Big Ten: Indiana Hoosiers
Jeremy from Columbus writes: With regards to the future Big Ten schedules (2016 and beyond), will we go to a system of staggered crossover games? Since we went to divisions, we've played two non-protected crossover teams one year, then the same teams at opposite sites the next, leading to the same opponents two years in a row. With the three crossover schedule coming with nine conference games, are all three crossovers going to swap simultaneously, or can they implement a staggered system? We would have to in order to play all seven teams in the other division every four years, which I believe was a major goal for the ADs to allow every player to play against every other Big Ten team once. Alternatively, any chance of not playing direct home-and-homes with the crossover teams? For example, hosting a team one year, skipping them the next, then visiting them the third year? I personally would prefer this system in order to play the widest variety of teams.
Adam Rittenberg: Jeremy, I reached out to Big Ten scheduling czar Mark Rudner to get some clarity on your question. The main thing to remember, as you point out, is the league-wide directive to have each Big Ten team play every other conference member at least once every four years. That will happen in the post-2016 scheduling model. To meet that goal, the crossovers after 2016 will be staggered, so you won't always see the same teams in consecutive seasons. You also won't always see direct home-and-homes with crossover opponents. Eventually every game will be, in a sense, returned, but it won't be as "clean" as the current setup. The goal remains to avoid these long breaks without certain matchups.
Ethan from Prague writes: Adam, I am a PSU fan living in Prague so thank you for your blog so i can keep track of my team. I know the quarterback race is down to two: Ferguson and Hackenberg. For me, I think even if Hackenberg edges Ferguson slightly in preseason camp, I would rather have him redshirt just to save his eligibility. For PSU right now I think the long-run is more important than this season and having Hackenberg learn O'Brien's offense while not wasting a year of eligiblity could get many offensive recruits excited to come to PSU because they can play with him while competing for two bowl games. I also think O'Brien will be there for as long as Hackenberg is playing, so 5 years minimum with O'Brien would be better than any alternative. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: Ethan, first off, thanks for reading us all the way from Prague. I've always wanted to visit. I understand your perspective here, and if Steven Bench had stuck around in Happy Valley, it might make sense for Penn State to consider redshirting Hackenberg if he and Ferguson are about even in preseason camp. But without Bench, Penn State doesn't have much else behind Ferguson if Hackenberg doesn't play. Penn State could start Ferguson with the hope he can last the entire season and perform at a relatively decent level, but if not, the team can't tank the season just to save a year of eligibility for Hackenberg. While it's never ideal for a quarterback to play as a true freshman, there could be tremendous value for Hackenberg, a mature kid with a high ceiling.
Keep in mind, too, that Penn State will surround its new quarterback with some good weapons. The offense has a chance to be good again and that, more than anything else, will help recruiting. I think you're overvaluing Hackenberg's effect on Penn State's recruiting and on O'Brien staying or leaving. Penn State still can recruit top offensive players even if Hackenberg doesn't play, and O'Brien likely will base his future on which NFL teams come calling and how comfortable he feels in State College.
Matt from Michigan writes: Hey Adam, there's been some confusion on whether or no Jake Ryan can medically redshirt this upcoming season. Some say that because he redshirted for non-medical reasons his freshman year that he could not redshirt again. Could you verify this? Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg: Matt, Ryan wouldn't get a second redshirt season but a sixth year of eligibility, which would come after he's exhausted the years given to each player coming into college. It would be similar to the Devin Gardner situation, except Gardner didn't redshirt as a freshman in 2010, but had his season limited by injury. If Ryan's injury is severe enough to cost him the entire 2013 season, he could return as a fifth-year senior in 2014 and then apply for a sixth year in 2015. He would need to show medical proof that he couldn't return for a good chunk of 2013. This all likely is moot as Michigan coach Brady Hoke has said repeatedly that Ryan will return this fall, but if he has a setback in his recovery, I could see him going the sixth-year route.
Michael from Los Feliz writes: Hey Adam, As a Gopher fan I am outraged over the twenty fourteen and fifteen schedules. Minnesota is finally building what looks like a solid program under new leadership at all the big positions: football coaching staff, University President, and AD. However, apparently Jim Delany wants to see the Gophers continue to struggle. It is totally unfair to saddle Minnesota with cross division games against Ohio State AND Michigan, the two best programs in the conference. You can force Minnesota to play one of those schools, but both is totally unfair. It's especially brutal because Wisconsin and Iowa look to be taking a step back on the field, yet Iowa gets Maryland/Indiana and Wisconsin gets Rutgers/Maryland. This is gerrymandering and I am livid. Don't you think the Gophers got screwed by JD?
Adam Rittenberg: No, I don't. This might absolutely shock the conspiracy-theorist contingent of Big Ten blog readers, but Jim Delany has almost nothing to do with league schedules. Mark Rudner and his staff handle the schedule, and, after the league-wide scheduling principles (i.e. no more than two straight road games) are met, a computer generates the schedule and then the ADs sign off on it. Minnesota AD Norwood Teague agreed to the schedule, just like his Big Ten colleagues did. Is it a tough crossover schedule for 2014 and 2015? Sure. But Minnesota still is in what most believe to be the more favorable division (West). The Gophers won't have to deal with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State every year. Besides, aren't you happy that the Jug rivalry will continue in 2014? That has to be some sort of consolation.
Jon from Bangladesh writes: I've read a few articles that mope about the change of demographics and pool of talented players increasing in the South. No doubt as a Husker fan one has to accept that things aren't quite what they used to be. However I just had a thought today. What if the talent base in the South continued to increase? Assuming no new big Southern colleges are being founded, no move to Canadian style 13 players or more, and talented players not wanting to play third string, could a pattern like this actually begin to saturate the South, overflow a bit towards bigger colleges further North, and perhaps actually even the recruiting playing field a bit?
