INDIANAPOLIS — Time for a final lap around Big Ten football, chugging and leaking oil all the way after a forgettable championship finale for everyone except Wisconsin:
» Nebraska: Bo Pelini has more problems than earning the “can't win the big one” tag following three conference championship losses in four seasons. Equally concerning is the obscene yardage and point totals allowed in losses this season to newer coaching staffs.
The Huskers allowed the second-highest yardage total in history to UCLA, which had a losing record the season before Jim Mora took over.
They coughed up 63 points to Ohio State, another program coming off a losing record before Urban Meyer took over.
Now add in the 70 points and the most rushing yards in history surrendered to unranked Wisconsin, which had six new assistants to start the season and increased that to seven after firing its offensive line coach in mid-September.
The utter sense of disarray in those games is alarming for a fifth-year coach with his own recruits and hand-picked assistants.
» Ohio State: On the day the Buckeyes finished their perfect season, fans at the Horseshoe gave ex-coach Jim Tressel a standing ovation, and players from his 2002 national title team — honored during the game — carried him off the field on their shoulders.
Excuse me, Bucknuts, but if Tressel hadn't lied to NCAA investigators, Ohio State wouldn't be on probation and ineligible to play for a national title. For that, you applaud?
» Iowa: “Careful Kirk” Ferentz revealed that offensive coordinator Greg Davis will return, though the Hawkeye attack was in retreat most of the season.
All other assistants will be back, too, with Ferentz noting “it's not like we've got a bunch of dumbbells.” U of I fans who sat through the six-game skid at season's end may beg to differ.
As for the idea of changing systems or modernizing the playbook, Ferentz basically said, “Nah.” The big question going forward is whether donors and season-ticket holders will respond similarly.
» Illinois: Athletic Director Mike Thomas felt the need to announce that coach Tim Beckman will return for a second season.
That's a sad commentary on the state of the sport. But that's how brutal Beckman's first season was.
He took over a bowl team with a two-year starting quarterback and went 2-10. The lone FBS win was in the opener against Western Michigan, which had such a disappointing season it fired its coach.
As bad as the Big Ten was, the Illini were the lowest of the low. In 32 quarters of league play, they led at the end of a period once — 3-0 after the first quarter against Minnesota.
» Minnesota: Unfortunately for the Gophers, who made nice progress and reached bowl eligibility, their No. 1 source of publicity is coach Jerry Kill's health. In two seasons, Kill has suffered an epileptic seizure during or after three games.
Kill, also a cancer survivor, has openly discussed his health issues. And his athletic director has backed him completely.
Yet as image-conscious a business as college football is, you wonder when the negative recruiting against Kill — and you know it will happen — will take effect.
» Michigan State: MSU built its home winning streak to 15 in early September, then inexplicably lost all its league games at Spartan Stadium. Coach Mark Dantonio twice since the last game has talked about changes to his pro-style offense, hinting at some quarterback run game.
» Wisconsin: The Badgers gave the league something to chew on by chewing up Nebraska on Saturday night. It might be only the start.
Wisconsin has pointed to 2013 as a big season. There are 27 juniors on the team now, and coach Bret Bielema said 12 are NFL draft-worthy. So don't hand next year's Leaders Division title to Ohio State just yet.
» Jim Delany: The press box at Lucas Oil Stadium buzzed with rumors about who the Big Ten commissioner might pick as expansion targets to reach 16 schools.
One thing we know is that a lot of people around the league won't know for sure until it happens. Multiple sources said some Big Ten athletic directors were unaware of the Maryland and Rutgers decisions until the morning of the announcement.
The consensus speculation is that Delany is still on the hunt for two more schools. Among possible targets: North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma and Vanderbilt.
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