staff, December 5, 2011's Tom Dienhart talked bowls and Heisman trophies in his latest online Q&A. web editor Brent Yarina joined him an they took reader questions. Read the transcript below and check back in with Dienhart all week on his mailbag page.

Big Ten Network: Welcome Tom. Your general thoughts on the past weekend?

Dienhart: I thought the Big Ten title game was fantastic and lived up to its hype. The offenses were off the charts, as I thought the defenses would play better. Congrats to the Badgers. Now, they have to wonder: What if? What if they hadn't off lost those two close games? Nonetheless, Wisconsin is headed to a second Rose Bowl in a row and is emerging as perhaps the top Big Ten program.

Comment From Mike: What does the Big Ten need to do in the upcoming bowls to stick it to the critics. 8-2? 7-3? Or is it more about key wins? 3-0 vs. SEC?

Brent Yarina: You can play ifs all the time, but it's crazy to think Wisconsin could have been playing for the national title IF those two last-minute heaves never happened, or maybe just one of them.

Dienhart: Just having a winning record would be nice. Consider the Big Ten's bowl record each season since 2003:
2003: 3-5;
2004: 3-3;
2005: 3-4;
2006: 2-5;
2007: 3-5;
2008: 1-6;
2009: 4-3;
2010: 3-5.

The big key, as you alluded to, are KEY wins. The Big Ten must do well vs. the SEC.

Comment From RT: When did he Heisman become about this silly thing called "The Heisman Moment?' I thought the award was for the season, not one game (for better or for worse).

Dienhart: It never has been just about the "Heisman" moment. Heismain moments help augment a candidancy, no doubt, as seeing a play over and over and over ingrains a player in the mind of the nation. The Heisman is about the body of work over ONE season, given to the Most Outstanding Player. Some may disagree, but that's the criteria that I use.

Comment From Steve: Can you recall a time when a bowl featured two schools that dismissed heir coaches? For the Kraft Hunger Bowl is it possible to let the fans on both sides call the plays and coach the team? Maybe via text polling or something?

Brent Yarina: Speaking of Heisman, I loved Robert Griffin's quote after the Texas game: "I think Baylor just won its first Heisman." That was pretty awesome, and that performance, along with many others, should make Griffin the latest winner.

Dienhart: Ha! Funny. But Rick Neuheisel will coach UCLA. Ron Zook won't coach Illinois, as DC Vic Koenning will do the honors. No, I can't recall another bowl that featured coaches in a similar circumstance. But this is a product of too many bowls, honestly. When you have to dig for 70 or so bowl teams, you are gonna get some bizarre situations. And this UCLA-Illinois game is among the all-time strangest.

Comment From Montee Ball Fan: Do you have a Heisman vote? Who have you voted for in the past?

Dienhart: I do have a Heisman vote. I have had one since 2001. I voted late last night.

1. Robert Griffin
2. Andrew Luck
3. Trent Richardson

I will have a story posted later today explaining why I voted like that.

As Brent said, RG3 is the Most Outstanding Player in the nation–without a doubt. But I think the fact he's from "Baylor" may hurt him. It shouldn't, but it probably will. If he was doing this for a marquee SEC or Big Ten school, America would be going NUTS.

Comment From Wesley
How can Wisconsin slow down Oregon on offense, or is Wisconsin just going to hope to score last in order to win the Rose Bowl?

Brent Yarina:  That will definitely hurt him, Tom. If he was putting up these numbers at Texas, not Baylor, he would win in a landslide.

Dienhart: I think you hit the nail on the head with your last comment: Wisconsin likely will have to out score Oregon. Last team with the ball may win, in a Rose Bowl that could look a whole lot like the Big Ten title game. I think the Badgers' lack of athletic ability on defense will make it tough for them to keep with Oregon's go-go speed attack that plays at a pace Wiscosin hasn't seen.

But I don't think the Oregon D will be able to deal with the power and balance of Wisconsin's offense.

Comment From Jon: Penn State coaching search rumors have been pretty quiet the last couple days….is Mullen still the man in their sights?