Adam Rittenberg: Jon, thanks for reading us from so far away. I've thought about the same thing: if demographic trends continue the way they are, more quality players should be looking for opportunities in far-flung leagues like the Big Ten. The counter argument is that SEC schools still will be getting the very top players from their surrounding areas and therefore will remain a cut above the Big Ten and the rest. If the SEC can pick and choose and not have to look far for national championship-type talent, it will continue to win those crystal footballs. That said, Big Ten schools must continue -- and, in some cases, ramp up -- their recruiting efforts in the South and Southeast. There's just too much talent in those regions to ignore and expect to compete at the highest level.
Stephen from Chicago writes: I am an Indiana Hoosier fan and was excited when Nebraska joined the Big Ten. I was looking forward to making the trek out to Lincoln and meet the supposed nicest fans in the country. As luck would have it, Nebraska ended up in the other division as Indiana and we were the one team that missed them the first four years in the conference. With Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten, we were once again in the opposite division as Nebraska. Not only that, we were the only team with a protect cross over; meaning until the Big Ten goes to 9-game schedules, IU will only play one other team from the west each season. As I opened the 2014 schedule hoping for the 1 in 6 chance to find Nebraska, Nope we have Iowa. Am I ever going to see Nebraska play Indiana?
Adam Rittenberg: Stephen, this is a good point to raise, and it's obviously an unfortunate component of a scheduling model that keeps changing. Although having no Indiana-Nebraska game for Nebraska's first four seasons as a Big Ten member isn't ideal, it's not as bad as having a six-year break in the Illinois-Iowa series, which is currently going on and thankfully will end in 2014. The answer is yes, you'll see Nebraska soon enough, most likely in the 2016 schedule. After 2016, Indiana won't go four years without playing the Huskers. Things will begin to settle down from a scheduling standpoint. Look on the bright side: because of the quirky schedule, IU gets back-to-back home games against archrival Purdue this fall and next.
Kase from Dallas writes: Adam, as Nebraska alumni I'm a very disappointed in the 2014 (and 2015) schedule. No Penn State, No Ohio State, No Michigan. My biggest excitement about joining the B1G was getting to play these power programs. But it looks like this won't happen until at least 2016 when the B1G goes to a parity scheduling system. Home games against Illinois, Rutgers, Purdue & Minnesota are not exciting. Do you think the B1G is taking the Husker fans for granted? I doubt many other B1G programs would have sellout homes games with these opponents. Looking at 2015, I'm sure these schools will love the thousands of Nebraska fans that will likely travel to these away games. When making the schedule did the B1G take into account the "fans"?
Adam Rittenberg: I don't think the Big Ten bases its schedule on whether Nebraska can continue its sellout streak, if that's what you're asking. Certain home schedules will be more appealing than others, but until parity-based scheduling kicks in, Big Ten schedules aren't designed with the quality of opponent in mind. It's fairly random after the core principles agreed upon by all the ADs are met. The good news for Nebraska fans is after 2016, you'll see Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State in Lincoln more often than other East division teams. Although Nebraska fans aren't pleased with the 2014 home schedule, I'd be stunned if many stayed away. This is the same program that drew more than 60,000 for the spring game in April.
- Illinois is very much in the mix for Oklahoma State QB transfer Wes Lunt. Illini coach Tim Beckman and his assistants are social-media machines.
- A great look inside a week with Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges. Michigan is in good shape to add standout CB recruit Jabrill Peppers. Former Wolverines star Mike Hart talks about the challenges that await incoming RB recruit Derrick Green.
- Top 2014 recruits are buying what Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald is selling, Jared Shanker writes. Incoming freshman Macan Wilson talks about why he picked the Wildcats.
- Junior college defensive lineman Robert Gregory hopes to arrive at Nebraska next month. Check out Huskers QB recruit Johnny Stanton.
- Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke is confident about the program's direction under new coach Darrell Hazell. Hazell meets with a group of local pastors.
- This is mostly basketball related, but colleague Myron Medcalf checks in with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.
- Christian Hackenberg will follow Penn State QB tradition and wear No. 14 for the Lions. Tom Dienhart breaks down Penn State's 2013 schedule. Lions coach Bill O'Brien is featured on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."
- Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio discusses conflict resolution. Former Spartans LB Chris Norman chooses faith over football.
- Another great breakdown of Big Ten assistant coach salaries from Joe Rexrode. A look at how Maryland assistants' salaries stack up with the rest of the Big Ten.
- More on Iowa's coaches and their contracts.
- Indiana adds a big prep school lineman to its 2013 recruiting class.
- A Federal judge mulls whether Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's lawsuit against the NCAA will move forward.
- Some good news for TBDBITL. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is looking rather busty.
- Tom Brady played for Michigan, but his son is sporting Minnesota Golden Gopher gear. A positive spin on Minnesota's tough upcoming schedules.
- New Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen and his staff cast a wide recruiting net.
- Please consider donating to the Red Cross or The Salvation Army to help the victims of Monday's tornado in Moore, Okla.
To mark the occasion, we're pulling out a checklist today of things that Big Ten teams need to accomplish between now and the start of the season. It's not quite "The Final Countdown" (cue GOB Bluth), but we are inching ever so close to kickoff. Here's what needs to happen in the next 100 days:
1. Identify a starting quarterback at Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin: It seems as if there are an unusually high number of Big Ten teams who don't know for sure who their starting quarterbacks will be in the fall. (You could also add Illinois and Minnesota to this list, though it appears likely that Nathan Scheelhaase and Philip Nelson, respectively, would have to lose the job in the summer.) Iowa had a three-man race this spring that will probably come down to Jake Rudock and Cody Sokol in training camp. There's very little separation between Cameron Coffman, Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson at Indiana. Connor Cook continues to breathe down the neck of incumbent Andrew Maxwell at Michigan State. Tyler Ferguson claimed the starting job at Penn State during the spring, prompting Steven Bench to transfer, but highly touted recruit Christian Hackenberg will push for immediate time. Purdue will likely decide between senior Rob Henry and true freshman Danny Etling. Joel Stave and Curt Phillips separated themselves from the Wisconsin QB derby this spring, while incoming junior college transfer Tanner McEvoy could expand the race this summer. All these situations should work themselves out in August, but no team wants to be dealing with an unsettled quarterback competition once the season starts.
