Big Ten: Kyle Dodson

Big Ten morning links

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
Live football has almost returned. Until it arrives again, take a few spins on the coaching carousel.

The Wisconsin Way: Continuity should be back at Wisconsin, and the program made it clear that it won’t be compromising anything it proudly stands for to keep it. By sticking inside the family on Wednesday and officially bringing Paul Chryst back home, the Badgers have somebody who knows exactly what the job entails and a coach who almost certainly won’t be making a lateral move at any point in the future. Maybe the Badgers will start spending more money on assistants down the road, so there’s some flexibility there in regards to an issue that turned off Bret Bielema. But in terms of knowing the kind of recruits it can expect to land and clearly laying out the academic requirements moving forward, not to mention bringing in an existing relationship with the university and the boss, Chryst couldn’t be any better suited to provide stability for Wisconsin after a rough stretch of losing Bielema and then Gary Andersen after two short years.

Down to one: Wisconsin moving quickly leaves only Michigan active on the job market, and while there’s no telling when that search will end, it is effectively the only one that still has a chance of connecting on a true home-run hire. No offense to Chryst or new Nebraska coach Mike Riley, because those were smart, sensible hires that made perfect sense for each program -- but they certainly don’t qualify as splashy or scream that championships are on the way. If Les Miles is definitively out of the picture, it really seems as though Jim Harbaugh is going to have to come through for the Wolverines once his commitments to San Francisco are over at the end of the NFL season. And it seems like Michigan is fully committed to doing whatever it takes to deliver him. Maybe there’s another huge name secretly looming out there for Michigan, but if there was, wouldn’t there have been some indication of that by now? The Big Ten is down to one job, and there really only seems to be one guy who should claim it.

Coordinator corner: Just below those headline vacancies leading Big Ten programs, the chance to replace Tom Herman as Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator will be up there as a highly-coveted position this offseason as the coaching carousel spins. The odds are strong that Ed Warinner will receive something of a promotion from his co-coordinator duties and take on more responsibility as a play-caller, though he was already somewhat active in that regard in his current role. Warinner not only deserves a raise for the incredible job he’s done with the Ohio State offensive line, he has earned more credit than he currently receives for that work, which is perhaps why he hasn’t landed an opportunity to lead his own program yet despite a couple interviews over the last two years. The Buckeyes are actually fortunate that they don’t have to replace both Herman and Warinner simultaneously, but either way there will be no shortage of candidates lining up for the shot to potentially work with J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller at quarterback.

East Division
West Division
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The change in Ohio State's offensive line is impossible to ignore this spring, even in regard to the only returning starter.

For one thing, he’s now lining up at left tackle, swapping sides after a breakout sophomore season on the right for one of the best offensive lines in the nation.

And then there’s the haircut, as Taylor Decker trimmed off his long locks as part of a job shadow program, trying to give himself a more “professional” appearance.

[+] EnlargeDecker
Jamie Sabau/Getty ImagesTaylor Decker is the only returning starter on Ohio State's offensive line, but even he'll be at a new position this season.
Both developments help drive home the completely new look up front for Ohio State, where even the lone holdover has a new position as part of a makeover of a unit that lost four starters, a group that's arguably been the strongest in Urban Meyer's tenure with the Buckeyes.

“It’s definitely a different feeling, but I think our focus needs to be not worrying about who lost, but on who we have,” Decker said. “We have really talented guys; they just need to develop confidence in themselves. They can do everything. They just need to realize they can go out and do it play after play after play and be consistent.

“We’ve got a lot of talented guys. Our only issue is inexperience.”

That certainly wasn’t a problem for the Buckeyes a year ago when Decker was the only fresh face in the lineup. Now the only projected first-teamer on the roster with starting experience is guard Pat Elflein, who filled in for a suspended Marcus Hall in the Big Ten championship game after admirably replacing Hall after he was thrown out of the Michigan game.

That leaves plenty for the Buckeyes to sort through this spring, and the process of nailing down full-time replacements for tackle Jack Mewhort, guards Hall and Andrew Norwell and center Corey Linsley might well spill into August. But offensive line coach Ed Warinner isn’t low on options, and the young guys trying to step into those big shoes aren’t short on confidence, either.

“For us, I think it motivates us a unit,” center Jacoby Boren said. “There is no doubt, those guys were freaking awesome, great guys, great players. But we have a lot of good guys here competing, and we’re working hard.

“We’re not working to be like them. We’re going to work to be the best that we are and keep building on that.”

Their predecessors obviously set the bar pretty high during the last couple seasons, setting the tone for an offense that led the Big Ten in scoring and was fifth in the nation in rushing, averaging more than 300 yards per game on the ground.

The Buckeyes started preparations for replacing them last season, occasionally cutting back on practice reps for the first unit in favor of the backups in an effort to speed through the learning curve and getting them as much game action as possible. Prospective right tackle Darryl Baldwin, Elflein and Boren figure to benefit from that taste of experience, and Antonio Underwood's return from knee surgery has gone smoothly enough that he opened camp as the starter at left guard. Behind that starting group, Ohio State has recruited well and could conceivably have players such as converted defensive lineman Joel Hale or Kyle Dodson make pushes for playing time.

And with all those candidates on hand ready to take over, Warinner isn’t losing much sleep, even though he’s looking at a totally different line.

“I’m pretty confident, yeah,” Warinner said. “Because everything that you want to see at this point, we’re seeing. Great work ethic, tough guys, very well-conditioned, guys who want to learn, guys who come and watch film and work the game. Guys who do extra, guys that are very coachable; they’re sponges. Guys who come with energy to practice.

“You’ve got all these things. The only thing they lack is experience.”

Now there’s nobody in their way to keep them from getting it.

B1G spring position breakdown: OL

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
We're taking snapshots of each position group with each Big Ten team entering the spring. Up next: the big uglies.

Illinois: This is another group that appears to be in significantly better shape now than at the start of coach Tim Beckman's tenure. The Illini lose only one full-time starter in tackle Corey Lewis, as four other linemen who started at least eight games in 2013 return. Senior tandem Michael Heitz and Simon Cvijanovic are two of the Big Ten's most experienced linemen, and guards Ted Karras also has logged plenty of starts. Right tackle appears to be the only vacancy entering the spring, as Austin Schmidt and others will compete.

