Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Big Ten mailblog
By Adam Rittenberg
Send in your questions here for Friday's mailblog.
Let's get to 'em ...
Scott from Lafayette, Ind., writes: What are the chances of taking away Notre Dame's share of the BCS pool and have them compete for the money as all the other "Independent" and "Small" market schools? I have a feeling if you take away the ND clause in the BCS, ND would be in the Big Ten.
Adam Rittenberg: Scott, I agree that BCS access is the biggest component to Notre Dame eventually joining a conference, along with having a good, stable home for all of its other sports programs. If Notre Dame's BCS access changes in a negative way, Notre Dame absolutely has to join a conference, whether it's the Big Ten, ACC or somewhere else. While some have made good points about the ACC being a good locational fit for Notre Dame, the Big Ten would make sense for Notre Dame and really help the other Irish sports programs because of the Big Ten Network. The ACC simply can't offer the same.
Markus from Boca Raton, Fla., writes: Adam, is it me or does it seem as though the Big Ten is being left in the expansion dust? First the best two eastern candidates join the ACC. Now we have talk of Texas and Oklahoma along with Texas Tech and OK State possibly moving to the PAC-12. Also a possible Big 12/Big East merger of those remaining. Will we end up as the lesser of the Power Conferences?
Adam Rittenberg: Markus, a patient approach isn't necessarily a bad one. The ACC hasn't added any teams that move the needle nationally. Syracuse and Pitt don't wow me. The Pac-12 certainly could with Oklahoma and Texas, but let's see if the Longhorns actually go West. I know it's hard for Big Ten fans to sit and wait, but the league is very strong with 12 teams and shouldn't add teams just for the sake of adding. And as former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese said, the Big Ten could end up being the big winner by waiting until the dust settles and Notre Dame and/or Texas have to make a move.
David from Mauston, Wis., writes: Hey Adam, is Iowa's 2011 football season even just a little reminiscient of Ricky Stanzi's first full season at qb? inconsistency dominated stretches of that season as well. after the comeback saturday, it reminded of that season too. all of the comebacks that season too, Michigan State especially. Plus the unknowns for the defense coming into that season as well.Granted they didnt give up as much as this defense has but they had some of the same questions then too. Vandenberg could be looked at the same way a few starts but nothing outside of Ohio State to really go off of. Do you think they could come close to that season if they can become even close to consistent?
Adam Rittenberg: David, while the comeback against Pitt might have looked like 2009, I think this Iowa season more resembles 2008. Let's remember in 2009 Iowa had a record-setting start and, despite all those close victories, boasted a very solid football team. The 2009 Hawkeyes had far fewer holes than the current squad, which is replacing very productive players on both sides of the ball. Like the '08 squad, Iowa has the potential to get things together and be a very tough team down the stretch in Big Ten play. But I also think these Hawkeyes will encounter some bumps in the road along the way, much like the '08 team did.
Brian from Yankton, S.D., writes: Do you really think the B1G will have to expand? I do not get it. More teams does not mean more money. The teams you would add would have to be better than your average team, hopefully by a lot. Also, won't these 'super-conferences' just cannibalize each other and make it that much tougher to get to a BCS game and especially a championship game? (This remains true for a playoff scenario). Think about the PAC 16 with Texas, Oklahoma, OK State, and TTU; how could any team survive without at least two loses? Why not sit back with a solid 12 team conference, share the money fewer ways, and allow for a fair competitive balance and some parity? It seems like the B1G would have a huge advantage sticking with 12 teams and allowing everyone else go to 16.
Adam Rittenberg: Brian, I'm glad there's at least one Big Ten fan out there who feels this way. There's certainly a lot of pressure to keep up with other leagues, but as I've said all along, the Big Ten is very strong at 12 and doesn't have to expand to ensure its survival. Time will tell what superconferences mean to a playoff push, but I completely agree that the Big Ten shouldn't share its money with programs who aren't bringing something to the table. Also, you bring up a good point about the cannibalizing. The Big Ten for years benefited from not having a championship game and having its best teams have fewer losses and better chances for BCS at-large berths. Staying at 12 with everyone going to 16 could be an advantage in this way. The other element you maintain by staying at 12 is intimacy -- playing your league brethren more often. You simply don't have that in a 16-team conference.
Brian from Hudsonville, Mich., writes: You have been reiterating along with many other media outlets the point of "how is this U-M team different from last year and 09's team". One major thing that sticks out as reason to view this as different is this team's (coaches') ability to adjust and adapt and get better as the game goes on; especially on defense. I was half tempted to shut the TV off vs ND after the 2nd easy drive for a score ND had anticipating a blowout, but then Mattison adjusted his D and really shut down ND. Also, I'd argue that Denard is the ONLY weapon U-M has. As evidenced in the ND game, the WR group made some huge plays, going up and getting jump balls, downfield blocking, etc. So whats different? The D not sticking to a bad gameplan and adapting to get stops on 3rd down and the O also adapting to take what the D will give them. Is U-M the team they want to be? Not yet, but the simple in-game strategy of adapting is what makes this 3-0 start different than those of 09-10. Wouldn't you agree?
Adam Rittenberg: Brian, you bring up some good points here. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is an excellent in-game coach, and his adjustments should help Michigan's defense overcome some inherent problems this season. I still worry about what happens to that secondary, however, when it faces some of the Big Ten's better passing offenses like Michigan State and Northwestern (Dan Persa should be back). You can do a lot with blitzes and formations, but eventually you're going to get exposed. As for the offense, I credit Al Borges for sticking to what Denard Robinson does best, even if it's not the way Michigan will play in the long term. I just watch Michigan and see some issues that will show up when the competition gets better. This will be an interesting week against a good San Diego State team.
Adam from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Regarding your topic on Missouri as the best expansion option for the Big Ten I will have to respectfully disagree. Obviously Notre Dame is choice one, two, and three, but if we are going to go to 14 I will look to the east coast rather then going west. I think Virginia would be a great addition to the Big Ten as they fulfill many obligations. They have outstanding academics and adding ND and UVA would give us two more top twenty schools making us far and away the best academic conference in the school. Also, they open the Baltimore and D.C. markets not to mention the population of Virginia. This is much better then what Missouri would add. Now athletically Virginia might be lacking but they are not terrible and could be competitive. Just a thought Adam, keep up the good work!
Adam Rittenberg: Adam, I agree there's a lot to like about Virginia, but would the Cavaliers be willing to pay the increased exit fee ($20 million) to leave the ACC for the Big Ten? I'm not sure they would. Same goes for Maryland, which would be an even better addition for the Big Ten because of its proximity to Washington D.C. From an academics standpoint, Virginia is a home run. But from an athletics standpoint, Missouri is a much better add. Virginia football is beyond irrelevant in a mediocre league, while Missouri has built a very solid program under Gary Pinkel. Plus, Missouri already has some built-in rivalries with Big Ten teams like Illinois and Nebraska. I'm not opposed to Virginia at all, but Missouri has the edge in my mind.
Casey from Kansas City, Mo., writes: Doesn't it make most sense for the Big 10, if it were to expand to add Kansas, Mizzou, ND, and a team from the East to be named later?
Adam Rittenberg: Bingo! Again, this would be a reluctant move, but if the Big Ten had to go to 16, and Texas was off the table, the league should add Notre Dame, Missouri, Kansas and Rutgers unless an ACC school like Maryland or Virginia is willing to pay the higher exit fee. Those four additions provide a variety of different benefits, including a national basketball power in Kansas.