Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, April 24, 2015

Athlon Sports recently took a stab at ranking the Big Ten college towns and I was honored to be part of the panel. I also was glad to see Madison No. 1 on the list. That is where I had Badgerville on my ballot.

Some beefs: Columbus is WAY too high at No. 4. It is too big to be a ?college town.?

And Evanston No. 7? Come on. Put Evanston in Central Illinois and, well, you know ?

Lincoln (No. 10) and College Park (No. 11) are WAY too low. Yes, Lincoln was leveled by the glaciers years ago but has a TON of cool places to eat/hangout. And no fan base is better in this galaxy. College Park is a bucolic oasis amid an urban jungle. I find it quaint.

Alas, I was chagrined to see my home town of West Lafayette finish last. I like to refer to WL as the Big Ten?s ?best-kept secret,? or something like that.


How about this to start your Friday? NCAA top honcho Mark Emmert concedes that he ?could have handled things better? in regards to the Penn State case. I doubt this admission will make anyone in State College feel any better. The NCAA?s handling of the PSU scandal was a perfect ?how-to? guide on how not to handle investigations. The more revelations/admissions that come out, the more embarrassing this looks for the NCAA. Good gawd.


Now hear this, big, bad SEC/ACC coaches: Nebraska is headed to Atlanta for a satellite camp.

A school like Nebraska needs camps like this, since it sits in a shallow recruiting base. As I have noted in previous links columns, many coaches in the south are hacked off by these camps. (Insert sound of baby crying right here.) Let?s hear from a new voice of discontent: Clemson?s Dabo Swinney.

?Ultimately what happens is instead of camps you are having combines,? he said Wednesday on the ACC teleconference. ?My philosophy is we put a tremendous amount of emphasis on our camp at Clemson, and I want to get guys on our campus.?

Come on. On-campus camps essentially are combines, too. Just fess up and say why you REALLY don?t like these camps-it?s because they are RIGHT SMACK DAB IN THE HEART OF YOUR RECRUITING TURF. Is that so hard to say?


D?Angelo Russell made official yesterday what we all knew was going to happen: He?s turning pro after his freshman season. (Cha-ching!!!) Thanks for the (brief) memories, D?Angelo! Don?t forget about us.


Yes, Tim Beckman has made strides in his three seasons at Illinois. But, work remains-especially on defense, which has been a dirty word in Champaign since-well-the days of Dana Howard and John Holocek.

And Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald Reviews notes that Beckman must still find a legitimate backup running back and another wide receiver or two. I think Illinois will be OK at wideout. But, behind RB Josh Ferguson? That is an issue. I can?t wait to see freshman Ke?Shawn Vaughn from Antoich, Tenn. He?ll arrive in June and is a 5-10, 200-pound 4-star prospect who was the No. 1 running back in Tennessee.


This is a pretty neat from idea from Chad Leistikow of, who analyzes the state of Iowa football in five quotes. Words within the words, people.


Stop me if you?ve heard this before: Michigan State QB Connor Cook is looking good.

Cook is a stud headed for a big senior season. He has been named second team all-Big Ten the past two seasons, MVP in the Big Ten title game and Rose Bowl while also throwing a touchdown pass in a school-record 16 straight games.

?I think he has shown improvement in his footwork, he?s been very accurate, he knows the system very well,? Mark Dantonio said. ?He?s been accurate on his throws.

?Like I said the other day, he was nearly flawless until the very end of the scrimmage. Played very well.?


This video will put a smile on your face: Rutgers Eric LeGrand tweets a remarkable video showing his latest progress.

I have gotten to know LeGrand a bit over the last year. And, without a doubt, I can say he is a good person whose personality and disposition I admire greatly.


Stanford coach David Shaw chimes in on Jim Harbaugh, for whom he coached for when Harbaugh led the Cardinal.

Shaw was asked by NFL Network?s Rich Eisen if Harbaugh was ? insane? Yes, insane. I?m listening. Go ahead.

"I do not have a medical degree, I do not have a Ph.D in psychology or psychiatry. Jim is out there, Jim is who he is," Shaw said. "There's no hiding it. Everybody's seen it; this is who he is. He drives people, he pushes people, he is the most competitive person on the planet. It's just who he is.

"He's going to rub some people the wrong way. He's going to find a way to win football games, because that's what he does. Some people are going to wear out (from him). Jim says that himself; he has a tendency to wear people out at times. You get the good with the bad. What you get from Jim is 100 miles an hour from day one."


Maryland RB Jacquille Veii plans to transfer, thinning a RB corps that doesn?t need to be thinned.

Veii was expected to be third on the depth chart going into preseason practice this summer, behind senior Brandon Ross and junior Wes Brown, who sat out the spring recovering from an injury. Now what?


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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