staff, December 19, 2011

This week Tom Dienhart took his live Q&A to the BTN Facebook page. Our resident expert took the best of your questions and we've archived the exchange below. Don't forget: Dienhart takes questions all week long via his mailbag page.

       Katie Larson: Where does Penn State look for their coach? Do they stay with Bradley-who has given so much already? Does Jay Paterno stay with his dad gone?

Good question. The school seems to be taking its time with the search. As much as I like Tom Bradley, I don't think he has a chance. I think the school has to move away from anyone on this staff. The names that make the most sense are Louisville's Charlie Strong, Vandy's James Franklin, UVa's Mike London, Harvard's Tim Murphy, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen and Georgia's Mark Richt. NFL assistant's Darren Perry and Tom Clements also have been all over the board. Bottom line: Penn State has to get a person of high integrity and character to fill this spot, which is about so much more than just Xs and Os.

          David Oliver: Fickell going to Pitt, your thoughts?

Maybe. There are reports that he has interviewed for the post. I think it would be a great hire for Pitt. Fickell is an up-and-coming coach who did well under adverse situations at Ohio State this year. He also is familiar with the recruiting terrain of Ohio and western Pennsylvania. It sounds like Wisconsin OC Paul Chryst and FIU coach Mario Cristobal also have good chances at this, but Fickell is right in the thick of it.

        Josh Whittemore: Who's the better basketball team in Michigan right now, wolverines or Spartans?

Josh, who is the better hoop team: Michigan or Michigan State? As of right now, I still have to go with Michigan State. Players like Green, Appling, Wood and Dawson are "cuts above." And the Spartans already are getting battle-tested by playing the likes of Duke, North Carolina, FSU and Gonzaga. Izzo's team will continue to get better. I like Hardaway, Burke and Smotrycz at Michigan. It's just too bad that Darius Morris turned pro.

        Bill Adlhoch: College hockey related… how will Penn State's hockey team be ready for Big 10 play when the conference starts up….?

Bill, a Penn State hockey question?! My day is complete! I'm guessing the Nits will have their team ready to go. It will be fun to have a Big Ten hockey race. The schools will be PSU; OSU; Michigan; MSU; Wisconsin; Minnesota. I wish we could get more Big Ten schools involved. Illinois would seem kinda logical. Nebraska, too. There is a great hockey program at Nebraska-Omaha, I think it's called. A great following and growing tradition.

        Sean Gray: Any chance Mike Stoops becomes D coordinator at Iowa?

I doubt it. I know the connection, as he played at Iowa. And I know he knows Ferentz. But I just don't think Stoops would be a good personality "fit" for the Iowa staff, which is a little more low key and reserved. Stoops will land somewhere … maybe Nebraska?!

        Damion Nepper: Thoughts on the DC job at Iowa…

Damion: Thoughts on Iowa DC job. From those I've talked to, I wouldn't be shocked if Ferentz just stays in house in replacing Norm Parker. The likely guy: DB coach Phil Parker, who has been with Ferentz each season he has been in Iowa City and is well-respected on the staff and in the Big Ten. Iowa even has a coach in an administrative role primed to move up into a full-time spot.

        Linsey Pawl: Is the Big Ten Network going to have the season show the Journey for Women's Basketball like they have for men's basketball?

Big Ten Network: Hey Linsey, we can answer that one for you. Our Journey series will focus on men's basketball in 2012. The series debuts on Sunday, Jan. 8. We're interested in expanding the Journey to other sports in the future, but we don't have any concrete plans at this point.

        Jim Hastings: Any word yet from the Illini's Tim Beckman on an offensive and Defensive Coordinators ?

Jim, as far as Illinois' new staff, Tim Beckman has filled all but one position on his coaching staff, he said during a radio interview Saturday, but announcements are expected to be delayed because the incoming coaches are busy working with their current teams on bowls. There is talk Wyoming OC Gregg Brandon may be a target for the same role in Champaign. We obviously will learn more soon. Beckman had co-DCs at Toledo, but he still was VERY involved. I expect he will have a heavy hand in the defense at Illinois, so the DC hire may not be too critical.

        Kyle Collins: Do you think Cody Zeller is the best freshman in the Big 10?

Kyle, do I think Cody Zeller is the best freshman in the Big Ten? He may be. I know it's early, but the precocious Zeller looks like the real deal and will be the best of the three Zeller bros from Washington, Ind. The kid is a smooth and athletic with great size who has range and a good game in the paint. He just needs to bulk up and keep learning. I also like Branden Dawson at Michigan State. The kid is showing flashes of big things.

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.