NCF Nation: Dan Disch
What’s at stake: North Carolina (6-6) is looking for a win to secure its seventh consecutive season with a winning record and second straight bowl win. The back-to-back bowl wins would be a first for the Tar Heels since 1996 to 1998, when they won three straight. Rutgers (7-5) is looking to finish with eight wins for the seventh time in nine years. A victory would be Kyle Flood’s first bowl win as the Scarlet Knights’ head coach and move the program to 6-4 all time in bowl games.
Players to watch: Rutgers junior receiver Leonte Carroo was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media after turning in an impressive 53-catch, 1,043-yard, 10-touchdown season. His 10 touchdown catches tied the Scarlet Knights’ single-season record and was second in the Big Ten. Though Flood listed him on the injury report with an upper body injury, Carroo is probable and according to Flood likely to be 100 percent by game time. North Carolina junior quarterback Marquise Williams, a second-team All-ACC media pick, led the Tar Heels in passing yards (2,870) and rushing yards (737) and has 32 combined touchdowns (20 passing, 12 receiving). His 3,607 yards of total offense is a single-season school record and he is responsible for five of the 12 highest UNC single-game totals for total offense.
Comeback kids: North Carolina trailed in the second half in five of its six wins this season and four of those wins required a big play in the game’s final five minutes to secure victory. The Tar Heels’ closest call in a winning effort came against Georgia Tech, when T.J. Logan scored on a 2-yard run with 11 seconds left to complete a 48-43 victory. Rutgers can come from behind, too, and quarterback Gary Nova has shown a knack for rallying. He has led Rutgers to seven fourth-quarter or overtime comeback wins in his career, tied for the most of any active player in the country. He did it twice this season, rallying the Scarlet Knights to wins over Washington State and Maryland.
Piling up the points?: With both teams featuring gifted quarterbacks in Nova and Williams and neither having what anyone would call a shutdown defense (North Carolina allows 38.9 points per game, 119th in the country; while Rutgers allows 30.9 points per game, 92nd nationally), this game could become a shootout in short order. Plus, North Carolina let go of associate head coach for defense Vic Koenning earlier this month (Dan Disch is running the Tar Heels' defense for the game). That should provide plenty of day-after-Christmas entertainment for those looking for it.
Gilmore has ties with current UNC defensive coaches Vic Koenning and Dan Disch. Gilmore and Koenning worked together during Koenning’s two seasons as the Illini defensive coordinator in 2010-11. Gilmore and Disch were on the Illinois defensive staff in 2009 and 2010.
“Keith is a knowledgeable defensive line coach who brings a wealth of experience at the collegiate level to Chapel Hill,” coach Larry Fedora said in a prepared statement. “He has previous experience with our defensive coaches and I believe he is a great fit for us. He does an exceptional job of building relationships and getting the most out of his players.”
You can read the full release here.
Tennessee vs. NC State (in Atlanta), 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU: The Wolfpack will be without starting cornerback C.J. Wilson, but Tennessee will be missing all-SEC receiver Da’Rick Rogers, who transferred to Tennessee Tech. These teams haven't played each other in 73 years.
Elon at North Carolina, 12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network: First-year coach Larry Fedora will unveil his up-tempo spread offense with quarterback Bryn Renner, and the defense will also have a new look under assistants Vic Koenning and Dan Disch. It’s one of five games against in-state opponents for UNC.
William & Mary at Maryland, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN 3: Maryland will have an entirely new look with two new coordinators following a 2-10 season, but the spotlight will be on true freshman quarterback Perry Hills, who will start in place of injured starter C.J. Brown.
Richmond at Virginia, 3 p.m. ET, RSN: Quarterback Michael Rocco held onto the starting job despite competition from Alabama transfer Phillip Sims this summer. There is plenty of familiarity between these programs, as UVa coach Mike London is a Richmond grad and former head coach. He had a 24-5 record in two seasons with the Spiders (2008 and 2009), including the FCS National Title in 2008. Richmond coach Danny Rocco, in his first season with the Spiders, is the uncle of the Hoos’ quarterback.
Miami at Boston College, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2: Both programs desperately need to start the season with a win. Boston College has won the last two meetings, including a 24-17 win at Miami in last season’s regular-season finale. BC’s offense will have a new look under first-year coordinator Doug Martin, and Miami quarterback Stephen Morris will take over the offense in his first season as full-time starter.
