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Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Big Ten mailbag

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Here's my question: Why is the Big Ten offseason so long?

OK, your turn.

Jonathan from Torrance, Calif., writes: Everyone always talks about possible teams that could be added to the Big Ten, but my question to you is, which team do you think contributes least to the Big Ten and could be subtracted?

Adam Rittenberg: It's a tough call, Jonathan, since all the teams bring something a little different to the table. For years the answer would have been Northwestern, which had non-competitive teams in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. But the Wildcats have been a different team since 1995, winning three Big Ten titles and reaching six bowls. If you go by recent performance, it has to be Indiana. The Hoosiers didn't reach a bowl from 1994-2007 and slipped back again last year. At times the program seems neglected, though the recent improvements to Memorial Stadium suggest those days are ending.


Wes from Columbus writes: I have been seeing a lot of people on the blogs saying that pryor has no throwing ability. Do you agree with this or do you think that these opinions are develped from the amount of yards per game he was averaging? Tressel was not letting him throw alot partly because we had beanie who could break one for a TD on any play. Afterall, he was the most efficient passer in the big ten last year. Another reason could be because of his showing in the Fiesta bowl in which he played with a bum shoulder on his throwing arm. Do people know that he was hurt in that game? Your opinion?

Adam Rittenberg: You're right in part, Wes, and Ohio State certainly was a run-first team last year. My concern with Terrelle Pryor isn't how he throws the deep ball, but the short and intermediate routes. He has to get more consistent on the high-percentage throws, but he certainly can make those improvements in his game. Pryor can become a decent or above-average passer, which will make him even more dangerous as a runner.

There was a lot of speculation about Pryor's health in the Fiesta Bowl, but nothing has been substantiated. It bothered me that on several plays he seemed to run out of bounds way too soon with open field ahead of him, but there has been nothing official on any injury.


Ken from Minnesota writes: Love your blog. You show a lot of energy and creativity in your coverage. I also appreciate that you cover all eleven teams. Brewster seems to like you and gives you some nice items/access. On your recent item: Traye Simmons stood out and made some nice plays. Sherels injury against Indiana helped contribute to the team slipping down the stretch; he had surgery at the end of the season(shoulder) so I hope he returns 100 percent. I'm not counting on Brock getting back in. Kim Royston went to Wisconsin for two years and was in on secondary coverage for Bielema. He left over perception he wasn't getting fair shake for playing time, sat out last year and is paying his own way at Minnesota and is expected to help out the secondary (safety-some corner). He's from St Paul's Catholic power Cretin-Derham High School, where Notre Dame has pulled a number of stars (including Michael Floyd). Brewster convincing Royston to transfer here on his own dime is a coup that he hopes leads to more success recruiting Cretin-Derham.

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Ken. We'll have to wait and see on Tramaine Brock, but that's a risk you run by bringing in so many junior college players. Royston is an interesting addition for the Gophers after being squeezed out of the rotation at Wisconsin. He'll definitely be motivated to regain some playing time, though he enters a pretty crowded defensive backfield at Minnesota.


Brian from Baltimore writes: Adam, can we get an update on the PSU reciever situation? If I had to guess, I'd say Derek Moye and Justin Brown will take over the #1 and #2 reciever roles. Also, I think Devon Smith is the clear choice for punt/kick returns.

Adam Rittenberg: Moye seems to be a popular man among Penn State fans, and I'd expect him to get a lot of attention this spring. He boasts excellent size (6-5), a trait Penn State didn't have with multiyear starters Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood. A freshman like Brown should get a shot to play right away, but I could see a guy like Brett Brackett or Graham Zug earning a spot as a possession wideout. Chaz Powell also will be in the mix.


Greg from Iowa City writes: Arizona's football game at Iowa this fall is considered a premium game, in part, because the Wildcats are coached by former Hawkeye Mike Stoops.

Adam Rittenberg: True, Mike Stoops definitely is a draw, having played and coached at Iowa. But there's not much recent history between the teams, and Iowa could have saved its premium dates for the Big Ten schedule. It really can go either way, since it's a bit of a ho-hum Big Ten home slate for the Hawkeyes this year.