For years Ohio State and Michigan were the Big Ten football powers, well ahead of the rest of the conference.
But this year, with Ohio State and Michigan losing bowl games and not dominating the league the way they once did, Gophers football coach Jerry Kill was asked if the days of those programs winning most of the time are changing.
“I think Ohio State is still Ohio State,” Kill said. “They’re pretty good certainly on offense. They have some shortness on defense right now, but I know Coach [Urban] Meyer will get that secured. They have had good recruiting classes so I think they’re still very, very good.
“Michigan is going through some changes there and I think that I know [coach Brady Hoke] well enough that they’ll continue to get better.”
Kill said he still thinks that Ohio State has the best, most athletic talent in the league.
The Gophers play Ohio State and Michigan next season. Maybe this fall the Gophers can beat Michigan for the first time since 2005 and Ohio State for the first time since 2000. The Gophers didn’t play Ohio State last fall, but they competed well against Michigan and Michigan State, which I believe is the new power in the league.
“Physical toughness and all those kinds of things is Michigan State,” Kill said. “You can say all you want, Mark [Dantonio] has done a great job and they play great physical defense and their quarterback [Connor Cook] has really come along, he really has. I still think in the Big Ten, there is a lot more parity than what there used to be.”
• Former Gophers assistant coach John Butler, who was defensive coordinator at Penn State, is one of six assistants following Bill O’Brien from the Nittany Lions to the NFL’s Houston Texans. … The New York Mets have named former Twin Frank Viola pitching coach for their Class AAA Las Vegas affiliate. … Minnesota Duluth football coach Curt Wiese was named the 2013 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year for Division II, an amazing accomplishment in his first season as head coach.
• Gopherhole.com reported this week on Carlos Morris, a 2014 shooting guard commitment for Richard Pitino. Morris is playing for Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla., which is 14-1. He is averaging 14.8 points, five rebounds and two assists per game. … Nate Mason, a Gophers point guard recruit from Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla., scored 20 points in a 100-90 loss to Northside Christian last week. Arlington Country Day was ranked No. 13 in USA Today’s Top 25 before the loss. … Power forward recruit Josh Martin of Seattle Bothell won MVP honors at the Bothell Holiday Classic. He is averaging 26.9 points per game.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org