Reminder: I'm still looking for your Top 25 player lists from 2010 as well as a short rationale (150 words or less). Send them here.
Dave from Allentown, Pa., writes: If the Big Ten goes with a nine game schedule, I am ok with the division membership and mandatory cross over game. At a minimum, we would be playing the schools in the other division 6 out of 10 times (pre 2011 ? it was 75% of the time).If the Big Ten uses an 8 game schedule and a mandatory cross over game, we will be playing the other division teams 4 out of 10 times. As a Penn State fan, games such as PSU vs. Iowa, PSU vs. Michigan will be scheduled less than half the time. If we are in one conference shouldn?t we play each team at home at least once in an undergraduate student?s career?From my perspective, the division alignment and cross-over game with an 8 game schedule will have a negative impact on the conference. Should the Big Ten revisit the divisions and mandatory cross-over games if they don?t go with a 9 game schedule?
Adam Rittenberg: Some good points here, Dave. During the expansion process, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany talked extensively about maintaining the intimacy of a league. He doesn't want a situation like Big East basketball where some teams don't play each other every year. Delany wants to go to a nine-game conference schedule, and I think we'll see one in the next five years. It needs to be flushed out because of future scheduling, but I'd be surprised if we don't see nine league games eventually. Now if it doesn't happen, the league could revisit the crossover games, but I can't see the divisions going anywhere.
Aaron from Milwaukee writes: Adam. I seldom diagree with any of your blog posts. However, after reading the big ten post season rankings and the people listed as "just missed the cut" I believe you left out Tyler Sash of Iowa. I understand that there are many great players in the big ten, but come on man. All this guy did was make plays. Please explain to me your reasoning.
Andrew from SEC country writes: Hey Adam, I read blog everyday to keep up with Big Ten news (it's hard to get updates on teams that aren't in the SEC!). Referring to your player rankings, I think you really missed 1 player. Where is Tyler Sash? I'm not just saying this because I am a Hawkeye fan, but I'm genuinely wondering why he is not on the list? He made an impact on many game, even though he did not have the stats he did the past 2 years. Can you give so reasons you did not include him. Other than that, I think you nailed it!
Adam Rittenberg: Sash had a nice season and will go on to have a good NFL career. I just felt other Big Ten standouts impacted games more consistently than he did in 2010. Sash made a huge impact against Michigan State and several other teams, but the consistent playmaking ability we saw from him in 2009 wasn't as pronounced last fall. Again, not saying he had a bad year by any means, but other players had better seasons. You could say "all this guy did was make plays" in 2009, but not in 2010.
Adam S. from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam, I respect what you do with the player rankings. I know I could not be as objective as you are. But I try to be, and thinking about Ohio State's season, I don't understand how Ross Homan did not even make honorable mention. I think one could argue he was the best player on a very good defense for the past two seasons. As far as NFL potential, I have seen him ranked in the top 5 OLB prospects in some "expert" opinions. I understand if you just had to limit the Ohio State players on the list because no one likes us and they would get angry, but I would rather he be included over Mike Adams.
Adam Rittenberg: Homan was an interesting case because he has been so consistent throughout a very good Buckeyes career. He missed some time with injury this past season but still put up some decent numbers (72 tackles, 2 forced fumbles). I'll go ahead and say that was a miss on my part and Homan should have been at least among the players who barely missed the cut. I definitely didn't limit players from any team, and I wouldn't discount what Adams did at left tackle.
David from Chicago writes: Hey Adam, could you talk more about Northwestern's kicking situation for the upcoming season? Demos's departure always seems to be mentioned in passing, but I think it leaves a huge hole that NU needs to fill. Northwestern isn't a big school, so leaving the spot open for a walk-on doesn't seem like an option. What does the depth chart look like right now? Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg: David, I totally agree that the kicker situation is critical for Northwestern, given the number of Wildcats games where the kicking game has played a huge role. Sophomore Jeff Budzien and junior Steve Flaherty are the top two options right now in spring practice. Budzien is a scholarship player who came to Northwestern with a decent amount of buzz as a recruit. Flaherty is a walk-on best known for being on the field when Northwestern tried a fake field goal to win the 2010 Outback Bowl against Auburn. Neither guy has much experience, so it's a pretty wide-open race there.
Blackshirt Backer from Minneapolis writes: I disagree about D-Line as Nebraska's strongest position... Linebackers. And it's not close. I'd bet good money that Nebraska's trio of Lavonte David, Will Compton, and Sean Fisher will be the best linebacking group in the country next season. The D-Line might struggle as they are a little undersized for the Big Ten and secondary is breaking in a few too many starters, but Nebraska will have a standard Bo Pelini Blackshirt defense because of the linebackers.
Adam Rittenberg: Some good points, Blackshirt, but you can't say it's linebackers in a runaway. David is an All-America candidate who will be the Big Ten's top returning linebacker in 2011, but Compton had only 15 tackles in nine games last fall and Fisher missed all of last season with a broken leg. While Fisher showed a lot of good things in 2009 as a redshirt freshman, we'll have to see how he responds from the time off. I'm not saying Nebraska's linebackers won't be a major strength, but the safer bet is a defensive line that returns three starters. It will be interesting to see how many linebackers Nebraska plays this coming season and how David & Co. adjust to facing offenses built around the power game.
Chris from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Hey Adam,I have a hypothetical situation for you. Say Ohio State manages to weather the storm and win the Big Ten next year. It would easily be Tressel's best coaching job and deserving of the Coach of the Year award but would the Big Ten be willing to give him an award right after he got caught for cheating? What would they do in that situation?
Adam Rittenberg: Chris, since Big Ten media members vote on this award, I'd be pretty shocked if it went to Tressel after what we've learned in the last few weeks. If Ohio State were to win the Big Ten title, Tressel would get credit, but so would his assistants, who ran the game operations on Saturdays. The interesting thing is that before Tressel's involvement came to light, the situation set up well for him to finally win Coach of the Year, guiding Ohio State to a title despite the absence of the players. But since Tressel is joining his players for the suspension -- and he could face more penalties from the NCAA -- I just can't see him winning this award.
Eric from Brighton, Mass., writes: Hey Adam-I think you did a good job overall on the postseason rankings, but I have a question on one omission: Why was Derek Moye not included in your top 35 (including the first 10 out)?His stats overall were fairly comparable to #9 Sanzenbacher, and he did it with much worse quarterbacking (a true freshman and a walk-on). If your list was designed to take importance to the team into account, Moye has an even stronger case. He basically was the only consistent part of our passing offense.I'm not trying to come across as a whiny Penn State fan (I know you get a lot of those), I'm more just curious for your rationale.Thanks, and keep up the good work!
Adam Rittenberg: You're right, Eric. Moye has a strong case, and he's certainly a guy who gained some consideration for the rankings. He didn't consistently impact games as much as Sanzenbacher, but he wasn't far off. I was comfortable with Sanzenbacher and Indiana's Tandon Doss as my top two receivers, but Moye certainly is in that second group with Northwestern's Jeremy Ebert and Iowa's Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt. I'd expect to see his name in the preseason player rankings.