Big Ten: Boston College Eagles

Randy EdsallTony Quinn/Icon SMIThere's no easy winning formula for Randy Edsall and Maryland as they transition to the Big Ten.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham knew exactly what to expect -- and where to focus -- when his Utes moved from the Mountain West in 2011 to the Pac-12: Recruit better prospects. Upgrade the facilities. Break down new opponents.

But that didn't make the transition any easier.

The Utes made a big splash that first season and finished 8-5, before dropping to 5-7 in the two seasons thereafter. Whittingham knew a drop-off like that was possible -- a move into one of the Power Five carries with it certain risks -- but that doesn't mean any challenges caught the 54-year-old head coach off guard.

"No real surprises," Whittingham told ESPN.com. "Nothing blind-sided us from a football perspective. It was exactly as anticipated. ... The bottom line is it's just a process transitioning. We're not making excuses -- people don't care; we have to win -- but it takes time to ramp up."

With three programs set to officially join a new power conference Tuesday -- Louisville to the ACC; Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten -- that process will play out once again. New members know they'll have to adjust, improve and upgrade before taking a step forward in their new conferences. But that doesn't make the task any easier.

Since 2000, a dozen other football programs have transitioned into one of the Power Five conferences. And, in their first seasons, only three teams improved upon their previous year's record -- with just two watching their win total increase by more than one. For most teams, the acclimation has been gradual.

"There are no shortcuts," Whittingham added. "But I don't think there's anything that's undiscovered or a secret. It's pretty simple and pretty plain."

In one interview after another, five coaches told ESPN.com the same three keys for transitioning successfully: improve recruiting, upgrade facilities and figure out those new teams. That really shouldn't come as a shock, as those tips are useful for any team in any circumstance. But when it comes to transitioning, several coaches said, those priorities are magnified.

All of a sudden, during that conference transition, Utah's great facilities in the Mountain West didn't quite pass muster with USC's 110,000-square-foot sports facility or Oregon's $68 million football building. So it unveiled its own new facility last fall. In 2004, Virginia Tech's old Big East recruiting footprint wasn't enough to dominate long-term in the ACC. So the staff immediately sought out prospects in Georgia and the Carolinas. And, in 2005, Boston College's staff was forced to scout nine new opponents on a schedule that ballooned from No. 74 in terms of strength to No. 22. So, even during "off time," some coaches stared at their laptop screens morning to night.

Each team needed to improve in that area immediately or risk falling behind their conference foes. Transitioning is a constant arms race, after all, a game where teams that tread water end up sinking. There's no such thing as being stationary in college football, especially during such a transition. Especially during that first season.

"It's definitely more of a burden that first season, for sure. No doubt," said former Boston College assistant Jerry Petercuskie, who helped oversee the Eagles' transition to the ACC and currently coaches at FCS Elon. "But there's no magic in it. It's just getting your players to play and adapting to the enemy."

Truthfully, several coaches said, there's not much they can do to quicken that Year 1 transition. Payoffs in recruiting and facility upgrades aren't immediate; the main short-term advances come from locking yourself in the film room and studying up on new opponents.

In other words, the recipe for such immediate success isn't a big secret either. Of the three teams that did improve their record that first season, they all returned solid teams that boasted solid quarterbacks. Texas A&M had Heisman winner Johnny Manziel (7-6 record to 11-2), Virginia Tech started first-team All-ACC QB Bryan Randall (8-5 to 10-3), and Pitt had NFL draft pick Tom Savage under center (6-7 to 7-6).

So, until that increased recruiting focus starts to yield changes on the field, most coaches during the transition spend a considerably higher amount of time figuring out opposing schemes, opponents and situations.

"When you're away from the office, every coach is looking at the opponent. You need to figure out that new enemy," Petercuskie said. "[Coaches] are a paranoid group of people. We don't want to go out on a Saturday afternoon in front of a national TV audience and get embarrassed. So we're going to do whatever we have to do."

Added Tom Bradley, who coached at Penn State during its move to the Big Ten and is currently the senior associate head coach at WVU: "I would say it took a couple of years for us to really get a beat on teams -- to understand the fans and feel comfortable with the climate you're entering. What do they like to do in certain situations? Not knowing that definitely made it harder."

