Big Ten Friday mailblog

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

As always, you can send me questions and comments. Enjoy Week 13!

Charlie from Des Moines, Iowa, writes: Adam - does the fact that Joe Paterno has announced that he is coming back next year have an impact on bowl selections? I know that you said that the Outback might be enticed to select a weaker Penn State team over Iowa because of the possibility that it might be JoePa's last game. Now that he is likely coming back, I would think that an 8-4 Iowa team would be invited to the Outback over an 7-5 Penn State team, but how about if Penn State is also 8-4?

Adam Rittenberg: Good question, Charlie. I was thinking the same thing after Paterno announced that he's coming back. Although any game with JoePa involved has appeal, there would be more if we knew it would be his last on the sideline. If Iowa wins Saturday and Penn State loses to Michigan State, I'd expect the Outback to pick Iowa, which would have a better record and the head-to-head win. If both teams win, all bets are off. Keep in mind that Iowa went to the Outback only two years ago, and that the Outback has selected a team with a weaker overall record in each of the past two years (Iowa over Northwestern in 2008, Northwestern over Wisconsin in 2009).

Justin from La Crosse, Wis., writes: Hey Adam,Dig the blog. I know that he would probably finish behind 4-5 other QB's in the Offensive POY voting, but I think it is pretty easy to make a case for Scott Tolzien as a 1st Team All-Conference performer. He is cool, consistent, and a great leader. His clutch play has been on display all year (e.g. The last drive @Iowa, especially on the 4th adn 4 throw to Montee Ball, last week @Michy (who was the first guy there to pat Isaac Anderson on the helmet after his fumble?) and I think he could put up bigger numbers if the Badger run game wasn't so dominant. Your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: He has been fabulous, Justin, especially during the six-game win streak. While he could put up bigger numbers elsewhere, he's the perfect quarterback for Wisconsin. There's an argument to be made that the quarterback for the league's best team should be the first-team All-Big Ten selection. But in terms of the numbers, Tolzien doesn't quite match up against Denard Robinson, Terrelle Pryor, Dan Persa and Ricky Stanzi. It'll be very interesting to see who gets the nod for first team. Saturday's performances certainly could factor into the final selections.

Lu from Houston writes: Adam, Interesting but not unexpected about JoePa's announcement about next year. I hope he's able to do it for one more year. This team is young and seems to have matured throughout the year, and they still have some holes. I don't think recruiting will have too much impact on next year's team, but after that, definitely.Joe and I are both aging, although he's ahead of me by 22 years. I was a freshman for Rip Engle's last year and have enjoyed the wins and championships, altough now from a distance. And hey, how many people can say that they actually sat in Joe's office and in the front seat of his car -- with Joe driving! I was a walk-on kicker candidate in 1966. Not enough talent, but a great experience.Will State be able to pull out one more in 2011?

Adam Rittenberg Lu, thanks for sharing your perspective! It's always great to hear about Paterno from back in the 1960s. I really think Paterno wants one more shot at a big goal, whether it be a Big Ten championship or even a national title. I remember how he looked at Iowa in 2008 after the Hawkeyes kicked the game-winning field goal. Paterno loved that Nittany Lions team and knew it had a chance to make the championship game. While Penn State won't enter next season as one of the Big Ten favorites, the Lions return a nice nucleus. They'll need to make upgrades along both lines, and create better depth throughout the defense. But if things fall right, Penn State could make a real push in the final year of Paterno's contract.

Derrick from Olathe, Kan., writes: Adam,In the event of the 3-way tie for the Big 10 title, what are the odds of Mark Hollis (MSU's AD) putting a full court press on the BCS to politic the Spartans into a BCS game over OSU or Wisconsin? There has to be a case to be made for "new blood" and the Spartan faithful do travel well for big events (take a look at attendance for their Sweet 16 Final 4 appearances). Can Hollis shake enough hands and kiss enough babies to make this happen?

Adam Rittenberg: I know he'll try, Derrick. Hollis' background in marketing definitely helps, and he's the right type of AD to sell Michigan State's program in this situation. Michigan State will point out its lengthy drought between Big Ten championships and its 1-0 record in games among the big three. Ultimately, I don't believe it'll be enough to push the Spartans ahead of Ohio State, which moves the needle nationally more in terms of TV ratings and casual fan interest. Michigan State brings a lot to the table, but bowl games like to go with the sure thing.

Brock H. from Bloomington, Ind., writes: Let us just assume that IU loses the Bucket Game. Let us further assume that the many disgruntled fans voicing their annoyance with the loses of Bill Lynch are heard by Fred Glass. In the case there seems to be only one option: Fire Lynch. Who are some potential replacements for the job, in your eyes?

Adam Rittenberg: I'd fully expect Brady Hoke to get a call, Brock. He has turned around two bottom-feeders in Ball State and San Diego State and has familiarity recruiting the state of Indiana. Hoke would make a lot of sense. Unlike Minnesota, Indiana can afford to look at some strong coordinator candidates from within the league. Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst and Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell both are assistants poised to make the jump to a top job. Former Minnesota head coach Glen Mason's name has come up, although Mason didn't sound too optimistic in a recent interview. It would be an interesting search for Glass, a new AD who doesn't have a ton of ties to coaches working elsewhere.

Drew from Madison, Wis., writes: Hey Adam - What are your thoughts on this new "Bret Bielema college football bad boy" talk going on these days? I think its almost entirely undeserved, but think its great for this program. Its gotten the Badgers a lot more national exposure and its never bad for a team to have a reputation for ruthlessness.

Adam Rittenberg: Bret is quickly becoming the least liked coach in the Big Ten. I don't think he minds, though, especially given the exposure that has come along with it. You know my view on 83-20: I didn't think it was nearly as bad as others. And it likely wouldn't have been perceived that way had Bielema not gone for two against Minnesota, a move that's really hard to justify. I kind of like the bad-boy Bret image. It brings an edge to Wisconsin's program and something different for a league that needs more personality among its coaches.