We finally had games to discuss during today's Big Ten chat, and all you care about was realignment.
I don't blame you. Once again, the prospect of major conference expansion is overshadowing the product on the field. And while the Big Ten continues to say expansion is on the back burner, the league isn't burying its head in the sand.
Here's the full chat wrap-up, and some highlights:
David (NY): With the probable A&M move and the likely disbanding of the Big 12, do you think that the Big 10 will be able to force ND's hand. I think that after ND, Rutgers and Syracuse make the most sense, both academically and regionally to bring NY into the fold.
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM): David, if the landscape changes to a point where ND has to join a conference, the Big Ten should do everything it can to add the Fighting Irish. I don't think it makes sense to add both Rutgers and Syracuse. One is fine, but neither program really moves the needle nationally (Syracuse more than Rutgers). I'd prefer to see Rutgers/Syracuse and a team like Maryland, which puts the Big Ten in another market.
Rick (Adel, Ga.): Hey Adam. I like the current 12 team format in the B1G. I really do not want it to change. My question is will the standards of the B1G cause the conference to paint itself into a corner in terms of not exploring the idea of a great and traditional program like Oklahoma. If the B1G ever expands I just dont see how adding Maryland, Syracuse, and Rutgers would help the B1G product. In fact I think it will dillute it. Sure they are great academic schools and in great media markets but compare that to Oklahoma which is rich in tradition, okay academically, and a great product to promote on TV. I just rather watch Oklahoma vs. Michigan, OSU, Penn St. Neb. etc. over Syracuse vs the same teams I mentioned.
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM): Rick, you bring up some really good points here, and I think Brian and I will explore Oklahoma more in the blog. There are some programs the Big Ten certainly could add and other programs the league never would add. Oklahoma falls somewhere in the middle. I know this is hard for some fans to understand, but Oklahoma would be an academic stretch for the Big Ten. No AAU membership, and while OU has a decent academic reputation, it would lag behind the others in the Big Ten. I know I'll take some heat for this, but Nebraska was a bit of a reach, too. I agree OU brings a lot to the table and could be a great addition in a lot of ways, but I just don't think the Big Ten presidents are willing to overlook the school's shortcomings.
Will (Columbus, OH): If Denard passes for 200 yds and runs for 50 more, can Fitz or Shaw carry the load and give Michigan a victory or is Denard going to have to carry the load like he did in last years ND game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM): Great question, Will. It has taken heroic performances by QBs for Michigan to win its past two games against ND (Tate Forcier in 2009, Denard last year). I think it's imperative for Michigan to establish a rushing attack outside of Robinson. I liked what I saw from Fitz Toussaint last week. Now can he stay healthy? Time will tell. But if the Michigan line performs well and the RBs take the load off of Robinson, it makes the Wolverines' offense really dangerous. That said, I expect a much better performance from Notre Dame this week.
Jake (Chicago): I know Notre Dame has many Big Ten rivalries already, but don't you think an annual Illinois-Notre Dame game in Chicago makes a lot of sense? Tons of alumni/fans for both schools are in Chicago, I think it would become a great tradition...also the new Illini AD has a relationship with Brian Kelly so that could help make this happen
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM): Jake, that's a really good call. I don't know how willing Notre Dame would be to play another Big Ten school, but an Illinois game in Chicago makes a lot of sense. The Mike Thomas-Brian Kelly connection certainly could help. I doubt we'd see more than a two-game series -- especially with ND playing Northwestern in 2014 and 2018 -- but it would be a good starting point.
Thanks again for the questions. Same time, same place next week.