Indiana: The Hoosiers have somewhat quietly put together one of the Big Ten's best offensive lines, and the same should hold true in 2014. Everybody is back, and because of injuries before and during the 2013 season, Indiana boasts a large group with significant starting experience. Jason Spriggs should contend for first-team All-Big Ten honors as he enters his third season at left tackle. Senior Collin Rahrig solidifies the middle, and Indiana regains the services of guard Dan Feeney, who was sidelined all of 2013 by a foot injury.

Iowa: The return of left tackle Brandon Scherff anchors an Iowa line that could be a team strength this fall. Scherff will enter the fall as a leading candidate for Big Ten offensive lineman of the year. Iowa must replace two starters in right tackle Brett Van Sloten and left guard Conor Boffeli. Andrew Donnal could be the answer in Van Sloten's spot despite playing guard in 2013, while several players will compete at guard, including Tommy Gaul and Eric Simmons. Junior Austin Blythe returns at center.

Maryland: Line play will go a long way toward determining how Maryland fares in the Big Ten, and the Terrapins will make the transition with an experienced group. Four starters are back, led by center Sal Conaboy, who has started games in each of his first three seasons. Tackles Ryan Doyle and Michael Dunn bring versatility to the group, and Maryland should have plenty of options once heralded recruit Damian Prince and junior-college transfer Larry Mazyck arrive this summer. Prince is the top Big Ten offensive line recruit in the 2014 class, according to ESPN RecruitingNation. New line coach Greg Studwara brings a lot of experience to the group.

Michigan: The Wolverines' line is under the microscope this spring after a disappointing 2013 season. Michigan loses both starting tackles, including Taylor Lewan, the Big Ten's offensive lineman of the year and a projected first-round draft choice. The interior line was in flux for much of 2013, and Michigan needs development from a large group of rising sophomores and juniors, including Kyle Kalis, Kyle Bosch, Jack Miller, Graham Glasgow, and Patrick Kugler. Both starting tackle spots are open, although Ben Braden seems likely to slide in on the left side. Erik Magnuson is out for spring practice following shoulder surgery, freeing up opportunities for redshirt freshman David Dawson and others.

Michigan State: The line took a significant step forward in 2013 but loses three starters, including left guard Blake Treadwell, a co-captain. Michigan State used an eight-man rotation in 2013 and will look for development from top reserves such as Travis Jackson (Yes! Yes!) and Connor Kruse. Kodi Kieler backed up Treadwell last season and could contend for a starting job as well. Coach Mark Dantonio said this week that converted defensive linemen James Bodanis, Devyn Salmon and Noah Jones will get a chance to prove themselves this spring. It's important for MSU to show it can reload up front, and the large rotation used in 2013 should help.

Minnesota: For the first time since the Glen Mason era, Minnesota truly established the line of scrimmage and showcased the power run game in 2013. The Gophers return starters at four positions and regain Jon Christenson, the team's top center before suffering a season-ending leg injury in November. Right tackle Josh Campion and left guard Zac Epping are mainstays in the starting lineup, and players such as Tommy Olson and Ben Lauer gained some valuable experience last fall. There should be good leadership with Epping, Olson, Marek Lenkiewicz and Caleb Bak.

Nebraska: Graduation hit the line hard as five seniors depart, including 2012 All-American Spencer Long at guard and Jeremiah Sirles at tackle. Nebraska will lean on guard Jake Cotton, its only returning starter, and experienced players such as Mark Pelini, who steps into the center spot. Senior Mike Moudy is the top candidate at the other guard spot, but there should be plenty of competition at the tackle spots, where Zach Sterup, Matt Finnin and others are in the mix. Definitely a group to watch this spring.

Northwestern: Offensive line struggles undoubtedly contributed to Northwestern's disappointing 2013 season. All five starters are back along with several key reserves, and coach Pat Fitzgerald already has seen a dramatic difference in the position competitions this spring as opposed to last, when many linemen were sidelined following surgeries. Center Brandon Vitabile is the only returning starter who shouldn't have to worry about his job. Paul Jorgensen and Eric Olson opened the spring as the top tackles, and Jack Konopka, who has started at both tackle spots, will have to regain his position.

Ohio State: Like Nebraska, Ohio State enters the spring with a lot to replace up front as four starters depart from the Big Ten's best line. Taylor Decker is the only holdover and will move from right tackle to left tackle. Fifth-year senior Darryl Baldwin could step in at the other tackle spot, while Pat Elflein, who filled in for the suspended Marcus Hall late last season, is a good bet to start at guard. Jacoby Boren and Billy Price will compete at center and Joel Hale, a defensive lineman, will work at guard this spring. Ohio State has recruited well up front, and it will be interesting to see how young players such as Evan Lisle and Kyle Dodson develop.

Penn State: New coach James Franklin admits he's concerned about the depth up front despite the return of veterans Miles Dieffenbach and Donovan Smith on the left side. Guard Angelo Mangiro is the other lineman who logged significant experience in 2013, and guard/center Wendy Laurent and guard Anthony Alosi played a bit. But filling out the second string could be a challenge for Penn State, which could start a redshirt freshman (Andrew Nelson) at right tackle. The Lions have to develop some depth on the edges behind Nelson and Smith.

Purdue: The Boilers reset up front after a miserable season in which they finished 122nd out of 123 FBS teams in rushing offense (67.1 ypg). Three starters return on the interior, led by junior center Robert Kugler, and there's some continuity at guard with Jordan Roos and Justin King, both of whom started as redshirt freshmen. It's a different story on the edges as Purdue loses both starting tackles. Thursday's addition of junior-college tackle David Hedelin could be big, if Hedelin avoids a potential NCAA suspension for playing for a club team. Cameron Cermin and J.J. Prince also are among those in the mix at tackle.

Rutgers: Continuity should be a strength for Rutgers, which returns its entire starting line from 2013. But production has to be better after the Scarlet Knights finished 100th nationally in rushing and tied for 102nd in sacks allowed. Guard Kaleb Johnson considered entering the NFL draft but instead will return for his fourth season as a starter. Rutgers also brings back Betim Bujari, who can play either center or guard, as well as Keith Lumpkin, the likely starter at left tackle. It will be interesting to see if new line coach Mitch Browning stirs up the competition this spring, as younger players Dorian Miller and J.J. Denman could get a longer look.

Wisconsin: There are a lot of familiar names up front for the Badgers, who lose only one starter in guard Ryan Groy. The tackle spots look very solid with Tyler Marz (left) and Rob Havenstein (right), and Kyle Costigan started the final 11 games at right guard. There should be some competition at center, as both Dan Voltz and Dallas Lewallen have battled injuries. Coach Gary Andersen mentioned on national signing day that early enrollee Michael Deiter will enter the mix immediately at center. Another early enrollee, decorated recruit Jaden Gault, should be part of the rotation at tackle. If certain young players develop quickly this spring, Wisconsin should have no depth issues when the season rolls around.

