The Big Ten chat, also known as the Power Hour, took place earlier Thursday. If you missed out on the fun, you can shovel my driveway (it's a balmy three degrees today in Chicago).
And then check out the full transcript.
To the highlights ...
Collin from New Haven, Conn.: Adam, I was initially very excited as an Iowa fan with the draw of LSU as our opponent as I think that we match up best against them defensively of any SEC opponent that we could have played. However, I am now beginning to think that this may be a lose-lose situation for both the Hawkeyes and the BIG in general. With Mettenberger out, a win by the Hawks is shrugged off as "Iowa beat an SEC team without its leader, big deal" and if we lose, it will be simply another representation of the BIGs inferiority as a conference without mention of the fact that Iowa arguably got the toughest draw in the BIG by having to play so far up to their opponent. What is your perception of this?
Adam Rittenberg: I see what you're saying, Collin, but bowl wins often live independently of their circumstances. People might note immediately after the game that Iowa beat LSU without its starting QB, but as the weeks and months go by, Iowa will be credited with a 9-4 record, a bowl win and most likely a Top 25 final ranking. The momentum going into the offseason will be valuable, and Iowa will enter 2014 as a prime candidate to win the West division. A loss is a loss and will be spun negatively no matter what. But a win would help Iowa going forward.
Aaron from Leesburg, Va.: The Pac-12 just added another big time coach in Chris Petersen at Washington. If the Big Ten is going to regain its glory, don't they have to start attracting some top notch coaches to increase the overall depth of the conference?
Adam Rittenberg: I think so, Aaron. I'd like to see more proven coaches coming into the Big Ten. Aside from Urban Meyer, when was the last big-splash hire in the Big Ten? RichRod? Bill O'Brien clearly is working out at Penn State, and Jerry Kill seems to be a good fit for Minnesota. But even a guy like Brady Hoke wasn't a hire that made waves nationally. The Pac-12's recent run is very impressive. I've talked to a lot of national writers who look at the Big Ten's coaching ranks as being underwhelming overall.
LouKyHusker from Louisville, Ky.: Adam, what expectations should Husker fans have for their defense next year? Georgia or Nebraska in the Gator Bowl?
Adam Rittenberg: The expectations should be high for the Blackshirts in 2014, Lou. We saw some improvement later in the season from younger players, and Randy Gregory provides some star power as a pass rusher. Nebraska once again has looked to the junior-college ranks for some help on defense. There are some holes to fill in the secondary, and linebacker depth remains a concern, but I like what Nebraska brings back in the front four. I haven't made my Gator Bowl pick yet. Still thinking it over.
John from Boise: Do you think the BIG perception is basically because of the struggles of 3 of the 4 brand name teams. It seems when your brand name teams are great, your conference is great nationally. No one seems to care when Iowa or Wisconsin is succeeding, because they always go back to the struggles of Penn State, Michigan, and Nebraska.
Adam Rittenberg: John, it has a lot to do with it. When Penn State and Michigan are up, even if teams like Iowa, MSU and Wisconsin are down, the general perception of the Big Ten is higher. That's partly because of laziness and people not studying those other teams, but people gravitate to what they're used to seeing, and that's Michigan/Penn State and even Nebraska being good. Michigan is the real issue in my view. What has that program done in the past decade other than the 2011 season? Michigan has all the resources to be elite. It needs to start getting things done on the field.
Jon from Seattle: You don't think a team might fall in love with Shazier or Borland and pick one of them before Dennard? I agree with you, just not so sure it's clear cut.
Adam Rittenberg: I guess it's possible Jon, but great cornerbacks are more popular first-round picks than great linebackers. There's just more value placed on the CB position these days. Borland's size likely will knock him down a few pegs (even though it shouldn't). Shazier is a guy who could project very well to the NFL. Still, I'd be surprised if Dennard isn't the first one selected.
Thanks again for your questions. Let's do it again soon.