Big Ten Friday mailblog

Great responses for far with the Nebraska game-day traditions. Because of the holiday, I'll actually post them Tuesday, not Monday.

Let's get to the regular mail now. You know how to reach me and where to follow me.

Cacey from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam, what's the status of Ohio State's appeal to the NCAA regarding the 5 suspended players? When can we expect to hear the outcome of the appeal?

Adam Rittenberg: Still waiting on this, Cacey. It's hard to predict when the NCAA will get around to making key decisions. I thought we'd already know about whether Purdue receiver Keith Smith gets a sixth year of eligibility. Minnesota's Kim Royston got the good news a few weeks ago, but Smith is still waiting. I'd expect we'll know something soon, but don't hold me to it.

Glenn from Kilburn, Ohio, writes: Hey Adam, with all the assistant coaching changes and short term loyalty going on this year in the Big Ten, how about throwing some love Penn State's way for their coaching staff's longevity, to include Larry Johnson's example this year. People can make fun of JoePa's age and old school ways, but give him credit for instilling the qualities in his assistants that I'm sure a lot of other head coaches wish their staffs had.

Adam Rittenberg: Staff continuity has been a hallmark of Joe Paterno's tenure at Penn State, and he deserves a lot of credit. It's really amazing that after all the buzz about assistants leaving, the staff appears to be staying intact for 2011. Now we both know if Pitt or UConn had hired Tom Bradley as their head coach, we could have seen several staff departures. Paterno's assistants are extremely loyal, but they also have to be aware that Joe can't coach too much longer. As an assistant, you need to think about your own long-term future as well.

Kevin from St. Paul, Minn., writes: Adam,I am trying to climb on board with the whole Leaders and Legends, but I am struggling. That being said I will try and make it effort. For me one of the most confusing things is the names are so familiar I forget who is in what one. I was thinking maybe all spring in every article you write about a team somewhere around the title or something in that area you have a little box or label that says either Legends or Leaders. So that we can get more familiar with the divisions.Thanks

Adam Rittenberg: Kevin, you're not alone. And this is a good suggestion. I'll do my best to point out the division names as much as possible in future posts. I realize a lot of folks still hate the names and roll their eyes every time they see them, but they're here at least through the 2011 season (and most likely beyond it), so we might as well get used to Legends and Leaders.

Lauren from Cave Creek, Ariz., writes: Quite frankly Adam, had you just used NEB and NW to begin with, with out ever bringing up the NU-NU dilema, I bet it would have been a very long time before someone asked, "Hey, why don't we call so-and-so NU anymore?" That way this would have never been brought up, and we wouldn't be fighting over it. Now if you do decide to call one school "NU" over the other, it will more likely than not create an arguement that never needed to happen. I'm sure you've been getting a lot of these the past few days, but it'd probably be best just to label them as NEB and NW, and be done with it.

Adam Rittenberg: Lauren, I respectfully disagree. As someone who tracks this league year-round and interacts with a ton of fans, I can say the NU-NU issue was very real. People wanted to talk about it as soon as Nebraska entered the Big Ten. And judging by what I've heard from both fan bases, neither wants to be called anything but NU.

Will from Hoboken, N.J., writes: Looking at some mock drafts, it's good to see guys like Corey Liugett and Ryan Kerrigan getting some love in the 1st round. But overall, I feel as though the SEC and Big XII are dominating the projections. Is this a weak draft class for the Big Ten? Also, why do you think Cameron Heyward is floating around the 25 spot after being considered a Top 10 pick last year?

Adam Rittenberg: The Big Ten has a very strong class of defensive linemen but looks weak at most of the skill positions. Among the offensive skill players, Illinois' Mikel Leshoure might be the league's only high draft pick. That's pretty rare. I still think the Big Ten's crop of defensive ends and defensive tackles is as good as you'll find anywhere. Players like Cameron Heyward and Adrian Clayborn might end up being drafted a little lower because other players turned in more impressive seasons this fall, including their Big Ten brethren like J.J. Watt and Corey Liuget. Both Heyward and Clayborn should do very well at the next level, though.

Chris from Chicago writes: Adam, I love the blog especially during the off season! I am from Cleveland and a die hard Buckeyes fan and I love the B1G, I'm also a Brown's fan and it seems as if those two loves have intersected today. In Mel Kiper's new mock draft he has J.J. Watt going to Cleveland at #6 overall. I followed Watt a little this season, but I never saw him going that high. I am curious about your thoughts on Watt and his seemingly skyrocketing draft stock. Thanks!

Adam Rittenberg: Watt's best trait is his versatility. Not only can he play both defensive line positions, but he does so much for a defense. Just look at Wisconsin's stat sheet from 2010. Watt recorded every defensive statistic except safety, and he had more than one of everything except interceptions. When he wasn't sacking a quarterback, he was knocking down a pass or forcing a fumble or simply applying pressure. No Big Ten defender made more impact plays than J.J. last fall. He'd be an excellent addition for the Browns.