2. Solidify the defensive front sevens at Nebraska and Ohio State: The Huskers and Buckeyes stand out as two of the top Big Ten contenders in 2013, but both have serious questions at defensive line and linebacker. The issue is more dire at Nebraska, which struggled there last year and is replacing all but one starter from 2012. Summer arrivals, including junior college star Randy Gregory, could make an immediate impact, and players coming back from injury such as linebacker Zaire Anderson and defensive tackle Thad Randle will need to play up to potential. Ohio State is less concerned about its defense after the spring performance of defensive ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, but linebacker Ryan Shazier is still the only returning starter in the front seven. Curtis Grant must finally live up to his talent to provide help to Shazier, and someone must assume John Simon's leadership role.
3. Locate the next great receivers: A few Big Ten teams, such as Nebraska, Penn State and Indiana, don't have to worry too much about who will catch the ball this year. But just about everybody else needs to find playmakers in the passing game. The top of that list includes Iowa, which couldn't generate a downfield passing attack last year; Illinois, which needs receivers to make new coordinator Bill Cubit's spread system work; Michigan State, whose young wideouts must improve on last year's shaky performance; Minnesota, which doesn't have many proven weapons to surround Nelson; and Wisconsin, which still must find a complement to Jared Abbrederis. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is hoping some incoming freshmen augment a very thin receiver group, while Michigan needs to replace the production of Roy Roundtree. Purdue and Northwestern have lots of speedy options but could use the emergence of a true No. 1 target. Receiver was a weak spot as a whole in the Big Ten in 2012, and hopefully some players will improve through offseason voluntary passing drills.
4. Strengthen the running game at Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and elsewhere: It's a cliché to say that you have to run the ball to win, but in the case of the Big Ten, that's always been true. That's why it's so vital for the Wolverines and Spartans -- who both expect to contend in the Legends Division -- to find answers in their rushing attacks. Michigan is replacing its entire starting interior offensive line after struggling to get a running game going outside of Denard Robinson last year. Fitz Toussaint is hoping to bounce back from a disappointing season and a leg injury, while hotshot freshman Derrick Green could get lots of carries right away. Michigan State's efforts to replace workhorse extraordinaire Le'Veon Bell this spring ended up with converted linebacker Riley Bullough emerging as the top back in a mediocre field. Three incoming freshmen will compete for time right away this summer. Indiana coach Kevin Wilson put a heavy emphasis on the running game this spring, hoping for more balance after his team led the league in passing and finished last in rushing last season. Iowa has depth for once at running back but needs to stay healthy there, as the ground game is the key to the Hawkeyes' entire offensive philosophy. Nebraska also can't afford injuries, as Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross are the lone backs with any experience. Illinois averaged just 3.5 yards per carry as a team last year, a number that must improve. And while Purdue loved what it saw from Akeem Hunt this spring, he still must prove he can be an every-down back after attempting only 42 carries last season.
5. Mesh with new coaches: Wisconsin's Gary Andersen and Purdue's Darrell Hazell are the fresh faces among head coaches in the league, and while they did a great job of connecting with their players this spring, they still need to get their new systems fully in place. The Badgers will be using some new, 3-4 looks on defense, while Hazell wants a more physical and disciplined team than we've seen from the Boilermakers of late. Michigan State has a new offensive playcaller in Dave Warner, while Cubit was one of many staff changes at Illinois. Penn State's John Butler takes over from Ted Roof as the Lions' defensive coordinator. With only 15 spring practices so far to implement their styles, those new coaches have had to rely on a lot of classroom time and players learning on their own. That will have to continue this summer during voluntary workouts and then will intensify when preseason practice begins. For new coaches, it's a race against the calendar -- and the calendar says there are only 100 days until kickoff.
Alex from New York writes: As a Michigan fan, the release of the new schedules starting in 2014 is pretty infuriating. Both MSU and OSU on the road in a given year? Are you kidding me? Did Dave Brandon not bother fighting this at all? Couple this with some of the recent basketball schedulings, like giving OSU a home game against Michigan next year but not vice versa, it seems like sometimes the Big Ten is out to screw Michigan. I realize that I'm overreacting, but as far as football is concerned, I think this is unacceptable, especially having to play MSU on the road twice in two years. It makes for a great home schedule one year, and a very lackluster one the following year. What are your thoughts?
Brian Bennett: The Big Ten is out to get Michigan? I think Michigan State fans would find that funny. Playing at Michigan State and Ohio State in the same year is tough, but is it really more difficult than last season, when the Wolverines played at Nebraska and at Ohio State? With Penn State coming to Ann Arbor in 2014 and Michigan's other Big Ten road games being at Northwestern and at Rutgers, you can't say that's an especially difficult schedule. It stinks for Wolverines fans that the games against the Spartans, Buckeyes and Notre Dame will all be on the road next season, but Ohio State and Michigan State will come to the Big House in 2015. And the rotation could change again when the league goes to a nine-game schedule in 2016.
Dave from Nashville writes: Regarding the new 2014 B1G schedules: There's a lot to comment on, but I'm gonna focus right now on, wow, Ohio State has a crazy easy schedule. Toughest games at home? Arguably the best team in the B1G having its two cross-overs with arguably the West's two worst teams (final decision pending Iowa's Greg Davis-induced implosion). Seems the B1G is desperate to get a team into the first College Football Playoff. They have chosen their champion, and have laid the easiest path possible for them to reach it. Michigan seems like a back-up option for 2015 with the favorable schedule, but even they have to contend with a dangerous NW squad. Better get them in before "parity-based" scheduling and 9 conference games make it more difficult ...
