Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 29, 2016

Finally, Maryland got the signature win it was looking for last night, taking down Iowa, its first conference loss. The win tightens the Big Ten race, with the Hawkeyes and Indiana tied atop the standings with one league loss. Know this: Maryland plays at Indiana in the last game of the year for each team. Oh, and Indiana and Iowa still have to play twice.


Wisconsin has a defensive coordinator, as the Badgers have turned to former USC DC Justin Wilcox, who steps into the massive shoes of departed Dave Aranda.

Wilcox spent the past two seasons with the Trojans before coach Clay Helton fired him and three other assistants. Wilcox?s unit ranked 46th and 50th nationally in scoring defense the past two years after USC ranked 16th in that category in 2013. Wilcox, 39, who played defensive back at Oregon from 1996-99, began his coaching career as a GA at Boise State from 2001-02.


Indiana is on its third defensive coordinator under Kevin Wilson. Will Tom Allen finally have an answer to what ails a perpetually sick Hoosier defense?

Why does Allen — who helped turn around defenses at Mississippi, South Florida, Arkansas State, Drake and more — think he can do what so many others could not, including Doug Mallory and Brian Knorr under Wilson?

?I believe in what we do, and our system, the process of maximizing the talents we have,? Allen told Pete DiPrimio of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. ?We?ve gone to a lot of places and weren?t necessarily the most talented. When we got to Mississippi, they had lost 16 straight SEC games. It wasn?t like we changed the whole team.

?You want to get athletes in space. You want guys who can run and hit and finish. That?s what we?ll emphasize in recruiting and with the guys we?ve got. Take the guys here and play to their strengths. Matching the scheme to fit what we have here and make it work.

?Defensively the key is connecting with the guys and getting them to play with fanatical effort, to buy into you and what you?re teaching.?


I love recruiting stories. And Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star got some good ones talking to ex-Nebraska chief off-campus recruiter Jack Pierce, who helped land some of the program?s top players from 1985-92.

Speaking of Nebraska, A.D. Shawn Eichorst likes the capacity of Memorial Stadium. But he wants to keep enhancing the game-day experience.

"We like where we're at from a capacity perspective," said Eichorst. "You can maintain capacity without having seats too, right? Kind of like we did at volleyball. You can have standing-room only, you can have plazas. You can do a lot of unique things. But they have to be well thought-out. You have to get to the right place with them. So, no, we're not looking at anything other than providing anything but an exceptional experience throughout the stadium."

This already may be the best game-day environment in the Big Ten.


Looks like Braxton Miller is turning heads at the Senior Bowl.

And my favorite Big Ten player, Northwestern Superback Dan Vitale, also is kicking butt. The guy is a versatile beast, a true throwback from a black-and-white era. Draft this man!


Steve Politi of wrote a column recently about the recruiting tactics of Michigan?s Jim Harbaugh. And, he got some backlash.

The issue of pulling scholarships is dicey. But Harbaugh isn?t the first to do it. And, as I say, the door swings both ways, as often players flip schools late in the process after pledging their allegiance to another school for weeks and months.

Bottom line: Recruiting isn?t always pretty. And it never has been. And it never will be. An early-signing period would help take away some of the cut-throat tactics. But the big schools don?t want an early signing period, preferring to work into February with a chance to continually flip recruits and enhance their haul.

Hey, coaches are paid to win games. And, you win games with great players.


Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register has some sobering news concerning the death of former Iowa DB Tyler Sash: He suffered from CTE. Sash was 27 when he died in September.

Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System, told the New York Times the severity of Sash?s condition was similar to Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012, at 43. The differences in age and NFL experience - Sash played a total of 23 regular-season games in the league compared to Seau?s 268 - was alarming.

?Reaction to the news has been very strong nationally,? said Chris Nowinski, executive director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. ?Because he was known to be so beloved and he was so young with such a severe disease.?


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