Optimism bubbles in Lincoln. Yes, Mike Riley’s debut didn’t go smoothly. It seemed each week, the Cornhuskers found a new way to lose a game. But the squad finished with some mojo, going 3-1 in its last four games with a bowl win vs. UCLA in an otherwise vexing 6-7 season. [ MORE: Get all of Tom Dienhart’s Big Ten spring football coverage ] The Huskers welcome back lots of talent on both sides of the ball, giving the staff a nice nucleus to work with. But some areas need to develop. In particular, keep an eye on the quarterback
Michigan State has become an elite program that year in, year out, will battle for the Big Ten title.
Jerry Kill is gone. The Tracy Claeys era has begun. And, change is brewing … it has been for several months. The program is on solid footing, having been to a bowl each of the last four seasons. But the staff has been altered with a new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and offensive line coach. Still, there is momentum coming off a bowl win that capped a disappointing 6-7 season. Claeys let go offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Matt Limegrover and quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski. Jay Johnson was hired from Louisiana-Lafayette to run the offense and coach quarterbacks, while Bart Miller was
Jim Harbaugh’s debut could not have gone much better. He inherited a 5-7 team and turned it into a 10-3 squad that punctuated the season with a domination of Florida in the Citrus Bowl. The losses all were “quality,” as the Wolverines fell at Utah in the opener–barely, vs. Michigan State (in one of the craziest endings ever) and vs. an Ohio State club that no doubt is the better program … for now. [ MORE: Get all of Tom Dienhart’s Big Ten spring football coverage ] The future bubbles with promise, as Harbaugh continues to fold in talent that
Maryland turns the page on a new era with D.J. Durkin taking over in College Park. Durkin replaces Randy Edsall, who had a largely uneventful four-plus year tenure in going to just two bowls after taking over in 2011. Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley took over after Edsall was fired during last season, as Maryland finished 3-9 and lost nine in a row at one time. [ MORE: Get all of Tom Dienhart’s Big Ten spring football coverage ] The staff must adapt to the personnel, so the spring will be a critical time to develop chemistry for all parties. Durkin,
Northwestern is coming off a special season in which it won 10 games. And it was a much-needed elixir for a program that was coming off consecutive 5-7 seasons. Now, can the Wildcats continue their evolution? [ MORE: Get all of Tom Dienhart’s Big Ten spring football coverage ] The offense needs to get better after ranking last in the Big Ten in scoring (19.5 ppg) and last overall (327.1 ypg). The passing attack lacked big-play ability, as NU ranked—what else?—last in the conference (138.5 ypg). No staff changes were made, so any improvement will have to come through maturation.
(AP) Jim Harbaugh has Michigan in the spotlight again. [ MORE: Meet No. 1 recruit Rashan Gary | Tom Brady at Signing of the Stars | Ric Flair at Signing of the Stars ] The Wolverines announced Friday their spring football game will be at night for the first time. The April 1 game will serve as the 15th and final practice for Harbaugh’s second spring with the Wolverines. This month, Harbaugh is taking his players to practice in Florida during spring break, a move NCAA President Mark Emmert does not favor. “They’re having a hard time being students and
Iowa is coming off a season of glory in which it raced to a school-record 12-0 start before losing its final two games of the season in falling in the Big Ten title game and the Rose Bowl.
In his fifth season in Bloomington, Indiana, Kevin Wilson enjoyed a breakthrough by leading the Hoosiers to their first bowl since 2007. Now, he wants to take the program another step toward: winning a bowl. Wilson and Co., are on track. But work needs to be done to move up the pecking order in the rugged Big Ten East. [ MORE: Get all of Tom Dienhart’s Big Ten spring football coverage ] The offense loses some key players but should be OK with Wilson’s steady hand guiding things. The defense? It remains an albatross around the neck of the program,
There is a lot to work on this spring in Champaign for an Illinois squad coming off a 5-7 record. Bill Cubit has shaken up his staff in hopes of impressing the administration with a good 2016. [ MORE: Get all of Tom Dienhart’s Big Ten spring football coverage ] Ex-Illinois signal-caller Nathan Scheelhaase will coach running backs; former Illini quarterback Jeff Hecklinski has been tabbed to coach tight ends and special teams; ex-Illinois o-line coach A.J. Ricker is back to reprise his role. Co-defensive coordinator Tim Banks has left, with Mike Phair taking over sole coordinator duties after sharing