Brian Bennett: It's disappointing that we won't see the Buckeyes play Nebraska, Wisconsin or Northwestern in 2014. Perhaps Minnesota will have improved enough by next year that it will give Ohio State a test in Minneapolis. The Buckeyes still have to go to Michigan State and Penn State, and they have Navy, Cincinnati and Virginia Tech in the nonconference, which is a major step up from their 2012 and 2013 out-of-league slate. Perhaps after playing Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska as crossover opponents in 2011 and 2012, Ohio State was due for a break. Getting Michigan at home next year will also be key in the inaugural East Division race. While it's always dangerous to make assumptions on what will happen more than a year away, the Buckeyes do seem to have an advantageous position in 2014.
Mike from Madison, Wis., writes: So I just read the piece on how many of the B1G coaches and Jim Delany support to increase the win requirements to go to a bowl from the current 6-6 to 7-5. I agree with that and also the fact that a fan bases of a 6-6 team is less enthused to have to pay all the costs involved with going to a bowl game and that some fans and students ultimately don't go because its not worth it. However, I also agree with coaches that the extra game and more importantly practice time that goes along with a bowl game is greatly beneficial to a 6-6 team. I have an idea that will please everyone involved: 6-6 teams get cut from being in a bowl game. However, they are permitted to play an extra game with a school in their region and that the game would be held at the one of the school's football stadiums. Don't know how that would be decided but everyone involved wins. Coaches get their game and fans get it closer and cheaper.
Brian Bennett: I'm divided on my opinion about whether 6-6 teams should go bowling. On the one hand, I believe there are too many bowl games and that teams should have to accomplish more than merely going .500. How much, for example, did Purdue gain by going to a bowl last year, as the Boilermakers fired coach Danny Hope the day after they clinched postseason eligibility and then got embarrassed by Oklahoma State? On the other hand, bowls still provide us entertainment in December, and more college football is rarely a bad thing. I'm much more in favor of 6-6 teams going to bowls if they play a nine-game conference schedule. That's much more of an achievement, since programs can't simply schedule four nonconference patsies and then go 2-6 in the league and declare their season a success. I'm surprised a team like Indiana, which will have its hands full in the East Division, supports the seven-win requirement.
As for your idea, Mike, I'm not exactly sold. A large part of the appeal for a 6-6 team to go bowling is that the players get a nice trip somewhere warm and a bowl-like experience out of it. Who would have gotten fired up last year for, say, Purdue at Central Michigan or Iowa State at Minnesota last December in the cold?
Rob NitLion from Morristown, N.J., writes: Bennett! Long time since I last emailed you. Please PLEASE tell me that with the new bowl scheduling partnerships the B1G will no longer have 5 schools playing at the same time on New Year's Day...as a B1G fan, I cannot stand missing the Rose Bowl because there are other attractive B1G matchups at the same time. I'm hoping Delaney has found some way to facilitate changing the times or dates of some of these bowl games as to not have B1G fans scrambling to try to catch multiple games at the same time on New Year's Day. Even if your team isn't playing in the Rose Bowl, as a college football fan, specifically a B1G fan, who doesn't want to watch the Rose Bowl and all its Pagentry? I know the Capital One and Outback bowls are probably remaining in the B1G bowl line up, but do you foresee any chance that there are changes so the times are not conflicting with the Rose Bowl?
Brian Bennett: I don't think that avoiding overlapping times is a major concern for the Big Ten as it tries to find the best bowl lineup. However, it's inevitable that we'll see some changes in that regard as the new lineup and the new playoff structure take hold. The playoff semifinals are going to own New Year's Day, so we'll have to see how that affects when the other bowls decide to kick off. There could still be several Big Ten teams playing at once, especially with the league holding onto ties with the Capital One and Outback bowls and sharing a slot with the ACC on the Gator. But with access to the Orange Bowl and other moves, I doubt we'll see as big of a Big Ten logjam in the bowls.
Aaron from Minneapolis, Minn., writes: As a Minnesota fan, I generally like the direction that the conference is going with non-conference scheduling. But I've heard a lot about how Iowa is being handcuffed by their annual tilt with Iowa State, and I was just wondering why this is a big deal. Lots of annual non-conference rivalries are going by the wayside these days (Michigan-ND, Florida-Miami, Nebraska-Oklahoma, etc.). While I understand that an in-state game is big for fans, I can't imagine Iowa fans will suddenly be at a loss for bad blood with Wisconsin, Minnesota, and even a potentially budding rivalry with Nebraska each year. And even if the game is not played annually, two games every four years would open up much more breathing room for Iowa to continue to schedule strong opponents on a regular basis. Am I completely off base here?
Brian Bennett: You're not wildly off base, Aaron, especially because the Iowa-Iowa State game doesn't really move the needle nationally. Still, I think it would be a shame to see that series end. I'm a huge proponent of in-state rivalries, especially in a state like Iowa where there are only two major programs. It's one thing for Florida and Miami not to play, but at least Florida-Florida State and Florida State-Miami continues. These are the kinds of rivalry games that keep friends, co-workers and neighbors talking year round within the state. I'd rather see Iowa test itself by playing one other marquee game in the nonconference schedule than losing the Iowa State series, though I understand why that's difficult with a nine-game league schedule. And speaking of in-state rivalries ...
Erik S. from Tallahassee, Fla., writes: With the renewal of the PSU-Pitt rivalry in 2016 and the dedication both sides feel about making the game happen every year, I'm hopeful that we'll get to see more of these games after the upcoming four-year contract is over. My question is that in the years Penn State plays Pitt, will that game become Penn State's required "one marquee nonconference game" or do you think another "Big Five" conference team would make the slate in addition?
Brian Bennett: There were some very encouraging comments last week from both sides about the future of the Penn State-Pitt rivalry, one that I think ought to return to being an annual affair. Penn State will have to decide how it wants to schedule its three nonconference games after 2016, and complicating matters is the NCAA probation. Do the Nittany Lions want to take on tough opponents as they're coming out of the sanctions era, or do they want to help themselves ease back into bowl contention? When at full strength, I absolutely think Penn State is the type of program that can handle playing Pitt and one other marquee, or at least major-conference, opponent every year. Given Pitt's near-perennial habit of underachieving, simply playing the Panthers probably wouldn't be enough to make the Nittany Lions' strength-of-schedule argument a compelling one in most years.
