Big Ten mailblog

September, 6, 2011
9/06/11
6:00
PM ET
Let's get to those emails. If you haven't figured out how to contact me, get with the program.

Dave from Aurora, Neb., writes: Adam, In reference to the Big 10 hinting at simply staying at 12 teams if/when conference re-alignment occurs...Wouldn't the Pac 16 or SEC (having more teams) have the edge on getting 2 teams into the BCS bowls....also giving them a financial advantage? Seems to me..the more teams..the more chances for getting 2 in... Your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Dave, I think it depends on the teams you're adding. Also remember that more teams means more mouths to feed, and the Big Ten doesn't want to bring in mouths to feed if they aren't breadwinners, too. The Big Ten already has seven of the nation's most appealing bowl teams: Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State. BCS bowls absolutely love inviting Big Ten teams with at-large berths. It's why the league has sent two teams to BCS bowls every year since 2005. The Pac-12 doesn't have that same pull right now, and unless both Oklahoma and Texas join, it still won't have the what the Big Ten has with its current 12-team structure.


Ken from Indianapolis writes: Adam,How can you drop Purdue in your weekly rankings when you picked them to lose to MTSU and they win?Seems like if you win (especially when people are picking you to lose), you should move up in rankings, but I guess it matters more that you lose to an over-rated USC team like Minnesota did.I think your 'rankings' are more like perceptions!

Adam Rittenberg: Well, Ken, the power rankings are a collaborative effort, but you're right in that they are largely perception-based early in the season. We've only had one game to evaluate these teams, so September power rankings (or any rankings, for that matter) are largely based on perception. As I've always written, the power rankings are a snapshot of the league at this very moment. Minnesota looked better in its loss to USC than Purdue did in its win against Middle Tennessee. The Boilers were extremely fortunate to escape with a victory. The teams could flip-flop this week depending on how they look on Saturday. The power rankings are meant to fluctuate, but the picture typically clears up after a few games.


Mathew from Wisconsin writes: Adam, There has always been a complaint that throughout Jim Tressel?s tenure at Ohio State he never won Big Ten coach of the year. If Fickle steps in and wins 10+ games, doesn?t that justify the argument that Tressel isn?t a great coach, but simply possessed superior talent?

Adam Rittenberg: Mathew, Luke Fickell would win Big Ten Coach of the Year largely because of the unique challenges Ohio State is facing this season. The award typically goes to coaches who exceed expectations, and Fickell would fit the description if Ohio State wins 10 or more games. But let's not minimize what Jim Tressel accomplished year after year in Columbus. Look at the national power programs that have taken major steps backward in the past 10 years. Ohio State hasn't, and Tressel was a huge reason why. A lot of coaches have great talent, but few of them dominate their leagues like Tressel dominated the Big Ten.


Ermin from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Hey Adam,I?m a big Iowa fan and I love rivalries but I don?t know if I can even consider Iowa?s game against ISU a rivalry anymore, especially now since we have Nebraska, I really believe that it would be better for the Hawkeyes if they actually played a good team that they could at least compete against instead of wasting their time, and mine, by destroying our ?rival.? What do you think, Adam?

Adam Rittenberg: Ermin, I think you have a short memory. I doubt you felt this way when Iowa State won five straight against Iowa from 1998-2002, including the first four contests Kirk Ferentz coached for the Hawkeyes. True, Iowa has dominated the past three meetings, and the programs seem to be at different levels, but Iowa isn't good enough to take anyone lightly. I know Ferentz won't let his players think that way. I'm as excited as anyone about the Iowa-Nebraska rivalry, but the Cy-Hawk series shouldn't be dismissed just because of the past three years.


Jeff from NY writes: Is there a reason we haven't started referring to Wisconsin's middle LB's as "Tool Time"? (Mike Taylor and Chris Borland a la Home Improvement's Tim and Al)

Adam Rittenberg: Very clever, Jeff! Wisconsin also has a Wilson on the roster. He plays quarterback, or so I've heard.


Dave from Lansing, Mich., writes: Adam,During MSU's game against Youngstown State, MSU seemed a bit frustrated, especially in the first half. I think Youngstown State played a lot better game than antisipated, but left me a bit concerned about the upcoming season. Now that we've seen them play, should their lack luster performance against Youngstown State be a cause for concern for the remaining season?

Adam Rittenberg: Dave, I'd get a little concerned if Michigan State doesn't deliver a more polished start to Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic. The Spartans must cut down their penalties and execute the offense more smoothly. Keep in mind Michigan State has some new faces along the offensive line, while several young players are taking on bigger roles with the defense. Still, sluggish starts like the one we saw Friday will get the Spartans beat in Big Ten play. A lot of teams look shaky in Week 1, but the good ones correct their mistakes before Week 2.


Adam from Minnneapolis writes: You said no team impressed you enough to change your minds about bowl positioning, but I fail to see how Northwestern didn't move up in your minds. They got what you yourselves repeatedly called a "huge win" over one of the toughest week 1 opponents any Big Ten team had. THey showed huge improvement in all the biggest areas of off-season concern, primarily on both lines and defensively. Oh, and they did all that without the guy the coaches voted the best quarterback in the conference last season. You two already thought they would win 7-8 games, how have they not moved up into possible contender status in your eyes? Should I have waited for the new power rankings to come out to send off this angry email?

Adam Rittenberg: Adam, I wouldn't put too much stock in September bowl projections, but I do think Northwestern could be victimized by the number of bowl-eligible Big Ten teams this season. The Big Ten could end up with nine or 10 bowl-eligible squads. Northwestern has been leapfrogged for bowls in the past, and while the school has shown it travels well and typically plays extremely exciting games, other Big Ten teams remain more attractive because of larger fan bases. But there's a long way to go and a lot of shuffling in the bowl projections.

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