No one can say for sure exactly how Louisville, Rutgers and Maryland will fare in their new conferences: Virginia Tech assistant Charley Wiles believes the Terrapins are already a bowl-caliber team; Temple assistant Ed Foley thinks Rutgers will wind up in the middle of the pack. But everyone knows what these teams have to do to succeed.

They can't win in Year 1 without a solid group of returners. They have to upgrade their facilities to stay competitive. And above all -- Whittingham said this was 80 percent of the transition – they need to recruit well. Do all that, and the wins will roll in faster than the fans' question marks.

Transitioning successfully is as simple -- and as difficult -- as that.
Maryland and Rutgers are to officially join the Big Ten on July 1 and, until their first seasons are in the books, plenty of questions will swirl around just how they will perform.

So, we decided to take a look at how past teams did in similar situations. Did new conferences help or hinder the programs? How did those first seasons go? And just how quickly did the teams assimilate?

We looked at teams that moved into new BCS conferences (outside of the Big Ten) prior to the 2012 season. Obviously, there are plenty of variables at play, but here is a look at nine programs that transitioned -- and how they fared:




Boston College, Big East to ACC, 2005

Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 9-3 (SOS – 74), won 2004 Big East title. Beat North Carolina in Continental Tire Bowl, 37-24

Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 9-3 (SOS – 22), won 2005 ACC Atlantic Division. Beat Boise State in MPC Computers Bowl, 27-21

Synopsis: The Eagles didn’t skip a beat in the first season with the ACC, and they actually ended up winning three division titles in their first four years in the conference. The wheels only started to come off for Boston College once it fired Jeff Jagodzinski for interviewing with the New York Jets following the 2008 season. The 2009 season was the last time Boston College had a winning conference record.




Colorado, Big 12 to Pac-12, 2011

Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 5-7 (SOS – 33), finished fifth in Big 12’s North Division. No bowl berth

Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 3-10 (SOS – 21), tied for last in Pac-12’s South Division. No bowl berth

Synopsis: The Buffaloes haven’t had a winning season since Gary Barnett coached the team in 2005, so the move to the Pac-12 really only saw Colorado go from bad to slightly worse. In its first three seasons with the Pac-12, Colorado won three, one and four games, respectively.




Miami (Fla.), Big East to ACC, 2004

Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 11-2 (SOS – 40), shared 2003 Big East title. Beat Florida State in Orange Bowl, 16-14

Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 9-3 (SOS – 9), tied for third in ACC. Beat Florida in Peach Bowl, 27-10

Synopsis: The Hurricanes rolled into the ACC as a great team, but the conference has been relatively harsh on them. After making four straight BCS bowls in the Big East, Miami hasn’t made a single one in the 10 seasons since joining the ACC. On the plus side, they have had winning records in eight of those past 10 seasons -- but they have never had double-digit wins during that span.




Missouri, Big 12 to SEC, 2012

Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 8-5 (SOS – 13), finished fifth in Big 12. Beat North Carolina in Independence Bowl, 41-24

Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 5-7 (SOS – 1), finished fifth in SEC East Division. No bowl berth

Synopsis: Lingering injuries to quarterback James Franklin didn’t do Missouri any favors in that first season, as Missouri’s pass efficiency dropped from No. 30 in 2011 to No. 103 in 2012. The Tigers bounced back in their second year in the SEC, however, and finished first in the SEC East Division with a 12-2 record.




TCU, Mountain West to Big 12, 2012

Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 11-2 (SOS – 86), won 2011 Mountain West title. Beat Louisiana Tech in Poinsettia Bowl, 31-24

Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 7-6 (SOS – 16), tied for fifth in Big 12. Lost to Michigan State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 17-16

Synopsis: In TCU’s seven seasons in the Mountain West, it finished with within the top 25 a total of six times -- and came away with four conference titles. In the Big 12, so far, it has underachieved by quite a bit. Part of the reason for the drop-off in Year 1 was that quarterback Casey Pachall withdrew in October to enter inpatient rehab. But even with Pachall back in 2013, TCU fared even worse at 4-8, the first time it didn’t make a bowl since 2004.




Texas A&M, Big 12 to SEC, 2012

Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 7-6 (SOS – 4), tied for sixth in Big 12. Beat Northwestern in Meineke Car Care Bowl, 33-22

Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 11-2, (SOS – 6), tied for second in SEC Western Division. Beat Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, 41-13

Synopsis: A new head coach like Kevin Sumlin and a freshman like Johnny Manziel are enough to ease any transition. The Aggies finished with 11 wins during their first season in the SEC, which also happened to be the first time they broke double-digit victories since 1998. With Mack Brown leaving Texas, A&M is a team whose stock is certainly on the rise now. A move to the SEC only helped.