Purdue Boilermakers, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Big Ten Conference, Michigan State Spartans, Northwestern Wildcats, Indiana Hoosiers, Illinois Fighting Illini, Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines, Wisconsin Badgers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Maryland Terrapins, Corey Lewis, Josh Campion, Brandon Vitabile, Darryl Baldwin, Blake Treadwell, Pat Fitzgerald, Travis Jackson, Miles Dieffenbach, Justin King, Zac Epping, Gary Andersen, Brett Van Sloten, Andrew Donnal, Rob Havenstein, Dallas Lewallen, Brandon Scherff, Paul Jorgensen, Donovan Smith, Austin Blythe, Tommy Olson, Angelo Mangiro, Jack Konopka, Jake Cotton, Jeremiah Sirles, Kyle Kalis, J.J. Denman, Kyle Dodson, Eric Olson, Michael Heitz, Simon Cvijanovic, Spencer Long, Collin Rahrig, Greg Studrawa, Kodi Kieler, Jordan Roos, Cameron Cermin, Taylor Decker, Robert Kugler, Jack Miller, Kyle Bosch, Evan Lisle, Jason Spriggs, Mark Pelini, James Franklin, Patrick Kugler, Kyle Costigan, Andrew Nelson, Ted Karras, Jon Christenson, Dan Feeney, Erik Magnuson, James Bodanis, Jaden Gault, Graham Glasgow, Marek Lenkiewicz, Eric Simmons, Pat Elflein, Matt Finnin, Damian Prince, Michael Deiter, David Hedelin, Mike Moudy, Zach Sterup, Conor Boffelli, B1G spring positions 14, Austin Schmidt, Tommy Gaul, Sal Conaboy, Ryan Doyle, Michael Dunn, Larry Mazyck, Connor Kruse, Devyn Salmon, Noah Jones, J.J. Prince, Kaleb Johnson, Betim Bujari, Keith Lumpkin, Mitch Browning, Dorian Miller

Big Ten lunchtime links

September, 12, 2012
Links while we wait for the new iPhone announcement ...

Best Case/Worst Case: Wisconsin

August, 30, 2012
Our series looking at the best- and worst-case scenarios for each Big Ten team comes to a close today with Wisconsin.

As a reminder one last time, these are by no means predictions for the season. They are meant to illustrate the realistic potential highs and lows for a team's season, and any game-by-game breakdowns are more of a means to an end than anything else. We've been trying to have some fun here, and I think we succeeded.

The Badgers have had fun winning the past two Big Ten championships. What are the high and low possibilities for them in 2012?

Best Case

Everything is coming up Roses again in Madison. Wisconsin returns a lot of top-shelf talent, the path in the Leaders Division has been cleared (thanks, NCAA!) and the bounces finally go the Badgers' way almost all season.

Montee Ball shows he's still the full Montee by running for four touchdowns in the easy opening win over Northern Iowa. Oregon State, rusty from having its opener cancelled by Hurricane Isaac, is a step slow all day in a 42-7 Wisconsin win. Danny O'Brien has his first big game against the Beavers, throwing for 300 yards. O'Brien completes 70 percent of his passes for the year, making fans forget about Russell Wilson.

Ball piles up the touchdowns against Utah State and UTEP to head into the showdown at Nebraska at 4-0. The Huskers win on a controversial call in the final seconds, spoiling a chance at a perfect season for the Badgers.

But that only makes this team mad, and it takes that anger out on the rest of the league. Wisconsin bludgeons Illinois and Purdue and beats Minnesota 65-0. Cement is poured around Paul Bunyan's Axe.

Michigan State comes to Madison on Oct. 27 and receives an early Halloween nightmare. Thousands of Wisconsin students dress up as John L. Smith, but the scariest thing is how easily the Badgers puncture the Spartans' defense in the 35-14 victory. O'Brien completes a Hail Mary for a touchdown -- to end the first half.

After a six-touchdown performance by Ball against Indiana, Urban Meyer brings Ohio State to town. Bret Bielema has been waiting for this one since February and pulls out all the stops. Wisconsin's defense rises to the occasion, repeatedly taking advantage of freshman offensive lineman Kyle Dodson, who's been forced into action because of injuries. Bielema goes for two on every play in the 44-17 win.

The Badgers steamroll a downtrodden Penn State and roll on to the Big Ten championship game, where they club Iowa by three touchdowns to regain both the league title and the Heartland Trophy. Ball, who finishes with a new FBS record of 41 touchdowns, wins the Heisman Trophy. Ricky Wagner wins the Outland Trophy. Travis Frederick wins the Rimington Trophy. Jacob Pedersen wins the Mackey Award. Chris Borland wins the Butkus Award.

Wisconsin makes its third straight Rose Bowl and wins it this time over USC. House of Pain performs at halftime. After an ugly BCS title game, several Associated Press voters elevate the Badgers to No. 1. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater decides that he will graduate in 2013 and transfer to the Badgers to succeed O'Brien as the starter in '14.

The FDA announces that cheese curds, bratwurst and Spotted Cow are actually good for you and recommends 3-to-5 servings per day.

Worst Case

Six new assistant coaches. No Russell Wilson. A dinged-up Montee Ball. Winter is coming, Badgerland.

Ball doesn't look quite right in the opener against Northern Iowa, and concussions symptoms lead to him missing several games. Wisconsin survives an upset bid. Oregon State, rested and ready after having its opener cancelled, springs a surprise on the flat-footed Badgers as O'Brien reverts to his Maryland sophomore struggles and throws three interceptions. Fans look longingly to Wilson, who's tearing up the NFL in Seattle.

Wisconsin beats Utah State and UTEP but looks ugly in doing so because of a lack of staff cohesion. The newly-married Bielema, much like Don Draper on the last season of "Mad Men," doesn't get too concerned because he's still on "love leave."

Nebraska pounds the Badgers into submission in Week 5 in primetime. Barry Alvarez is so overcome with emotion about his alma mater that he announces he will succeed Tom Osborne as Huskers AD.

