You have questions, I have answers in this week’s mailbag. Many of you are still in football mode, wondering about the recently completed bowl season—while also wanting to sneak a peek toward 2012. Here we go.
How exciting would it be to see Wisconsin play USC in the Rose Bowl to kick off a season? Well, It could happen under a new partnership announced today by the Big Ten and Pac-12 that will include inter-conference scheduling across all sports as well as cross-promotion on each league’s TV network.
Illinois released a statement Tuesday announcing that sophomore guard Crandall Head has left the Illinois basketball program. Head played in 26 career games with the Illini, averaging 1.2 points. Last season he played in 17 games and nine games this season. “We are disappointed with Crandall’s decision not to continue his career at Illinois, but ultimately we want what is best for him,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said in the statement.
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Wisconsin suffered a big blow with offensive coordinator Paul Chryst taking the Pitt job. In eight seasons at Wisconsin, Chryst built some of the nation’s top offenses while at Wisconsin, helping lead the Badgers to consecutive Rose Bowl appearances the past two seasons.
It had been speculated, and now it’s true: Everett Withers has been hired as co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Ohio State. Withers was the interim head coach at North Carolina this season after Butch Davis was fired in July. Withers, who also was UNC’s defensive coordinator, guided the Tar Heels to a 7-5 mark and spot in the Independence Bowl vs. Missouri on December 26.
On tonight’s Big Ten Football Report, our Rick Pizzo, Gerry Dinardo and Howard Griffith get you updated on the latest in college football, including the NCAA sanctions on Ohio State and how the penalties will impact the Buckeyes moving forward. Also, we look ahead to the bowl games and the most intriguing story lines, including a look at Marcus Coker’s suspension for the Insight Bowl. Our handy bowl game schedule with TV and game times is right here, too.
Every Sunday night during the hoops season, BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina recaps the week that was on the men’s hardwood and hands out his weekly honors. See Brent’s latest installment, for action from Dec. 12-18, in this post. And get ready for the coming week of Big Ten action with our Big Ten scoreboard. Also, watch our latest installment of the Big Ten Blast right now.
The Big Ten was well represented on the AP All-America team, with nine players tabbed. Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus, Michigan C David Molk, Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy, Penn State DT Devon Still and Wisconsin RB Montee Ball and G Kevin Zeitler were all first-teamers, while Nebraska LB Lavonte David and Wisconsin C Peter Konz earned second-team honors, and Ohio State DT John Simon was a third-team pick. Most impressive, Mercilus, Still and Worthy represent three of the four defensive lineman on the first team. Yeah, it was that kind of year for the Big Ten in the trenches.
In today’s Big Ten Blast, we touch on Illinois advancing to the National Semifinal round of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament for the third time in school history and the first time in 23 years. The Illini reached back-to-back Final Fours in 1987 and 1988. In Thursday’s NCAA Semifinal Match Illinois (31-4) faces USC (29-4) at 9 p.m. ET. Read more at FightingIllini.com and track the entie tournament at NCAA.com. In other news, Jerry Sandusky waived his preliminary hearing. Find the latest headlines on the Penn State scandal on the team report page.
Week 14 of the NFL season is in the books, and Big Ten products compiled some impressive days. All season long, use our Big Ten NFL Stat Tracker to see how ex-Big Ten stars perform. Simply click on a player’s name, and the link will lead you to his NFL.com game log. Every Tuesday, Brent Yarina singles out the best offensive, defensive and special teams performances, plus links to their NFL.com highlights. See Brent’s Week 14 winners in this post.
Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus won the Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award, it was announced Wednesday. The junior leads the nation in sacks (14.5), sacks per game (1.2) and forced fumbles (9) while ranking sixth nationally in tackles for loss per game (1.6). The award makes Mercilus the first Illini to win a national honor since Dana Howard (1994) and Kevin Hardy (1995) won the Butkus Award in back-to-back years.