Utah, Mountain West to Pac-12, 2011

Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 10-3 (SOS – 50), finished second in Mountain West. Lost to Boise State in Maaco Bowl, 26-3

Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 8-5 (SOS – 49), tied for third in Pac-12’s South Division. Beat Georgia Tech in Sun Bowl, 30-27 OT

Synopsis: Utah fared extremely well in the Mountain West -- finishing with double-digit wins in five of its last eight seasons there -- and did pretty well in its first season in the Pac-12. But, in the past two seasons, the Utes twice finished 5-7 in part because their passing game has been grounded. Still, if quarterback Travis Wilson is healthy this season, some are expecting Utah to return to the postseason.




Virginia Tech, Big East to ACC, 2004

Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 8-5 (SOS – 60), finished fourth in Big East. Lost to Cal in the Insight Bowl, 52-49

Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 10-3 (SOS – 42), won 2004 ACC title. Lost to Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, 16-13

Synopsis: The move appears to be a great one for the Hokies. From 1991 to 2003, Frank Beamer came away with just three Big East titles. From 2004 to the present, he has won four ACC championships. Although the past two seasons have been a step back, Virginia Tech finished with double-digit wins during its first eight seasons in the ACC.




West Virginia, Big East to Big 12, 2012

Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 10-3 (SOS – 57), won share of Big East title. Beat Clemson in Orange Bowl, 70-33

Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 7-6 (SOS – 29), tied for fifth in Big 12. Lost to Syracuse in Pinstripe Bowl, 38-14

Synopsis: In WVU’s past 10 seasons in the Big East, it made 10 straight bowls and won at least eight games every year. But Year 1 in the Big 12 was a defensive disaster and a step backward. The Mountaineers allowed more than 45 points in six of their first seven conference games and, the next season, had to replace a lot of starters and finished No. 100 in the nation by allowing 33.3 points per game. West Virginia missed the postseason last season, the first time since 1999.

Position U: Linebacker

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
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Who really deserves to claim the title of “Linebacker U” for the 2000s?


1. Ohio State (222 points)


Move over Penn State. Ohio State is the new “Linebacker U” -- and the Buckeyes claimed the title in a blowout. In many of these positional rankings, only a handful of points separate first and second place. At linebacker, the Buckeyes finished nearly 50 points ahead of second-place Alabama. But when your players stockpile national awards and All-America honors and then many more go on to become NFL draft picks, you put your program in position to rank at the top of this list. Players such as A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis and most recently Ryan Shazier have done that in Columbus.

Award winners: A.J. Hawk, Lombardi (2005); James Laurinaitis, Butkus (2007), Nagurski (2008), Lott (2008).
Consensus All-Americans: Matt Wilhelm (2002), A.J. Hawk (2004, 2005), James Laurinaitis (2006, 2007, 2008).
First-team all-conference: Joe Cooper (2000), Matt Wilhelm (2002), A.J. Hawk (2003, 2004, 2005), James Laurinaitis (2006, 2007, 2008), Ross Homan (2010), Brian Rolle (2010), Ryan Shazier (2012, 2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: A.J. Hawk (2006), Bobby Carpenter (2006), Ryan Shazier (2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Cie Grant (Round 3, 2003), Matt Wilhelm (Round 4, 2003), Anthony Schlegel (Round 3, 2006), James Laurinaitis (Round 2, 2009), Thaddeus Gibson (Round 4, 2010), John Simon (Round 4, 2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Courtland Bullard (Round 5, 2002), Rob Reynolds (Round 5, 2004), Larry Grant (Round 7, 2008), Marcus Freeman (Round 5, 2009), Austin Spitler (Round 7, 2010), Brian Rolle (Round 6, 2011), Ross Homan (Round 6, 2011).


T-2. Alabama (174)


The Crimson Tide has claimed two Butkus Awards and has had four consensus All-Americans at linebacker since 2009, when Alabama won the first of its three BCS titles under Nick Saban. Alabama also has had three linebackers picked in the first round (Rolando McClain, Dont’a Hightower and C.J. Mosley) and five linebackers overall drafted during that run of dominance.

