Big Ten Friday mailblog

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
4:30
PM ET
Have a great holiday weekend! Big Ten bowl season is just around the corner.

AK from Monroe Township, N.J., writes: Hi Adam. OSU fan here. I don't think the bowl ban next year is all that bad. First, I don't see OSU contending for the national title yet. Second, if there are no practices for the bowl game, that means Urban Meyer will be fully hitting the recruiting trails like this year. If he can do an incredible job this year in limited time and scholarship, imagine what he can do next year?

Adam Rittenberg: AK, you're definitely putting a positive spin on things. I see the situation a bit differently. Ohio State would have been the favorite in the Leaders division as the Buckeyes return most of their key players. The bowl ban prevents the Buckeyes from reaching the Big Ten championship game with a chance to go to Pasadena. So it's definitely a blow for next year as things were set up well for the Scarlet and Gray. Also, coaches can still be effective recruiters while preparing their teams for bowl games. Ohio State's team undoubtedly would have benefited from the extra practices next December. Long term, the ban shouldn't sting too much, but it definitely has some drawbacks for the Buckeyes. We do agree on this: Ohio State is more likely to compete for a national title in 2013.


Dave from Pasadena, Calif., writes: Hey Adam! Upon reading all the news re Wisconsin football the last couple days, it stinks to lose Coach Chryst to Pitt (though it's very deserving and expected), lose out on the battle of Dayne Crist (though maybe it's better to groom the current QBs on the roster), and most likely losing Ball to the NFL (again, deserving and understandable). I know last year, everyone on the team is alluding the Rose Bowl loss to distractions. How do you suppose the Badgers will block out these distractions now??

Adam Rittenberg: Dave, this is a really good question. Brian and I talked with Montee Ball for next week's podcast and he brought up the distractions last year and the need for better focus heading into this year's Rose Bowl. Several factors should help the Badgers. It's not their first trip to Los Angeles, and they shouldn't get as caught up in the glitz and glamor this year. Wisconsin had a similar coaching situation last year with defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, who had accepted the top job at Northern Illinois but still coached the bowl game. Doeren's situation didn't seem to negatively affect the Badgers, and Paul Chryst is the type of guy who will do all he can to keep the focus on the team and on the task at hand. Chryst cares a great deal about his players and wants to get this win. I also think it's good that a guy like Ball, who has a big decision to make, understands the potential distractions and has taken a proactive approach toward keeping the team locked in on the game.


Daniel from Lincoln, Neb., writes: I need some understanding behind the move of Rick Kaczenski leaving Iowa to go to Nebraska for the same job. Essentially, he is going to be doing the same thing but just different school. Usually coaches that do this move up, i.e. bigger school, conference, division, ect, but I see this as a lateral move. What do you think is the motivation behind this move? It's obviously not for the better scenery, however, we do have better looking women.

Adam Rittenberg: Ha, no comment on your last point. It's interesting that Kaczenski would take the same position on Nebraska's staff. He's not really closer to a coordinator job as John Papuchis, 33, was promoted to the role on Thursday. Sometimes, you just need a change, and Kaczenski had been at Iowa for a while. We'll see about Kaczenski's salary at Nebraska, but he almost certainly received some sort of bump. The Hawkeyes are changing defensive coordinators when Norm Parker retires following the Insight Bowl, and Kaczenski wasn't going to get the job. He's now working for a defensive-minded head coach in Bo Pelini, and at a program where it might be easier to springboard to other things. I hope to visit with Kaczenski soon and see why he made the move.


Hal from East Meadow, N.Y., writes: Adam, regarding Penn State's next coach there has been a lot of talk, including on this blog, about how it is very likely that Penn State hires from outside of the Penn State community. The main implication of this is that Tom Bradley has virtually no shot of remaining head coach because he is a JoePa disciple. From a PR standpoint this makes total sense, but how much is the school willing to sacrifice quality coaching in favor of what looks good? Bradley was going to be a top candidate to replace JoePa before the scandal, and that was with top flight national candidates competing for the job (presumably). But now, with most of the best head coaching candidates of this offseason either taking jobs elsewhere or denying that they have any interest in coaching at Penn State, it's looking more and more like Bradley is by far the best coach available (from a purely football standpoint) who actually wants the job. With that in mind, how much of a drop off from Bradley is the school willing to take for the sake of appearances?

Adam Rittenberg: Hal, while it appears as though elite coaches don't want the Penn State job, the school could still end up making a really good hire. I don't think we can definitively say Bradley is "by far" the best available coach who wants the job until we see how this saga plays out. There's a good number of good coaches out there, and it only takes one willing to take on the unique challenge at Penn State. No one questions Bradley's coaching ability, and the entire situation is really unfortunate for a guy who has a lot of respect in the Penn State locker room. But I'd be stunned if Bradley gets the job, as he was close to the key figures -- Jerry Sandusky, Mike McQueary, Joe Paterno -- involved in the sex-abuse scandal.


Joe from Chicago writes: Adam,In your budding rivalry take two commentary that compared Iowa-Nebraska and Michigan State-Wisconsin, you characterized Iowa and Nebraska as being in bordering states (implicitly drawing a distinction to Michigan State and Wisconsin). Michigan and Wisconsin do in fact border one another (remember the Upper Peninsula of Michigan), and the two states do in fact hate each other.

Adam Rittenberg: Aaargh! You're right, Joe. And to think I actually did well in geography. I'll have to turn in my card as an honorary Midwesterner for failing to point out that Michigan and Wisconsin also share a border. Beautiful part of the country, too.


Dave from Fredricton, New Brunswick, Canada, writes: Hi Adam, love the blog and the job you both do.A Dec 21 blog entry referenced Denard Robinson's paperwork submission to the NFL draft advisory board. Can you elaborate and explain this process for the uninitiated like myself? Thanks in advance!

Adam Rittenberg: No problem, Dave. It's a fairly common practice for draft-eligible juniors like Robinson to submit paperwork to the NFL draft advisory board, which then gives the players an evaluation of where they'd most likely be selected in the draft. The projections come from a panel of professional scouting experts and provide a good picture of whether the players will be first-, second- or third-round picks or fall to the later rounds or out of the draft entirely. The evaluations help players make their decisions on whether to stay in school or go to the draft by Jan. 15.


Steve from West Des Moines, Iowa, writes: If you'll indulge me, I have two memos with regard to today's lunch links:Memo 1 to Bobby Bowden - spare us what you would have done. Shame on your public posturing of a hypothetical when you were the captain of Free Shoes University.Memo 2 to Kirk Ferentz - you can stop reassuring your fans that you are happy at Iowa. Penn State was never interested, nor was the NFL. The more you issue statements the more you sound like Kristen Wiig's SNL character "Lillia" (don't make me say I'm happy at Iowa again).

Adam Rittenberg: Steve, I agree with you on the Bowden thing. He's entitled to his opinion, but he wasn't placed in the same situation with the same circumstances. It's always easy to say what you would have done. And as you say, Bowden didn't exactly run a controversy-free program at Florida State. Wonder if Joe Paterno would ever talk about Florida State's sparkling academic reputation under Bowden. As to the Ferentz thing, it was a bit surprising he chose to come out with the statement, but the Kansas City Chiefs job seemed a bit different from the positions he's been mentioned for in the past. Also, with the way recruiting goes, coaches don't want prospects thinking they're on their way out. While I don't think it was totally necessary, I don't have an issue with the statement, either.

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