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Big Ten Board Chat: Jan. 5 Archive

Steve Helwagen, the Big Ten senior writer for, conducted a Chat session Thursday on the Big Ten message board.

MSU's B.J. Cunningham vs. Wisconsin

Click here to access the Big Ten board. Click here to see the original thread with the Chat.

We will target next Wednesday for the next Chat.

Below are excerpts from Thursday’s Chat:

OldOaken: Whats your way too early All Big Ten Team for basketball?

Helwagen: Good first question. I think there are some automatics like OSU's Jared Sullinger and MSU's Draymond Green. The guys from NW (Shurna and Crawford) are 1-2 in scoring, but after watching them in person last week I don't think either one is among the top 5 players in the league. They are just the top 2 guys on their team (by far). I'm torn on PSU's Tim Frazier, although I'd have him over the two NW guys.

Purdue's Robbie Hummel needs to be in there. Michigan's Tim Hardaway, OSU's William Buford and Deshaun Thomas and Indiana's Cody Zeller are also in the running.

I'd give Zeller freshman of the year, but Michigan's Trey Burke will push him.

First team -- Sullinger, Green, Hummel, Frazier and Hardaway.

Second team -- Shurna, Buford, Thomas, Zeller and Crawford.

Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor and Illinois' D.J. Richardson and Meyers Leonard would also be in there somewhere. Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo from Indiana would be too.

Cavsfan89: Seems like Jon Tenuta turned down Illinois DC position to remain at NCSU. Will Jim Heacock get the next call? Have you heard anything further regarding Ohio State's assistant coaches landing new jobs?

Helwagen: I had heard the same rumors that Beckman was going to hire Tenuta. The week before Heacock was the hot name. Heacock is 63. He was telling people before and after the Gator Bowl he still has a desire to coach.

Beyond him, I have no inclination where Siciliano, Peterson, Bollman and Doc Tressel will land. None at all. Peterson will land on his feet.

OldOaken: What do you think of Seth Littrell? He is the new Offensive Coordinator at Indiana. He comes from Arizona where he had pretty good success.

Helwagen: I liked what I read in this story on our Indiana site:

Arizona had a great passing game this year, the losses there notwithstanding. And he also studied at the foot of the master, Mike Leach, in terms of offense.

The big key will be to get some play makers in there to execute things. I liked what I saw with Roberson. He made things happen.

Cavsfan89: Which coach in the Big Ten would you consider to be on the hot seat next season for football? What about Big 10 basketball coaches on the hot seat?

Helwagen: In football, 10 schools made bowl games. Purdue's Danny Hope got off the hot seat and also got an extension, so even if they stumble next year he is protected to a degree. The Indiana and Minnesota coaches are just in their second year, so they are OK.

They love Fitz at NW so he's probably OK, too.

You wonder if Iowa and Ferentz will part ways in the next year or so. He's been there a good long time and it's kind of rocky there now with players coming and going. They are in a TOUGH division now with Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State.

I'd say Pelini, but I think they will improve on defense and that can only help his cause.

Dantonio, Hoke and Bielema are all set. Meyer is new at OSU and Beckman is new at Illinois. We're waiting on Penn State to act.

So the ones I'd think about are Ferentz and Fitz and maybe Pelini. It could be a mutual parting on any of those 3, particularly if somebody comes after Fitz with big money and he realizes he can't get there from here at NW.


Maybe Doc Sadler at Nebraska. Wow, I saw them 2 nights ago and was not all that impressed, although they are missing 2 key guys now.

You wonder about Tubby Smith at Minnesota. Losing at home to Iowa is tough. Will they care or have the guts to replace him if the season goes awry again? Heck, they could bring back Monson at Long Beach State (he's doing well there).

I would have thought Bruce Weber was on the hot seat at Illinois, but they're off to a decent start in the Big Ten.

So I'd say Sadler, Tubby and Weber. Crean was on it, but he has (finally) built a winner.

OldOaken: Is Iowa legit this year? They had a rough couple OOC games, but have now won @Wisconsin and @Minnesota.

Helwagen: Oh man and they have Ohio State coming in on Sat. They gave the Buckeyes a tough game there last year, so that ought to be another good one.

Wisconsin and Minnesota just aren't going very well right now. I think it's premature to say Iowa is back or anything like that. It is rare to have been as bad as they were just last month but play as well as they are now.

It looks like Marble is coming on for them. Matt Gatens is playing well. Freshman Aaron White from Ohio has done some good things as well. Let's see where they are after this next stretch where they play OSU at home, at MSU, Michigan at home and at Purdue. That is a rough stretch.

bourney22: In all your days of covering recruiting (in person or reviewing film). Name your top 5 players that you have seen that just blew you away.

