Big Ten Friday mailblog

March, 25, 2011
3/25/11
5:30
PM ET
Lot of Tressel-related emails today, which is no surprise. You can send all your comments here.

Dan from The Villages, Fla., writes: Do you think that Coach Tressel was concerned for his players safety after the shooting death of the tatoo parlors partner in the drug business? This case is showing how much Tressel is trying to protect is players from any outside harm. He was wrong in not informing Athletic Director Smith in the beginning, but any further sanctions against his program than the five games and the $250,000 personal fine would be to much considering all his past history.

Adam Rittenberg: Dan, I'm sure Tressel was concerned when he heard about the federal investigation, and he wanted to make sure the players' involvement with the tattoo parlor owner had ended. But he really put himself in a compromising position by not sharing information with the right people, namely Gene Smith and Doug Archie, Ohio State's compliance director. Since no one else at Ohio State knew, Tressel is the only one who can get hammered here. We all know that penalties for Tressel also are penalties for the program, but the program will go on, with or without Tressel as coach. I'd be surprised if more penalties aren't on the way for Tressel/Ohio State.


Oliver from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam, if a change is deemed to be made now rather than later (meaning after the 2011 season or so), is it too late for a program like Ohio State to lure a big-named coach? Would the program probably have to go through the 2011 season perhaps with an interim coach and, if that doesn't work out, hire a coach next December (or so)?Would a big-named coach want to take over OSU right now, in other words, versus next winter?

Adam Rittenberg: Oliver, it would be tough to land a big name right now, but the Ohio State job has incredible appeal whenever it next comes open. This is a program with all the resources to compete for national championships every year, and some of the game's top coaches will be interested. It's important for Smith and E. Gordon Gee to protect the brand and ensure that this situation doesn't result in a major step back for the program. You don't want to become Notre Dame or Michigan, big-name programs that slipped back to mediocrity. Both men are extremely loyal to Tressel, but they have to put the Ohio State football brand first.


Jesse from New Philadelphia, Ohio, writes: Did Michigan dodge a bullet four years ago by not landing Pryor, or would Rich Rod still be there with a successful team? And will Ohio fans look back at this as a win for Ohio or does Pryor need to have the best Big Ten season of his career to leave the school with a favorable memory?

Adam Rittenberg: This is a fascinating question, Jesse. Despite Pryor's success on the field, would Ohio State have been better off without him? What would have happened if he ended up with Rich Rodriguez at Michigan? I still tend to think Rodriguez would struggle because of Michigan's defensive woes. The Wolverines certainly didn't struggle last season because of their quarterback (Denard Robinson). But Pryor's long-term legacy at Ohio State will be truly fascinating. He has been instrumental in two BCS bowl wins and boasts a sparkling record as the starter. But he's also at the center of a situation that could alter the program's course.


Joe from Chicago writes: Looking forward to football season and a potentially dynamite Iowa offense. I think this will be the first year that Erik "Soup" Campbell has a group of receivers he recruited or recruited while he was here (McNutt being "recruited" from his previous position, Shumpert would've been recruited by Coach Johnson).Don Shumpert has been called the best pure athlete on the team. Not surprised considering he ran a sub 50 400 meter dash his high school senior year after never having run it before.Kevonte Martin-Manley (dubbed, "KMM") could have played last year. He looks like a future star on practice videos that Morehouse posts.McNutt will likely be the best receiver in the league and CJ has been referred to as one of Iowa's two best receivers. He couldn't block an ant last year though. Where you at Keenan???

Adam Rittenberg: Joe, some really good points here, especially about Campbell working with receivers he recruited to Iowa. McNutt is a stud, but Iowa really needs Keenan Davis, Shumpert or someone else to emerge as a No. 2 option. You're dealing with a new starting quarterback this year, and you want to give that guy as many targets as possible. McNutt and the tight end group help, but Iowa will be looking for more.


Mark from Battle Creek, Mich., writes: Adam, not only are you correct about wide receiver being Michigan's deepest position, but your forgot about Martavious Odoms, who has been very reliable when healthy over the course of his career, and tight end Kevin Koger who will have a much bigger role in the new offense. Also a few very good young receivers like Miller and Jackson who are anxious to prove themselves, and a highly touted tight end recruit coming in who will probably see the field. What say you sir?

Andrew from D.C. writes: Hey Adam, in both your Spring Superlatives and article on WR depth in the B10, you forgot about Martavious Odoms for Michigan. He could have been one of our top targets last year if not for the early injury that shelved his season. Should be interesting to see how he fits in the new system, though RR's staff had enough faith in his receiving abilities to move him from slot to the outside.

Adam Rittenberg: Mark and Andrew (and others), thanks for bringing up Odoms. I should have included him among the top returning wideouts despite his injury issues last season. The thing with Odoms is he seems like a classic spread-offense wideout, and it will be interesting to see how he transitions to a new system. Michigan's offensive coaches will be looking for more than just pure speed. It's a big year for Koger at tight end, a position that could be featured more in the new system.


Adam from Baltimore writes: Hey Adam,Regarding the dark horse Heisman candidates, while I think Baker could improve upon his numbers from last year (maybe even up to 1,400 yards), because MSU's offense isn't as flashy as Oregon's, and because he probably will have to compete with his own quarterback for a few votes, I just don't like Baker's chances. I think it would take a really extraordinary year (2,000+ yards, 7 ypc, 25 touchdowns, MSU going undefeated) and Andrew Luck & Kellen Moore having less than stellar years for him to be really in the mix, because as you know this award is now QB driven. They've got the gaudy stats and get the hype. That's why I think it'll be tough even for James to win it this year. Andrew Luck is still probably my front-runner.

Adam Rittenberg: It's going to be tough for any Big Ten player to win the Heisman if Luck has a season like he did in 2010. Same goes for Moore. But Baker is a guy who could put himself in the mix if he puts together a complete season. He was great early on for Michigan State, but the Spartans' rushing attack struggled a bit down the stretch. Michigan State also likely will feature multiple backs, as Le'Veon Bell was very impressive early on and Larry Caper brings something to the table as well. It's a very good group of backs in East Lansing.


Jim from Green Bay, Wis., writes: What do you think about the Badgers defense, and Mike Taylor to be more specific?

Adam Rittenberg: Taylor is a very solid player, and he and his fellow linebackers might have to lead the way on defense this season. Wisconsin loses an All-American up front in J.J. Watt and two starters in the secondary (Jay Valai and Niles Brinkley). Although the depth in the secondary isn't bad at all, Wisconsin should be a linebacker-led defense with Taylor and Chris Borland, who returns from a shoulder injury.

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