Award winners: DeMeco Ryans, Lott (2005); Rolando McClain, Butkus (2009); C.J. Mosley, Butkus (2013).
Consensus All-Americans: DeMeco Ryans (2005), Rolando McClain (2009), Dont’a Hightower (2011), C.J. Mosley (2012, 2013).
First-team all-conference: Saleem Rasheed (2001), Derrick Pope (2003), Cornelius Wortham (2004), DeMeco Ryans (2005), Rolando McClain (2008, 2009), Dont’a Hightower (2011), Courtney Upshaw (2011), C.J. Mosley (2012, 2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Rolando McClain (2010), Dont’a Hightower (2012), C.J. Mosley (2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Saleem Rasheed (Round 3, 2002), DeMeco Ryans (Round 2, 2006), Courtney Upshaw (Round 2, 2012), Nico Johnson (Round 4, 2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Derrick Pope (Round 7, 2004), Cornelius Wortham (Round 7, 2005).


T-2. Oklahoma (174)


Hey, what do you know? Oklahoma is near the top of the rankings at another position. At linebacker, the Sooners’ position is largely because of the early-2000s run when Rocky Calmus and Teddy Lehman cleaned up on the awards and All-America circuit. It also helps that Oklahoma has had 12 linebackers drafted since 2001.

Award winners: Rocky Calmus, Butkus (2001); Teddy Lehman, Bednarik (2003), Butkus (2003).
Consensus All-Americans: Rocky Calmus (2000, 2001), Teddy Lehman (2002, 2003), Curtis Lofton (2007).
First-team all-conference: Rocky Calmus (2000, 2001), Jimmy Wilkerson (2001), Teddy Lehman (2002, 2003), Dan Cody (2003), Lance Mitchell (2004), Rufus Alexander (2005, 2006), Curtis Lofton (2007), Travis Lewis (2009).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Torrance Marshall (Round 3, 2001), Rocky Calmus (Round 3, 2002), Teddy Lehman (Round 2, 2004), Dan Cody (Round 2, 2005), Clint Ingram (Round 3, 2006), Curtis Lofton (Round 2, 2008), Keenan Clayton (Round 4, 2010).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Lance Mitchell (Round 5, 2005), Rufus Alexander (Round 6, 2007), Nic Harris (Round 5, 2009), Travis Lewis (Round 7, 2012), Corey Nelson (Round 7, 2014).


T-4. USC (140)


It should come as no surprise that the greater portion of USC’s linebacker point total came during its mid-2000s run, when it was an annual BCS title contender. Standout linebackers such as Rey Maualuga -- the 2008 Bednarik Award winner, consensus All-American and three-time All-Pac-10 selection -- Keith Rivers, Matt Grootegoed and Brian Cushing helped the Trojans become the nation’s most dominant program during that period.

Award winners: Rey Maualuga, Bednarik (2008).
Consensus All-Americans: Matt Grootegoed (2004), Rey Maualuga (2008).
First-team all-conference: Matt Grootegoed (2002, 2004), Lofa Tatupu (2004), Rey Maualuga (2006, 2007, 2008), Keith Rivers (2006, 2007), Brian Cushing (2008).
NFL first-round draft picks: Keith Rivers (2008), Brian Cushing (2009), Clay Matthews (2009), Nick Perry (2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Markus Steele (Round 4, 2001), Lofa Tatupu (Round 2, 2005), Kaluka Maiava (Round 4, 2009), Rey Maualuga (Round 2, 2009).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Zeke Moreno (Round 5, 2001), Oscar Lua (Round 7, 2007), Dallas Sartz (Round 5, 2007), Thomas Williams (Round 5, 2008), Malcolm Smith (Round 7, 2011), Devon Kennard (Round 5, 2014).


T-4. Miami (140)


When your program has 12 players from one position drafted and four of them go in the first round, chances are you’ll rank toward the top of the board. That’s the case with Miami, which had Dan Morgan (who won three national awards and was a consensus All-American in 2000), Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams and Jon Beason all become first-round picks after standout careers in Coral Gables.

