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Five big questions for Big Ten this spring

Don't hold me to it, but I think this will be one of the more interesting spring practice sessions in recent Big Ten history.

You've got a new conference member (Nebraska), three new coaching staffs (Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana) and some unique situations (Ohio State).

Here are five big questions around the league entering the spring:

1. How will Ohio State plan for the early season suspensions? The school's appeal to the NCAA is still pending, but the Buckeyes will be without four offensive starters, including Terrelle Pryor, for the first chunk of the season. Ohio State's spring will feature competitions at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and left tackle as the team tries to identify individuals to replace Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey and Mike Adams. Running back provides several exciting options, while the early enrollment of quarterback Braxton Miller adds to the intrigue there. Posey's absence could really be felt at receiver if some players don't develop this spring.

2. Who emerges in the quarterback competitions? If you count Ohio State, seven Big Ten schools will hold quarterback competitions this spring. Arguably the most intriguing race takes place in State College, where Rob Bolden tries to regain the top spot. Bolden, who requested his release from the team after the Outback Bowl but wasn't granted it, still could bolt Happy Valley depending on how things go. We also get to see how Taylor Martinez adjusts to a new offense at Nebraska, whether Jon Budmayr can lock up Wisconsin's starting job, and the return of James Vandenberg, who admirably filled in for Ricky Stanzi in 2009.

3. Which coordinators will make the most dramatic impact? Spring ball will be huge for several top assistants around the league. Greg Mattison hopes to restore glory to a Michigan defense that veered off track the past three seasons. Tim Beck begins to shape Nebraska's offense, which could be in for some significant changes. Matt Limegrover and Tracy Claeys install new systems at Minnesota, while Mike Ekeler and Doug Mallory embark on the difficult task of making Indiana's defense respectable. The league also has several position coaches elevated to coordinator roles like Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushar and Wisconsin co-defensive coordinators Charlie Partridge and Chris Ash. Gary Emanuel is now Purdue's sole defensive coordinator and must figure out how to replace superstar Ryan Kerrigan.

4. Can Wisconsin and Iowa reload? Both programs aren't far away from becoming consistent Big Ten title contenders, but to catch Ohio State, the Badgers and Hawkeyes must reload like the Buckeyes do seemingly every year. Wisconsin loses more All-Americans and All-Big Ten players than any other league school, while Iowa must replace multiyear starters at quarterback, defensive line and safety. There will be plenty at stake in both Madison and Iowa City this spring.

5. Will the Big Ten start to show greater depth? The Big Ten wasn't a deep league in 2010, and it showed in the bowls. Ohio State and Nebraska will appear in most preseason top 10 lists, but the Big Ten needs to put more teams in the discussion. Michigan State tries to build on its first Big Ten title in 20 seasons and wipe away the sting from the Capital One Bowl. Penn State returns many of its core pieces and could challenge Ohio State in the Leaders division if things come together. Illinois tries to avoid a post-bowl backslide and take another step forward, while Northwestern boasts one of the leagues most experienced rosters.