As Bill Raftery would say, send it in!
Craig from Braintree, Mass., writes: I loved seeing Ivan's article on city based college's. A couple comments: 1) I was disappointed to not see Minnesota on the list of attendees at the conference. 2) One of the differences mentioned in the article between college fans and pro fans was the importance of winning. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: Craig, I agree on your first point. Minnesota could have benefited from attending a conference like the Big City Marketing Summit. Northwestern overhauled its marketing strategy last year and the results have been good. ... As to your second point, you refer to this quote from Houston senior associate athletic director Darren Dunn: "The score matters a lot more here than the pro teams. I think college fans are more passionate about wins and losses than pro fans are." It's somewhat up for debate as some college teams will sell out their stadiums and arenas regardless of the record. But Dunn has a point about certain pro teams, especially NFL squads, maintaining a stranglehold on markets even when they're struggling. The best example could be the Washington Redskins, who continue to dominate talk in the Beltway despite years and years of failing to meet expectations. The Cleveland Browns still matter in Cleveland when they're terrible, but teams like Minnesota and Northwestern can fade away during down periods. So he has a point.
Kris from Lincoln, Neb., writes: First, I love the coverage that everyone gets on the B1G Ten blog. It's refreshing to see all the teams have a family-like status among each other.My question is in regards to the trophies and the Huskers. Where do we start with getting Nebraska into the trophy tradition? Obviously, Nebraska/Iowa would be the starting point (please, nothing corn related), but what about making the Land Grant Trophy Nebraska/Penn State instead of MSU/Penn State? Would there be a huge backlash? What about Michigan or Minnesota? Any chance of seeing two or three trophy games each year for Husker Nation?
Adam Rittenberg: Great question, Kris, and one we'll definitely explore as Nebraska settles in as a Big Ten member. One question to ask is whether a trophy should come before a true rivalry is established. While I have little doubt Iowa-Nebraska will be an intense rivalry, should we see how it goes the first few meetings before creating a trophy, or does it merit one now? Same with Nebraska-Michigan State, Nebraska-Michigan, etc. I highly doubt we'll see the Land Grant Trophy resurface for another game (thankfully), but there is the potential to have rivalry trophies for several games involving Nebraska. I would just be cautious not to force a rivalry. The best rivalries happen organically.
Josh from Tempe, Ariz., writes: Hi, I grew up in Michigan and have loved the Big 10 my whole life. I have been attending a Pac 12 university the last 3 years and have been paying attention to what new commissioner Larry Scott has done in his less than 2 year tenure. He has signed the biggest tv deal for a conference, added 2 teams in Utah and Colorado making it eligible for a championship game that is hosted at the site of the team with the better record to keep teams motivated, given a name that actually reflects the number of teams in the conference, the logo was voted on by fans, the divisions are geographical so they make sense, and when people complained about the notoriously bad officiating he canned the whole staff and hired entirely new officials with new training. Also pending the NFL lockout Scott is seriously considering playing games on sundays and mondays. Jim Delany in the past year has rebranded by introducing Terrible and embarrasing division names (something like 90% disapproval), an overly simplistic logo, retained the name when in fact there are actually 12 teams, is reluctant (but moving in the direction) to play night games, and only considered 2 cities for a permanent championship. Do you think Delany has grown out of touch with the fans?
Adam Rittenberg: Let me first say Larry Scott is doing a fabulous job as Pac-12 commissioner. As some of you know, I grew up in Pac-12 (then Pac-10) country and watched the league suffer because of leadership that was woefully out of touch. Scott has done wonders in a short period to make the Pac-12 more nationally relevant. And I do hope the Big Ten pays attention to some of the ideas Scott has implemented, especially from a marketing perspective. That said, let's not sell Jim Delany short. I know he's not overly popular among media and some Big Ten fans, but he has made the league a ton of money and implemented some ideas that have changed college sports, namely the introduction of the Big Ten Network. From instant replay to the Big Ten Network to the recent expansion, Delany deserves a good deal of credit for growing the Big Ten brand. And unlike the Pac-10, which really needed a boost, the Big Ten is already nationally relevant. To be fair, Delany was open to changing the league name but the presidents, who ultimately make the call, wanted to keep the traditional title (a good decision in my view). Delany hasn't had the best few months after Legends and Leaders and the Ohio State scandal, but let's keep his career in perspective.