Award winners: Dan Morgan, Bednarik (2000), Nagurski (2000), Butkus (2000).
Consensus All-Americans: Dan Morgan (2000).
First-team all-conference: Dan Morgan (2000), Jonathan Vilma (2001, 2002, 2003), D.J. Williams (2003), Sean Spence (2011), Denzel Perryman (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Dan Morgan (2001), Jonathan Vilma (2004), D.J. Williams (2004), Jon Beason (2007).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Rocky McIntosh (Round 2, 2006), Leon Williams (Round 4, 2006), Tavares Gooden (Round 3, 2008), Darryl Sharpton (Round 4, 2010), Colin McCarthy (Round 4, 2011), Sean Spence (Round 3, 2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Darrell McClover (Round 7, 2004), Spencer Adkins (Round 6, 2009).


6. Penn State (134)


The old “Linebacker U” still makes our top 10. In fact, Penn State still has plenty to brag about at the position where it has long been known for producing stars. The Nittany Lions earned four national awards and three All-America designations between Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor, plus they had nine players drafted since 2001.

Award winners: Paul Posluszny, Butkus (2005), Bednarik (2005, 2006); Dan Connor, Bednarik (2007).
Consensus All-Americans: Paul Posluszny (2005, 2006), Dan Connor (2007).
First-team all-conference: Paul Posluszny (2005, 2006), Dan Connor (2007), NaVorro Bowman (2008, 2009), Gerald Hodges (2011), Michael Mauti (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Paul Posluszny (Round 2, 2007), Dan Connor (Round 3, 2008), Sean Lee (Round 2, 2010), NaVorro Bowman (Round 3, 2010), Gerald Hodges (Round 4, 2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Tim Shaw (Round 5, 2007), Josh Hull (Round 7, 2010), Nathan Stupar (Round 7, 2012), Michael Mauti (Round 7, 2013).


7. Georgia (110)


Two-time All-American Jarvis Jones and fellow 2013 first-round pick Alec Ogletree might get most of the glory, but this group is chock full of talent. Justin Houston is making his mark as a pass-rusher in the NFL and there are a bunch of old war horses such as Will Witherspoon, Kendrell Bell and Tony Gilbert who hung around the league for several years.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Jarvis Jones (2011, 2012).
First-team all-conference: Boss Bailey (2002), Odell Thurman (2003, 2004), Rennie Curran (2008, 2009), Jarvis Jones (2011, 2012), Ramik Wilson (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Jarvis Jones (2013), Alec Ogletree (2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Kendrell Bell (Round 2, 2001), Will Witherspoon (Round 3, 2002), Boss Bailey (Round 2, 2003), Odell Thurman (Round 2, 2005), Rennie Curran (Round 3, 2010), Justin Houston (Round 3, 2011), Akeem Dent (Round 3, 2011).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Tony Gilbert (Round 6, 2003).


8. Texas (108)


Texas snuck into the top 10 on the back of Derrick Johnson, who won both the Nagurski and Butkus awards in 2004 and was a consensus All-American in 2003 and 2004 before becoming a 2005 first-round draft pick. The current Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl linebacker accounted for 62 of the Longhorns’ 108 points in the linebacker rankings.

Award winners: Derrick Johnson, Nagurski (2004), Butkus (2004).
Consensus All-Americans: Derrick Johnson (2003, 2004).
First-team all-conference: Cory Redding (2001), Derrick Johnson (2002, 2003, 2004), Aaron Harris (2005), Sergio Kindle (2008), Emmanuel Acho (2011).
NFL first-round draft picks: Derrick Johnson (2005).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Roddrick Muckelroy (Round 4, 2010), Sergio Kindle (Round 2, 2010), Sam Acho (Round 4, 2011), Keenan Robinson (Round 4, 2012), Alex Okafor (Round 4, 2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Emmanuel Acho (Round 6, 2012).


9. Boston College (104): Luke Kuechly is responsible for most of the points here. The four-time award winner in 2011, was twice named a consensus All-American, earned all-conference honors three times and became a first-round draft pick. That's a grand total of 84 points for the Carolina Panthers star. The Eagles also have an active string of first-team all-conference linebackers that started with Mark Herzlich in 2008.

Award winners: Luke Kuechly, Nagurski (2011), Lombardi (2011), Lott (2011), Butkus (2011).
Consensus All-Americans: Luke Kuechly (2010, 2011).
First-team all-conference: Mark Herzlich (2008), Luke Kuechly (2009, 2010, 2011), Nick Clancy (2012), Kevin Pierre-Louis (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Luke Kuechly (2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Kevin Pierre-Louis (Round 4, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: None.