The team rebounds to beat Illinois, but then its road troubles continue with a loss at Purdue. O'Brien tosses three more interceptions and is lifted for Joel Stave. With things in disarray, Minnesota comes to Camp Randall and pulls off a shocking upset thanks to MarQueis Gray's game-winning Hail Mary. Gleeful Gophers players take Paul Bunyan's Axe and destroy the new facility upgrades at the stadium.

Michigan State seeks revenge the next week and gets it. Isaiah Lewis blocks two punts and the Spartans don't need any late heroics in the 31-14 victory. Madison police, citing safety concerns, cancel the State Street Halloween party.

Wisconsin regroups enough to beat Indiana, but Urban Meyer has been waiting since signing day to exact a pound of flesh from Bielema. Braxton Miller goes nuts, and the surprising Kyle Dodson leads the way on the offensive line. Meyer goes for two on every play and struts off the field after a 44-17 win. Penn State gears up for the finale and waylays the Badgers 38-7, sending Purdue to Indianapolis. Iowa wins the Big Ten title.

The 6-6 season sends Wisconsin to the Little Caesars Bowl against Northern Illinois and former assistant Dave Doeren. Now more familiar with the Badgers system than most of Bielema's current assistants, Doeren leads the Huskies to victory.

House of Pain sends a cease and desist letter to the school, demanding that "Jump Around" no longer be played at Camp Randall. A national cheese, beer and sausage shortage grips the nation, and vegan restaurants take over Madison.

More Best Case/Worst Case

Michigan State
Ohio State
Penn State
Every good conference boasts some coaching villains, and the Big Ten has several men who fill the role. No one will confuse the Big Ten with the SEC, where all 12 coaches have voodoo dolls of one other and dart boards with their opponents' heads as the bull's-eyes. But let's not forget the Big Ten produced Woody and Bo, two men who certainly played the villain when they set foot on opposing soil. The Big Ten may never see Woody versus Bo, Part II, but you get 12 Type A personalities competing for championships in a high-stakes sport, and it's going to get heated.

Last month, we asked you to weigh in on the most disliked Big Ten coach. Not surprisingly, the three highest vote-getters also earned our nod for their villainous traits. Remember, this is all in fun, and it's important to note that it's hard to be a coaching villain if you don't win a lot of games or tick off multiple fan bases.

Let's take a look.

Bret Bielema, Wisconsin (six seasons, 60-19 overall and at Wisconsin)

Any coach who plays college ball, has his team's logo tattooed on his leg, and then ends up coaching a major rival is predisposed to be a villain. Bielema, a former Iowa defensive lineman, still sports the Tigerhawk stamp on his leg, but he's very much a Badger these days. While Bielema might not be a favorite son in Iowa, he has ticked off others around the league a little more.

In 2010, Bielema ignited a flap with Minnesota when he called for a 2-point conversion attempt with Wisconsin ahead by 25 points in the fourth quarter. Minnesota coach Tim Brewster confronted Bielema after the game and later said Bielema made "a poor decision for a head football coach." Bielema claimed he was following the coaches' card of when to go for two or not, but given tension with Brewster and the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry, few bought his explanation. The Wisconsin coach didn't help his rep a few weeks later when the Badgers' record-setting offense put up 83 points against Indiana, although the sportsmanship complaints seemed hollow as Indiana totally packed it in that day.

Then came national signing day in February, when Bielema at a news conference referred to "illegal" recruiting tactics by new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. Many incorrectly interpreted Bielema's comments as sour grapes about losing a recruit (Kyle Dodson) to Meyer, but Bielema didn't publicly specify what he meant or why he contacted Meyer to discuss the situation. The allegations didn't sit well with Meyer or Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, although the situation put to rest the ridiculous belief about a "gentleman's agreement" among Big Ten coaches.

Bielema is relatively young, highly successful and never short on confidence. He's very media savvy and knows how to get his message across. He may fill the villain role for several fan bases, but he's the one going to Pasadena every year.

Urban Meyer, Ohio State (first season, 104-23 overall in 10 seasons)

Meyer hasn't coached a single game as Ohio State's head man, but he still received the most votes as the league's most disliked coach. Unlike the others in the Big Ten villain mix, Meyer sparks ire in other parts of the country, particularly in a little place they call Gator Country.

He left Florida after the 2010 season -- after nearly stepping away the previous year -- citing health concerns and a desire to spend more time with his family. Some saw him taking the Ohio State job, undoubtedly another pressure cooker, just a year after leaving Florida, as disingenuous. More Florida fallout arrived this spring in a Sporting News story that showed Meyer as the overseer and enabler of a mess in Gainesville.

Meyer's Big Ten villainy stems mostly from his immediate success on the recruiting trail after being hired in late November. In two months he put together the Big Ten's top-rated recruiting class, which included several players who had flipped from other programs to the Buckeyes. His surge drew comments from Bielema and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, and the perception that Meyer has rocked the boat in the Big Ten remains very much alive.

Although Meyer and Michigan coach Brady Hoke have been cordial to this point -- they have the same agent, Trace Armstrong -- it's only a matter of time before things get spicy. Ohio State set off a mini blaze by displaying a sign in the football complex comparing its players' academic majors with those of Michigan's.

Buckle up.

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State (five seasons, 44-22 at MSU, 62-39 in eight seasons overall)

The seemingly permanent scowl. The deep, borderline monotone voice. The willingness to stick up for players who make mistakes and fuel rivalries. In many ways, Dantonio looks and sounds more like a villain than any of his Big Ten coaching brethren. Warm and fuzzy he is not, and while he has a unique sense of humor and can be charming, he comes off serious, intense and, some would say, confrontational.

Dantonio has made some notable statements about archrival Michigan in his five seasons in East Lansing. Who can forget his "pride comes before the fall" response to Mike Hart after the 2007 Michigan State-Michigan game? After last season's personal-foul fest against Michigan, a game Michigan State won 28-14, Dantonio drew criticism for not suspending defensive end William Gholston, who had punched a Wolverines player and twisted the helmet of another (the Big Ten later suspended Gholston for a game). In January, he interrupted Michigan assistant Jeff Hecklinski during a presentation to state high school coaches. And this spring, he set off some fireworks by telling Brian Bennett, "We're laying in the weeds. We've beat Michigan the last four years. So where's the threat?"

Some Michigan fans still dismiss Michigan State as not a real rival, but Dantonio has certainly gotten under the skin of Wolverines backers, especially because he keeps beating the Maize and Blue.

Dantonio also was looped into the Meyer/Bielema flap in February, although his general comments about recruiting were misinterpreted by a reporter.