Dan from Dallas writes: Hey, Adam, a while back you wrote an article called "Should Big Ten open season at Rose Bowl?" in which the idea of the Big Ten and PAC 10 kicking off each season against each other was being thrown about. I'm wondering if there has been any further discussion about this. You point out that it might not be a great deal for the B1G, if there isn't a return game. Might this be a great opportunity to get Chicago-Soldier Field into the mix, considering it missed out on the inaugural B1G Championship? There should be no ill-weather concerns in early September in Chicago. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg: Dan, I haven't heard anything lately, but I'll follow up and see if it's an idea the Big Ten would ever consider. Again, I don't know how beneficial it would be to play Pac-12 teams in their backyard without return games. Soldier Field will host a Big Ten team this fall as Wisconsin plays Northern Illinois in Week 3, but I think it's important for the venue to host additional college games in the coming years before potentially bidding on the Big Ten championship game after 2015.
Dave from West Palm Beach, Fla., writes: Adam, as a PSU fan and recent grad, I have many friends who go (or went) to pitt. We have been going back and forth for the last few years on who the better team is, who the better school is, and who parties harder (obviously, Penn State).I don't understand why Penn State fans have mixed feelings about this rivalry being renewed. Would they rather play a team like Syracuse year in and year out? Or maybe they want to play more teams like Indiana State? Who knows, but I think this is a good team to have on the schedule overall. Penn State hates that school in columbus, and the one in ann arbor, but the feeling doesn't seem as mutual. They prefer to hate each other more than us. It's nice to have the hate go both ways for once. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: Dave, I'm with you on this. Penn State-Pitt used to be a great rivalry and has the potential to be a great one again. I think the concern isn't so much Penn State losing games with Syracuse or Indiana State, but Penn State being less willing to schedule a series with teams like Alabama. You know the way most teams from automatic-qualifying conferences approach nonconference scheduling. It's typically one game against an opponent from a AQ league, maybe two. So if Penn State were to play Pitt every year, it would be less inclined to schedule other teams from AQ leagues.
Charles from Phoenix writes: Welcome back Adam - In looking at the "position rankings" for the SEC, I've been seeing Auburn in the bottom half more often than not while the Badgers are looking solid: do you think this will effect Russell Wilsons decision on where (if) to play college ball and if so does Wisconsin have the edge?
Adam Rittenberg: Charles, while I'm sure Wilson wants to win wherever he goes, the fact that both teams lose starting quarterbacks is the biggest factor for him. The offensive schemes the teams run also could sway him one way or the other. Wisconsin will enter the fall ranked higher than Auburn, and some will label the Badgers as Big Ten favorites, but the Tigers are coming off of a national championship. Still, I think if Wilson picks football over baseball, he'll be a Badger.
Dennis from Airville, Pa., writes: Hey, Adam. Several weeks ago, you posted an answer to the question of whether or not Ohio State has a special deal with any TV network or its own network. You said you would check into it and let us know. So far, there has been no answer. It's called follow-through. What is the final answer? Let us know, please (I've got 25 cents riding on the answer).
Adam Rittenberg: Dennis, I did in fact follow up with Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith at the Big Ten spring meetings. You might have missed the post, but here's what Smith had to say: "We've really bought into the overall health of the conglomerate. ... How do we optimize all of our assets, how do we aggregate it and maximize everything for everybody? We've kind of got a little bit different philosophy from the Big 12, because they share revenue differently, they're philosophically different. That's understandable, it works for them. But for us, we like to aggregate things and see how we can rise the whole ship." Bottom line: no Ohio State network, at least for now.