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Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Big Ten Tuesday mailblog

By Adam Rittenberg

A Blackhawks championship version of the mail. Be sure to follow us on Twitter.

Let's go ...

Bill from Genoa, Ohio, writes: Adam, why is it that the people inside the B1G and you and Brian think the B1G playing the PAC-12, especially during bowl season, is such a great thing? Am I the only B1G fan that wants to see the B1G play the best, SEC and Big 12, not drop bowls against those 2 conferences and pick up bowls against the ACC and the PAC-12? In my personal opinion, the B1G dropped the ball with this new bowl alignment.

Adam Rittenberg: Bill, you need to take another look at the Big Ten's proposed bowl lineup. Yes, there are fewer games against the Big 12, but the Big Ten still plays the SEC in the Capital One, Outback and Gator/Music City. I think that's plenty, don't you? The Big Ten-Big 12 matchups we've seen in recent years have been woefully lopsided toward the Big 12. It would be nice for the Big Ten to enter a tie-in with the Big 12 where both leagues could send two of their best teams to the game. We had this with the Alamo Bowl, but the Pac-12 replaced the Big Ten after the 2008 season.

And let's be honest: The idea of "playing the best" in the bowls, while noble, has only brought embarrassment to the Big Ten. You get zero points for degree of difficulty when you're getting your butt kicked on New Year's Day year after year. The Big Ten has inherent disadvantages in the bowl system because of its location. The recent matchups have only magnified things. There's really no downside to playing the Pac-12 or the ACC more often.

The Big Ten's future bowl lineup still has some showcase matchups against power conferences, but there's much more variety than before and better overall locations. I also think it's important to play a likeminded league like the Pac-12 more often in the postseason than just the Rose Bowl.

OSU fan from Los Angeles writes: I'm an OSU fan living in California and I love that the Big Ten just signed contracts with some West Coast bowls. My gripe is not in the location of the bowls. I would rather go to San Diego or Orlando over Detroit or Cleveland in the winter (or summer). My issue is the competition. The Big Ten will always have to travel in the postseason, so why not make the other conferences travel as well? I would love to see the Big Ten face the PAC-12 in Florida, and then face the SEC in California in the postseason. That way there's no "home" field advantage (aka playing UCLA or USC in LA, unless it's the Rose Bowl, or playing UF in Orlando). Why won't the SEC or PAC-12 travel away from home? The same could be said of the Big 12 as well.

Adam Rittenberg: OSU fan, growing up as a Cal fan, I remember watching the Bears travel all the way to Orlando to play Clemson in the 1992 Citrus Bowl. Still, it has been rare to see Pac-12 or SEC teams venture far from their league footprint to appear in tie-in bowls. Pac-12 fans simply don't travel. It has been that way forever and why the league wisely hesitates to enter agreements with bowls far outside of its footprint. The SEC doesn't have that excuse, as many of its fans would go anywhere to see their teams play. I remember seeing so many Alabama fans at Penn State in 2011. It would be nice to see the SEC enter an agreement with a bowl like the Holiday or Kraft Fight Hunger, but there doesn't seem to be much interest in doing so.

Ultimately, the willingness of Big Ten fans to travel is both a blessing and a curse. It makes the league incredibly appealing to all bowls, but because other conferences aren't as willing or as able to travel, you have all these virtual road games.

The other thing to keep in mind is which leagues the bowls want. These are businesses that depend on filling seats, bringing in money and creating excitement for their cities. There's a risk to contracting with two leagues located far from the city. Typically, bowls like to have one league in their backyard because it guarantees ticket sales, etc.

Jimmy from Baltimore writes: As a Gopher fan who relocated to Maryland, I couldn't have been more excited when the Big Ten announced Maryland was joining the conference. Now that being said, does Maryland even stand a chance in the Big Ten? This is a team who had a linebacker starting at QB towards the end of last season, and whose former starting QB went to Wisconsin and failed horribly (remember [Danny] O'Brien was ACC rookie of the year in 2010, so he had a bright future). Last time the Terps played a Big Ten team was in 2006 (Champs Sports Bowl vs. Purdue), which they won 24-7. Since then they have played a non-conference schedule that has included the likes of Middle Tenn, Florida International, Towson (FCS), Morgan State (FCS), Delaware (FCS), Villanova (FCS), William & Mary (FCS) ... so going to take some getting used to the Big Ten's no-FCS rule. So, will the Terps come in and have moderate success, or are they coming to the Big Ten to be the new doormat?

Adam Rittenberg: Jimmy, there's no doubt Maryland's current trajectory is troubling, and that every element of the program, including the non-league schedule, must be upgraded during the transition to the Big Ten. Maryland certainly will have its challenges in the new East division with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. The hope for Maryland is actually its location. The Terps are located in one of the more fertile recruiting regions on the East Coast. There's more than enough talent within 30 miles of College Park to field a good Big Ten team. If Maryland can boost its recruiting mojo like it used to with assistants like Mike Locksley (now the Terps' offensive coordinator) and James Franklin, it'll have a much better chance to stay afloat in the Big Ten.

