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Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Big Ten mailblog

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

You know how to reach me. And if you're not following me on Twitter, you should turn in your Big Ten fan card.

Rolf from Kirkland, Wash., writes: Hello Adam,I have a question about the spring games. How come Ohio State gets practice started so late (March 31st) in the year? Then they have their spring game april 23rd. Does this mean they don't practice as much??? Other teams get started earlier and finish at the same time.

Adam Rittenberg: Rolf, every FBS team gets 15 spring practices, and you better believe they use all of them. Ohio State tends to use more practices in a smaller window because it's on the quarter system and wants to start spring ball after spring break. Spring quarter classes at Ohio State begin March 28 and practice kicks off three days later. Some teams will begin spring practice before spring break, take a chunk of time off and then resume the workouts. Nebraska and Northwestern are both going this route with their spring practice sessions.


Ben from Lincoln, Neb., writes: How well do you think Nebraska will do next year with it being their first year playing against teams that have bigger and stronger players? And who do you think will get the starting QB job at Nebraska? everyone here is hoping on it being Bubba Starling but i dont want another freshman to take the starting job.

Adam Rittenberg: I'm not too concerned about Nebraska's defense adjusting to Big Ten play. Although the Huskers aren't the biggest defense, they make up for it with speed and athleticism. I think there will be some growing pains on offense with most likely a new play-caller. The quarterback situation will be interesting to watch. Taylor Martinez could regain his form when healthy, and Cody Green has some experience. We've got to see what Starling does with his baseball career, but he'll be one to watch if he sticks with football. Jamal Turner also is a heralded prospect, but I see your point about wanting to avoid another freshman quarterback.


David from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., writes: Adam, it is amazing to me how Ohio State seems untouchable as a program despite a myriad of issues ranging from the Jim O'Brien issues to all of the Tyrell Pryor issues, to the players selling their trophies an the like to the now Carter decision. No matter what happpens, it seems like Ohio State skates by and gets at worst a slap on the wrist. Any other program in the Big Ten would be villified and nothing seems to happen to Ohio State. Please explain.

Adam Rittenberg: David, while it's easy to group all of these situations together, I don't think it's the fair approach. Each situation must be examined individually. Some would argue that Ohio State is being hit pretty hard for players selling their memorabilia -- a five-game suspension isn't nothing. And while the rule that allowed the players to participate in the Sugar Bowl is highly questionable, it applies to every school, not just Ohio State. The Chris Carter Jr. decision had to do with the legal system in Cleveland. Ohio State wasn't involved. And while there has been a lot of buzz around Terrelle Pryor, no explicit violations have been brought to light aside from the memorabilia selling.


Matt from Los Angeles writes: Adam, Love reading the blog, keep up the good work.I was wondering what your take is on the Badgers losing Running Backs coach John Settle. He seems to have always gotten the most out of his stable of backs at Wisconsin, and he was also a valuable recruiter. Who do you think steps up to fill the spot, and how big is this loss?

Adam Rittenberg: In my view, Settle is one of the nation's top assistant coaches, and he definitely leaves a void on Bret Bielema's staff. I loved the way he always encouraged competition among his players. No one ever got too comfortable, and all of his backs seemed to improve over time. The good news is Wisconsin will be a very attractive job for top running back coaches. The team boasts an incredible tradition at the running back spot, and the new coach inherits a ton of talent in Madison. I agree with you that Bielema not only has to find a good coach, but someone who can recruit well nationally, especially in the southeast. It'll be interesting to see who gets the job.


Jonathan from Indiana writes: Will Edward Wright-Baker be Indiana's starting quarterback or will there be open competition for guys like Tre Roberson or Dusty Kiel to win the starting job?

Adam Rittenberg: Jonathan, there certainly will be open competition at Indiana, as no one did enough behind Ben Chappell to deserve the job handed to them. Wright-Baker is a gifted athlete who could do well in Kevin Wilson's offense, but Kiel also is right there in the mix. Roberson also brings a lot to the table, and while it'd be a bit surprising if he won the job, no one could see Rob Bolden claiming Penn State's starting quarterback spot as a true freshman. So anything is possible in Bloomington.


Paul from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: Hey Adam, what are the odds that Braxton Miller starts the first game for the Buckeyes? I know Bauserman is in the mix, but I'd much rather see Brax play based on what I've seen out of each of them. Do you think Tressel will try to be loyal to his senior? Who else is in the mix?

Adam Rittenberg: Paul, I'm sure we'll debate this situation to death from now until September, but it will be very interesting to see what The Vest decides. Tressel typically goes with experience, but I don't think Bauserman has shown enough in games to be the clear choice. When you've been a backup with virtually no chance of starting until now, it can be hard to flip the switch mentally. But Bauserman and Kenny Guiton certainly are in the mix along with Miller. This should be considered an open competition, and Miller will have a chance to prove himself in spring ball, something Terrelle Pryor couldn't do because he didn't arrive until the summer. I wouldn't count out Guiton, either. He showed some promise in the spring game last year and drew praise from QBs coach Nick Siciliano for quickly absorbing the system.