Bear rom Waco, Texas, writes: Baylor/Big 12 fan here just wanting to say props for the Big Ten agreeing to schedule nine conference games and no FCS opponents. The Big Ten, like every other conference, has its problems, but I really respect that y'all want to make create the highest quality football match-ups possible. So thanks Big Ten from down in Waco!
Brian Bennett: I guess it's always good to have a bear on your side, rather than the other way around.
The Hoosiers announced Monday that lineman Nate Hoff has joined the program and will be eligible for the 2013 season. Hoff committed to Navy in 2012 and then spent a year at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I. He's originally from Solon, Ohio, where he was ranked as a three-star prospect his senior year by ESPN.com.
He was mostly recruited by MAC schools and the service academies. IU offensive graduate assistant Ryan Stanchek coached Hoff in 2010.
Hoff is listed at 6-foot-2 and 320 pounds, and reportedly has bench pressed 475 pounds and squats more than 600 pounds. Indiana says he can play on either the offensive or defensive line. He had 24 tackles for loss as a defensive tackle in his senior year of high school.
The Hoosiers also have a much bigger need on their defensive interior, where they must replace departed seniors Adam Replogle and Larry Black Jr. The offensive line, meanwhile, is pretty much set for this season.
We'll see if he can make much of an impact. Still, picking up a big, strong kid who can at least add depth in the trenches is a pretty good May surprise for the Hoosiers.
But when Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith sat down to discuss staff pay, Smith soon realized he needed to do more.
"I think Michigan had stepped up with their coordinators," Smith recalled last week during Big Ten spring meetings in Chicago. "So we were already going to that before Urban Meyer came, but we bumped it up a little more. Any time there's change, you have that opportunity."
Lon Horwedel/Icon SMIMichigan DC Greg Mattison ranks as the highest-paid assistant coach in the Big Ten for the 2013 season.
The Big Ten is part of the change, too, as the league is allocating more money toward football assistants than ever before. The Detroit Free Press has an excellent look at Big Ten assistants' salaries, complete with a database that includes 10 of the 12 current members (Northwestern doesn't submit salaries as a private institution, and Penn State doesn't have to because of state laws).
The Free Press found that eight of the 10 schools are paying more for assistants in 2013 than they did in 2012 (only Indiana and Illinois are not). There are some significant total increases, such as Wisconsin (up $558,000), Nebraska (up $518,500), Purdue ($400,000) and Minnesota ($355,000). Staff pay had been an issue at Wisconsin, which lost six assistant coaches following the 2012 Rose Bowl, and at Purdue, which paid less for its staff during the Danny Hope era than any Big Ten school.
The total trend among the 10 schools is an increase of $1,720,852.24 for 2013.
Ohio State and Michigan remain No. 1 and No. 2 in Big Ten staff salary, as the Buckeyes allocate $3.416 million and the Wolverines allocate $2.805 million. Nebraska and Wisconsin make the biggest moves in the league for 2013, as the Huskers rise from sixth to third and the Badgers rise from seventh to fourth.
Illinois, which replaced five assistants from the 2012 team, including co-offensive coordinators Chris Beatty and Billy Gonzales, dropped from third in staff pay ($2.314 million) to eighth ($2.065 million).
The database shows that nearly every Big Ten assistant with "coordinator" in his title -- whether he's the sole coordinator or a co-coordinator -- will earn north of $300,000 for 2013. Only 18 assistants listed will make less than $200,000 in 2013 -- 15 work for Minnesota, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana.
- Although Wisconsin paid former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst good coin, the school has increased its commitment for Gary Andersen's staff, not only with the coordinators but with some coveted position coaches like running backs coach Thomas Hammock ($300,000).
- All of Nebraska's assistants are earning $200,000 or more for 2013, but there's a huge drop-off between Beck and the next highest-paid assistant (defensive coordinator John Papuchis at $310,000).
- Michigan State has a similar drop off between Narduzzi and co-offensive coordinators Dave Warner ($270,000) and Jim Bollman ($260,000). Warner will be the primary offensive play-caller and has been on Mark Dantonio's staff since 2006, while Bollman is a newcomer.
- Although Michigan is paying top dollar for its coordinators, the school gets its assistants for a relative bargain. Receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski will earn $225,000 in 2013, while the others all will earn $205,000. Ohio State, meanwhile, pays all but one of its assistants $286,000 or more.
- The Big Ten's three lowest-paid assistants all are in their first years: Illinois wide receivers coach Mike Bellamy ($125,000) and Purdue linebackers coach Marcus Freeman and running backs coach Jafar Williams (both at $120,000).
- Although schools like Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa ($325,000) pay their coordinators the exact same amount, others have slight differences in salary. Purdue's Shoop makes $5,000 more than defensive coordinator Greg Hudson. Minnesota defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys ($340,000) makes $5,000 more than offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover. Wonder if that leads to any underlying jealousy?
- Most Big Ten schools have assistant salaries in round numbers, but there are some interesting totals from Indiana, which pays co-offensive coordinators Seth Littrell and Kevin Johns $255,500.04 and new recruiting coordinator/assistant defensive line coach James Patton $173,740.08. Never know when that change can come in handy.
The Big Ten still lacks some of the OMG totals seen in the SEC -- LSU is paying new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron $3.4 million in the next three years -- but the overall trend puts the league more on par with what we're seeing nationally.
- Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon says the 2014 home game against Penn State could be a night game. Brandon says student no-shows at the Big House are "unacceptable."
- Mark Hollis talks about keeping the Michigan State-Notre Dame game alive. Mark Dantonio says the Spartans "re-assessed" recruit turned rapper Jay Harris.
- Sixteen significant changes made by Bill O'Brien at Penn State. O'Brien's job is still more than just football. Matt McGloin signed with the Raiders.
