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Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Big Ten mailbag

By Brian Bennett

Here's a tech-savvy tip for you Mac users out there: Don't spill a cup of iced tea on your Macbook. It does not in fact create a delicious, digital Arnold Palmer but in fact destroys your hard drive. It's been a rough 24 hours. But at least I've got enough leftover technology to answer some of your emails:

Robert R. from Philadelphia writes: Brian, in regards to your post about the B1G and expansion, you are COMPLETELY wrong. 1. Adding Texas A&M to the SEC adds TELEVISION SETS to the SEC footprint and expansion is about money first and foremost. Also, it gets SEC teams to play in Texas -- a prime recruiting state -- on a regular basis. 2. It IS going to happen...the big question remaining is who will the other team be. Most likely won't be Clemson, FSU or any other team in a state represented by a current SEC team (although that's not locked in stone) but more likely a Mizzou or someone that can grab some mid-USA TV sets.

Brian Bennett: Robert, I think you missed the point of that post. And that is, with all the expansion that happened last year and is potentially in the works now, the Big Ten still comes out ahead with the best move. You can't tell me Texas A&M, Missouri or Clemson is a better addition than Nebraska, even if the Cornhuskers aren't in a huge TV market. Nebraska simply makes the Big Ten stronger and is a perfect fit. That doesn't mean that expansion isn't coming or that the Big Ten shouldn't look to add more teams if other leagues get supersized. But getting it right is more important than getting left behind.


Dan the Badger in Gopherland writes: Texas A&M stays put for now, so the tectonic plates of the college football landscape only tremor and we do not experience an all out earthquake...yet. But word is Oklahoma is not happy with the Longhorn Network at all and is looking for options as well. Delany and the B1G would be shrewd to add OK, bring in another "home-run" football school, re-unite the OK and NE rivalry, and further expand the conference recruiting base to the valuable South. Is the B1G looking into this, because they need to be.

Brian Bennett: Dan, other than Notre Dame, Oklahoma is the one school out there that makes the most sense. Texas is a little too big for its britches when it comes to the Big Ten, and Nebraska wouldn't like that at all. Oklahoma makes sense, though the school might not be a great fit for the Big Ten. I would imagine the Sooners might look to the Pac-12. But it's something the Big Ten definitely has to stay on top of.


Sam from Wisconsin writes: Hey, Brian, which game will bigger in the eyes of fans and media across the nation, Michigan vs ND, or Wisconsin vs Nebraska?

Brian Bennett: It's definitely Wisconsin-Nebraska, with the only caveat being that neither team can afford embarrassing stumbles before their showdown. Notre Dame-Michigan will get some attention for being the first night game in the Big House and the traditions they bring to the table. But the Wolverines won't even be ranked for that game, whereas the Badgers and Huskers could easily both be in the top 10. Add in that it's Nebraska's first Big Ten game, and it becomes even more important.


Tim D. from Detroit writes: It has been said that if the B1G wants Notre Dame to join the conference then the should stop scheduling games with ND. With coming of a 9 game conference schedule do you think that that will cause the dropping of games against ND? IF so, would that really cause them to join?

Brian Bennett: I talked to Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick last week, and he's definitely concerned about the rise of superconferences. He said scheduling is probably the hardest part of his job. The Irish fiercely cling to their independence, but if the landscape changes to where there are massive leagues and Notre Dame can't schedule or get a path to the BCS, its hand would be forced. By the way, a reader asked me last week if the Irish would be willing to move the Michigan State or Michigan games if the Big Ten goes to earlier conference games. Swarbrick told me Notre Dame has no problem with that concept and would welcome the added flexibility with its schedule.


Drew M. from Clarksville, Tenn., writes: Which game for the Ohio State Buckeyes will be most defining? At Miami or at Nebraska? Does he start Joe B or Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton, or Taylor Graham?

Brian Bennett: It's got to be the Nebraska game. Not only is that a key league game, but the Buckeyes will have all their suspended players back, and we'll get our first look at the team with all its parts. I believe Joe Bauserman will start the season, but I'm not so sure he ends it.


William B. from Norfolk, Va., writes: I am in the U.S. Navy and the other college football fans onboard and I were wondering about Ohio State's self-imposed sanctions. I heard somewhere part of it was two years' probation. What exactly is probation and what other sanctions were imposed? I can't find the answers anywhere. Thanks so much!-All College football fans aboard USS Mahan (DDG-72) Naval Station

Brian Bennett: Cheers to all you sailor boys. William, probation in college sports is a lot like it is in real life. You're free to go about your business, but if you get in trouble while you're on probation, look out. A program can be ruled a repeat offender if it is found guilty of violations while on probation or even not long after it has gone off probation, and that means stiffer penalties. Of course, Ohio State doesn't have to check in with a probation officer. But wouldn't it be fun if the NCAA had one?


Jan from Falls Church, Va., writes: Interesting debate on where the Big Ten is deepest. You make compelling arguments for DT, but corner is close, better than C, in my opinion. Dennard, Prater, Lynn, Fenelus, Ricardo Allen, Johnny Adams, Jordan Mabin, Tavon Wilson -- there will be plenty of talented guys not getting any All-Conference accolades. It will also be interesting to see how all these new QBs adapt to it.I think DT has more high end talent, but corner has far more quality depth.

Brian Bennett:You make some good points, Jan. Cornerback is a really strong position, especially with Dennard coming into the league. There are several experienced receivers, too, so we can expect some good matchups in the passing game this year.


Matt from Columbus, Ohio, writes: The position of power post had me thinking about individual battles. What do you think could be the best individual matchups this year? I'm officially nominating Mike Brewster vs Jared Crick when Ohio State visits Lincoln.

Brian Bennett: That's an outstanding one, Matt, and I don't think I can come up with a better matchup. I would like to see some open field matchups, like Denard Robinson vs. Lavonte David or Montee Ball against Trenton Robinson, but those aren't guaranteed to take place.


Lance from Greensboro, S.C., writes: In your article about Bubba Starling I'm surprised you didn't mention the most famous baseball to college football guy -- Josh Booty. I think they were both picked around the same spot in the MLB draft, so might be the best parallel.

Brian Bennett: There have been numerous examples, and it's pretty amazing how many guys have failed at baseball only to come back and be pretty good quarterbacks. It's been said that quarterback is the hardest position to master in sports. I think it's harder to hit a curveball.