Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Big Ten chat recap
By Adam Rittenberg
Miss today's Big Ten chat? No worries, I've got you covered.
Here's the complete transcript from the hour-long rundown.
John from Saginaw: Adam: How do you rate the quality of Big Ten football coaches coming into 2013 versus best historic conference comparisons? Are we at a high period, low period? Seems like the SEC fortunes shifted upward when they started to seriously invest in their coaching staffs relative to other conferences.
Adam Rittenberg: John, you bring up a good point about SEC schools investing more in their coaches (head coaches and assistants), and you're starting to see more of that in the Big Ten, which lagged behind a bit in paying top assistants. Joe Paterno and Jim Tressel obviously are big losses from a success standpoint. Urban Meyer, however, brings in a very impressive track record. The jury is out more on Bill O'Brien and Tim Beckman, but I think Brady Hoke is regarded as a much better coach now after turning around Michigan than he was at this time last year. I think the overall quality remains strong, but the Big Ten must continue to commit resources to coaches to keep pace with the SEC.
Hank from Washington D.C.: How do you see the Wolverines faring in their non-conference schedule (Bama, Air Force, UMass, @ND)?
Adam Rittenberg: I think Michigan will go 3-1 or 2-2, and there's a huge difference between those two marks. A 3-1 record with Alabama, Notre Dame and Air Force on the slate is pretty darn good in my book. Alabama and Notre Dame both pose challenges, and Air Force is a really tricky game. My sense is Michigan emerges 3-1. A 4-0 mark would be outstanding and put Michigan on the radar for the national title.
Greg from Indy: Everyone knows your stance on IU, sometimes good offense, bad defense. But can you breakdown the defense? Are there some areas where they're not as bad, some areas where they're terrible? Or is it all just bad?
Adam Rittenberg: Greg, I see a general lack of Big Ten-quality talent with Indiana's defense. That tends to be more exposed in the secondary, but when the front-seven pressure isn't adequate, often the DBs are left exposed. So the answer is the overall depth hasn't been where it needs to be. There have been some very good individual defenders at IU like Tracy Porter and Jammie Kirlew, but as a unit, the talent in all three areas hasn't been good enough. I remember seeing this in a game at Iowa in 2009. Indiana dominated the first three quarters but lost a few players to injury. Iowa then went nuts in the fourth quarter and ended up winning fairly comfortably. It's simply too easy to move the ball and score points on the Hoosiers. That needs to change.
Drew from Cleveland: Just looked at Kipers big board for 2013 and saw that he has Hankins listed but not John Simon. Do you think it's accurate to have him listed as a better pro talent rather than Simon? Is Gholstons bust in the pros going to ultimately hurt simon considering they are similar players?
Adam Rittenberg: Drew, haven't had a chance to look at Mel's list just yet, but I'm not that surprised to see Big Hank listed ahead of Simon. Defensive tackles with tremendous size and quickness are top commodities in the NFL draft, particularly in the first round. Simon, meanwhile, is more a tweener, lacking ideal size for an end but being a bit too small to play inside. That's taking nothing away from Simon's ability, his work ethic, etc. But the NFL draft is largely about measurables, and Hankins is more desirable in that manner.
John from WV: Hey Adam. Considering how badly their backfield has been plagued by problems, how competive will the Hawkeyes be this year?
Adam Rittenberg: John, the good news, as I often tell Iowa fans, is that the team hasn't had trouble developing quality running backs. Keeping them healthy and on the field is another story. But if the trend continues, Iowa will develop a back or two who can handle the rushing load. The offensive line will need to be better in run blocking than it was a year ago, and the offense likely will be more pass-heavy at the start of the season. But it wouldn't shock me if Iowa ends up surviving just fine at RB. The bigger issue, in my mind, is a defense that took a step back in 2011.
Thanks again for all of the questions, and my apologies to those whose questions weren't posted. Let's do it again soon.