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Friday, September 18, 2009
Big Ten mailblog

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg


Your questions, my answers.

Brandon from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Outside of being comfortable and Tressel not wanting to allow anyone else to have power, why doesn't Ohio State ever open up coaching positions to a national search?Florida's QB coach had vast D-I experience, same with Jeremy Bates at USC (who just was hired). And other teams have ex-Division I players as quarterbacks coach.What can Siciliano say when he recruits because he never played college football and his only experience is as a video coordinator? OSU fans are frustrated because other teams have more high-profile QB coaches and Pryor seems to not be developing.

Adam Rittenberg: I understand the frustration, but I don't think Nick Siciliano deserves the blame for what's happening in Columbus. It's a combination of things (youth, system, development) and no one position is totally at fault. As The Columbus Dispatch's Tim May recently wrote, Ohio State has an identity crisis on offense, and it's the whole unit. Obviously, Terrelle Pryor is the engine, and I think he'd do best in a total spread offense, one where he can constantly make plays with his feet. Some of Craig Krenzel's comments in the story are pretty interesting, especially about Pryor's inconsistent footwork. Then again, if Ohio State's offensive line play had been what it should the past few years, many of these questions wouldn't be asked. A lot of this falls in Jim Tressel's lap, but the Buckeyes have a lot of time to get better.




Brian from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: I was wondering what kind of odds you see michigan having at finishing in the top two or three in the big ten. I'm assuming we will stumble in a couple of games, most likely at michigan state, at Iowa, and/or against penn state and ohio state. Do you think two or possibly three loses within the conference will still put us in the top tier of the big ten?

Adam Rittenberg: It could, Brian. Tough to know what to make of the league so far. Penn State hasn't played anybody, Ohio State has been shaky on offense, Iowa had a scare and then looked good and Michigan State really melted down against Central Michigan. Michigan has been the one team that impressed me in both weeks. That said, the Wolverines remain very young and haven't gone on the road yet. This could be a year where 6-2 keeps a team among the Big Ten leaders. Harder to stay there with three losses, so that's a big difference.


Mark from Detroit writes: Adam, if you want to do something useful to help the Big Ten football and everyone involved, press them to improve scheduling. They must play every team in the conference -- round robin if you like that wimpy term, and real BCS non-conference contenders. I know other teams (Florida) and conferences take the easy (cheaters) way, but that's not the sign of real leadership -- they will get their due rewards. You need to hammer on this endlessly, otherwise the Big Ten willl keep embarassing themselves and the NCAA by going 1-6 in the bowl games. It's just NCAA-sanctioned cheating; of everyone involved in college football!

Adam Rittenberg: I'll do my best, Mark, but playing a round-robin Big Ten schedule is a total pipedream. There's too much money at stake for these teams to give up home games, much less to add another very losable road game to the schedule. It's more likely the Big Ten plays nine conference games (yes, I know the math doesn't work perfectly with 11 teams) or adds a 12th member. But you're not going to see a 10-game round-robin, not for a league that sends more teams to BCS bowls than any other. I feel your pain in wanting to see better nonconference matchups for Big Ten schools, and I think things are slowly improving. Better nonconference games is the fight worth fighting, not a round-robin league schedule.


Bryan from Winona, Minn., writes: Hey Adam. What happened to the much heralded Hayo Carpenter? I thought he was supposed to be a nice complement to Eric Decker. He hasn't done anything this year, save return one kick for 27 yards, according to the ESPN.com box scores. Do you know anything about his progression since becoming a Gopher? Maybe he didn't quite develop like the coaching staff was hoping he would, but has he even been playing? I know the Gophers could really use some more help on offense with Decker doing practically EVERYTHING thus far. What are your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: The coaches and Carpenter's teammates were really high on his progress in camp, but he's clearly still catching on to the college game. He recently told the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press: "Coming in late, I was behind the eight ball. I had to learn the playbook in three weeks, but everything I feel is going fine now. I'm just waiting for an opportunity." When this guy truly gets it, I think he'll be a difference maker for Minnesota. But as you say, it needs to happen fast. Decker can't be Minnesota's only weapon on offense, especially against better teams. The Gophers need Carpenter, Troy Stoudermire or someone else to truly emerge as a No. 2 option for Adam Weber.



Tony B. from Limerick, Maine, writes: Hey Adam,How's the emails, deadlines and coaches treating you? I am curious to know why the OSU denial of USC?s 4th and goal TD (first TD) isn't being blow up by the media. I know that if you take away 7 points from USC, Ohio St. wins but that is not why I write. The replay officials have technology to review plays in great detail and they also have a job to replay every play in great detail and replay again and again until they are certain enough that the call on the field is either incorrect or correct. Now with my simple DVR on my Time Warner cable box at home, I can tell the 4th and goal wasn't a touchdown, but yet there was no replay. The media has a stronger voice than the fans, so except for some online blogs, why is everyone mum on the touchdown that wasn't. Thanks and keep up the awesome work.

Adam Rittenberg: I've received about 500 e-mails on this issue, and from looking at some of the still shots, Stafon Johnson's knee was down before the ball crossed the goal line. Very tough break for Ohio State, but I don't think it got blown up because it happened so early in the game and Ohio State still had numerous chances to put away the Trojans last Saturday night. I was surprised not to see a review there, but whether Johnson scored or not, Ohio State should have won that game and would have with just a little more offense.



Jake from Madison, Wis., writes: will Wisconsin get any respect after beating Fresno State? they are one of the most under rated teams and Pat Hill is one of the most under rated coaches. does this win help the big ten in any way?

Adam Rittenberg: It was a very solid win for the Badgers, especially after they dealt with the flu all week. They had 40 guys dealing with symptoms and they still won in double OT -- very impressive in my book. Fresno probably doesn't carry the prestige it used to because other non-BCS teams (Boise State, Utah, BYU, TCU) have surpassed the Bulldogs, but Pat Hill's guys always play hard. Wisconsin's win could help the Big Ten if Fresno goes on to big things, like upsetting Boise State on Friday night.