Big Ten mailblog

Slow week in the Big Ten, huh? Let's get to those emails.

Matt from Rock County writes: Adam - everyone bangs on the nonconference schedules of most of the Big Ten schools, but a quick scan of the master schedule reveals:1 - B1G schools played 10 games against FCS schools, compared to 12 on SEC schedules;2 - B1G schools played 14 games against other BCS conferences (Notre Dame included), while the SEC played only 12;3 - EVERY school in the B1G played at least one BCS school, while two SEC schools played none.So while I admit that the B1G needs to win more of these nonconference games, clearly their schedule isn't that different than the SEC as a whole. Am I missing something?

Adam Rittenberg: Good info, Matt, but here's what you're missing. It's more meaningful to compare the Big Ten against the Big 12 than the SEC. The SEC has won five consecutive national championships and put itself in position to have its two best teams play for all the marbles. The Big Ten needs to put itself in a position to get that second national title game spot opposite the SEC. The key is to have stronger BCS profiles than the other major conferences aside from the SEC -- particularly the Big 12. The Big 12's BCS computer numbers blow the Big Ten's out of the water this year. That's a concern going forward. The Big Ten is really hurt by two factors in nonconference play -- the MAC and Notre Dame. All these games against MAC teams destroy the computer numbers for Big Ten teams, while Big 12 squads are scheduling better competition from other conferences. Also, Michigan and Michigan State seem to benefit very little in their BCS standings numbers from playing Notre Dame. It would be nice to see Big Ten teams play fewer games against the MAC and more against the Big 12 and the SEC (pipe dream). Otherwise, the only way a Big Ten team gets to the title game is by running the table.

Bob from Philippines writes: ADAM: You have blown off my questions all year but i hope you can find it in your heart to answer this one. We have all these CCG's but yet they don't seem to mean anything IE(The loser in the big will watch Michigan play in a better bowl even though they were not good enough to play for their conf? Bama will sit at home and watch everyone else play in their CCG and then get rewarded with the NCG)?? Bama lost to LSU and has not played a top 10 team since?? Why can't they vote the two best conf champions to the NCG? Isn't that why all the conferences are now having CCG's??

Adam Rittenberg: My apologies, Bob. Always good to hear from my friends in the South Pacific. Conferences are having title games to make money, first and foremost. It's a nice addition to the Big Ten because it decides a true champion rather than maintaining the co-champions nonsense. But you bring up a good point about the significance of these games, particularly this season, when their value seems to have been marginalized. For every Florida-Alabama game, there are others that don't mean a whole lot and can penalize the losers quite a bit. It would be a shame to see Michigan State, which would be heading to the Rose Bowl in any other year, fall down the bowl pecking order if it loses to Wisconsin on Saturday night. But fans must remember that the bowls aren't designed to be fair. They are designed to make money.

Mike from Frackville, Pa., writes: Hi AdamBefore this god-awful situation at Penn State, I held firm to a belief that post-Paterno ought to be just that. Clear out and start anew. I've always felt strongly about the entire staff, but enough is sometimes enough. Tom Bradley has handled his position so impressively, I have removed myself from my prior thinking. I've always loved JoePa, but had hoped he'd retire soon-enough to let the Urban Meyer reign begin in Happy Valley. Now, with complete conviction I am glad he's at Ohio State. I think Bradley is the man to do the job. He's been one bright spot, and one hell of a representative of my school during this whole mess. Is there a chance?

Adam Rittenberg: Mike, while there's some push from within Penn State to hire someone with ties to the school, I really get the sense they'll go outside with the hire. I think Bradley is a heck of a coach, and he did a nice job given a very difficult situation. He loves Penn State. The question is how much the perception of Bradley -- worked alongside Jerry Sandusky and succeeded him as defensive coordinator, played for and coached with Joe Paterno, was around the program for decades and decades -- would hurt Penn State in light of everything that has happened. The safe and smart choice would be to bring in an outsider with no connection to Paterno or Sandusky. But I also think Bradley could do a good job.

