Hopes are high in Evanston. Northwestern is coming off its first bowl victory since toppling Cal in the Rose Bowl after the 1948 season, winning 10 games for just the third time in school annals and first since the 1995 Rose Bowl squad. Now, the possibilities seem endless for what could be Pat Fitzgerald’s most talented team yet at his alma mater. NU has been to a bowl each of the last five seasons and has a legit chance to win the Legends Division if the defense continues to make strides this spring.
How far does Urban Meyer think his front seven has come on defense? What challenges are on the horizon for Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and his offense? Want to hear Purdue’s Darrell Hazell describe how his staff has come together? Listen to the latest Big Ten Conference teleconferences as each of the 12 Big Ten football coach and a selected player answer questions from the reporters covering their teams as the spring football season rolls on.
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There is a sense of renewed optimism in West Lafayette with the dawn of the Darrell Hazell era. The former Kent State coach and long-time Ohio State assistant has built a strong staff and brought a winning attitude to Purdue. How quickly can he develop an offensive identity? That will be key in trying to get the Boilermakers to a third bowl in a row. Keep an eye on the quarterback battle and offensive line, the two biggest keys for 2013.
Indiana is a program on the rise as it enters its third season under Kevin Wilson. It also is a young program that’s still developing and lacking a strong senior core. Still, there is some excitement for a program searching for its first bowl since 2007. To take that next step, the Indiana defense needs to improve—a lot. Hope floats for a program that may be on the verge of turning the corner.
Larry Johnson is a fixture on the Penn State sideline. The defensive line coach has been with the Nittany Lions since 1996, and he’s had plenty of success. Under his tutelage, six defensive linemen have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft, including No. 1 pick Courtney Brown (2000). What makes his players so successful? Here’s what Johnson told our Howard Griffith: “My philosophy is very basic: Doing the simple stuff over and over again. Keep it small, keep it fun.”
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Victor Oladipo turned pro on Tuesday. It was Cody Zeller’s turn Wednesday. And, like Oladipo, Zeller made a wise choice. Zeller has accomplished a lot in two scant years in Bloomington, helping revive the Indiana program by leading it to its first outright Big Ten title in 20 seasons.