Helwagen: I'd say one of the best HS players I saw was Vince Young. I remember him in the Army game just crushing people and I said he's going to be a good one at Texas.

Terrelle Pryor was the same way but his HS team dominated terrible small school competition. I was skeptical how well it would translate ... then he went to Army game and was an MVP there too and did well at Ohio State.

I have seen a lot of guys come and go over the years.

I can remember Ki-Jana Carter was a big deal at Westerville before he went to Penn State.

Orlando Pace was 6-7, 300 pounds. His HS coach said if he was 6-2, 200 he would have been an All-American WR because he was that good athletically. I'd agree with that.

Andy Katzenmoyer was a freak at 6-4, 240 (and played bigger than that at OSU).

In the 1990s, Ohio produced Pace, Katzenmoyer, Terry Glenn, Mike Vrabel, Charles Woodson and others. Woodson was amazing at Fremont Ross.

These are all examples of guys who did it at HS and translated it to college.

In the 2000s, Ted Ginn Jr. was a witch as a HS guy and did it at OSU and now in the pros.

Maurice Clarett was an amazing HS back. He had maybe the best 85-yard TD run of all times where he beat everybody at the line with speed and then tightroped the sideline and stiffarmed the last guy to get into the end zone.

So those are the names that stand out. Guys who you knew were can't miss from the first time you watched them. Admittedly, most of my experience has been tracking OSU's recruits. But there are obviously others.

OhioHawk07: With the outstanding play of the Iowa's defensive linemen in the Insight Bowl, particularly in the first half (best half they've played all year, IMO), do you see interim DL Coach LaVar Woods getting that position full time?

Helwagen: It seems likely to me that Woods could get a shot. I think Ferentz's first order of business is to replace Norm Parker as the DC. It looks like secondary coach Phil Parker and linebacker coach Darrell Wilson would be candidates for that if he doesn't go off the staff.

Then he and the new DC would decide on the DL coach. That would be the normal progression.

Hawkifish: Where do you see Quanzell Lambert ending up?

Helwagen: Sounds like Lambert is announcing today at 2:10 p.m. between Iowa, Nebraska and nearby Rutgers (he is a New Jersey guy).

He hasn't tipped his hand much about which of the 3 he is favoring. He wants to go into engineering, maybe that tips it for one of them. Nebraska could sell him on replacing Lavonte David. Iowa has great LB pedigree too. Rutgers is closer to home. If I had to guess, I'd say Nebraska.

I will add ... he has some HS former teammates at Iowa. So maybe that pipeline gets him there. Again, he's almost impossible to read.

(Note: Two great hunches … Lambert verbaled to Rutgers this afternoon.)

dustelli: Does Hiring Jay Norvell as the OC mitigate damages for the poaching of the Wisconsin staff? It seems like we replace a coach every year, but 4 could be crazy. for all the dumb stuff Bret does he really does hire good coaches.

Helwagen: Yeah, this was a weird run here. You see why Chryst would go and maybe take one guy with him. But other guys are jumping off for what seem like lateral moves. My guess is that BB stabilizes that situation. They should be able to pay the going rate for good coaches.

xxmgobluexx: What's your prediction for tonight Michigan @ Indiana BB game?

Helwagen: I think we are going to see another great game at Assembly Hall go down to the wire. This Indiana team is tough as heck at home. I'd expect them to pull out another one. That's nothing against Michigan, though. They have a good enough team to go on the road and win tough games in the conference.

But things are really going well right now for IU. I'm not sure who UM matches up with Zeller, either. And Oladipo could be a tough match as well.

Hulls and Burke is a great match up.

xxmgobluexx: Can Hoke, Mattison and Montgomery turn Campbell, Ash, Washington, Wilkins, Brink and freshman Pipkins into a rotation that will come close to the production of Martin and Van Bergen on the interior?

Helwagen: I'd say that potential is there. Michigan loses some key guys on that defense. They will need some of those young'uns to come in and make plays immediately. I don't think true freshmen will make a huge impact, but can help with the depth situation.

xxmgobluexx: What do you think are the chances of Hardaway Jr. going pro after this year?

Helwagen: He is a 6-5 wing player and you need to be a special one to leave early at that height. If he keeps up his high level of play, I'd say 50-50. Seeing what happened to Darius Morris might slow him down a bit.

lvhawks25: What’s the deal with Greg Studrawa? is he still in play or is Meyer's staff full now?

Helwagen: No, it doesn't seem likely if OSU follows up and hires Warriner for the OL job from ND. Looks like Hinton will be the TEs coach as well. I think Studrawa may be staying put.

lvhawks25: This is not just for big ten, but it does include a big ten team, when will all of these teams get their punishments from the NCAA? Georgia Tech, Boise State, Oregon, Miami, and Penn State (does penn state actually face sanctions?)?

Helwagen: I think the Boise thing is done. Oregon and Miami are still pending. Not sure about Ga. Tech. I don't think Penn State, ultimately, will face any NCAA sanctions.

lvhawks25: This collaboration between the big ten and pac 12, what kind of ramification does it have on Notre Dame, and them joining the big ten? any truth that big ten teams are considering removing ND from future scheduling until they join?

Helwagen: It definitely has to give Michigan State and Purdue pause about what they're going to do. They will sometimes play a second BCS school, but it is rare. Michigan also plays a second BCS school in some years. My guess is this does not impact that ND rivalry with Michigan. It is so engrained (and not that the other two aren't as well).

Delany could have engineered this to try and leverage ND into the league or at least rachet up the talks.

lvhawks25: what will zach borens role be next year? hes just too good a blocker and player over all to be benched... right?

speaking of meyer's offense, where does stoneburner fit in? does meyer use TE's or does stoney move out to WR?

Helwagen: Meyer says the fullback will be a part of the offense, maybe not to the same degree but he will be involved.

Meyer loves the TE. He has put several in the NFL from Florida. Yes, Stoneburner is perfect for what he wants to do.

chrism2184: It's been rumored that Warriner will be the Buckeyes new OL coach. Just wondering why this hasn't been confirmed yet? Is Studrawa still in play? If Warrinner is the guy, might this bring Taylor Decker back into play for the Bucks? Thanks Steve.

Helwagen: ND has already announced Hinton and Warriner were leaving there. My guess is this will be announced in the regular course of business. Maybe it comes early next week, I dunno. I would think it would allow OSU a chance to talk to Decker.

I remember when OSU hired Tressel and Dantonio in 2001. Dantonio was recruiting Marcus Green (a DL from KY) for MSU. He went back in with OSU on his shirt ... and got him.

lvhawks25: I’ve heard the ohio state twitter ban is now up in the air? is it now a partial ban? whats the deal?

Helwagen: It sounds like guys came out of the meeting believing it was a ban. But it was clarified later they want the guys to just watch what they post and keep the in-house stuff in the house (apparently). My guess is he dissuaded them from using it.

getmyjive11: Considering that the hottest seat has been vacated (Zook) and teams like Minny and Indiana are just getting into there second season with their HCs, there really aren't to many coaches in danger of losing their jobs. The warmest seat is probably Danny Hope at Purdue, but unless he has an awful season, I would expect him to be back in 2013.

Helwagen: Yep, we hit that earlier. Hope got an extension through 2016 (I believe), but I can't imagine he is totally out of the woods. My guess is it has favorable buyout clauses for the school. If they go 4-8, he could be out. He probably needs another bowl bid.

What we might see is an established coach like Pelini, Ferentz or Fitz part company for his reasons or by mutual decision with the school. Somebody could come after Fitz. If Pelini or Ferentz stumble to 6-6 or so, there could be murmurs.

Everybody else is set until 2013, I would believe.

lvhawks25: How bad is it for penn state, are we talking one year in the cellar with a quick bounce back, or does this coaching and recruiting problem leave penn state out of contention for 5+ years?

Helwagen: It is still Penn State. What will or would help is if PA has some talent and you have some homegrown kids who want to play for Penn State. That would ease it. If PA is down next 3-4 years, then Penn State will be down because it will be much harder on the new staff to get out of state kids to want to go there. There is a stigma there now. But it will subside over time.

They need to update their coaching salaries and work as hard as they can to support recruiting. They should have some talent on next year's team and could go 8-4 or so. After that, they need to get some players in there. They are dead in the water right now with no coach.

chrism2184: I love the idea of the Pac 12/Big 10 challenge. Any insight on how they might determine the matchups? I would love to see them base it on the order in which the teams finished the previous year in there respective conferences, meaning conference champ vs conference champ, #2 vs #2, etc. Might mean potential Rose Bowl re-match but I still think that would be the way to get the best matchups.

Helwagen: I don't think they know what they want to do yet. They may do it in 2-year intervals so teams play home and home. They are doing this in lieu of playing a ninth conference game. My guess is they will schedule like against like but also mix and match so you get to play a full cross section of the league eventually.

As an aside, I can't wait for that trip to Salt Lake or the one to Pullman or Corvallis. Those are gonna be great! And I said as I left the Coliseum in 2008 that if I never have to go back to that (bleep) hole it would be too soon. I've seen two games there where Ohio State was outscored 77-6 (LOL).

