Big Ten mailblog

Plenty of expansion Armageddon stuff to tackle.

Steve from Chicago writes: Hey Adam, I've been thinking about the Big 10 expanding to a 'super conference' of 16 teams. If that were to happen, how would the schedule work? Would each team play the other seven teams in its division, and play only one team from the other division each year? Wouldn't that suck? Would it happen some other way; maybe with four divisions, not playing every team in your division, or more than 8 Big Ten games a year for every team?

Adam Rittenberg: Steve, I think you have it correct: seven division games plus one crossover game, which could be protected. So you could, say, split up Ohio State and Michigan and have their end-of-season crossover game protected. The downside is it could set up a rematch the next week in the Big Ten championship game. I doubt you'd see four divisions of four teams, but I guess anything is possible. The other option is adding more conference games, which would please a lot of fans but create more road games and more losses for the league as a whole. I don't think we'll ever see 10 league games in the Big Ten.

Ryan from Fort Knox, Ky., writes: Adam,Being an Alumnus of MSU and a die hard Big Ten follower, I would like for you to clear up some questions about this possible expansion. Why would a school like Nebraska or Texas leave the Big 12 to come to the big ten? Is it more lucrative for them? I could definately see a team like Pitt or Rutgers, but what is in it for the Biggies of the Big 12?

AR: Fort Knox! Love it. Your argument is correct for Texas, which is the biggest player in the Big 12 right now. I'd have a hard time seeing the Longhorns pass up a pretty good situation in that league to join the Big Ten. As for Nebraska, I have a different view. Is Nebraska really a biggie of the Big 12 anymore? The power balance in that league clearly rests in the South division. Remember when Nebraska-Oklahoma and Nebraska-Colorado were mega games every year? Not the case anymore. Plus, the Big 12's uneven revenue sharing really hurts a lot of the schools in the North division. Nebraska would have to listen to the Big Ten's proposal and consider a move. There's just too much money out there to ignore, plus games against Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and even Iowa that would be huge deals for fans.

Shane from Scranton, Pa., writes: Adam,Connecticut seems to be the rumor of the day. Is it any more than a rumor? What about expanding only on connecting member states? I think UConn is a solid add, but I hope they can add a solid football program as well.

AR: I heard some buzz about Connecticut during my travels around the Big Ten, and there seems to be some interest there. It's a school with a favorable location, TV wise, in the Northeast. It has good academics, two powerhouse basketball programs and a football program that has become relevant very quickly under Randy Edsall. There's no rule about the Big Ten having to add teams that connect to the current league footprint. That's an incorrect assumption made by a lot of people.

Will from Cambridge, Mass., writes: Hi Adam,After reading your post about the possible timeline for BigTen expansion and requirements, it made me wonder what sort of ethics the BigTen will follow in their courting of another school. In order to force Notre Dame's hand, would the BigTen encourage 3 other lesser schools to apply for membership, even if they really didn't want them? Once Notre Dame applies and then is accepted, the BigTen votes down the three other schools. From a business perspective, I see nothing wrong with this kind of tactic, but as a BigTen alum, I would not be proud of it.

AR: Will, you won't see the Big Ten do this. There could some negotiating tactics with Notre Dame, to the effect of, "Hey, last chance. If you don't join, we'll extend invites to five others who will. And then the door is closed for good." But the Big Ten won't have a school apply for membership unless there's serious interest in accepting the school. I highly doubt the league will let things get to the voting phase before knowing exactly where Notre Dame stands, one way or another.

Jason from Beijing writes: Hi Adam, I always enjoy reading your blog to keep up with the Big 10 overseas. I saw your interview with Hawkeye quarterback, Ricky Stanzi, and noticed you mentioned the "America" thing. Not that you meant anything negative by it, but I've noticed that a lot of people are pretty shocked that a player would love America or say something "patriotic." Why is patriotism from athletes so surprising and apparently laughable while cynicism goes unnoticed? Is loving your country something that players should keep private?

AR: I think the reaction had more to do with the awkward question Stanzi was asked after the Orange Bowl than his response, which was funny and memorable. No one is hatin' on being patriotic. But seriously, watch that podium scene at the Orange Bowl and tell me it wasn't a little odd? I give Stanzi the Manzi a lot of credit for handling himself well and adding to his legend with the "Love it/Leave it" quote. Keep rocking the Big Ten blog in Beijing, my man.

Matt from Los Angeles writes: Adam. I love your column and read it everyday. All of us Big Ten football fanatics are very lucky to have you covering our teams, especially for those of us on the West Coast where the media can't even spell Big Ten. However, I have just finished sending off an email to ESPN execs that they need to give you a raise so that you can afford to buy a hair brush and get your shirts ironed. DUDE..........what is up with the bed hair and "fresh from trunk of the car" shirts. You look like you just rolled out of bed at the Ironman Inn in your interviews with Stanzi and Ferentz. We all love you Adam, but we need our main man to be stylin' just a little bit more so that we can see you on the tube in the near future. So my question is, can you lose the bed hair and college-days button downs?

AR: Ha! My wife will love this one. And any e-mail asking for me to get a raise is one that probably will find its way to the mailblog (just kidding, Bristol). My apologies for my appearance Friday, but I woke up a 6 a.m., drove four hours from Chicago to Iowa City, where it was windy as heck, and got there just in time to meet with Kirk. No time to freshen up for you, so deal with it. Maybe Big Ten fans can start a fund for my new wardrobe. On the bright side, I did get a haircut this weekend.

Derek from Chicago writes: Hey Adam! I wanted to get your thoughts on the early recruiting season so far. It seems that Ohio State and Indiana are off to fast starts for the 2011 class - what are your thoughts on the recruiting landscape of the entire Big Ten? Are OSU and Indiana the only teams making such an early push?

AR: Ohio State is definitely ahead of the game with nine commitments already for 2011. Indiana is up there as well with eight, mirroring its fast start from last year. Other teams are starting to pick it up, as Iowa picked up its first two 2011 commitments in the last 24 hours. Michigan and Michigan State both have four commits. Penn State and Purdue are the only Big Ten schools not yet on the board for 2011.