- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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After a nice, long weekend, let's check the mail. Be sure to follow us on Twitter.
Steven from Las Vegas writes: Hey Adam, I think Nick Saban is right: Cull Division 1 to about 70 teams. Move to 5 Super-Conferences. The Pac-12 could absorb Boise St and San Diego St, The Big 12 could add BYU, Colo St, Air Force, maybe New Mexico, and Big East leftovers could find homes in the ACC, SEC, and Big 10. All 5 Super-conferences should play 12 league games and add a 13th game for inter-sectional pre-season match-ups. Then expand the play-offs and find a way to reward these college players financially in addition to their scholarship benefits. These college presidents should recognize their hypocrisy: Big-time college football is also a big-time business for these universities.
Adam Rittenberg: Steven, some interesting thoughts, but I wonder how many of those teams really need to be included if the big boys eventually separate themselves in football. Sure, Boise State belongs in some form, and BYU has the history of elite football on its side. But Colorado State? New Mexico? Big East leftovers? Do they really need to be there? Furthermore, your plan would require certain presidents to completely abandon the idea of forming a league based on certain academic standards and values. We can debate whether that idea is already hypocritical or not, but Big Ten presidents wouldn't add Cincinnati or Connecticut because of academics. I can't imagine Stanford, Cal and UCLA would be thrilled with Boise State and San Diego State in their league. I also think presidents would be extremely resistant to adding a 13th regular-season game because of all the concussion information that has surfaced in recent years. But, as you say, it's still all about the money, so who knows.
Carl from East Lansing, Mich., writes: What is the relationship between the B1G decision to add lacrosse as a sport and football? Is there one? Clearly, this is a business decision but does an East Coast lacrosse presence really generate more publicity and revenue for the league? It's always said that football and basketball are the revenue generating sports for the schools so why take on lacrosse? Are the viewer numbers for lacrosse strong enough that BTN would generate dollars? And only six teams? I can understand hockey a little more but again not all school have teams in these newly added sports.
Adam Rittenberg: Carl, it's all part of the Big Ten's branding push for the East Coast. Look at the other Big Ten news item from Monday. The league announced an agreement with the Pinstripe Bowl in New York, which includes Big Ten signage year-round at Yankee Stadium (genius move, in my view). Commissioner Jim Delany throws out the first pitch at the game, and now the Big Ten has associated itself with a mega sports brand in the Yankees. That brings us to lacrosse. Sure, it's not a big deal in the Midwest, but it's a huge deal in the areas the Big Ten is now targeting -- Maryland/D.C/Virginia, New Jersey, New York, New England. People there love lacrosse and will watch it on TV, which leads to the Big Ten Network and getting as much distribution as possible in the area. A Big Ten lacrosse league makes much more sense now than it would have 10 years ago, when the league only cared about the Midwest. Hockey is a great addition for the Big Ten in its core region, but lacrosse is all about the future and building the brand in the Northeast corridor.
Andre from Miami writes: Hey Adam, big Penn State fan here wondering about a future Miami-Penn State series. Living in Miami as a Nittany Lions fan is very hard, especially after the scandal. I really want to put an end to the trash talk about Penn State. Do you have an idea about any future Meetings between Miami and Penn State.
Adam Rittenberg: Andre, I haven't heard much since the reports in mid-April about the likelihood of Penn State and Miami scheduling at least one future matchup, potentially at a neutral site. It's a game many folks would love to see, and with the Big Ten pushing for stronger non-league schedules across the board, I wouldn't be surprised to see it come to fruition. Penn State has some other scheduling items, too, including the 2014 Ireland game against Central Florida and possibly some additional games against rival Pitt. Penn State needs to find the right time to fit in a Miami game or games, but it can happen at some point.
Sean from Houston writes: With John Hopkins being admitted to the BIG10 in Lacrosse, can you see this in the future expanding to other sports? Football is a long shot way down the road because they currently do not filed a team. With their academic excellence could be an addition long term as impressive as Notre Dame.
Adam Rittenberg: Sean, while Johns Hopkins clearly is an easy academic sell for the Big Ten and helps the league launch two more sports (men's and women's lacrosse), you can't compare Johns Hopkins to Notre Dame, either right now or 100 years from now. Notre Dame not only has a famous and decorated football team but one of the best overall athletic programs in the country. Johns Hopkins is a Division III program except for its men's and women's lacrosse teams (Division I). Affiliate membership in the Big Ten brings a nice chunk of change, but it doesn't transform an entire program. That has to come from the institution. And I don't see Johns Hopkins going that route.
Adam from Austin, Texas, writes: Here's an idea for an article for the long summer. How about predicting where each of the B1G teams will be five years out? In 2017, will Iowa be trending upward with a newly hired coach after Ferentz retires/is fired? Will Northwestern maintain it's rise under Coach Fitz, or will they have fallen back into mediocrity after he is snagged by a USC or Texas? Will Indiana, Maryland, or Minnesota still be the perennial celler-dwellers, or will at least one of them be competing into November for the B1G? Also, where will the B1G's reputation be in 2017?
Adam Rittenberg: Good idea, Adam, although we have a tough time predicting what will happen in the current season, much less five seasons down the line. But it would be fun to take a look at how Big Ten programs might look. I get the sense Kirk Ferentz will be gone from Iowa before 2017, but you never know. I can't see Pat Fitzgerald leaving Northwestern for many jobs, but Texas might be one of them. He has recruited the state for a very long time. The Big Ten's rep can't be much worse than it is right now, and the league will be at the start of its new, incredibly lucrative TV deal in 2017. I also think the league will finally get over the national title hump sometime in the next five seasons.
Tim from Iowa Falls, Iowa, writes: Regarding the blog post on 1st rd draft picks from Big Ten states, what are these states suppose to do? And not just the Ohios and Pennsylvanias, but states like Nebraska and Iowa, who didn't produce any 1st rd picks in however long....Nobody really expects these states to produce top-notch talent, but are there people holding that against them at the same time? What would they want them to do...magically get better at football?
Adam Rittenberg: Tim, I think the more jarring number in that post is that Ohio, an incredibly populous state where high school football is king, produced just two first-round draft picks since 2010. Such a low total raises a red flag for the Big Ten, as every Big Ten school recruits Ohio and many invest heavy resources there. The Big Ten's recent first-round draft numbers have been poor. Yes, the expectations are lower for states like Iowa and Nebraska, but it's worth noting that Wisconsin produced four first-round picks since 2010, all of whom played for the Badgers. Isn't Wisconsin's profile pretty similar to Iowa's and Nebraska's? I don't think there's a magic solution, as you suggest, but both the Iowa and Nebraska football programs have produced many NFL draft picks in their history. Obviously, many of the Hawkeyes and Huskers players came from other states, but at some point, you'd think a homegrown product makes it into the first round.