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Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Big Ten mailblog

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Fire away.

Lance from Bedford, Pa., writes: Hi Adam, I am happy to see JoePa coming back in 2011. Even though I am not sure he has it left in him, I think he deserves one more run at a national championship. He has always run a clean program and won football games the right way. Most of all, I am not quite ready to see the end of an era, a certain style of football, the black shoes, the khakis, the college football aura that follows him around. Having said all of this, I have my reserves about what happens when he does step down. I hope the administration goes away from JoePa football and looks outside for a replacement. The staff currently at PSU has been great, but by now their minds have to be so saturated with Paterno-ball that it would be tough for them to change. They would be constantly compared to JoePa and it would be as if nothing changed, it would still be 'three yards and a cloud of dust'. Not that this is the worst thing in the world, but if you are a premier program with a chance to attract almost any head coach, why not evolve your program? I want to see it. What are your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Agree wholeheartedly on Joe Paterno. He's great for the game and I hope he coaches forever. But when he does step down, Penn State has to conduct a national search. It's too big of a job with too much invested to simply promote from within without gauging what else is out there. A lot of Penn State fans share your view about Joe Paterno's assistants -- they're too much like him, they won't evolve enough. While I'd like to see guys like Tom Bradley and Larry Johnson Sr. get some consideration for the job, Penn State has to open it up to the outside. When you're a big-time program, you need to act like one.


Aaron from Dallas writes: Just wondering how you justify ranking Penn State over Iowa. I know they're improved and that Iowa dropped two in a row but Iowa beat penn state by three TDs, played ohio state to the gun, throttled MSU and have 4 losses by 15 total points, 3 to top 25 teams, all lost in the final minutes. Iowa has been tied or had a lead in the 4th quarter of every game. PSU has lost 4 by a total of 86, 3 to top 25 teams. They just got beat by 4 scores at ohio state less than two weeks ago.Who have they beat? Their signature win is Michigan. They haven't even played two of the top 3 in the big ten. I just don't see how you feel that PSU is a better team. They've lost 8 of 9 to Iowa, do you think they beat Iowa if they line up this week? Interested to hear your rationale and keep up the great coverage.

Adam Rittenberg: The power rankings aren't about who is the best team when the season is over. They're about who is playing the best at the moment. This has been stated oh, I don't know, 100 times during the season. Otherwise, there would be almost no fluctuation and there would be little point in doing them. Everyone brings up the head-to-head argument, which is fine, but in today's college football, beating someone six weeks ago might as well be six years ago. Penn State is playing a lot better than it did on Oct. 2, while Iowa has, by any measure, struggled since mid October with three Big Ten losses, a very fortunate win at Indiana and one excellent performance against Michigan State.


Brian from Des Moines writes: How has there been nothing from the league about Hines? It's fine to go headhunting two of Iowa's best players and knock one out for several weeks? I guess I'm just going to have to hope karma inflicts on him what he decided to inflict on others. Nice job singling him out for a helmet sticker. Guess we know where you stand on dirty players.

Adam Rittenberg: Funny, Brian, but I didn't give Jermale Hines a helmet sticker. I gave them to Brian Rolle, Cameron Heyward and John Simon. Read the blog a little more carefully next time before tossing out accusations. I asked Kirk Ferentz about the play and he saw nothing wrong with the hit. While there might have been a pass-inference foul, Ferentz called it "an aggressive football play." So let's move on.


AA from San Francisco writes: Adam,I'm curious why MSU is considered such a distant third in this race to the Big 10 title. This Spartan team has nothing to apologize for if they pull out a victory in Happy Valley this weekend. (Big if for sure)Is Wisconsin's performance really that dominant? Running it up to 83 on Indiana doesn't say much about anything other than BB's character. Beating Michigan by 20 on the road... MSU did that too. Great home win over OSU. The Iowa win was equally impressive and Sparty laid a complete egg there. I would argue however that this is balanced out by the solid 10 point win they have over the Badgers HEAD-TO-HEAD. (It doesn't matter when it happened)Speaking of head-to-head, Why hasn't anyone brought this up? MSU beat UW, UW beat OSU, OSU beat neither. A true three team tie break is when the participants all beat each other. That is not the case here. At the end of the day, I don't have a problem with a three team co-championship, but Michigan State has as much right to it as any of the other participants. They would be an 11-1 team with victories over 7 likely bowl teams. That is no fluke of a resume. A couple close games and one nightmare day at Iowa shouldn't change that.

Adam Rittenberg: AA, no one is saying Michigan State has less of a right to call itself the Big Ten champ if it wins Saturday. The Spartans absolutely deserve the trophy as much as Wisconsin and Ohio State do. While I hate the co-champs thing, we have to live with it this year and Michigan State will earn the crown if it wins at Penn State for the first time since 1965. Regarding the head-to-head win, unfortunately it does matter when it happened. As Kirk Cousins told me this week, it matters when you lose a game. Michigan State's loss in late October hurt more than the setbacks by Wisconsin and Ohio State earlier in the month. I also disagree about how a three-team tiebreak should be determined. If two of the teams don't play, the record within the group shouldn't be used.


Jacob from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: In Bret Bielema's press conference, he alluded to stopping Michigan's defensive "tactics" by pointing to a chop block penalty in the second quarter, saying that it "sent a message." As we all know very well, a chop block is an extremely dangerous action that can easily injure a player and ruin a young man's career. Any coach who orders his players to cause an injury should rightly be reviled by any and all sane individuals. Why is there no outcry from the media that a coach ordered a chop block, against an already injured player, no less? Why can a coach willingly endanger a student athlete merely to "rectify" a perceived disadvantage with no repercussions? Does the media lack a soul?

Adam Rittenberg: Nope, but the media gets things wrong sometimes, and this is one of those times. Bielema never used the phrase "send a message" when discussing the chop block penalty on John Moffitt. I even asked the coach about it again today, and he replied, "Absolutely not. I prefer it didn't happen. No message being sent." There was no ordering of a chop block. John Moffitt expected Mike Martin to be disengaged when he went low, but Martin was still tied up with Bill Nagy. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said today that he wants to get more clarification on plays like this one but also mentioned that Michigan has been called for defensive holding a few times. It was an unfortunate play, but let's not blow this out of proportion.