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Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Big Ten mailblog

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Better late than never on these questions. Another mailblog coming Friday, so keep sending them in.

Jon from Tucson, Ariz., writes: Regarding the Michigan QB situation, do you get the impression that Rich Rod is just humoring Tate with the starting job until one of the Uber-Athletes steps up to snatch the job away?I like Tate, and I think he was largely underrated last year, despite some definite freshman performances, but I don't get the feeling that he's going to be welcome as a 4-year starter in Rich's program. Specifically, once Devin Gardner (at 6'4") gets online as a viable option, Tate, IMO is history at UM.

Adam Rittenberg: I don't think Rodriguez has the luxury to humor anyone right now, especially a quarterback. If Tate gives Michigan the best chance to win right away, he'll be the starter. But this is certainly more of a real quarterback competition than what we saw the last two seasons in Ann Arbor. Devin Gardner could very well be the quarterback of the future at Michigan. He certainly has both the physical tools, and, from what coaches told me last week, the intelligence to play the position at a high level. Is Forcier just a stopgap? Maybe or maybe not, but he still could be the Wolverines' best option in a season where the coaches need results to be back in 2011.


Nina from Palo Alto, Calif., writes: Adam, what's worse. If a team steals offensive signals or a quarterback steals laptop computers (how about a rim shot)?

Adam Rittenberg: Nina will be here all night, ladies and gentlemen. The late show is different from the early show. And be sure to tip your waitress.


Scott from Philadelphia writes: Adam, love the blog, but what's with the lack of love for PSU linebackers on your Underrated Linebackers piece? I know its not our best crew, (its tough to compete with Posluszny, Lee and Connor as your starting LBs), but what about Mauti, Gbadyu, Stupar or Colasanti? You don't think any of them will step up and be a force to be reckoned with? Especially given how Penn State always seems to have stud LBs coming out of the woodwork.

Adam Rittenberg: Scott, I don't think you understood the point of that post. I wanted to recognize linebackers who had impressive seasons in 2009 but didn't get much recognition because of the Big Ten's incredible linebacker depth, to which Penn State contributed. These players are all returning for 2010, so that's why I listed them. One example of an underrated linebacker not returning for 2010 is Penn State's Josh Hull, who led the team with 116 tackles last fall. None of the Penn State linebackers you've listed had more than 37 tackles last season. All the guys I listed were starters in 2009, and all but one recorded 77 tackles or more (Wisconsin's Mike Taylor led the team in tackles before his knee injury Oct. 17). Will Penn State have a star or two emerge at linebacker this fall? I wouldn't bet against Ron Vanderlinden's crew, but those players don't meet my definition of underrated for that post.


Jason from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Adam, for the love of god. Can you please end the rather hall incident with Mark Dantonio saying that Owen Wilson a starter on the troubled D-line can NOT COME BACK due to lying about not being involved even though it was his first offense?! All national exposure to this subject has gone against Dantonio implying that he is only letting the starters or contributors back on the team!!!!!!!!Can you please write a head liner on Owen Wilson please?!!!!!!! Or is it just going to get buried on a head liner that says another one of MSU football players was reinstated after his jail time was up?!!!!!

Adam Rittenberg: First of all, it's Oren, not Owen!!! And I did include the fact that he's not coming back in my news story. A player being reinstated is almost always going to be more headline-worthy than a guy who the coach already said was transferring. I also praised both Michigan State and Dantonio for making the right call with Wilson, who didn't deserve another chance after failing to come forward about his involvement until he was identified after the bowl game. My advice for Michigan State fans is to sit back and just take it right now. This was an unfortunate incident that involved a ton of players, but it's essentially over now. Look forward to the 2010 season, which I think will be good in East Lansing, and stop worrying about national exposure. If the Spartans win this fall, a lot of this stuff will go away.


Tim from Oakland, Calif., writes: Adam.It's pseudo blogs like yours that compel people to distrust the media and pseudo-media like you.First, there is nothing new here. You and your 'media' brethren just repeat the same old crap whether it's true or not. Everyone says the allegations are major when no one knows that because that is still being deliberated. So all this garbage is just speculation, which is what you idiots do best -- guess.I have stopped reading blogs like yours because the information either is just retreaded or purely speculative, which never amounts to anything. You can speculate all you want, but it means nothing.You are entitled to your opinion, sure. but yours is no more learned than anyone else's.

Adam Rittenberg: Wow, Tim, I'm truly crushed that you've reduced me to a pseudo blogger. The following words come directly from the NCAA's letter to Rich Rodriguez, dated Feb. 22: "You should understand that all of the allegations charged in the notice of allegations are considered to be potential major violations of NCAA legislation, unless designated as secondary violations." No designation was made, so according to the NCAA, not me or anyone else, Michigan is facing potential major violations. Sure, it's been deliberated and could change. No decisions about guilt or innocence have been made. As for speculation, that's part of my job, but to think there won't be at least some repercussions for Michigan is pretty naive. Just look at the NCAA's history with situations like this. There's usually some penalty or penalties.


Paul from Johnstown, Pa., writes: Adam, With the recent news that the Capital One/Citrus Bowl will be installing artificial turf for next season, I got to thinking...why? Other than the sissies and equipment managers, is there anyone who does not like to see grass and mud stains on the jerseys and helmets of two clashing college football teams? Seriously, this is football. If your team cannot play this game, except under ideal conditions, then you shouldn't have a team and you shouldn't play.

Adam Rittenberg: Paul, aside from the national embarrassment for the bowl game to have such a dreadful field, there are injury risks and other factors. A lot of those guys in the Capital One Bowl are playing their final college game before going onto the NFL, and the bowl game doesn't want to see guys slipping and falling and getting hurt. I agree that the weather is part of the game, especially in the Big Ten, but player safety has to be considered, especially when you have the technology to help prevent injuries. I also think the bowl experience is different than the regular season. It's a reward for players and coaches, and the conditions should be as ideal as they can possibly be. They certainly weren't for Penn State and LSU at the Citrus Bowl Stadium.


Jon from Tumalo, Ore., writes: Adam, are all spread offenses "gimmicky" or just Oregon's? How is what OR runs any different, other than perhaps an emphasis on the run game over the passing game, than the majority of spread O's run across the country?Is OR's O any less "gimmicky" than Michigan or Pudue's O?Of course, unlike the great D players at Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota the guys in the PX are all "arm tacklers?" How sick has Pryor when on his game made B10 defenders look?Rey Malaluga, Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews can't tackle? Seems they did an OK job against the B10 for years, no?BTW: There are many PX grads starting on the D line in the NFL (mebane, Ngata, Patterson, etc.) Where did they learn to tackle?TOSU finally wins a BCS game and it's because the Ducks can't tackle? What does this say about TOSU

Adam Rittenberg: Jon, I probably came on too strong about the gimmicky part, as a lot of offenses these days fall under the spread label. And Oregon does run a very effective offense that is a ton of fun to watch. I just got tired of everyone, especially my media colleagues, fawning over offenses from Oregon and Georgia Tech during the bowl season, and dismissing Big Ten defenses just because they were from the Big Ten. Ohio State and Iowa made Oregon and Georgia Tech look pretty average, and in Iowa's case, the Hawkeyes totally dominated the triple option. Yes, the Pac-10 has some good defenders, but I don't believe the league's overall quality of defense matches up with the Big Ten. Just like the Big Ten offenses don't match up overall with the Pac-10. I watched the Civil War last year, and Oregon State displayed some of the worst tackling I've seen from a BCS team. Did Oregon have something to do with it? Sure. But the Ducks had more trouble shaking free of Ohio State's defenders in the Rose Bowl.