By Randy Johnson Star Tribune JULY 26, 2023 — 10:21AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Gophers safety Tyler Nubin and tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford were among 10 players named to the Big Ten Preseason Honors List on Monday. Five players were honored from the West Division and five from the East by a vote of media members. The Gophers and Michigan are the only teams with two honorees.
Joining the Minnesota pair from the West are Illinois defensive lineman Jer'Zhan Newton, Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean and Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen. Making up the East are Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Blake Corum, Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and Penn State offensive lineman Olumuyiwa Fashanu.
Nubin, a fifth-year senior from St. Charles, Ill., and Spann-Ford, a fifth-year senior from St. Cloud, returned for their senior seasons in 2023 rather than declaring early for the NFL draft. Nubin earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last year after collecting 55 tackles, four interceptions and three pass breakups in 11 games. Spann-Ford received a honorable mention after catching a team-high 42 passes for 497 yards and two touchdowns.
Nubin and Spann-Ford, along with wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell and coach P.J. Fleck will represent the Gophers at Big Ten Media Days on Thursday.
A Minnesota influence
Scarlet, gray and black are the school colors for Rutgers, but this season, coach Greg Schiano's staff will feature a strong tinge of maroon and gold.
Both coordinators for the Scarlet Knights — Kirk Ciarrocca on offense and Joe Harasymiak on defense — previously worked for the Gophers under coach P.J. Fleck.
"Between Kirk Ciarrocca and Joe Harasymiak," Schiano said, "I couldn't be more pleased. It's the best staff I've been on my whole career."
New boss in Iowa
Gary Barta is retiring as Iowa's athletic director, effective Tuesday, and the Hawkeyes in June named Beth Goetz as interim athletic director. Goetz served in a similar role for the Gophers during the 2015-16 school year after the firing of Norwood Teague.
Goetz joined Iowa as deputy AD in September after working as AD at Ball State for three years. She looks back fondly on her time at Minnesota.
"The Gophers are always going to have a special place in my heart," Goetz said. "Certainly, the last year, there were a lot of challenges, but it was a great experience."
In a Barbie world
Illinois coach Bret Bielema, who played defensive end during his collegiate days at Iowa, might not seem like someone who'd be a Barbie aficionado, but he has daughters who are 6 and 4 years old.
"I see a lot of Barbies," he said during his Wednesday morning news conference. "… I know my 6-year-old is watching. Hi, Briella. We bought a lot of Barbie stuff."
Bielema hasn't yet taken his daughters to see the hit movie "Barbie," but he figures it'll be in his plans.
"We're in mermaid mode right now," he said.

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