Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Big Ten chat wrap: Dec. 5

By Adam Rittenberg

Our first Big Ten chat of December is in the books. Bret Bielema came up a bit. I know, shocker. So did the Big Ten title game and the upcoming bowl lineup.

Did you miss out? Your bad. No worries, as I've got you covered with this full transcript.

To the highlights!
Jon from Augusta, Ga.: What would you say is the biggest factor that would keep OSU and Michigan from being in the same division? If this divisions get realigned (especially on an east/west basis), this move would seem logical to me.

Adam Rittenberg: Jon, the biggest obstacle is a desire to split the four major brands (Ohio State, Michigan, PSU and Nebraska). You can't really pair Penn State and Nebraska in the same division, and it's clear that the recent expansion will group Rutgers and Maryland with Penn State. So it comes down to whether the Big Ten is OK having three of its top four brands -- U-M, OSU, PSU -- in the same division. I think it might be. I wasn't a fan initially of doing this, but it makes more sense now.

Billy Mac from West Lafayette, Ind.: I like the Hazzel to Purdue hire. What do you like about the hire? Did Purdue overpay? How do you think he approaches recruiting? Will he go after the highly rated in state guys committed elsewhere (looking at you IU)?

Adam Rittenberg: Bill, I like the hire a lot. Good coach, classy individual and knows the Big Ten region (also the Mid-Atlantic states). Purdue had to step up to the plate money wise, not just for its next coach but for his staff. You can't expect to win paying what Purdue paid Hope. I think Hazell will recruit really well in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey (his home state). I also think his local recruiting efforts will be stronger than Hope's.

Jimmy D from Big Ten office: Why do I insist on having the championship game in Indy when it is yet to come close to selling out? Why not have it be in Chicago, where there are huge alumni bases for basically every school. No need to make a weekend trip to a city nobody wants to go to. Your casual fan can drop their 40 bucks on a ticket and still hit up Wrigleyville at night. Or do I just like having our showcase game take place in a stadium that is 1/3 empty?

Adam Rittenberg: Jimmy D, I'm going to write about this very topic in the near future (Thursday, most likely). You like Indy because the facilities are exceptional, and so is the organizing committee. Logistically, the event goes off without a hitch. But you also don't like seeing so many empty seats at the game. You can't just hope Ohio State gets in every year so Buckeye Nation fills Lucas Oil. Eventually, you'll move the game to the Big Ten nerve center -- Chicago -- but only after Chicago's organizing committee gets its act together.

J.C. from Seattle: I see all the time that Ohio State has a weak schedule, but isn't this completely out of Ohio State's hands in a way. Some non-conf games are scheduled 7-8 years in advance (like Cal) and how can Ohio State make Indiana or Illinois better at football? Isn't really up to the rest of the Big Ten rather than Ohio State?

Adam Rittenberg: It is in part, J.C. The Big Ten needs to be better for Ohio State to get more credit for those wins. Non-league scheduling also is a crapshoot because it is done so far in advance. I will say that Ohio State's recent non-league additions (TCU, Texas, etc) should pay off when the games come around. But you never really know. That's why it's more important to have the league improve.

Matt from Wisconsin: Should the Big Ten move conference games to the first few weeks of the season? Then we can avoid the losing a bunch of non-conference games week 1 and basically extending the "Big Ten's no good" story line. Do you think if the Michigan-Alabama game was week 9, Michigan stood a better chance then allowing Saban the entire off season to prepare? Also by that time teams are properly rated and you know what an upset really is?

Adam Rittenberg: Matt, I've advocated this strategy in order to eliminate dud weekends like Week 4 of this season, but you bring up an interesting point about the narrative. Weeks like Week 2 -- where the Big Ten gets pummeled in non-league games -- set the narrative for the league, and it's hard to recover. I don't know how realistic a Michigan-Alabama game in Week 9 would be, and I don't think Big Ten teams will play marquee non-league games at the end of the regular season, either, because of the importance of rivalries. But there definitely are some benefits to having earlier league games.

Thanks again for your questions, and my apologies to those whose questions weren't answered. Try again next week.