<
>

Big Ten Friday mailblog

Enjoy the games this weekend! Let's get to those emails.

Jason from Seattle writes: Hey Adam, love the blog, keep up the good work. Do you think the Michigan game being called early is a disadvantage for them going forward? It seems like in the first game of the season, even against an over-matched opponent, every snap is important to work out the kinks, get younger guys real game experience, etc. Do you think them only playing ~70% of a game puts them behind the curve?

Adam Rittenberg: You know, Jason, I was thinking about this after last week's game. Michigan certainly wouldn't have benefited from having to play after a long lightning delay, as the injury risk for players would have spiked. They definitely made the right call to end the game. And it seemed like Michigan had the game well in hand. I don't know how much Denard Robinson and the other starters would have played in the fourth quarter. You always like being able to finish the game as a team, particularly in the opener, but it's not as if Robinson hasn't been in a crunch-time situation before. I don't think it will have too much of an effect Saturday night.


Josh from Aurora, Ill., writes: I am asking you to be a voice of reason in the Notre Dame to the Big 10 conversation. It's referred to as a home run but I believe the end result will be anything but. There's a huge cultural divide present. Notre Dame strongly values their independence and would view joining a conference as doing them a favor by joining. The Big 10 values treating all schools on an equal footing. This goes way beyond public versus private school - it's the mindset of the institution. This may add some TV sets, but it's not a good fit. I beg you to please re-think your logic on this.

Adam Rittenberg: Josh, I agree about Notre Dame treasuring its independence, and it would extremely hard for Fighting Irish fans to accept seeing their team in a conference. But the reality is Notre Dame no longer carries the glitz it once did, no matter how much undeserved hype it continues to receive. Why should this program get better BCS access than Boise State or TCU? But the landscape could change to a point where Notre Dame must join a league in football, and the Big Ten still makes the most sense. There are also advantages to Big Ten membership for Notre Dame, mainly increased exposure for its Olympic sports programs through the Big Ten Network. Notre Dame values all of its sports teams like few other institutions, and those squads really can benefit.


ACKC from Las Vegas writes: Any thoughts on Brett Maher's debut? He replaced the most accurate kicker in NCAA history and all he did was go 4/4 with two of them being for 48 and 50 yards.Expanding on that - what other schools have the type of kickers that Nebraska has produced. Both Browns (unrelated) from the 90's went on to play on Sunday's and then Henery. Can there be such a thing as Kicker U? (I recall the 80's when PSU was known as Linebacker U).

Adam Rittenberg: I watched most of Nebraska's opener Thursday and was really impressed with Maher. He looked totally under control and showcased a strong leg despite some wind in the stadium. I'm also impressed the Huskers have produced back-to-back specialists who seem to be able to do it all (field goals, punts). It's definitely a haven for outstanding specialists. We'll have to see how Maher performs in pressure situations when Big Ten play begins, but so far, so good.


Tim from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Hey Adam, love the blog since Wisconsin is now considered an elite big ten team shouldn't they start scheduling top tier teams from other conferences? Ohio State has scheduled Texas, USC and Miami although Miami hasn't turned out to be good and in the future schedule has Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia Tech scheduled in the future. While Wisconsin only has Virginia Tech. Michigan plays Notre Dame, and Alabama next year and so does Penn State. I don't see Wisconsin putting up 50 points on UNLV and a weak Oregon State next week being very helpful for the B1G's image.

Adam Rittenberg: I wish more Big Ten teams would adopt Ohio State's scheduling philosophy, and Wisconsin fans have wanted to see the nonconference schedule upgraded for a long time now. I wouldn't knock Wisconsin for playing teams like Oregon State and Arizona State, which have had success in the past. The Badgers must visit Corvallis next year, which could be a tough game. But your point is a good one. The Big Ten is helped when its elite teams beat elite teams from other power conferences. Wisconsin should step up more than it has in the past.


Jon from Chicago writes: Do you think Virginia Tech could be a good Big Ten expansion target?1. Good academics...they would be middle of the pack in the big ten.2. "Moves the dial" nationally?They have consistently made BCS and other top tier bowls in recent years and have good media coverage.3. Relevant in the DC (#9 nationally) tv market...this may be a stretch.4. Great recruiting base..They can open the Big Ten brand to the Southeast in new ways.I'm not sure about the culture in Blacksburg or if they would be receptive to the Big Ten, however, they seem like a fun fanbase that could fit in with the best in the Big Ten. Thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Virginia Tech is an interesting candidate. Somewhat similar to Oklahoma in that the football program's strength makes it extremely appealing. Like Oklahoma, Va Tech isn't an AAU member but is a solid academic institution. Oklahoma moves the needle more nationally because the Sooners actually win BCS bowls, but if you were looking to the ACC, you could do worse than Virginia Tech. I do wonder how the school and its fans would fit culturally in the Big Ten. A lot of folks see Va Tech as a better fit for the SEC.


Nick H. from Champaign, Ill., writes: Hey Adam,It seems to me that all the expansion talk regarding the Big Ten is focused on taking teams from the Big 12 or Big East. What about the SEC? Of course Florida or LSU would not be an option, but what about Kentucky or Vanderbilt? With Texas A&M joining, the league is at 13 teams. Vanderbilt is an AAU school that has no real chance to win the SEC anytime soon, and Kentucky is one of the few schools in the nation where its basketball team is enough of a powerhouse that it could be a valuable edition. While the New York market would be nice, neither Rutgers or Syracuse seems to bring as much to the table as an SEC school.

Adam Rittenberg: We discussed Kentucky as a potential expansion candidate the first time around, and I'm sure someone threw Vanderbilt out there, too. I don't know how much those schools add, though, because football and location are the two biggest factors in any further expansion. Neither school moves the needle in football, and while the Nashville market is nice, Tennessee still owns the state. If the Big Ten wants to add schools in this category, it might as well look to the bigger markets.


Mike from Allentown, Pa., writes: Hey Adam and Brian,Due to the weather conditions that have been going on in the state of Pennsylvania, i.e. constant rain/flooding throughout the Eastern/Central part of the state, couldn't this work to Penn State's advantage Saturday? Or, am I being too much of a homer? I think we have better depth at RB, but we do not have the best RB, in this game. The rain would be a huge damper on the passing games on both sides, since both QB situations are shaky at best. I'm not sold that Trent Richardson could carry the ball 40 times, and still be effective at carries 35-40, or that their backups would provide him enough of a breather. Whereas, I feel the combo of Redd, Beachum, Dukes, Suhey, Zordich, and Green, could cancel Trent out. I know Alabama's defense is very good, but I was wondering what your thoughts were on the game should the weather suggest it to be a battle on the ground? Is a 7-3 outcome (going either way) really not possible in the event that there is a downpour in State College? I think the worse the weather, the better it plays into the hands of a Penn State update, your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: I agree bad weather probably favors Penn State, which is used to rain and less than ideal conditions in Happy Valley. Anything to slow down that Alabama defense, right? Penn State needs to make this a low-scoring game and force more mistakes from the unproven Alabama quarterbacks. If Trent Richardson goes off again, the Lions have no chance. Penn State also needs its run game to help out the quarterbacks, and the Lions' oft-criticized offensive line needs to play an excellent game. While slick conditions could help Penn State, I doubt the weather will be the deciding factor Saturday.