Big Ten mailblog

Question-and-answer time.

Alex from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: Adam, Its pretty obvious that over the last few years, the B1G as a conference has been getting better and deeper, with Wisconsin making 2 Rose Bowls, MSU continuing to develop under Dantonio, and the Nebraska addition. However, with Meyer and Hoke setting up great 2012 classes, and no other team in the conference coming close to them in terms of recruit rankings, could you possibly foresee a return to the Big 2/Little 8 setup? Or at the very least, the B1G having a lot of good teams that occasionally challenge, but only 2 consistent national powers in Michigan and OSU? I hope for the sake of the conference that it doesn't happen, but I could see it going that way.

Adam Rittenberg: Alex, I was thinking about this when surveying this year's recruiting classes. You haven't seen teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State or Nebraska have the recruiting pop they've had in years past. Several of those teams are signing smaller recruiting classes, so it will be interesting to see if things change in 2013. Ohio State is positioned to return to nationally elite status by 2013, and could remain there for a very long time. I'm not quite as confident about Michigan, although Brady Hoke and his staff have a clear vision and are recruiting well. There's a chance the Big Ten could get back to "Ohio State and everybody else" by 2013, but Michigan is in a lot better shape now than it was 18 months ago. I also think teams like Michigan State and Wisconsin are on the rise, and others could join them. You have seven teams in the league — Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa — with the resources and support to compete for championships almost every year.

Jason from Madison, Wis., writes: So the annual discussion begins with the draft as it does every year. This year it seems to be around Russell Wilson and his height. Why is this something the NFL scouts freak out about every year. Wilson spent the whole year throwing over and around the Badgers o-line (averaging 6'8") and defenses in the B10. Drew Brees just set an NFL record for passing yards in a season. Why does height seem to be such a annual discussion? If a person is a quality quarterback, why not give them a chance?

Adam Rittenberg: Jason, I hear ya, but Wilson would be the shortest starting quarterback for an NFL team if he makes it. Seneca Wallace is listed at 5-11, and Brees is at 6-feet. Wilson certainly has the arm strength to compensate for a lack of size, but he'll have to impress the NFL folks with his mobility and decision-making. Scouts are very into measurables. It's why the weigh-in, which I find creepy, is such a big deal. Wilson's height likely will hurt his draft stock, but he can help himself with what he does in a uniform, not at a weigh-in.

David from Pasadena, Calif., writes: Hope this submission for JoePa comments and tributes isn't too late. I graduated in 1999 and began working at the Paterno/Pattee Libraries in 2001. I had never met Joe during my college years but did see him on a few occasions while I worked at the Paterno Library. The first time, he came in, walked up to the circulation desk, and asked where the reading room was. I had to hide my shock that he was coming up to me with a question before I finally answered, "you mean your reading room? The Paterno Family Reading Room?" He responded with, "yeah, sure that one." I directed him to it. On his walk there, an older couple was walking through the library and gentleman, in his 40s, looked so awestruck as Joe walked by him. He was tugging on his wife whispering who it was. Another time, during a Blue/White weekend, there was a fundraising event at the Library. Joe came in and walked to the check-in table to look for his name tag. It struck me because the one man who didn't need a name tag, thought he did. Joe, we'll never forget you...you'll never need a name tag.

Adam Rittenberg: Great stories, David! Thanks for writing in.

Ken from Virginia writes: Adam,If you truly want to honor Joe Paterno's achievement at his time of passing, referencing trash like Dan Bernstein is inappropriate. Unless that is your intention — to be a a member of the ignorant, lazy, intellectually vacant, foolish and illiterate.

Adam Rittenberg: Ken, I'm going to present all viewpoints on Paterno in the blog, both positive and negative. If you don't like it, don't read it. Most of the Paterno columns took the same tone — complex legacy, did more good than bad, should be remembered for his impact on Penn State, etc. Bernstein's take is one shared by a lot of folks I've heard from. And while I don't totally agree with him about Paterno, I also don't understand the folks who can't fathom the possibility of Paterno doing something wrong. The bottom line is we still don't know the full story and how much anyone knew or didn't know. But to have blinders on and think Paterno isn't capable of doing wrong is ignorant, lazy, intellectually vacant and foolish.

Aditya from Bangalore, India, writes: When you compared the attendance figures of big ten schools, you noted that Iowa's average attendance stayed the same. I'm fairly certain that is because they sold out every game. But if we are seriously 7th in the big ten in attendance after selling out, do you think the hawkeyes should renovate kinnick to add more seats in?

Adam Rittenberg: It's an interesting situation, Aditya. I think the current plan works really well for Iowa. Kinnick Stadium is very cozy and can be very hostile for opponents because of the way it's set up. Sometimes you lose the charm by expanding the stadium, although a small expansion might not be a bad idea, especially because of the additional revenue it would generate. Athletic director Gary Barta in November 2010 talked about the possibility, saying Iowa takes a conservative approach to the situation and doesn't go into any year budgeting 100 percent ticket sales. "Certainly we talk about it, we think about it going into the future," Barta told the Des Moines Register. "But one of things you have to ask yourself [about] is balance. The one thing you don’t ever want to happen is for there to all of a sudden become a chunk of tickets available, because then the bottom drops out." So while there's nothing in the works short term, the ticket sales during the next few years could determine a lot.

David from Chicago writes: Adam, thanks for the interesting post about Big Ten attendance figures. I didn't realize the "tiers" were so dramatic. Obviously, the top tier programs (attendance-wise) have a revenue advantage, but how much of a difference does attendance make? I know the Big Ten has a revenue sharing program for TV and bowl games, which allows a team to Northwestern to be competitive. It would be interesting to know what percentage of a Big Ten program's revenue comes from revenue-sharing vs. other sources (including ticket sales), and how that compares to other leagues.

Adam Rittenberg: David, that's a good question and I'll look into it. Some Big Ten programs obviously have more resources than others despite the Big Ten's even revenue-sharing. Some programs also appropriate money differently, have different numbers of endowed scholarships, etc. In the past decade you've seen almost every Big Ten program make some type of facilities upgrade, whether it's a stadium renovation or a makeover of a football practice facility/headquarters. It's important for a program like Northwestern to keep up, and that's why you're seeing a facilities plan under way there that could lead to a new football practice facility.