Big Ten: Franco Harris
- Defensive coordinator Chris Ash's impending departure won't affect Wisconsin's bowl prep. Barry Alvarez is gradually working his way through coach interviews. Stanford's similar style helps Wisconsin prepare for the Rose Bowl.
- Randy Peterson writes that Greg Garmon's transfer from Iowa isn't the end of the world.
- Nebraska loses a graduate assistant, and panic sparks around the state. Former Huskers great Dave Rimington would like to be athletic director some day but understands he wasn't ready this time around.
- Michigan State and Michigan had little luck on their side in 2012. The Spartans must play catch-up in their bowl preparations.
- Bill O'Brien had a rewarding first season at Penn State. Police were called when former PSU running back Franco Harris and a documentary filmmaker tried to confront NCAA president Mark Emmert in Los Angeles.
- Purdue embraces the underdog role for its bowl game against Oklahoma State.
- Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is none too pleased about losing bowl practices.
- Chris Dufresne ranks the bowls and picks the winners.
- Cornerback recruit Marcus McShepard talks about heading to play for Northwestern.
- Michigan and Notre Dame will meet again under the lights at the Big House. A look at Michigan's chances for three prized recruits.
- The Big Ten's playoff proposal might not get much support, Teddy Greenstein writes. The conference commissioners don't appear to be in any rush.
- Danny O'Brien received his release to Vanderbilt, which could take Wisconsin out of play for the QB transfer. Remembering Ron Dayne's brilliant 1999 season for the Badgers.
- No longer SEC rivals, Lane Kiffin says he and Urban Meyer are friendly these days.
- Bo Pelini enlisted help from an outside research firm to help Nebraska's recruiting efficiency, Steven M. Sipple writes. Huskers CB Alfonzo Dennard tries to boost his draft stock again.
- Quarterback remains a big priority for Penn State in recruiting. Bill O'Brien brings a new tone to Penn State's offseason workouts. Franco Harris continues to criticize the leadership at Penn State.
- Minnesota will be willing to pay for its next athletic director. A look at how Minnesota's AD search will work.
- Mike Hlas examines Iowa offensive coordinator candidate Greg Davis.
- Purdue's Carson Wiggs will be kickin' it at the combine this week. So will Illinois' Derek Dimke.
- Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson also is bound for Indy.
- Michigan is off to a fast start in recruiting but still has work to do. Brady Hoke's recruiting efforts have spiced up the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.
- The latest from Kevin Wilson on Indiana's offseason.
- Northwestern QB Dan Persa wins an award for mental toughness.
- PENN STATE: The Rob Bolden situation remains a mystery, Donnie Collins writes in The Times-Tribune. Bolden's decision will have a ripple effect for Penn State, Philip Cmor writes in the Altoona Mirror. Four lessons from the Blue-White Game, Bob Flounders writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News. Franco Harris says JoePa will know when to go, Audrey Snyder writes in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- NEBRASKA: The Blackshirts and Jamal Turner highlight Nebraska's spring game, Tom Shatel writes in the Omaha World-Herald. Huskers quarterback Brion Carnes makes a strong first impression, Brian Christopherson writes in the Lincoln Journal Star. Coach Bo Pelini sums up the spring game.
- MICHIGAN: New coach Brady Hoke has a lot of work to do, Michael Rosenberg writes in the Detroit Free Press. Some hot topics from the spring game. Hoke's off-field work has been valuable in uniting Michigan fans, annarbor.com's Pete Bigelow and the Sporting News' Dave Curtis write. The Notre Dame-Michigan series could be impacted by the Big Ten schedule, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News.
- IOWA: A.J. Derby is fortunate to have options on where he plays, Pat Harty writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Some observations from Iowa's practice/scrimmage, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Good news: Iowa broadcaster Ed Podolak seems to be recovering well, Randy Peterson writes in the Des Moines Register. Some Iowa injury notes from Morehouse.
- NORTHWESTERN: Senior receiver Charles Brown finished off a very strong spring, Tina Akouris writes in the Chicago Sun-Times. Northwestern wants to play more games at Wrigley Field -- but only after the Friendly Confines gets a makeover, Teddy Greenstein writes in the Chicago Tribune. The Wildcats' backup quarterbacks were in the spotlight Saturday, ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers writes.
- INDIANA: The Hoosiers still don't have an answer at quarterback, Terry Hutchens writes in the Indianapolis Star. An overview of Indiana's spring game from The (Bloomington) Herald-Times' Dustin Dopirak (subscription required). Several Fort Wayne natives shined in the spring game, LaMond Pope writes in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
- Ohio State's offense had a rough time in Saturday's scrimmage, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Buckeyes' linebacker Etienne Sabino is finally ready to shine, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- A very cool story on how Minnesota's D.L. Wilhite and Brandon Kirksey spent their spring break, Phil Miller writes in the Star Tribune. Despite the cold weather, several recruits enjoyed themselves at Minnesota's recent scrimmage, Marcus Fuller writes in the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press.
