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Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Big Ten mailblog

By Adam Rittenberg

Thanks to those who sent in opinions on the Joe Paterno stadium/field naming issue at Penn State. I've included several at the bottom of the mailblog.

Let's get going.

Bill T. from Ottawa, Ill., writes: As a Purdue Alumnus I have watched in agony over the past several seasons as Purdue fell short of all our fans' expectations. I find it absolutely frustrating that Danny Hope claims he is going to use Terbush and Marve this upcoming season...again. Don't you think that it destroys the momentum of the team offensively and also shatters the confidence of both quarterbacks? Additionally I have read all the buzz about how we are a sleeper team in the Big Ten. I would really like to express that we have traditionally struggled against Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State (even at the height of the program at the turn of the century). What makes you guys think this year is going to be different? We have returned a ton of starters before and sputtered (2004 and 2005). Do we really deserve sleeper status?

Adam Rittenberg: Bill, I certainly understand the philosophy that two quarterbacks equals no quarterbacks. That said, I'm interested to see how Hope employs his signal-callers when all three, including Rob Henry, are healthy. He always has had a lot of confidence in Robert Marve, and Marve hasn't been healthy during his time at Purdue. If Marve plays to his capabilities at 100 percent, I'd imagine Purdue will stick with him at quarterback. The wild card in my mind is Henry, who had an excellent offseason in 2011 and would have been the starter if not for his own knee injury. As for the sleeper status, the Leaders division is wide open and Purdue returns nine starters on both sides of the ball. Purdue also has shown flashes of taking the next step, particularly with its two victories against Ohio State under Hope. Now I'm hardly sold on the Boilers, who make too many major mistakes in all three phases to consistently win against upper-tier teams. But if Purdue can get more consistent in its play, it can do some damage. Talent doesn't seem to be the issue in West Lafayette.


Adam from East Lansing, Mich., writes: As a Michigan State fan, when I heard JLS was hired at Arkansas I was in shock. This is the last person I would ever hire to drive a top 10 team to an SEC title. JLS has been known to blow it with good teams and although he gave MSU a pulse and hope to start a season, we would always blow it in some fashion. From the biggest comeback ever (at NW) to the Ohio State FG and Notre Dame night game collapse, JLS has proven he is not a steady coach. I guarantee you this though, they will beat Alabama or LSU at home for a program victory (but then somehow lose to Vanderbilt at home the following week). Do you think JLS can finally be a steady coach?

Adam Rittenberg: Adam, you bring up some excellent points here. While I understand why Arkansas went with John L. Smith, who brings years of head-coaching experience not found among the remaining assistants, I completely agree with you about the unsteadiness of his personality. He's a treat to cover and always provides great sound bytes, but his colorful personality has reflected in his team's play, at least at Michigan State. Now John L. had success elsewhere, namely Louisville, but the fragility of his teams at Michigan State cannot be overlooked. Arkansas is an extremely talented team with some veteran leaders, but the players have been on an emotional roller-coaster after the Petrino scandal. I would think they'd be better served by a coach known for his steady demeanor, rather than one best remembered for slapping himself and going ballistic during a halftime interview at Ohio State.


Michael from St. Louis writes: Nebraska just received a verbal from a kid named Courtney Love. How long before the Hole/Nirvana jokes get really old?

Adam Rittenberg: It will be a tough call between Courtney Love and Taco Charlton for the captain of our all-name recruit team for 2013. It's too bad both Courtney Love and recent Wisconsin recruit Hugs Etienne both play defense. That would be a fun matchup. Oh well, whatever, never mind.


Samuel from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Adam, just started reading your post on Gene Smith and Urban Meyer and I had to stop to get a question in. Smith ONLY attended three practices this spring? Smith will be a fixture on the sidelines in August? Am I only the only who isn't very comfortable with an AD spending so much time on, let alone being so CLOSE to, one of his programs? I realize football is the cash machine, so it consumes most of his time. But it seems to me a heathy distance from the football program is necessary for an AD to be an objective chief executive officer.

Adam Rittenberg: Sam, while I see what you're saying, I don't think Gene Smith is too involved with the football team by attending practices. Keep in mind he's a former football player himself, so he has a unique connection to the game and to the players. I agree that ADs must be careful not to micromanage or be too involved in one of their programs, even if it's their most important sport. But I don't think Smith is crossing that line. It's also important that he keeps tabs on things after the NCAA situation, something he and Ohio State never want to go through again. There definitely have been instances of ADs meddling with football, even in the Big Ten, but I don't think Smith is overstepping his bounds.


