Maybe you're the kind of football fan who visits this blog every day (if so, we love you), scours Twitter for Big Ten news and rummages through the garbage at Phil Steele's house seeking any last morsel of information (note: don't do that).
Or maybe you're a healthier human being who is just getting caught up on college football now that the season is almost here. If so, this list of what's new in the Big Ten for 2016 is for you. Hey, even you other sickos might find something you didn't know or already forgot.
Anyway, here's a list of shiny new things in the league:
Nine-game schedule! For the first time since 1984, the Big Ten will have nine conference games this season. The move was made in an effort to bolster strength-of-schedule numbers as well as improve attendance and interest. It might make things harder for some league teams to make a bowl game, or for the Big Ten champ to clinch a playoff spot. We shall see. But one thing’s for sure: There will fewer boring weeks on the schedule this fall.
Head coaches! There are three new ones in the conference. Well, four if you count Minnesota’s Tracy Claeys, who was elevated to interim head coach in the middle of last season. The guys leading a Big Ten team for the first time are Chris Ash at Rutgers, D.J. Durkin at Maryland and Lovie Smith at Illinois. Ash (Ohio State) and Durkin (Michigan) were both defensive coordinators in the league, while Smith — who was hired in March — is best known for his work as an NFL head coach.
Coordinators! Sometimes, switching the guys calling plays is just as important as a head coaching change. Programs changing coordinators are: Indiana (Tom Allen, defense), Michigan (Don Brown, defense), Minnesota (Jay Johnson, offense), Ohio State (Greg Schiano, defense), Penn State (Joe Moorhead, offense, and Brent Pry, defense), Purdue (Terry Malone, offense, and Ross Els, defense) and Wisconsin (Justin Wilcox, defense). The biggest scheme changes will probably be noticed at Indiana, where Allen will run a 4-2-5; with Penn State’s offense, which is going to a fast-paced spread under Moorhead; and at Michigan under Brown, who is nicknamed “Dr. Blitz” for obvious reasons.
Freshmen! There's nothing most fans love more than the hot new recruit. Well, several 2016 signees could play key roles this fall. They include Michigan DL Rashan Gary (the former No. 1 overall prospect) and OT Ben Bredeson, Michigan State WR Donnie Corley, Penn State RB Miles Sanders, Nebraska OG Boe Wilson and DB Lamar Jackson, Minnesota LB Carter Coughlin, Maryland WR Tino Ellis and Wisconsin WR A.J. Taylor. And don't forget redshirt freshmen getting onto the field for the first time, such as Illinois OL Gabe Megginson, Nebraska twin defensive linemen Carlos and Khalil Davis, Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook, Penn State OT Ryan Bates, Northwestern CB Trae Williams and Michigan TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
Transfers! Several newcomers who arrived from other schools could impact their teams this fall. Among the most prominent are: Illinois LB Hardy Nickerson (Cal); Maryland RB Trey Edmunds (Virginia Tech) and CB J.C. Jackson (junior college, formerly Florida); Rutgers QB Zach Allen (TCU) and CB Ross Taylor-Douglas (Michigan); Michigan QB John O’Korn (Houston); Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramcyzk (Wisconsin-Stevens Point); Michigan State DL Kevin Williams (Nebraska); and Minnesota safety Eric Amoako (Houston Baptist, formerly Oregon). Indiana has a whole slew of transfers, including QB Richard Lagow (juco, formerly Oklahoma State), DBs Wesley Green (South Carolina) and Jayme Thompson (juco, formerly Ohio State) and DL Ja’Marez Bowen (Cincinnati).
Uniforms! Michigan switched to Nike and became the first football program to wear Michael Jordan's Jumpman brand. Rutgers streamlined its look with some new threads as well. Purdue won't be in last place in the looks department after a sweet new update. Wisconsin switched over to Under Armour but kept things simple with its new red uniforms. Ohio State will sport some cool throwbacks for its game against Nebraska on Nov. 5. Speaking of the Cornhuskers, they just unveiled their alternate road look for the Northwestern game. And Penn State will change up its ... just kidding.
Ohio State's roster! You may have noticed we didn't mention any Buckeyes above in the freshmen section. That's because there are too many to name. Only six starters return from last year's Fiesta Bowl championship team, with 12 players getting drafted into the NFL this spring. More than half the roster has never appeared in a college game before, so get to know a ton of new names, including redshirt freshman RB Mike Weber and LB Justin Hilliard and true freshmen WR Austin Mack, OL Michael Jordan and DE Nick Bosa (Joey's younger brother). Despite all the youth, many people are picking Ohio State to win the Big Ten this year.
The more some things change, the more they stay the same.