Daniel from Hoboken, N.J., writes: Adam, I don't think it is a coincidence that a large handful of Urban Meyer's players have had serious legal trouble in both college and in the NFL. Also, you may recall the article from a few years ago that stated that the University of Florida had "at least 31 off-the-field arrests involving 25 of Meyer's players dating to the summer of 2005." Is this a concern for Ohio State moving forward, considering Meyer's recruits are starting to arrive in Columbus? In my opinion, coaches are so often lauded for their successes, especially on the recruiting trail, but these sort of issues should not be left "undiscussed."

Adam Rittenberg: Daniel, the history can't be dismissed, and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said it came up during the hiring process with Meyer. The number of player arrests at Florida during Meyer's watch raises a red flag. That said, Ohio State hasn't had too many off-field issues since Meyer arrived. He's still coaching predominantly Jim Tressel's recruits, so the conduct of his own recruits will be worth monitoring in Columbus. Is it a concern for Ohio State fans? Not until something really bad happens with a Buckeyes player. Is it worth watching? No doubt.

Ashley from Jefferson City, Mo., writes: With all the talk about whether or not to schedule FCS schools, people seem to be making a significant oversight, that all FCS teams are created equal. I understand that most people don't know or care about FCS schools, but let's not pretend like playing North Dakota State or Georgia Southern is equivalent to playing Idaho State or Savannah State. And we all know that there are plenty of FBS schools that the top FCS schools can and do beat. Really, what's the harm in playing a Northern Iowa or Illinois State every few years when they'll only be replaced with equally bad teams like Texas State or Idaho?

Adam Rittenberg: Ashley, you make a good point, and I raised a similar argument in my recent post about the Big Ten's ban on FCS games. If there's a way to ensure Big Ten teams only would schedule strong FCS opponents -- teams that are often better than lower-level FBS programs -- I'd be all for it. Unfortunately, I don't think the Big Ten can effectively regulate the scheduling decisions of its member schools. Some FCS matchups that look decent at the time they're scheduled can turn into clunkers. I understand why the Big Ten went with an across-the-board ban, but using TV as an excuse when there are still plenty of unappealing matchups between the Big Ten and terrible FBS teams is a tough one to buy.

Travis from Omaha, Neb., writes: "I live in the Midwest. I also live in reality." "What do you not understand?" Do you know how much of a jerk you sound like? Also, here is a giant hole for your argument. If everyone would treat a game in Chicago, Detroit or Indy like a regular game ... then how is it OK for SEC teams to play bowl games in Florida? Or Pac-12 teams in California? Wouldn't people who live in Gainesville treat the Capital One Bowl like any other weekend? Especially considering that weekend is one of the highest travel times for tourism and they could go to Disney World any other time of the year. Your argument might have worked 20 years ago, but since most of the population has shifted towards the south and the coast, it's weak. If you reply, don't try to make me look a jerk by excluding this next part. I AGREE THAT PEOPLE NEED TO GET OVER IT. But if you're going to be a jerk about something, at least don't insult people with your comments and weak arguments.

Adam Rittenberg: Travis, you can choose to be insulted if you want. I think it's silly, on a day when the Big Ten makes two good bowl additions, to complain about why there aren't more bowls in the Midwest. At least we can agree that people need to get over it. The problem with your Gainesville/Capital One Bowl argument is that the location appeals to fans of both participating teams. Even if Florida fans just spend the day there, the bowl will attract fans of the opposing team. And Florida is really the only SEC school located close to the SEC bowl locations. The Big Ten is much more condensed and navigable. Bowls in Big Ten country would draw local fans who can make the drive, but I can assure you they wouldn't appeal in the slightest to fans from the ACC, SEC, Big 12 or Pac-12. They don't want to leave those areas to come to Chicago or Detroit in the middle of the winter. So you'd get one fan base that takes a day trip and another that stay home. Tell me how that translates into a successful bowl enterprise?

Slim from Manhattan, Kan., writes: I know what you're thinking ... why am I getting mail from a Big 12er? What gives? Well, as a CFB fan I often skim through blogs and check out what's going on in other conferences. Having said that, I'd like to weigh in on the whole "Bowls in B1G territory" thing. More to the point, bowls in the Midwest. I would say that a bowl game at Arrowhead stadium in KC would be great for the B1G/B12. First off, travel wouldn't be too tough for anybody. The city is great for a small vacation. (BBQ, jazz music, historic sites, etc.) It's an affordable trip, and the weather would be no biggie for whoever was in the game. NU vs KSU would be huge in Arrowhead. OSU vs UT, etc. would be attractive and accessible. Just my 2 cents. Thanks.

Adam Rittenberg: Slim, it's always good to hear from our friends in Big 12 country, particularly in the Little Apple. Kansas City certainly offers a lot and a central location, which is good for travel, but I'd be a little concerned about the weather in late December or early January. You bring up the fact that the Big Ten and Big 12 could play one another and that both league's fans are used to cold weather. That's true, but I still wonder how many of them would want to go to a bowl game in Kansas City if it's in that third tier that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany talked about this week. Are Penn State fans or Michigan State fans making the trip to see a 7-5 team play in KC? If not, it could be tough for a bowl game to survive and thrive. This certainly isn't a bad idea. I wonder if Kansas City would get behind such a game.