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Big Ten Friday mailblog

Ready, set, go.

David from Madison, Wis., writes: Hey Adam I thought it was interesting to see the attendance records for the conference this season but I feel like it would be more enlightening to see them in respect to each stadiums capacity numbers in order to see the percentage of the stadium that is full. Comparing Michigan attendance to that of Minnesota for example is going to have a huge disparity simply due to size of the stadiums but how full are they really (guessing Michigan would still be higher).

Adam Rittenberg: No problem, David. Below you'll find the Big Ten attendance sorted by accumulated percentage of capacity (total attendance for the season divided by total capacity for the season).

  • Nebraska: 105.15 percent, No. 3 nationally

  • Ohio State: 102.84 percent, No. 7 nationally

  • Michigan: 102.07 percent, No. 8 nationally

  • Iowa: 100 percent, No. 18 nationally

  • Wisconsin: 99.37 percent, No. 24 nationally

  • Michigan State: 98.76 percent, No. 26 nationally

  • Penn State: 95.17 percent, No. 33 nationally

  • Minnesota: 93.92 percent, No. 40 nationally

  • Illinois: 81.67 percent, No. 66 nationally

  • Indiana: 78.18 percent, No. 71 nationally

  • Purdue: 72.36 percent, No. 79 nationally

  • Northwestern: 70.96 percent, No. 82 nationally

From these numbers, Penn State's percentage has to be a bit of a concern, while Illinois, Purdue, Indiana and Northwestern certainly will be looking for improvement in the coming years.


Ray C. from Omaha writes: Being a huge Husker fan, I have a couple questions regarding the offense. Don't you think the coaching staff should consider to develop the depth (A. Green, A. Abdullah, & B. Heard) at RB behind Rex? And should there be more of a competition at QB? Jamal Turner came into the program as a highly accomplished HS QB and while depth at WR is thin, couldn't he push Taylor to be a better QB?

Adam Rittenberg: I think you'll see the younger backs get more opportunities in 2012. While Rex Burkhead is so steady, Nebraska needs to be careful about how many carries he absorbs. Plus, backs like Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green should be ready for an increased load after another offseason. I'd like to see both players get opportunities in non-league play so a nice rotation can be established before the Big Ten season. As for the quarterback spot, while competition is always good and Nebraska will benefit if Martinez is pushed, Turner's future seems to be at wide receiver, a spot where the Huskers need multiple players to step up in 2012.


Nate from Council Bluffs, Iowa, writes: Adam, I think a lot of Hawk fans are starting to forget that, although we currently have some running back hating God that has taken residence in Iowa City, Iowa tends to always do fine with developing the next person in line. More recent examples: Simms/Young gone Shonn Greene steps up. Hampton goes down so Robinson/Wegher stepped up. Robinson & Wegher gone so Coker stepped up. Coker gone now....can't wait to see next season. What are your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: I agree, Nate. Iowa fans should feel good about the team's track record of developing running backs. While it's unrealistic to expect another Marcus Coker to emerge in 2012, Iowa still has a chance to have a solid rushing attack. Jordan Canzeri might never be a 175-carry guy, but he has some skills that can be used effectively in spots. The Hawkeyes also are bringing in two running back recruits, and there's a lot of excitement about Greg Garmon, who ESPN Recruiting ranks as the nation's No. 22 running back. He's a very intriguing prospect and one who could flourish in an offense that emphasizes the run game.


Hunter from Saint Johns, Mich., writes: Dear Adam, what is your opinion about this plan for Michigan State to possibly add new scoreboards to Spartan Stadium? I read an article in the paper that showed what the new scoreboards would look like and I love their proposed look. However, it is supposed to cost the athletic department 10 million dollars to add them! Do you think that it's a good idea for MSU to want to add new scoreboards or do you think it's just MSU wanting to keep pace with Michigan after they got new scoreboards too, or a little bit of both?

Adam Rittenberg: I hear you, Hunter, as this is essentially an expensive cosmetic upgrade. But the scoreboards and sound system at Spartan Stadium are outdated, as MSU admits, and need to be upgraded in some fashion. Athletic director Mark Hollis is one of the best in the business and understands the significance of the game experience for fans. Recruits also pay attention to what game days are like, and these upgrades could help Michigan State on that front, too. Michigan State recently replaced the scoreboards at the Breslin Center, too. While some will see this as trying to keep up with Michigan, you've seen similar upgrades at schools around the country.


Nittany Ned from Upper PA writes: How is the Wisconsin Athletic Department's looking the other way when the Assistant AD is supplying underage employees with alcohol with university funds WHILE on university trips NOT getting more coverage? Even if you put the sexual harassment aside, which is easier because it's an adult and the offender resigned immediately, you STILL have Alvarez and others at the top looking the other way. It's the SAME problem as at PSU. How does this not get more attention in our current environment?

