By Cleveland Kate (@ClvlndK8)
With all the changes in the Big Ten this off-season, let’s start with a look at the new divisions and the 7 teams in each one. Frankly, I like the “East” and “West” names much better than “Legends” and “Leaders.” I never really understood the point of those names and trying to remember who was in each division was a pain in the neck.
Big Ten – East
Big Ten – West
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are some tidbits worth knowing about the teams…
Minnesota – Jeff Jones, running back recruit, is still awaiting an eligibility decision from the NCAA. His SAT scores and GPA were not good enough to gain him admission and a football scholarship. He had an option to go to JUCO for two years, improve academically, and then transfer. He’s declined that option and Coach Jeff Kill and the Gopher staff is working hard on his behalf to get the NCAA to grant him eligibility. In the meantime, David Cobb and Berkley Edwards will do just fine.
Rutgers – If nothing else, joining the B1G has done wonders for ticket sales… their home opener sold out and the 30,927 season tickets sold is a new record. It’s too soon to tell if they’ll be able to compete with the “Big boys” on the field, but fans are definitely excited.
Michigan State – Ranked #8 to start the season, and the favorite to win the B1G again this year, the Spartans have 15 starters returning.
Penn State – Christian Hackenberg is one of the best QBs in the conference, perhaps all of college football. While they are struggling with depth issues, they have still put together a solid team and watching Hackenberg should be fun even if their record isn’t great.
Iowa - As a result of the season-ending injury to starting fullback Adam Cox, the Hawkeyes will move freshman linebacker Aaron Mends over to the FB position. Mends was a 3-star recruit at linebacker but he did play quite a bit of running back in high school, so Coach Kirk Ferentz is hopeful this will fil the need created by Cox’s injury.
Michigan – It’s clear the Coach Brady Hoke is on the hot seat and even he seems to know that. Back in January he fired Offensive Coordinator Al Borges, as if it’s his fault that the offense struggled, and hired Doug Nussmeier. While Nuss may have a national championship on his resume, it won’t be enough to beat the Buckeyes. Just saying.
Purdue - Yeah, not really a good team and nobody worries about them on the schedule… the biggest question being can we score over 50 on them or not… But this year they’ve hired a new head coach, are paying him big money, and expect to start seeing results. It may take a few years to see a difference in the win column, but don’t be surprised at the changes Coach Darrell Hazell brings. He held assistant coaching positions at Oberlin, Eastern Illinois, Penn, Western Michigan, Army, West Virginia, and Rutgers. Hazell then served as the wide receivers coach at Ohio State under Jim Tressel from 2004 to 2010. In December 2010, Kent State hired him as its head coach, where he was named 2012 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year by the conference's coaches. And now he’s off to Purdue.
Ohio State – Yeah, I saved this one for last. Ranked #5, that could quickly change depending on how the QB situation plays out. While the injury to QB Braxton Miller is devastating for him on a personal level, most believe – myself included – that freshman J.T. Barrett might be just fine taking over the job. He’s an Urban Meyer Guy and, if his high school You Tube videos are for real, should be able to hold his own this season. While I’m not sure we can get back to the top of the B1G, there’s no reason to write the Buckeyes off just yet…
So that’s what I have for this week. Stop back next week for my list of “happenings” in the B1G, stuff I think you should know, and general Buckeye positivity….