Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 11, 2014

Mike Griffith of has three reasons why the Cotton Bowl is better than other bowls for Michigan State-and three reasons it might not be.

The fact MSU is playing a higher-ranked Baylor team offers a great opportunity for the Spartans to score a big victory and gain some credibility points. Michigan State didn?t really score a signature win in the regular season.



Keith Sargeant of takes a look at the numbers for the Rutgers offense compared to last season.

Sargeant notes that it's probably unfair to compare Rutgers' offense last year under offensive coordinator Ron Prince to the 2014 edition directed by Ralph Friedgen, considering last year's schedule wasn't nearly as difficult as the Big Ten gauntlet the Scarlet Knights faced this fall. Still, the numbers compare favorably from 2013 to 2014.


Further validation of the rising star that is Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman: He earned the Broyles Award as the nation?s top assistant.

No doubt, this wunderkind will be a head coach at some point. Who knows? He may land the open Houston job, as Herman has connections in the Lone Star State.

Doug Lesmerises of notes that Herman started his college coaching career by working at five different schools in Texas over 11 years, before moving on to Iowa State and then Ohio State. He's still Ohio State's go-to recruiter in Texas, where the Buckeyes have had recent success with players like Dontre Wilson and J.T. Barrett. So, maybe Houston would be right for Herman.


In an interview with Jon Solomon, NCAA president Mark Emmert reiterates his stance that the NCAA acted properly in sanctioning Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

"I think the [NCAA] executive committee and the board handled it very, very well. I'm sure there could have been things handled better from a communication view to the public. But in terms of the solution that was crafted and the sanctions that were put in place, the executive committee, the board and I think they wound up in exactly the right place.

"It had the intended impact for the university to demonstrate its seriousness. Do people like it? Of course not. There's nothing to like about a situation like that. I think it's easy to sit here today a little more than two years later and forget the trauma that was going on right then. I think it's served its purpose."

So, there is that. ?


With Boston College set to play Penn State in the Pinstripe Bowl, David Jones of wonders what would have happened if Joe Paterno had gotten the eastern-based league he wanted back in the 1980s. Check out these divisions Jones draws up:


  • Boston College
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Rutgers
  • Temple


  • Marshall
  • Penn State
  • Pittsburgh
  • Syracuse
  • Virginia Tech
  • West Virginia

Jones wonders in general if northeastern college football would have generated a critical mass of spotlight attention to keep it cohesive and vital instead of deteriorating into an incoherent mess of disconnected programs. It?s fun to think about.


These aren?t good times for Michigan hoops, which has lost at home to NJIT and Eastern Michigan. Now, the Wolverines must play at No. 3 Arizona this weekend. Ugh.

For Michigan, this will be both the toughest non-league game and toughest road game of the 2014-15 season. Just keeping it competitive would be a ?win.?


Have you seen Minnesota big man Mo Walker? He?s leaner. How much? Sixty pounds. But, he must be meaner to be a real asset for the Golden Gophers.

?I always joke, ?What do you need me to do - punch you right before you go out or something to wake you up???? Richard Pitino said. ?He has that laid-back, reserved personality. And that?s fine, be yourself. But on the court, you?ve got to compete and you?ve got to be mean and you?ve got to be tough.?


Count Iowa?s Fran McCaffery among those who likes the Big Ten?s move to New York for the 2018 Big Ten tourney.

"I think it's terrific," McCaffery said. "The idea that we have it on a rotating basis, with D.C. and New York, is fabulous. It's great for our fans. We have a lot of alumni and fans in the East that don't get to as many games as they'd like. And now we're bringing our teams there."

Michigan State?s Tom Izzo? He thinks it?s a double-edged sword. He doesn?t mind the venue. He minds the fact the league will play the tourney a week earlier and be idle the week leading into Selection Sunday.

"That's probably my biggest concern," Izzo said of the timing. "Not where it is, but that. Nobody wants that much time off. It could be two weeks, because you could play and get beat on a Thursday, it could be two weeks."


I?ll leave you with this: Don?t whine on Twitter about Indiana hoops to Dan Dakich ? or he?ll block you. Double D is squarely behind Tom Crean and thinks the Hoosiers are playing hard.


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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