Big Ten: Green Bay Packers

Although my interest in Super Bowl XLV started to evaporate around 7 p.m. Sunday night, the Big Ten still will be well represented Feb. 6 at JerryWorld.

The Big Ten is the only conference to have at least one player from every member institution participating in the Super Bowl. The league will send 18 former players to Arlington, Texas, second most behind the SEC (20) and ahead of the ACC (14), Big 12 (13), MAC (13) and Pac-10 (10).

Here's the rundown of former Big Ten players and coaches in Super Bowl XLV:

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Players
Coaches
  • Dom Capers, defensive coordinator (assistant at Ohio State from 1982-83)
  • Joe Philbin, offensive coordinator (assistant at Iowa from 1999-2002)
  • Ben McAdoo, tight ends coach (assistant at Michigan State in 2001)
  • Darren Perry, safeties coach (played at Penn State from 1988-91)
  • Mike Trgovac, defensive line coach (played at Michigan from 1977-80; assistant at Michigan from 1985-86)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Players
Coaches
  • Dick LeBeau, defensive coordinator (played at Ohio State from 1956-58)
  • Randy Fichtner, quarterbacks (assistant at Purdue from 1985-86 and at Michigan from 1986-87)
  • Harold Goodwin, offensive assistant (played at Michigan from 1992-94; assistant at Michigan from 1995-96)
  • Kirby Wilson, wide receivers (played at Illinois from 1980-81)

Pretty good group overall.

If you're projecting the next Super Bowl MVP, you might want to look at this list. The Big Ten has produced the past two Super Bowl MVPs (former Purdue QB Drew Brees and former Ohio State WR Santonio Holmes) and four of the past nine winners.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The Greg Paulus to Michigan story seemed to die not long after it spawned, and it's likely the former Duke point guard will play quarterback for his hometown Syracuse Orange, according to ESPN.com's Joe Schad.

Paulus visited Michigan's final practice of the spring April 14 and said he received an opportunity to join the team, but it never seemed like the Wolverines were really interested in adding the former high school All-American. A lot of folks noted how Paulus was a win-win prospect for Michigan -- a bonus if he plays, only there for one year if he doesn't -- and they might have been right.

Here's the only risk I would have seen for Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez. Let's say Paulus somehow won the starting job (unlikely) and Michigan went 6-6 or 5-7. Rodriguez would take more heat from fans and media, and he'd need to start fresh again at quarterback in 2010, when the team should be pretty darn good.

If the Wolverines go 8-4 or 7-5 with a freshman quarterback (Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson) at the helm, it will be easier to look at the season as a positive step and look for continued development at the quarterback position. You'd rather have the growing pains with a freshman than a one-year stopover like Paulus.

Anyway, it's all a moot point now. Michigan might still add a quarterback for 2009, possibly Forcier's older brother Jason, a former Wolverines quarterback hoping to get into Michigan's graduate sports management program.

When we talked last week, Jason Forcier had an interesting take about Paulus, which might turn out to be spot on.

"If I was marketing myself as a product, and I found out the [Green Bay] Packers wanted to work me out, why don't I use that as leverage to market myself and go to other big-time [college] programs to work out?" Jason Forcier said. "That opens up the door to some other schools. 'If Michigan's looking at him, if the Packers are looking at him, we should take a look.' That's smart on his part for doing that. I can't blame him."

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Sorry for the lengthy delay. I just got back from watching Northwestern's practice and listening to coach Pat Fitzgerald address the media. I spoke with both new coordinators (Mike Hankwitz and Mick McCall) and several players at practice, so check back throughout the afternoon for updates.

Here are some items of interest from practice:

  • Starting running back Tyrell Sutton sat out practice after sustaining a minor leg/ankle injury Wednesday, but he should be fine in a few days. I spoke to Sutton and he expects to practice next week when the team heads to Kenosha, Wis., for training. Though any sort of leg problem is a concern after Sutton missed five games last season with a high ankle sprain, the senior wasn't wearing any brace and seemed to be walking fine.
  • Promising redshirt freshman defensive end Vince Browne also missed practice with a minor injury.
  • As expected, junior defensive tackle Marshall Thomas practiced with the first-team defense in the spot normally reserved for John Gill, who is suspended for the first week of practice and the season opener for violating team policy. Thomas and classmate Corbin Bryant are the likeliest candidates to start against Syracuse on Aug. 30. Gill is working out independently at the football complex and was spotted on his way to the locker room.
  • The defense looked significantly more aggressive than in past seasons, a possible result of Hankwitz's arrival. Junior safety Brendan Smith, who earned a medical hardship last season because of a shoulder injury, leveled several big hits. Redshirt freshman linebacker Kevin Watt also delivered some punishment on running back Jacob Schmidt.
  • Smith staged an entertaining competition with wide receiver Andrew Brewer, another projected starter who comes off an injury. Brewer, a former starting quarterback for the Wildcats, will be a major threat on deep routes, as he showed by leaping to snag a pass.
  • I spent some time with Northwestern's new athletic director Jim Phillips, who is working to upgrade the school's facilities. After seeing what's going on at Michigan and Michigan State, it's crucial for Northwestern to catch up and keep pace. Phillips also said general ticket sales for the football season are up 56 percent from last year. He's driving up to Green Bay on Friday to visit with his Northwestern predecessor, Packers president Mark Murphy, who has been a little busy lately with some Favre guy.
  • The safeties stood out more than any other position during team drills. Smith, Brad Phillips and redshirt freshman David Arnold all recorded pass breakups, and sophomore James Nussbaum picked off a pass.
  • Northwestern hasn't used its tight ends much in the spread offense era, but that could and should change this fall. Drake Dunsmore and mammoth sophomore Josh Rooks looked good at the superback position, a tight end-fullback-wide receiver mix. Both players are threats down the middle of the field.
  • Senior Rasheed Ward is projected to start with the first-team offense, but sophomore Sidney Stewart took his place at Thursday's practice.
  • With players in shorts, it was hard to get a great read on the offensive line, the team's biggest question entering the season. The first team consisted of tackles Kurt Mattes and Al Netter, guards Joel Belding and Keegan Kennedy and center Ben Burkett.

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