Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, May 20, 2014

Oh, boy. You know the football season isn?t too far away when someone starts a countdown of some sort. Well, here?s one from the Lincoln Journal Star counting down the Top 25 Big Ten players of 2014. Here are Nos. 11-25. Check back for the rest.

Who do I think will be No. 1? C?mon, that?s easy: Ohio State QB Braxton Miller.

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Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong holds a big key to the Cornhuskers? season. Can he improve as a passer? To that end, he recently had a workout with Brett Favre. Yes, THAT Brett Favre. Just hope Favre left out that part about ill-advised/forced passes.

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Michigan coach Brady Hoke is adamant that kids who verbally commit to the Wolverines stop taking visits to other schools. Fair enough.

Hoke also is a proponent of an early signing period. Me, too. Hoke would like for kids to be able to take official visits in May/June and sign letters-of-intent near the fall. Again, this all makes sense. Typically, schools that are elite don?t like this, as they want the one signing period in February so they can poach players from other schools late in the process. It?s the lesser programs that typically want an early signing period to protect their ?finds? from poachers.

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I always love hearing from Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. He emotes passion and is great at what he does. Check him out in this video. It seems Narduzzi isn?t impressed by any of his guys. At least not yet. Hey, he has to keep them motivated, right?

A sampling of Narduzzi?s frankness: "Is their hustle impressive? Not yet. Is their knowledge impressive? Not yet. The total talent on the field right now is not impressive, but it will be, we'll get it to be where we want it to be. But it's not where we want it to be."

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Wisconsin fans will enjoy this preview of their football team. Don?t you wonder if there?s a quarterback controversy looming between Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy? Honestly, I don?t think either guy embodies what Gary Andersen wants under center. G.A. wants a mobile signal-caller.

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This is pretty cool: The 2010 Iowa-Wisconsin game featured 30 future NFL draft picks. Each team had 15 selections. Pretty impressive, huh? Take that, SEC.

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Taylor Lewan's attorney asked for a week adjournment for pre-trial. It?s rescheduled for June 16.

Lewan is facing a charge of aggravated assault and two charges of assault and battery - misdemeanors - stemming from an alleged street fight on Dec. 1 in Ann Arbor. You know he wants to put this behind him.

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Here is a nice ?catch-up? story on former Iowa hoopster Matt Gatens, who is playing professionally in the Ukraine.

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Things haven?t gone well for Purdue basketball the last two seasons. In fact, it?s fair to say the program is at a crossroads.

Last season may have been rock bottom. Or, at least Matt Painter better hope it was rock bottom. Still, myriad questions face the 2014-15 Boilermakers. Who will be the point guard? Can this team shoot? Any leaders on the roster? How is the toughness? Stay tuned. This is going to fascinating to watch.

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Good news for BTN: President Mark Silverman confirmed Monday that the network had reached deals with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision to broadly distribute BTN in the New Jersey/New York area. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Silverman still is angling on a deal with Comcast, another major provider in the area.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Interesting. Fortunate to have felony charged dropped.

My take: Good for him.

My take: Congrats, indeed!

My take: Yes, I guess.

My take: Not mad-furious.

My take: Too bad it isn?t a 16-team playoff.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, 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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