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Big Ten Friday mailblog

As always, send me questions and comments. And start following me on Twitter.

You're really missing out.

Joe from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: Very odd how the tone changed from supporting Brandon waiting until 2011 (see your previous post) to todays blog post about RichRod at the UM banquet (saying its big-boy football, Brandon needs to make a move.) Which is it? Is he being a good citizen by letting Harbaugh go to his BCS game without distractions and taking the high road or is Brandon being unfair? I can't see that both positions are consistent. I don't think that it really makes much difference if you go to Harbaugh now or in a month... its such a seismic change that such a 30 days won't really make the 2011/12 seasons any easier and its not like the recruiting class would be salvaged since he's start from scratch with new O recruits. Thanks for your blogging, its the best I read on the 'net.

Adam Rittenberg: Joe, the previous post was about how Brandon's patience might help Rodriguez, but I have never supported Brandon's decision to wait so long to make a ruling on the head coach. All I wrote was that it seemed more likely that Michigan would make changes among the assistants in January than right now. I was just trying to project what Brandon's wait-and-see approach meant for Rodriguez. So it's not two different positions. And after Rodriguez's emotional speech Thursday night, I think there's increased pressure for a resolution one way or the other. Brandon has had a lot of time to gauge interest from other candidates if he wants to make a change. And if he wants to stick with Rodriguez, why let him twist in the wind like this?


Jerry from New York writes: The Arizona State victory at Arizona last night improves Wisconsin's SOS while negatively effecting the SOS of Stanford and of Oregon; especially if Arizona drops from the rankings. An Oregon loss at Oregon State on Saturday -- though unlikley -- might propel Wisconsni past Stanford in the final BCS. Arizona losing at home to Arizona State last night also was not likely. Anything could happen.

Adam Rittenberg: You're right, Jerry, anything could happen, especially with the BCS. But you're also forgetting TCU, which has an average computer ranking of No. 3, while Wisconsin lags behind at No. 7. The Badgers would really need to make a jump in the computers to get ahead of the Horned Frogs. I could see the Badgers leapfrogging Stanford even though neither team plays Saturday. It might take bad losses by both Oregon and Auburn to get Wisconsin in the title game against TCU.


CJ from Philly writes: Adam,What do think the probability is that PSU tells Joe after this year "Joe, we can do this anyway you want but we are not going to extend your contract past 2011. You can do this the easy way and say that you are going to go out on your own, or you can make this difficult and say we are forcing you out. Either way this is going to be the end result." Unlike Bowden (or even when they tried to get him to reign in 2004), Joe's contract will actually be up after next year so technically they are not forcing him out.

Adam Rittenberg: Penn State certainly monitored what happened with Bobby Bowden and wants to avoid a contentious ending with Joe Paterno. But there's a time to make a change, and it feels like next year is the time to do it. Then again, we could feel differently if Penn State wins a Big Ten title and shows upgrades both with the current players and with its recruiting. The problem is that there seems to be a stale feeling around Penn State right now: a so-so team, question marks on both sides of the ball, a slow start to recruiting. The Big Ten is about to get a lot tougher, and Penn State must maintain its status as a powerhouse. So timing is important in all of this, but there's no easy way to handle a situation like Paterno's.


Adam from Alpena, Mich., writes: What's the selection order between the Gator and Insight Bowls? Everything says they are both "4/5." In years past that has meant the bowls alternate picking 4th and 5th, but I can't find any definite statement about which is 4th and which is 5th this year.

Adam Rittenberg: Gator picks first and then Insight this year. Things will change in future years, but Gator will have the initial selection.


Richard from Andersonville in Chicago: Could you please take a minute and try to provide a rational analysis as to why the computers rank Ohio State ahead of Michigan State. Given record of opponents and strength of schedule It defies explanation why State is ranked lower and I was hoping perhaps an expert could shed some light on this is occurring. Much thanks.

Adam Rittenberg: Hello, neighbor! I don't know if "rational analysis" can ever go in the same sentence with BCS computers, Richard. I was really surprised at how low the computers continue to rank Michigan State, which has a more superior schedule strength than both Wisconsin and Ohio State. The computers don't factor in margin of victory like the human voters do. Mark Dantonio and I talked about this, and he's just as surprised as you and I are. He couldn't believe that Richard Billingsley carries over BCS rankings from one season to the next to determine his formula. The Spartans get hammered in the Sagarin ratings, just like Wisconsin and Ohio State. I don't get it.


Rob from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Today you have a recruiting story and a link regarding Big Ten teams, and you also have a lunch link story about Penn State's recruiting...the two stories are completely contadictory. So what is the message? Are you nothing more than a portal? Don't you have ANYTHING to bring to the table?

Adam Rittenberg: Rob, I am largely a portal, but when did presenting multiple viewpoints on a topic become a bad thing? I've offered plenty of original reporting and commentary, but the blog functions largely as a one-stop shop for all things Big Ten related. That means all kinds of links. The message is up to you to interpret, although I'm happy to help. My take on Penn State's recruiting: Things don't look good right now, but the final class won't be as disastrous as some are projecting.


Drew from Washington, D.C., writes: What has to happen at OSU (changing offensive coordinators or changing head coaches) for them to start utilizing an open, spread, and risky type of offense? I love Tressel and I think he is a great coach and a great guy, but OSU's offense is not even close to competing with most of the offenses in the SEC and even the up-and-coming Michigan offense. I understand that Tressel's record is indisputable, but it's not like OSU doesn't have the talent readily available to run such an offense. In this day and age in college football, speed kills and it's hard to compete for a national championship when you're running an offense that used to work reallky well. Your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Drew, Ohio State doesn't have to run an "open, spread and risky type of offense" to have success. What the Buckeyes need to do, and they've done this at times this season, is establish an identity on offense. They've struggled to figure out who they are on offense since Terrelle Pryor became the quarterback. But on the whole, this season has been a step forward for Ohio State, which ranks 10th nationally in scoring, 14th nationally in rushing and 20th nationally in total offense. I get that the spread is chic, but have you watched Wisconsin's offense? That's a traditional, pro-style, power-oriented system that no one stopped in the final seven Big Ten games, including Ohio State. It's more important for Ohio State to establish an identity on offense than just go with what's trendy.


Travis from St. Louis writes: Adam- in reference to Iowa's losing slide, see below. I have been a fan of Iowa since my dad came home with champagne when the Hawks knew they were going to the Rose Bowl in 81/82 (only to be crushed 28-0). It boils down to this simple FACT. Iowa football fans live a life on angst much like Cubs fans. We have a saying in our family, "Iowa, they were almost good... once." Much like the 81 season, or the 85, the 90, 91, 03, 06-07, 09, 10 season Iowa's hopes were high only to be dashed. We'll be back next year convinced they'll go 12-0. Go Hawks

Adam Rittenberg: Travis, some good thoughts here and I'm sure many Iowa fans agree with you. Iowa seems like a program that does best when it's under the radar, rather than dealing with the expectations like this fall. But the Hawkeyes were very good last year, and they were very good from 2002-04. Iowa fans are extremely prideful, and they'll always have confidence that their team will do big things. But Iowa still isn't at a point where it can expect special seasons year in and year out.