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Big Ten Tuesday mailblog

Yes, we know the offseason is long. We also know you have questions, so send 'em here.

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To the inbox ...

Nick from Marion, Ohio, writes: Not to get too into conference expansion questions again, but isn't the "Tech problem" argument much less significant now than it was when the article you linked was published in 2010? We've already seen Texas A&M break that perceived-to-be-sacred bond among Texas schools; what's to say you wouldn't see a Kansas or Oklahoma program leave their state partner for millions more a year? Besides, one of the reasons to bring Maryland and Rutgers aboard was remove Penn State from their proverbial island in the east. ... How long until we are saying the same thing about Nebraska in the west?

Adam Rittenberg: You're right about Texas A&M breaking away, but I don't get the sense Oklahoma would separate easily from Oklahoma State, a school that wouldn't interest the Big Ten on a number of levels. Moreover, those schools aren't located in big-time markets that other conferences are coveting. Penn State isn't an equal comparison because another league -- the ACC -- had made expansion moves in the Mid-Atlantic region (Pittsburgh, Syracuse). It increased the urgency for the Big Ten to keep Penn State and a presence in television markets -- i.e. New York City and Washington, D.C. -- that are much more valuable to the Big Ten than Oklahoma City or Kansas City (Texas is a different story).


Tom Osborne's Uppercut from Omaha writes: Adam, other B1G teams have annual non-con rivalries (Iowa vs. ISU, PSU vs. Pitt going forward), so clearly it can be done. I know the Nebraska-Kansas matchup wasn't exactly a real rivalry, but it was one of the longest-running matchups in college football history until the Huskers moved to the B1G. Kansas might not be strong, but they're better than some of the non-con cupcakes that make the schedule. Why not bring it back as a regular matchup if not annually?

Adam Rittenberg: Uppercut, I'd take it up with AD Shawn Eichorst, but I don't know how many people share your view about the Nebraska-Kansas series. More schools are scheduling for the playoff, and Kansas typically won't boost Nebraska's schedule strength as much as other former Big Eight/12 rivals such as Oklahoma, which Nebraska plays in 2021 and 2022. Games with Miami (2014-15) and Oregon (2016-17) tend to move the needle more nationally. I get why Iowa-Iowa State has to remain even though it would be more fun if Iowa played bigger-name opponents. I don't think the same needs to apply with Nebraska-Kansas.


Jerome from Toronto writes: Although I like these position breakdowns, I would like them more if you would rank the teams by overall position. Which team looks to have the strongest DL going into spring camp? Which team has the weakest and most work to do? I'd find that to be more interesting to read them in a ranked form rather than an alphabetical listing.

Adam Rittenberg: Jerome, I might go back and rank the groups coming out of the spring when we have more information. But at the risk of upsetting my bosses, our rankings are really arbitrary, especially now, when there are so many unknowns. And after Nos. 4-5, it usually is a tossup where groups fall. Right now, I'd rank Ohio State's defensive line at No. 1, followed by Michigan State, Iowa and Nebraska. After that point, it's pretty wide open.


John from Carlisle, Pa., writes: As a Maryland alum and season ticket-holder, I'm really excited to see our first year of B1G home games! I'm obviously hoping that we have a good season. What do you think will be the biggest adjustments in play that our team will have to deal with to have a good season?

Adam Rittenberg: John, looking back at Nebraska's transition, I'd say there's an adjustment to the size of the lines -- and in some cases, the ball-carriers -- in the Big Ten. You have to match up from a size/strength standpoint, while mixing in some speed. Looking at Maryland's lines, it seems like the Terrapins have some decent size. The other factor is depth, as injuries tend to pile up during Big Ten play. Maryland had more than its share of injuries the past two seasons, so that's a concern going forward. If Maryland can keep its top guys healthy and show consistent rushing ability, it should hold its own in the tough Big Ten East Division.


Jesse from Minneapolis writes: With many football coaches receiving raises this offseason, I have to wonder: will this dilute the value and emphasis that AD Teague is trying to place on trying to build a stronger, better program here at Minnesota? I'd like to think that with Coach Kill's revised contract and raise, he's at least making close to the average market rate for a FBS coach, if not better or at it. But with MSU raising its profile through a nice raise for Coach Dantonio and even Bo Pelini raking in an extra dime, I fear this potentially sets the Gophers up as still trying to catch up to other higher-quality programs, especially since we're trying to improve our athletics facilities. Thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: The facilities component is critical, Jesse, and Minnesota recognizes the need to upgrade its Sunday-Friday facilities after already improving its stadium. Kill understands that and seems to have bought into the long-term vision for Minnesota. Will Minnesota always be playing catch-up to a degree with coach salaries? Probably. But it's about having the right guy and the right vision. If Kill leads Minnesota to a Rose Bowl like Dantonio did at MSU, another raise will be in order. But the program also will be in a different position from a revenue/donations standpoint. Minnesota did what it had to do. Now the focus should be on facilities.