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Friday, November 28, 2008
Big Ten Friday mailbag

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

No games on tap this week, but plenty of questions.

Alex from Columbus, Ohio, writes: I was wondering if one of the top teams loses this weekend if maybe Iowa could move into the top 25 in any of the polls.

Adam Rittenberg: It would take several losses from teams ranked between 18-25 for the 4-loss Hawkeyes to move into the rankings. Even though Iowa lost four games by a combined 12 points, the cumulative effect of four losses really hurts the Hawkeyes' national perception. The Hawkeyes could benefit from blowout losses by Georgia Tech, Florida State and Pittsburgh. Iowa won't jump ahead of other idle teams (Northwestern, Michigan State).


Craig from St. Paul, Minn., writes: Did Tim Brewster do a interview for the Tennessee job?

Adam Rittenberg: The rumor is out there, though I'd be surprised if Tennessee doesn't hire Lane Kiffin at some point next week. I asked Brewster this week if he interviewed with Tennessee and he politely replied that he doesn't comment about other jobs. It's not a denial, and I wouldn't be shocked if they spoke, but I highly doubt Brewster is going anywhere. He'll be there when TCF Bank Stadium opens next fall.


Chris from Sarasota, Fla., writes: do you think that Iowa does have a better shot at a Florida game than Michigan State or Northwestern? Is it true they are all up for Alamo, Champs Sports, Outback and Capital One bowls?

Adam Rittenberg: The Hawkeyes have a good shot at the Outback Bowl if the Big Ten gets two teams into BCS game. I highly doubt Iowa would leapfrog Michigan State, but it could be selected ahead of Northwestern. Michigan State should head to Capital One or Outback, while both Northwestern and Iowa are in the mix for Outback, Alamo and Champs Sports.


Blake from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, writes: Hi Adam, Is there any doubt that Shonn Greene will win the Doak Walker Award? I mean Javon Ringer had a legitimate argument when he was the leading rusher in the country (even though he wasn't as consistent as Greene), but now that Greene has surpassed him on that, is there any doubt at all? Unless, I'm missing someone from another conference, I don't think it's even close!

Adam Rittenberg: I'd be stunned if Greene doesn't win the award. He's the only back in the country who really hasn't had a down game, or even a mediocre game. His ability to generate 100 rushing yards or more every time he steps on the field is astounding, especially since opposing defenses know exactly what's coming with Iowa. Ringer had a terrific season as well, but he struggled against Ohio State and Penn State. Georgia's Knowshon Moreno likely will finish third to Greene and Ringer.


Billy from Biloxi, Miss., writes: Adam, Why does the Big Ten end its season so early? Lacking the national respect, it seems they also become irrelevant by not playing for a couple of weeks while other conferences are showcasing their top teams. With the current ranking system, and teams being able to magically leap frog others when some want to manufacture certain match ups, a #3 ranked Big Ten team could easily get leap frogged simply because they are not playing. If they are not going to have a championship game, at least play a week or two later in the year to remain relevant.

Adam Rittenberg: The Big Ten loves its tradition, one of which is ending the regular season before Thanksgiving so players can spend the holiday with their families. The introduction of a bye week will change this in the coming seasons. The bye week really doesn't take effect until 2010, but I know at least two teams (Illinois and Wisconsin) will play games after Thanksgiving next season. I agree that at times the early finish can hurt the Big Ten from a national relevancy standpoint, but remember that Ohio State finished early last year and was able to leapfrog several teams that lost later. But in the long run, it would benefit the Big Ten to play later games.


Brad from Bloomington, Ind., writes: I was against the four year contract given to Bill Lynch in the first place, but I tried to give him a chance. All I asked for was a bowl game, any bowl game. But after a 3-9 season people want to blame it on injuries. My stance now is that injuries, especially this many, can be attributed to poor coaching and a lack of preparation. Furthermore, the play calling this year was to say the least suspect. Is there any way, even a longshot, Glass and Greenspan can work togther to oust Lynch. If so, who can IU afford? Bowden, Fulmer, or maybe an up and coming coach from a mid-major school.

Adam Rittenberg: I disagree with your view on injuries, most of which are unpredictable. But Indiana's regression on defense and the inability of several key players to make strides rests with Lynch and his coaching staff. I'd be surprised if there weren't a few key changes on the staff for 2009. But Indiana can't keep firing head coaches and think it's going to find a rising star who wants to come there. You don't build any continuity that way. Tommy Bowden? Phil Fulmer? Are you joking? It's Indiana. Tragically, Indiana lost the man who could have built a consistent winning in Bloomington (Terry Hoeppner). But you can't replace Lynch without giving him another shot in 2009. The talent is there to field a decent team.


Steve from Madtown (Madison, Wis.) writes: Adam, it looks like Wisco has found its quarterback for next year in [Dustin] Sherer, but what about after that? (my senior year) Are we going to go with another junior/senior or will we develop a freshman for the future?

Adam Rittenberg: Scott Tolzien will get a chance in 2010, but I'd be surprised if Curt Phillips isn't Wisconsin's quarterback of the future. Phillips wasn't in the mix this season, but he should see more time next fall and be in line to take over in 2010. Wisconsin can't keep looking for a starting quarterback every year, and Paul Chryst will want to settle on someone after Sherer. James Stallons also will get a look.


Felix from Chicago writes: Adam, PLEASE explain to me how PSU is so far down in the BCS rankings. The Lions have 3 Top 25 wins (Ohio State, Oregon State, Michigan State...dominated latter two). Their best win (#11 Ohio State) is as good, or better, than Florida and USC's best win. Almighty Florida has a whopping SINGLE Top 25 win over #11 Georgia. Their 70 points scored on The Citadel doesn't impress me, but it certainly impresses the voters and computers. Their lone loss to Mississippi is equivalent to PSU's lone loss to Iowa. USC has 2 Top 25 wins at the moment. One of them is Ohio State at home, who PSU also beat (in Columbus). The other is Oregon who will soon drop out of the Top 25 if Oregon State can beat them. So if Oregon State beats the Ducks this weekend, not only will USC not win their own conference, but they will wind up with 1 Top 25 win. Furthermore, their lone loss came to a team that PSU destroyed (Oregon State). I understand why Alabama (to this point), Oklahoma, and Texas are ahead of PSU. But I'll need an explanation for Florida and USC other than that "they're hot right now (btw, USC is not). Ut
ah even belongs ahead of those two teams. As for Texas Tech, I think they deserve to drop lower considering how bad that loss was. The whole "PSU doesn't play anyone", or the "Big Ten is weak" excuses don't fly anymore considering the SEC is just as weak, if not weaker, and PSU has more Top 25 wins than teams ahead of them.

Adam Rittenberg: I wish I could explain Penn State at No. 8, Felix. But rather than being upset about being behind USC and Florida, you should be rankled by Utah and Texas Tech at Nos. 6 and 7. Utah is a solid team that won a solid conference, but Penn State was consistently more impressive and has better wins to its credit, as you point out. Texas Tech being ahead of the Lions is an absolute joke. The Red Raiders showed last week that they're not an elite team. Penn State played very poorly in Iowa City and lost on a last-second field goal. Tech soiled itself in Norman and deserved a bigger drop in the rankings. The Penn State-Florida argument is interesting, and Penn State certainly gets penalized for its loss more than Florida. But Florida has dominated the SEC like no team in recent memory and, in my opinion, deserves to be ahead of the Lions. Penn State shouldn't be in the top two of the BCS, but the Lions shouldn't have to jump so many teams to get to Miami.