Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 3, 2013

The Big Ten came out with its all-league teams. And, as you would suspect, some of the choices raised eyebrows. So, let's start daily links there. I love Wisconsin?s Chris Borland, who was picked as the league?s top linebacker. But Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier had better numbers. Production should mean something, right?

And how couldn?t Buckeye OT Jack Mewhort be first-team all-league by the coaches? And I was a bit surprised to see Michigan?s Taylor Lewan named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. Mewhort deserved that honor.

And Devin Funchess was named Tight End of the Year, only he really wasn?t a tight end for much of the season. No Beau Allen on the teams? The Wisconsin nose man deserved better.


A good article from the New York Times on the Big Ten?s looming bigger footprint with Rutgers and Maryland poised to join. Yes, the moves have had their critics in the short-term, but the Big Ten will look good in the long run.


The great Mike Huguenin of takes a look at the draft stock of Michigan?s Taylor Lewan. As you would suspect, his stock rating differs, depending on who you talk to. I don?t care what any Ann Arbor spin doctors say: Lewan didn?t have a good 2013 season. There may have been as many three Big Ten offensive tackles who were better this season.


It would have been easy for Kirk Ferentz to lose his cool during this turnaround season. But, he didn?t.

Remember when a writer called Ferentz one of the five worst coaches in the nation in the preseason? Funny, huh?

?Everyone is entitled to their opinion,? Ferentz said. ?That?s the great thing about our country. I don?t think he went to jail for saying that. That?s just part of coaching. Fortunately, I don?t think I believed it. Bottom 10, maybe, but I wouldn?t say five. But that?s just talk and noise. And no one on our team was too worried about it.?


Good news for Ohio State: Dontre Wilson and Marcus Hall won?t be suspended for their part in a fight during the Michigan game. This really surprises me.

More non-action surprise: The Big Ten didn?t suspend Ohio State offensive lineman Marcus Hall for his obscene gesture in the Michigan game. Instead, Hall was just given a public reprimand.


Sam McKewon of has a nice piece on Bo Pelini that illustrates the passion his players emote for him. Check out this quote from Kenny Bell.

?I would play for Bo Pelini against Satan himself and a team of demons at the gates of the underworld,? Bell said.

McKewon says Bell's line is canonical for the Book of Bo. I've heard various other analogies to describe the coach's leadership - bunker, alley fight - but Pelini as a crusader in Hades best fits what he means to his players, assistants and most ardent defenders. They'll laugh about that line for years, at the sheer hyperbole of it, take a pull of a beer, pause and then say, ?you know, it's true.?

One area McKewon points out that must improve is turnovers. Check this out: Nebraska is minus-32 in turnover margin in six years under Pelini. No coach with this rate of success in recent years has been so stung by an aspect of the game that - coaches agree - most affects the outcome.


What?s next for Minnesota? Winning a bowl game.

The Gophers are 0-5 in bowl games since they defeated Alabama 20-16 in the 2004 Music City Bowl, so they?ll also have a chance to end that streak. Last year, Kill took a 6-6 team to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston, and the Gophers blew a late lead in a 34-31 loss to heavily favored Texas Tech.


Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times has some nice insight into Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit and future of the Illini attack.

It?s a bit exciting, what with quarterbacks Wes Lunt and Aaron Bailey in tow. And, from the sound of Cubit in this piece, Lunt may be a better fit for what he wants to do. Now, if the o-line can develop and a top wideout emerges. ?


Bill O?Brien has shaken up his staff, as linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden and quarterback coach Charlie Fisher are gone. I?m a bit shocked by these moves.



My take: I am, too.

My take: Pelini can afford it.

My take: As I said recently, Hyde is the Big Ten?s top back.

My take: I guess, but bowls primarily are just about selling tickets, inviting top name brands, fan base size. Playing well? Yes, it matters, but not as much as some people think.

My take: Mewhort should have been Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year.

My take: Tough, tough choice.

My take: His day will come.

My take: He and Jack Mewhort should have been consensus first-team picks.

My take: I was wondering the same thing as I watched Monday Night Football.

My take: A colossal oversight.


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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