- What sticks out about Nebraska's 2014 slate is who's not on it. Logan Rath took a different path toward walking on for the Huskers.
- Northwestern got a commitment from an offensive tackle.
- Ohio State's 2014 schedule looks unimposing. Examining the base pass plays in the Buckeyes' offense.
- Purdue will travel to Indiana in back-to-back years for the first time ever.
- Wisconsin picked up a running back from Utah, but he'll go on a Mormon mission before coming to Madison. The Badgers will get an early look at the new guys in the Big Ten in 2014.
- The stars are aligning for a 2014 resurgence by Iowa. The Hawkeyes skip many of the Big Ten powers that year.
- Minnesota's Derrick Wells and Cedric Thompson are mentoring high school students. Analyzing the Gophers' 2014 schedule.
- The 2014 schedule didn't make things easy for Illinois.
- Winners and losers in the 2014 schedule. Tom Dienhart breaks down the '14 slate.
ESPN.com caught up with Rudner, the Big Ten's senior associate commissioner for television administration, to discuss how the 2014 schedule came together.
It's important to note the Big Ten compiled the 2014 slate based upon principles green-lighted by its athletic directors.
- Nonconference games that had been previously contracted were protected. For example, Northwestern visits Notre Dame on Nov. 15, 2014, so the Big Ten made sure not to schedule the Wildcats on that day. Also, Penn State and Rutgers had a previously scheduled non-league game for Sept. 13, 2014, which became a conference game with Rutgers joining the Big Ten. The date wasn't changed.
- No more than two consecutive road games
- Each team must play two home games and two road games in each half of the season
It's not as if athletic directors ask the league not to schedule multiple rivalry games on the road every year.
"Once you do that," Rudner said, "you're at risk of never having a schedule."
There has been some reaction to Michigan facing in-state rival Michigan State in road games in consecutive seasons (2013, 2014) and Purdue visiting Indiana for the Bucket game the same two years. The Wolverines never have played the Spartans in East Lansing in back-to-back years and haven't hosted MSU in consecutive years since 1967-68.
Although it'll be new for Michigan, such back-to-backs are fairly common when a scheduling model changes. Between 2010-11, there were 13 instances of back-to-back matchups, including rivalry games like Iowa-Minnesota (both games in Minneapolis) and Penn State-Ohio State (both games in Columbus) and other good matchups like Wisconsin-Michigan State (both games in East Lansing).
"It's unavoidable," Rudner said. "It happened five times in 2008-2009. So it's not foreign, it's not ideal, but it's unavoidable. When you're introducing new institutions and you dole out home and road games, it just happens."
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has said "parity-based scheduling," where teams will face one another more often in crossovers based on historical success,will begin in 2016, will begin once the league goes to a nine-game conference schedule. Rudner said the league asked the ADs if they wanted to start the nine-game schedules in 2014 but they couldn't because of so many signed contracts for non-conference games. If they had, the 2014 would have incorporated parity scheduling.
The 2014 slate ultimately features none of it, as the traditional powers in each division -- Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State in the East, and Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa in the West -- don't play at all.
"I don't think it's going to hurt us," Rudner said. "Brand is strong enough. There are enough games that are strong that'll drive television interest. Short of a full round-robin, which nobody in our conference wanted to do, you're going to have these sort of issues."
A few other schedule notes:
- Rudner and his staff didn't have a directive to schedule mostly division games in November, but it worked out that way as most teams will play exclusively in their division or play only one crossover in the season's decisive month. "Ideally, that's what we would like to do," Rudner said. "It makes a lot of sense to play division games late in the season, toward a championship."
- The Big Ten doesn't look at long-term trends of how often teams open league play on the road when crafting schedules. Athletic directors haven't asked it to a be a principle of building schedules. "It's never been important to them," Rudner said. "What they want to avoid is long road trips and making sure there's balance, home and away, in each half of the season. The rest of it, they can live with. Not everybody plays the same kind of schedule, but they do it based on those principles. They look at it and say, 'That's fair. Let's do it.'" Penn State, by the way, will open league play on the road for the fifth straight year and for the ninth time in the past 11 seasons.
- That new members Maryland and Rutgers host traditional powers Ohio State and Michigan on the same day (Oct. 4) was pure coincidence, Rudner said.
The 2015 Big Ten schedule, which should be released by the end of the month, will feature the same matchups at the opposite locations. The league has to maneuver around some previously scheduled non-league games before finalizing the slate.
The Hoosiers soon will take up residence in the Big Ten's East Division, which includes traditional powers Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, as well as Michigan State. Like every other Big Ten team, Indiana also will begin playing nine conference games instead of eight beginning in 2016.
Although Indiana took a step last fall in Year 2 under coach Kevin Wilson, it has won six or more games just 11 times since 1967, when it shared the Big Ten championship and went to the Rose Bowl.
If given the choice between keeping the minimum wins requirement for bowls at six versus increasing it to seven, Glass seemingly has an easy decision.
"Perhaps the surprising answer is I'd probably favor going to seven [wins]," Glass told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "We're a program that's trying to build, and you might say it's in our best interest to stay at six, but there's something about enthusing your fan base with a winning season, being 7-5. Maybe that might help limit the number of bowls out there, too, so it's a real positive experience."
At last year's spring meetings, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany came out in strong support of increasing the bowl requirement from six wins to seven.
"For us, it means redefining a successful year at 7-5 from the standpoint of a bowl season," Delany said last May. "We argued for 6-6. We've experienced 6-6. Now we're suggesting that it's in our best interest, the bowls' best interest as well as the other conferences that might benefit by these open slots to look at a 7-5 standard."
Ultimately, other major conferences weren't on board with the push to increase the requirement. The Big Ten had three 6-6 teams -- Michigan State, Purdue and Minnesota -- make bowl games in 2012 and four 6-6 teams (Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern) go in 2011.
"We think the bowl system would be better off with a 7-5 situation," Delany said Wednesday. "We thought for a while we were heading in that direction, but it's obvious that we're not."
