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B1G Thoughts: The Grinch stole Minnesota’s defensive coordinator

Minnesota must replace its defensive coordinator, and a look at the Big Ten’s All-Americans

Wisconsin v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Every week after the Big Ten slate of games, I will bring you some B1G thoughts on everything that happened! This will include analysis, stats, key players, moments, and maybe a joke. With the Big Ten expanding from 14 teams to 18 teams in 2024 this article will also include the newest members, Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington. Check out the I-80 Football Show for more in-depth analysis and to preview the next week of B1G games.

How many unanimous All-Americans will the Big Ten have?

It’s All-American season, and three of the five outlets have announced their selections. It is an honor to be named All-American by any of the seemingly growing list of outlets that release teams, but five still hold the most weight. Those five are the Associated Press, Football Writers of America Association, Walter Camp Foundation, The Sporting News, and American Football Coaches Association.

A player named to three of the five teams is considered a consensus All-American, while being named to all five is the biggest honor given to a few top athletes each year. With the AP, Walter Camp, and FWAA teams being announced, the Big Ten already has four consensus all-Americans — Marvin Harrison Jr., Zak Zinter, Cooper DeJean and Tory Taylor.

If those four players are voted as 1st team All-Americans for AFCA and TSN, then the Big Ten is in line to have four unanimous all-Americans and six consensus All-Americans, as long as Olu Fashanu and Jer’Zhan Newton each receive one more nomination for the two remaining teams.

These six players were among the best in the Big Ten this season. The biggest surprise is that Fashanu isn’t in line to be a consensus All-American as well. Fashanu may be the first offensive tackle off the board in the 2024 NFL Draft. That just shows how hard it is to accomplish the status of unanimous All-American.

Jonathan Smith pulls his best Grinch impression, robbing Minnesota before the holidays

On Christmas Eve the Grinch stole Christmas, but ultimately he had a change of heart. In college football, there are no changes of heart, and you can’t give back what you stole. In this case, new Michigan State head coach Jonathon Smith is doing the stealing by hiring Minnesota defensive coordinator Joe Rossi to the same position on his staff.

In my opinion, this is a shrewd move by Smith. Rossi is one of the best defensive coaches in the country, and he is familiar with the Big Ten, which is always helpful for an outsider like Smith. It’s clear that Smith isn’t playing around, having already cleared the Michigan State quarterback room and bringing in highly qualified coaches.

Michigan State is one of the few jobs in the Big Ten that can consistently aim for a spot in the 12-team playoff and occasionally make a run at the Big Ten title. Mel Tucker tanked the program, and it will need to be stripped to its studs, but so far Smith is headed in the right direction. It’s going to be a fun offseason in East Lansing.

Is Lincoln Riley finally taking defense seriously?

Since Lincoln Riley was handed the head coaching job at Oklahoma from his predecessor Bob Stoops, he has been considered one of the brightest offensive head coaches in the sport. In that same period, he has yet to field an above-average defense, leading to disappointing finishes and unexpected losses.

That all came to a head this season, when Riley and the USC Trojan wasted Caleb Williams’ final collegiate campaign with an abysmal defense. Riley finally fired Alex Grinch and replaced him with cross-town rival UCLA’s defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn. While I’m not sure if Lynn is a homerun hire, it shows that Riley is trying to improve on that side of the ball.

More improvements are coming, as Riley hired two-time FCS National Champion Matt Entz of North Dakota State to coach linebackers and serve as the assistant head coach for defense. It’s too early to tell if the hires were smart, but Riley at least deserves credit for the effort — albeit a few years too late.

Kyle McCord and Dylan Raiola… At Nebraska?

If I was writing this last year, the thought of Kyle McCord and five-star quarterback Dylan Railoa being teammates wouldn’t be a shock; Instead it would be the expectation. This time last year, Raiola was committed to Ohio State, and McCord was getting ready to compete to be Ohio State’s starting quarterback after CJ Stroud left for the NFL. Oh, how a year changes things.

Now it is a shock that these two quarterbacks may end up as teammates, and even more shocking for whom. After an up-and-down season as the starter for the Buckeyes, McCord entered the portal and is being heavily pursued by Nebraska. It’s too early to say if he will commit to the Cornhuskers, but all the signs seem to point in that direction.

On the Raiola front, Dylan decommitted from Ohio State and has been committed to Georgia for most of 2023. It seems as though he is considering a change of heart, and may follow in his father’s footsteps by bringing his talents to Lincoln. If Nebraska can land McCord and Raiola, their future will at quarterback will be the brightest it has maybe ever been. Matt Rhule has been busy, can he land two five-star quarterbacks before the end of the year?

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