Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Big Ten mailblog
By ESPN.com staff
It's been a while since the last one of these. If you have a question or comment, contact me here and don't forget to follow me on Twitter.
Dave from Milwaukee writes: Hey Adam,I just finished reading your entry about the effect of weather on the title game.Although unlikely, how about a rotating location amongst the Big Ten stadiums? All are outdoors which takes care of the weather concerns!The host school would still know years in advance to allow them to prepare, just like a neutral site. Also, this could bring more visibility and economic benefits to the host school, even if their team isn't playing.(depending on divisions still...) Imagine a Nebraska vs. Penn State game at Kinnick Stadium, Iowa vs. Michigan at Happy Valley, or...dare I say....Wisconsin vs. Ohio State at The Big House.There is talk from time to time about an NFL team having a "home game" in the Superbowl. So there is always the twist where a school could host it's own championship game....a little extra incentive to make it to the championship game?
Adam Rittenberg: Dave, while I like the way you lay this out, it's extremely unlikely to happen. If the Big Ten chooses to play a title game at a campus site, it would almost certainly be held at the home stadium of a game participant. A team shouldn't "luck" into hosting the title game. I'm not sure how you'd determine the higher seed if, say, both teams had the same conference record and did not play in the regular season, but to have a random rotation seems pretty unlikely. Also, the Big Ten wouldn't want to play the championship game in some of its stadiums with smaller capacities (Ryan Field, Indiana's Memorial Stadium, even TCF Bank Stadium). A lot of folks bring up the smaller capacities for NFL venues like Lucas Oil Stadium and Soldier Field, but those facilities are equipped with loads of luxury seats that the Big Ten can sell and make the real big bucks it covets from events like this.
Martin from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., writes: Hey Adam,I must comment on the title game location discussion. Just when the Big Ten is crawling into the late 20th century with the likely creation of a title game, several people who apparently still drive horses and buggies want the game played outdoors. Come on, it's time to CHANGE the perception of the league, not add more concrete to it. Lets show the rest of the nation the speed and quickness of Big 10 teams. Mudders are for the horse track!
Adam Rittenberg: Some very good points here, Martin. If the ultimate goal is to win bowl games and national championships, which are played in warmer or controlled climates, why should the Big Ten have its top teams play their previous game in a freezer? When the Big Ten was struggling in bowls, fans always pointed to the cold weather at the end of the regular season and how it affected the style of play. Teams then had to adjust their style for the bowl games. People continue to clamor for northern bowl games, which just ain't happening. Well, if you go inside to Lucas Oil or Ford Field, Big Ten teams could play more or less the same way they would in a major bowl game, not concerned about the weather. Makes some sense.
Billy H. from Hoboken, N.J., writes: Where do Brandon Saine and Dan Herron rank as a running back duo in the Big Ten and nationally? They've been 1a and 1b for the last two seasons under a coach who seems to historically favor a featured-back approach.
Adam Rittenberg: Saine and Herron are right up there in the Big Ten, along with Penn State's Evan Royster and Stephfon Green, Wisconsin's John Clay and Montee Ball/Zach Brown, Illinois' Mikel LeShoure and Jason Ford, Michigan State's Larry Caper and Edwin Baker, and Iowa's combination (Adam Robinson/Jewel Hampton/Brandon Wegher). Nationally, I think we need to see more consistency from both guys to put them among the elite. I really liked what I saw from Saine down the stretch last year, while Herron gives Ohio State a tough, between-the-tackles runner. The best part for the Buckeyes is both backs will be pushed by Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry and others this fall.
Justin from Milwaukee writes: Why does WI always seem to play their rivalry game weeks before other traditional rivalry games? This year the Badgers play Minnesota in early October and you stated that traditional Big Ten rivalries will be played after Thanksgiving. The Badgers played the Gophers early last season too. Why is the oldest rivalry in Division football not played during "rivalry week"?
Adam Rittenberg: That's a good question, Justin, and if I were in Mark Rudner's chair, I'd move the Wisconsin-Minnesota game back to the final weekend of the regular season. While Iowa-Minnesota has a lot of history, there's enough momentum, at least among Iowa fans, to play someone else on the final Saturday of the fall (Penn State or Nebraska). Definitely keep the Iowa-Minnesota game on the schedule, but I'd rather see that game played earlier than Wisconsin-Minnesota, which had been played on rivalry Saturday from 1933-82. There's more juice to the Wisconsin-Minnesota game right now, and with one of the best rivalry trophies in college football at stake, it deserves top billing.
Hunter from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: I missed the blog so much. As an Iowa fan (and student), I hate to see our players get into such stupid trouble as has been the case with multiple violations in the past few months. Off-field issues seem so avoidable but some schools/programs just struggle with them. Has [Kirk] Ferentz hinted at what type of suspension [Broderick] Binns might face? With the Arizona game being our 3rd, this could be dangerous.
Adam Rittenberg: No specifics yet on the suspension, but it likely will be just the opener against Eastern Illinois or, at most, the first two games against EIU and Iowa State. Unless Binns messes up again, he'll be out there for the Arizona game on Sept. 18. I was just thinking about this topic, and how teams with blockbuster openers put themselves at greater risks because offseason player problems and the resulting disciplinary action usually impacts the opening game more than anything. Back in 2008, Ohio State suspended Donald Washington and Jamario O'Neal for the first two games, but they returned for the marquee contest against USC. It'll be interesting to see if North Carolina benches star linebacker Quan Sturdivant for any part of the opener against LSU after his arrest for drug possession. Iowa will miss Binns, but facing Eastern Illinois isn't exactly like facing Alabama.