Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, May 9, 2012

Should computers have anything to do with college football rankings? Who cracked the post-spring football rankings? Our colleagues at are posing a buzz-worthy question about the next Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten – for now. Is it William Gholston? John Simon? Gerald Hodges? Someone else?

These  are the headlines around Big Ten football on this Wednesday. Come on into this post and read all about it.

Rise of the Machines: Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez doesn?t want computers to be part of the equation when it comes to determining which teams would participate in a college football playoff.

That would be OK with me. Think about it: The process would basically be the same as it is for the NCAA tourney that is so wildly popular. Just assemble a committee of administrators, etc., provide them with a stack of information-which could and should include computer rankings-and let them make an informed decision on which teams are playoff worthy.

Will all controversy be eliminated? No. Remember all the jilted coaches interviewed moments after the Big Dance bracket is announced? Still, I think this type of process would be embraced more heartily by the public because of its familiarity with it.

Honor roll: has been rolling out its post-spring team rankings and is up to Nos. 11-20.

Ohio State is No. 11; Michigan is No. 12; Michigan State is No. 16. Looks about right to me, but the Spartans may be a tad too low. In fact, some feel Michigan State may be the top team in the Big Ten.

As for the Buckeyes, I think they could be the top team in the Big Ten. Yes, even better than Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan-the teams many feel will be the best in the conference. This could be a very motivated Ohio State that wants to show the nation how good it is in Year One under Urban Meyer. Yes, the Buckeyes are ineligible for the Big Ten title and a bowl, but they can upset the apple cart as a spoiler and set a tone for future dominance.

Projections: Who could be the top defensive player in the Big Ten? ESPN?s dynamic blogging tandem of Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett has posed the question in a poll. The top candidates they list:

  • Michigan State DE William Gholston, Jr.
  • Ohio State DE John Simon, Sr.
  • Penn State LB Gerald Hodges, Sr.
  • Purdue DT Kawann Short, Sr.
  • Wisconsin LB Chris Borland, Jr.
  • Illinois LB Jonathan Brown, Jr.

?Others to watch? include Wisconsin junior LB Mike Taylor; Penn State senior DT Jordan Hill; Michigan State senior CB Johnny Adams; Illinois senior DE Michael Buchanan.

A nice list of candidates. My choice at 10:02 a.m. CT on May 9, 2012, has to be Gholston. The 6-7, 275-pound Gholston is pterodactyl coming off the edge who is unblockable one-on-one. If he?s not a consensus All-American and the Hendricks Award winner, I will paint my head green. Gholston, come on down and take your place in Spartan lore next to defensive end luminaries like Bubba Smith and George Webster.

Count it: Check out these nine expectations for Penn State this fall.

The Columbus Dispatch ?overheard? this from former Buckeye coach Jim Tressel regarding the 2012 Ohio State squad:

I always knew ?The Senator? was a smart guy. As I said earlier, I think Ohio State may be the top team in the Big Ten this fall. The squad is loaded with talent.

And look at schedule. I know it?s only May, but I count eight pretty sure wins right now–Miami (Ohio); UCF, Cal, UAB (UAB??), Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, Indiana.

The four games that will be the difference between a good and great season-at Michigan State; Nebraska; at Wisconsin; Michigan. Split those, and Michigan is 10-2, back in a BCS bowl and maybe Legends Division champs.

The … List: Have you seen Bruce Feldman?s Freak List of the 10 Craziest Athletes in College Football? The Big Ten is represented. When Bruce writes (or speaks), please listen. Thank you.

My Take On Their Tweets!/kmeinke/status/200230473803370497

My take: Meet my new favorite San Diego Charger. I have a feeling he?s gonna make the team-and play a key role.!/rmusselmansc/status/199952287987273728

My take: We know about O?Brien?s desires to play Pitt. (Love it!) And I like his thinking on playing other college football heavies. But, Stanford? It doesn?t belong in the same breath as Alabama and USC in this discussion. A couple of good seasons don?t mean the Cardinal suddenly is elite. Let?s see what life is like sans Andrew Luck; 7-5, anybody? Sounds about right. 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.