Obviously, I've been to Tempe and Seattle (those are great). LA is fine other than the Coliseum. I covered an OSU game at Arizona in 2000. It was hotter than the surface of the sun (LOL).

lvhawks25: Whats your prediction for who makes the Big Dance from the big ten and their seeds? does northwestern finally get in?

Helwagen: I think they are, as of today, down from 8 to 7.

Ohio State will be a 1 if they get their stuff straight and a 2 if they don't

Indiana and MSU are 3's, if MSU wins on the road they can be a 2

Wisconsin is a 5 and dropping

Michigan is a 6 and holding

Purdue is a 9

Illinois is an 11

I'm not sure Minnesota and Northwestern are in. Iowa, PSU and Nebraska have no hope.

NW needs to get it figured out. They are blowing a great shot here. They need to go 9-9 or better. They are 1-2 now.

jfsmith3: What is going on at Wisconsin? Why have so many assistant coaches left the program? Is Bret Bielema difficult to work for?

Helwagen: It does make you wonder what is going on. Chryst was obviously leaving to be a head coach. He took one guy with him. The rest seem like lateral moves.

zeke_tolliver: Pardon me if this has already been asked, but Steve, do you think that Beckman has a chance to have a 2011 Michigan-type turn-around at Illinois? I really, really want to see an elevation in play around the Big Ten and, tough to say as a Buckeye fan, but Hoke's turning-around of Michigan this season is something that the B1G needs more of going forward.

If Beckman doesn't have a bright future at Illinois, what other B1G teams could threaten to climb out of the cellar around the B1G?

Helwagen: Illinois' bowl win -- even over a 6-8 UCLA team --- has to be a sign that the Illini could make a move in 2012. After 6 losses and firing Zook, something positive happened.

Minnesota won 3 games. If they schedule nonconf properly like Mason used to do, they'll 6 wins and get into a bowl game. It's rare that a team does what Michigan did. They made a quantum leap but the improvement on defense was easy to see.

buckperry: Who do you think will be the first player Urban Meyer will make quit the program due to his harder workouts and tougher demands?

Helwagen: I can't even begin to hazard a guess on that. OK, I can. Doesn't look like Jaamal Berry will be back. He may have missed the meeting on Tuesday. TY Williams and Rod Smith were there, though. They are going to make it tough.

Helwagen: News flash ... sounds like Penn State is interviewing Patriots assistant Bill O'Brien for the job today. Pats are in a bye week. If he accepts, would he stay with Pats through playoffs? That could be through signing day, too. Hmmm.

getmyjive11: Many of the PSU believe that O'Brien is trying to drum up interest for himself. Last week, "sources" from his camp said that PSU is more interested in him than he is of PSU. Now today he is interviewing?

FWIW, PSU insiders have indicated that the 49ers Roman is a more likely candidate.

We will see how this all plays out, but PSU is now on the record as saying that they want someone by the 13th because there is a huge recruiting weekend next week.

LowcountryBuc-i: Steve do you honestly think Ohio State will win more than 8 - 9 games next year? They have a favorable schedule and some great young talent coming in but after what we all watched on Monday and with 4 new starters on the OL and questionable receivers should the expectations be as high as everyone thinks? I know after the game my expectaions have come back down to earth for 2012 season, with 2013 - 14 being the breakout seasons.

Helwagen: Great point. That was terrible offensively on Monday. The defense played great, allowing just 10 points. I think 9 or 10 wins is doable. But the OL is a mess. They need Hyde, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Jeff Heuerman and some others to grow up real quick.

Peterklima: Do you think Urban Meyer will be able to come back to the same level after burning out on coaching?

It seems rare in any industry to have someone hit a wall like that, leave, and then come back and achieve the same success. And, even if he starts flirting with the same success again, how will OSU fans be able to handle the fact that he could snap at any moment?

I think we have all heard the reasons he left, health, dirty recruiting, stress, etc. but the only one that makes sense is a burnout. He obviously is back at the recruiting game going against the same giants (if he wants to win). His health diagnosis could not have changed after he was initially tested and quit the first time. It's not like he had bad doctors at Florida. So, it seems he just got the burnout....and he has said he has learned about work/life balance from watching other coaches this year.

Considering that, how does he regain that drive/edge that previously made him a great coach?

Helwagen: I think he will do a fine job at Ohio State. The advances they made in recruiting in his first 2-3 weeks on the job were remarkable ... until the NCAA came out with the 1 year bowl ban.

They will do fine in spite of that. He will not look at it this way, but the bowl ban gives him a chance to ease into the job. They could go 6-6 or 12-0 and it doesn't matter.

His No. 1 job today is to have the best 85 on scholarship he can on Feb. 2, 2013, or whenever that signing day is. Have the best 85 ready to go for 2013. So we'll see how he goes about that.

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