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Big Ten Friday mailblog

Spending the weekend in the Big Easy, so don't bother me unless it's really, really important.

Adam from Cabot, Ark., writes: Adam,First off, nice name. Secondly I'd like to ask about Ohio States secondary. I'm a life long Buckeye fan, but I see holes throughout the secondary. Who begins to fill those holes and who gives Ohio State the biggest challenge for the BigTen Championship (minus the championship game)? Thanks!!

Adam Rittenberg: Likewise, Adam. If there's a big hole in Ohio State's two-deep, safety would have to be it. The Buckeyes lose two players with significant starting experience in Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell, and Coleman earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last fall. Jermale Hines certainly will take on a greater role, but Ohio State needs to identify that No. 2 and No. 3 safety. Keep an eye on Orhian Johnson, a guy I heard a lot of good things about last spring. If Johnson can't nail down a starting job, look for guys like C.J. Barnett, Aaron Gant and Nate Oliver to be in the mix. Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa is another guy who, like Hines, needs to lift his game to All-Big Ten levels.


Kelly from Manassas, Va., writes: While what happens on the field this year will certainly play into Rodriguez's future, the decision has very likely already been made. Make no mistake, his conduct off the field and two very bad seasons have already sealed his fate as he needs an completely unrealistic number of wins for UM to even consider extending him beyond this year. In all likelihood, he needs ten wins to keep his job, so in essence, given that no rational person expects this team to sniff .500 much less a winning record, the decision to fire him with cause has already been made.

Adam Rittenberg: Kelly, gotta say I love getting your e-mails every week. Always a good time. When did you start working in Michigan's athletic department? I thought they didn't let Penn State fans in there. While Rich Rodriguez obviously needs to show significant improvement in Year 3, by no means is his fate sealed. I highly doubt he'd be fired if the team wins nine games this fall. Eight games probably keeps him safe, too. Michigan would have to weigh the desire to make a change versus the potential cost of staying irrelevant for even longer, or getting worse. Keep in mind that Rodriguez has now spent a few years recruiting a specific brand of player for his system, and these players might not translate well to a new scheme, especially a dramatically different one. I'm not saying Rodriguez can breathe easy, but we still have a long way to go.


Brian from Aledo, Ill., writes: I'm sure it's been talked about before but I guess I never heard it. With all this talk about expanding to more teams my biggest question is why not just play all the teams currently in the conference?

Adam Rittenberg: You can't play 10 conference games from a financial standpoint and expect to survive or grow your revenue pool. That's one more guaranteed road game for every Big Ten team, which means one fewer chance to fill up a massive stadium and generate $$$. Teams would be so afraid to leave home for the two nonconference games, and it would create some major headaches with nonleague rivalries, etc. Fans would love it, but it doesn't make any sense financially, given the need to make money.


Chad from Montpellier, France, writes: Hey Adam,Love the blog still haven't missed a day of reading in the 2 months that I've been over here. Firstly, I noticed that you seemed to allude to the ability to post blogs even when you weren't at a computer during your trip to Purdue I believe. Any chance we could get blogs posted throughout the night so us in Europe don't have to wait until the afternoon to get our B10 fill? Secondly, I was thinking that it might be interesting to take a look back at the decade's best and worst rivalries in the B10. Which rivalries had many exciting balanced games, and which rivalries were pretty much one-sided and didn't live up to their usual hype during the past decade (OSU/MICH comes to mind). Thanks and keep up the good work!

Adam Rittenberg: First off, I'm thrilled to hear the Big Ten blog is being read across the pond. I've even been to Montpellier myself, a long, long time ago. While I'd love to have 25 posts a day so that my global audience is satisfied, it just ain't happening. Unless you can double my salary, of course. And even then, my wife would kill me. As to your second point, I like the idea about rivalries. Things are getting a bit busier now with spring ball, but that sounds like a fun post for May or June.


Chase from Pittsburgh writes: Adam, Isn't it a little convenient that the only 4 MSU players reinstated in the group that were charged in the Rather Hall incident (Mark Dell, BJ Cunningham, Chris L. Rucker, and J'Michael Deane) were all starters or major contributors? And the other charged players (Ashton Leggett, Jamihr Williams, Myles White, and Oren Wilson) that were not major contributors are all transferring? They all received the same sentence. Dantonio seems to have history of selective justice. When he needed Winston in the Fall, he reinstated him immediately after he stepped out of jail. Now, with Baker and Caper filling the hole at RB, Winston is no longer essential to the team. In the middle of last season, RBs Caulton Ray and Andre Anderson were dismissed from the team after Caper and Baker had established themselves. Dell and Cunningham are the two leading receivers returning to the team with the loss of Blair White. Deane is a projected starter on the OL, and Rucker is the starting corner. Only Wilson was a contributor to last year's team. but highly rated prospect Blake Treadwell has taken his position. Why has no one taken Dantonio to task on this?

Adam Rittenberg: Chase, you make some pretty compelling points here. I wouldn't underrate the loss of Wilson, who almost certainly would have started on a very young defensive line. And to play devil's advocate, I don't know how much Michigan State really needed Glenn Winston last year. Yes, I know he ascended to a key role before his injury, but the Spartans entered preseason camp in 2009 with plenty of running backs who they liked. I remember thinking at the time, why not just arrange a transfer to cover your bases with a player who assaulted another student-athlete? And to be fair to the four players who were reinstated, none had any previous off-field problems. A lot of college players are convicted of misdemeanors, serve no jail time and return to the playing field. It has happened all around the Big Ten. I would have had a bigger gripe had Wilson be allowed back on the team, as his involvement in the resident hall assault wasn't known until after the Alamo Bowl, a game in which he played. But since Wilson is transferring, it's a moot point.