Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, April 29, 2013

It was a busy weekend in the Big Ten. A REALLY busy weekend, with the NFL Draft as well as the big announcement of a new divisional alignment and a nine-game schedule for the venerable Big Ten. So much to cover in daily links. Let?s start with a view on the conference?s new configuration from a few Big Ten ports-of-call.

Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wonders why the Little Brown Jug battle between Minnesota and Michigan wasn?t protected. He has a point. It is an iconic trophy. Now let's look at some more reaction around the Big Ten.

Here's more from Minnesota.

I like the geographical split. Yes, the balance of power leans to the East. But there will be years when the West has the upper hand. And I think the West is stronger 1-7, as the East is more top-heavy.  The new alignment also kept intact most of the key rivalries, which is such a key part of the fabric of college sports. Bottom line: This is a nice move for the conference.

Any concerns over the nine-game Big Ten schedule are washed away by having division teams play the same league schedule configuration each season: four home/five road game and vice versa. That will make for an even playing field.

But some fallout from a nine-game Big Ten schedule could be fewer league teams getting bowl eligible.

Big Ten commish Jim Delany says the league isn?t actively looking to expand with Maryland and Rutgers coming aboard in 2014, but it?s on alert. Michigan A.D. Dave Brandon, however, says conference expansion isn?t over.

?It?s slowed down a little bit now," Brandon said last week at a speaking engagement in Livonia, Mich. "Whether that continues or there's another wave ? I would bet there will be more expansion and more consolidation that will take place (in the future).

"I don't know when, I don't know who. But I'd bet it'll happen."



The ink has dried on the 2013 NFL draft (see all Big Ten picks here). And Michigan had a measly two players selected. Let?s blame the Rich Rodriguez era. But, the days of anemic draft day production soon will be over in Ann Arbor, given the killer recruiting of Brady Hoke in recent years.

Nebraska feels Michigan?s pain. The Cornhuskers had just two picks, their lowest total since 1969.

Just two of Bo Pelini?s high school recruits have been drafted since he took over in 2008, but he has had three JC signees get picked. Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald says the most recent senior class in Lincoln was pummeled by injuries, one reason for the low draft output.


Ohio State?s Urban Meyer can sympathize with Michigan and Nebraska. In fact, he?s downright surprised by the Buckeyes? low output from a team that went 12-0.

How bad was it? Just three Buckeyes were selected. And the 22 Big Ten players picked were the worst for the conference in 19 years. The Big Ten has just 21 picks in 1994.


There were few neater draft stories than seeing Penn State linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges each get selected by the Vikings.

Mauti was picked despite having three knee injuries (two to his left knee) in the last five years. Someone has to make a movie about this guy.


The Big Ten put a bow on its spring season with the last two schools conducting their games. Iowa was one, and here are some nice photos of the event from

And that three-man battle at quarterback to replace James Vandenberg? There still is no clarity. Plan on waiting until the week before the opener in August.


Like Iowa, Minnesota also had its spring game on Saturday. The big winner, according to Jerry Kill: The program. The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a nice Q&A with the coach.

Yes, the Golden Gophers still have issues entering the offseason. Can the passing game improve? Will the run defense be stouter? Are special teams OK? But Kill has this program pointed in the right direction as he enters his third season in the Twin Cities.

And here is what Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune learned.


Here is a nice spring outlook on the Legends Division.

Thanks, Omaha World-Herald! Me? I like Nebraska to win the division. And if the Husker defense is improved, it could be a REALLY good season in Lincoln.


Wouldn?t it be neat if Wisconsin played a game at Lambeau Field? Well, it could happen. The Badgers could play host to an SEC power like, say, LSU. Trying getting a seat to a game like that.


The hype and anticipation of the arrival of Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg has been substantial. Here is more. In my mind, it?s Hackenberg?s job to lose. Sorry, Tyler Ferguson.


The gang at Athlon?s has graded the new college hoops hires. And, it?s good news for Minnesota and Northwestern.



My take: With the returning roster, there should be a good chance of that happening.

My take: This is amazing.

My take: This always seemed like a forced trophy/rivalry.

My take: This sounds about right.

My take: That does give it an edge.

My take: (I am shaking my head.)

My take: He isn?t the only one.


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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