Former Gophers offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover has landed in the Big Ten.

Penn State hired Limegrover to be its new offensive line coach Wednesday, replacing Herb Hand, who took the offensive line coach job at Auburn.

Limegrover, 47, was the Gophers offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for five seasons before Tracy Claeys chose not to renew his contract last November.

After getting fired by the Gophers, Limegrover admitted that he had felt stretched too thin wearing two hats as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

Limegrover is a Pittsburgh native who grew up watching Penn State. In December, he turned down an offer to become the head coach at Southern Illinois. He interviewed with other schools to be the offensive line coach as well.

"I want to be an O-line coach, and be the best one that I can be," Limegrover said.

The Gophers' Big Ten opener is Oct. 1 at Penn State.

Joe Christensen

Big 12 can play title game

The Big 12 Conference got what it wanted and showed the smallest power conference in major college football still has some muscle.

A rule change approved at the NCAA's annual convention in San Antonio will allow the Big 12 to hold a championship game as early as next season if it wants to.

The change scraps the requirement that leagues have 12 members and play in two divisions in order to hold a title game. The new rule lets a smaller league — one with 12 teams in its name but only 10 on the playing field, for example — to play a title game pitting its top two teams, provided it plays a round-robin regular season schedule as the Big 12 does now.

The vote by the NCAA Division I Council passed 7-2. The Atlantic Coast Conference and the American Athletic Conference voted against it. The Pac-12 didn't vote but later said it supported the change.

The Big 12 is the only major conference that doesn't play a football title game. League Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he doesn't know if the change will guarantee the league plays one, but it was determined to have the right to do so.

Clemson 'D' loses four

Clemson's highly regarded defense took several big hits Wednesday with cornerback Mackensie Alexander, safeties Jayron Kearse and T.J. Green and defensive end Kevin Dodd declaring for the NFL draft.

The four starters join All-America defensive end Shaq Lawson in forgoing the remainder of their college eligibility for the pros.

Getting back to the national championship will be significantly harder with the defensive departures.

Alexander is considered one of the college game's top cornerbacks and like Lawson, is a possible first-round NFL draft pick. Kearse and Green are tall, hard-hitting safeties capable of playing the run. Dodd teamed with Lawson for nearly 25 sacks and 50 tackles for loss.