staff, November 14, 2011 senior writer Tom Dienhart chats live every Monday at noon ET during the football season. Did you miss it? We took questions for about an hour and Dienhart touched on the past weekend and he upcoming one, too. Look back at the conversation we had and come back to next Monday at noon ET for the next football chat with Dienhart.

Monday November 14, 2011
Hello again! We'll be chatting about Big Ten football with senior writer Tom Dienhart at noon ET today. Use the box below to submit your questions in advance and come back for the live conversation. Tom loves a good conversation!

Big Ten Network: We're getting ready to welcome Tom Dienhart in at noon ET here, or at the top of the hour as the radio guys like to say. Got some good questions already and always willing to take more.

Tom's weekly Bowl Projections are up right here. If you want to send a question via Twitter, use #AskBTN. Want to leave a question on Facebook? We're at But really, you're here already so just use the box below.

Tom Dienhart: Ready to talk some Big Ten grid?

Big Ten Network: Welcome, Tom. Let's start off with your opening thoughts. Quite a week of news in the Big Ten capped with another newsy Saturday of games. You were at Michigan State vs. Iowa this Saturday. What stood out to you from this past weekend?

Tom Dienhart: I wasn't shocked that MSU won. But I was stunned in the manner in which they won–TOTAL domination. The Spartan ground game had ranked 12th in the Big Ten entering the game, but it looked dominant vs. Iowa. This is a motivated and focused MSU team that just needs to win out (vs. IU; at NU) to clinch the Legends. And I don't see Sparty being stopped.

Big Ten Network: Ok, let's get to our first question ….

Comment From SODY: Wow, you must have the Huskers going 0-2 the next two weeks to send them to the Insight Bowl. Please give me the insight to your reasoning.

Tom Dienhart: I just don't think Penn State will be dialed in mentally, given what has gone on in State College, Pa. Plus, I really don't think the Nits are that good overall, thanks to a spotty offense. Redd got hurt last week, and the QB play has been average–at best. Now come games AT Ohio State and AT Wisconsin. The Buckeyes are aching after an upset loss at Purdue, while the Badgers are EXTRA motivated to win out knowing they can win the Leaders if they do so.

And, let's all be honest here: Wisconsin is the best team in the Leaders–if not the entire Big Ten.

Big Ten Network: Tom, I think he meant Nebraska ?

Tom Dienhart: Ah, sorry about that. You need to remember that the Insight has the FOURTH selection among Big Ten teams after the BCS, Capital One and Outback.

Wisconsin and Michigan State should go before Nebraska, right? That means the Outback figures to come down to Michigan and Nebraska. And they play this week.

So, there isn't a BIG difference between the Outback and Insight.

Big Ten Network: We're here to help: In case any of our readers need the Big Ten Standings…

Now another question…

Comment From KR: When's the last time the Big Ten had this many potential bowl eligible teams?

Tom Dienhart: I think it was 2007, when there were 10 teams with 6 wins. The only team not bowl eligible that year was Minnesota.

But two teams didn't go to bowls with 6-6 records that year: Iowa and Northwestern.

Comment From Stephanie: With two very high-profile programs either having an interim coach or a coach who's contract expires in January, does Ohio State or Penn State kind of have to be progressive/aggressive in a coaching search? Should Ohio State actually start a search now and should Penn State not even concentrate on a coaching search (with everything else that's going on in State College)?

Tom Dienhart: I have to think Ohio State already has made and is making some backwater calls, etc. I guess Luke Fickell could keep the job, but you have to think the jury remains out.

As for Penn State, the school needs to move quickly on a coach, I think. But the search is hampered by an interim president and an A.D. who is on leave. How can you a hire a coach under those circumstances? PSU may have to, as I doubt it has a new full-time AD and new full-time president by December of January. And, frankly, PSU needs a new coach by then, as Signing Day is the first Wednesday in February.

Comment From Stephanie: If it is decided that a coaching change is needed, have you ever seen a university/athletic department decide against going to a bowl, just because it will just be a month of perhaps bad coaching?

Tom Dienhart: No, I never have seen a school not go to a bowl because of that.

Teams love going to bowls for many reasons, among them being extra practice for young players. Good/bad coaching … regardless, practice reps and an extra game help hasten the development of players. …

Tom Dienhart: But if the Big Ten has 10 bowl eligible schools, can the league find spots for them all?

