Big Ten mailblog

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
5:00
PM ET
Missed the regular Tuesday mail, so I'm catching up today.

A quick reminder: you are free to email me about anything you want, but there are certain topics that will never be addressed here in the mailblog. One of them is media criticism, whether it relates to editorial decisions by ESPN or other organizations. We simply don't go there on the blog, so while you can keep asking, you won't be getting answers here.

Let's proceed ...

Joshua from Harvard, Ill., writes: Would it behoove the Big Ten to quietly talk to Texas about joining the conference if Texas A&M joins the SEC? I am thinking allow them to keep TLN, convince them that they can have a reasonable split from the Big Ten Network, and all of their tape available to everyone.Then the conference could work on OU, ND, and a player to be named later to have the best Big Ten possible.

Adam Rittenberg: Joshua, I highly doubt the other Big Ten schools would be on board with a plan that would create some inequalities. The Big Ten succeeds because Ohio State is willing to take the same cut of the revenue as Indiana. Your plan would upset this dynamic, and as great as Texas could be for the Big Ten, other schools have to have some standards. Everyone keeps bringing up Oklahoma, but expansion is about more than athletic reputation, and OU isn't the best fit from an academic and cultural standpoint. OU isn't an AAU member, which matters to the Big Ten presidents. Trust me, Nebraska would have a tougher time being admitted to the Big Ten if it wasn't part of the AAU at the time of the decision.



Ryan from Kansas writes: I would like your comment on two scenarios. First of all I am a die-hard Husker fan and see two scenarios in the big 10 shaping up to be similar to situations my Huskers went through during the Callahan Debacle of ?05-?07. In your professional opinion, how does Russell Wilson to Wisconsin compare to Sam Keller to Nebraska in ?07? (and you can't say "because Wilson is better," because Keller was a pretty good QB and had some success at AZ st.) Keller was the hotshot savior that was going to lead Nebraska to the Promised Land. Now, I see Wilson having that sort of hype. My second scenario is over in Ann Arbor. You have a west coast coach (Hoke) who has a run first qb (Robinson). This is similar to when Callahan took over for Solich. Billy C forced the west coast offense on an option running team and they struggled mightily. I can see the same situation in Michigan. What is your take?

Adam Rittenberg: Two good questions, Ryan. I know everyone loves to draw comparisons, but Russell Wilson isn't Sam Keller. Sure, they have some similar circumstances, but they're in different situations. Every case is unique. Could Wilson fall apart? Maybe, but after watching him in practice, talking to him and talking to his teammates and coaches, he has put himself in position to succeed. A lot of people would be surprised if Wilson doesn't make Wisconsin better this season. He's a very skilled guy who approaches things with the right mind-set. As for Michigan, it comes down to how flexible the coaches will be with Denard Robinson and the offense. Coordinator Al Borges has said he'll find ways to utilize Robinson's strengths, including the run game. This isn't going to be a full-blown West Coast offense. It will be more of a transitional system. But if things aren't working for Robinson and the coaches don't make the adjustments, it could get ugly.


Brian from Newark, Del., writes: Adam,Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't get this whole "conference perception" thing. Seeing Low's piece on the SEC winning another national championship reigniting this opinion of mine: TEAMS win championships and games, not the conference. When did glory for success switch from the teams to the entire conference they play in? You field questions all the time about what wins would help the Big Ten as a whole, but I still fail to see why this view is so pervasive. Will the mentality ever switch back to team accomplishment instead of collective wins?

Adam Rittenberg: Brian, this is a really good observation. I'm not sure when exactly things shifted, but the SEC always seemed to flaunt its league pride more than other conferences. Having SEC teams win the past five national titles has only increased the noise from Dixie. I wonder whether the Big Ten would be parading itself the same way if it won five straight titles. Hard to say for sure. The competition between conferences for TV money and other revenue likely has contributed to the current dynamic, and the rivalries between leagues, even at the commissioner level, are very real. Bottom line: we're constantly measuring leagues against one another.


A.J. from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: Hi Adam, there are some great quarterbacks in the league this year, many of whom are great runners, but we've seen that injuries can weigh heavily on a team's success. Who in your mind are best back-up quarterbacks in the league?

Adam Rittenberg: A.J., you bring up a really good point. Backup quarterbacks could play a big role in determining the Big Ten champion. Penn State has two QBs with starting experience (Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin), so its backup won't be totally green. Purdue's backup (Rob Henry or Robert Marve) also will have starting experience. Michigan's Devin Gardner has a lot of natural gifts and could end up being a strong fit in Borges' offense, but he hasn't done much in games. Michigan State's Andrew Maxwell has drawn good reviews, but he needs to prove himself in games. I'm hearing good things about Northwestern's Kain Colter, who did some impressive things in the TicketCity Bowl.


Brian from Gaithersburg, Md., writes: Hey Adam,I'm a Boilermaker living in ACC country, so I'm wondering what ramifications the investigation of "The U" will have on the Purdue squad. I saw a Yahoo! news investigation and it implicated Robert Marve in a BIG way. Do you think Purdue will have to vacate the wins they got with Marve last year (all both of them)? What does the future hold for Marve at Purdue?

Adam Rittenberg: Brian, Purdue shouldn't have to worry too much about playing Marve last year, unless it somehow had prior knowledge of these allegations with Marve and Nevin Shapiro (unlikely). But going forward, it's important for Purdue to gauge how Marve's eligibility could be affected before sending him out on the field. The NCAA is investigating, and Purdue must keep a close eye on what's happening. If there's a strong chance Marve's eligibility changes, Purdue would be wise to keep him on the sideline.


Brad from Athens, Ohio, writes: Hey Adam, being someone who aspires to be a university athletic director, the expansion talk excites me and I have a few bold predictions I would like you to weigh in on. I believe these predictions will take place within the next five years (probably less)1) There will be five "super-conferences"; B1G, SEC, PAC-?, ACC/Big East merger and the MWC.2) I think the B1G, PAC and SEC will snag who they want from the Big 12, ACC and Big East, getting the B1G into the NYC market and the PAC and SEC into Texas. B1G has a shot to get farther south with the likes of OU and Maryland.3) The remaining Big East and ACC teams will merge to prevent being left out.4) The MWC will swoop in to save the likes of Kansas, Kansas St, Iowa St and Baylor and the conference will also receive a BCS tie in.5) ND remains independent (not so bold) but Texas will also become an independent with no conference allowing them to bully the smaller schools in their conference.

Adam Rittenberg: 1) Wouldn't be shocked if superconferences come in the next 5-10 years, although I absolutely hate the idea as it would dilute these leagues. You can have a playoff without superconferences. But yes, the momentum is there. 2) I think the ACC needs to be concerned if there's another realignment wave. The Big 12 would likely dissolve, but the ACC could be in trouble, too. Several ACC schools make more sense culturally for the Big Ten than Big 12 schools do. 3) We could see a Big East-ACC merge, but it still might be one giant weak league. 4) The Mountain West could have an opportunity to strengthen itself if there's another shakeup. 5) Texas wants to remain affiliated with a conference, but the Longhorns have to remain open to being an independent.

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