With Carl Pelini off to replace Howard Schnellenberger as Florida Atlantic coach, Nebraska will need a new defensive coordinator. Pelini, the brother of Husker head coach Bo, won’t coach with the 9-3 Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl against South Carolina
The first meeting between Michigan State and Wisconsin was an epic encounter that most consider to be the game of the year in the Big Ten. The Badgers raced to a 14-0 lead before seeing the Spartans go on a tear to lead 23-14 at halftime. Michigan State pushed its lead to 31-17 early in the fourth quarter before Wisconsin rallied to tie the game, 31-31.
For a fifth straight year, BTN will present the Big Ten Bowl Selection Special, with the 2011 edition at 8 p.m. ET Sunday night live from Chicago. Dave Revsine will host the show alongside Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith as they preview each Big Ten bowl matchup and discuss key post-season factors. Select coaches also will be interviewed during the 60-minute program.
With the Big Ten Football Championship just days away, we’re dialing up our coverage on TV and online. Have a look at what we have planned for TV here, including details on our Saturday shows when we air a special BTN LIve (@BTNLive on Twitter) at 11 a.m. ET and full pregame show at 6:30 p.m. ET. And yes, we will re-air the title game on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. But before all of that, catch Big Ten Football & Beyond tonight at 10:30 p.m..
(BigTen.org) PARK RIDGE, Ill. – Indiana’s George Taliaferro was honored with the Big Ten’s Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award, while Ohio State’s Archie Griffin was named the first recipient of the Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award, the conference announced on Tuesday. The awards recognize Big Ten football players that have achieved success in the areas of humanitarianism and leadership after their college careers have ended.
(GopherSports.com) University of Minnesota Medical Director Dr. Brad Nelson confirmed Monday that senior forward Trevor Mbakwe suffered an ACL tear to his right knee. Mbakwe will be lost for the remainder of the season. Surgery to repair the injury will be scheduled in the upcoming weeks.
This is it, the final weekend of the season. Penn State will play at Wisconsin to decide which school will represent the Leaders Division vs. Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten title game. Michigan is looking to end Ohio State’s run of seven wins in a row in their iconic rivalry. Purdue is looking to win back the Old Oaken Bucket and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007. Iowa and Nebraska kick off the start of what could become a great rivalry. And Illinois is looking to end a five-game losing streak before the postseason. Following below is my look at all six Big Ten games this Saturday.
The Michigan-Ohio State game is the annual exclamation mark on the Big Ten season. This year’s storyline: Can the Wolverines end the Buckeyes’ seven-season run of dominance? A Wolverine victory not only would ease the pain for Michigan fans, but it also will enhance the team’s resume in its bid to earn a BCS at-large bowl slot.
The bowl picture is firming up, but the Big Ten may feel a squeeze if it gets 10 bowl eligible teams, as the conference has just eight bowl slots guaranteed. A win by Purdue at Indiana would give the league 10 bowl eligible squads, meaning the Big Ten would need other leagues to fail to have enough bowl eligible teams to accommodate all of their schools.
You have questions, I have answers. I dig into my mailbag to respond to some of your most vexing questions. Can Nebraska still make it to the Big Ten title game? Should the Big Ten have stripped Joe Paterno’s name from its championship game trophy, which it made official earlier this week? I answer those queries, and others, in this week’s mailbag.
The Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein and Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples join Dave Revsine, Chris Martin, Gerry DiNardo at 7 p.m. ET tonight to discuss the Penn State head coaching position. Plus, what really needs to happen for the Big Ten to get two teams into BCS bowl games.
Just two weeks remain in the regular season, but there still is a lot to play for in the Big Ten. Michigan State could wrap up the Legends Division this week with a win at home over Indiana and a loss by Nebraska at Michigan. Regardless, if the Spartans win out, they are in the Big Ten title game on Dec. 3.
On Monday the Big Ten Conference announced it is removing Joe Paterno’s name from the Big Ten Conference Football Championship trophy. The trophy had been named the Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy and it will now be the Stagg Championship Trophy. Watch the Big Ten Blast video in this post to get the latest details.