Lance from Alexandria writes: Hey Adam, you and Brian may want to amend your bowl pics as you missed some selection criteria. A bowl cannot pass on a team with a winning record for a .500 team and a bowl cannot pass over a team for one with two fewer losses. This makes the Ticket City Bowl the obvious destination spot for the Buckeyes and Iowa a near lock for the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Adam Rittenberg: Lance, hate to break it to you, but you're incorrect. The only Big Ten bowls that have special selection rules are Capital One and Outback, as well as Insight and Gator depending on whether the league title loser is available. The other bowls aren't bound to select a 7-5 team ahead of a 6-6 team. The Gator Bowl has made it pretty clear it wants two 6-6 teams in Florida and Ohio State, even though squads with better records are available. Check out the Big Ten's complete bowl selection process.

Jeff from NYC writes: It seems like some commentators (not on this blog) are discounting Montee Ball's Heisman chances since his biggest appeal is the 34 touchdowns. Every time his chase of Barry Sanders' record comes up, it is inevitably followed by "although Sanders did it in 11 games." I can appreciate how amazing Sanders' record is, but if the extra games made it that much easier to break SOMEONE WOULD HAVE ALREADY DONE IT. Call it the "modern" record if you want, I don't care. But it is absolutely ludacris that 34 and counting touchdowns out of the Big Ten doesn't put him in the top 2 for Heisman consideration. Oh yea, he's also #2 (about to be #1) in yards and has a spectacular 0 fumbles (knock on wood). Someone please explain to me why I'm wrong.

Adam Rittenberg: You're preaching to the choir about MoneyBall, Jeff. You also have to throw in the fact Ball hasn't played in the fourth quarter of six games this season. Imagine his numbers if he's playing 60 minutes every time out. There are a couple of factors working against Ball. The main one is that he's a Wisconsin running back. People expect Wisconsin running backs to put up big numbers behind great offensive lines every year. It's a compliment to the program, but it works against Ball a bit. He's not a typical Wisconsin running back in my view -- he's better. The other thing is Russell Wilson. Ball shares a backfield with another Heisman candidate, or at least a candidate during the first half of the season. I would hope Montee at least gets an invitation to New York, especially if he has a big performance in the league title game against Michigan State.

Greg from Texas writes: I've sent several questions already, so I doubt this will get published. Anywho, why wasn't BJ Cunningham a first team WR instead of AJ Jenkins. Over BJ's last 6 games (MSU 5-1) he had 25 catches for 504 yards and 7 TDs. Over AJ's last 6 games (Illinois 0-6) he had 38 catches for 381 yards and 0 TDs. BJ was held catchless in MSU's lone loss over the last 6 games. This says to me that BJ was much more valuable than AJ.

Adam Rittenberg: Greg, while you bring up some good points, Jenkins' entire body of work shouldn't be discounted when determining All-Big Ten. You can make a good case for both Cunningham and Northwestern's Jeremy Ebert, but I'm comfortable with both Jenkins and Marvin McNutt as the first-team selections. When Illinois' offense actually showed life, Jenkins was a very effective weapon. I don't think he should pay the price for everything falling apart on that side of the ball.

Joey from Kentwood, Mich., writes: How many years out is Ohio State before they are a national championship competitor now that Urban Meyer is their head coach? What is Braxton Miller's future now that Meyer is taking over? Is Miller a possible Heisman Candidate in years to come?

Adam Rittenberg: Given the right recruiting and development, Ohio State could get into the national discussion within the next three years. It's clear that Miller will have an excellent chance to thrive in an Meyer-run offense. Meyer will utilize Miller's athleticism and work on developing him as a better passer. You could see in the Michigan game -- and parts of others -- how dangerous Miller can be. He needs to be refined a bit more, but the thing everyone says and the thing you can see is that Miller has natural playmaking ability. It'll be interesting to see how Miller progresses in the next few years.