Murray State at No. 7 Florida State, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN3: ACC fans are waiting to turn the page, but this will give the Noles’ new-look offensive line a tune-up. This should be a glorified practice run for Florida State, as this year’s team has combined to start 420 collegiate games.
Liberty at Wake Forest, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3: The Deacs get four of their first five games at home and have to take advantage of that. They’ve got 13 starters back from last year’s team, which came within a field goal of winning the Atlantic Division.
FIU at Duke, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3: The Blue Devils managed to beat FIU on the road last year, but this is going to be a tough game again. FIU was the preseason favorite to win the Sun Belt Conference this year, and it received points in the USA Today Coaches preseason poll for the first time in school history. FIU is coming off back-to-back bowl games.
Auburn vs. No. 14 Clemson (in Atlanta), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: The defending ACC champs could help further distance themselves from that disappointing showing in the Orange Bowl with a win over an SEC team. They’ll have to do it without suspended receiver Sammy Watkins, who will miss the first two games.
Georgia Tech at No. 16 Virginia Tech, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN: The winner of this game has gone on to win the Coastal Division in each of the past seven seasons. The Hokies’ defense will be their strength while a young backfield and offensive line is introduced. Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington ran for three touchdowns against the Hokies last year.
Not only did he learn what coordinator Dan Disch likes his players to do. He also got a big helping of confidence, believing the style is the perfect fit for him and his teammates headed into his senior season.
Southern Miss was one of the best surprises of last season, especially after pulling a huge upset of Houston in the Conference USA championship game. A big reason for the success was the play of the defense, under Disch. Southern Miss set an FBS record with 11 interceptions returned for touchdowns and finished No. 29 in the nation in total defense -- 18 spots better than 2010.
It just so happened to be the first and only year Disch coached the Southern Miss defense. Now he and North Carolina coach Larry Fedora are in Chapel Hill, hoping for the same instant results they got from the Golden Eagles defense. Generally speaking, it takes at least a season for players to adapt to a radical scheme shift.
So hearing that Southern Miss did so well in Year 1 under Disch made Reddick even happier.
"That makes me smile more," Reddick said. "I can’t wait to play in it. I look back at that and I watch film now from practice and I see things opening up, blitzes or packages or whatever we do. I know it’s going to do wonders for us."
Last season, Reddick finished second on the team with 71 tackles playing in a more traditional 4-3 set. But after Fedora was hired and sanctions were handed down to the program, Reddick says he was contacted by coaches at other schools to see if he would be interested in transferring.
He declined, because he saw the opportunities Disch will give him in this new defensive scheme. Reddick will play inside, but he will also be used to blitz from the outside, something he has not been asked to do previously.
"There's going to be a lot of plays for me, I just have to make them," he said. "That’s why I stayed. I had an opportunity to go to other colleges but I stayed. I wanted to experience this. I like this defense, and I feel it was based a little around me."
Reddick also believes the new scheme will help mitigate the loss of leading tackler Zach Brown, first-round pick Quinton Couples and four other starters. Because other players will be put into positions to do different things, versatility will be emphasized more. As an example, Reddick mentioned defensive end Dion Guy can line up with his hand on the ground but also drop back into coverage as a third linebacker at times.
In order to really prepare for his new and expanded role, Reddick took to watching lots of game tape, while also studying plays on his computer. So why does he think North Carolina has an opportunity to make an impact with a scheme that is is not among the most popular?
"For us, being that other teams are used to seeing the pro-style defense from us and we’re going to bring this different defense to them, it’s going to be a shock to them," he said. "As far as guys seeing things coming from different places it’s going to be a shock to other teams in the league."
Here's a snapshot of what to expect in the Leaders Division this spring.
Spring practice starts: March 29
Spring game: April 23
What to watch:
- New look at linebacker: Illinois loses first-team All-Big Ten selection Martez Wilson as well as playmaker Nate Bussey. They combined for 195 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries. The Illini need a middle linebacker and could turn to productive senior Ian Thomas or promising sophomore Jonathan Brown. Illinois also is replacing linebackers coach Dan Disch.
- Ford tough: All-American running back Mikel Leshoure departs, turning the spotlight to Jason Ford. At 235 pounds, Ford is a true power back who will give the Illinois offense a slightly different look in 2011. The Illini also want to build depth at running back with players like Troy Pollard.