The Big Ten's move to nine league games means a team would have to win at least three conference contests to reach the six-win minimum, giving it a little more credibility. Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague said many coaches, especially "those building programs," are in favor of keeping the requirement at six victories.
But ADs still hope that seven can be the magic number some day.
"Seven wins is what you should have; always felt that," Ohio State AD Gene Smith said. "I still think we have too many bowls. I just think 6-6 is not the level, but I know that's not something that appears to be reversing at this time. I just don't want to be there again."
- Future football schedules likely will be a hot topic at Big Ten meetings. So will bowl games, Lee Barfknecht writes.
- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has been tough on player conduct, so how will he handle Alex Lewis? The details of Lewis' assault arrest aren't good.
- Michigan State picks up a commitment from tight end Matt Sokol. MSU's athletic budget once again is balanced. The Spartans have a favorable 2013 schedule.
- Minnesota coach Jerry Kill will get a raise, but not right away, his boss says.
- Michigan's depleted 2010 recruiting class hurts depth but not leadership. The Wolverines are recruiting Snoop Dogg's son.
- Penn State coach Bill O'Brien would like to be able to meet with players during the summer. CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd checks in with Jay Paterno. Nine Lions players take part in NFL rookie minicamps. Penn State quarterback Tyler Ferguson made this list of spring standouts.
- Purdue has seen an increase in football season-ticket sales after a more aggressive push. Missed this from late last week, but Jim Tressel talks Darrell Hazell.
- Former Northwestern receiver Demetrius Fields signs a free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears. Northwestern kick specialist Hunter Niswander relishes pressure situations.
- Several key Ohio State players to watch this season.
- Wisconsin deputy AD Sean Frazier is a finalist for the top job at Rutgers.
- Some Indiana tidbits from athletic director Fred Glass.
Now that spring practice is over, we're starting a new series looking at the most indispensable players on each Big Ten team.
By indispensable, we don't necessarily mean best. We mean the players who would be hardest to replace between now and the start of the season if they got hurt or suspended or joined the circus. It could be because of their value to the team or because of a lack of depth at their position.
We'll pick two players from each team, usually offense and defense but not always. Next up: Indiana.
Jason Spriggs, LT, So.
Spriggs stepped into the fire as a true freshman at arguably the most important offensive line position and held his own last season. Although Indiana had plenty of youth up front in 2012, the line excelled in pass protection, allowing just one sack every 31.8 pass attempts and finishing 33rd nationally in sacks allowed per game (1.42). Spriggs, who protected the blind side of all three IU quarterbacks, led the team with 80 knockdowns and allowed just two sacks in 961 snaps. Spriggs and guard Dan Feeney both set a team record by starting all 12 games as true freshmen. Both earned freshman All-America honors and honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. Feeney certainly could be here, too, but Spriggs played such a big role in pass protection. He would be a major loss for Indiana, which is relying on Spriggs and Feeney to form the foundation of the offensive line for years to come.
Greg Heban, S, Sr.
The Hoosiers' long-suffering defense will improve as younger, more talented players enter the program through upgrades in recruiting. But every unit needs some veteran leadership, and Heban provides it and much more from the safety position. Indiana loses significant pieces along the line, and while linebacker David Cooper could prove to be indispensable, the defense really needs Heban to stay on the field. He has started 22 games the past two seasons and last fall led Big Ten defensive backs in tackles per game (7.6), while tying for fifth in interceptions (3) and tying for 11th in passes defended (11). He's a natural playmaker for a secondary and a defense that still lacks them. Heban also can play safety, corner or the nickel spot. Indiana should have better overall depth on defense this season, but it can't afford to lose No. 9.
Total commits: 9
ESPN 150 commits: 8
The latest: Michigan's recruiting once again is off to an extremely fast start, as the Wolverines not only are piling up commits but quality players. Defensive end Lawrence Marshall on Saturday became the eighth ESPN 150 prospect to pick Michigan. No other FBS team has more than five ESPN 150 players pledged for the 2014 class. Barring a surprise turn, Michigan will sign a top-5 class in February. The Wolverines currently rank No. 3 in the RecruitingNation rankings.
Total commits: 9
ESPN 150 commits: 1
The latest: Penn State has filled out most of its 2014 class before mid May, and the Lions are adding quality prospects like ESPN 150 athlete De'Andre Thompkins, wide receiver Chris Godwin and linebacker Troy Reeder. The Lions picked up two more commits late last week in defensive back Marcus Allen and linebacker Jared Wangler. Bill O'Brien and his staff have to be selective because of scholarship restrictions, but they've also been aggressive in piling up early commits. Penn State is No. 13 in the latest class rankings.
Total commits: 8
ESPN 150 commits: 0
The latest: Northwestern is quietly putting together the best class in coach Pat Fitzgerald's tenure. The Wildcats are 19th in RecruitingNation's class rankings after an excellent week that ended with them landing talented running back Auston Anderson on Thursday. Anderson's pledge came on the heels of four-star athlete Dariean Watkins choosing Northwestern. Although Northwestern hasn't landed an ESPN 150 prospect, it boasts several commits (QB Clayton Thorson, Watkins) who are close.
Total commits: 8
ESPN 150 commits: 1
The latest: Urban Meyer's assistants are all over the recruiting trail -- and letting us know about it on Twitter -- and after a six-week drought without a commitment, the Buckeyes added one Sunday in wide receiver Lonnie Johnson. The Gary, Ind., native had offers from Indiana, Purdue and Nebraska, among others, but gives Ohio State a four-star prospect at a position of need. Ohio State checks in at No. 14 in the latest class rankings.
Total commits: 6
ESPN 150 commits: 0
The latest: The Spartans' total hasn't changed since they picked up linemen Brian Allen and Enoch Smith Jr. during spring game weekend, but they're closing in on prospects like tight end Matt Sokol and defensive end Rashawn Pierce. The downside is that Michigan State lost Marshall to rival Michigan after many believed Marshall would go green. Michigan State also had been pursuing Watkins, who verballed to Northwestern.