Comment From Lou: Brent's point: yet another reason the Heisman has lost its meaning.

Brent Yarina: I don't know if it has necessarily lost its meaning – a lot of people still care, it seems – but with every passing year it becomes more a race between QB and RBs from the top teams than the nation's true best player.

Dienhart: Mullen still seems to be a hot name, but don't discount Louisville's Charlie Strong. He has proven to be a good coach and is a top character person who lives his life the right way and stands for the right things. Not a phoney. Some think Mark Richt may have interest to "get out of Georgia." He also is a quality person and coach. Some others being mentioned: Virginia coach Mike London; Vandy's James Franklin; Boise's Chris Petesen; Stanford's David Shaw. And what about Air Force's Troy Calhoun?

Comment From Jon: I love that the Big Ten has so many bowl matchups on Jan 1st (2nd this year)….is there any talk of finding a way to put them at different time slots so big ten fans can give their remote control a rest?

Dienhart: It is a potpourri of games on Jan. 2!!!

TicketCity: 11 am ET
Capital One Noon
Outback Noon
Gator Noon
Rose 4 pm

My advice: Keep that remote handy!!!

Brent Yarina: Probably has a lot to do with not wanting anything to interfere with the Rose Bowl, and for good reason. Always one of the best games every year.

Comment From B1G Fan: Hi Tom – do you see any Big Ten football players bringing home any of the national awards at the end of the year?

Dienhart: But it would be nice to spread the "early" games on Jan. 2 out over a few more days.

Comment From Lou: I don't think you think that necessarily, Brent, but your point shows that the meaning is really lessened.

Dienhart: Wisconsin's Montee Ball has a good chance to win the Doak Walker (top running back). Michigan's David Molk may win the Rimington (top center). Penn State's Devon Still could win the Outland (top interior lineman). Illinois Whitney Mercilus could win the Nagurski (top defender) or Hendricks (top DE). I don't think Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson has a shot at the O'Brien or Manning (top QB). Brady Hoke could get some coach of the year awards.

Comment From Lou: Kind of ironic that the PSU-UH matchup is one of the more intriguing ones, especially as Kevin Sumlin was mentioned early on as one of the PSU potentials, no?

Dienhart: Yes, interesting. But will Sumlin even coach in the game? He's a hot name for jobs at ASU and Texas A&M. Maybe even North Carolina and UCLA. It will be a fun game to watch that Houston offense battle that Penn State defense. The TicketCity Bowl has to be excited to get two ranked teams.

Comment From Lou: Still could win win Outland and Nagurski but the Coaches don't think he's an All-American…

Comment From SpartyFan: I will never understand how Michigan gets to go to a BCS bowl but MSU doesn't. But I'm willing to let you take a shot at telling me why this happened.

Dienhart: All I can say is opinions vary and don't try to make sense of any of the postseason award logic, etc.

Dienhart: I can't explain it and don't think it's right. Why should a team be "punished" for losing a league title game after winning its division? It makes NO SENSE!!! Look at how Alabama benefitted from not playing in the SEC title game. It avoided a possible upset and is going to the BCS title game WITHOUT EVEN WINNING ITS DIVISION!!!!

Comment From Pat: Who throws their hat to the ground first in the Cap One Bowl, Spurrier or Pelini?

Dienhart: In 2007, Mizzou beat Kansas in the last game of the season, won the Big 12 North, lost the Big 12 title game to OU …. but KANSAS got an Orange Bowl bid and Mizzou went to the Cotton Bowl. Explain that??????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brent Yarina: It's the system we live in. Better to lose early and to a lesser foe than to lose late and to a great foe. But the Spartans had three losses, at the end of the day, and there were more deserving teams than them that got skipped over. Right?

Dienhart: Pelini will spike his hat first. Spurrier is losing his steam!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dienhart: I just wanna know what kinda gum Bo Pelini chews. Double Bubble? Bubble Yum? Big Red? Juicy Fruit? Bub's Daddy?

Comment From Lou: Did Taxslayer indicate how many additional tax returns they expect to be filed through their service as a result of the Urban Bowl?

