With Camp Rantoul at Illinois in our rear-view mirror, the BTN cruiser chugs west toward Iowa City, Iowa, for Hawkeye camp. See what Tom Dienhart will be watching in Iowa City.
The BTN bus just rolled out of Rantoul, Illinois, and now it’s time to share some fun nuggets I gathered from Illinois’ first fall practice. [ MORE: 5 things Tom Dienhart learned | See our Illinois practice tweets ] Senior RB Josh Ferguson told me after practice that he may split out wide more often as the offense deals with the absence of sophomore WR Mikey Dudek, who is likely out at least until midseason recovering from a knee injury suffered in the spring after a boffo debut in 2014. Tim Beckman told me he’s encouraged by Dudek’s recovery; he
The first stop on our annual summer trek across the Big Ten had us in Rantoul, Illinois, to watch the Illini practice Monday. [ MORE: View our tour schedule | See our team’s Illinois practice tweets ] Before we turn our attention to Iowa, which we will watch practice Tuesday morning, here are five things I learned at Illinois practice: 1. This finally looks like a Big Ten team. I couldn’t say that the other three times I visited Illinois for training camp on the BTN tour. But Tim Beckman’s squad has improved its size across the board. And depth
The 2015 BTN bus tour is officially underway. We will trek to all 14 schools to watch a practice and talk to coaches and players, getting one last time to “kick the tires” on each team before the season kicks off. The tour heads West first. And stop No. 1 is Illinois, which will be working out off campus in nearby Rantoul, Illinois, where the Fighting Illini will practice 14 times on the former Chanute Air Force Base. The squad lovingly refers to it as “Camp Rantoul.” Here are three things I’ll be looking for as I watch Tim Beckman’s
Wednesday, I took a look at the best hires in the last 40 years at schools in the Big Ten West. Today, I do the same for the Big Ten East. INDIANA Bill Mallory. The farther we get from his tenure, the greater it looks. Mallory had all the flash of a pair of wing tips, a do-the-right-thing throw-back coach who forged the Hoosiers into a strong program built around a physical offense and honest-to-goodness defense. He went 68-77-3 (39-65-1 in the Big Ten) from 1984-1996 with six bowls after arriving from Northern Illinois to replace Sam Wyche—who was in
This is an interesting piece from Yahoo! on the AAC, which hopes to one day join arms with the Power Five conferences. Good luck with that. Even UCF coach George O’Leary has his doubts. “We can do that (pay cost of attendance) for a couple of years,” UCF coach George O’Leary said. ”We obviously can’t sustain. When you are not getting a $35 million check, it’s hard to have that cost of attendance and keep up with everything.” *** Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio visited ESPN yesterday for a “car wash.” And, time and again, he was peppered with questions
Where’s Jim Harbaugh? Did you see him? Did you hear what he said? And so it went at Big Ten media days last week. Everyone with a pen and notebook was on the lookout for the new Michigan coach. Heck, we tracked the guy’s day! Harbaugh didn’t disappoint in Chicago. He charmed. He transfixed. He mesmerized. The kooky Harbaugh had them eating out of his hand—just as he had since being hired in late December. Harbaugh’s arrival offers hope for a Wolverines program looking to regain its national rep. How bad has it been? Michigan hasn’t won the Big Ten
It can be a prickly subject: Should prospects who have verbally committed be allowed to take visits elsewhere? All coaches have their own policy. Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com has an in-depth look at the subject and how Big Ten programs handle the situation. Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio recently pulled an offer from a kid who was committed but still visited OSU. I mean, if a kid has verbally committed to you, why should he keep taking visits? *** The great Pat Forde of Yahoo! is out with his “Most Intriguing” lists of 2015. Up first: The 25 most intriguing coaches.
Woody and Bo. Bo and Woody. The names conjure images of dominance hearkening to the epic “10-Year War,” from 1969-78, during which Bo Schembechler’s Michigan teams and Woody Hayes’ Ohio State squads so dominated the Big Ten that the conference became known as the “Big Two and Little Eight.” Purdue? Indiana? Michigan State? Illinois? Minnesota? All the others? Hapless punching bags to the goliaths that were the Wolverines and Buckeyes, who routinely were ranked in the top five in the country while churning out myriad stars. Now, Ohio State and Michigan look primed to declare war again on the rest
If there is one Purdue player who needs to have a big season, it is wideout Danny Anthrop. He’s the one proven playmaker for an offense in desperate need of playmakers. Anthrop is coming off a knee injury that ended his 2014 season early. For what it’s worth, the wideoout professed his health to me in Chicago. He could have a very big season. *** Tom Shatel of Omaha.com likes the Big Ten’s scheduling concepts that eschewing playing FCS foes. This will make the Big Ten more attractive to TV networks with fewer mismatches—and it no doubt will strengthen all