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Monday, March 23, 2009
Big Ten Monday mailbag

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Missed the regularly scheduled Friday version because of other duties, so accept this as an apology.

Matt from Chicago writes: Adam...I'm wondering if you can comment on what seems to be an overall anti-Big Ten attitude in coverage of college sports. It was obvious during football season that many of chattering heads on tv (most who work for your network) were not thrilled with the idea of Penn State making a national title game and made that point loud and abundantly clear. I sort of understood their point because of our current bowl troubles. However, in the last couple weeks the same bias seems to be spreading to basketball. What is up with the piling on? It gets old after a while. I don't even think winning would calm some of this down.

Adam Rittenberg: Matt, I would go back to style of play in both football and basketball. The Big Ten has arguably more exposure than any other conference in both sports, but it definitely doesn't have a sexy style in either sport. Most neutral observers probably would rather watch Big 12 or Pac-10 football than the Big Ten (higher-scoring games, better quarterbacks, more speed) or ACC and Big East basketball (higher-scoring games, more NBA-ready players). But because of the Big Ten's powerful brand, its games continue to be seen by wide audiences. I think it creates a frustration among some media members, but the bottom line is they'll continue to pay attention the Big Ten.


Paul from Johnstown, Pa., writes: Adam, Thanks for keeping me going through the off-season. Down to business...I know I'm a PSU fan so a lot of people will simply disregard by opinion here, but is it possible that Bobby Bowden and FSU really think that what their athletes did amounts to something the size of a "flea"? The way I see it, they essentially competed in NCAA events with academically ineligible players--only worse because they willingly and knowingly defrauded the system. How many times did these athletes get away with this before they actually got caught? Bowden's latest reaction to try to minimize the situation is a disgrace. What are other people (not FSU or PSU fans) saying about the issue?

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Paul. I think the big issue here is regarding Bowden's victory total and the all-time race against Joe Paterno. The vacating wins penalty is the only one Florida State really cares about, it seems. And the school is insisting that Bowden and his coaches had no knowledge or involvement in the wrongdoing, so they shouldn't be penalized. To minimize the scandal is silly because it was a big deal involving lots of athletes, but the real . issue here is Bowden's wins total.


Wes from Columbus writes: I wrote to you last week asking why OSU didnt offer Kevin Gardner. I am also wondering why they are not offering William Gholston. Hes a great athlete with ties to OSU. Am I missing something?

Adam Rittenberg: I think you mean Devin Gardner, who committed to Michigan. Ohio State knows it has Terrelle Pryor for at least two more years and feels comfortable about its quarterback targets beyond that period. The Gholston thing is much more of a mystery, particularly since Ohio State knows what it got from his cousin, Vernon. The Buckeyes have a smallish senior class in 2009 after losing so many guys this past offseason, but Gholston certainly looks ready to contribute early in his college career. Maybe they'll make a late push, but he's probably headed elsewhere.


Joshua from Swanton, Ohio, writes: Adam, Im a die hard ohio state fan, but I have a great deal of respect for UM new coach, well, until he left wvu. I know he has pulled some pretty miraculous second seasons in his history of being a coach, but do you see him doing it next season. I realize that he finally got a dual threat qb, but He playes in one of the best conferences in the country now. This isnt the big east or conference USA. And how do you think greg robinson is going to fit into the michigan system?

Adam Rittenberg: Michigan's success hinges on the running backs, wide receivers and offensive linemen elevating their play to make things easier on the quarterback position this fall. The Wolverines still will have their struggles at quarterback, but the running back group, led by Brandon Minor, could be among the Big Ten's best. And there will be much more competition along the offensive line, which should translate into a more consistent rushing attack. I can't envision Michigan's quarterbacks struggling as badly as they did in 2008, even if two freshmen (Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson) are taking snaps.

I liked the Robinson hire because I can look past his terrible tenure at Syracuse and remember his defenses with Texas and the Denver Broncos. Some guys can succeed as head coaches, others are better suited as coordinators, and Robinson falls in the latter category.