- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Time to check the inbox for another weekend of frigid temperatures! Can you feel the excitement?
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Sam from Nashville writes: Do you think the B1G would ever allow the title game to be in a central location outside of "B1G Country"--like Nashville or Louisville--or is the conference's "SEC inferiority complex" too great? LP Field is big, new, actually outdoors, and warmer in December -- plus, it's only a 13 hour drive from the B1G's peripheral schools. Indy, by comparison is a 10-hour drive, and Chicago is 12.
Adam Rittenberg: While I'm sure LP Field is great, and that Brian Bennett would love to have the Big Ten title game in his home city, I don't really see the point of moving the game outside league borders. It has nothing to do with the SEC. Would the SEC ever play its title game in Indianapolis? Of course not. It has a great thing going in Atlanta. Fans love it, schools love it. Why mess with it? The Big Ten would be doing a major disservice by moving its game to Nashville or even Louisville when Indy or Chicago work much better for most fans.
Ndamukong Suh from The House of Pain writes: You give no credit from my Huskers beating OSU in 2011. You make excuses that that year OSU was just mediocre, not saying that you are wrong here, but some credit belongs to Nebraska for gutting out the win. I can make the argument that the B1G got Nebraska aboard during one of its historic low points. From 2002 through 2013 Nebraska has been at its lowest win percentage since 1951 to 1961 (64 percent). That is good enough to tie for third-best win percentage with Iowa, only OSU (75 percent) and Wisconsin (70 percent) are higher in the B1G. So why do you insist on belittling that victory over the Buckeyes in 2011? The real difference between Nebraska and the top of the B1G is the turnovers. Granted it is part of the game, but when the Huskers do get a handle on that there isn't a team in the conference that they cannot compete with and beat.
Adam Rittenberg: If this really was Suh, I'd be entering the Witness Protection Program. Sure, I'll give Nebraska some credit for a historic comeback against Ohio State, but to use that win in an argument why Nebraska is all of a sudden going to dominate the Big Ten West Division rings hollow. Nebraska has some decent wins since joining the Big Ten. It also has had some stinkers, none more so than in the 2012 Big Ten championship game. As to Nebraska's historic low period, so what? Nebraska is down (according to you) and Ohio State was down in 2011, so that game really doesn't matter. I agree completely with your last points about the turnovers holding back Nebraska and the fact the Huskers can compete with anyone. I never said they couldn't.
TM Ryan from Evanston, Ill., writes: Adam: Will the Big Ten continue with a football championship game? It sounds like the SEC's game is the only true moneymaker (always sold out) among all conference title games and with the playoff coming in, the game allows for a playoff contender to pick up a late loss which can eliminate them from the playoff. Seems like there isn't much to gain any longer.
Adam Rittenberg: There are certainly downsides, Ryan, but I think the Big Ten title game will be a moneymaker in most years, like the SEC's. It certainly was last year with two top 10 teams squaring off. If the selection committee puts emphasis on winning your league, which it says it will and which Jim Delany is fighting for, the game will have significance in the playoff picture. There will be some years where the Big Ten champ doesn't go to the playoff, but in most years, the Rose Bowl will be on the line, too. So there's more at stake -- and more money to make -- in having the game.
A.P. from East Lansing, Mich., writes: I'm sure you've heard/seen the incident with Cass Tech QB Jayru Campbell. I fully expect Mark Dantonio to take his offer back. While this is disappointing (since he was a 4-star recruit), do you think this will affect anything for MSU moving forward in terms of recruiting? We'll be fine in the QB position because we'll have Damion Terry and possibly Connor Cook, too. What are your thoughts on the whole incident?
Adam Rittenberg: It's always disappointing to see an incident like that, especially involving someone who has a promising future at stake. Michigan State surely will wait to see if charges are filed against Campbell -- nothing has come down yet -- and will want to know all the details. But it certainly doesn't look good for a recruit who has had other issues with violence and plays a position where you need discipline and maturity. Michigan State seems set at quarterback for the next few years either way.
Samuel from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Adam, just finished reading about the continuing troubles with Penn State's AD. Which has brought me back to a question I've had for awhile. Why are AD hires not more high-profile news? Who are these guys who decided who will get millions, who will recruit the teams of the future? A lot rides on the B1G's ADs, and they are mostly enigmas to me.
Adam Rittenberg: It's a good point, Samuel, but in general we care a lot more about coaches than those above them. The coaching searches in the pro sports are similar, while general manager hirings usually aren't huge news (unless you live in Chicago and the Cubs hire Theo Epstein). Texas' somewhat recent AD hire generated some buzz, and like Dave Joyner, Steve Patterson has some baggage. Penn State's situation certainly was unique after the scandal, and Joyner certainly isn't your typical AD hire, especially for a program that large.
Mac from As Far South While Being Considered North writes: Who were the best offensive-minded and defensive-minded coaches in the B10 during the BCS era? My pick for defensive mind is Mark Dantonio for what he did at OSU in 2002 and MSU the past four years. I found offense a little more hard to pick, my thoughts were Jim Tressel, Bielema and Lloyd Carr. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: It's an interesting topic, Mac, although some of your picks for offense are off base. Bret Bielema is a defense guy (former coordinator at Kansas State and Wisconsin), while few would describe Jim Tressel and Lloyd Carr as offensive geniuses. My pick would be Joe Tiller at Purdue. He changed the game in the Big Ten with his spread system and had tremendous success early in his tenure. Dantonio would be my pick for his accomplishments both as a coordinator and head coach in the B1G. I'd mention Norm Parker, too, as he did a great job as Iowa's longtime defensive coordinator.
King from Los Angeles writes: You told Brent from Iowa that "It's a what-have-you-done-lately type of deal." to support putting Nebraska ahead of Iowa. But a few questions down, you told Kenny from Nebraska that "Wisconsin ended the season poorly but had a better, more consistent squad than Nebraska for much of the season." Doesn't that contradict each other?
Adam Rittenberg: I can see how it might be interpreted that way. I should have used different language. It comes down to which team I/we think is better at that moment if they played. Despite Iowa's convincing win against Nebraska five weeks earlier, I would pick Nebraska if the two squared off today after seeing both in bowls. And I'd pick Wisconsin to beat both.