Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Big Ten mailblog
By ESPN.com staff
Couldn't get to this Tuesday but had plenty of questions and wanted to tackle them. Be sure and send in more questions and comments for Friday.
Ted from Atlanta writes: Adam, just wanted to respond to your comments regarding the reinstatement of Dion Sims at Michigan State. As a Spartan alum and avid follower of Michigan State football, I have no problem with the reinstatement given what I know about the situation. From what I've read, Sims had a very minor role in the particular offense and fully cooperated with authorities. I've also read that the judge presiding over the case in Detroit personally offered to travel to East Lansing to endorse Sims' reinstatement if Coach Dantonio had thought otherwise. Dantonio has displayed the willingness to dismiss players when warranted - Glenn Winston, Oren Wilson, etc. and retain others such as Chris L. Rucker. Although fans and the media have every right to quesiton Coach Dantonio on these decisions, I for one will give him the benefit of the doubt since he is much closer to the situation and knows the players on a more personal level than any of the rest of us will ever know.
Adam Rittenberg: Ted, thanks for your perspective. Several Michigan State fans I've heard from have cited the circumstances surrounding Sims' case, including Sims testifying against the leaders of the computer theft ring. It seems like Sims took a good approach with a bad situation, and most important, he remained academically eligible so he could return when reinstated. I had less of an issue with this than I did with the Winston and Rucker situations, as both players immediately returned to the team after serving jail time. Sims resolved his legal situation but didn't have his team penalty lifted until Monday.
Phil from Philly writes: Hey Adam, I haven't seen much mentioned about Penn State's end of season schedule this fall. They play Nebraska at home, then are at Ohio State and at Wisconsin in the following two weeks. These are three of the most physical teams in the nation, and two of the toughest road venues in the nation. You can't tell me there is a team in the nation with a harder end to their schedule then Penn State.
Adam Rittenberg: Penn State's closing stretch really jumps out, Phil. The Lions had better be a good team by November or it'll be a rough month. In terms of overall Big Ten schedule, Nebraska would argue with you about who has the toughest slate. The Huskers' crossovers are Penn State (road), Wisconsin (road) and Ohio State (home), so they skip Illinois, Indiana and Purdue. Few easy games for Big Red. But Penn State has the toughest closing stretch in the league.
Austin from Granview, Mo., writes: Adam i was wondering, will the hawkeyes still have a legit run at a big ten title this year? Coming into the season with the loss of Stanzi, Hampton, Clayborn, Ballard, Sash, ect. i know they lost quite a few of talented players but i believe with the work out program iowa has positions will be filled but the younger class coming in, will they be able to fill the huge shoes left by the athletes before them? James Vandenberg looks to be a potential hiesman canidate if he sticks around as a starter and so does marcus coker. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg: Austin, Iowa loses quite a bit, but you should never count out the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten race, especially in a year like this. Kirk Ferentz seems to be at his most dangerous when his teams are underestimated. I wouldn't expect to see Iowa in the preseason rankings, but this team can make a push if certain things fall its way. Keep in mind that returning players like Marcus Coker and Micah Hyde stepped up in the Insight Bowl win. The O-line is very strong, and if Iowa can shore up a few areas, look out.
Daniel from Washington writes: I am very surprised you didn't mention TCF Bank Stadium as an urban stadium. It is located a couple of miles from downtown on UMN's very urban campus. Indeed, the Minneapolis skyline serves as a backdrop to the scoreboard.
BrewsterEraSurvivor from Appleton, Wis., writes: How in the world do you talk about Urban facilities, and not bring up the U of M. TCF Bank Stadium is next to downtown Minneapolis. I know the Gopher program has been quite forgettable these past years, but come on.
Adam Rittenberg: Total oversight on my part, and I'm glad you and others pointed it out. TCF Bank Stadium is the most urban Big Ten football facility, and it's a terrific one. I guess when I walked into Memorial Stadium on Monday, it reminded me more of Camp Randall, based largely on its size. But TCF Bank Stadium certainly qualifies as an urban facility.
Asif from Los Angeles writes: Hey Adam, if the Ohio State hc position does open up, what do you think the chances are that they could lure Bo Pelini from Nebraska? Pelini denied all the Miami allegations and so forth a few months ago but I imagine an offer from your alma mater is much more tempting.
Adam Rittenberg: It is more tempting, Asif, and Ohio State is a program built to compete for national championships year in and year out. The thing is Pelini already coaches a program with a strong tradition of winning national titles. And after being in Lincoln earlier this week, I can say from a facilities/support standpoint, Nebraska can absolutely compete at the highest level. Recruiting could be a factor if Pelini were to consider a move (not saying he would, but it's hard not to at least listen). There's a ton of talent in Ohio, while Nebraska has to continue to recruit nationally, especially in Texas and California, to keep competing at the highest level. It's going to be very interesting to watch Nebraska's recruiting in the next few years.
Hoosier49 from Gary, Ind., writes: AdamWhich program, Indiana or Minnesota, do you see as being more successful in their first year with a new coach and why?
Adam Rittenberg: Both Kevin Wilson and Jerry Kill face some challenges in their first seasons. Kill talked last week about the program possibly taking a step back before it goes forward, and Wilson could be in the same boat. Although both coaches are known for offense, it really could come down to who can get their defense on track. Indiana needs to upgrade its talent level and reverse its history of struggles on the defensive side. Minnesota had almost an entirely new group of starters on defense in 2010. Pretty much everyone is back, which can be good or bad. I'd expect the Gophers to be bit better on defense, and they potentially have some weapons on the offensive side, so I'd give Minnesota a slight edge right now.