Big Ten mailbag
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Everett the G from Philly writes: Adam, now that the incessant hype of the NFL Draft has concluded for 2009 can we marvel at the spectacle that the draft has become? While some would argue that its popularity is due to America's insatiable appetite for all things NFL, I would counter that the reason the draft is such a big event is because this is the one event where NFL and college football fans find a common ground. NFL fans want to see how their teams gets better and to learn about players from smaller schools they may not be aware of, while college fans want to see where their favorite players end up, how high they were drafted, and how that can be leveraged when trying to lure new 5 star recruits into their system. As a Big 10 fan, I certainly did notice that system QBs like Chase Daniel and Grahm Harrell weren't drafted, yet players in traditional pro style offenses like Troy Smith, Chad Henne, Curtis Painter have all been drafted. I can understand why a Terrelle Pryor chooses Ohio State over Oregon or other gimmicky (albeit effective) offenses if he wants to play on Sundays.
Adam Rittenberg: It's certainly a tough market out there for spread offense quarterbacks like Harrell and Daniel, though Painter also operated in the spread at Purdue. In general, the Big Ten's style of play translates well to the next level. All the draft hoopla this year reminded me a lot of national signing day, and I think it speaks to a new phenomenon among football fans. It seems like people are more interested/obsessed with what might be than what actually is. Fans love to speculate about which recruits/picks will pan out, while the issues with the current team kind of take a backseat. It's almost like the future is more interesting to them than the present. I agree that the draft brings pro and college fans together.
Jon from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Some reporters in the West have pointed out that Ohio State fans should get a life. Is it a bad thing to draw 95,722 for a Spring Game? Is this jealousy by some in college football for the tremendous support Ohio State has? If USC had drawn 95,722 for its Spring Game, would it be a different tone from the West?
Adam Rittenberg: I'll write more on this in Wednesday's blog, but I think it has everything to do with location. Ohio State is Columbus' pro team, and if you practice inside a huge stadium on a beautiful day with a bunch of new, exciting players at key positions, people are going to show up. The Blue Jackets were already out of the NHL playoffs. Though I didn't expect such a huge crowd at The Shoe, you can't criticize Buckeyes fans for supporting their team. It's different in L.A. -- a lot more sporting options, especially right now with baseball and the NBA playoffs. This might be the Northern Californian in me talking, but L.A. sports fans should never be the standard when judging devotion to a team.
Austin from Atlanta writes: I must admit I was pretty shocked that Mitch King went undrafted. He was a 4 year starter, a leader in the locker room, and oh yeah, his stats are pretty impressive. Yeah he's probably a little undersized to play DT in the pros, but have you heard anything about teams not thinking he could transition to a DE in a 4-3 or maybe an OLB in a 3-4? Like I said I found it very strange that he didn't get drafted, I didn't think he'd slip past the 5th round. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: Of all the undrafted free agents who signed from the Big Ten, King surprised me the most. I was stunned that no NFL team took a chance and drafted him in the later rounds Sunday. No one in the Big Ten could consistently block King last year, and though he lacks the ideal size to play defensive tackle in the NFL, his résumé at Iowa shouldn't be overlooked. As for where he plays, I still think D-tackle would be the best spot. There aren't too many 6-foot-1 defensive ends, and King would have to lose a lot of weight to play outside linebacker. The Tennessee Titans could very well pull off a steal by signing him.
Jason from Minneapolis writes: Hey Adam- if you watched the Minnesota Spring game, do you think that Troy Stoudermire may be a hidden factor on the gophers' success?
Adam Rittenberg: Stoudermire showed his potential on kick returns last year, and he'll get a lot more touches this fall. Head coach Tim Brewster wants playmakers on offense, and Stoudermire is pretty special in the open field. His spring-game performance is a taste of things to come, and he'll see increased time at wide receiver as well as a ball carrier out of the backfield.
Ben from London, England, writes: This question might have been asked already, but what are your expectations for the Michigan Wolverines this season? How many games do you think they will win and is there a chance of an upset vs Ohio State? GO BLUE!
Adam Rittenberg: Always good to hear from my readers across the pond, Ben. Michigan is still a bit of a mystery at this point on both sides of the ball. Obviously, the continued development of Tate Forcier and the other quarterbacks will be critical for Rich Rodriguez. I have Michigan anywhere from 5 to 9 wins this year, but the losing streak continues against the Buckeyes.