- Replacing Liuget: Illinois begins the difficult task of replacing the Big Ten's most disruptive interior defensive lineman in Corey Liuget, a likely first-round draft pick in April. Akeem Spence had a very solid redshirt freshman season and will take on a larger role, but Illinois must build around him with Glenn Foster and others. This is a major priority for defensive coordinator Vic Koenning and line coach Keith Gilmore this spring.
Start of spring practice: March 8
Spring game: April 16
End of spring practice: April 19
What to watch:
- Culture change: Kevin Wilson has talked extensively about changing the culture around the Indiana program, and the process begins in full force this spring. Players will have to adjust to the demands of Wilson and his staff, which still isn't in place but soon will be. There will be plenty of teaching and learning, as players must absorb Wilson's offense and a 4-3 defensive scheme (IU operated out of the 3-4 for part of last season).
- Quarterback competition: Three-year starter Ben Chappell departs, and there's no clear-cut successor entering spring practice. Both Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker played sparingly in five games last season, and they bring different skills to the table. It'll be interesting to see who emerges under center this spring before acclaimed recruit Tre Roberson arrives for fall camp.
- Identify defensive contributors: Indiana can't expect to get over the hump until it upgrades the defense, and co-coordinators Mike Ekeler and Doug Mallory begin a crucial evaluation process this spring. The Hoosiers need to build depth and identify Big Ten-ready players throughout the defense, particularly in the back seven after losing standout linebacker Tyler Replogle and others.
Start of spring practice: March 31
Spring game: April 23
- Suspension preparation: Ohio State knows it will be without four offensive starters and a key defensive reserve for the first chunk of the 2011 season. This spring, the Buckeyes start the process of evaluating who will step in, especially at the quarterback spot for Terrelle Pryor. Joe Bauserman holds an edge in experience (though little has come in games), and he'll compete with Kenny Guiton and heralded incoming freshman Braxton Miller.
- Receiving orders for Drayton: Stan Drayton left Florida for Ohio State primarily to expand his coaching repertoire and oversee a new position group. The career running backs coach will work with a mostly unproven group of Ohio State wide receivers this spring. Ohio State must replace All-Big Ten standout Dane Sanzenbacher, and DeVier Posey is among those suspended for the first part of the season. Says Drayton of his receivers, "Personnel wise, they're in competition with the whole offensive unit."
- Up-the-middle defensive replacements: Excuse the baseball reference, but Ohio State loses several standout players in the core of its defense: linemen Cameron Heyward and Dexter Larimore, linebackers Brian Rolle and Ross Homan, and safety Jermale Hines. Although the Buckeyes always find ways to reload on defense, it will be interesting to see who emerges this spring, especially at linebacker.
Start of spring practice: March 18
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- The quarterbacks, especially Rob Bolden: Penn State's quarterback competition should be wide open this spring, and it might be the most fascinating race in the Big Ten. You've got sophomore Rob Bolden, who asked for his release after the Gator Bowl but didn't get it from Joe Paterno, and has returned to compete for a job he thought he never should have lost. Junior Matt McGloin tries to redeem himself after the bowl disaster, and Paul Jones and Kevin Newsome also are in the mix.
- Line play on both sides: The Lions boast enough at the skill positions on both sides of the ball to be a much improved team in 2011. But they have to get better and more consistent on both lines. The offensive line must replace standout Stefen Wisniewski and find the form it displayed in 2008. The defensive line tries to regain its swagger after backsliding in 2010, and identify a pass-rushing threat or two.
- Kicking it: Collin Wagner was Penn State's top offensive weapon for much of the 2010 season, but the standout kicker departs the program, leaving a void. Punter Anthony Fera likely will handle the bulk of the kicking duties this spring until incoming freshman Sam Ficken arrives.
Start of spring practice: March 2
Spring game: April 9
What to watch:
- Replacing Superman: Purdue returns nine defensive starters, but the Boilers lose Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Kerrigan. The Boilers were the league's top pass-rushing team in 2010, but Kerrigan's production and presence played huge roles in the overall sacks and tackles for loss totals. The entire defensive line took a step forward last fall, and will need to do so again without No. 94.
- The quarterbacks: Robert Marve is still recovering from his second ACL tear, so Rob Henry, Caleb TerBush and Sean Robinson will be in the spotlight this spring. Henry showed promise when healthy in 2010, and TerBush had a strong spring a year ago before being ruled academically ineligible for the season. The quarterback race won't be decided until the summer, but all the candidates can help themselves in spring ball.