The hyper intense Dantonio has some villain in him. And if he keeps winning at Michigan State, the image will continue to grow.
Secondary NCAA violations happen with every FBS program on a semi-regular basis, but at Ohio State, after the past year, every error is magnified.

The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer recently obtained a list of all Ohio State's NCAA violations since May 30, 2011, the day Jim Tressel resigned as football coach in the wake of the tattoo/memorabilia scandal. According to the Plain Dealer, Ohio State reported 46 violations in 21 sports during the span, including secondary NCAA violations committed by new football coach Urban Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith.

Meyer admits to saying "good luck" to defensive line recruit Noah Spence during a Dec. 16 game, which violates NCAA rules prohibiting direct contact with a prospect during a competition. Spence, who originally was leaning toward Penn State before the child sex abuse scandal broke, ended up committing to Ohio State days after the game while on an official visit, and he signed with the Buckeyes in February. He's the nation's No. 4 recruit according to ESPN Recruiting and the highest-rated recruit in the Big Ten this year.

From the Plain Dealer:
Ohio State learned of the matter after seeing a newspaper photo that appeared to show Meyer saying something to Spence. Meyer also told Ohio State about the incident two days after the game.
"I went to say hello and good luck to his coach and as I was walking off the field Noah said, 'Hello,' and I said 'Good luck,' before the game," Meyer wrote in a text message to The Plain Dealer on Thursday. "Nothing more. Nothing to hide. All good."

The violations included nothing about Meyer and recruit Kyle Dodson, who signed with Ohio State in February. The Sporting News reported that Wisconsin had accused Meyer of impermissible contact with Dodson, who originally committed to Wisconsin before switching.

Smith and Archie Griffin, the former Ohio State star running back and current CEO of the school's alumni association, admitted to recording a personalized video for recruit Ezekiel Elliott before his official visit to campus March 31. Such videos are prohibited. Elliott committed to Ohio State during his visit.

Other football secondary violations range from the truly ridiculous -- assistant coach Mike Vrabel used smokeless tobacco on the sidelines during games, which violates NCAA rules prohibiting tobacco use during games or practices -- to the extremely common (assistant Stan Drayton accidentally sending a recruit a text message rather than an email last summer).

The only major violations included are the ones involving players being overpaid for work by former booster Bobby DiGeronimo. Those violations, combined with the violations from the tattoo/merchandise scandal, resulted in Ohio State losing scholarships and receiving a one-year postseason ban from the NCAA for the 2012 season.

There are a few ways to view the report, none of which are off base.
  • The NCAA rulebook is pretty silly.
  • Meyer and Smith have to be more careful, especially after what happened. Smith's violation is a bit puzzling. You would think he would have some hesitation about recording a personalized video for a recruit.
  • Ohio State's compliance department, panned during the tattoo/merchandise scandal, is improving in monitoring and reporting issues.

"So many lessons learned throughout that entire challenge," Smith told last month. "You have to constantly look at, 'OK, what could we have done better?' What procedures do we put in place as we move forward? Be as transparent as we can. The biggest thing for us is identify, report and move on. That's what we’ve always done. There's some things we changed to make sure we don’t end up in that situation again."

Bret Bielema addresses Meyer story

April, 10, 2012
An article published Monday by the Sporting News gave some clarity to Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema's concerns over the recruiting tactics of Ohio State counterpart Urban Meyer.

Bielema complained about Meyer around signing day, though he never specified publicly what upset him. The two later talked at a Big Ten coaches' meeting in Chicago and declared the matter settled.

The Sporting News story said Ohio State had NFL players call recruits and that Meyer had "bumped" into Wisconsin commit Kyle Dodson during a dead period. Dodson later flipped his pledge to the Buckeyes.

Bielema talked to reporters about the story after practice on Tuesday. While Bielema didn't come out and confirm the details contained in the story, he said "that's getting closer to it."

"When that whole thing came out … it was obviously a lot to be written,” said Bielema. “Not to slight [the media] but a lot of time what’s being written isn’t exactly what’s reality.

“I just know this. We handle ourselves in a certain way. In the Big Ten conference, we’ve been able to do that. When I called Coach Meyer and expressed a certain thing, he addressed it and handled it very quickly.”

Some had speculated that Bielema's complaints had to do with a "gentleman's agreement" in the Big Ten not to recruit committed players, but Bielema has said that was not the case. I wrote at the time that Bielema should have been more specific with his issue if he was going to say anything at all publicly.

"Obviously when you come into competition with other schools and you become aware of anything that concerns you, you have an obligation to say something," he said. “The only regret is that I probably didn’t address it [publicly] cleaner and quicker. Any time you see something out there floating around that’s not really reality, it’s better to just cease it and stop it. Obviously it got a life of its own.”

Bielema also said the NCAA had addressed his complaints. Meyer told the Sporting News that he did not have any outstanding issues with the NCAA.

In totally unrelated news, Ohio State plays at Wisconsin on Nov. 17.

Big shoes to fill: Ohio State

February, 28, 2012
Spring practice is just around the corner, and that will be a time for Big Ten teams to locate replacements for departed stars. We're taking a look at how each team might fill the roles of two key contributors no longer on campus.

Today, we turn our attention to Ohio State and its Urban renewal projects. The Buckeyes didn't lose a whole lot of seniors, and they already experienced what it was like to play without departed seniors Dan Herron and DeVier Posey for large stretches of last season. So we'll focus our attention on the offensive line:

[+] EnlargeMike Brewster
Melina Vastola/US PresswireOhio State has to replace departing center Mike Brewster, who made 49 consecutive starts.
BIG SHOES TO FILL: Mike Brewster, C

Why: Brewster was a fixture in the Buckeyes' lineup, making 49 consecutive starts after debuting as a true freshman. He was one of the best centers in the Big Ten for the duration of his career, and was named an All-American in 2010. He also provided good leadership -- especially in a year when some other seniors ran afoul of NCAA rules.

Replacement candidates: Brian Bobek (6-2, 280, Soph.); Corey Linsley (6-2, 310, Jr.); Joey O'Connor (6-4, 295 incoming freshman); Jacoby Boren (6-2, 275, incoming freshman).

The skinny: One reason to temper expectations about Urban Meyer's first year in Columbus is a dangerous lack of depth on the offensive line. The Buckeyes were already thin there last season, and lost three senior starters. If anyone other than Bobek is starting at center, it's probably because of an injury or something else unforeseen. The former blue-chip high school prospect spent last season as Brewster's understudy, and saw some time in mop-up duty. He should make a smooth transition to starter this spring, though living up to Brewster's production won't be easy.

