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Mailbag: Travel allowances, B1G on upswing & more

Here is how it works, America: You have questions … you email them to me … I answer them. Well, I answer the good ones! Here’s another batch from you. Thanks for reading. And keep writing and pressing the “send” button. Oh, and don’t forget to bookmark my diary for updates from every stop on the BTN football tour. Get Tom’s latest football tour coverage: Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio brought this up, but do you think leagues or perhaps the NCAA are at least thinking about supplementing or helping families travel to league championship games and/or bowls? With the

Top 10 2014 Big Ten nonconference foes

This year’s non-conference schedule for Big Ten teams is one of the best in recent memory. College football royalty fills the must-see slate with teams such as Oregon, LSU, Miami (FL) and Notre Dame scheduled to take on the Big Ten’s best. Here is a countdown of the top 10 non-conference teams on Big Ten schedules this season. 10. Cincinnati (at Ohio State, Sept. 27) Coaches Poll ranking: Unranked (honorable mention) 2013 record: 9-4 (6-2) Returning starters: 16 Breakdown: There are big expectations surrounding this Cincinnati program in Tommy Tubberville’s second year at the helm. The Bearcats return an abundance

Five Big Ten programs listed on top 25 jobs list

FoxSports.com posted its top 25 jobs in college football Monday, and a handful of Big Ten teams made the list. Ohio State paced the Big Ten, at No. 6, behind Florida, Texas, Georgia, USC and Alabama. Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and Nebraska also made the cut. See where all the Big Ten teams land in this post. No. 6 Ohio State No. 11 Michigan No. 14 Penn State No. 19 Wisconsin No. 23 Nebraska If five Big Ten schools are to be listed in such a ranking, these are the five one would expect, and probably in a similar order

Steve Spurrier makes jab at Big Ten's depth

From the can’t-the-season-just-start-already file, Steve Spurrier made headlines Sunday by making a jab at the Big Ten. Spurrier, in reference to Nick Saban’s idea for the “Power Five” conferences to only play one another, knocked the Big Ten’s depth. See the quote in this post. Check out our other Gone Viral posts: Spurrier on scheduling, "playing East Carolina is probably tougher than playing one of those bottom tier Big Ten Teams," — William Gunter (@WillGunter560) August 3, 2014 Really, I’m not so sure this is so much a knock on the Big Ten as it is a compliment to East

19 Big Ten players land on ESPN's CFB Top 100

ESPN.com recently finalized a list of the top 100 players in college football this season. A total of 19 Big Ten standouts appear on the list, led by Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun, who comes in at No. 4. Here is a look at where all 19 Big Ten players appear and a short blurb from ESPN on each player near the top of the list. Check out our stat leader predictions: 4. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State Ranking: 8.94/10 “An explosive pass-rusher and the anchor up front for another fearsome-looking group of MSU defenders, Calhoun wasted no time

Tour preview: What I'll watch, and where I'll eat

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

Purdue Pete rallies, wins Chicago Tribune mascot poll

As we posted Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune conducted a poll on the Big Ten’s best mascot. At the time, Herky and Brutus were well ahead of the competition and involved in a two-mascot race. Then, something crazy happened. Let’s just say, Purdue fans hijacked the poll, to the point that it went from last to the runaway winner, finishing with 5,422,716 votes (74 percent). Like mascots? Get our latest mascot coverage! Regardless of what happened (bot), the poll is proof Big Ten fans are as passionate as any fan base. Check out this stat: The typical Chicago Sports poll generates

Photo: Penn State's new scoreboards are big

Yesterday, Texas A&M made a lot of noise with its new facilities. Today, Penn State is getting plenty of attention for its mammoth new scoreboards at Beaver Stadium, part of a $10 million project. Check out our latest Gone Viral posts: pic.twitter.com/UKrTpCLGBC — Paul Curtis (@osceolashamrock) August 1, 2014 Both boards are showing the same thing. Quality related to challenges of shooting picture of video screen pic.twitter.com/oiGjNRPhJY — Ben Jones (@Ben_Jones88) August 1, 2014 [ MORE: See more pictures of the new scoreboards ] Yes, that scoreboard, must, in fact, be unrivaled. The boards also have a fancy 35-foot by

Big Ten has embarrassment of riches at RB

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.

Is Big Ten East the beast? Perhaps, but let's see

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