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.
Hope springs eternal at Purdue, as it searched for myriad answers coming off a 1-11 season that arguably was the worst in school history. Offense? Defense? You name it, it needs to be addressed in West Lafayette.
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The Big Ten released its ABC/ESPN schedule of night games. And—big shock—Ohio State led the way with three prime-time slots. Nebraska and Penn State each have two. Michigan and Michigan State have one, while Iowa and Wisconsin have none. Weird how Iowa hasn’t had one since 2009.
Slowly but surely, Kevin Wilson is building at Indiana. It has been a slow, steady process. He has gone from one win, to four to five last year, inching the Hoosiers closer to their first bowl since 2007. That breakthrough finally may come to fruition in 2014 – if a new 3-4 defensive scheme offers a modicum of improvement to what has been a woebegone unit.
Few programs in the Big Ten can match the feel-good vibe that’s circulating in the Twin Cities. This is a Minnesota program that’s ascending and looks to have a legit shot to perhaps win the new Big Ten West. Jerry Kill continues to put his stamp on this team, a squad that plays smart and is stocked with personnel that fits what Kill wants to do on both sides of the ball.
Michigan sophomores Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III both declared for the NBA draft at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Fellow sophomore Mitch McGary is still weighing his future plans.
If you watched closely, you could see the improvement in Illinois this spring. Good thing, because Tim Beckman needs to pad his win total as he embarks on this third season in Champaign. He is 6-18 overall and 1-15 in the Big Ten. And that one league win came vs. arguably the worst Purdue team in that school’s history. But, I digress. All eyes in Champaign this spring were on the quarterback derby and defense.
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With all of the tackling, running, hitting and passing that went on across the Big Ten during spring football games last Saturday, the top story was about Bo Pelini carrying a cat onto the field. And so it went during a Nebraska spring game that often times was more carnival than game.
Badgers quarterback Joel Stave missed the Wisconsin spring game with injury. And Tanner McEvoy took advantage by excelling. It has been a weird career for McEvoy, who arrived from a JC as a quarterback, moved to safety and is now back at quarterback.
Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen inherited some good talent from Bret Bielema, riding that skill to a nine-win season in 2013 that would have culminated with a BCS bowl if not for that Senior Day loss to Penn State. But now, Andersen faces some big voids—especially on defense. That side of the ball was a major emphasis for the Badgers this spring. And, the unit showed some spark during last Saturday’s spring game.
The Penn State spring game ushered in the James Franklin era amid much excitement and energy in front of over 72,000 fans, the most for any spring game this year. It couldn’t be any other way with a coach like the enthusiastic Franklin. The Blue squad took a resounding 37-0 win over the White squad.
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As far as dress rehearsals go, this one was a success … I guess. The final score said Gray 17, Scarlet 7. Not sure what it really means. But, it doesn’t really matter now, does it?
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Basketball season is over and spring football is reaching its peak. What’s it all mean? My email inbox is filling up. Let’s answer some of your questions. Remember that there are eight Big Ten schools conducting spring games Saturday and all eight will be available live via BTN2Go. The teams in action: Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana.
There will be a lot to watch at the Ohio State spring game this Saturday. How will the defense look? Is the offensive line coming together? Any good running backs with Carlos Hyde gone?
Freshmen often are expected to contribute the moment they hit campus. Look at what guys like Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr., and Indiana’s Noah Vonleh—among others–meant to their teams last season.