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Darrell Hazell needs a big year. It’s no secret. He has yet to get this program off the ground in his first three seasons. The struggles can’t be sugarcoated or minimized, as Hazell has gone 6-30 overall and 2-22 in the Big Ten. Three of the victories have been vs. FCS foes; another was vs. a MAC team. Will 2016 be the year the script is flipped? Hazell will move forward with a veteran roster that has potential and a staff that has two new coordinators.
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Hopes are high in Champaign, as Illinois takes the wraps off the Lovie Smith era. Will he be the coach to deliver a consistent winner to the Illini Nation? Smith arrives from the NFL with a big reputation, but he will be Illinois’ fifth coach since 1997 following Ron Turner, Ron Zook, Tim Beckman and Bill Cubit.
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The BTN Tour bus was in Wisconsin on Monday to check out the Badgers. Paul Chryst enters his second season as the Badgers’ head coach and should have a team capable of competing for a Big Ten West title in 2016.
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The BTN bus tour rolled into Madison, Wisconsin, on Monday, to watch Paul Chryst’s second Badgers’ team practice. See what BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart learned while watching practice inside.
The Minnesota program is on solid footing, having been to a bowl each of the last four seasons as Tracy Claeys assumes command. But the staff has been altered. Still, there is momentum coming off a bowl win that capped a disappointing 6-7 season.
The BTN bus tour stopped in Iowa City, Iowa, on Wednesday to check out the defending Big Ten West champions. Get BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart’s fun takes from the physical practice inside.
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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Even though Michigan State is coming off a Big Ten title and playoff berth, the Spartans are being overlooked by many who favor Ohio State and Michigan in the East.
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The BTN Bus Tour stopped in East Lansing, Michigan, today to watch the defending Big Ten champions practice.
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This is a big season. James Franklin said as much at Big Ten media days. He knows it’s time to make a move in the Big Ten East after back-to-back 7-6 seasons.
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New Rutgers coach Chris Ash has work to do after arriving from a gig as defensive coordinator at Ohio State. Good thing his area of specialty is defense, as the Scarlet Knights need a lot of help on that side of the ball. Rutgers ranked No. 13 in the Big Ten in total defense in 2015 (462.0 ypg) and 12th in scoring (34.9 ppg). The back seven needs a lot of work, as the linebacking corps is being rebuilt and a young secondary needs to mature.
In a bit of a surprise move, Purdue has named Georgia Tech’s Mike Bobinski as athletic director.
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If you like linebackers, you’ll love the Big Ten. It’s loaded with them.
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Every schedule has one—a must-win game. Look. You’ll find one. It’s a game that you feel your school MUST WIN if it wants to have a successful season. It can’t slip up. Victory must be accomplished.
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I continue my look at Big Ten units with a ranking of the offensive lines in the Big Ten West.
Once again, Iowa looks to have a stout front. But keep an eye on Wisconsin, whose front looks to be back up to its usual stellar form.
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Ask any coach: Football is won and lost in the trenches.
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For the first time since 1984, the Big Ten will play nine conference games. Schools will play the other six teams in their division … and three from the opposite division. And, schedule strengths can vary a great deal based on which schools a team does not have to play from the other division.
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When Chris Ash arrived to help run the Ohio State defense as co-coordinator in 2014, he had an immediate impact—especially on the pass defense.
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Justin Wilcox. Jay Johnson. John Parrella. Ross Els. If you don’t know their names now, you will next football season. BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart writes why these four are the biggest assistant coach hires in the West Division this year.
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Everyone in life—yes, even college basketball coaches–is always looking for a better situation. Why should college basketball players be any different? Maybe coaches need to do a better job of selling kids on remaining in their program.
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Paul Chryst returned home to Wisconsin last season. And, it went smashingly well. But there is work to do as Chryst begins his second season coming off a 10-3 debut and second-place finish in the West.
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Chris Ash continues to put his stamp on the Rutgers program after taking over for Kyle Flood. Job No. 1: change the culture. Offense? Defense? Special teams? It all needs work. Rutgers ranked No. 13 in the Big Ten in total defense in 2015 (462.0 ypg) and 12th in scoring (34.9 ppg). The back seven needs a lot of work, as the linebacking corps is being rebuilt and a young secondary needs to mature.
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BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart offers his offseason to-do list for the Purdue Boilermakers.
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Change is the theme as James Franklin begins this third season at the helm of Penn State. The staff has been altered radically. Franklin fired offensive coordinator John Donovan and shockingly saw defensive coordinator Bob Shoop leave for Tennessee. And offensive line coach Herb Hand also high-tailed it, bolting for Auburn. Plus, a raft of players transferred after a season that ended with four losses in a row.
Ohio State and Urban Meyer won’t lack for motivation in 2016. The program failed to repeat as national champs in a largely unfulfilling season as the Buckeyes didn’t even win the Big Ten East despite having a roster loaded with 12 NFL draft picks. Now, Meyer faces some big challenges next season as he looks to get back on top in the Big Ten.
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BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart offers his Northwestern offseason check list.