Big Ten mailblog

August, 11, 2009
8/11/09
2:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

A few quick questions and answers.

Stewart from Dallas writes: In regards to recent reports that Rich Rodriguez did not know of Justin Feagin's criminal past or police record, how can a head coach of a major program not be aware of this? Shouldn't someone know or is Rodriguez lying again (he did it before at WVU)?And is Feagin just the first of a pattern of questionable players that will be brought into Ann Arbor (he did it before at WVU)?

Adam Rittenberg: Feagin didn't appear to have any known issues during the recruiting process, and coaches do miss things from time to time. Still, it's a knock against Rodriguez, who, like many successful coaches, has had his share of bad apples. Feagin told police that he didn't face any repercussions for his arrests as a minor, so there might not be records that are readily available on him. The key part is your last sentence. If Feagin is the only Rodriguez recruit to turn out like this, the clamor will die down. If other problems follow, it could spell trouble for Rodriguez.


Dr. Jack from North Hollywood, Calif., writes: Dear Adam,I enjoyed your article on returning starters. I read another article written on that same subject. They did a statistical breakdown of returning starters and the amount of wins generated over a 3 year span. The author used the Big 12 conference.It basically showed that it didn't matter. The big schools could reload and still find success where as the smaller schools could return 22 and still have issues.My feeling is that is all comes down to what position is coming back. Obviously quarterbacks being the most important. Beyond that it becomes extremely difficult to quantify.Pete Carroll/USC are a perfect example. He was so upset that Sanchez left that he trashed him initially to the media. [Terrelle] Pryor will be the deciding factor when, in my view, OSU beats the Trojans. Can you tell me where to find a breakdown of the players that are returning from individual schools.

Adam Rittenberg: An excellent analysis, and I'd expect nothing less from the good doctor. Returning starters don't mean everything, and the position group can definitely loom large when evaluating who's back and who's not. It's never easy to replace a multiyear starter at quarterback or on the offensive line, while replacing a star wide receiver seems a bit easier because freshmen and sophomores can contribute right away at those spots. As for finding the returning players from each team, check out the online media guides for each Big Ten school.


Tony B. from Limerick, Maine, writes: Hey Adam,Has USC ever played in Columbus?

Adam Rittenberg: Good question, Tony. USC has played Ohio State in Columbus seven times, most recently in 1990, when the Trojans won 35-26. USC is 3-4 in Columbus, with Ohio State's last win coming in 1964, when the No. 2 Buckeyes shut out the visitors 17-0.


Gray from Bloomington, Ind., writes: Hey Adam, i love your blog and read it every day. I understand why Indiana doesnt get any respect, but i truly believe they are going to be a sleeper in the big ten this year. Chappel will be a pro prospect after the season, we have the best D-end tandem in the nation, our linebackers and receivers are solid, and the O-line is much improved. Do you think Indiana can make a bowl game?

Adam Rittenberg: Indiana will be a deeper and more experienced team this year, but whether the Hoosiers have enough talent to get to six or seven wins remains to be seen. The key in my mind will be the defense. If Indiana can't field a respectable defense with Jammie Kirlew, Greg Middleton and Matt Mayberry, the program never will. I like your confidence in Ben Chappell, but he needs to be more consistent in the passing game and find a few playmakers at wide receiver now that Kellen Lewis is gone. A lot of things need to fall right for the Hoosiers to make a bowl game, but it's certainly possible.


Kasey from Chicago: Should we complain about the big ten getting snubbed, or just watch them blow away the ACC Pac 10?

Adam Rittenberg: The Big Ten doesn't get much of a crack at the ACC until the postseason, though Indiana and Virginia do meet on Oct. 10. As for the Pac-10, the Big Ten can really help itself here. Obviously, an Ohio State win against USC would be huge for the league, and Minnesota, Iowa and Purdue also get opportunities to beat Pac-10 teams coming off of bowl appearances (Cal, Arizona and Oregon).

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