- The offensive identity: A wave of injuries forced Purdue to overhaul its plan on offense in 2010. Although several key players will be out or limited this spring, the Boilers can start to reshape their plan on offense. Coach Danny Hope is optimistic Marve and the others return at full strength, but he doesn't want to take anything for granted. This is a huge spring for players a notch or two down the depth chart to get noticed.
Start of spring practice: March 22
Spring game: April 23
What to watch:
- Finding Tolzien's successor: After a one-year respite, Wisconsin's annual spring quarterback competition resumes. Sort of. Jon Budmayr will have every opportunity to establish himself as the Badgers' top option before Curt Phillips (knee) returns to full strength. Budmayr turned heads with his performance two springs ago, but played sparingly last season behind Scott Tolzien.
- New leadership on defense: Charlie Partridge and Chris Ash are familiar faces who step into new roles this spring. Partridge and Ash were promoted to co-defensive coordinators following Dave Doeren's departure, and they'll get their first opportunity to shape the defensive vision this spring.
- Reloading on the lines: Wisconsin loses three All-American linemen from 2010: Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt on the offensive side, and J.J. Watt at defensive end. Although the Badgers must replace more bodies on the offensive front, they boast excellent depth there and should be able to fill the gaps. Watt leaves a bigger void, and Wisconsin needs strong springs from players like Louis Nzegwu and David Gilbert.
Ekeler comes to IU from future Big Ten member Nebraska, where he coached the linebackers and helped mold players like Lavonte David and Phillip Dillard into stars. Mallory, a very familiar surname to Indiana fans, served as New Mexico's defensive coordinator the past two seasons.
Ekeler will continue to coach linebackers with the Hoosiers, while Mallory, the son of former IU coach Bill Mallory, will work with the safeties.
"I am excited to have Doug, Mike and their families join the IU football family," new Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said in a prepared statement. "They are both great additions to our program, university and the Bloomington community. Both men bring unparalleled character, energy, experience, enthusiasm and winning attitudes. This is a great start to the foundation we are building here."
These are undoubtedly Wilson's most important hires as he forms his staff at Indiana. The Hoosiers' defense has been bad for more than a decade and has prevented the program from consistently competing in Big Ten play. Wilson has the track record and the personnel to make things happen on offense at Indiana, but if Ekeler and Mallory can't get the job done on defense, it won't matter.
I like both hires as individuals -- especially Ekeler -- but I've never been a fan of co-coordinators. It didn't serve Indiana well the past few seasons with Joe Palcic and Brian George. Illinois also encountered problems with Dan Disch and Doug Mallory's brother, Curt, before Ron Zook brought in Vic Koenning as the sole coordinator last year.
Maybe this time the pairing works, but the jury is out.
I'm very interested to see how Ekeler and Mallory will work together. Mallory brings a lot of experience to the table and served as Indiana's defensive backs/special teams coach in 1994-96. Ekeler is a rising star and did great work at Nebraska under Bo and Carl Pelini, but he inherits a much tougher challenge in Bloomington.
Indiana's defensive staff also will include Mark Hagen, who moves over from archrival Purdue to coach the Hoosiers' defensive line and special teams. Although IU hasn't officially announced Hagen's hiring, it's going to happen.
Hagen spent the past 11 seasons at Purdue, the past two as the Boilers' linebackers coach. The Indiana alum is no stranger to coaching line play as he worked with Purdue's defensive tackles for most of his tenure in West Lafayette and helped to mold players like Mike Neal and Alex Magee. He's a strong recruiter in the state and in the region.
Overall, I like these hires for Wilson at IU, but it all comes down to whether the co-coordinator thing can actually work.
Barring any late coaching changes, here's a look at who's gone, who's back and who's in new roles.
- Who's out: Mike Schultz (fired)
- Who's in: Paul Petrino (previously offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach at Arkansas)
- Who's out: Dan Disch and Curt Mallory both were demoted to position coaches. Disch is staying on staff as linebackers coach.
- Who's in: Vic Koenning (previously co-defensive coordinator at Kansas State)
- Who's out: Kurt Beathard (fired)
- Who's in: Jeff Brohm (previously quarterbacks coach at Florida Atlantic)
- Who's out: Jim Pry (fired)
- Who's in: Greg Nord (previously running backs coach/recruiting coordinator at Louisville)
- Who's out: Reggie Mitchell (left to become running backs coach/recruiting coordinator at Kansas)
- Who's in: DeAndre Smith (previously running backs coach at UNLV)
- Mallory left his position as secondary coach to become defensive coordinator at Akron.
