- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Catching up on the mail. You can always reach me with questions or comments here.
Matt from Dallas writes: Adam, good article on whether players benefited from jumping early to the draft, can you do a similar article about players who were hurt this year by waiting to enter the draft then going last year. Being a Husker fan I believe Dennard and Crick were hurt significantly, just curious on your thoughts about other teams and players in the Big 10.
Adam Rittenberg: Matt, not sure if I'll do another post, but I can definitely discuss some of those players here. It would have been interesting to see where Crick would have been drafted had he come out after the 2010 season. He almost certainly would have gone higher than the fourth round. Missing half the 2011 season didn't help Crick, and there seemed to be some questions about him even before he suffered the pectoral injury. Dennard is a different case. He didn't hurt his draft stock much during the regular season and arguably helped it with performances like the ones against Michigan State and Iowa. His problems seemed to surface in predraft events, which could have happened after the 2010 season as well, and the arrest on the weekend before the draft.
One player who certainly should have come out after 2010 is Ohio State center Mike Brewster, who didn't hear his name called at all last weekend. Brewster wasn't part of the infamous Tat-5, but he was hurt by their actions, as Ohio State's offense went from potentially elite to one of the nation's weakest. Penn State receiver Derek Moye is another undrafted player who might have fared better had he come out after 2010. An extra year in State College with shaky quarterbacks didn't help his stock.
Hunter from Jackson, Mich., writes: I've heard several analysts saying that this may be Michigan's year to run the table and win the National Championship. But why are the Spartans left out? Though their offense may be hard to predict right now, they are returning 10 of 12 starters from one of the nation's best defenses last season. They also have very winnable games at home in ND, OSU, and NEB. If the offense can work out its kinks by the time conference play begins, and if they can pull out two winnable games in Madison and Ann Arbor, why not us?
Adam Rittenberg: Who is saying Michigan will run the table? Have you seen that schedule? Alabama (neutral but basically road), Notre Dame (road), Nebraska (road), Ohio State (road) and Michigan State (home). While I see more folks predicting Michigan to win the Big Ten, it's a stretch to see the Wolverines making the national title game with such a tough slate. That said, you're right about people overlooking Michigan State. There's too much attention paid to who leaves on offense and not enough to who comes back on defense. The Spartans might need to win a lot of games 17-14 this season, but I don't expect many teams to put up points against William Gholston, Denicos Allen, Johnny Adams & Co. As far as the national title, I don't put Michigan State in the mix, largely for the same reason as Michigan. The schedule isn't easy, despite more marquee games at home than the Wolverines. It will be very tough to win in both Ann Arbor and Madison.
Bottom line: Michigan State and Michigan are both Big Ten title contenders, not national title contenders. And not much separates the teams.
Andrew from Indianapolis writes: You mentioned how Iowa and Wisconsin placed so many players in the NFL, and how programs that develop NFL talent resonate with potential recruits. Given that, wouldn't Denard Robinson's best shot at the NFL be at a position other than QB? And might recruits look at Hoke's decision to keep him at QB as hindering, not helping his chances to get to the next level?
Adam Rittenberg: No, I don't think that'd be the case, Andrew. Robinson wants to be a quarterback, and he gives Michigan the best chance to win by playing quarterback right now. NFL scouts see him run around and make defenders look terrible each week for the Wolverines. It's not a stretch for them to envision him catching passes at wide receiver, where he'll likely play at the next level. Robinson certainly will have to show he can play a different spot in the predraft workouts, but I don't think Brady Hoke is holding him back at Michigan. It might be a different situation if Hoke was forcing Robinson to play quarterback, which isn't the case at all.
David from State College, Pa., writes: With a playoff basically coming the last real thing I see that is being looked at is the location of the Semifinals. 1 and 2 seed's hosting the sites on their campus seems to rub people the wrong way because they say some college stadiums are small or the town cant deal with the influx of people. Why not allow each conference (All not just the power six) choose a site for there semi if they have a team hosting a semi? Just as an example the B1G could choose Indy and no matter what B1G team ended up 1 or 2 Indy would be the location. This would also lessen the travel burden on fans if chosen correctly by the conferences.
Adam Rittenberg: David, I like the idea, but it would be tough to execute. The challenge would be the relatively short time to prepare between championship weekend and the semifinal games. Would Lucas Oil Stadium be willing to keep a date open for a possible semifinal? That's a bit of a gamble, and the venue could end up losing a lot of money. The proposal being considered that includes "anchor" bowls gives leagues a bit of freedom, like the Big Ten ensuring the Rose Bowl is a semifinal if it has a team in the top 2. The Rose Bowl is going to have a game no matter what, so advance planning isn't an issue. The plan I advocate, the one that truly benefits the fans, is to have these games on campus. The campus venues will be available, and the travel burden would be minimal for most of the fans attending the games.
Stephen from Chicago writes: Hi Adam, I'm sure you saw that Purdue recently unveiled a new train logo that Nike designed because they thought our old logo was too hard to work with on apparel. (Despite working for so many years...) Well, like most Boilermakers, I was none too pleased with the new logo as it takes away a lot of the dynamic, aggressiveness, and uniqueness of our original Boilermaker Special logo. So being a graduate of Purdue's industrial design program, I designed my own interpretation of a new logo, merging the old logo with the new one. I kept it symmetrical as that was one of Nike's biggest complaints, but added in the things they took away, like the block P, the angled smokestack, the two-toned Purdue text, and the old gold (which is our official school color; not that pale yellow). I also simplified the smoke, and only used 4 colors like the old logo, rather than the 5 of the newer one. So you can check it out here. Let me know what you think! I'm just trying to keep my fellow Purdue fans excited about our athletics program despite the changes the administration keeps making that deflates fans' enthusiasm. Thanks for reading and looking. Boiler up!
Adam Rittenberg: Thanks for the note, Stephen, and well done on the design. I like it. The block P in the train logo is definitely a nice touch, and the old gold is definitely preferable to what I saw with the new logo, which looks a bit cartoonish to me. There's always going to some disagreement when schools change their logos, and I understand the reasons (Nike, $$$) why Purdue needed to make a switch. It's always good, however, to see some different views, so thanks for providing one.
Adam from Chicago writes: At a totally unscientifically random point in the 3rd round of the NFL draft, the Big Ten has had 14 players taken (out of 94, which isn't so bad at all). But look at these breakdowns: 9 are down linemen, 1 is a quarterback (this will soon be 2 as the excellent Kirk Cousins goes somewhere), and 4 play all the other positions combined. The Big Ten is clearly one of or the preeminent producer of professional linemen among the conferences. I would argue 2 drafted QBs is solid, and I don't think it's fair to call Big Ten QB play poor lately. Clearly though, it's the other positions that are increasingly dreadful in the Big Ten. This is an often discussed topic, but is there any hope for better Big Ten skill players?
Adam Rittenberg: Adam, it's definitely a problem in the Big Ten, especially compared against leagues like the SEC and Big 12. The Big Ten had a lot of good wide receivers in 2011, but only one, Illinois' A.J. Jenkins, went in the first two rounds. Ohio State's DeVier Posey, who only played in three games last year, was the next Big Ten wideout off of the board in the third round. This trend needs to change going forward, and it's hard to pinpoint the solution, whether it's recruiting differently or placing a greater premium on developing receivers. The quarterback position also needs to be upgraded, as the Big Ten hasn't had a signal caller drafted in the first round since Penn State's Kerry Collins in 1995! That's horrible. I also think cornerback is a spot where the Big Ten needs more elite-level prospects to emerge. Again, a lot of it is recruiting, but it's also developing players into stars who appeal to NFL teams.