Linsley has played guard in the past for the Buckeyes ,but likely will be one of the starting guards this season, along with Jack Mewhort. O'Connor and Boren project as guards, but could play center in a pinch -- a situation Ohio State hopes to avoid.


Why: Adams missed the first five games of 2011 while serving a suspension, and his absence was notable. He was one of the best offensive linemen in the Big Ten during his three years as a starter, and the 6-foot-8, 320-pounder has been projected by some as a first-round NFL draft pick this spring. The Buckeyes' offensive line played much better last season once he returned.

Replacement candidates: Andrew Norwell (6-5, 308, Jr.); Marcus Hall (6-5, 315, Jr.); Antonio Underwood, (6-3, 305, Soph.); Tommy Brown (6-5, 320, Soph.); Chris Carter (6-6, 350, R-Fr.); Taylor Decker (6-8, 310, incoming freshman); Kyle Dodson (6-5, 315, incoming freshman).

The skinny: Here's another place where a successor is in place, but things could get shaky if something goes wrong.

Norwell started the first five games at left tackle last season while Adams was suspended before sliding back to guard. He should take over the blind side full time this season, and he has good instincts for the position. Everything else at tackle this spring is a little bit up in the air, as Meyer plans to convert tight end Reid Fragel into a right tackle. He and Hall will likely battle for that starting spot, with Hall potentially ending up as a super sub along the line.

Underwood started the Purdue game when J.B. Shugarts was injured but was pulled after a poor performance. Hopefully, another year of coaching will help him develop into a solid contributor. Brown and Carter are largely unknowns at this point, but at least have big bodies. Don't be surprised to see at least one of the true freshmen crack the two-deep this season. They're both very talented, and unfortunately for Ohio State, they don't have a ton of competition ahead of them.
The haters had their fun on Monday, but it's time to feel the love again in the Big Ten. Sure, this might not seem like the league of love lately, especially after the last recruiting cycle, but Valentine's Day will make it all better (riiight).

Fortunately for you, we intercepted a few of the Valentines missives being sent around the Big Ten.

Check 'em out ...

To: Bret Bielema
From: Urban Meyer

Bret, we got off to a bad start, but you'll grow to love me. Maybe even my recruiting methods, too. Remember what Ohio State fans thought of me in January 2007? Now I'm king of Columbus! I've already forgiven you for your poor choice of words (this card, by the way, was sent legally through U.S. mail). I'll be sure and send you weekly updates on Kyle Dodson. Only 277 days until we meet in Madison. Save me a brat! ... Toodles

To: Urban Meyer
From: Bret Bielema

When leading by 27 ... go for 2! When leading by 36 ... go for 2!

To: Urban Meyer
From: Bret Bielema

Urban, sorry about the last card. Meant to send it to Tim Brewster. My bad.

To: Brady Hoke
From: Michigan fans

Gotta admit, we were a little concerned about your losing record. And the fact you weren't named Jim Harbaugh. But you were a Michigan man, dammit, unlike that last schlub. Plus, you actually cared about defense (Mattison rules!). Thanks for making us proud again. Now beat Ohio every year.

To: College football fans
From: Jim Delany and Big Ten athletic directors

We're giving you your stinking playoff -- and this card. Happy?

To: Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan
From: Jim Delany

I know you guys took some heat for selecting Virginia Tech, but it was a great call. People rag on the Big Ten, but think how bad it'd be if there weren't these ACC teams completely incapable of winning BCS bowls. You da man! Any time you want to pair us against the ACC, don't hesitate!

To: Pat Narduzzi
From: Mark Dantonio

Thanks for staying. Don't worry, there's a check included. Let's give 'em 840 minutes of unnecessary roughness this year!

To: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
From: Denard Robinson

Who knew one team could make one player look so awesome? I love you guys! See ya in September!

To: Nebraska fans
From: Bo Pelini

I know you're not happy about the meltdowns against Wisconsin, Michigan and South Carolina. Or the reports linking me to other jobs. Or some of the assistant coach hires. Or the fact we had more walk-ons than scholarship players in the last recruiting class. But we can take the next step and make you proud. I've matured as a coach. I'm a little calmer, and a little more self-aware. I might put some Ghandi quotes around the complex. Let's get off the roller-coaster and start riding the wave of enlightenment. GBR! Om.

To: The end zone
From: Montee Ball

Had so much fun visiting this past season, I'll be back for more!

To: Matthew McGloin
From: Curtis Drake

The past is the past, Matty. Let's go knock out the other teams in 2012!

To: Iowa's running backs
From: Kirk Ferentz

Thanks for sticking around, guys. Some of the others must have gotten a bit confused. Told them to run to the end zone, not the nearest Greyhound station.

To: Denard Robinson and Taylor Lewan
From: William Gholston

Can't wait to throw my arms around you guys again this year. Really, really looking forward to Oct. 20.

To: Floyd of Rosedale
From: Minnesota fans

We love makin' bacon with you. Please stay with us forever.

To: NCAA infractions committee
From: Gene Smith

I thought love meant never having to say you're sorry. I guess you didn't think my attempt of asking for your forgiveness wasn't enough. But it's OK. I've moved on and ended up in a much healthier relationship. Let's never fight again.

To: Indiana Hoosiers
From: Ron Zook

When up by seven, go for two! C'mon, you know you'll miss me.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez spent most of his life in coaching, and he knows recruiting can be a messy process.

But Alvarez also knows the difference between questionable recruiting practices and illegal ones. And to his knowledge, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer didn't do anything illegal in compiling the Buckeyes' latest recruiting class.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema accused Meyer of "illegal" recruiting practices Wednesday and told the Sporting News on Thursday that Alvarez soon would be discussing Meyer's recruiting with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. Bielema said Alvarez would bring it up at an athletic directors' meeting Friday, but the Big Ten confirmed to that there is no such meeting.

Colleague Joe Schad caught up Friday with Alvarez, who said he has no issue with coaches "flipping" recruits who had committed to another school. Meyer flipped several for Ohio State's class, including offensive lineman Kyle Dodson, a Wisconsin commit.
"Recruiting is recruiting until they sign," Alvarez told Schad. "If we had somebody who changed their mind and came to us, that's OK. Urban [Meyer] was very aggressive but there is no pact within the conference not to continue to recruit. It's open season until they sign."

Alvarez also said he's unaware of any "illegal" tactics by Meyer and hasn't spoken with Delany.
"It's dangerous to point fingers and make accusations," Alvarez said. "I actually think recruiting is tamer now that it was at one point in time."

