NCF Nation: Mike Martz
OK, moving on to less depressing topics, like the Big Ten and Super Bowl XLIV.
Once again, the Big Ten has plenty of connections to the game, including 20 former players on the two teams, more than any other conference.
All 11 member schools will be represented by a player and/or coach participating in the game. Michigan has the highest number of former players (four), followed by Ohio State (three) and then six teams -- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin -- each with two former players. Penn State and Minnesota will have former coaches on the sideline Sunday.
Both head coaches have Big Ten roots, as the Colts' Jim Caldwell played at Iowa and served as an assistant at Iowa, Northwestern and Penn State. The Saints' Sean Payton had a one-year stint as an Illinois assistant in 1996.
Here's the full lineup of Big Ten links to Super Bowl XLIV, courtesy of the league office:
Kelvin Hayden, DB, Illinois
Dallas Clark, TE, Iowa
Bob Sanders*, DB, Iowa
Mike Hart, RB, Michigan
Marlin Jackson*, DB, Michigan
Ervin Baldwin, DE, Michigan State
John Gill, DL, Northwestern
Anthony Gonzalez*, WR, Ohio State
Curtis Painter, QB, Purdue
Jim Sorgi*, QB, Wisconsin
Jim Caldwell, Head Coach (Played at Iowa from 1973-76; Assistant at Iowa in 1977, Northwestern in 1981 and Penn State from 1986-92)
Larry Coyer, Defensive Coordinator (Assistant at Iowa from 1974-77 and Ohio State from 1991-92)
Gene Huey, Running Backs (Assistant at Ohio State from 1988-91)
Tom Moore, Offensive Coordinator (Played at Iowa from 1957-60; Assistant at Iowa from 1961-62 and Minnesota from 1972-73 and 1975-76)
Ray Rychleski, Special Teams (Assistant at Penn State in 1991)
Bill Teerlinck, Defensive Assistant (Assistant at Indiana from 2003-04)
John Teerlinck, Defensive Line (Assistant at Illinois from 1980-82)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Pierre Thomas, RB, Illinois
Tracy Porter, CB, Indiana
Courtney Roby, WR, Indiana
Adrian Arrington, WR, Michigan
Jonathan Goodwin, C, Michigan
Zach Strief, OT, Northwestern
Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
Will Smith, DE, Ohio State
Drew Brees, QB, Purdue
Jonathan Casillas, LB, Wisconsin
Sean Payton, Head Coach (Assistant at Illinois in 1996)
Greg McMahon, Special Teams (Assistant at Minnesota from 1983-84 and Illinois from 1992-2004)
Bret Ingalls, Running Backs (Assistant at Northwestern from 2006-08)
Aaron Kromer, Offensive Line/Running Game (Assistant at Northwestern from 1999-2000)
Mike Mallory, Assistant Special Teams (Played at Michigan from 1982-85; Assistant at Indiana from 1986-87 and Illinois from 2001-05)
Terry Malone, Tight Ends (Assistant at Michigan from 1997-2005)
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Feeling blue that there's no Big 12 football this weekend? How about catching some playoff football -- now that's a concept, isn't it? -- in the FCS action that will be available.
Until then, here are a few links to provide lunchtime sustenance until the bowl games roll around.
- Former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione is among a trio of finalists who have been invited back for a second interview for the vacant San Diego State head-coaching job, the San Diego Union-Tribune's Brent Schrotenboer writes. Others up for the job include San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz and UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker.
- Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal writes that one-loss Texas Tech can learn much from California in 2004 as it approaches the Cotton Bowl. The one-loss Bears were whipped that season by the Red Raiders in the Holiday Bowl.
- The recent college football season taught many life lessons, according to Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World.
- Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer ranks Texas as the team most jilted by the BCS this season. And Associated Press poll voter Jim Mashek of the Biloxi Sun-Herald writes that he's still considering Texas as a viable national title contender, depending on how the Fiesta Bowl unfolds.
- Heralded Wichita East running back prospect Bryce Brown will reconsider Kansas State after meeting with new coach Bill Snyder last week, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal's Austin Meek.
- The Houston Chronicle's Jerome Solomon isn't buying that Bob Stoops is a serial offender of running up scores. Solomon notes that before outscoring Missouri 21-7 in the final quarter of the Big 12 championship game, the Sooners actually had been outscored by opponents in the fourth quarter of games this season.