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Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Big Ten mailblog

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

I asked enough questions this week. Your turn.

Mike from Kansas City, Mo., writes: A lot of college football observers have claimed that the Pac-10's ninth conference game has had the negative side-effect of knocking good teams out of at-large selections in BCS Bowls. With the Big Ten and Big XII joining the Pac-10 in adding a ninth conference game, do you feel the at-large selection process could be changed?Also, do you feel the ACC and SEC will follow suit in adding a ninth game?

Adam Rittenberg: It'll be very interesting, Mike. I think bowl games still see a lot to like with Big Ten teams, but will these games want to take a 9-3 Iowa, a 9-3 Ohio State or a 9-3 Penn State? The Pac-10's round-robin schedule certainly hasn't helped the league when it comes to BCS bowl selections, although poor traveling fan bases also play a major role. Will the at-large process be changed? I doubt it, but it's worth asking BCS executive director Bill Hancock. I'll definitely follow up with him. I also think the ACC and SEC will eventually go to a nine-game league schedule as well. Scheduling has become a real pain, and the fans want to see more attractive teams in their stadiums.


David from Marshfield, Wis., writes: Adam any truth to the rumor that Joe Pa's health problems where more serious than he and the school have reported. I have heard that it may have been a possible stroke?

Adam Rittenberg: David, I haven't heard anything about that. Although we learned way too much about Joe Paterno's plumbing this week, I think we can chalk it up to dealing with a health issue at 83 years old. It's just not that easy, but Joe seems to be out of the woods now. He looks thinner and sounds older for sure, but he's still got it upstairs. He'll be fine when the season kicks off. Football always brings more life out of him.


Tyler from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Is the Iowa football team your hardest interview? It seems like you have to pry answers out of them all the time. Can you give us your best/worst interviews?

Adam Rittenberg: I actually really like talking with the Iowa guys, who are a lot like their head coach, Kirk Ferentz: not overly colorful but genuine and honest. Ricky Stanzi is one of the Big Ten's most insightful players, and you all know how I feel about talking with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos. I don't have many "worst" interviews, but here are some of my favorites from Big Ten media days: Jay Valai, Kirk Cousins, Troy Woolfolk, Cameron Heyward, Corbin Bryant, Keith Smith, Robert Marve (new favorite), Kim Royston, Terrance Turner and Adam Weber.


Brad from Chicago writes: The more I've been thinking about it, the more I like the idea of a nine-game conference slate. The arguments against it that I've seen seem to be kind of frivolous. Schedules aren't equal because some teams have 5 home games and others have 5 away games? Okay, but some teams play Ohio State in the Horseshoe, and others don't play the Buckeyes at all. The BT teams will have an additional 6 losses, hurting bowl chances? Sure, but we know that strength of schedule is taken into account when determining rankings. 1- or 2-loss teams from power conferences regularly jump unbeaten teams from non-AQ conferences in the rankings. The ninth game makes our schedule stronger, and from a fan's perspective, more fun to watch. Are the opponents of a 9-game slate exaggerating (whining) as much I think, or am I missing something here?

Adam Rittenberg: Brad, you present a strong case here. And for Big Ten fans, the nine-game league slate should be a cause for celebration. It'll mean fewer conference games, which are by and large unattractive in this league. The coaches represent the strongest opposition to the change because it makes their jobs tougher and their livelihood is determined by wins and losses. Now it makes it harder to reach the six-win plateau and qualify for bowl games, but do 6-6 teams deserve to play in the postseason?


Billy H. from Hoboken, N.J., writes: What's the historical significance of Jim Tressel's potential 100th win at Ohio State? It seems likely to come this year.

Adam Rittenberg: I'm struck by how fast Tressel will reach 100 wins at Ohio State. He has averaged 10.4 wins a season and owns seven 10-win seasons in nine years. That's silly good. People knock Tressel and Ohio State for two games -- the 2006 and 2007 national championship games -- but his body of work in Columbus is incredible. He only needs six more wins to reach 100 and should have it by mid October.


Jerry from New York City writes: Your comments concerning the ability of Rich Rodriguez as a coach I believe are misplaced. If one were to subtract the Pat White years at WVU from his coaching record, Rodriguez's credentials look a lot leaner. White was a unique talent for running a spread offense. Without White, Rodriguez had no greatness. Miichigan is paying the price for not factoring in the effect of White when it hired Rodriguez. Comment?

Adam Rittenberg: Jerry, with all due respect, this is a ridiculous argument. You can subtract a lot of individual players from teams and their coaches wouldn't look nearly as good. Doesn't Rodriguez deserve credit for molding Pat White into a record-setting quarterback? Who's offense was White running? Not to mention the fact that Rodriguez had a lot of success at both Clemson and Tulane as offensive coordinator. Let's take Ron Dayne away from Barry Alvarez. Does Wisconsin win those Big Ten titles? Is Alvarez in the Hall of Fame? Coaches need players, but players also need coaches, and White needed Rodriguez.