Big Ten mailbag
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Mike A. from Altoona, Pa., writes: Adam, I love the blog and your hard work is appreciated! I noticed you had left off the home and home series Penn State supposedly scheduled with Nebraska for the 2014-2015 seasons. Did the renewal of this series fall through or can you confirm it's gonna be played? Also, do you know if there is any truth behind a PSU-UNC series being scheduled for the 2016-2017 seasons? Thanks Adam!
Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Mike. Neither school has the series listed on their schedule right now, but that certainly could change. Nebraska's 2014 schedule only lists Fresno State as a nonconference opponent. Southern Miss is the only nonleague team listed for 2015. There have been some rumors about Penn State adding North Carolina to the slate. Virginia is already on board, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Tar Heels are added as well. Nothing is official yet.
Evan from Washington D.C. writes: Adam I am just trying to figure something out. Now that Threet is leaving Michigan everyone is talking about the two new quarterbacks coming in and what role they will play. But what about Sheridan or even Feegin? Feegin fits in the spread nicely.
Adam Ritttenberg: Nick Sheridan certainly will have an opportunity to compete for the starting job. He started four games last year but really became the backup after Steven Threet showed some promise in late September. As for Justin Feagin, he was nearly moved to slot receiver several times last year and likely will wind up there at some point. Threet's transfer could change things, but it sounded like Feagin wasn't developing enough at the QB position. I really would be surprised if Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson isn't the starter on Sept. 5.
Todd from Wilmington, Ohio, writes: Adam, thanks for the blog, you help me keep up with college football news that I am really interested in. In your analysis of the Buckeyes, you looked at 3 main areas: Running Backs, Offensive Line, and Defense. I think one of the biggest issues that will make or break Ohio State's chances for a Big 10 championship and BCS berth will be at wide receiver. DeVier Posey and Lamaar Thomas showed flashes of real talent this year, and Dane Sanzenbacher looks like a really good safety net guy. I think one of OSU's biggest problems this past year was at that position. What's your take on the Buckeyes Wide Receiver situation? Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg: You bring up a good point, Todd. Despite losing the Brians (Robiskie and Hartline), Ohio State should be as good and possibly a lot better at the wide receiver position in 2009. DeVier Posey was very close to taking on a more enhanced role last year. Another offseason in the system should really help Posey, plus the fact that he's very close with quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Sanzenbacher arguably was the most reliable receiver on that team last year, a very tough player who made tough catches. It obviously will be a younger group in 2009, but it could be a better one.
Stephen from Des Moines, Iowa, writes: After reading your post about Kirk Ferentz's understandable desire to enjoy the stability he has in Iowa City, I thought I should point out one detail that seems to get overlooked by you and just about every sportswriter in Iowa: the third Ferentz son. Steve is currently a freshman at City High in Iowa City. Assuming he redshirts out of high school his eligibility wouldn't run out until 2017. I wouldn't be surprised if Kirk stays in Iowa City until then, and hopefully beyond.
Adam Rittenberg: Thanks for bringing that up, Stephen. Kirk Ferentz will continue to draw NFL suitors if he wins at Iowa, but he seems content to remain with the Hawkeyes for the foreseeable future. It was telling that his most recent contract didn't include a pay raise. Ferentz clearly is happy with his compensation and his situation in Iowa City. He doesn't seem to have a burning desire to coach in the NFL, and I'm sure he sees friends losing their jobs and appreciates the stability he enjoys in the college game. It might be a stretch to see him at Iowa in 2017, but it's possible.
Steve from Chicago writes: Any word on when Northwestern and Illinois will announce what the new trophy for their rivalry game will be?
Adam Rittenberg: There have been some preliminary talks between both athletic departments, and some ideas for a new trophy will be presented in the coming weeks. I would expect a decision to be reached right around the time both teams play their spring games on April 25.
Derek from Glen Gardner, N.J., writes: Adam, you know I respect your blog. But had you heard of 'Aaron Maybin' prior to this year? 'Maurice Evans' prior to last? 'Tamba Hali' prior to 2005? I'm assuming no. I guess what I'm getting at is that I wouldn't site losing them as a reason to demote Penn State in your standings, because you know that they have someone ready to come in and make the same plays.
Adam Rittenberg: That's a good point, Derek, and Penn State could very well produce another star pass rusher this fall. But it's more than the defensive end spot. It's also the offensive line and the wide receivers and the secondary. I'm not saying Penn State can't find solid replacements, but the coaches have a lot of work ahead of them this spring. And the other thing to remember is that Ohio State consistently contends for the Big Ten title. Ohio State has finished in first or second place in the Big Ten in six of the last seven years. Penn State has followed its Big Ten titles (1994, 2005) with a third-place tie (1995) and a fourth-place finish (2006). History favors the Buckeyes.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
Final Penn State 14 Illinois 16 Final Indiana 27 6 Ohio State 42 Final 25 Minnesota 28 23 Nebraska 24 Final Northwestern 38 Purdue 14 Final Rutgers 3 11 Michigan State 45 Final 16 Wisconsin 26 Iowa 24 Final Maryland 23 Michigan 16