T-10. Maryland (100)

E.J. Henderson accounts for more than half of Maryland’s points thanks in large part to his two national awards and two consensus All-America designations. Henderson is among three Terrapins linebackers who made the All-ACC first team twice (along with D’Qwell Jackson and Alex Wujciak), while Shawne Merriman is the only Terp during the 2000s to be selected in the first round of the draft.

Award winners: E.J. Henderson, Bednarik (2002), Butkus (2002).
Consensus All-Americans: E.J. Henderson (2001, 2002).
First-team all-conference: E.J. Henderson (2001, 2002), D’Qwell Jackson (2004, 2005), Erin Henderson (2007), Alex Wujciak (2009, 2010).
NFL first-round draft picks: Shawne Merriman (Round 1, 2005).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: E.J. Henderson (Round 2, 2003), Leon Joe (Round 4, 2004), D’Qwell Jackson (Round 2, 2006)
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Moise Fokou (Round 7, 2009).


T-10. Notre Dame (100)


There are times when a single player’s excellence is the difference between a school's spot falling near the top of the rankings and its sitting further down the list. Such is the case with Manti Te’o, who accounted for 82 points in his incredible 2012 season alone (seven national awards, a consensus All-America selection and then becoming a second-round NFL pick). Notre Dame is penalized in these team rankings by not earning points for all-conference honorees, so its spot in this top 10 speaks to how impressive Te’o’s 2012 season truly was.

Award winners: Manti Te’o, Maxwell (2012), Camp (2012), Nagurski (2021), Lombardi (2012), Bednarik (2012), Lott (2012), Butkus (2012).
Consensus All-Americans: Manti Te’o (2012).
First-team all-conference: Not applicable.
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Rocky Boiman (Round 4, 2002), Courtney Watson (Round 2, 2004), Manti Te’o (Round 2, 2013), Prince Shembo (Round 4, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Anthony Denman (Round 7, 2001), Tyreo Harrison (Round 6, 2002), Darius Fleming (Round 5, 2012).

REST OF “LINEBACKER U” RANKINGS
98 – Florida State; 92 – UCLA; 72 – Florida, Stanford; 66 – Iowa, TCU, Wisconsin; 64 – Nebraska; 62 – Michigan State, Oregon State, Tennessee; 60 – LSU, Pittsburgh; 58 – Virginia Tech; 56 – West Virginia; 48 – NC State; 46 – Michigan, Ole Miss, Purdue; 44 – BYU, California, Kansas State; 42 – North Carolina; 40 – Illinois; 38 – Clemson, Iowa State, Texas A&M; 36 – Arizona, Auburn, Syracuse; 34 – Arizona State, Utah, Wake Forest; 32 – Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia; 30 – Arkansas, Georgia Tech; 28 – Kentucky; 26 – Northwestern, Vanderbilt; 24 – Colorado, Oregon; 20 – Washington; 18 – Oklahoma State, Rutgers; 16 – Mississippi State; 14 – Kansas, Louisville; 12 – Baylor; 10 – Washington State; 6 – Duke; 4 – Texas Tech; 2 – Minnesota; 0 – Indiana

Just a few days after stubbing its toe on the field, the Big Ten conference will try to right the ship in the recruiting world.

Larry Scott
Brad Bournival/ESPNESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott will make an unofficial visit to the Horseshoe this weekend.
From official visits to commitments, here’s a look at a few programs that highlight a busy time in this week’s Big Ten storylines.

Buckeye leafs

The fact Ohio State opened as 57-point favorites against Florida A&M didn’t scare off some big unofficial visitors, as ESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott -- L.J. for short -- out of Hubbard (Ohio) High School will lead a group of three big names with unofficial visits to the Horseshoe.

3-point stance: Changing direction

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
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Three turnarounds in progress:

1. The third coordinator in three seasons has been the charm for Illinois senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Illini head coach Tim Beckman snapped up Bill Cubit, fired after eight seasons (51-47) by Western Michigan, and the difference in Scheelhaase has been huge. He is completing 74 percent of his passes this season as opposed to 60 percent last year, and 10.6 yards per attempt, nearly double last year’s 5.6 yards per attempt. Illinois is 2-0 and making the Big Ten Leaders look a lot tougher.

2. Boston College head coach Steve Addazio, who always acts as if he takes his Red Bull intravenously, has injected life into the Eagles, who seemed like a team more talented than the 2-10 record that got Frank Spaziani fired a year ago. BC has matched its win total of last season thanks to a newly aggressive defense under coordinator Don Brown. The Eagles have eight sacks in two games. Last season, they had eight sacks.

