Friday, February 3, 2012
Big Ten Friday mailblog
By Adam Rittenberg
What a week. Hope everyone has a great weekend.
Donnie Darko from Madison, Wis., writes: Adam, love the blog, but you've fictionalized the story about Bielema a little bit. In his press conference he said that he has seen practices that are flat-out illegal occurring in the SEC, but he never said anything that Meyer did was explicitly illegal. Having said this, Bielema did bring up that he had an issue with something Meyer did, but he rectified the situation. I do, however, think that there are some questionable practices going on at OSU. Looking forward to the matchup on the hardwood tomorrow!
Adam Rittenberg: Donnie, Bielema has made it pretty clear that he feels Meyer engaged in illegal recruiting practices. What most people are missing is that the allegations don't have to do with flipping recruits but rather something else that Bielema hasn't revealed. Bielema has acknowledged that recruit-flipping happens and that every school engages in it, including Wisconsin. But there's something else here that hasn't come out. And if he rectified the situation, why did he tell the Sporting News that athletic director Barry Alvarez would be following up with the Big Ten about it?
Alan from Columbus, Ohio, writes: It's ridiculous and frustrating that the B1G is keeping these division names! Only 57% positive is not that good. I bet the directional approval rates are much higher. They aggravate me because I never can remember which is which. I remember what teams are in each, but can't remember the division name! Legends and Leaders are both great aspirations, but they are not mutually exclusive, which would help differentiate them. Are those in the Leaders division not legends, and vice versa? The initial outcry just died down because people couldn't keep talking about the same thing long enough for Jim Delany to switch the names. I think approximate directionals are much better. Do people have a tough time remembering that Dallas is in the NFC East? Then they can remember if Wisconsin is in the East and Michigan is in the West.
Adam Rittenberg: You make some excellent points, Alan. I think if the survey were conducted soon after the division names came out, it would have yielded a lower acceptance rate. The Big Ten's argument is that over time and with greater education, fans became more accepting of the names. This rate could increase further with more education about the division names and which teams go where. But I agree with you about the directional names. Even though the divisions weren't determined by geography, the division names, in my view, could be directional. You bring up the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East, a great example. You also used to have the Atlanta Braves in the National League West. I know this because they broke my heart as a San Francisco Giants fan in 1993 (ugh!).
Ben from Milwaukee writes: Re: Legends and LeadersWow, they talked to a total of a little over 500 fans. I went to all the Wisconsin home games and the title game and did not see any sign of this survey. I understand you can't survey everyone at every game, but this seems like a pretty small sample size.I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of the names, but in the end, I really don't care. As a Wisconsin grad I guess I just call them "Our Division" and "The Other Division". So if they stick with Legends and Leaders, it doesn't bother me that much. But to say we survey 500 people and the names seem to be taking hold just seems strange to me. Obviously they were keepign these names no matter what. Half the commercials on the BTN mention Legends and Leaders.If the conference wants to keep the names fine. But don't feed us a line that people like the name. Thanks for listening to my rant.
Adam Rittenberg: Ben, some good points here. One thing I learned this week was that it only takes 250 respondents to have a statistically significant survey. The Big Ten had more than 500 in this survey, which doesn't seem like a lot but does qualify. I think it's fair to question whether the Big Ten should have distributed the surveys in different ways, but it wanted to touch base with core fans, many of whom expressed their dislike of the names.
Tyler from Minnesota writes: Nebraska had 17 players sign from 13 states. That says a lot about their reach as a national recruiting team. I think their biggest statement was taking Jordan Westerkamp out of the heart of B1G country in IL. He was statistically their best high school receiver of all time.
Adam Rittenberg: Tyler, Westerkamp certainly was a nice addition for Nebraska, which is putting together a nice core of young wide receivers. It's good that Nebraska can reach into multiple states for recruits, but it's also important for the Huskers to land more elite recruits from the Big Ten footprint going forward. Nebraska only added a handful of players from the Midwest. You can't get 'em all, but the Huskers will need to have more success in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania going forward.
Evan from Arusha, Tanzania, writes: Adam, you never give any effort towards Purdue. You neglected to mention Robert Gregory who going to sign with the Boilers. Reading your blog almost makes Purdue fans feel like we aren't in the B1G, yet for the first half of the decade we were one of the prime programs. I'm getting tired of this neglect; Purdue has 38,000 students, which turns into a good size fan base. Stop acting we don't exist. We may not have been one the better programs this half decade, but it insulting that programs like NW or Ill should get more attention. I like your work; don't give me a reason not too
Adam Rittenberg: Evan, we'll try to do better with Purdue coverage, although I feel we've covered most of the major developments with Boilers football. I've been trying to get an interview with new defensive coordinator Tim Tisebar for several weeks, and it hasn't happened yet. Purdue simply isn't the program it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and there has been a decided lack of buzz around the program. It's reflected in the declining attendance numbers. The good news is the Boilers come off of a bowl win and have a chance to make some noise in the Leaders division this season. I look forward to making it down to West Lafayette for spring practice.
Johnny from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Adam, I don't want to beat a dead horse but I have a question after reading a statement you made in the article regarding Alvarez and recruiting; you stated, "There's a difference between unethical and illegal." Why can't this same logic be used to defend Joe Paterno and his legacy? Many firmly believe he was morally responsible to follow up the accusations, but he did nothing illegal according to the letter-of-the-law. There is no "Moral Court" America, so why is Joe-Pa being tried in one?
Adam Rittenberg: Johnny, I believe many of those who have defended JoePa have used this very argument. But you really think there isn't a moral court in America? C'mon. Paterno didn't do anything illegal, and isn't being charged by the attorney general. But when you have a case as sensitive as this one, the moral argument will be brought up and debated. It happens all the time.
Tye from Texas writes: Adam, love the blog. I think the B1G made out really well in the recruiting battle. With UM still awaiting a decision from Jordan Diamond, and assuming he picks the Wolverines, how closely matched are the UM and osu classes this year?
Adam Rittenberg: Both classes are very strong, Tye, and the addition of Diamond, who announces his choice Friday night, would give Michigan another boost. Ohio State brought in the best crop of defensive line recruits in the country. The Buckeyes also brought in some good linebackers, and Michigan really excelled with its linebacker recruits. The Wolverines also added an excellent cornerback in Terry Richardson. So the classes were a bit different but both very strong, especially on defense.