This has been a very busy week for one of the most prominent conferences in college athletics. Whether you want to recognize them as the Big Ten or the B1G Ten, this 12-team grouping has been full of activity between the release of an Associated Press preseason poll, potential award nominees being watch-listed, and a firm stand having been taken on potential expansion.
AP Preseason Poll
The Big Ten had a strong showing in this year’s AP preseason poll, with four schools representing the conference in No. 10 Nebraska, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 17 Michigan State and No. 18 Ohio State. With four entries in the top 25, the conference was only bested by one other – the SEC who had an impressive 8 teams listed, more than any other grouping in the country.
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Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez was among the four young Big Ten passers to be placed on the watch list for the Manning Award. The others honored were Michigan’s Denard Robinson, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, and Northwestern’s Dan Persa. The Manning Award (created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning) watch list features 31 of the best passers in the country going into the new year. The winner is typically announced after the bowl games that are slated for January.
Pony Express Award
Seven Big Ten player combinations were selected to the preseason watch list for the Pony Express Award this past week. Among those honored were: Alfonzo Denard and Lavonte David of Nebraska; Dan Persa, Drake Dunsmore and Jeremy Ebert of Northwestern; Kirk Cousins, Edwin Baker and Keshawn Martin of Michigan State; Broderick Binns and Mike Daniels of Iowa; Russell Wilson and Nick Toon and Montee Ball and James White of Wisconsin; and Mike Adams, Mike Brewster and B.B. Shugarts of Ohio State. The Pony Express Award is given out at the end of every regular season to the best two-or three-player combinations in the nation.
No More Expansion…For Now
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The Big Ten Council Of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) came together this past week to determine whether or not they wanted to pursue further expansion at any point in the foreseeable future. The answer appeared to be a resounding no, as shortly thereafter they released the following statement: “The COP/C would like to reiterate that it will not be actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape.”
Pete Pihos Passes Away
Pete Pihos, often regarded as one of the most recognizable figures in Indiana football lore, passed away last week in Winston-Salem, N.C. at 87 years old after an extended battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The former All-American was only the second Indiana football player to be enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame back in 1966, and was named his club’s Most Valuable Player in 1946 when he obliterated the school’s previous records for touchdowns, total points and receptions.