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BTN's Tom Dienhart

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart covers Big Ten football all year. Check out these links:

Big Ten Links | 1-on-1 | RSS | @BTNTomDienhart | Facebook | Tom's Mailbag

Photo: Randy Gregory shows off new Dallas Cowboys tattoo

In case you’re wondering, yes, former Nebraska star Randy Gregory is excited about playing for America’s Team. [ MORE: Big Ten draft picks pick NFL numbers ] Gregory, the 60th pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, recently tweeted photos of his new Dallas Cowboys-inspired ink. The ex-Nebraska star defensive end was expected to be an early first-round pick, before off-field issues saw him drop to the second round. Gregory tweeted that he will use the drop as motivation, and the Cowboys aren’t shying away from putting big expectations on the pass-rusher, giving him No. 94, the same number Hall of

Big Ten links: Ranking Big Ten coaches, Connor Cook hype & much more

In case you missed this, Athlon ranked Big Ten coaches. Who is No. 1? Do you have to ask? A hint: His initials are U.M. Mike Riley No. 7? Kirk Ferentz No. 8? *** The preseason honors will be thick for Michigan State QB Connor Cook. Here is a nice one to add to the pile: NFL.com lists him No. 1 in the nation among senior quarterbacks. The NFL.com article referenced Cook throwing for more than 6,000 yards with 46 touchdowns and 14 interceptions over the past two seasons. “He has the prerequisite size, athleticism, anticipation, toughness, and football intelligence

Big Ten stars take top three spots in ESPN's 2016 NFL Mock Draft

Now that the 2015 NFL Draft is in the books, fans can’t help but switch their attention to the way-too-early mock drafts for the following season. [ MORE: View McShay’s full 2016 mock draft ] Just last week, we put together a list of several publications that have already released their 2016 mock drafts. Now, other big-name publications are publishing their mock drafts, including ESPN. NFL Draft Analyst Todd McShay released his way-too-early 2016 first-round NFL mock draft today, which includes nine Big Ten stars. In fact, three Big Ten players land in the first three picks of the mock

Big Ten links: More bowl games, Hayden Fry honor & so much more

I about fell off my Barco lounger when I heard there will be three new bowls in 2015. That will bring the bowl total to 42. So, if any poor souls out there are keeping track, that means 84 of 128 FCS schools—a whopping 66 percent–will play in a bowl. This entire postseason situation crossed the “ridiculously insane” line years ago. I have an alternative. Let’s just let every FBS school schedule a 13th game—and only keep the College Football Playoff, OK? *** Old-time Iowa fans will like this story from Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette on how

Kiper Jr. lists Ryan, Bennett as potential late-round impact rookies

When it comes to the NFL Draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. knows his stuff. [ MORE: See all 20 of the Big Ten’s picks from Rounds 4 through 7 ] The well-known NFL Draft guru recently put together a list of possible early-impact performers from Rounds 4 through 7. Kiper Jr. lists former Big Ten defensive standouts Jake Ryan (Michigan) and Michael Bennett (Ohio State) on the list. Ryan was selected in the fourth round with the No. 129 pick by the Green Bay Packers. “I could see (Jake) Ryan challenging to move into one of the inside linebacker roles

Big Ten West: 3 offseason areas to watch for each team

Spring football ended across the Big Ten almost two weeks ago. The long offseason is here—but work remains. All 14 league teams enter the summer with some nagging questions. First up: The Big Ten West. ILLINOIS 1. Is the d-line better? Tim Beckman brought in Mike Phair from the NFL to coach the line and co-coordinate. He has been in the pros the last 13 years. This D needs help after ranking 94th, 105th and 107th in the nation in scoring in Beckman’s first three seasons. And it starts up front. 2. Can the offensive line get a push? This