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Joe from Chicago writes: "[Dan Roushar] inherits an offense that showed decent promise in 2010, and the Spartans bring back two-year starting quarterback Kirk Cousins." First of all, it was "decent" enough to win 11 games (many in clutch performances) and the conference championship, second of all, "promise" indicates that it was floundering around ineffectively, but has a chance to be mediocre in 2011. I don't think Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota, Purdue, or Penn State would characterize their losses to MSU with these adjectives. You'd think MSU just went 7-6 based on the way you describe them. MSU had two bad losses, but is not Illinois. Show us some love!
Adam Rittenberg: Joe, you're interpreting "promise" in that way, but that's not what I meant. Promise means potential -- I've never heard it interpreted as "floundering around ineffectively" -- and Michigan State boasts great potential for 2011 on offense. I can't rate the Spartans' 2010 offense as exceptional when the team finished in the middle of the league in most offensive categories and saw a pretty significant drop-off in rushing production as the season went on. Did the offense help Michigan State win a Big Ten title? No doubt. But clutch performances, as you mention, along with huge special-teams plays and solid defense also played a role. You bring up the Illinois, Minnesota and Penn State games. Were those displays of exceptional offense? Nope. But Michigan State found ways to win the games. Roushar inherits a pretty solid unit, but he also knows Michigan State must run the ball more consistently.
Robert from Kansas City writes: My question is now that national signing day is over how much stock should we really put into how many stars a player has. Looking back on some of great Hawkeyes, many of there players who turned out to be All Americans and all Big Ten players had no more than three stars and some of them even had only one star (Bob Sanders). Do you think that the amount of stars a player has is over rated and that all four and five star recruits don't always translate into victories and that it has more to do with coaching a player up than anything else?
Adam Rittenberg: Robert, star ratings are often meaningless. They give us something to talk about and something for some fans to obsess about. But player development is way more important in my view, especially in the Big Ten. If star ratings really mattered, the ACC would be a dominant football conference, which it's not. Iowa is a great example of a program that does a masterful job in player development. While Iowa's heralded 2005 recruiting class didn't pan out that great, the Hawkeyes have transformed more than a few anonymous recruits into All-Big Ten and NFL players.
Devin from an igloo in Indiana writes: When Danny Hope first came to Purdue he said he was going to recruit Florida hard to bring some more athleticism and speed, he has succeeded in signing 24 Floridians in the last 3 years, but when are we going to see this speed and athleticism on the field? (and translate to some wins?????)
Adam Rittenberg: Well, a couple of those Florida recruits are panning out, guys like star cornerback Ricardo Allen, linebacker Will Lucas and quarterback Rob Henry, who showed some promise last season before his hand injury. I would give Hope a little more time with these players because he's got the right idea by bringing in versatile, athletic guys to Purdue.
Matt from Indianapolis writes: Hey Adam,Just heard Indiana lost two more coaches. What's the deal with them losing 3 in less than 3 months? Raymond and Montgomery were the names of the guys leaving...Any idea what's going on here?
Adam Rittenberg: Matt, it's a little unusual to lose three coaches, but assistants will make moves after signing day if they get better opportunities elsewhere. Indiana is a bit of a risky place to be given the prolonged struggles and while IU is giving coach Kevin Wilson enough time and resources to get things right, it's hard to pass up places like Nebraska (Corey Raymond) and Michigan (Jerry Montgomery). Brent Pease's situation at Boise is a little bit different because he never would have left if he knew offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin would depart to Texas. I will say the number of Big Ten assistants making moves within the league this year is very unusual.
Craig from Braintree, Mass., writes: Adam Weber has some of the best QB career numbers for the University of Minnesota and was a three year captain and the NFL doesn't invite him to the combine. I find that hard to believe. What's your take?
Adam Rittenberg: Craig, I thought there was a good chance Weber would be invited, but there are several factors working against him. He played in so many systems in college and understandably had some growing pains. While his numbers improved in 2010, the drop-off in 2009 likely hurt his stock. NFL scouts have interest in Weber, and he still should be able to find a spot in the league next year.