3. Utah is 2-0 for the first time in three seasons thanks to an offensive explosion (100 points in two games) that reflects the touch of new co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson, the longtime passing guru who won two national championships at Miami. Sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson has more than doubled his 2012 QBR (92.0/41/7) with five touchdowns and no picks this season, as opposed to seven and six, respectively, a year ago.

Big Ten mailbag

January, 1, 2013
1/01/13
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Happy New Year! Let's get to those final pre-bowl questions.

Zach from Pittsburgh writes: Adam, got coaching carousel question, a.k.a by the time you get to this, it may be irrelevant, but here it goes. Every ESPN analyst is using the fact that Bill O'Brien was told by PSU officials that the Sandusky Scandal would not incur and NCAA punishment as a reason for leaving Penn State for the NFL next year. If this is the case, then why did O'Brien sign a contract extension keeping him in Happy Valley until 2020 after the sanctions came out in July?

Adam Rittenberg: Because he wanted as much job security as possible after the sanctions came down. O'Brien knew Penn State could be in for a long rebuilding phase because of the length and severity of the sanctions. As a first-year coach, he wanted to ensure he would have enough time to ride out the sanctions and eventually get the program on solid footing. O'Brien used the sanctions for leverage, which is smart in that situation. He didn't know he'd have so much success and be on the NFL coaching radar right now. As a coach, you have to think about the job you're in and how much time you have to get things right.

Chris from Chicago writes: I have a question on coaching stability. At Northwestern (where Jerry Brown has kept his job despite some fans incredulity over the years), the stability in the coaching staff is probably a good thing each year for recruiting, system, etc....but does it hurt come bowl time? I mean, Mississippi State has Tim Brewster (who knows Northwestern from his time at Minnesota) and a former NU grad assistant on staff....while Northwestern's guys have all been at NU for a long time. Is there some minimal amount of staff turnover that might be a GOOD thing?

Adam Rittenberg: Good question, Chris. Typically, coaching staffs that have greater continuity are better off than ones that don't. And given how much movement there is in the business, coaches are going to know one another well in almost every game, if they've worked together in the past. Brewster's knowledge of Northwestern could help a little, although his Minnesota teams never beat the Wildcats. It's up to Northwestern's staff to ensure calls have changed enough so they don't tip their hand in the game. But in general, I've seen staffs that lack continuity have way more problems than ones that don't. Coaches should be held accountable every year, and changes must be made when needed. But as a rule, continuity is good.

P.K.G. from Kuwait City, Kuwait, writes: Hey Adam, Love the blog! Had a question regarding expansion for ya. Two teams left to go. Why isn't anyone talking about T-A&M...... I know, I know, they are in the SEC. But just hear me out here: they are part of the AAU, bring a huge market in texas, have other amazing teams other than just football and good in academics as well (from the 'south' as well). Now, once the TV deals for the B1G are negotiated, which I'm guessing is going to be huge, cant Delany at least try/consider them for entry into the league? I know no one would want to leave the SEC because they get paid a lot too, but joining the B1G after the negotiations could spell HUGE amounts of money per school. Also, they will have a relatively easier path to the NC Game as opposed to in the SEC. So, all this along with the academic prestige that tags along with our conference, why shouldn't we consider T-A?

Adam Rittenberg: P.K.G., you kind of answer your own question here. Texas A&M wouldn't want to leave the SEC because the money there is pretty darn good, too. Other than maybe Missouri, which you could argue fits in with the Big Ten better than the SEC, I really couldn't see any SEC teams leaving a good situation there, even if it's for another good situation in the Big Ten. It's why the realistic expansion targets to me are all outside the two big-money leagues (SEC and Big Ten). You have to look at the ACC because of the financial differentials (current and future) with the Big Ten/SEC. We'll see if the Big 12 survives, and things certainly look better there under Bob Bowlsby's leadership. But there's the potential to have the Big Ten and SEC at one level money-wise and everyone else earning a lot less.

