Big Ten mailblog

November, 8, 2011
11/08/11
11:00
AM ET
Let's get to it. As always, send me your questions and comments here.

Tim from St. Petersburg, Fla., writes: Adam, disturbs me that you would write an article about recruiting less than 48 hours after the alleged cover up of sexual misconduct at PSU. The victims are who should truly be moarned not the chance that PSU football recruiting could be effected. Thats the problem in the first place is all anyone cared about was how it effects the University and it's football program. Joe Pa and the rest of these dirt bags should be fired and publicly reprimanded.

Adam Rittenberg: Tim, you're not the only one upset by the recruiting post. It might have been a bit too soon, but we're going to be covering all elements of this story on the blog. I also had posts on what the attorney general had to say as well as commentary from former Penn State star LaVar Arrington, NCAA president Mark Emmert and others. If the recruiting post bothers you, don't read it and check out the other coverage we have. There is and will be plenty. But there are those interested in the impact of this situation on Penn State's future.



Ian from Hartford writes: Adam, This is a hard time to be a Penn State Fan and Alum. I have been listening to fans, especially OSU fans, commenting about PSU's situation and almost bragging that PSU is in trouble. I do not consider the two situations similar and I would never trade my time and experiences at Penn State no matter what. This is so much worse than an NCAA investigation or problems with players. This is a sin of omission from Paterno and worse from the administration. "IF" is a big word right now and there is a lot to be determined legally. In the court of public opinion Joe Pa is already being found guilty as with the rest of the administration. I will still root for my team, I will still go to the games and I will still sing the Alma Mater. Penn State means more than football, it is bigger than that. It is bigger than a football team, a coach or an administrator. Penn State, like any other school, is about the people who shared time at a special place. I will support this team, they had nothing to do with this situation. I still love my school but I deplore the actions of those involved. We expect more and deserve more. Most of all, those kids deserved more.

Adam Rittenberg: Ian, thanks for sharing your perspective. I know a lot of Penn State alumni feel the same way as you do. They remain proud of their alma mater, but their trust has been shaken to a certain extent by what is alleged to have happened. It's a very sad situation all around, and you're absolutely right about the kids deserving better.



Matt from Omaha, Neb., writes: Great blog Adam! With the revelations of last weekend, who has a bigger "intangible" motivation going into this weekend's Nebraska @ Penn St. match-up? Is it the Huskers, with their annual mid-season implosion in Lincoln, or is it Penn St, with the ugly allegations regarding their former DC and current employees? Thanks, and looking forward to another crazy week in the Big 10!

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Matt. Good question. Penn State players will have to deal with this distraction all week, but the interesting thing is they don't have any direct connections to Jerry Sandusky or what allegedly happened at Penn State before they arrived on campus. They obviously know Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary and some of the other folks involved, but it's not as if they played for Sandusky. Penn State has used adversity as a rallying cry all season, and quarterback Matthew McGloin tweeted here and here that the team will do the same this week. Nebraska, meanwhile, heads to State College in must-win mode after a poor showing against Northwestern. I think both teams will have plenty of motivation Saturday.



Eric from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Adam my man, please enlighten me. How can Iowa (and to a lesser extent, MSU, Mich, Wisconsin) be such a different team on the road compared to the friendly confines of Kinnick? Is it partially to blame on youth? Do the younger guys, especially on defense, need the extra crowd boost to get them through times of adversity? Does some of the blame go on the coaches for not preparing their players for the tough road environments? Or is it really that all these teams are just so average that the biggest difference between them is who gets to play at home? And don't worry, your secret's safe with me and the Hawkeyes this week seeing as D'Antonio won't allow you to speak to his players.

Adam Rittenberg: Ha, sounds like a plan, Eric. You ask some really good questions here about teams' struggles on the road. This season, it has been especially tough to win Big Ten games away from home. But I definitely think maturity plays into it, especially with a team like Iowa that is fairly young on both sides of the ball. Players always will be more comfortable on their home field, and factors like sideline-to-field communication are better at home than on the road. But certain Big Ten teams seem totally different at home vs. on the road. I'd put Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State into that category this year. One team that seems to perform better on the road rather than home is Northwestern, as Pat Fitzgerald seems to get his guys geared up for tough environments (Wildcats are 14-8 on the road since 2008). I think one of the more underrated streaks in college football was Ohio State's run of 16 consecutive Big Ten road wins between 2005-09.



Josh from Atlanta writes: Thanks for blogging and keeping me informed about the B1G even though I live in SEC country. My question is about the B1G title game. If the title game comes down to two teams whom already play for a trophy, is that trophy up for grabs during the title game? For example, if Iowa and Wisconsin play in the B1G title game, is it for the B1G Championship and the Heartland trophy? Same can be said for Penn State/MSU. If so, would this hold true for teams that play for a trophy in the annual crossover game, where the trophy could have already changed hands once during the season. Again, for example, if Minnesota and Wisconsin played in the title game, would it be for Paul Bunyon's axe again, even though they play for that trophy every year during the regular season. I'm interested in your take on this...

Adam Rittenberg: Josh, it's up to the schools whether they want to put their rivalry trophy at stake in the Big Ten title game. The Big Ten won't stand in the way, at least from what I've been told. So if Penn State and Michigan State want to play for that thing they play for in Indianapolis, they can go for it. Same goes for Wisconsin and Iowa. Wouldn't it be something if those longtime rivals, who don't meet during the regular season, both make it to Indy?



Jake from Seattle writes: I'll preface this comment by acknowledging it is at considerable odds with conventional wisdom: I don't think Monty Ball dropping 20 lbs was good for Wisconsin. Monty is certainly faster, more explosive and having a freakishly good individual season. But I can't help but think Wisconsin could have benefitted more from a power running back, and more sustained drives, during the stretches in the OSU and MSU games when the offense and Russell Wilson weren't in sync. Again, no doubt an incredible individual season, but I think a bigger Monty, who could more reliably pick up short yards, would have given us fewer blowouts but more wins. Am I insane?

Adam Rittenberg: A little, Jake. I really don't know how you can connect Wisconsin's losses to Montee Ball at all. The guy has been absolutely fabulous. Let's look at those two losses. Wisconsin ran the ball very well against Michigan State with Ball in the game and looked like a different offense when he left for a few series after getting his bell rung. Ball had 115 rush yards and a touchdown on only 18 carries in East Lansing. I put the struggles against Ohio State more on the offensive line than the running backs, or the lack of a true "power" back, as you put it. Wisconsin's big hogs didn't come through in Columbus.



Greg from Omaha writes: Hey Adam, With the recent losses by both Michigan and Nebraska, which team's quarterback gives them a better chance at making it to Indy (assuming Iowa and MSU faulter)?

Adam Rittenberg: Greg, I'd go with Nebraska's Taylor Martinez. He has been really good since the Wisconsin loss and seems to be throwing the ball with more control and confidence. Denard Robinson remains one of the more clutch players I've ever seen, as he always saves his best for the fourth quarter, but he seems to have regressed as a passer and makes far too many mistakes. I'd go with T-Magic right now.

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