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Sorry I'm late. After spending roughly 24 hours traveling from Argentina back to Chicago -- yep, I'm the dummy who spent a chunk of the summer in the wrong hemisphere -- I'm back, very jet-lagged and itching to blog. Here are some Big Ten bits to chew on this Wednesday morning:
• Ohio State safety Eugene Clifford might have run out of chances after his latest transgression, allegedly punching two employees at a sports bar. We might not know until his July 29 trial date, but you've got to wonder if Clifford will be saying goodbye, Columbus.
• Illinois is putting beaucoup bucks into its stadium renovation, a move that looks to be paying off. Following the team's trip to the Rose Bowl, season-ticket sales have eclipsed 40,000 for the first time since 1986.
• Saw this one last week from an internet café in Buenos Aires, but thought it was worth noting again. There's plenty of movement among the college football bigwigs, but Big Ten commish Jim Delany isn't going anywhere, the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein writes.
"Delany is in talks with conference officials about a contract extension that could take him through 2013. His current deal expires in 2010, so there's no great urgency. But the bottom line is that Delany, who will celebrate 19 years at the conference on Tuesday, is poised to continue to call the Big Ten's Park Ridge headquarters home. And that means that the pro-BCS, anti-playoff crowd will continue to have its strongest advocate."
• Rich Rodriguez will provide the philosophical and playcalling shakeup many felt Michigan needs. But how will he handle his first notable disciplinary situation after the DUI arrest of running back Kevin Grady last week? The Detroit Free Press' Drew Sharp wants Rodriguez to come down hard on Grady.
• There's a new first family in Michigan sports: the Currys. Deon is in the mix for a major role at wide receiver for Michigan State. His dad, Michael, recently was named Detroit Pistons coach. Michael plans to be a frequent face in the crowd this fall at MSU games, according to the Detroit Free Press.
• The Detroit News lists five reasons to get geeked about Michigan State in 2008. Several of them tie into a general theme: Mark Dantonio has the right personality to guide a program that for too long was beset with disciplinary problems off the field and a lack of mental toughness on it. Can't argue with that.
• While Comcast customers rejoice the cable giant's long-overdue agreement with the Big Ten Network, Iowa fans are still waiting, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reports.