Mike from Superior, Wis., writes: Hey Adam, when I'm reading this blog and I see schools like Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, even Minnesota, scheduling high profile, or at least higher profile non-conference games against really good opponents, it makes me wonder why does a school like Wisconsin fail to do the same with it's non-conference schedule? I don't understand why they wouldn't want to do the same to increase their exposure more and have a shot at getting some serious quality wins. Thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Mike, this isn't a new issue for Wisconsin fans, but it remains a point of contention in Badger Land. I don't get the sense Barry Alvarez is going to dramatically upgrade the Badgers' non-league schedule as long as he's AD. Wisconsin got a bit unlucky with teams like Oregon State, which has been pretty decent until recently, but you don't see the "wow" games nearly enough with the Badgers. I do like that Wisconsin recently added a home-and-home series with Washington, part of the Big Ten-Pac-12 partnership. But it'd be nice to see more. We've heard about potential games with teams like TCU and Notre Dame in recent years, but they haven't come to fruition. While Wisconsin isn't exactly struggling for exposure, it could certainly benefit from a few more showcase opportunities.


John from Prince William County writes: Adam, while the Big Ten clearly has underperformed since 2000 as opposed to the pre-BCS years when it was indisputably the top conference in the country every year from 1992 to 2000, you exaggerate the fall off. While not as dominant as it was, the Big Ten has been the best conference in the country during the BCS era just as it was prior to and is the nation's top conference more often than not.

Adam Rittenberg: Wow, John, and I thought your Penn State comments were insane. How is the Big Ten the nation's best conference in the BCS era? One national title and three Rose Bowl wins in 14 years. How is that exaggerating the drop-off? Those are the facts. The Big Ten isn't the nation's worst major conference by any means, and there are some inherent disadvantages the Big Ten faces regarding bowl locations, etc. But c'mon. The Big Ten isn't the league it was in the mid to late 1990s. The Big Ten is typically a top-3 conference with the SEC and Big 12 or Pac-12. But it will take several national titles for the Big Ten to claim to be the nation's top league again.

Now for some thoughts on Joe Paterno and Beaver Stadium ...

Bernie from Princeton, N.J.: If the university wants to do the right thing in honoring Joe Paterno they will name the field or stadium after him WITHOUT the family signing off on the gesture. The university, specifically the Board of Trustees, acted in a tremendously dishonorable fashion during a very difficult time, but that does not proclude them from being held responsible by the Paterno family if they choose to take some sort of legal action at a later date. The university is trying to save face with the alumni and Paterno family rather than doing the right thing.

Alex from Henry, Ill.: Adam, I may be a UT Longhorn fan, but i am a constant reader of all the blogs here on ESPN.com. Joe Paterno was the face of Penn State up until his dismissal from the university. I think that Beaver Stadium should eventually be named Joe Paterno Stadium, but it should not be for a reason as silly as to avoid a law suit. It should be named after him because of the forty-five years that he was the head football coach and not to mention the fifteen more he was an assistant. Sixty years at the same university is unheard of in this day. It should be because of the 409 wins including 24 bowl wins. If you aren't going to rename it because of his achievements on the field, do it for his achievements off the field. He donated A LOT of money to the university.

Mike from Allentown, Pa.: Hi Adam,Regarding the Stadium/Field naming. As a Penn State Alumni I think the idea of "Paterno Field at Beaver Stadium" is a bit outlandish. Nobody will remember that as the full name, and if you need evidence just ask a Florida State fan. How many times to you hear "Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Walker Stadium"? Hardly ever. I think the library having his name is good, but maybe they could add another building possiblye one frequented by English majors? That, or they just rename the whole stadium, like Alabama, to Beaver-Paterno Stadium. However, if they do not rename any buildings/stadiums, I don't think it that takes away from everything Joe did for 62 years. His name is on the library, and really he cared more about books than wins.

Howard from New York: Joe Paterno did so much more for Penn State than just create a college football brand. He was about education, charity and then football. Look at the former players that have come to his defense. Not a single bad word mentioned from any former coach or player. The stadium should be named after Joe for the fans who loved him. That would be the library and the stadium..that's a first. Enough said.

Jerry from Kelayres, Pa.: I don't know about renaming Beaver Stadium. If the fans want it, fine. But for the board to use this offer to ameliorate the family for slandering JoePa, is just buying the Paterno family favor.The facts are on Paterno's side. He was unjustly associated with somehow enabling Sandusky to do what he is accused of. A clear view of the facts show JoePa is innocent and could harm no one let alone innocent young boys.JoePa's reputation must be clear first before they do anything to justly honor JoePa.