Comment From Vincent: Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said the Buckeyes do not throw short, mid-range or intermediate routes because that takes "Precision" (when questioned after the Purdue game). IMO, long passes take accuracy – which Braxton Miller sometimes lacks. So does Ohio State just decide not to "Pass"? That seriously seems like the strategy (no passing).

Tom Dienhart: Every offense has to pass to keep a defense honest. if not, a defense can just commit to stopping the run. And that's basically what Purdue did vs. OSU. The Buckeye staff needs to find SOME type of passes that Miller is comfortable throwing–and throw those. I think Miller is hurt by a young receiver corps, too, which may also limit play calling.

Bottom line: OSU will HAVE to pass some if it hopes to beat Penn State and Michigan and land a good bowl bid.

Comment From soonerdnintx: Tom, i saw where you think it's unfair for a 28 year old college athlete to win the Heisman. I also agree, what would your proposal be on a rule that would limit kids from going to baseball, then coming back and resuming an athlete role at a university?

Tom Dienhart: I guess you can say: If an athlete has been pro in ANY sport, then he can't play ANY sport in college.

To have a 28 year old win the Heisman seems against the spirit of the award and college sport. To me, college sports–NOT COLLEGE IN GENERAL–are about youngsters who are maturing and developing.

They aren't about seasoned ex-pro athletes.

Think back when you were 20. Now think back to when you were 28. It's a HUGE difference.

Let the "kids" win the awards.

Comment From Alton McCoy on Facebook: According to ESPN if Michigan or Nebraska win out each team next to MSU will be the only team to have a BCS bowl game berth! I think Michigan's chance to win out is huge if they beat Nebraska they will beat OSU. That's a fact. A lot riding this weekend!

Tom Dienhart: I guess I am confused a bit by the "question." If Michigan or Nebraska win out, either could get a BCS at-large bowl bid? is that what you are saying? If so, I don't buy it.

I don't think the Big Ten is getting 2 teams in the BCS this year. Just don't a strong year for the B1G.

BTW: 2004 was the last year the B1G had just one BCS team.

Comment From Michael: I personally like afternoon games due to tradition. But as college football continues to evolve, do you see more night games in the Big Ten in the later months? Do reporters dislike night games due to Deadline?

Tom Dienhart: I HATE night games. I think all college games should start between 11 am and 1 pm. Play it under the sun and on campus.

Reporters? They hate night games because of deadline purposes.

I don't know if the B1G will have more night games, but I'm sure they draw bigger TV ratings. And, as we all know, TV dictates just about everything when it comes to start times, etc.

As it is, the B1G doesn't play night games in November. Bravo!!

I wonder: Will there ever be the day B1G has one Thursday night game on BTN all season long???

Hmmmm. BTN Thursday Night Football, presented by …..

Comment From Jonathan: I completely understand the move. Do you agree/disagree with the Big Ten's decision to remove Joe Paterno's name from the championship trophy, as the news was released today by the B1G?


Tom Dienhart: Yes, I agree with the move. There is no way Paterno's name should be associated with the award, given what we have learned–a surely will learn more–about Paterno's involvement or lack thereof in this child sex-abuse case.

His in-action and the apparent cover-up are unforgivable and have tainted him forever.

Big Ten Network: Great questions so far. Reminder: We will post this chat transcript on after we're done here. A few more questions for Tom coming up. Last chance to sneak one in now  …

Comment From Kristen: What's happened to Illinois? I know they weren't unbeatable at 6-0 but … ouch.

Tom Dienhart: Right now, the Hayes-Schembechler Trophy goes to the Coach of the Year in the B1G.

Osborne or Devaney would be good choices.

Tom Dienhart:  Illinois has been hurt by its offense. The attack hasn't scored in the first half of the last 4 games!!!! Unbelievable!!!

Scheelhaase has struggled, as Zook has contemplated making a change at QB but says he's staying with Nathan for now. We shall see.

Illinois has Wisconsin at home this week and finishes at Minnesota.

Bottom line: Illinois may not win again……

Comment From Sam: When the Big 10 went to divisions, I wondered if they'd work. I didn't think they'd help make weekend's more fun. But names aside (sorry), I like them. How do you think the divisional set up has impacted the Big Ten season and teams?