- The (Champaign) News-Gazette's Bob Asmussen projects Illinois' two-deep for 2011. Illini fullback Jay Prosch played tailback Saturday following a rash of injuries, and he delivered, Mark Tupper writes in The (Decatur) Herald & Review.
- Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis hopes to become the next Luke Swan, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal. The Badgers' defense is looking for greater consistency, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Michigan State linebacker Denicos Allen is ready for the limelight, Denny Schwarze writes in the Lansing State Journal. New Spartans offensive coordinator Dan Roushar wants to go vertical, Matt Charboneau writes in The Detroit News.
- Purdue adds a safety for its 2012 recruiting class, Kyle Neddenriep writes in the Indianapolis Star.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
ESPN Stats & Information published a very interesting piece (ESPN Insider) about the college football coaches who produce the most NFL draft picks and the best pro players. Coaches were ranked based on where players went in the draft and how their NFL careers panned out.
"We ranked players based on the following criteria: Hall of Fame induction, MVP awards, All-Pro first-team selections, All-Pro second-team selections, Pro Bowls, offensive and defensive player of the year and rookie of the year awards and membership on a Super Bowl-winning or -losing team. A player scores on our ranking system when he earns at least one of those honors."
Not surprisingly, Penn State's Joe Paterno coached more NFL draft picks (243) than anyone else in his 43 seasons at the helm of the Nittany Lions program. But only three Paterno players -- Jack Ham, Franco Harris and Mike Munchak -- went on to reach the Hall of Fame.
Former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler ranks fifth on the list with 126 players drafted in 27 years at the school.
Some other items of note:
- Former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr ranks eighth on the list of coaches who got the most out of their NFL picks. Former Ohio State coach John Cooper finished right behind Carr despite having more players drafted (95 vs. 61). Cooper also coached at Arizona State and Tulsa.
- Paterno and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden share the lead in first-round picks with 31.
- When it comes to producing NFL draft picks in the last decade, Ohio State's Jim Tressel leads Big Ten coaches and ranks third overall with 50 draftees, including 11 first-round picks. Carr comes in right behind Tressel with 48 picks (eight first-rounders). Former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, who retired after the 2005 season, is tied for ninth place with 38 draft picks and eight first rounders.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Excellent response so far on the Big Ten Rushmores. It's a fun project, and one that really reveals the figures who mean most to fans. Keep 'em coming.
I haven't been ripped for an entire list yet, but as expected, you guys have taken issue with a few of my picks. The biggest miss appears to be linebacker LaVar Arrington for Penn State, with linebacker Chris Spielman of Ohio State a close second.
Keep in mind that Rushmore includes only four faces, so if a guard or a kicker is to be included, they better be pretty freaking good.
Though some of the suggestions for Arrington's replacement are laughable, several users bring up good points. Despite his insane talent and highlight-reel plays, Arrington doesn't appear to be beloved by Penn State fans, in part because of the way the 1999 team struggled down the stretch.
I still think Arrington's sheer talent makes him a good candidate, but I probably should have gone with a guy like Shane Conlan. It would mean that Penn State's Rushmore wouldn't feature any players from the last two decades, illustrating how the program has fallen off its perch from the early and mid 1980s.
Here's a sampling of e-mails I've received on Penn State's Rushmore.
Neel from Hoboken, N.J., writes: Adam, Totally agree with you regarding your first three choices for Penn State's Mt. Rushmore. But I'm having trouble with Arrignton being on there. Don't get me wrong, he was an absolute beast. I'd go with Pete Giftopoulos instead though. He had arguably the most memorable moment in PSU football history with that Vinny Testerverde interception that sealed a Fiesta Bowl victory and a Penn State national championship.
Adam Rittenberg: That was a great play, Neel, but Giftopoulos is a few slots down from being considered for Rushmore. He doesn't even have his own Wikipedia entry!
Paul from Johnstown, Pa., writes: I understand the tough choices for PSU's Mt. Rushmore, but for you to say that you didn't even have Shane Conlan on your short-list is hard to forgive. We are talking about a guy that made the BIGGEST plays on the BIGGEST stages. The nastiest of the nasty LB's ever at LBU. Not only that, how cool would that mountain side look with a guy missing a front tooth? Also, how can you not have Franco (I don't even need to put a last name there) on the short list?? And Mike Munchak and/or Steve Wisniewski are just as deserving as Lavar/Cappy/Ham. I love Lavar...he was truly special, but sorry, there are about 8 or 10 others that are more worthy. Guys that helped to build the PSU lore, not just their own highlight reel.
Adam Rittenberg: I'll give you Conlan for sure, but Franco Harris made his legacy in the NFL, not Penn State. He's got no business being on Penn State's Rushmore.
