Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, May 1, 2014

Big doings here to kick off your Thursday: The College Football Playoff folks have unveiled the criteria that will be used to select the four schools for the pending playoff.

Nothing too earth shaking. But this is worth noting: The first revelation of the committee?s working ratings will be revealed Oct.28 and will culminate with the final four unveiled the weekend somewhere around Dec.7. When you think about it, all of this "criteria" probably is in place to differentiate between the No. 4 and No. 5 team, right? I have to think the first three teams will be pretty easy to figure out. Regardless, this is getting kinda exciting. A playoff actually is going to happen. I still wish it was at least an eight-team playoff. Oh, well. This is a start.


Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Pat Narduzzi have been together for 10 years. Is there a better head coach/coordinator tandem in the Big Ten? Nope.

?I think Pat?s grown, as we all do over the course of time,? Dantonio said. ?We?ve been together 10 years so he?s 48 years old right now and he came to us at 38. I think he?s gotten stability because of having been here, the longevity of having been at Michigan State and even Cincinnati.?


I don't know about you, but when Nick Saban speaks, I listen. And here is what he said recently about the Big Ten while at a speaking engagement in Ohio. "I think the Big Ten is a really good conference, and I want to be quoted on that."

Still, even the Nicktator knows the SEC is king. Why? Well, passion is a big par of it.

?Everybody grows up a college football fan,? Saban said. ?There?s no Cincinnati Bengals fans. There?s no Cleveland Dawg Pound. There?s no other choice for people in terms of how they grew up. So that passion for athletics, especially football, is really, really strong. In the Southeast, the school is still the center of a lot of communities. So there?s a lot of positive self-gratification for people to be involved in programs.?


Iowa's 2013 recruiting class is starting to pay dividends.

The Hawkeyes added 22 scholarship players in the Class of 2013, notes. Eleven of those players were on the depth chart at the end of spring drills last week. The class has the potential to be deep in experience by the time they all become upperclassmen, setting the table for good teams in the future. Four members of the Class of 2013 played as true freshmen last season - cornerback Desmond King, linebacker Reggie Spearman, running back LeShun Daniels and wide receiver Matt VandeBerg. Yep, Iowa may be primed to go on a roll, people.


This is interesting: Sam McKewon of takes a look at the "long, depressing march through the 2010 Big Ten recruiting classes."

McKewon combed through various recruiting rankings and examined the careers of the touted prospects. The shortcomings of many of these top recruits may be a big reason why last season was not a great one for the Big Ten.The top 2010 recruit? Michigan State's William Gholston. He was never first-team all-Big Ten, however, and he regressed as a junior after a strong sophomore campaign. He is perhaps best known for a few dirty plays in the 2011 Michigan game.


Nice to see ex-Nebraska coach Doc Sadler land the Southern Miss job. He is one of the sport's good guys.


Northwestern should have one of the better receiving corps in the Big Ten this fall. And one of the key guys figures to be Miles Shuler, a transfer from Big Ten newcomer Rutgers.

"My production at Rutgers wasn't up to par where I wanted it to be," Shuler said. "I let that frustrate me, I was impatient and, at the end of the day, that killed me. I just wasn't having fun on the field. Now this opportunity at Northwestern, I feel more relaxed on the field and I'm able to make those plays down the field."

NU also still has USC transfer WR Kyle Prater. Will he finally emerge in 2014?


In case Ohio State fans needed a reminder of how valuable Braxton Miller is, go back and pop in a tape of the spring game. See what I mean? OSU fans may come to realize how valuable/important ex-backup Kenny Guiton was if Miller gets hurt again.


Penn State fans will love this from Black Shoes Diaries. All-time Penn State draft team. The mission of the writers: To draft the most fearsome Penn State team possible using all time greats from our alma mater's past. Pretty cool, huh? And, as you can guess, the choices are plentiful.

*** takes a look at returning Big Ten quarterbacks based on yards per attempt. It's a simple stat. Yet, it's also a valuable tool to measure the explosiveness of a signal-caller.

No. 1 on the list? No shock, it's Ohio State's Braxton Miller. It's interesting to note the jump in production by Michigan State's Connor Cook from non-conference to league games. And it's also pointed out that the numbers of Indiana's Tre Roberson were basically the same in non-league and league games, while teammate Nate Sudfeld saw his numbers drop once Big Ten action started.


My take: Yes, he kinda became a big deal.

My take: Mark your calendars.

My take: Gonna be close. The Buckeyes have a monster recruiting class coming in.

My take: Interesting.

My take: So, we'll stay tuned.

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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