The sparkly BTN tour bus chugs away from our glistening headquarters on 600 West Chicago Ave., on Monday, as a near-three-week journey that will span from Lincoln, Neb., to New Brunswick, N.J., begins. I can’t wait to see driver Kevin, drink Red Bull, shop for mesh hats at remote truck stops and see if Gerry DiNardo is still the last human on the planet who carries a handkerchief. The mission: Watch all 14 Big Ten teams practice to get a peek at each school before the 2014 season starts. The first stop: Indiana. Our show BTN Live is announcing each
There’s Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford and Minnesota’s David Cobb. Do you want me to go on? OK. There’s also Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, Iowa’s Mark Weisman, Northwestern’s Venric Mark, Illinois’ Josh Ferguson, Rutgers’ Paul James and Penn State’s Zach Zwinak. Get the picture? The Big Ten has an embarrassment of riches in the backfield, a loaded contingent of running backs that is perhaps the best collection in the nation. Read more of Tom Dienhart’s latest posts: “The Big Ten always has had good backs and a physical running game,” said Purdue defensive end Ryan Russell.
The Big Ten East is a beast. Or at least that’s the perception. The moment the conference announced it was altering divisions, jettisoning the “Legends” and “Leaders” monikers and a competitive balance structure in favor of geographical names and alignment, the feeling has been that the East is the stronger of the two divisions. It’s easy to see why that opinion has been formed. The East features four traditionally heavyweight programs in Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. History tells us those four programs are among the best in the Big Ten—and nation. Yes, all four aren’t hitting
It’s no secret that the Big Ten lost a lot of talented receivers. Just how much, you ask? All seven of last year’s receiving yards leaders are gone, to be exact, and only two (Devin Funchess and Christian Jones) of the top 10 return. Who will lead the Big Ten this year? See Tom Dienhart, Sean Merriman and Brent Yarina’s picks. RECEIVING YARDS 2013 leader: Allen Robinson, Penn State – 1,432 2014 returning leader: Devin Funchess, Michigan – 748 Tom Dienhart: Christian Jones, Northwestern. With Kain Colter gone, the NU offense figures to lean toward the aerial game. And Christian
At 9 p.m. ET tonight, BTN/BTN2Go airs the premiere of The Opening Kickoff: The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation. The show’s title comes from a new book written by BTN lead studio host Dave Revsine, who spent the majority of his free time over the last four years poring through microfilm and university archives and conducting original research on football’s early days to put the issues the sport faces today in context. Revsine will be joined in studio by Yahoo.com sportswriter Pat Forde, BTN analyst and former Ohio State quarterback Stanley Jackson, author John Bacon and college football historian
How often do some of the best players from all 14 Big Ten teams gather under one roof? Once a year, at the annual Big Ten media days. To take advantage of the opportunity, we conducted a Big Ten poll that asked one player from every team the same five questions. Who’s the preseason Big Ten favorite? What’s the toughest road venue? See all the results in this post. Editor’s note: Player responses were anonymous, and they could not use their teammates/stadium/coach/uniform in answers. [ MORE: Get all of our Big Ten media day coverage ] PRESEASON BIG TEN FAVORITE?
Another Big Ten media days is in the books, and that means it’s time to take an early look at the new designs Big Ten football teams will wear in 2014. As of right now, other than Illinois, it doesn’t look like there will be a lot of new looks. But that can change in-season, because teams like to keep these things under wraps and Adidas, Nike and Under Armour can always decide to add a new wrinkle. See some of the new designs in this post. [ MORE: Get all of our Big Ten media day coverage ] ILLINOIS
Big Ten Media Days came to a close Tuesday, as the second and final day of the event was filled with plenty of juicy material. Players and coaches filled the Downtown Chicago Hilton Hotel while fielding questions from media members in a roundtable format. In order to not repeat some of the often-asked questions throughout Media Day, I made it a point to go around and ask players some out-of-the-norm questions, and I certainly got my fair share of great answers. Here is a look at some of my questions and how current Big Ten players responded to them. [
Big Ten media days are a chance for reporters to get together and ask some out-of-the-ordinary questions to players and coaches around the conference. One of the questions I asked Monday and Tuesday: Who is one freshman that is standing out at each school? I asked one veteran player from every Big Ten team, and here are the answers I got. [ MORE: Get all of our Big Ten media day coverage ] Jon Davis, TE, Illinois. On offense, I’d say Mikey Dudek. I’d look for him to be in a lot of different positions, special teams as well. He
Nebraska Huskers running back Ameer Abdullah gave this year’s student-athlete speech at the 2014 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago. “If someone is stronger than you, train harder,” Abdullah said.”If someone is faster than you, then you have to run smarter.” Watch the entire speech here and be sure to catch our “Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon Show” at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday on BTN & BTN2Go. In 2013, Abdullah produced his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season, topping 100 yards rushing in 11 of 13 games. He finished with 1,690 rushing yards, the highest yardage total for a Husker since