Total commits: 4
ESPN 150 commits: 1
The latest: Gary Andersen's staff has added just one 2014 commit (defensive tackle Craig Evans) since taking over in late December. Although Evans pledged in March, the Badgers staff has been active on the recruiting trail and extending plenty of scholarship offers. Wisconsin made a late addition to its 2013 class last week by picking up junior-college cornerback Tekeim Reynard.
Total commits: 4
ESPN 150 commits: 0
The latest: The Illini added to their quarterback depth earlier this month by picking up a commitment from Ohio prep signal caller Chayce Crouch. Crouch led his team to the state championship game last season and had received scholarship offers from several MAC programs, as well as some interest from other Big Ten schools. Illinois also has injected some more spice into its in-state rivalry with Northwestern by picking up defensive end recruit Tito Odenigbo, the younger brother of Wildcats defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo.
Total commits: 3
ESPN 150 commits: 1
The latest: The Hawkeyes haven't added to their total since getting a pledge from offensive lineman Lucas LeGrand in early April. But with three in-state prospects -- headlined by guard Ross Pierschbacher, the nation's No. 47 player and highest-ranked Big Ten commit, according to RecruitingNation -- Iowa still is off to a decent start. Iowa is extending its recruiting reach to Georgia and recently offered defenders Henry Famurewa and Bradley Chubb.
Total commits: 3
ESPN 150 commits: 0
The latest: The Gophers added two verbals during spring game weekend in athlete Dimonic McKinzy (early All-Name team nominee) and defensive tackle Steven Richardson. In-state running back Jeff Jones, a three-star prospect, headlines the class so far. Like the previous coaching staff, Jerry Kill and his assistants are targeting Texas for recruits like linebacker Everett Williams and defensive end Noah Westerfield.
Total commits: 2
ESPN 150 commits: 0
The latest: The Huskers wait for their second 2014 commitment ended last week as Texas defensive back Jason Hall pledged for Big Red. At 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, Hall brings excellent size to Nebraska's defensive backfield. Although Nebraska should continue to add to its total in the coming weeks and months, recruiting coordinator Ross Els told ESPN.com last week that the Huskers likely won't see a surge until prospects start coming to campus on official visits this fall.
Total commits: 1
ESPN 150 commits: 0
The latest: Purdue is going back to its recruiting roots under new coach Darrell Hazell, as its first verbal for 2014 comes from the fertile state of Texas. The Boilers recently added wide receiver Trae Hart to the mix. I'll have more on this later in the week, but Boilers recruiting coordinator Gerad Parker said the program is ramping up its efforts in the Lone Star State, mindful of the success former Purdue boss Joe Tiller had there.
Total commits: 0
ESPN 150 commits: 0
The latest: After signing an excellent recruiting class in February, Indiana's efforts for 2014 are off to a slow start. Indiana and Colorado are the only programs from a big-five conference (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12) without a verbal commit for next year. Things should pick up when camps kick off next month in Bloomington.
Future Big Ten members Rutgers and Maryland also are recruiting for the Big Ten, so here's a quick look at how they're doing ...
Total commits: 9
ESPN 150 commits: 0
The latest: The Scarlet Knights recruited well under Greg Schiano, had six players selected in April's NFL draft and continue to bring in quality players under Kyle Flood. After a productive March and April, Rutgers began May by adding a pledge from defensive tackle Pete Mokwuah. Running back Joshua Hicks and defensive end Justin Nelson headline Rutgers' 2014 so far. Rutgers also went into current Big Ten territory for quarterback Tyler Wiegers from Detroit Country Day School.
Total commits: 3
ESPN 150 commits: 0
The latest: The Terrapins added two pieces to their 2014 class in recent weeks in running back Johnathan Thomas from Massachusetts and athlete William Ulmer from Washington D.C. Maryland has plenty of local and regional players on its radar for 2014, as the areas surrounding College Park consistently produce a ton of FBS talent. The Terps picked up most of their 2013 recruits before the start of the season, but they might have to be more patient after a 4-8 record in 2012.
- No more media trailers at Michigan State? Yes, please. Here's more on the proposed Spartan Stadium renovation. Matt Charboneau is reserving judgment on a Spartans team projected all over the map. Linebacker recruit Chris Frey is headed to East Lansing.
- Minnesota offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover talks about his amazing weight-loss transformation, which included gastric-bypass surgery.
- Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst has a new style but old-school values, Tom Shatel writes. A Q&A with the new Nebraska AD. Bo Pelini's Big Ten colleagues challenge him on the recruiting trail.
- Teddy Greenstein tees it up with Illinois coach Tim Beckman. Get to know these five Illini players before the fall.
- A good look at how Ohio State's unheralded 2010 recruiting class factors into a national title push. Orlando Pace's Hall pass puts the spotlight on Ohio State's great offensive linemen. Former Ohio State player Barry Walker passed away Friday.
- Northwestern's recruiting efforts are on the upswing for 2014 and beyond. Recruit Auston Anderson's mom gave him the extra push he needed to pick Northwestern.
- Penn State coach Bill O'Brien is excited about LB Nyeem Wartman in 2013 and beyond. A good piece on O'Brien, his wife and the challenges they face with a special-needs child. The Lions add two more recruits to their 2014 class.
- Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison played a big role in Lawrence Marshall's commitment. Kyle Meinke takes our "most indispensable" series one step further and lists Michigan's six most indispensable players. Breaking down Michigan's 2013 schedule.
- Coach Gary Andersen wants to keep a small-school feel at Wisconsin.
- Purdue coach Darrell Hazell talks toughness, the summer plan, personnel and much more in this interview with Pete DiPrimio. Will the Boilers' streak of NFL draft picks continue in 2014?
- Pat Harty runs down the top 10 Iowa players of the Hayden Fry era. Marc Morehouse examines Iowa's future nonconference schedules, which include more games with Northern Illinois.
- Indiana strength coach Mark Hill is mic'd up during a spring practice.