Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, April 28, 2014

The Spartans put a bow on spring drills on Saturday. And, this team looks good. Yes, it has some areas to shore up, like defensive tackle and the offensive lines. Still, there is a lot to like. So much so that there is … national championship talk? Yes, your ears aren?t deceiving you.

"We kept saying Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl, since I've been here, and we finally achieved it," said Bennie Fowler, a departing fifth-year senior receiver told Mike Griffith of "The next step is a national championship.

"They don't need to think about the Rose Bowl anymore, they have bigger and better goals now with the playoff system."

Why not MSU? It went 13-1 last year and finished No. 3 in the polls. If there were a playoff last year, the Spartans would have been in it. This is possible, folks.


Iowa wrapped up its spring drills on Saturday, too. I love this team. It could be the Big Ten?s sleeper. Look at the personnel. Look at the schedule. See? Here?s some video interviews from Jake Rudock and Co., to get you jacked up for 2014.


The coffers of Big Ten schools figure to get fatter in coming years because of a new TV deal.

According to conference documents acquired by the Lafayette Journal & Courier through an open records request, the Big Ten expects league teams to each pull in $44.5 million in league revenues in 2017-18. That would be the amount projected for the 12 schools eligible for full Big Ten shares from the league?s television deal and postseason revenue. Maryland and Rutgers, joining the league this year, will work up toward full shares, just as Nebraska is doing.

All together now: That?s a lot of cash.


Northwestern had its historic vote for a union on Friday. But we won?t know results of the balloting for weeks, months and maybe years as NU appeals the initial regional NLRB decision that said the players were employees. So, go ahead and keep speculating as to what the final verdict might be. It?s fun!


It was good to see Minnesota coordinators Matt Limegrover and Tracy Claeys each get big raises and three-year deals.

Love both of these guys. Each is among the best at what they do in the Big Ten. Claeys got an annual raise to $600,000, and Limegrover will make $550,000. That?s buy a lot of Jucy Lucys at The Blue Door Pub. You know what I?m talk about.


Sad to see Mitch McGary?s Michigan career end the way it did. But, it sounds like his draft status won?t be impacted by his dubious exit from Ann Arbor: He still projects to be a late first-round pick.

"It's not like he's a kid with a bad attitude," a scout told "If it was a kid that was a malcontent and changed schools a lot, then it would be another (issue), but I don't think this is that big of a deal."


Oh, and in case you missed it: Jon Horford has transferred to Florida.

I wonder if Horford knows minutes may be at a premium in Gainesville for a Gator team that has a loaded front line? Oh, well.


I have to admit it: Tom Shatel of may be on to something when he writes that late kickoffs risk may turn game attendees into TV viewers.

As Shatel notes, ?prime-time games are good for recruiting and good for a program's image. But it's a balance, and college administrators and TV execs should keep one thing in mind about their paying customers who make the drive to campus.?

But, money talks. And, TV writes some big checks. The guy who actually buys a ticket and drives to the game? He isn?t a top priority. And, that?s kinda sad.


Lee Barfknecht of takes a look at the Big Ten East. Spoiler alert: Ohio State and Michigan State will be really good.


Penn State?s early recruiting success? James Franklin says not to credit him.

What? Yes, the school and program have a lot to sell. And the assistants do a good job. But Franklin is the straw that stirs the drink. He sets the tone and enhances all that the program has to sell. The guy is the ultimate salesman.



My take: This is interesting. And not fair.

My take: Maybe not Big Ten rivals.

My take: I guess they like what he brings now.

My take: This is pretty cool.

My take: This would be perfect.

My take: Sounds about right.

My take: Gotta love Doc!

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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