Big Ten: Mike Alstott

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April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
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Our thoughts and prayers go out to all Bostonians and those affected by Monday's senseless tragedy.
Before Purdue cemented itself as the "Cradle of Quarterbacks," the Boilers produced several superstar running backs, and Otis Armstrong might have been the best of the bunch.

Armstrong succeeded another Boilers' ball-carrying standout, Leroy Keyes, and starred for Purdue from 1970-72. Unlike Keyes, Armstrong played on mostly weak teams under Bob DeMoss, which made his accomplishments fly under the national radar. But Armstrong got his due Tuesday as the Big Ten's only member of the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame class.

A Chicago native, Armstrong arrived at Purdue in 1969 and, like all freshmen, sat out the season. He announced himself the following fall with 1,009 rush yards on 213 carries, becoming just the second Purdue back (Keyes being the other) to eclipse 1,000 yards on the ground. After a solid junior campaign, Armstrong sizzled as a senior, racking up 1,361 rush yards and nine touchdowns en route to earning consensus All-America honors. He finished his career with a flourish, piling up 276 yards against archrival Indiana, a single-game team record that stands to this day.

Armstrong still holds Purdue's record for career rushing attempts (671), and his career rush yards mark (3,315) is third behind two players (Mike Alstott and Kory Sheets) who played four seasons. He twice recorded five 100-yard rush games in a season (1970, 1970) and trails only Alstott for most career 100-yard rush performances at Purdue (13 in 31 career games).

Armstrong also stood out as a kick returner, averaging 30.1 yards per runback with two touchdowns in 1972. He added five receiving touchdowns on 36 career receptions.

Although Purdue went just 13-17 during Armstrong's career, his accomplishments didn't go unnoticed and he was selected No. 9 overall by Denver in the 1973 NFL draft. Armstrong played eight seasons with the Broncos, earning two Pro Bowl selections and rushing for 4,453 yards and 25 touchdowns.
March Madness is over, but we're doing our own little bracket here at ESPN.com, as we search for the college program that boasts the best pipeline to the NFL. The top 16 point earners entered the bracket, and three Big Ten programs -- No. 9 Penn State, No. 11 Michigan and No. 12 Ohio State -- all made the cut.

Two other Big Ten programs cracked the Top 25 but fell short of the bracket.

Michigan State comes in at No. 23 with 48 points, boasting nine first-team All-Pro selection, eight second-team All-Pro selections and 31 Pro Bowl appearances for players drafted between 1979-2009. The Spartans' top pros during the time span included kicker Morten Andersen, wide receiver Andre Rison, linebacker Julian Peterson and offensive tackle Flozell Adams.

Iowa is tied with Michigan State at No. 23 in the standings. The Hawkeyes produced 10 first-team All-Pros, 10 second-team All-Pros and 27 Pro Bowl appearances. Iowa's top players during the last three decades included linebacker Andre Tippett, safety Merton Hanks (love the funky chicken dance!), punter Reggie Roby, safety Bob Sanders, defensive end Aaron Kampman and kicker Nate Kaeding.

Purdue finished at No. 26 in the standings with 47 total points. The Boilers are led by former Defensive Player of the Year Rod Woodson and reigning Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, along with former All-Pro fullback Mike Alstott.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

 
 Paul Jasienski/Getty Images
 Joe Tiller leaves Purdue as the school's all-time winningest coach.

Joe Tiller wanted to keep the focus on Purdue's rivalry matchup against Indiana. He found out very quickly that it would be nearly impossible to do so.

Tiller's Monday began with a luncheon at the quarterback club, where those in attendance held up "Thank you, coach" placards. As usual, Tiller had a witty response. 

"Are those left over from coach [Gene] Keady's retirement?" he joked, referring to Purdue's longtime basketball coach. 

When Tiller did his television show later that day, the final segment was devoted to his career at Purdue. 

"I didn't particularly care for that much but I appreciate [it] immensely," he said. "So it's starting to sink in a little bit."

Tiller will coach his final game at Purdue on Saturday (ESPN2, noon ET) before retiring to Wyoming, where he'll trade playbook and whistle for rod and reel. He leaves as Purdue's all-time winningest coach (86-62 record) after spending 12 seasons at the school and guiding the Boilermakers to 10 bowl games. 

The 65-year-old admits things could get emotional on Saturday, but until then he's trying to concentrate on the game. 

"You get a little nostalgic," said former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, who coached his final game at Camp Randall Stadium in 2005. "You start thinking of your career. You start to reminisce about all the players and the good times. You start thinking a little bit about the future and what you're going to do and what it's going to be like without football because that's what you've done all your life.

"That's all he's done. That's all I ever did."

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