Hines from Fairfax, Va., writes: Hi Adam, don't care for your blog in the least but I want your opinion on something. Bill O'Brien is getting alot of credit for PSU's success this year, rightfully so given the obvious adversity he had to deal with in addition to being solely a football coach. My question deals with the attention he is getting from the NFL now. Sure, he guided PSU to an 8-4 record and made the offense go, but let's face it, the cupboard was far from bare. I would have to say that those of us who follow PSU closely are not majorly suprised about where we finished the season in the big10 ranks, given the remaining talent. Is this attention warranted at this point based only on his coaching skills, because I am pretty sure NFL owners don't give a huge crap about his PR abilities as much as wins and losses. I personally think in two more years we will have a much better gauge as to what kind of 'football coach' we have. Thanks.

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks for the love, Hines. Happy New Year, bud. I agree with you about Penn State's cupboard being far from bare this season. O'Brien inherited an excellent senior class that included several future NFL defenders and an offensive line anchor in center Matt Stankiewitch. But O'Brien deserves all the credit he gets for transforming Matt McGloin into one of the Big Ten's best quarterbacks and modernizing a Penn State offense that had grown extremely stale under the previous staff. I honestly didn't know how Penn State was going to score points this year after Silas Redd and Justin Brown both transferred in the summer. O'Brien took that offense to another level. But he still has been a head coach for only a year. The problem is it might be tough to gauge him next season as the sanctions really start to impact Penn State's roster. The guy can coach -- we saw that this year. But I agree that a few more years would let us know more about O'Brien's potential both at Penn State and in the NFL.

Gabriel from Virginia Beach, Va., writes: Will the Wolverines have a Lloyd Carr-esque offensive style next year so that Gardner and Shane Morris can operate in the way that Chad Henne did?

Adam Rittenberg: Gabriel, Michigan's 2013 offense under Al Borges will look a lot more like the ones the Wolverines ran during Carr's tenure. Borges had to adjust his system because of Denard Robinson's skill set and background in the spread, but he's undoubtedly a pro-style guy who wants to run a pure pro-style system as soon as possible. Gardner should allow Borges to do that, and if Gardner performs well enough, Michigan won't have to use Morris as a true freshman.

Beth from Lino Lakes, Minn., writes: Hi Adam!Happy bowl week!As I listen to my Gophers destroy the Boston College hockey team this evening, a thought occurs to me. Do you think there's any chance the B1G might try to add Boston College? They don't add much for football (but neither does Rutgers or Maryland). What they so add is a new TV market, good academics, and great hockey. The B1G launches their hockey conference next season...could this be a fit for our inevitable 15th/16th school?

Adam Rittenberg: Happy bowl week, Beth! The Big Ten can't make hockey a top priority in expansion, even with the new hockey league coming soon. Is Boston College as a whole a good addition? Meh. My concern is that college sports really don't matter in the Boston market, even less so than they do in New York/New Jersey or Washington D.C. I remember covering Boston College's undefeated basketball team against Notre Dame during the 2004-05 season, and then Eagles coach Al Skinner talking about how the team was basically an afterthought in the market. The other question is demographics. Is the population growing in Boston like it is in the southeast? No. Is Boston as strong of a recruiting area as potential ACC markets like Atlanta and Raleigh/Durham? No. So while it would be great to have Boston College hockey in the Big Ten, I'm lukewarm on the addition as a whole.

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Here’s a quick look at the Northwestern Wildcats' 22-13 win over the Boston College Eagles at Ryan Field on Saturday.

Boston CollegeNorthwesternHow it happened: Northwestern kicker Jeff Budzien tied a single-game school record with five field goals Saturday to lift the Wildcats to their third consecutive win. Budzien made field goals of 42, 20, 29 and 41 yards in the first half and hit one from 19 yards in the second half. Northwestern running back Mike Trumpy put the game out of reach with a 27-yard touchdown run with 1:37 left. The Wildcats totaled 560 offensive yards and were 12 of 19 on third down. Boston College accounted for the game’s first touchdown when Chase Rettig connected with Johnathan Coleman for a 31-yard score in the second quarter. Boston College kicker Nate Freese made field goals of 21 and 34 yards.

What it means: The Wildcats improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2010. Last season, Northwestern lost in Week 3 and went on to have a five-game losing streak.

Outside the box: Northwestern running back Venric Mark was on his way to his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game, putting up 77 yards before leaving the game with a lower-body injury in the second half. The last Northwestern running back to rush for back-to-back 100-yard games was Tyrell Sutton.

Up next: Northwestern will host South Dakota (1-1) next week. Boston College has next week off before playing Clemson on Sept. 29.

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