- Special-teams coordinator Mike Woodford was fired along with Schultz, Beathard and Pry.
- Ron West was hired as a defensive assistant. His official responsibilities have not been announced.
Offensive line coach
- Who's out: Bobby Johnson (left to become assistant offensive line coach with the Buffalo Bills)
- Who's in: Myron "Mo" Moriarity (previously served as head coach at Carmel (Ind.) High School
No staff changes, but recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson was named tight ends coach. Wide receivers coach Erik Campbell previously had worked with the tight ends, while Johnson had helped Darrell Wilson with the linebackers.
- Who's out: Jay Hopson (left to become defensive coordinator at Memphis)
- Who's in: Quality control assistant Adam Braithwaite was promoted to outside linebackers/strong safeties coach. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson will take a more active role with the linebackers in 2010.
- Secondary coach Tony Gibson will continue to work with cornerbacks and free safeties, and also serve as special-teams coordinator.
Running backs coach
- Who's out: Dan Enos (left to become head coach at Central Michigan)
- Who's in: Brad Salem (previously served as head coach at Augustana College)
Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
- Who's out: Jedd Fisch (left to become quarterbacks coach with the Seattle Seahawks)
- Who's in: Jeff Horton (previously served as quarterbacks coach with the Detroit Lions)
- Who's out: Richard Hightower (left to become assistant special-teams coach for the Washington Redskins)
- Who's in: Steve Watson (previously served as associate head coach with the Denver Broncos in 2008)
- Running backs coach Thomas Hammock was named co-offensive coordinator
No coaching changes
No coaching changes
No coaching changes
Defensive line coach
- Who's out: Terrell Williams (left to become defensive line coach at Texas A&M)
- Who's in: Gary Emanuel (previously served as defensive line coach at Rutgers). Emanuel also was named co-defensive coordinator with a focus on run defense.
Defensive backs coach
- Who's out: Kerry Cooks (left to become outside linebackers coach at Notre Dame)
- Who's in: Chris Ash (previously served as defensive backs coach/recruiting coordinator at Iowa State)
- Randall McCray, who served as Wisconsin's recruiting coordinator and assistant secondary coach, left to become defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee. Wisconsin has yet to fill the vacancy.
Koenning will be the sole defensive coordinator with the Fighting Illini, who demoted co-coordinators Dan Disch and Curt Mallory last week. Disch will coach the linebackers in 2010, while Mallory will coach the defensive backs.
Koenning and Chris Cosh oversaw a Kansas State defense that ranked 40th nationally and 16th against the run. Koenning spent just one year with the Wildcats after serving as Clemson's defensive coordinator from 2005-08. The Tigers' defense finished in the top 25 nationally in scoring, total defense, and pass efficiency defense in each of Koenning's four seasons there.
An Illinois official couldn't confirm Koenning's hiring and said no official announcement would be made Tuesday.
Credit head coach Ron Zook and the Illinois administration for being aggressive in the recent hires. New offensive coordinator Paul Petrino is a solid addition, and Illinois will pay him handsomely ($475,000 annually). Koenning likely can expect a nice salary as well.
Zook tried to bring in Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson last year, but Johnson ended up staying in State College.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Spring practice in the Big Ten kicks off in less than two weeks. Excited yet?
- Minnesota received the funding for its new on-campus facility just in the nick of time, and construction for TCF Bank Stadium remains on track despite the financial crisis, Brian Murphy writes in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
"On the University of Minnesota campus, workers have completed 80 percent of TCF Bank Stadium and are on schedule to finish the $288 million project by early August. More heavy lifting remains on the sales front, however. Terms of the state's financing deal require the university to cover 45 percent of the costs from donations, corporate sponsorships, parking revenues and student fees."
- Illinois' contract for a two-game series against Cincinnati has been finalized, and the Illini will head to Nippert Stadium on Nov. 28, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette. Cincinnati returns the game in 2013. Also, Illini co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch turned down more money from South Florida to stay in Champaign.
- In case you missed it from earlier today, Ohio State won't follow the national trend of paying ridiculously high salaries for assistant football coaches, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Iowa might end up with two scholarship kickers for 2009, The Gazette's Marc Morehouse writes in his blog.
- After winning a Big Ten title, Penn State has focused its recruiting solely on elite-level prospects, Frank Bodani writes in the York Daily Record.
- Bad news for former Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallett, who was arrested over the weekend.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The links are a little light today, but still tasty.
- Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke thinks Ross-Ade Stadium needs an upper deck, Doug Griffiths writes on Rivals.com.
"We do need to get the deck done," said Burke, attaching no timeline for the project. "We haven't forgotten about it, and I think strategically it needs to be accomplished. We're stuck right now because we can't move tickets in the north or south end zones so if you don't introduce some better price points, you're going to have difficulty."
- Co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch still has unfinished business at Illinois, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette.
- Michigan and Ohio State lead the way in early commitments for 2010 among Big Ten teams, Matt Dorsey writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Wisconsin's latest FCS addition won't sit well with the fans, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus writes in his blog.
- Former Ohio State cornerback James Scott has been dismissed from Ole Miss.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
What was that old joke about there being only two seasons at Texas -- football season and spring football season?
Rick Barnes has done a marvelous job during his 11-season tenure with the Longhorns' basketball program, turning it into one of the nation's most consistent powers.
But there's no doubt about which sports is the most popular among Texas fans. If you have any doubt, check out the Austin American-Statesman's weekly chat with columnists Cedric Golden and Kirk Bohls for an answer.
Football questions for the esteemed duo outnumber all of the other sports combined. So it's a must read for any Longhorn football fan looking for a few snippets of newsheading into the start of spring football practice on Friday.
Football support isn't as intense around much of the rest of the conference. But there's still enough news to provide a little lunchtime diversion. Here are some of Wednesday's more notable stories.
- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes and David Curtis break down what quarterback Patrick Witt's departure from Nebraska will mean to the Cornhuskers.
- Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler does not appear headed to South Florida to become Jim Leavitt's new defensive coordinator. The Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette's Bob Asmussen reports that Illinois co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch has been offered the job. And Brett McMurphy of the Tampa Tribune reports that former Kansas State offensive coordinator Ron Hudson is among the coaches who have interviewed for the Bulls' vacant offensive coordinator position.
- Mike Eargle, a cornerback from Lackawanna (Pa.) College, will be transferring into the Oklahoma State program, according to the Oklahoman's Scott Wright.
- Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic speculates that Texas' Brian Orakpo could emerge as one of the "hybrid" defenders that are the current rage in the NFL.
- Brock Murphy of Lindysports.com opines on the massive offensive rebuilding job Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is facing this spring.
- Chuck Woodling of the Lawrence Journal-World comments on the first four years of Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins' ambitious five-year development plan for the Jayhawks' athletic program.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
- Illinois co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch reportedly has been offered the defensive coordinator job at South Florida, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News Gazette. A decision is expected in the next 24 hours.
- This might not sit well with Michigan Nation, as a Wolverines fan helped Ohio State land its latest 2010 commitment, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Purdue picked up juco wide receiver Keith Carlos on Tuesday night, Mike Carmin writes in The Journal and Courier.
- The defensive tackle and safety spots are Indiana's primary areas of concern entering spring practice, Doug Wilson writes in The Herald Times (subscription required). It's been a rough year for Indiana both on the field and the hardwood, Terry Hutchens writes in The Indianapolis Star.
"Since 1950, a Big Ten Conference school has combined for nine wins or less in football and basketball a total of 19 times."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Let's take a spin around the league ...
- Former Wisconsin and Nebraska defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is the favorite to take the same position on Tim Brewster's staff at Minnesota, Kent Youngblood writes in the Star Tribune.
"Cosgrove, 53, and Brewster have been friends since the early 1980s, when Brewster was playing at Illinois and Cosgrove was a graduate assistant. Cosgrove's son, Clint, just finished his second season as a defensive graduate assistant with the Gophers."
- Illinois has set its sights on Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, possibly for a co-coordinator spot with Curt Mallory or Dan Disch, David Jones writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News. Michigan also could be coveting Johnson's services, Herb Gould writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Jim Tressel's coaching colleagues in Ohio shared his pain when the Buckeyes blew a late lead in the Fiesta Bowl, Terry Pluto writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Wisconsin running back P.J. Hill finished the season strong and has a lot of mileage on him, but the senior to-be has unfinished business in Madison, Mike Lucas writes in The Capital Times.
- The turnover on Ron Zook's coaching staff at Illinois could send several recruits Michigan State's way, Matt Dorsey writes in the Detroit Free Press.
"Three current Illinois commitments have indicated they've been in contact with Michigan State and it is believed they are considering taking official visits to East Lansing."