Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 14, 2015

Time to reach into my latest Big Ten Mailbag. The performance of the conference in the postseason has many of you excited. And, with good cause. On to the letters!

Do you think this year?s bowl season is a sign of the B1G making a comeback? – Jacob

This has been a nice postseason for the Big Ten, but it still went just 5-5 in bowls. But the wins were some big ones: Michigan State over Baylor in the Cotton; Wisconsin over Auburn in the Outback; Ohio State over Alabama in the Sugar-and then vs. Oregon in the title game. The conference needed victories like that after a listless few years. This could be a sign of things to come for a conference that has even more momentum with the arrival of Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.


With all the talk about Braxton Miller transferring, how come no one has brought up the possibility of Miller changing positions? It's pretty obvious that he's not going to make it in the NFL as a QB, so why doesn't he move to WR so he can get a head start on it? That's the only way he's going to make it in the NFL. – Gaurav Garg

You make a good point. I don?t think Miller has a future at quarterback in the NFL. He just doesn?t have the type of pocket presence and passing acumen to make it work at the next level, in my opinion. He seemingly has the athletic ability to be a receiver. But can he catch the ball? Run routes? Block? Who knows? And I also question his durability, as he twice has been lost to injury while at Ohio State.

What are your expectations for Michigan State next year? I know Mark Dantonio has built a very successful, consistent program that has won two major bowl games the past two seasons. I still think MSU will have Michigan's number as long as Dantonio is here, but trips to Columbus, Ann Arbor and a visit from Oregon next year could take a toll. Your thoughts?  – Eric

Yes, Dantonio has built a strong program the last eight seasons in East Lansing. The foundation for future success looms, as the Spartans have won double-digit games four times in the last five years. Michigan State has become one of the Big Ten?s ?hunted? teams. And, it can be difficult to deal with success and to remain on top with the pressure of expectations. I would not soft-sell what Michigan could become under Harbaugh. The entire Big Ten East looks like a ferocious division with MSU, Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State.

As a life-long Big Ten fan, it's good to see the league at the top of the college football world. I still don't agree with only a four-team playoff and I hope it is changed soon. – John

This postseason may be a sign of a return to dominance for the conference. The future looks bright. Like you, I?d enjoy to see a playoff beyond four teams. Six would be a good number. Give a bid to the winners of the five Power Conferences and award the sixth playoff spot to the highest-ranked non-Power Conference team. It may change in time, but it could take a while. Let?s just enjoy what we have for now.

I was under the assumption that the new hire for offensive coordinator at Ohio State would have strong Texas connections. And be a strong recruiter. – John Rhodes

Tim Beck, the former OC at Nebraska, does have strong ties to Texas. Beck recruited Texas while he was an assistant at Kansas. He also was a high school coach in the Lone Star State at Carrollton and Mansfield.

As a Purdue alum, I am a bit envious of what Louisville has done with its programs and facilities. I believe the school has surpassed many of the B1G programs they had been behind. What was their process? – Paul

No doubt, Louisville has invested heavily in its sports programs. Papa John?s Stadium is a beautiful football venue. And the KFC Yum! Center is a spectacular basketball facility. Sports matter at Louisville. Credit A.D. Tom Jurich, who is one of the best in the business. The programs and facilities in Derby City are as good-if not often better-than at many Big Ten schools.

Any chance Rutgers can pull off another upset like it did vs. Wisconsin? Maybe against Ohio State or Maryland later this year? Also, any chance the Scarlet Knights can squeak into the NIT as one of the bottom seeds? – Ben

No doubt, RU is capable of pulling off more upsets this season-especially when it plays at home. Who still has to play at Rutgers? Michigan; Michigan State; Ohio State; Purdue; Indiana; Maryland. If the Scarlet Knights can beat the Badgers – even if they were without star Frank Kaminsky (concussion) – they can beat anyone at home. The NIT? Possible, but that may be asking too much this season.

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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