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Monday, August 30, 2010
Big Ten makeup mailblog

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

The mail didn't come on Friday because I didn't have time to deliver it. My bad. Here's my attempt at making it up to you.

Mike from New Haven, Conn., writes: Adam,Is it possible PSU is keeping the qb situation a mystery in order to keep Alabama in the dark? Any chance the true starter doesn't start vs YSU to have bama prepare for the wrong type of offense? or do they play all 3 equally and force bama to prepare for 3 different looks?

Adam Rittenberg: I like the conspiracy theory there, Mike. But I really think if one player had separated himself, Penn State would announce the starter for the opener. The staff did so in 2008 with Daryll Clark, although I recognize this is a different situation with three relative unknowns. I think it's more likely we see multiple quarterbacks against Youngstown than Penn State deciding to conceal the starter's true identity until Week 2. Whomever starts in Tuscaloosa really needs some game experience before heading down there.


Bob from New Orleans writes: Adam, if the Buckeyes win the NC, and they will, where do you think JT goes?? I don't see him moving on to the NFL, and there's no way he's moving to another college, so retirement?

Adam Rittenberg: Bob, retirement from coaching would be the likeliest option for Jim Tressel. While I'm not saying there's a strong chance he moves on after 2010, I wouldn't be totally shocked to see him retire if Ohio State wins the national title. Take a look at this picture of Tressel after the 2002 national title and how he looks now. The job has taken a toll, which is totally understandable. Plus, his wife had some health issues this summer. And he has always said he doesn't want to coach into his seventies. Unlike some coaches, Tressel has other interests and could be very successful in other arenas (athletic administration, politics). I couldn't see him coaching in the NFL and certainly not at another college.


Scott from Kansas City, Mo., writes: Looks like NU (104) fell out of the USNWR Top 100, and MU (94) back in. So much for all Big Ten schools being in the Top 100. But then again, why add the 18th largest state to your footprint when you can add the 40th? And why add a school that has been relevant in recent years, when you can add another school that hasn't?Cheers

Adam Rittenberg: Husker fans, you want me to handle this or do you have it covered? Scott, while Mizzou has had some nice seasons lately, Nebraska clearly is a better addition to the Big Ten. The size of the state and the U.S. News ranking matters a little bit, but Nebraska brings national championships, legendary coaches and a program recognized around the country. Go up to a casual fan in L.A. or New York and ask them to name 10 college football teams. They'll probably include Nebraska. Missouri? Not so much. The Big Ten can put Nebraska in games against Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan or even Iowa and Wisconsin and draw national attention. Missouri doesn't move the needle nearly as much. Again, Missouri brings a lot to the table, but the Big Ten clearly made the right call with Nebraska.


Chris from Philly writes: How annoyed is the Michigan faithful when they see what a stud Ryan Mallet has become at Arkansas and know that RichRod ran him out of town with his spread offense? Is that one of the main factors that will bite him when he does get fired that he did not utilize the talent already there and possibly could have won 8-10 gameshis first two years then slowly implement his style?

Adam Rittenberg: Chris, there are a lot of reasons why Michigan fans can knock Rich Rodriguez, but the Ryan Mallett thing isn't one of them. Before Michigan, Rodriguez had been incredibly successful winning games in his style, with the spread. You can't expect people in leadership roles, especially college football coaches, to completely scrap what had made them successful. I recognize the transition to the spread hasn't gone smoothly in Ann Arbor, but you have to stick to what you know and who you are. Rodriguez couldn't run a pro-style offense just for Mallett, who clearly has benefited from one at Arkansas.


Stephen from Ankeny, Iowa, writes: Do you think that Dantonio has really raised the bar at Michigan State the last three years. I would argue that he has been the benficiary of a couple of wins each year that could have gone either way (also because of a down Michigan). Do you think that his three years there has really shown improvement over the John L. Smith years or are they merely treading water? In a larger context, are there programs in the Big Ten that are kind of in the same boat with no real chance to move up in the pecking order (e.g.: Minnesota)? It's pretty apparent that the moves by both Minnesota and Michigan State to fire their coaches (Glen Mason and John L. Smith) have not resulted in better results on the field and in Minnesota's case worse results. Thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Stephen, I respectfully disagree with your take on Mark Dantonio. He has lost a ton of close games, several of which could have taken the 2007 and 2009 seasons from average to very good. Although 2010 is very big for Dantonio and the Spartans, who have a great opportunity with a very favorable schedule, the program has stabilized since John L. was sent packing. Just look at the recruiting. Michigan State has really upgraded in that area, especially locally, and brought in players like Larry Caper and William Gholston. The Spartans certainly have benefited a bit from Michigan's struggles, but Dantonio definitely has things headed in the right direction. The one thing he can't afford is another bad off-field incident. ... It's a different case with Minnesota, where the jury is still out on this coaching regime. Tim Brewster and his assistants have recruited well and played tougher schedules, but the big wins haven't come, especially late in the season. Brewster needs some quality wins this fall to show he can take the program further than Mason did.


Keith from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, writes: Adam there is a possibility that the big ten could end in a three way tie between Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio State (asmunig they all win out). I know its alot of work but could you break down the scenario? Who do you think will be ranked high enough to get the BCS bid is national title still open to a one loss big ten team which team goes? it would be a hudge mess! a three way conference championship! thanks adam

Adam Rittenberg: Keith, here's how the BCS/Rose Bowl tiebreaking procedures work in the Big Ten (in order). I'm guessing Option 4 would be the most likely scenario with an Ohio State/Iowa/Wisconsin tie. Option 1: If one of those three teams beat the other two, it wins the tiebreaker. Option 2: If two of the teams beat the other squad, the other squad is eliminated. Then it would be head-to-head for who wins the tiebreaker (this is unlikely unless all three teams finish 6-2 in league play). Option 3: Overall record. The tiebreaker winner would have a better overall record than the other two teams. Option 4: If Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin all finish at 11-1, with all three losses taking place within the group, the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings would go to the Rose Bowl or BCS title game.