Big Ten mailblog

May, 21, 2010
5/21/10
3:00
PM ET
As a reminder, you can send me your questions here. Have a great weekend.

Jacob from Texas writes: Adam,I know you thought the odds of going after Vanderbilt were low, but I think you underplay the southern demographic change on the thought process of the Big 10. I see where you are coming from in the Vanderbilt arguement, but one school that shouldn't be overlooked is Georgia Tech. Tech was just admitted to the AAU in 2010, is in "Hotlanta" (huge TV market), and opens the hotbed of Georgia to recruiting. I say why not?

Adam Rittenberg: Georgia Tech is a possibility, Jacob, but I just think if the Big Ten is going to significantly extend its boundaries to the South, it needs a big-splash addition. This needs to be worth it for these schools to spend much more money on travel, etc. To me, Texas is the only southern school that fits my big-splash definition. I think a lot of folks misunderstood Jim Delany when he talked about the migration to the Sun Belt. He's used the same argument many times in previous discussions we've had about other topics, including recruiting. It's much more likely the Big Ten will solidify itself in the North than go heavy with southern schools. Georgia Tech has a good profile, just not a great one.


Neal from Tallahassee, Fla., writes: What's your prediction regarding the Big Ten's success against non-conference BCS foes for the 2010 season? Also, do you think Notre Dame is playing hard to get or do they really value their independence that much? I just can't comprehend a football program that holds onto traditon and uses it as a conduit to push their agenda, especially when they haven't been consistantly relevant for the past two decades

Adam Rittenberg: For the most part, I like the Big Ten's chances in some of the key nonconference matchups this fall. Obviously, beating Notre Dame is key, and I think the Big Ten will go 2-1 against the Irish. The other key games are Ohio State-Miami, Iowa-Arizona and Penn State-Alabama. It'll be tough to see the Nittany Lions win that one in Tuscaloosa, so the Big Ten really needs wins from the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes. As far as Notre Dame, I really get the sense that it doesn't want to voluntarily join a conference. Who wants to be the Notre Dame AD and president who "caved" and gave up independence? While I agree with you about the relevancy thing, Notre Dame won't join a league unless it has no other choice.


Bilal from Islamabad, Pakistan, writes: Love the blog, Adam. Keep up the good work! So the issue of divisions always comes up when discussing expansion, and nobody wants the Big Ten to have the disparity we currently see in the Big 12. No matter how the teams are divided up now, we don't know if they'll be equally strong/weak a decade from now. So here's a thought. The Big Ten can go a step further and create two "fluid" divisions. Each season, the teams can be divided equally based on their standings the year before so that we can have parity in the divisions. To maintain rivalries, each team can then have 1, 2 or 3 permanent rivals depending on whether the Big Ten goes to 16, 14 or 12 so rivals can play every year regardless of which division they end up in.

Adam Rittenberg: Bilal, nice to see the Big Ten representing in Islamabad. I like your idea about fluid divisions, and you bring up a great point about projecting teams a decade from now. It would be tough to determine the schedule years in advance because the divisions would always be changing, and for this and other reasons, I can't see the Big Ten going with such a model. You have to be honest about the historical powerhouses in your league and who boasts the biggest athletic departments. In the Big Ten, three schools separate themselves: Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. I've long said putting all three of these teams in the same division would be a major mistake. Depending on the new addition or additions, there could be some good balance in the divisions.



Bill from Greeneville, Tenn., writes: Thanks for all the reporting on Big Ten Expansion. It has a drug quality to it. Not that I would know anything about that????Delany talking about demographics has me thinking they will go in one of three directions. Direction being the key word.1. Go toward sunbelt. Texas, A&M, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. If you land a Texas you must bring Texas rivals.2. Stay close to home. ND, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt, and Missouri. 3. South. UVA, Maryland, NC, Duke, Ga Tech.Note all of these except ND r aau members.Does it stand to reason that if they are going after a big dog. (NC, Tex, ND) they must bring familiar rivals and thus a demographic viewing region?

Adam Rittenberg: Bill, I'm not sure you have the geography right here, as few would describe Missouri or Nebraska as being in the Sun Belt. We're looking at two primary regions of interest -- the Midwest and East Coast. If the Big Ten looks to the South, Texas seems like the only realistic and worthwhile option. The rivalry thing is interesting, but if you add Nebraska, you'll have an automatic rivalry with Iowa. If you add Missouri, you'll have rivalries with Illinois (already exists) and Iowa. Notre Dame already has three annual rivals in the Big Ten (Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue). Rutgers would have an automatic rivalry with Penn State. So I don't know if the Big Ten would need to bring in familiar rivals for its new additions.


Josh from New York City writes: Hey Adam - love the blog, keep up the good work. Every report I've read on PSU's 2011 class has repeatedly said to not worry about the fact that PSU has yet to sign 1 recruit. Saying that the coaching staff was being "strategic" in their offerings. As someone who follows this very closely, when should PSU fans start to really worry about this issue??

Adam Rittenberg: Good question, Josh. While I agree that Penn State can be strategic with its scholarship distribution for 2011, you'd like to get on the scoreboard eventually. Since Purdue picked up its first commit this week, Penn State is the only Big Ten school without a verbal commit. I'd start to get concerned if Penn State doesn't pick up some commits during its football camps, which begin in June.


Jordan from Pleasant Hill, Ohio, writes: Adam, love the blog and read it every day. Wanted to comment on the recent postings by you and Pat Forde on the best way for the Big Ten to expand. I am a staunch traditionalist, but am supporting an expansion to 12 teams. I dont want to see the college landscape change drastically, we have a REALLY good thing going here as things are. I know that Nebraska would be the best fit for the BTN, but when I think of them, I think Big VIII. I just dont see them fitting into our landscape. Since it doesnt seem like we will be getting ND - the best fit - I think we need to take another look at Pitt. Good FB and MBB programs, renew the rivalry with Penn St., and fits well geographically in this economy. I know the major driving force is the BTN and $$, but this makes the most sense to me. Comments?

Adam Rittenberg: I understand how you feel about Nebraska and the Big 8/Big 12, but you have to open your mind during this process and look at the school and its athletic program and not just its conference affiliation history. When you do that, I think you'll see that Nebraska is a really good fit for the Big Ten. The Huskers have Big Ten-like fans (good thing), Big Ten-like tradition (good thing) and a location that makes sense for the league. I'm sure Pitt is a school that the Big Ten will examine, but it's hard to ignore the location factor. As you say, the Big Ten Network and cable dollars are big factors in this expansion study, and Pitt wouldn't add as much as other schools. Could Pitt be school No. 15 or 16? Sure. But if this is a limited expansion (1 or 3 teams), I don't see the Panthers among that group.


Josh from Wheelersburg, Ohio, writes: Any chance of the Big Ten getting rid of a current member (ie. Indiana) in order to strengthen the conference and make more room for expansion. I ask because it seems to me cutting a team then adding Texas and A & M would allow for a 12 team conference without destroying the conference layouts but still gives Texas their wingman.

Adam Rittenberg: Josh, I just can't see this happening. Keep in mind that the Big Ten doesn't have to expand and remains a very healthy league with its current structure. There wouldn't be much if any support for getting rid of teams just to make room for expansion candidates. Delany would never let this happen, in my opinion.

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