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Thursday, June 16, 2011
Big Ten mailblog

By Adam Rittenberg

Thanks again for sending in those questions.

I'll be off most of Friday and Monday, so you'll be in the capable hands of Brian Bennett. He can't wait to hear from you.

Derek from Happy Valley, Pa., writes: For what it's worth Adam, as a Penn State fan and student, I don't understand why Penn State would choose to play Pitt. There are Pitt shirts on campus from WPIAL kids and nobody cares. It's not a rivalry to any Penn State fan under the age of 50, and it's only a rivalry to about half of them.Pitt will get to sell out their stadium (for what I assume Penn State will white-out), but Penn State already does that.And as a fan, I would rather go to more places like Tuscaloosa like we did last year. I could go to Pittsburgh, albeit a nice city, whenever I want. Penn State should spend it's main OOC game on teams like Oregon, LSU, Florida, Texas, and other top teams from top conferences.I know you don't really care about my opinion, but if you are trying to gauge hoe PSU fans are taking this 2 game series, you have at least one of our thoughts.

Adam Rittenberg: Derek, thanks for sharing this perspective. The Penn State-Pitt hiatus has prevented the rivalry from resonating with younger fans and students such as yourself. It's a shame because, while I'm aging rapidly but hardly ancient, I remember several Penn State-Pitt games and the excitement around the rivalry. The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News Jared Shanker recently wrote a good piece from a younger person's perspective, asking folks to educate him on the rivalry. While I certainly understand your desire to see more games like Penn State-Alabama in the future, I'd give the Pitt series a chance.


Tim from Toledo, Ohio, writes: Hey Adam,Great job with the blog! In past postings you've mentioned that you thought OSU would NOT get hammered for the infamous "lack of institutional control"? Do you still think that, in light of OTL's recent report about Pryor and Talbott? In your opinon, how hard will the NCAA come down on my Buckeyes?

Adam Rittenberg: Tim, it's hard to predict NCAA charges in advance, but if more of these allegations are proven true, lack of institutional control might be in play. I think "failure to monitor" might be a bigger concern for Ohio State because of the questions about the compliance department -- what it knew, what it didn't know, what it did to monitor players, etc. Failure to monitor is considered a small step down from lack of institutional control in terms of severity, but both charges are significant.


Matthew from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Adam I noticed that you had the Wisky running back tandem as possible Heisman candidates ahead of either Kirk Cousins or Edwin Baker. I was wondering if this was you looking ahead and thinking that the Badgers will have a better record (thus be in more national spot light) than the Spartans. Nothing against the Wisconsin running backs. They are great athletes and will rack up a lot of yardage, but I have to think that either Cousins or Baker will have a huge year (depending on if the line can gel for a run offense in Bakers case). I was just wondering on the reasoning.

Adam Rittenberg: Good question, Matthew. The two offensive lines certainly have something to do with it. Wisconsin once again should have one of the Big Ten's best lines, while Michigan State's front is a major question mark. It's never easy to replace both starting tackles and the starting center. The other element is the hype factor around Wisconsin and the fact that James White and Montee Ball are players people know nationally at a position where the Badgers are famous for producing stars. I'm not saying Kirk Cousins or Edwin Baker can't enter the Heisman mix, but both men have something to prove nationally because the default perception of them/Michigan State is the Capital One Bowl disaster against Alabama.


Kevin from Orlando, Fla., writes: Adam, always look forward to reading your view points on current Big Ten topics...great job! My question is, do you see Michigan eventually playing more 8pm prime time games in the Big House, depending on the success (based on ratings and performace, as attendance wont be an issue) of the Sept. 10th game agaisnt ND?

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Kevin. I'd be stunned if Michigan doesn't schedule more primetime home games in the coming years. Athletic director Dave Brandon is a progressive guy who recognizes the popularity of night college football. Tradition is nice, but noon ET kickoffs simply don't generate the same type of hype and excitement as games under the lights. Honestly, noon kickoffs just aren't cool at all. Michigan will never become LSU and play most of its home games at night, but Brandon will identify showcase opportunities where playing in prime time works, and he'll capitalize.


Tyler from Durham, N.C., writes: In a recent blog about Michigan's throwback unis for the Notre Dame game, you said that the numbers on the helmets were a nice touch because "Alabama's helmets are classic; it's good to see Michigan go this route." Huh? Are you saying the famed winged helmets designed by Frits Chrysler, which have been time and again confirmed as the best looking (and most classic) in college football, aren't as "classic" as Alabama's? Please, Adam, don't embarrass yourself like this. Retract the Alabama statement and you can put this all behind you as if you never said a thing. I'm just looking out for you, buddy.

Adam Rittenberg: A little oversensitive, are we? Michigan's helmets are great. They're the best helmets in the Big Ten. I've mentioned that on multiple occasions. The numbers are simply a nice one-time feature, and they reminded me of Alabama's headgear. Both helmets are iconic, and in no way was I knocking Michigan.


Eric from Collins, Ohio, writes: Adam, why do you have to come up with insane blog topics meant only to incite comments? These "Who has the better tradition" posts are meant simply to fire people up and put down schools that perhaps don't value their football program the way most schools in the Big Ten do. Honestly, when is your retirement? I can't wait.

Adam Rittenberg: Eric, the traditions posts were simply done to have a little fun in conjunction with EA Sports and SportsNation. All the bloggers did them, as per our instructions from the folks in Bristol. As usual, several of you took them way too seriously. And this is a blog, so "firing people up" is sort of the point, especially during a slow period time like mid-June. As for my retirement, sorry to disappoint you. I'm not going anywhere for a while.


Bryan from Kansas City, Mo., writes: I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about how Nebraska will fare this year without their secret offensive MVP of the past few years, kicker Alex Henery. With the offensive struggles in the past two years, Henery was always hitting clutch field goals and putting points on the board. Plain and simple - the Huskers wouldn't have won all the games they did in the past few years without him. I want to hear your take on how this could impact them this season, and if you have any insights on Alex's replacement.

Adam Rittenberg: Great question, Bryan. I loved watching Henery from afar, particularly in the Big 12 championship games. He was practically automatic and extremely clutch. Reminded me of Big Ten star kickers like Mike Nugent and Nate Kaeding. I agree that he played a huge role in several Nebraska wins. Nebraska's offense will have to reach the end zone a little more often this season. Junior Brett Maher will be the next man in. He hit three field goals in the spring game, including the game-winner. Mauro Bondi also is joining the team. Still, it'll be very tough to replace a guy like Henery.