Big Ten mailbag: Setting things straight
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Before getting to the meat of the mailbag, I've got to clear something up. Critical or negative e-mails are welcomed in this forum, and many of you make excellent points that give me greater insight on the league or the teams. Please, continue to send them.
But nothing boils my blood like these e-mails sent in the last 24 hours.
Zach from West Des Moines: Adam, is offseason information on all teams hard to find? That must be the case for all Big Ten teams...other than Minnesota. Not counting morning or lunchtime links, 7 of your last 13 blog posts involve the Golden Gophers. I'm not sure if you realized that or not. Either the other 10 teams are silent or you need to spread the love.
Joe from D.C.: Six of the thirteen blog posts on the front page have to do exclusively with the Minnesota Golden....Gophers. (?) Is that right, Golden Gophers? It must be. Anyway, my question is - With the off season being as hard as it is on college football fans, why would you torture approximately 98% of the Big Ten fan base with so many posts about Minny? There are ten other teams in the conference. Two or three of them might even be relevant teams come October. Thanks in advance.
OK guys, here's the deal. When you see a dateline on blog posts, like, say, MINNEAPOLIS or IOWA CITY, it means I'm in that city, with that team. I spent two days with Minnesota earlier this week, so that's why there have been so many Gophers-related posts. Also, until Tuesday, only one Big Ten team -- Michigan -- had been practicing, so news is at a minimum for the other 10 squads.
Equality is my top priority in this blog, but when I go somewhere, I'm going to write about that team. Deal with it. Every Big Ten team will get coverage this spring -- I'll be traveling to most schools -- so try to be a little patient with things.
Back to business ...
Dave from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: Thanks for all your hard work covering the Big Ten. I am a huge Michigan fan and think you do a fine job covering everybody fairly. Quick question: I read your latest blog entry about Tim Brewster being on Twitter and you mentioned Pete Caroll and Rich Rodriquez were on there as well. Do you know for sure that Rich is the actual user of the twitter account you linked to? I'm a big Twitter fan and don't want to follow joe blow making stuff up.
Adam Rittenberg: I haven't asked Rich directly about using Twitter, but it wouldn't shock me if the Twitter posts are done by a combination of the coaches themselves and graduate assistants/operations personnel. Minnesota's Tim Brewster asked me a bit about Twitter after his account was activated this week, so I think the coaches are still getting used to it. Given how much these guys text, however, I'd imagine they'll be doing many of their own posts soon enough.
Brian from New York writes: Adam, do you think that schools will be willing to give a longer leash to underperforming coaches over the next year or two rather than buyout the remaining years of a longer term contract just to fire the incumbent or hire someone new? Its tough to see an athletic department that is already likely operating at a loss at any school that is dramatically cutting its operating budgets subject themselves to that kind of fiscal scrutiny. If you ask me, Michigan never agrees to the Rodriguez buyout in this economy.
Adam Rittenberg: That's a great point, Brian, and it will be interesting to see which schools operate differently. I couldn't see an SEC program shortening its leash on coaches, but it seems like the Big Ten has less head coaching turnover than most conferences, and many of the schools have been impacted by the financial crisis. Does Indiana give Bill Lynch another chance with two seasons left on his contract if the team goes, say, 5-7? Perhaps. But the pressure to win hasn't changed, and most schools have the resources (boosters) to make changes when they see fit.
Ron from Chicago: Any updates on Navarro Bowman and Matt Mayberry coming soon? I can't wait to watch these two this upcoming season. I think Bowman might be able to leave early with another good season and Mayberry should be a top NFL pick 1-2 rounds.
Adam Rittenberg: Penn State kicks off spring practice Friday, so I'm sure I'll have an update on Bowman for you soon. He might be one of the top five linebackers in the country next year. I'm also heading out to Happy Valley (finally!) next month, so I hope to talk with him then. Indiana kicked off spring ball this week, and Mayberry is considered one of the leaders on defense, especially with Will Patterson limited by injury. Mayberry certainly has the skills to be special, but I'd like to see him get a little more consistent this fall.
Jim from Toledo writes: Adam - Sorry to keep the FSU BB story going, but do you think that any other school in DI would argue about vacating wins when it is clearly deserved? On a similar note - are there any coaches currently active that could potentially give the win record a run after Jo Pa and BB retire? What about Fitzgerald of Northwestern maybe - he's young and you yourself has said that they have been competitive since '95?
Adam Rittenberg: Florida State's argument is that Bobby Bowden shouldn't be penalized for things he allegedly didn't know about, but the attempt to downplay the severity of the scandal is laughable. As for other coaches challenging JoePa, Florida's Urban Meyer is only 44 and owns a career record of 83-17. When Paterno was 44, he had just completed his fifth year at Penn State and had a record of 42-10-1. So Meyer definitely has a chance. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops is 48 and owns 109 career victories. Fitzgerald would need to keep replicating what he did last fall with Northwestern. So there are some possibilities out there, but you have to wonder how many of those guys want to coach as long as Paterno and Bowden.