Amidst the wreckage of the Penn State football program comes this bit of preseason news:
Wisconsin and Michigan are picked to win their Big Ten divisions, with Michigan beating the Badgers in the conference title game.
This insight comes courtesy of 24 members of the Big Ten media who voted in an unofficial poll.
Wisconsin received 19 votes to win the Leaders Division, with Ohio State picked second followed by Purdue, Illinois, Penn State and Indiana.
The vote was taken before the Nittany Lions were hit with sanctions over the Jerry Sandusky scandal that include a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban, scholarship reductions and allowing current players to immediately transfer to other schools without having to redshirt.
Because of NCAA penalties, both Penn State and Ohio State are ineligible for postseason competition this season.
Michigan was the big winner in the Legends Division with 16 votes. Michigan State was second followed by Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern and Minnesota.
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball was picked as the conference's preseason offensive MVP with 14 votes, five more than Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Last year Ball led the Big Ten in rushing with 1,923 yards, plus added 33 touchdowns. Robinson was the conference's total offense leader with 257.6 yards a game.
Michigan State defensive end William Gholston was the preseason defensive MVP with 11 votes. He had 16 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks last season. Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short was second with five votes.
BTN's Brent Yarina picked Short as his Big Ten preseason defensive player of the year. Short totaled 17 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks last year. Short ranks 15th in Purdue history in career tackles for loss (33.5) and sacks (12.5).
Short is on the watch list for the Lombardi Award, given annually to the nation's top lineman. He's also on watch lists for the Lott Trophy, the Bednarik Award, the Outland Trophy and the Nagurski Trophy.
Conference coaches, players and administrators are set to gather in Chicago on Thursday and Friday for the annual Big Ten football kickoff event.
Also, tickets go on sale Saturday for the Big Ten football championship game at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium. The game is set for Saturday, Dec. 1.
Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Prices range from $50 to $125 depending on location. Orders are limited to eight tickets. Every ticket allows complimentary admission to the Big Ten Fan Fest at the Indiana Convention Center on game day.
Tickets can also be reserved at BTN.com/TeamTix. Fans can buy the right to buy “TeamTix” for their favorite team. If their team makes the title game, they are guaranteed tickets at face value. If their team doesn't make the title game, they only lose the reservation fee, which starts at $10.
Hope gets extension
Purdue coach Danny Hope's new two-year contract extension provides him a $25,000 annual increase, which means he'll make a minimum of $950,000 this season, not including bonuses. When the contract expires in 2016, he'll make $1,050,000 a year.
The buyout payment if Hope leaves before the contract expires has been modified. It's currently at $699,354, will drop to $500,000 in 2013 and end at $200,000 in 2016.
Also, Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen was named to the 35-player Jim Thorpe Award watch list. The award goes annually to the nation's best defensive back. Allen led the Boilers last year with three interceptions. He returned one for a touchdown against Minnesota, the third time in his career he's done that. He had 81 tackles and seven passes defended last year.
IU's Ewald up for kicking award
Indiana kicker Mitch Ewald is one of 30 players on the Lou Groza Award watch list. The annual award goes to the nation's top kicker. Ewald has made 29 of 35 field goal attempts (82.9 percent) for his career, the best in school history. He's also 63-for-63 on extra points.
In Big Ten games Ewald is 20-for-23 (87.0 percent) on field goals.
$2 million Boiler boost
Purdue football got a $2 million boost courtesy of longtime supporter Carl Bimel. In recognition, the two outdoor practice fields will be named the Bimel Practice Complex.
Bimel has attended Boilermaker games since 1928. He retired in 2004 after a nearly 45-year career as a business owner and consultant. He was president and CEO of Baker Concrete Construction in Ohio. In 1950, he become one of the 32 original members of the John Purdue Club.
Also, Purdue has hired Kevin Maurice as its supervisor of player personnel. He replaces Paul Gonnella, who left for Alabama in May. Maurice came to Purdue in February as a graduate assistant and worked with Hope in player personnel after Gonnella left.
“Working shoulder to shoulder with Kevin the last seven weeks, it became apparent he was the perfect fit for the position,” Hope said in a university release. “He is a great recruiter who is well versed in the latest techniques and technologies, and understands the recruiting calendar. He will hit the ground running. We won't skip a beat as we move forward in our recruiting efforts for 2013 and beyond.”
Maurice was a recruiting assistant at Cincinnati in 2010 and Miami of Florida in 2011. He coached running backs at Midwestern State in 2009.