Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, April 7, 2015

Wisconsin got right to the ledge of the national title-but couldn?t finish the job. No shame in losing to this Duke team, who freshmen rose to the occasion vs. a veteran Badger squad. Afterward, there were complaints about the officiating from Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and others. I still never think officials win or lose games. Players and coaches do. Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times sums it up well.

While Bo Ryan had a lot to say about the refs after the loss, he also took time to let the galaxy know ?We don?t do rent-a-player.?


It was fun to watch Rutgers? DE Kemoko Turay emerge last season as a pass-rush specialist. Now, he wants to round out his game after leading RU with 7.5 sacks in 2014. This guy could be a stud.

"It's important that he becomes a complete player," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood told "I think that, to me, is our goal for him. We want him to be a first, second, third down guy. We want to play him a lot. He is in great condition, so that is not the issue. We know how valuable he is on third down and how impactful he is on third down, but the great players play on all downs. That's what we want him to do. We feel like he's got a high ceiling."


Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has some interesting thoughts on altering the recruiting calendar. Among them: Let players begin their senior seasons before accepting scholarship offers.

"I'd like to slow down, the recruiting process," Meyer told Eleven Warriors. "I want to watch them go to camp. In a perfect world you watch them go to camp and see them play three or four games their senior year and say 'we'll take you. He's a perfect fit,'" Meyer said. "It's just, the calendar's been pushed up so far."

While we are at it, why not also have an early signing period? (Crickets.)


Anyone who has seen Illinois play under Tim Beckman knows there is a need for better play by the defense. Well, the often maligned unit is showing some signs of improvement this spring.

The biggest key is the line, which too often has gotten run over. Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald-Review notes that in 2013, Illinois gave up 5,778 yards, an average of 481 yards per game. Last season, Illinois surrendered 5,933 yards including 3,109 on the ground. But guys like Robbie Bain, Jihad Ward and Dawuane Smoot up front offer hope. And new d-line coach/co-DC Mike Phair has made a difference, too.


Speaking of defense, Iowa needs more from its sophomore linebackers. We are looking at you, Ben Niemann, Josey Jewell and Bo Bower.

?It?s not all physical talent that allows to you make a TFL [tackle for loss], to make a sack, to make a great play,? LB coach Jim Reid said. ?It?s having anticipation. It?s reading the line of scrimmage. It?s seeing the splits. It?s knowing what the formation is. It?s knowing what the down and distance is.

?. . . So, I think that personally, not just me, but I think we all believe that we?re heading in the right direction with this crowd and it?s a fun crowd to coach because they are into it big time.?


Spring practice is heating up at Michigan State. Mike Griffith of has five players to watch.

And know this, Sparty fan: If you plan on attending the spring game on April 50, be loud and proud. Mark Dantonio demands it-along with 50,000 fans.


This is interesting: Ohio State?s tackling improved in 2014 after it embraced a rugby style.

Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch says an instructional video by Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll that espouses a rugby style of tackling that avoids using the head and emphasizes leg tackling intrigued co-DC Chris Ash last year. So, he and the staff taught it.

?We went from one of the worst tackling teams in America to the best,? Urban Meyer said. ?We had the fewest missed tackles in the country.?


Purdue will have a nice nucleus of players back next season for Matt Painter. But, there is a gnawing issue: Point guard. It seems the program may not be point-guard-friendly, which scares some off. What?s gonna happen? If a suitable arrangement isn?t developed, the Boilermakers figure to struggle to play at a high level on a consistent basis.

Jon Octeus fell into Purdue?s lap prior to the start of last season as a grad transfer. It was a gift from the basketball gods. The Boilers may need a similar miracle again.


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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