Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, July 22, 2013

The Des Moines Register has a nice package examining the spending habits of teams across the Big 12, Big Ten and the nation. Randy Peterson of the paper did a bang up job.

Some nice graphics with the package, too. Check them out.

Ohio State has the biggest budget in the Big Ten. The smallest? Illinois.

SO LONG, BCS! This is the final year of the BCS. Can I get an ?amen?? With a playoff coming in 2014, will the 2013 season get largely forgotten in the hype of the coming playoff?

?I think about that a lot,? said Bill Hancock, director of the BCS. ?I don?t know how others think, but I?m of the mind that two teams are going to play in the BCS championship game this year. One?s going to win the national championship, and that team needs to be honored. So I understand that people want to talk about the playoff but all of us in this business - because of the student-athletes - we have to remember that we have another year of the BCS to go. We need to provide a quality experience for them, we need to give them the attention that they deserve, because they?re going to be the national champion.?

Well, I for one am ready to zoom by this season and get right to a playoff. I just wish it was more than a four-team playoff. But, let?s discuss that another day.

ILLINI RECRUITS: Yes, Illinois? early recruiting efforts aren?t stellar. But the great Loren Tate wonders what?s the rush to judgment?

According to, only two of Illinois? nine commitments are ranked. In fact, none of the nine commitments had offers from the likes of Wisconsin, Nebraska or Michigan. Nope. The Illinois commitments largely had offers from ? MAC schools. Wooing talent to Champaign would be easier if, writes Tate:

1. It was easier to enroll JC transfers.

2. Marginal students could be accepted the way they are at, say, Cincinnati and Louisville.

3. Illinois had more state loyalty from recruits.

4. Access to the massive population near O?Hare Airport wasn?t so easy to access for other schools.

BUCKEYES LOADED ON O LINE: This time last season, the Ohio State offensive line was a big question. Now, it?s a major strength. Credit line coach Ed Warinner, whose unit is a major reason why the Buckeyes are the Big Ten favorite who some feel has a shot to play in the BCS title game.

This year?s front may be the best in the Big Ten with four senior starters back-Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall. As noted by the great Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch, Mewhort and Norwell have been named to the Outland Trophy watch list. Linsley was named to the Rimington Award watch list, given to the country?s top center. Hall, the right guard, has transformed his body, dropping his body fat index to 20 percent from 25. This is all great news for Braxton Miller and the OSU running backs.

PREVIEWING PENN STATE: With training camps drawing near, the 50-Yard Lion Blogger has an impressive and comprehensive breakdown of Penn State?s coming season.

There also is a good game-by-game breakdown of the 2013 campaign. I think another 8-4 record is very possible-if injuries don?t set in.

WATCH THESE GUYS: Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News has his 10 players to watch in the Big Ten.

Surprises? There are none on this list. But I think I would have included Penn State DE Deion Barnes.

MICHIGAN DEFENSIVE FRONT: The Michigan defense has some questions. One is the line, which has lost Will Campbell and Craig Roh. And Brennen Beyer has moved to linebacker. Get the picture? But the unit could be more explosive with Frank Clark-a former safety who has added 57 pounds–coming off the edge.

Clark is a quick, strong athlete off the edge whom projects to start at one end with Jibreel Black, Chris Wormley and Quinton Washington filling out the rest of the line. This unit must help generate a better pass rush and after Michigan notched just 22 sacks in 2012, which ranked 78th in the country. And only 12 of those sacks came from the defensive line, a symptom of a lack of playmakers.

NARDUZZI KEEPING BUSY: There is no rest for Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi this summer, as he's looking at film of opponents.

"We spent most of our summer working on our opponents, and we already have our Western Michigan cutups, watched a lot of Tampa Bay and Rutgers cutups from back in the day," Narduzzi told "(New Western Michigan coach) P.J. Fleck was the receivers coach at Tampa Bay with (Greg) Schiano last season and he was with Schiano at Rutgers.?

UTAH STATE BELIEVES IN ANDERSEN: Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen still is revered back at Utah State, where they think he?ll be a success in his new gig. Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel went to Logan, Utah, to get the low down on the new Badger boss.


My take: This is interesting. And very unlikely to happen.

My take: Shocking to see Michigan so low. Then again, maybe not.

My take: Yes.

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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