Sounds like Bielema and his boss need to have a talk. It's dangerous to throw out the word "illegal" without some strong evidence to back it up.

Again, I don't think Bielema is talking about flipping recruits or the Big Ten's "gentleman's agreement" not to do so. The "agreement" is a joke and gets violated every year by several schools. Wisconsin has violated it in the past. As Bielema told me Wednesday, "As coaches, we're all vultures. They smell something and they want to try and see if there's an interest."

There's a difference between unethical and illegal.

If Meyer violated NCAA rules in his recruiting, someone needs to come forward and talk about it. Vague accusations don't help. But whether or not it's true, there has to be a bigger issue here than flipping recruits.

Is there some larger issue here? If so, Bielema needs to clue in someone. Like Alvarez.

Q&A: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer

February, 2, 2012
Urban Meyer hasn't coached a game yet at Ohio State, but his impact on the Big Ten has already been massive.

Though he was only hired in late November, Meyer managed to put together an impressive first recruiting class that ESPN ranked as the sixth-best in the country. Several players in the class were at one time committed to other league schools. The Buckeyes put together one of the best groups of defensive linemen in the country as well.

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
Andrew Weber/US PresswireNew Ohio State coach Urban Meyer made an immediate impact on the recruiting trail.
I caught up with Meyer on Thursday morning to talk about the class, whether there's such a thing as a "gentleman's agreement" in recruiting, and how he expects his recruits to see the field right away.

Did you expect to sign a class this highly rated, given how little time you had to put it all together?

Urban Meyer: I think it exceeded expectations a little, especially on the D-line. If you had told me in December that we would get those four defensive linemen in this class and the two offensive tackles ... that's what separated this class I think, from being pretty good to being really good.

The class is heavy on the defensive and offensive lines. How much of that was need-based and how much of was just that's what you need to build a foundation?

UM: I think anytime you get a premiere guy like Noah Spence, he knows that we need him. That's the way it is nowadays. Kids want to go somewhere where there's a need. The same with the two offensive tackles, Taylor Decker and Kyle Dodson. We just don't have those body types right now in our program, and they know that. We made that real clear. Their opportunity to play is going to be real quick here.

How did you go about evaluating what you needed in recruiting when you hadn't seen the players on the current roster much in person?

UM: Well, that's where Luke Fickell and Mike Vrabel and Stan Drayton and when Taver Johnson was here, they were the ones [who helped]. Then when I went out to watch practice, I just walked out on the practice field and just kind of watched for a second, and I could tell our offensive line didn't look the way we needed them to look. I could tell we were short on pass-rushers off the edge. And then linebackers. So those are the three areas that we had to get just to be functional. So we attacked it as hard as we could and it all came together.

What do you like about the three big defensive linemen in this class -- Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Se'Vonn Pittman?

UM: Well, number one is they're competitors. They're very high-character guys. To have three guys like that with high character who are very good people, I hate to say that's hard to come across, but it is. And they're all different body types. You've got Noah Spence, who's the pure speed guy coming off the edge, relentless effort. Then you've got Adolphus Washington, who's very thick, lower body and more power. And then you've got Se'Von Pittman, who's a little bit of both. So they all complement each other.

In your experience, and understanding every player is different, how long does it take players with that talent level to make an impact on the field?

UM: We're going to rotate them right away. We don't redshirt here at Ohio State. We're changing that up. We're going to have the culture out here that there's no redshirting. If you don't play here, it's because you're not good enough. It's not because we're holding you back. We're going to recruit the kind of player where we want them on the field right now. That's the approach we took at Florida, and it's the approach we're going to take here.

Is the same thing true with offensive linemen? People say that's the position where it takes guys longer to develop.

UM: Well, Maurkice Pouncey jumped right into it [at Florida], started every game, and in three years he went to the NFL. So if you're recruiting, you lay it out there for them. Usually, linemen take a little longer, but we've played with some young players before.

You mentioned Wednesday that you're not happy with the speed at the offensive skill positions. You're not necessarily done with this class, but was that just not out there for you this year, or is it more of a priority going forward?

UM: Yeah, we're not happy where we're at with our speed and skill on offense. I don't know what we have. I saw on film and looked at the stats, and you would say from statistical analysis and just evaluation that we're not very good at all. But I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and see what happens in spring practice and evaluate them in the offseason, which starts Monday. But we're not where we need to be, by a long shot.

When you learned about the bowl ban, was there a time when you thought this class wouldn't come together nearly as well as it did?

UM: Oh yeah. Devastated. I would say, panic button in December. Absolutely.

What does it tell you about the players who decided to sign with you anyway?

UM: It tells you about the power of this program, too. I mean, Ohio State is Ohio State. It's the most powerful alumni base in the country. It's one of the great stadiums in the history of college football. A great tradition and a great city. So there are so many strengths about it that obviously overcame the negative hit we took.

Is recruiting in the Midwest and primarily vs. Big Ten schools different than recruiting in the SEC? The SEC has a reputation of being more ruthless.

UM: A little bit, but it's hard for me to articulate that. It was a little bit different, but there is still a lot of intense recruiting that goes on up north, as well.

There were a couple of coaches who criticized you for recruiting players who had committed to their schools. I liked the way you answered that question on Wednesday. Is there ever such a thing as a gentleman's agreement in recruiting, or is that a phony thing?

UM: Actually, Will Muschamp and I talked about that, about if a guy is previously committed. Up here, I was hired, and we covered our state and said to players, "Would you be interested?" We had one or two that said they would be interested, and others recruited us. Se'Von Pittman and Taylor Decker came after us.

Coming in as a new head coach at a program, would you even be doing your job if you didn't check in on those recruits?

UM: You've got a responsibility to your home state. Absolutely. There's not a coach in America who's not going to do that, not going to check his own state. You take a job, you're going to check your in-state players to see if they're interested. And if they are, then come on now, let's talk about it. And if they're not ... The young man up at St. Edward [offensive lineman Kyle Kalis, who signed with Michigan] we asked. He said, "I'm solid, I'm good." We said, "Good luck," and we moved on. I didn't call him again.

Could you get a sense of how much just having a coach in place and some stability at Ohio State, as well as your background, helped recruits change their mind?

UM: I think any time there's instability, that causes anxiety for a recruit. So I know with Se'Von Pittman, his comment to me was, "I always wanted to be a Buckeye. I just wanted it to be stable."

