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Unit Rankings: 2012 Big Ten special teams

It’s the third component of every team. It’s also the most overlooked component. It’s special teams. And it’s often the difference between winning and losing. So, pay attention to these rankings, from 1 to 12, of the Big Ten special teams. Oh, and don’t forget about all of my 2012 unit rankings. Don’t agree with the rankings? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box at the bottom of the post or tweet me: @BTNTomDienhart. 1. Ohio State – The Buckeyes are set at kicker with Drew Basil, who was one of the Big Ten’s best in 2011 after hitting

Live from Chicago: BTN Social Media Summit

CHICAGO — There was a time when the Chicago Blackhawks games weren’t broadcast locally and the team played in front of a sparsely filled United Center. The season was 2007-08. Four years and one Stanley Cup later, the Blackhawks are one of the hottest tickets in hockey. Much of the credit goes to social media, said Adam Kempenaar, director of new media and creative services for the Blackhawks, Wednesday at the BTN Social Media Summit. “It doesn’t hurt to try something we hadn’t done before,” Kempenaar said about using social media to build the Blackhawks brand. “Now, I don’t even

Debate it: 2012 Big Ten reception leader

Yesterday, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart and BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina hit email to debate the 2012 Big Ten receiving TDs leader, the seventh in our series of Big Ten statistical predictions. Up next: Receptions. Who will lead the Big Ten in 2012? See Tom and Brent’s email thread in this post and vote for your leader, too. RECEPTIONS 2011 leader: A.J. Jenkins, 90 Returning leaders: Jared Abbrederis, 55; Keenan Davis, 50; Antavian Edison, 44; Kain Colter, 43; Justin Brown, 35; Kofi Hughes, 35; Le’Veon Bell, 35. [2011 Big Ten receptions leaders] Brent: How many times can we say

Wednesday's links: Recruiting dollars & retired numbers

Wanna make your Wednesday even better? Get over the hump in your week by surfing to these 100 percent guaranteed links to awesomely good Big Ten football content. MONEY TO SPEND: Which Big Ten school had the fattest 2010-11 football recruiting budget? It’s Michigan, which spent $577,663, according to ESPN.com. Below is a breakdown of what each Big Ten school spent wooing talent. Northwestern and Penn State aren’t obligated to share financial information. Nebraska didn’t join the conference until this past season. The first number is for 2010-11. The second is for 2009-10. 1. Michigan $577,663 ($489,412) 2. Illinois $545,363

Debate it: 2012 Big Ten receiving TD leader

Yesterday, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart and BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina hit email to debate the 2012 Big Ten receiving yards leader, the sixth in our series of Big Ten statistical predictions. Next up: Receiving touchdowns. Who will lead the Big Ten in 2012? See Tom and Brent’s email thread in this post and vote for your leader. RECEIVING TDs 2011 leader: Marvin McNutt & B.J. Cunningham, 12 Returning leaders: Jared Abbrederis, 8; Jacob Pedersen 8; Jake Stoneburner, 7; Montee Ball, 6. [2011 Big Ten receiving TD leaders] Brent: One look at the Big Ten’s returning receiving TD leaders,

Tuesday's Links: Cowboy boot etiquette & more

All the Big Ten football news that is fit to link to is right here. Just page down and … presto! TALKING HEISMAN: In case you missed this, the great Mike Huguenin of Yahoo! Sports unveiled his top 10 Heisman candidates for 2012. No Big Ten surprises. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball is No. 2 and Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is No. 3 behind No. 1 candidate: USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Are there any other possible Heisman contenders from the Big Ten? I think Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell, Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead and Iowa’s James Vandenberg are dark horse candidates. My

Unit Rankings: 2012 Big Ten secondaries

Big Ten defensive backfields are loaded with talent, including cornerbacks like Michigan State’s Johnny Adams, Iowa’s Micah Hyde and Purdue’s Ricardo Allen, along with safeties like Ohio State’s C.J. Barnett, Michigan State’s Isaiah Lewis and Michigan’s Jordan Kovacs. And some of the units figure to rank among the best in the nation, including those at Ohio State, Michigan State and Nebraska. Here’s how I rank the 2012 Big Ten secondaries. And don’t forget about all of my 2012 unit rankings. 1. Ohio State – All four starters are back for what should be one of the best secondaries in the

Yahoo! Sports: Ball, Robinson near top of Heisman Race

We’re approaching the middle of June, so preseason Heisman Trophy candidates are being bandied about. Of course, right? One writer, Yahoo! Sports’ Mike Huguenin, has a pair of Big Ten stars ranked in the top 3 of his preseason top 10 list. Any guesses on the players? That’s right, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and Michigan’s Denard Robinson. Here’s where Huguenin ranks the two and what he has to say about them: 3. Denard Robinson “This will be the final go-round for one of the most exciting players to ever wear the maize-and-blue. Robinson has 8,160 yards of total offense and has

Debate it: 2012 Big Ten receiving yards leader

On Friday, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart and BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina hit email to debate the 2012 Big Ten rushing TDs leader, the fifth in our series of Big Ten statistical predictions. Next up: Receiving yards. Who will lead the Big Ten in 2012? See Tom and Brent’s email thread in this post. RECEIVING YARDS 2011 leader: Marvin McNutt, 1,315 yards Returning leaders: Jared Abbrederis, 933; Keenan Davis, 713; Antavian Edison, 584; Kofi Hughes, 536; Justin Brown, 517. [2011 Big Ten receiving yards leaders] Brent: As we all know, no position in the Big Ten experienced a bigger

Ready, set, click Monday's top B1G web links

Feeling blue? Perk up! I’ve linked to all of the best Big Ten football stories. See, life isn’t so bad. YEAR 1 IN THE BIG TEN: With one year in the Big Ten in the books, Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne looks back on an academic year that produced three women’s Big Ten titles and none in men’s sports. For the most part, I think the Cornhuskers’ first lap around the conference was good. The football team more than acquitted itself but has work to do—mostly, on defense. After playing those spread offenses in the Big 12, Nebraska needs to