Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 24, 2015

Big Ten spring football officially kicks off today. Yep. It?s true. The calendar still says ?February,? but they have the neck rolls and J-pads out in Ann Arbor for Jim Harbaugh?s first spring practice.

The Detroit Free Press will be at every practice, Tweeting about each broken shoe lace, Harbaugh whistle blow and bobbled snap-in addition to these five things to watch.

At the top of the list? Do you really have to ask?


This is amazing: The draft stock of Michigan State?s Connor Cook continues to soar-and he?s not even in the draft. Funny how this works, isn?t it? When you are a ?bit of a mystery,? unavailable and not analyzed to the nth degree at the Combine, you have a forbidden fruit quality that makes you highly desirable.


Looky here: Wisconsin senior point man Traevon Jackson eyes a return to the lineup on Sunday.

Great news, from a depth perspective. The Badgers haven't missed Jackson all that much, thanks to the play of Bronson Koenig, who has helped them go 10-0 since Jackson went down Jan. 11 at Rutgers. Will folding Jackson back into the mix mess up Wisconsin?s mojo?


How about this: Nebraska coach Tim Miles has banned his players from the locker room to stress that it?s a privilege to play at the school after a dismal effort in a 74-46 home loss to Iowa on Sunday.

?They?ll need to dress and shower somewhere else,?? said Miles, whose team is 13-14 overall and 5-10 in the Big Ten. ?Something?s got to give. If they aren?t in their normal environment, maybe they?ll have time to think about what?s really important to them - and how important Nebraska basketball is and your opportunity to play and the privilege to play.??

Man, this program sure is in a different spot than it was at this time last year, when it went 11-4 to end the regular season and earn the program?s first NCAA bid since 1998. Back then, the Huskers were the toast of the league and Miles was a funny, brilliant coach.


Has it really been 30 years since Bobby Knight chucked a chair across the Assembly Hall court during a loss to Purdue? Yes, Monday marked the 30th anniversary.

Here is video.

*** says 2015 begins Northwestern?s golden era of recruits. Interesting.

The site says that with the seniors from the classes of 2010 and 2011 graduating, we're about to see NU's golden recruiting classes get their moment. And that's when Fitzgerald has to win, right? Coming off two bowl-less seasons, the Wildcats need a good campaign.


This is kinda funny: Notre Dame sent a recruiting letter to Rutgers junior OL Chris Muller. Oops. Someone may want to update the recruiting files in the Irish office.


With Brian Stewart gone-off to join Nebraska as secondary coach-it?s time to get to know new Maryland DC Keith Dudzinski.

He has coordinator experience at UConn and UMass. And Testudo Times says that Dudzinski will be tasked with improving a defense that has declined statistically over each of the past two seasons, culminating in disappointing performances for the senior-heavy unit against Rutgers and Stanford to end the season.


Richard Pitino is going to take Minnesota to Spain to play some games in August. He?d probably like to be there now, seeing as how the Gophers are riding a three-game losing skid in a 16-12 season (5-10 Big Ten) that really isn?t going anywhere.

Currently, the Gophers have four freshmen pegged to join the club after the season, but Pitino and his staff have three other scholarships to dole out. And, according to Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pitino also hopes to get more experience for current freshmen Bakary Konate and Gaston Diehdiou, as well as freshman Nate Mason, JC transfer Carlos Morris and redshirt sophomore Charles Buggs. Minnesota will have just two seniors next year — Joey King and Carlos Morris — both of whom aren't expected to hold major roles.

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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