There are going to be lingering questions about your health, energy level, etc. Recruiting takes a lot of energy and time. How did you feel out there recruiting again, with all the time and travel it required?

UM: Oh, it was great. Great. No issue at all.

Jamal Marcus was a signing-day addition for you, and you talked about how he blew you away on tape. You really didn't know anything about him before that?

UM: That was one of those Christmas presents I unwrapped when they showed me the highlight video. I mean, he's as good as I've seen on a highlight video. Then you meet the kid and he's a beautiful kid, great family. Everett Withers identified him and brought him up. It's almost a shame to say this, but the first time I shook his hand and even talked to him was when he got on campus. And he blew us away.

He's been listed some places as a linebacker, others as a defensive end ...

UM: Oh, he's a linebacker. Linebacker all the way.

What are the priorities now for you over the next month or so before spring practice begins?

UM: We have a bunch of new coaches, a completely new offensive scheme. So the next month, the priority is to get around our players, get to know them with the new coaches. And No. 2 is to install an offense and defense, and make sure everybody is on the same page, so when we hit March we're up and running.

I talked with offensive coordinator Tom Herman recently, and he said he'd be blending the offense with your philosophies. How is that going on right now?

UM: That's all we're doing. I've hired some very good coaches, very successful coaches. We have a system I have great belief in, but I use the term enhance. If we can enhance our system, we will. And so far we have. It's going very well.

What kind of reports have you gotten from strength coach Mickey Marotti on how offseason workouts are going?

UM: Good. But we haven't really hit it hard yet. We've been kind of introduced to our offseason program. I meet with Mickey nonstop. Constant evaluation. But so far, it's mostly just been indoctrination. On Monday, it starts for real.

How much help has Luke Fickell been in this entire transition process?

UM: Well, there's no agenda with him. He has a true passion and love for Ohio State, and he's a very quality football coach and family man. It's a perfect fit, and his stability and relationships really helped us.

How much are you working on the 2013 class right now?

UM: Oh, we're killing it. We're all over it.

Kyle Dodson picks Ohio State

February, 1, 2012
Score yet another recruiting victory for Ohio State and Urban Meyer.

The first-year Buckeyes coach has had the magic touch on the recruiting trail ever since he was hired in November, and he added another jewel to a sparkling class when offensive lineman Kyle Dodson picked Ohio State.

Dodson, a 6-foot-5, 315-pounder from Cleveland, is rated a three-star prospect by He had committed to Wisconsin last year but was widely expected to change his mind. Michigan State had also been in the mix for Dodson's services. It was another tough break for the Badgers, who also lost blue-chip lineman J.J. Denman who switched his commitment to Rutgers.

Dodson is the 10th offensive or defensive lineman in this year's Buckeyes class, as Meyer is clearly building the foundation of his program in the trenches.
Michigan added another big name to its 2012 recruiting class and tweaked its archrival in the process.

While it hardly comes as a surprise, ESPNU 150 offensive lineman Kyle Kalis committed to the Wolverines during the weekend. Michigan now has 20 commits, including three ESPNU 150 prospects, in the Big Ten's top-rated class for 2012.

Kalis, if you recall, originally committed to Ohio State but wavered after coach Jim Tressel's resignation on Memorial Day. New Buckeyes coach Luke Fickell was able to keep the Lakewood, Ohio, prospect on board for several weeks, but Kalis eventually backed out of his pledge and immediately began looking north to Ann Arbor.

He bolsters a Michigan class already featuring several heralded line recruits on both sides of the ball.

Should Ohio State be concerned? While Kalis' switch isn't a shock, the Buckeyes have lost several top in-state players -- Kyle Dodson, Greg McMullen -- to other Big Ten programs. The uncertainty surrounding Ohio State seemed more likely to impact the team's national recruiting, but it's important for Fickell and his staff to re-establish themselves a bit on the homefront.

While Ohio produces a ton of FBS talent and the Buckeyes can't land all the top prospects, this would be a good time for a nice in-state surge.

Recruiting news is picking up around the Big Ten, and I have a few thoughts to share.
  • ESPN Recruiting has updated its 2012 class rankings, and only two Big Ten squads appear in the new Top 25. Michigan checks in at No. 6, as Brady Hoke and his staff continue their incredible start to recruiting. Penn State is listed at No. 18, thanks to a class already featuring several standout linemen. Who's missing? Ohio State. The Buckeyes have fallen out of the rankings after Kyle Kalis decommitted and several coveted in-state prospects went elsewhere.
  • Michigan's recruiting surge is notable, and things could get better if Kalis and fellow Ohioan Chris Wormley, a standout defensive end from Toledo, pick the Maize and Blue. Although Ohio State shouldn't panic so early in the process, it's a bit unsettling to see a number of homegrown prospects go elsewhere. I figured the ongoing turmoil around the program would impact Ohio State's national recruiting more than its local recruiting. While the Buckeyes should continue to scour the Southeast and other areas, they must place a premium on keeping the best Ohio players at home.
  • The Wolverines might not be the hottest Big Ten squad on the recruiting trail. That would be Wisconsin, which has picked up three commits in the past 24 hours and could soon add another in offensive lineman Adam DePietro. The Badgers last week bolstered their offensive line with Ohio tackle prospect Kyle Dodson. Wisconsin can't be too far away from cracking some of the national recruiting rankings. The overall quality of recruits seems to be improving for a team that still labels itself as a developmental program.
  • Some Michigan State fans were getting restless about recruiting several weeks ago, as archrival Michigan piled up commits and the Spartans seemed to be stuck on four. As coach Mark Dantonio told me last week, "We'll get our guys." Well, they have. Michigan State now has doubled it number of commits and added coveted prospects like defensive end Se'von Pittman. The Spartans also have added two verbals in the past day.
  • After securing no verbal commits through May, Indiana has added five since June 12, including linebacker Nick Mangieri. Northwestern also is on a surge, adding four commits since June 7.
  • It likely will take at least a year to evaluate Nebraska's recruiting as a Big Ten member. The Huskers are expected to sign a very small class in February, and they're having to be very picky with their scholarship offers. We might not get a full read on how Nebraska's recruiting strategy will change in its new league until the 2013 cycle.

Here's the latest recruiting scorecard of 2012 verbal commits for Big Ten teams ...

Michigan: 16
Michigan State:
Penn State:
Ohio State:
Minnesota: 7
Indiana: 5
Illinois: 4
Iowa: 3
Purdue: 3
Nebraska: 3



Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12