Adam Rittenberg: Ned, there has been some more coverage like this strong column from Tom Oates in the Wisconsin State Journal. Oates writes: "This story shouldn't be allowed to die that easily. Yes, the investigation got to the bottom of this particular allegation, but it also raised as many questions as it answered." He's absolutely right, and how Wisconsin didn't have a strict policy prohibiting these types of events is surprising, given the potential liability. The school should be commended for acting quickly and the student victim should be applauded for courageously coming forward immediately, but the athletic department also needs to take a look at how this could happen. While I don't agree it's the same issue at Penn State, where officials sat on their hands, Wisconsin should learn from the Penn State situation.


Jeff from Whitewater, Wis., writes: Why can't Wisconsin attract top recruits in football? It seems like Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan can go out and recruit top players in the country. Yes Wisconsin gets huge lineman and always has a good running back, but for them to compete for Big Ten titles, Rose Bowl crowns and possibly Nat'l Titles, they need to be fast and skilled at positions such as defensive backs and linebackers. Also, why cant UW recruit any of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Just wanted to get your thoughts and maybe Brian's if he has an opinion.

Adam Rittenberg: Jeff, to be fair, Wisconsin has a decorated quarterback recruit in this year's class in Bart Houston, ranked as the nation's No. 15 QB by ESPN recruiting. But I agree on your larger point about the need for more speed on defense. Wisconsin has recruited "speed" areas like Florida well, luring players like cornerback Antonio Fenelus (Boca Raton) and safety Aaron Henry (Immokalee), and many of the Badgers' defenders come from the south and southeast. But defensive speed needs to be an even bigger point of emphasis going forward, as Wisconsin has been exposed a bit in the past two Rose Bowls.


Drew from State College writes: Adam,I think you are missing the point in regards to the Bernstein article comment you received. Nowhere in there did the comment state that he thought Paterno did no wrong. Most of us Penn Staters agree, as Joe himself said, that he made an error. However, posting articles like that is a mistake on your part. Please reread the Bernstein articles, particularly the one where he "shreds" the PSU letter and states that he wants Paterno to die. That's not journalism Adam, and you should know that. That is nothing short of a man with some personal vendetta (for some unknown reason) who is writing out of anger or just to get a rise out of the Penn Staters. To call that anything other than opinionated, narrow minded, and ignorant confuses me. He has posted 5 articles all just as tainted as the next and all with the same anger. Again, that's nothing other than a man who was somehow given a platform to publish on CBS intentionally trying to get a rise out of a group and most likely also writing with anger of someone who felt wronged at some point by PSU. With all of your and Brian's fairly balanced writing, I would have expected better honestly. I love the blog and read often but to defend that is just not right. Just wanted to let you know the other side of it and hoped I could explain it a bit better than the original poster.

Adam Rittenberg: Drew, you definitely explain the viewpoint better than the other poster. While the Bernstein article I linked didn't include anything about wanting Paterno to die and makes some points I feel are valid in the overall discussion of the issue, the tenor of his stories as a whole goes too far. My goal in links posts about a single issue is to present a variety of viewpoints. As I've mentioned many times, this blog isn't going to always tell you what you want to hear. There are other outlets for that. Jim Souhan's recent column in the Star Tribune gives a different viewpoint than most of the other commentary pieces I've seen. Do you have to agree with Souhan? No. Is it worth reading multiple viewpoints? Absolutely. I have no issue with the celebration of Joe Paterno's life that took place this week. I enjoyed hearing all the stories about him and about all the good things he did. What bothers me is the refusal of some Penn Staters and Penn State fans to acknowledge the possibility that their beloved coach made mistakes. You and many others haven't taken that stance, but I get other emails, like the one from KJ in Fairfax, who writes, "We do know what Joe knew and when he knew it which leads to only one conclusion, Joe did exactly what he should have." Glad to hear KJ has it all figured out. This type of blindness based on loyalty or denial or some other force -- Paterno admitted he made mistakes -- is why I think it's important to state other viewpoints.


Josh from WPAFB writes: Adam, What about Armani Reeves? The recent four star Penn State decommit is down to Ohio State and Michigan. Latest I've seen showed a 52% Michigan lean but who really knows. Either way, that should be on your list of Big Ten signees.

Adam Rittenberg: Josh, Reeves wasn't listed on our experts' list of top uncommitted prospects, but it should be very interesting to see where he ends up. He recently received visits from both Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke, and it looks like the former Penn State commit will be headed to Ann Arbor or Columbus.