into my mailbag. It seems the grades I handed out for each basketball team created a bit of a stir. See all of my answers to your latest queries, and keep those cards and letters coming.
When I first saw reports of a private plan for a Joe Paterno statue in downtown State College, Pa., I instantly thought of the cult of personality. Make no mistake about it: The power of Penn State’s former football coach remains large, engulfing a school, a city, a state and a region, if not the entire country. That’s what happens when you’re head coach of a program for 45 years and win more than 400 games along with two national championships.
Talent evaluation is a dicey proposition. Even with all of the resources that NFL teams have to learn about college players—the NFL Combine, interviews, on-campus workouts, an army of scouts, reels of video—teams still can mess up a pick or stumble into a pleasant surprise.
Northwestern’s union vote will take place on Friday. Hard to really tell what will happen, but results of the vote may not be known for months as the NLRB hears the school’s appeal of it the players are employees. In the meantime, NU is taking no chances, as it has put on a full-court “no union” campaign.
To unionize or not to unionize. That’s what Northwestern players will vote on Friday in what could be a watershed event in the annals of college sports.
Is there a more hip and social media savvy coach than Penn State’s James Franklin? Nope. Oh, but there are pros and cons. He discusses it here. Franklin’s embrace of social media is a stark contrast to Bill O’Brien, who abhorred it. In fact, as legend goes, O’Brien called Facebook “Spacebook.” So, there you go. It’s gonna be a blast to see where Franklin can take this Penn State program.
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The dust has settled on another basketball season. And, it was a good one for the Big Ten, as three schools advanced to the Elite Eight (Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State) and one made it to the Final Four (Wisconsin). Another won the NIT (Minnesota).
On Thursday, the NCAA Board of Directors is expected to OK a new model of how its organization is run. Bottom line: major changes appear to be coming, as it appears the NCAA is trying to get a lot of this done to thwart multiple lawsuits vs. the Indianapolis institution and also to unplug the union movement.
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The Big Ten announced a six-game prime-time schedule for BTN/BTN2Go that is highlighted by a mid-November telecast and two appearances by Nebraska and Rutgers. Rutgers is the only Big Ten team that will play host to two BTN night tilts, kicking things off with a visit from East rival Penn State on Sept. 13 in the Scarlet Knights’ first Big Ten game. Rutgers also will welcome Michigan on Oct. 4.
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We are inching closer to the NFL draft. And the Big Ten can only hope the 2014 draft is more fruitful than the 2013 draft. The Big Ten had just one first-round pick in 2013—and it didn’t come until No. 31 overall, when the Cowboys tabbed Wisconsin center Travis Frederick.
Hey, I’ll be one of the first to admit it: I like Iowa’s chances this coming season. The Hawkeyes have enough to win the new Big Ten West, with Nebraska and Minnesota looking like the top competition. But Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register thinks fans should be concerned because guys like me like the Hawkeyes.
The Big Ten has put a bow on the basketball season, while spring football is about to wrap up. Lots going on. Keep those cards and letters coming. Now, let me get to some of your queries. This week, I was asked about the Penn State quarterback situation and losses on the Ohio State offense. One reader asked if Nebraska could win the Big Ten this fall and my answer may surprise you.
The Big Ten has suffered some big attrition when it comes to players leaving early for the NBA Draft as Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross, Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Michigan State’s Gary Harris and Michigan’s Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III all declared. Michigan’s Mitch McGary still is weighing his options. If he bolts, it will leave another gap to fill.
Nice piece by Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com on how the Big Ten is excelling at developing NBA players. It’s also nice that most are guys who stayed at least two years. Lesmerises says it’s those guys in the middle – good enough to go early but not sprinting out the door from day one – who have elevated the play in the Big Ten.
The speculation machine is in overdrive with chatter that Minnesota coach Richard Pitino is a target to fill the recently opened Tennessee job. Nebraska’s Tim Miles also has been mentioned. Bottom line: Neither is likely to leave their current posts. As Amelia Rayno from the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague said on the Dan Barreiro show on KFAN that Pitino is not interested in the job.
Can’t get enough college player union talk? Good. Here’s more: David Jones of Pennlive.com talked to a law professor about Northwestern’s fight to unionize. Long story short: expect a long battle. Jones writes that “many hoops remain through which the process must jump before we see college athletic unions at even the private institutional level, let alone for public universities such as Penn State. Even if NU players vote to unionize, there certainly will be appeals.”
Maryland is prepping, it’s getting ready for its maiden Big Ten voyage. The ride begins this fall. Randy Edsall is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that come with the new venture. And Edsall will bring what looks like his best Maryland team yet, as he enters his fourth season in College Park, Md.
It’s official: A.J. Hammons will return to Purdue for his junior season. Let the celebration along State Street begin.