Real live Big Ten football is just days away now, so what are our conference foes up to?
Welcome to Rock Bottom: Unless you've been living under a proverbial rock, you know that Tim Beckman was fired last week, eight days before the start of the 2015 season. Beckman, who went 12-25 in three seasons, was let go for allegedly pressuring players to play despite injury. The allegations are based on preliminary findings in an ongoing external investigation of the football program (Jake New, Inside Higher Education).
The Illini fans are dealing with the fallout, and while most are happy to see the last of Beckman, it's hard to find fault with these words from The Champaign Room's Mark Primiano:
It's a tire fire getting hit by a tornado that made a recent pass over a manure field.
Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit is the interim head coach, and the Illini should be on solid footing there. He's well regarded in coaching circles and the players look up to him as a father figure (Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune).
Meanwhile, Beckman has hit back with a statement denying any wrongdoing and strongly suggesting he'll sue the school. Whatever happens this season, trying times are ahead at Illinois.
Running by committee: Replacing Tevin Coleman was always going to be too big a job for one person, so the Hoosiers will use three instead, with Jordan Howard and Devine Redding getting most of the snaps. Alex Rodriguez and Ricky Brookins will also figure in the mix (Marcus Hartman, FOXSports).
He's just strange: Defensive end Drew Ott is a character. His back story and personality quirks are featured in this piece from ESPN's Mitch Sherman.
Predicting the predictable: The Hawkeyes have a new alternate uniform. It's black with yellow accents. How unusual!
Aussie Aussie Aussie: The Terps have a Groza-award winning kicker in Brad Craddock who is also the face of the team and its most vocal leader. Oh, and he's from Australia (Roman Stubbs, Washington Post).
The hero you need: Perry Hills sort of snuck up on the Maryland fanbase, and they're warming to the idea of Hills as the starting quarterback.
Clear as mud: Jim Harbaugh released a thing he called a depth chart, but did not name an actual starter in most positions. CBSSports' Robby Kalland goes ¯\_("/)_/¯
Endzone: John U. Bacon's book on Harbaugh and the resurrection of Michigan football is really a book about Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke, at least according to Brendan Quinn's MLive review.
Climbing the hill: Everyone knows Michigan State is really good. But the schedule, and the gradual shifting of attention back to Ann Arbor, will make it harder for the Spartans to make the playoffs (Chris Dufresne, LA Times).
Five Factors: The Only Colors' Joe Tuohey uses Bill Connelly's five factors to preview the 2015 season.
What is a Nebraska? Matt Brown describes Nebraska football to BYU fans ahead of their season-opener.
Glory days: People around Nebraska football like to talk about the past. A LOT. This time, it's Austin Moylan and the Daily Nebraskan with yet another look at the top 5 teams in Huskers history. You get 1995 guesses for which team is #1.
Positive spin? According to Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press, Northwestern is a great story, but Pat Fitzgerald needs to recapture the magic of the mid-90s.
Negative spin! Our friends at Inside NU see it a bit differently and offer six reasons to be pessimistic about the Wildcats this year, including the perennial reason of "It's Northwestern."
Announcing a starter: Haha! You think Ohio State has picked a starting quarterback? Joke's on you. Urban Meyer plans to withhold the decision until kickoff. Why? Because he can (Austin Ward, ESPN).
It's not our fault: Ed Warriner defends the Ohio State O-line from criticism around last year's Virginia Tech loss. The 2015 version is better and determined to put that game behind them (Marcus Hartman, FOXSports).
Focus on football: Penn State players are putting the sanctions era behind them and focusing on the "normal" of football (Josh Moyer, ESPN).
We are (still) Penn State: Black Shoe Diaries interviews Penn State great LaVar Arrington. He's promoting NFL Sunday Ticket for DirecTV, but in a sign that old is still gold in Happy Valley, he also reminisces about Joe Paterno and school traditions.
Asking the tough questions: Mike Carmin of the Indianapolis Star has 10 questions for Purdue's 2015 season, including the most important one--which comes first, confidence or success.
Some tough answers too: Hammer and Rails' Travis Miller answers questions in the Preseason T-Bag, and disses Minnesota's passing offense in the process.
Truffle Shuffle: Rutgers may not be great at football (yet), but they're #1 in entertaining themselves. The team had a dance-off to end camp (Kyle Thele, Sun Times). Much like everything else in Rutgers football, this was both awesome and truly terrible (RU Sports).
In less fun news: Head coach Kyle Flood e-mailed a professor about a player in danger of being academically ineligible. That spells trouble, but as Dave White of On the Banks notes, this is not Rutgers' first scandal rodeo.
We can do this! If nothing else, Wisconsin does not lack for confidence against Alabama. As running back Corey Clement said, the Crimson Tide defense "can be gashed for a lot of yards." (Rayan Vatti, Badger of Honor)
GET HYPE, YO: This Wisconsin-Alabama hype video is pretty good.