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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 85 ferent situation. "Minnesota is interesting as it let go of a guy who won nine games last year, and now the new guy (P.J. Fleck) is supposed to win 10?" said Mason, who was dismissed after 10 seasons in 2006 despite having a overall win- ning record for the Gophers. "But Fleck can coach — he proved that last year. Yes, he is talking a good game, but he has a résumé to back it up." In DiNardo's way of thinking, Minnesota and Purdue hired guys who fit their program well. But he also likes Fleck's ability to recruit at a very high level, and that could help him have success faster. "I guess Jeff and I go back to the XFL games where I was coaching against him when he was a quarterback," said DiNardo, the head coach of the XFL's Birmingham Bolts in 2001. "I think Jeff is as advertised. I think he's a guy that knows the game, loves coaching offense, loves the strategy of the game. "I put him and (Illinois coach) Lovie (Smith) in the same group. They obviously know the game. Can they recruit? If they can recruit, I think they both will be suc- cessful. If they can't, they will struggle." Time will tell on that. Mason believes there are coaches who love to coach and coaches who love to be the coach. It is a subtle dif- ference to be sure, but Mason thinks Brohm will be the former. And he believes Purdue can turn it around. "People have a short-term memory these days more than ever," Mason said. "When I think about Purdue, I don't think about the recent past. I think about Joe Tiller. That wasn't that long ago, and I see some similarities from when Joe took over to what we are seeing today for Jeff. It may not happen as quickly for Jeff, but Jeff can get there. Purdue can get there." DiNardo thinks it will take more time for Brohm. The wild card play was at Indiana. With Wilson's sud- den departure just a few days removed from winning his fourth-straight Old Oaken Bucket, Indiana turned to de- fensive coordinator Tom Allen to stabilize things. "When I got to Indiana (back in 2002), I said it is a 10-year job," DiNardo said. "If Tom Allen gets three years and continues the offense built by Kevin and then gets the defense going, it will be 10 years because Kevin was there seven. "So Purdue is a 10-year job as well. But I have not met any athletic directors that give you 10 years, so there is the rub for a guy like Jeff Brohm." Power Rankings East Division Ohio State The schedule plays to the Buckeyes' advan- tage as they host Penn State in late October. Yes, OSU has its usual NFL attrition, but does it really matter to Ur- ban Meyer and Co.? Still, a better year by quarterback J.T. Barrett and some development in the receiving corps is key to reaching the high ceiling. The addition of former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson should jump start an offense that was listless at times in 2016. Penn State Have to love what Coach James Franklin has done at Penn State. After the loss to Pittsburgh early last season, there were rumblings of discontent. But he turned his team on a dime, won a Big Ten title and trip to Pasadena. Quarterback Trace McSorley is not flashy, but he's effective, and there may not be a better running back in the country than Saquon Barkley. Michigan The Wolverines just might be the most talk- ed about program to finish third in their division three straight years. Yet, Coach Jim Harbaugh has an ex- cuse: He sent 14 players to the NFL Combine last year, so finding replacements may limit Michigan's upward mobility. That, and the fact it don't have elite play at quarterback. At least not yet. Michigan State Gets the nod over Maryland just be- cause it hosts the Terps on Nov. 18. But there is trouble in Spartyland after last year's 3-9 season. Most expect a rebound back to 6-6 or 7-5, if last year's troubled locker room is fixed. Still, MSU is just two seasons removed from the playoffs and has an excellent coach in Mark Danto- nio. A reasonable question: Has the program peaked? Maryland Second-year coach D.J. Durkin has it going on. Recruiting is buzzing along quite well and Purdue fans saw first-hand the Terps have talent in the backfield. Durkin needs to stabilize the quarterback position, but the offensive line is improved. Few expected a trip to a bowl game like Maryland was able to do last year. Indiana Wilson's departure from Bloomington, and the

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