Big Ten mailblog

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Ian from Flint, Mich., writes: My question deals with the instate and overall recruiting argument for UM and MSU. All I read and here about anymore is how MSU is dominating in state recruiting these day, and while [William] Gholston last year and [Lawrence] Thomas this year are major pickups, I don't think anyone could say MSU is dominating. I think it is more that UM can recruit nationally while MSU has to primarily stay within the region. Plus, states like Florida, which UM recruits HARD, produces more talent than Michigan anyway, so I don't see this "MSU dominates recruiting" having any credibility, do you? Thanks

Adam Rittenberg: Some good points here, Ian. Michigan State clearly has improved its in-state recruiting, particularly in the Detroit area. That's not really up for debate. But some of that is caused by Michigan steering much of its recruiting efforts to other regions, namely Florida, where Rich Rodriguez has had success throughout his career. And it's true that on average, Florida produces more elite prospects than Michigan. I look at it like this: The Spartans are closing the gap in local and regional recruiting, but Michigan has changed its recruiting philosophy under Rodriguez and hasn't done too poorly locally or nationally. I would agree that "dominating" is a word thrown around too much.

Thomas from West Lafayette, Ind., writes: I'm a Kansas student from Big Ten country, I'm wondering why the expansion hype hasn't included KU. I mean KU has a BCS bowl title in the past 5 years, basketball powerhouse, super loyal fans close to a big TV market (KC) it makes geographic sense. And Kansas is in the oft-cited AAU for academics. If the Big Ten wants Mizzou, they should think about including Kansas, as the number one reason Mizzou doesn't want to leave is the rivalry. I would love to see IU vs KU basketball games every year.

Adam Rittenberg: Thomas, you aren't the first person to ask about Kansas and Big Ten expansion. While KU football has elevated its profile in recent years, it remains a basketball powerhouse and always will be. This expansion is largely about football, so a school like Nebraska makes a bigger impact for your league on the gridiron. Nebraska still moves the needle in football, and I wouldn't say the same about Kansas, which would be an excellent hoops addition. So why Missouri over Kansas? Mizzou is located closer to the Big Ten footprint and already has a rivalry with Illinois. Kansas would have to build new rivalries with the current Big Ten schools, although it would have a great one with Mizzou if both joined the league. I also think the Big Ten could get the markets it needs with Missouri alone, rather than Missouri and Kansas.

Will from Columbus, Ohio, writes: With Football just about to kick off summer workouts what are your thoughts on the Ohio State backfield? As they say the buckeyes have a lot of horses in the stables. with Saine and Herron leading the way with Hall and Martin making some noise last year. This year with a healthy J. Barry and newcomers Hyde/Smith could also be in the mix of things. How is JT going to keep these guys happy. I dont see 1000 yd rusher anytime soon for the buckeye for awhile.

Adam Rittenberg: Brandon Saine probably has the best shot to reach 1,000 rushing yards this year but Ohio State certainly has a crowded backfield. I don't know if Jim Tressel can keep everyone totally happy, aside from telling them that the team goals are above individual ones and that the competition for carries remains open. There's no Beanie Wells on this team, and if a guy makes progress in practice, he should have a chance to increase his load on game day. Ohio State will enter the season with Saine and Dan Herron as the top two backs. Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry are intriguing, but both need to do more in preseason camp.

Matt from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Adam, considering how good Derrell Johnson-Koulianos has been for Iowa, and the fact that the second part of his last name begins K-O-U-L, why hasn't the nickname "DJ Koul" caught on? People already call him DJK, so why don't people go the extra mile and go with DJ Koul? It sounds better. As a lifelong Hawkeye fan, this has bothered me for some time.

Adam Rittenberg: Ha, I like the suggestion, Matt. I'll pass this along to DJK and see what he thinks. Knowing Derrell, I'm sure he's very excited that you're spending a lot of time thinking about his nickname situation.

Austin from Kansas City, Mo., writes: Hi Adam i have a friend who has been offered scholarships to play at Nebraska, Kstate, Kansas, Mizzou, and Iowa. He wants to play on a team that will have a legitimate title shot in the next four years. He is torn between the five and really doesn't know where he wants to go. I have been telling him to look more into Iowa and Nebraska what do you think? He is a 6'2 265lbs defensive end with a 4.7 forty. Very quick. who would he have the best chance with?

Adam Rittenberg: Your buddy has a tough decision to make, Austin, especially based on the expansion situation. If you're talking national title, I'd nudge him toward Nebraska or Iowa. Both of those teams will enter the 2010 season ranked in the top 15 and compete for conference championships this fall. Missouri wasn't far from a national title shot in 2007, but it's hard to see the Tigers leapfrogging Texas, Oklahoma or Nebraska in the Big 12. Now if Missouri and Nebraska join the Big Ten, that could change the game a little bit. Iowa and Nebraska are the safe bets. Good luck to him.

Brad from Madison, Wis., writes: Adam, given that Penn State 1) doesn't seem to have a solidified starting QB as of yet, 2) their WR corps seems to be held together at the moment with duct tape, and 3) that the O-line gave up a ton of sacks in the spring, do you think there is any real chance that Evan Royster can reach 15+ TDs this season? ...or will opposing defenses, not fearing the pass, merely stack the box to shut down the run enough to keep him in the range of 1200 yards and 12 TDs?

Adam Rittenberg: I disagree with point No. 2, as Penn State should be OK at wide receiver this fall. But generally, you're correct about Penn State's plight on offense. The load definitely falls on Royster, but will he have any running room? Opposing defenses unquestionably will stack the box against Penn State, forcing a young quarterback to be the difference maker. It's up to Royster, who has a very impressive career yards-per-carry average, to find ways to grind out yards. I hope Penn State gives him enough carries to truly be a featured guy and possibly get to 15 touchdowns. He'll need help, and it's why Penn State's offensive line is a more important issue entering the fall than who's starting at quarterback. If the O-line doesn't give the other guys a chance, the offense doesn't have a chance to produce.