Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, April 24, 2012

The Big Ten grid links that matter are right here. Come inside and get the latest headlines, from Matt McGloin to the YouTube videos John L. Smith doesn't want any of us to remember to Michigan and Michigan State's challenging schedules, among other things.

TALKING WITH McGLOIN: Stefanie Loh has a nice Q&A with Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin. Among the interesting questions, McGloin is asked how the new offensive system is better than the old one. His response:

?In a lot of ways. I'm not trying to say anything bad about the offense that was here before, because I was a part of it. But [in 2011], we might break the huddle with one play. Now, we are going to break the huddle with two to three plays that we can run, and it's up to the quarterback to make the decision what we are going to run.?

In other words: night, meet day, as the Nittany Lion offense undergoes a radical change ? probably for the better.

DEPTH AT LINEBACKER: Michigan State is loaded at linebacker with the likes of Denicos Allen, Max Bullough and Chris Norman back. But redshirt freshman Darien Harris is fighting for playing time.

?(He?s) very athletic, very athletic and just a great sense of the game,? MSU linebackers coach Mike Tressel told Denny Schwarze of the Lansing State Journal. ?He has a feel for where the ball?s going and uses athletic ability instead of trying to run through those big 300-pounders sometimes. He knows what his skills are and he?s able to use them.?

All the program watchers I talk to say Harris is one of many promising young Spartan defenders on what may be Mark Dantonio?s best defense yet in East Lansing.

JOHN L BACK IN THE NEWS: Speaking of Michigan State, former Spartan coach John L. Smith has been tabbed to coach Arkansas this season on an interim basis after the spectacular downfall of Bobby Petrino. With Smith back in the news, I thought I?d share two of John L?s YouTube Hall of Fame moments as Spartans coach. Enjoy!

First, the meltdown coming off the field at halftime vs. Ohio State in 2005. Remember when Momma told you not to speak out of emotion? Consider this Example A-1:

Second, the always-hilarious and unbelievable self-inflicted face slap.

After watching these again, I can?t help but marvel: THIS is the guy Arkansas is entrusting its program to in the wake of the catastrophic and embarrassing demise of Petrino? Really?

BRING ON THE COMPETITION: Michigan and Michigan State won?t shy away from playing tough non-conference schedules. To see just how tough each school?s 2012 non-league schedule is, check out my rankings of all 12 Big Ten non-con schedules.

?Our schedule this year is one that will test our team every week," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News. There are some programs that don't want to be tested every week, but that's not Michigan. It's not me, our coaches or our kids.

"They're looking forward to the challenge of playing Alabama and Air Force. They always look forward to Notre Dame. Those are games you work out all summer and prepare for ? because you know they're going to be tough."

Michigan State A.D. Mark Hollis concurs and adds some interesting perspective:

?We also want to compete on a national basis," Hollis said. "Every time you play one of those games, every time you play a big-time opponent, every time you play in a Big Ten championship, you're taking an opportunity away in the pecking order of bowls.

"It's a balance of bringing in big-time opponents along with being nationally competitive. The unfortunate thing about football is you're judged on the number of wins, unlike basketball where you get rewarded for playing top-caliber opponents."

Hollis is correct about the obsession fans/media have with win totals over quality of wins. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder-usually mocked for playing a soft non-conference schedule–once said: ?At the end of the year, they don?t ask me who (I beat). They ask me how many (I won).

Still, I love these big intra-sectional matchups like Alabama-Michigan and Boise State-Michigan State. And I know you do, too. Thanks to those schools.

RISKY MOVE: The legislature has approved alcohol sales at Minnesota?s TCF Bank Stadium. I?m just gonna say this: Not a good thing. Sets a bad example. The only reasons-and I mean ONLY reasons-this is being done is to make money and attract fans. I dare someone to spin it differently.

TWEETS that matter!/TomMulhernWSJ/status/194578517822930944
My take: Interesting. What do you think, Badger Nation? Mulhern likes the Stellmacher-Rogers tandem in 2006 best in some of his other Tweets. Other good safety duos he mentions: Leonard-Brooks in 2004; Valai-Maragos in 2009; Valai-Henry in 2010.!/TIM_MAYsports/status/194773843225747456
My take: So, I?m guessing players/coaches/fans weren?t on the edge of their seats during the previous regime? senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, and all of his work is at Send questions to his weekly mailbag, subscribe to his RSS feed, and check out his video Q&A.