Comment From B1G Fan; Bo has to chew Big Red, doesn't he? I would think it's in his contract.

Dienhart: I am sure TaxSlayer (whatever it is) will benefit. I just miss the Poulan Weedeater sponsorship and wish it was still around. Was there ever a more iconic bowl sponsor???? NO WAY!!!! POULAN WEEDEATER is still getting buzz from that sponsorship!!!

Dienhart: Yes, Bo has to chew Big Red. Probably has a crate of it under his desk.

Comment From B1G Fan: What would a win over Oklahoma, the pre-season #1, do for an Iowa team heading into next season? Could a win over a big program like OU help them get a jump on 2012?

Dienhart: No doubt, a win over a name program like OU would boost Iowa's feellings heading into the offseason. It's better than getting a win over a MAC or Sun Belt team. Neith defense at Iowa or OU is that good. Each has a nice QB. But Iowa has a BIG edge at running back with Coker. Iowa can win this thing, I'm telling ya.

Brent Yarina: Especially if Coker can tear apart another Big 12 opponent, like he did against Mizzou last season.

Dienhart: That was Coker's coming out party!!! He is 100 percent man…..

Brent Yarina: Tom, any super-early prediction on the Big Ten's bowl record this season? Lots of tough matchups.

Dienhart: I think Purdue has to be disappointed to drop to the Little Caser's Bowl. Most had the Boilers tabbed for the Ticket City.

Dienhart: OK, Brent. This is early, but here it goes …..

Rose: Wisconsin
Sugar: Va Tech
Cap One: South Carolina
Outback: MSU
Insight: Iowa
Gator: OSU
Houston: NU
TicketCity: Penn St.
Pizza: Purdue
Kraft Fight Hunger: UCLA

Comment From B1G Fan: How does NU shape up against Texas A&M? If the Wildcats are down at the half, do we just assume they'll come back and win?

Dienhart: I like Northwestern's chances because of its offense. In fact, each team in this game has a good offense–and a spotty defense. I expect a lot of points. It may come down to who wants to be there the most. And I think NU will want it more, as A&M is in transition with Mike Sherman being fired and A&M having a VERY disappointing season. Will the Aggies even care?

Brent Yarina: Nice. So that would mean 7-3. I'll be interested to see how motivated Penn State is against Houston. The Cougars can score and will score. Will the Nittany Lions be able to keep up?

Dienhart: Has Houston seen a D like Penn State's? I don't think so. But, as you allude to, it will be VITAL for Penn State to NOT fall behind. It must run the ball–and run some more–to keep it away from Keenum and that Houston offense.

Brent Yarina: No, of course not. Not even close. But it will have a lot of time to prepare for its toughest test.

Comment From B1G Fan: What do you see in Virginia Tech that makes you like them against Michigan? Michigan has been playing well as of late, but do you think Tech's defense holds Denard in check?

Dienhart: Yes, I think Va Tech's defense will rise to the occasion, especially with weeks to prep. The Hokies are fast and athletic–and well coached by Bud Foster. Michigan will need to pass some to keep Tech's D honest, and I don't know D-Rob can do that. But it wouldn't be a shock if Michigan won, believe me. This really could go either way.

Comment From Lou: I think it will be interesting to see how PSU's offense does. Showed some promise against OSU before the weight of the world caught up with them against Wisconsin. If they are mentally in it, should be interesting. Plus, I think McGloin has a lot to prove if he still wants to be the incumbent next year.

Dienhart: And I think Penn State's offense could have success vs. a Houston defense that is FAR from a steel curtain. If the Nits can get Silas Redd established, it will open room for McGloin to throw. And I expect it to happen. Just avoid turnovers, PSU.

Dienhart: Thanks a lot for coming by. I appreciate all of the great questions. See you all next week. Enjoy the Heisman ceremony on Saturday night!

Brent Yarina: Thanks, Tom!

Look back at Dienhart's previous chats and see how much Dienhart enjoys talking to fans.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for Find all of his work at, follow Dienhart on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.