Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 6, 2014

Here's something Michigan State fans might begin worrying about: Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi?s name is being linked to the Louisville job now that Charlie Strong has bolted for Texas.

If I?m Narduzzi, and Louisville calls, I listen. This is a GREAT job that you can win big at. More reason for Spartan fans to fret: If Narduzzi left, he probably would take some MSU assistants with him. Look, if Narduzzi was ever gonna leave, now would be the time. His name never will be hotter.


Another positive about Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, if you are looking for more, comes from Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald: The Cornhuskers have won nine consecutive games decided by six points or less. So, there?s that.

You would think that a team with the nerve and moxy to play well in tight games and pull them out wouldn?t be so sloppy with the football? Alas, Pelini?s squads often have been undone by turnovers during his tenure. But, you know the potential is there for Pelini to clean that up.


Nice win for Wisconsin vs. Iowa last night! And here?s a nice feature on Badgers Ben Brust and Josh Gasser, whose tight bond sets the tenor and tone for a tight team. There aren?t many better tandems in the Big Ten.


The Penn State coaching search marches on. Former Penn State tight end/Miami coach Al Golden is out of the picture. Too bad. I think he would have been perfect.

Would interim head coach Larry Johnson get a look? He may be considered, but I don?t see him getting the job. The chase could come down to fired Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak and Vanderbilt?s James Franklin.


It?s time to turn the page at Iowa, which just closed a successful 8-5 season in which it basically beat who it was supposed to be ? and lost to who it was supposed to lose to. The offseason to-do list is lengthy.

Quarterback/pass game; pass rush; linebackers; special teams ?


It became official over the weekend: Ryan Shazier is bolting Ohio State. What does that mean for the Buckeye defense and linebacking corps?

Without Shazier, the Buckeyes will turn to Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry. says that players and coaches stressed that Perry steadily improved as the season wore on. He tallied a team-high 10 tackles and a sack against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Grant battled through a slew of injuries throughout the year and never found his footing. Indeed, he never has lived up to his five-star hype. Beyond those two, a handful of younger, more inexperienced players could enter the fold. Trey Johnson, Camren Williams, Mike Mitchell and incoming freshman Raekwon McMillan could factor into the equation. It?s gonna be interesting to watch this unit in the spring.


A rebuilding year at Minnesota under first-year coach Richard Pitino? Nope. The Golden Gophers are exceeding expectations. Even venerable Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman agrees. That win on Sunday vs. Purdue was another brick in the wall; too bad the Gophers let one get away vs. Michigan in the opener. Yes, Austin and Andre Hollins are good, but this largely is a star-less Minnesota team. What Pitino has done thus far is very impressive.


The team Minnesota beat on Sunday, Purdue, is 0-2 in the Big Ten and searching for answers. Big man A.J. Hammons continues to exasperate.

After grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds against Ohio State, Hammons got his hands on just one at Minnesota. He didn't block a shot, a rarity for one of college basketball's best in that category. And on limited opportunities, he managed only seven points. I think it?s time we all embrace who Hammons is: an average player.


Michigan State had a nice win at Indiana over the weekend. And Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News thinks it?s a sign the Spartans can handle the big stage.

Any road victory in the Big Ten is good. But, honestly, Indiana isn?t near what it was last season. Yes, Assembly Hall in Bloomington is a big stage, but the Hoosiers are a fringe NCAA tourney team. But, again, triumphs are tough to come by in Bloomington. MSU seems to be coming together and is hitting on all cylinders. Big, big game coming up on Tuesday with Ohio State coming to East Lansing.


Time to fantasize, Illinois fans: Which team was better, the 2004-05 squad that played for the nation title with guys like Dee Brown, Luther Head and Deron Williams? Or the 1988-89 Flyin? Illini led by Kendall Gill, Nick Anderson and Kenny Battle.

Me? I?m a softie for the Flyin? Illini. Give me Lou Henson?s crew over Bruce Weber?s. I just think the athletic ability and explosiveness would be too much for Brown, Head, Williams and Co.


My take: I have a feeling a good SEC team would do just fine playing in those conditions at Green Bay on Sunday.

My take: He has been known to get out of control.

My take: I think Wisconsin may be the best team in the Big Ten.

My take: No, it?s true. He said it.

My take: Nice effort for both vs. Northwestern. Similar performances will be needed with Mitch McGary out as the competition increases.

My take: Gonna be a nice test for the Illini.

My take: Time to step in and take control.

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.