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Dienhart: 'I'm all for this' players union

The move to unionized college athletes continues to gain momentum. A report from ESPN says that Northwestern football players are beginning the process of being recognized as employees by reaching out for help from the National College Players Association, which filed a petition in Chicago on behalf of football players at Northwestern by submitting a form at the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. [ MORE: Northwestern AD Jim Phillips releases statement ] At the center of the movement is Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, whose eligibility has expired. In fact, it was Colter who reached out to a

Dienhart: Top three recruiting needs for B1G teams

Happy Signing Day, Big Ten fans! The classes are filling up fast, with early reports showing Ohio State in line to ink the top collection of talent in the Big Ten. Here’s a look at the recruiting needs for each school, as we all cast an eye toward the future and get excited about the possibilities. [ MORE: Top recruiting bust for every B1G team over last 10 years ] ILLINOIS Tim Beckman’s third class is a critical one. The Fighting Illini have lost players like QB Nathan Scheelhaase, WR Ryan Lankford and LB Jonathan Brown, so work remains—especially on

BTN LiveBIG: Monday Download

Before the Super Bowl this weekend, be sure to read about the great work Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is doing in his community. Not a Seahawks fan? LiveBIG also profiled Judi’s House, founded by then-Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Griese, to help kids cope with loss. Literacy programs at the University of Minnesota recently received recognition from First Lady Michelle Obama. The University of Michigan received two grants, totaling $4.35 million, from the William Davidson Foundation to support university programs impacting economic activity in southeast Michigan. Read more about these initiatives here. The men’s lacrosse program at The Ohio State

B1G Clicks: Tracking today's Big Ten trends

Did you miss something while you stepped away from your computer? We’re tracking some of the best Big Ten social media happenings and posting them all right here. Check out today’s edition, including a photo of Penn State fans photobombing ESPN announcers at last nights Penn State-Nebraska men’s hoops game. Like what you see? We do this every weekday. Visit our Clicks archive. Here are Friday’s B1G Clicks: Penn State Basketball pic.twitter.com/aBDPPRIy6n — Dan (@sharpalright) January 24, 2014 Our take: Penn State fans get in on the “Free Bieber” madness. ESPN College Gameday before today's @MSU_Basketball practice. #GoGreenWearWhite @ESPNCBB @ESPN_ReceDavis

BCS flashbacks: Our top BCS-era teams by school

Last week, I presented my list of the Top 10 Big Ten teams from the BCS era. Many of your responded with, ahem, passion – you can always reach me here. So, let’s keep the ball rolling. Think about any of the 12 programs during those BCS seasons and consider which teams jump to the front of your mind. In some cases, it’s harder than one might think. Here are my picks for the top team from each Big Ten school during the BCS era, which ran from 1998-2013. Illinois, 2001. Ron Zook’s 2007 team that went 9-4, was led

Dienhart: My top 10 Big Ten running backs for 2014

Northwestern received great news Tuesday, as running back Venric Mark was granted a medical hardship for a fifth season of eligibility. Mark’s return bolsters what will be a strong collection of running backs in the Big Ten in 2014. Here’s my ranking of the conference’s Top 10 backs for next season. Before I get to my list, there’s more on Mark. The Wildcat speedster was limited to three games last fall while battling multiple injuries. He played for the last time on Oct. 12 at Wisconsin, leaving in the first quarter with a fractured ankle that sidelined him for the

Dienhart: Should college football dump the PAT?

It was interesting to watch to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talk about various issues recently on NFL Network. One idea he said the league is studying is dropping extra point kicks after touchdowns – just see the NFL Network video here. Would the college game ever consider dumping PATs? It may be worth considering and studying. How good are pros at making PATs? In 2013, NFL kickers hit 1,256 of 1,261 extra points, a cool 99.6 percent accuracy rate. That’s as close to automatic as you can get. The only play duller during a game is when the quarterback takes a

What if B1G's best BCS era teams played each other?

BTN senior writer Tom Dienhart put together an outstanding piece earlier today, highlighting the 10 best Big Ten football teams in the BCS era, which ran 16 seasons stretching from 1998-2013. [ MORE: One look back at Big Ten’s best BCS era teams ] With any list of this magnitude comes plenty of fan chatter, going back and fourth about which teams deserved to be higher and lower on this list. Of course, there’s no way to determine which team would win if these 10 squads got together and played in a tournament-style playoff. But we decided to do the

#BTNLive talks with MSU strength coach Ken Mannie

Michigan State’s football team has been known as one of the top conditioned teams in the nation during the Mark Dantonio-era, and the man responsible for that is Spartans strength and conditioning coach Ken Mannie. Mannie is in his 19th year in that position at Michigan State, while also overseeing the strength and conditioning programs for all men’s and women’s sports at MSU. Our #BTNLive crew caught up with Mannie on Thursday and asked him about the relationship between strength and conditioning coaches and the players, among other questions. “I think that’s one of the greatest parts of our profession,”

One look back at Big Ten's best BCS era teams

The BCS era is over, and to me that is a very good thing. The era ran 16 seasons stretching from 1998-2013. As a way to celebrate the end of the BCS and with an eye on the first college football playoff after next season, I present to you my 10 best Big Ten teams of the BCS era. Agree? Disagree? State your case in the comments section below or drop me a note for my mailbag. And if you want a sneak peek at 2014 preseason rankings, I wrote about one I found a little while ago, but it’s