Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 17, 2013

December in Pennsylvania has come to mean two things: 1. The holidays; 2. Bill O?Brien speculation. So, let?s start daily link there. David Jones of takes a look at the annual O?Brien-to-the-NFL chatter.

Would O?Brien leave? Jones has no reason to think so, but he tried to contact O?Brien so he could debunk this report from Jason LaCanfora. Jones didn?t hear a peep.

If the Jones report wasn?t enough for you, there?s this: Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror tells us to get used to the O?Brien-NFL rumors. They aren?t going away. He?s correct.

It would be nice for fans if O?Brien publicly addressed them. But, he has no obligation to do so. Bottom line: As long as O?Brien is in State College, this is gonna happen every December. Hey, it means he?s doing a good job, right?


This is fun: Dirk Chatelain of tells us who his top five Nebraska coaching villains are. No. 1, of course, is Oklahoma?s Barry Switzer, the ultimate Cornhusker antagonizer.

Recently retired Texas coach Mack Brown is No. 3. The guy was 8-1 vs. Nebraska.

The Nebraska offensive line was beat up most of the season. Now, the unit is on the mend and should be at its best in the bowl game. Finally. But despite the injury woes, this was still a pretty good group. Credit line coach John Garrison.

?We were pretty beat up. We had a lot of guys gutting through it, just getting out there, playing hurt,? tackle Jeremiah Sirles said. ?These couple of weeks off, guys have lived in the treatment room, myself and some others.?


Despite the struggles of Derrick Walton, John Beilein says the true freshman Michigan point man will be back in the lineup.

Brendan Quinn of notes that Walton played only 14 minutes against Arizona; 10 under his season average. He scored one point, dished one assist and committed one turnover. His playing time has been declining the last four games, going from 30 to 26 to 22 to 14.

?This is the big thing for Derrick to understand, I spoke with him today about it: Trey Burke went for two years without really having, until the end of last year, a really experienced backup and Darius Morris went for a whole year without an experienced backup,? Beilein said during the radio show. ?Those guys probably got more minutes when they were playing because there was no need to give a guy a rest.?

Ah, growing pains. The time to learn is now-not in Big Ten play.


Michigan State A.D. Mark Hollis knows Mark Dantonio and Pat Narduzzi always will be hot commodities. Hey, it beats the alternative, which would mean the Spartans are struggling. Hollis also is confident the duo will remain in East Lansing.


Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette has a look at bowl ticket prices.

Good news for Minnesota fans. Tickets to the Texas Bowl? They are a scant $4. Here is what Hlas has to say about the Minnesota-Syracuse clash in Houston: ?If anyone is spotted in the stands at the Houston game, it will likely be an usher who is having a very easy day of work.?

It always strikes me as absurd to play bowls like this. They lose money. Few attend them. Few watch on TV. Why do the bowls go on? Just let all the schools schedule a 13th game. It makes more sense-and costs a lot less.


How about this? Iowa is one of just four states with two Top 25 teams. Impressive.

So, two of the state?s four D-I schools are ranked. For contrast, Illinois has 13 D-I schools-and none are ranked.


Good video from Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: Minnesota DC Tracy Claeys discusses the players coming back on D in 2014.

The defense may have been the most underrated aspect of the Gophers? rise this past season.


Sporting News has a fun photo gallery of what current 50-something college hoops coaches looked like when they were young and hip.


My take: Some talent on that Nebraska team.

My take: This is nuts. And just not right.

My take: I agree totally on this. I voted for Cutcliffe. What he did at Duke was astounding.

My take: Imagine if he was still at Wisconsin.

My take: All five guys are quarterbacks. You know a few players will come out of nowhere to contend next season.

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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