Tom Dienhart:  Some other coaches to consider honoring on the trophy:

  • Bernie Bierman
  • Fielding Yost
  • Robert Zuppke

Tom Dienhart: I love the divisions! Look at how many teams have remained in the running for division titles into November!! It has been great!! Michigan State, Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State.

This is what the league wanted when it hatched this idea. And, again, it has worked beautifully.

As for the names, I have to say: They are growing on me. But, I didn't like them at first.

Big Ten Network: Tom's with us up until 1 p.m. ET, then we'll cut him loose and let him start looking ahead to the weekend. A few more questions …

Comment From Matt Uhl on Facebook: Are Purdue fans crazy for the anti-Hope talk? The guy seems to have OSU's number.

Tom Dienhart: Yes, Hope is 2-1 vs. Ohio State. But his overall body of work has some fans agitated. He has suffered a dubious loss each year.

  • 2009: Northern Illinois
  • 2010: Toledo
  • 2011: Rice

And the loss at home to IU last year upset many.

Confidence is shaky from fans, who aren't buying tickets, the worse indictment of all.

Hope is 14-20 overall (9-13 Big Ten) with no bowls. If he reaches the postseason this year, all will be well. And it looks like that will happen.


Tom Dienhart: I won't be there. I will be tracking Wisconsin's march to the Leaders title at Illinois.

The key for Michigan and Nebraska will be the play of their QBs. Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez are very similar. Which one avoids the big mistake and passes with some aplomb? That team figures to win.

You have to like Nebraska's chances, as it has an edge on defense.

Comment From Big Ten fan:  What impact do you think the happenings at Penn State will have on college athletics nationwide?

Tom Dienhart: It will have an impact on the WORLD. Not just college football.

I think it will raise the awareness of child abuse. And it will remind people that the MUST report illicit behavior to the proper authorities NO MATTER WHAT.

I'm sure every AD will have a meeting with staff members about those topics.

Comment From Mark Moore on Facebook: Nebraska's coach Ron Brown's prayer at mid field Saturday.Class act by a class man…..Proud to have him on our team. Best of luck to Penn State…a few bad men don't change my mind on the university or the football program…in fact I am now a Penn State fan in every game except when the play the Huskers.

Tom Dienhart: Yes, Ron Brown is a class act for a class Nebraska program.

Every school goes through some crisis at some time–just not to the level that Penn State is experiencing.

I know there are many good people at Penn State.

To me, this all comes back to Paterno. He was THE most powerful person on campus, if not the state. I sure hope we don't find out he orchestrated a cover up to protect his image and program.

But I have to think a powerful AD and President would have gone to the cops with this. But, I think Paterno was feared by EVERYONE at that school and would NOTHING against his wishes—OR ELSE.

Again, I'm just guessing, and I hope I'm wrong. But, we will find out a lot more in coming months.

Comment From Mike: In the future, will there eventually be a college football director appointed by the NCAA (their job is only college football oversight)? Seems like College Football and College Basketball need single directors and/or entire committees at this point.

Tom Dienhart: Not a bad idea. A "football czar," as the sport is in crisis. Reminds me of baseball after the Black Sox Scandal. The sport needed a strong commissioner/voice/dictator to restore order and confidence in the baseball.

No doubt, college sports needs a top leader with UNQUESTIONED AUTHORITY. What he says goes. NO QUESTIONS.

Will it happen? I doubt it.

Comment From Jon: Typically, what's the best way to compare conferences against each other? Head-to-head? BCS titles? Bowl wins-losses? A combo of all o them? I'm trying to win a debate with a buddy …

Tom Dienhart: The best measure, to me, are bowl games. The bowl season is the apex of the sport, the best on the best. Schools have weeks to prepare.

Bowls are the measuring stick.

Big Ten Network: And the clock is about to strike 1 p.m. ET. Thanks to everyone who posted a question – we tried to get to as many as posible. Please come back next week. Tom, nice work once again. Any final thoughts here? We'll let you have the last word.

As he said, Tom will be at Wisconsin vs. Illinois on Saturday but he'll be posting on all week. You can find his great work right here.

Tom Dienhart: Another big week in the B1G. Can Wisconsin stay on track at a desperate Illinois team? Who will get off the mat in Columbus? Ohio State or Penn State? The loser of Nebraska at Michigan is out of the Legends Race.

Good storylines.

Thanks so much for coming by. I appreciate it.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for Find all of his work at, follow Dienhart on twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed. You can send him your football questions to his Big Ten mailbag, too.