Alan from Parts Unknown writes: Adam, Not an angry email. Just don't understand how Lavar could be on the Mt Rushmore at PSU. Puz stood for so much more than Lavar. Remember, Lavar's team (99) quit. It didn't come back till Puz brought it back along with MRob. I still wouldn't vote for Puz. Wally Triplett is the reason for "We Are Penn State. http://www.gopsf.com/video/watch/118/Wally%20Triplett. The first African American to play in the Cotton Bowl. The first African American to be drafted and play in the NFL and the first NFL player to be drafted to serve in the Korean War. If you are creating a Mt. Rushmore for Penn State, you need to understand, for us, it's more than football.
Adam Rittenberg: Good call on Triplett. Paul Posluszny won a ton of awards, but much like Ohio State's James Laurinaitis, I wouldn't call him one of the top two or three defensive players in team history. There are other guys more deserving.
Onto Ohio State's Rushmore and Spielman:
There were few complaints about my other three choices -- Woody Hayes, Archie Griffin and Chic Harley -- but the general sentiment seemed to be that current head coach Jim Tressel deserved the fourth spot. I can certainly see the argument there. Tressel has flat out dominated the Big Ten and archrival Michigan. He has won a national title and led teams to two more championship games.
It still doesn't seem right not to have a home-grown defensive player on Ohio State's Rushmore. Maybe I should have combined them all into a dude named Katzenhawk Spielmanaitis. Actually, that sounds more like a disease.
Other Buckeyes fans have pointed out that more Heisman winners -- Eddie George, Howard Cassady, Vic Janowicz -- should be on the school's Rushmore.
Bax from Atlanta writes: Adam, While Chris Spielman is universally beloved among Buckeye fans, the Rushmore is very clear for 99% of the fans: Woody, Archie, Chic, and Tressel. This has been discussed before on various OSU sites and those four are always the choices.
Adam Rittenberg: And here I thought the Rushmore idea was an ESPN original. Perhaps I should have swapped Spielman for Tressel. Can a sweater vest be carved into a mountain?
|AP Photo/Charlie Riedel|
|For the second year in a row, a Big Ten receiver made the game-winning touchdown grab in the Super Bowl. This year it was former Ohio State standout Santonio Holmes.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
For the second straight year, a former Big Ten wide receiver made the winning touchdown catch in the Super Bowl with exactly 35 seconds left in regulation.
And this time, he took home MVP honors.
Former Ohio State star Santonio Holmes made an electrifying grab in the back of the end zone to lift Pittsburgh past Arizona 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII on Sunday night. Holmes, who made news earlier in the week with an admission that he sold drugs as a kid, had nine receptions for 131 yards to win the game's MVP award.
He's the first Big Ten player to win the award since former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady claimed the second of his two trophies in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Five former Big Ten players -- Brady, Holmes, Len Dawson (Purdue), Desmond Howard (Michigan) and Franco Harris (Penn State) -- have been named Super Bowl MVP.
The Super Bowl was an impressive showcase for the Big Ten, which certainly needed a boost. The Big Ten will continue to take flak for its bowl performances, but arguably no league better prepares its players for the NFL.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Former Michigan linebacker LaMarr Woodley had the Steelers' only two sacks and forced a Kurt Warner fumble that sealed the victory with five seconds remaining.
- Former Minnesota running back Gary Russell scored the game's first touchdown, a 1-yard run for the Steelers early in the second quarter.
- Former Michigan wide receiver Steve Breaston had six catches for 71 yards to go along with 43 yards on kickoff and punt returns for the Cardinals.
- Former Purdue linebacker Chike Okeafor finished second on the Cardinals in tackles with six tackles (all solo).
- Former Minnesota tight end Matt Spaeth and former Illinois fullback Carey Davis both had a reception for six yards with the Steelers.
- Former Illinois kicker Neil Rackers connected on all three of his extra-point attempts for the Cardinals. He did not attempt a field goal.
- Former Penn State tackle Levi Brown started for the Cardinals and gave Warner time to rack up 377 pass yards and three touchdowns against the vaunted Steelers defense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
After a whirlwind of a week, it's finally time to get to some quick things I've been meaning to post for a little while.
- You've probably seen these on TV already, but the Big Ten is launching 11 customized public service announcements around the them of "I Will," which connect current Big Ten players to greats from the past. Players discuss their goals to become like legendary players such as two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, Bronko Nagurski and Franco Harris and more recent stars like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Plaxico Burress. Pretty cool clips.
- Before putting Week 2 to bed, one final note. The Big Ten went 11-0 on one day for the first time in league history. The league posted an 11-0 mark during a Thursday/Saturday back in 2006. The Big Ten has had three unblemished "weeks" since 2005 after going 20 years without achieving perfection.
- Northwestern players on Thursday morning enjoyed a special screening of the film "The Express," about former Syracuse running back Ernie Davis, the first African-American Heisman Trophy winner who died of leukemia at age 23. Most of the game scenes from the movie were shot at Northwestern's Ryan Field in the spring of 2007. The movie makes its world premiere tonight in Syracuse, N.Y.