- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's brackets week around the sporting world, but the Big Ten football mail never stops. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter.
What's on your mind today?
Harry from Washington D.C., writes: Adam, please settle a debate that I've been having with my brother. For the past 15 years, who has had the better program with more success: Wisconsin or Michigan? Both went to five BCS bowls and won two. I say Wisconsin was more successful because we won five Big Ten championships to get the BCS berths while Michigan only won the Big Ten championship twice (2003, 2004) during their five BCS games. Head to head, Michigan does have the edge by a game (five wins vs. Wisconsin's four).
Adam Rittenberg: I think you're looking at 16 seasons, Harry, not 15. But it's an interesting question because you have to take the 16 years (1998-2013) in totality rather than weighing recent performance ahead of what happened in 1998, 1999, etc. Overall, I'd give a slight edge to Wisconsin, which won more Big Ten championships and had two really good stretches (1998-99 and 2010-11). Wisconsin also had only one losing season (5-7 in 2001) during the stretch, while Michigan had two (2008 and 2009). Despite Wisconsin's two Rose Bowl wins, Michigan was the better overall program for the first six years (1998-2003), but the Badgers have the edge in the past decade.
Dave from Marietta, Ohio, writes: I know you and Brian are tired of answering realignment questions, but you, he, I, and everyone else know it's not over. It's been said on this blog that the natural direction for the B1G to go is south and east. That would make Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia Tech obvious targets. AAU, state flagships, contiguous with the B1G footprint, blah blah blah. I would love to have them, but the only problem is they're not cultural fits... Southern schools in a Midwest-dominated conference. I say the B1G should go west. Texas has the resources to test and possibly blow up the Big 12's GoR...it (sorry, Nebraska) and KU would be the likely adds, IMO, for all the above reasons (except territorial continuity for Texas).
Adam Rittenberg: Oh, Dave, I never tire of realignment questions. (Am I a good liar in print?) Is Texas not southern enough to be a cultural misfit for the Big Ten? How about the fact that Texas likely will never join a league without preferential conditions? See, that's where Texas truly doesn't jibe culturally with the Big Ten. The Big Ten has an egalitarian model when it comes to revenue. Ohio State accepts the same share as Purdue, and understands and embraces the rationale for doing so. Would Texas ever do that willingly? I highly doubt it. Texas is a great fit in many ways, from its academic strength as an institution to its brand in the sporting world. But the way Texas conducts itself simply wouldn't work in the current Big Ten culture. As for Kansas, what's the point? It seems like adding for the sake of adding.
@mherek, via Twitter, writes: Curious if looking back on your 2013 road trip picks, if you would take any back and what you'd change them to?
Adam Rittenberg: Looking back at last year's trip, I would make a few course corrections. I wish I had attended a few more Minnesota games, including the Wisconsin contest in Week 13. Even though Michigan-Michigan State wasn't an overly competitive game, I would rather have gone there than Wisconsin-Iowa in Week 10. The funny thing is in real life, I covered the Michigan-MSU matchup. But overall I have few complaints. I would have seen the desert debacle (Wisconsin-Arizona State), Wisconsin-Ohio State, the Indiana-Michigan points fest in Ann Arbor and, of course, The Game.
Jeff from Whitewater, Wis., writes: I asked this to Brian last week, and I want to get your opinion. If Wisconsin can fix the holes in the receiver and defensive front position, are the Badgers a favorite for the playoff if they beat LSU?
Adam Rittenberg: I don't know about a favorite, Jeff, but Wisconsin would be in the discussion for a playoff spot. The Badgers' schedule is very favorable with no Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan. Wisconsin must visit Iowa late in the season and a potentially improved Northwestern team on Oct. 4, but it gets both Nebraska and Minnesota at Camp Randall Stadium. Depending on what occurs elsewhere, the Badgers might need to go undefeated to make the playoff, and I don't see that happening with so many new starters. But a win against LSU would be big for Wisconsin and the Big Ten.
Dave from Marietta, Ohio, writes: I'm surprised that both you and Brian passed on the Penn State-Maryland game in your Week 10 ultimate B1G road trip choices. Yes, it is another bad week of B1G games, but since it will be the revival of an old (admittedly one-sided) rivalry, I would want to be there to see if this actually is a real rivalry.
Adam Rittenberg: Dave, you're right that Penn State and Maryland have some history (although Maryland fans probably are trying to forget it). There's also the James Franklin connection, as Franklin was Maryland's coach-in-waiting before taking the Vanderbilt job in 2010. It's not a bad option on an uninspiring slate, but remember that I'd just seen Penn State the week before against Ohio State and Maryland two weeks earlier against Iowa. My choice had more to do with not visiting Kinnick Stadium -- one of my favorite stops in the Big Ten -- since the 2011 season.
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3dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy