Big Ten mailblog

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Adam from Baltimore writes: Hey Adam,Just a couple things about the MSU WR situation. It definitely is a blow to lose B.J. because I still think that MSU needs to play a perfect game to beat 'Bama and this hurts their chances and puts more pressure on their running game to succeed and the O-line to protect Cousins. But I think the one weapon that could be the difference is K-Mart. He has essentially been out since late October as a receiver, so while Bennie and Keith need to step up, I think if Martin steps up in the slot and down-field, it could more than make up for losing B.J. Otherwise the O-line is going to really protect Kirk because the receivers are going to need more time to get out of their routes which gives that 'Bama d-line more time to tee-off on Kirk. And if MSU loses Kirk, it'll be a repeat of last year's title game.

Adam Rittenberg: Good points here, Adam. Keshawn Martin is a huge key to the game for Michigan State, not only as a receiver but on special teams. He defies the SEC speed argument every time he touches the ball. I'd expect offensive coordinator Don Treadwell to get K-Mart the ball as much as possible in Orlando. Still, it's important for a guy like Keith Nichol to take on a bigger role. Some projected him to be Michigan State's No. 1 or No. 2 receiver entering the season, and the production just hasn't been there. Bennie Fowler is a guy who came on strong later in the season and could help.

JF from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam: The Penn State folks were all worried about how the coaching carousel might deplete their coaching staff and then relieved when it didn't. But it seems to me that stealing assistant coaches is the biggest complement to a program and that nobody wants their program to be like Joe. What do you think? Do JoePa and his staff get respect or not?

Adam Rittenberg: Joe Paterno certainly has earned respected in the coaching circles, but I wonder about his assistants. The guys who have been on Joe's staff for so many years might always be looked at as assistant coach material, not head coach material. Don't get me wrong, being a Joe Paterno assistant is a fabulous gig in a profession where coaches rarely put down roots. But it seems like Paterno's guys aren't getting the top jobs as much any more. There still are a few jobs open, but I'm surprised that a coach like defensive coordinator Tom Bradley doesn't get an opportunity to lead a program.

Bradley from Houston writes: Adam, I am witing you on the Big Ten Division names article you had on ESPN.com. I do not like the new names for they make no sense to me as a 14 year old sports fan. There is no reasoning to the names to me. They are in the Great Lakes area, the MidWest. I saw many responses to your request for names in a Nov. 4, 2010 article. This is the same reason I am contacting you now. I liked many of the suggestions you posted. My favorites were Iron and Fist, Tradition and Prestige and the best was Beta and Delta. The reason I like Beta and Delta is that Beta is Big in Latin and Delta is 10 in Latin. Makes sense to me - very simple. It also relates to the College Campus traditions of the Greek Fraternities and Sororities that you see when you visit/attend a college. Thank you for your time on this subject. I am writing you for a Boy Scout Merit Badge I am working on and I would appreciate it if you would send me back a response.Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Adam Rittenberg: Same to you, Bradley! And I'm very impressed with your writing. Some of my older readers could learn a thing or two about sentence structure. I agree that the Big Ten missed the mark with the division names. The league fell victim to over-thinking and was so concerned about alienating parts of its membership that it alienated all of its fan base. Beta and Delta could work, although some folks might not get it for a while. Anyway, good luck on that merit badge.

Greg from Pennsburg, Pa., writes: Adam, I think someone the other day was scolding you for bashing the Big12's bowl schedule. But let's face it, you were right, their bowls are weak! On the other hand, year in and year out the Big Ten sends 2 teams to BCS games to face BCS caliber competition (and we're not talking UConn here...). Not only that, but the Big Ten routinely plays in enemy territory. I think it was 2006 when all but 1 Big Ten team played in the opposing team's home state or even home city. That's ridiculous! Big 12 teams hide in Texas, SEC/ACC teams hide in Florida, and Pac10 teams hide in California and Arizona. Let's see these conferences play some bowl games at all the great pro venues in Big Ten territory and then they can talk!

Adam Rittenberg: Greg, the bowl system is what it is, and no one wants to come to Big Ten country for games in late December or early January. So the Big Ten always will have a disadvantage in terms of location. The difficulty of the bowl schedule is all Jim Delany. The commish likes to play the best leagues in the biggest bowls, and he wants to feature the Big Ten on the biggest stages as much as possible. It's a bold approach, for sure. Me? I'd sprinkle in an ACC or Big East team, but the Big Ten always will face a bit of an uphill climb compared with other leagues.

Michael S. from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Hey Adam, I'm a regular reader, and wanted to get your take on the PFW list. As a Buckeye fan, I've thought for a while that Mike Brewster, a three year starter, was by far the biggest flight risk on the OSU team. It seems PFW agrees. What do you think? Furthermore, where is the OSU O-Line left if they lose a three year starter? It seems like things finally came together for the line this year (with the exception of the Wisconsin game, perhaps). I'd hate to see losing an anchor throw things into disarray again.

Adam Rittenberg: Michael, I'll bet Brewster is one of the five players Jim Tressel mentioned who are seeking draft evaluations from the NFL. Brewster certainly projects well to the next level and as a three-year starter, he has more experience than most true juniors who play offensive line. That said, not many centers leave school early for the draft, and I could see Brewster sticking around for another season, especially if his pals J.B. Shugarts and Mike Adams also stay. He'll have a tough decision potentially, and he would be a big loss if he goes. Adams also could have a decision to make.

Adam from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: With the MNF game being played at the new Minnesota stadium tonight, do you think that this could be used by Jim Delaney and the Big Ten office as a "preview" to what a Big Ten Championship game would be like in an outdoor stadium? I for one would love it to happen on a rotational basis with Green Bay, Chicago, Pittsburg, and even Cleveland mixed in with Detroit and Indianapolis. What are your thoughts on how Delaney looks at this or even if he does at all?

Adam Rittenberg: Adam, I'm sure the thought crossed Delany's mind as he watched the game Monday night. The good thing is that the outdoor venues the Big Ten would use for a title game are all NFL facilities a bit better equipped to handle bad weather. The folks at Minnesota did as well as they could have under tough circumstances, but the field safety concern likely would be a lot less for a Big Ten title game played in early December. The big question in my mind is whether an outdoor title game would hurt the Big Ten's chances in BCS bowls, all of which are played in milder climates.