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Friday, May 6, 2011
Big Ten Friday mailblog

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Hope you have a great weekend. As always, don't hesitate to contact me here.

Pete from Livonia, Mich., writes: I usually agree with your predictions for michigan football and i think you do a good job of treating them fairly. I have to disagree with you for once though, because your post-spring ranking of Michigan is horrible. 8th? Really? What were you thinking? You realize Michigan finished 7th last year, plays an easier schedule this year (no penn state/wisconsin), has 19 of 22 starters returning, has coaches who are already developing talent better than Rich Rod did, and there are other teams you ranked ahead of them who lost a ton of starters. I just don't understand it. Michigan will be at least 5th and probably higher. I guarantee it. If i'm wrong you can make fun of my prediction all day on the blog.

Adam Rittenberg: Pete, I like your optimism, but I really didn't hear from many Michigan folks outraged at the No. 8 spot in the post-spring rankings. Most other rankings I've seen have Michigan around the same spot. You can't base this all on returning starters. Just because Michigan brings back a lot of guys -- especially a lot of guys from a bad defense -- doesn't mean it will be a significantly better team. On the flip side, some Big Ten teams should benefit from some new players entering starting roles. The Wolverines could be better, but they need to prove a lot this fall, and they're incorporating new systems. You say the coaches already are developing talent better than Rich Rodriguez did. Based on what? Spring practice? Again, I'll be happy to move Michigan up the power rankings when I see evidence that the team has improved.


Quinn from Seattle writes: Adam, I know that some do not regard the University of Nebraska being removed from the Association of American Universities as a big deal. However, if you're a college president or just a college in general who has to attract students for enrollment (not athletes), isn't this somewhat of a big deal? Isn't it better to say that all 12 of our associated universities (i.e. Big Ten) are amongst the best in the nation, proven by all being in the AAU? Should Nebraska try to get back into the organization? Should the Big Ten make them change their ways?

Adam Rittenberg: AAU membership matters greatly to the Big Ten presidents, so it is a big deal. And if Nebraska lost its AAU membership a year ago, it would have been a bigger deal. But the Big Ten has publicly supported Nebraska since the AAU situation took place, and it will continue to help the school through the July 1 official transition. From reading more about the AAU situation here and other places, I don't think the Big Ten views this as a mark against Nebraska's academic reputation. There seem to be some interesting politics going on with the AAU right now, as evidenced by Syracuse choosing to leave the association. The requirements to remain in good standing with the AAU are certainly debatable right now. We'll see if Nebraska makes a push to rejoin the AAU down the road.


Luke from Jessup, Iowa, writes: Hey Ritt, great blog. This is more of an observation and a request than anything. With the addition of Nebraska to the B1G (awesome, btw), I've noticed a lot of Texas fans making their way, uninvited, to our message boards. Can I just say Texas fans have to be some of the most arrogant and obnoxious fans on the planet? It's no wonder Nebraska left. We welcome you with open arms, Big Red. Adam, could you please remind the audience that this is the B1G Blog, Nebraska is now part of our family, and we'd all appreciate it if the "Horns" could head back to their pasture. Go Hawks!

Adam Rittenberg: Can't do it, Luke. It's a free country and this is a free forum, so all college football fans are allowed to participate. Even ones from Texas. This might shock you, but some of the things you assert about Texas fans have been said about Nebraska fans and (gasp) even Iowa fans. So while I'm happy to hear you've embraced Nebraska fans and their participation in the blog forums, we're not in the business of keeping people away.


Matt from Chicago writes: Hi Adam,Thanks for your great insight and information. Quick question- I recently read your team rankings after Spring ball. Are your rankings reflective of what you believe to be the order based purely on talent, or is this more of an end-of-year prediction considering both talent and scheduling? I ask because, while not expecting a great season, I think if Purdue remains healthy that a 4-4 conference record is very reasonable when considering its schedule, and there is no way with a 4-4 conference record that the Boilers finish 10th in the league.I certainly have no beef if you think Purdue will not win four conference games this year, I'm just trying to understand what went into your rankings.

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Matt. It's definitely not an end-of-year prediction. As I've mentioned before, the power rankings are designed to change and will change. They are a snapshot of where I think Big Ten teams are slotted right now. If Purdue goes 4-4 in Big Ten play, it certainly will climb higher in the power rankings, which will be revised every week during the season. I like the Boilers' playmakers on both sides of the ball -- Ricardo Allen, Kawann Short, Antavian Edison, Ralph Bolden -- and think they could take a step forward if things fall right. But right now, at this moment, they have too many question marks to be higher than 10th.


Jaron from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Is Shaun Prater as good as everyone makes him out to be? I was in the stands at Kinnick for every home game this year and while I understand that he was an integral part of our defensive successes (and perhaps downfalls?) I just don't know if I see it. Your comparison to Amari really doesn't mesh either. I loved watching Amari. He was fast and he played really well. He is what I expected to see out of a high caliber corner. Is Prater even close to Amari???

Adam Rittenberg: Jaron, you're not the first Iowa fan who has emailed me expressing similar sentiments about Prater. I think the Hawkeye faithful are fairly split on whether he's truly an upper echelon cornerback. I see the upside and the flaws, but I see a guy with the right measurables to be very good if he makes a jump between his junior and senior seasons. He's definitely not Amari Spievey at this point, but he has a chance to be in that category if he keeps improving from now until Sept. 3.


Steve from Lafayette, Ind., writes: Hey Adam, Now that spring is over, I'm starting to think about fall. At what point does Fitz need to bite the bullet and choose an official second string QB? If the unthinkable should happen again, don't we need to have a back-up chosen who has taken most of the second string reps to be as ready as possible?

Adam Rittenberg: Steve, I think Pat Fitzgerald and offensive coordinator Mick McCall would like one of the candidates to separate himself early in fall camp. While it's good that all three candidates took a good number of reps this spring, eventually you need someone to take control of the job. I still think Kain Colter will be that guy, but he needs to have a good summer.


Matt from Detroit writes: Adam, as always great job with your spring coverage. In regards to your 4+ interception guys, I'm guessing you just accidentally overlooked Johnny Adams? The man is the top corner on MSU and by all reports has looked "phenominal" (Spartan teammate's words, not mine) in spring thus far. When you factor in that he had 3 picks last year and that you called him a possible shut down corner in the Trenton Robinson explanation, is it safe to assume that you just forgot to put his name on the list? I can't possibly imagine you left him off on purpose.

Adam Rittenberg: Matt, I should have included Adams on the list. He might be one of those cornerbacks who helps a teammate -- like Trenton Robinson, whom I included -- rack up interceptions. Then again, Adams had three picks last year and, from all accounts, seems to be taking his game to another level. That's on me. He's a candidate to rack up INTs.


Eric from Minneapolis writes: You really don't think Troy Stoudermire is worth putting as a player to watch for 4 interceptions? Maybe you should make an effort to make to Minnesota for Spring ball.

Adam Rittenberg: Eric, first off, I made an effort to get there this spring, but outside circumstances didn't allow for a trip. Unlike Adams, Stoudermire still a lot to prove as a cornerback. From talking to coaches and reading reports, he seemed like a guy who really embraced physicality this spring, laying the wood on several receivers. That's a terrific sign. Does it mean he'll record a bunch of interceptions? Tough to tell. He had one last year. To put him on the list right now seems a little premature.