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Friday, June 28, 2013
Big Ten Friday mailblog

By Adam Rittenberg

Wishing you a great weekend. Be sure to follow us on Twitter.

You guys are combative today. Like it.

Jerry from Eugene, Ore., writes: Adam, the cases are very different. The Penn State punishment was a total fiasco, and somebody should have found a way to stop Emmert on that one. The USC penalty was also way out of proportion. However, I thought the Ohio State penalty was fair because the coach knew about the infractions (which involved players cheating) and ignored it, then tried to cover it up. In other words he lied! Kelly was not aware of what Lyles was doing. He never lied to anybody, but cooperated fully with the investigation. Also, the rules he broke were very poorly defined, and he was doing what most other big schools were doing, probably the B1G schools too, and he just happened to be the one made the example. You are misrepresenting to compare Oregon's misdeed to what OSU did, and perhaps PSU, too.

Adam Rittenberg: Jerry, I made it clear in the Take Two that all three cases are very different and that Penn State's is unlike anything we've seen before. The Ohio State and Oregon cases both involved head coaches who ultimately received show-cause penalties from the NCAA. While Tressel lying certainly is worse, Ohio State did take action by getting rid of him. You could argue that was enough punishment for the football program, losing its head coach in late May. But Ohio State was hit with much harsher program penalties than Oregon, which got off basically unscathed. Sure, Ohio State had players committing violations while Oregon did not, but I think once Tressel was dismissed, both cases are in the same ballpark in terms of severity. Again, the NCAA is incredibly inconsistent with its penalties, but Ohio State didn't help itself when the second wave of violations involving former booster Bobby DiGeronimo came to light in the fall of 2011.


Kevin from Chicago writes: Read the article on Northwestern becoming a Big Ten and national force that you posted posted on the lunchtime links. After reading it, you realize that even though they are a top 20 recruiting class, they're exactly where they want to be and it really cant get better. Sure, you can say they can get in the top 10 but they preach on finding players who "fit" the system and can commit academically to Northwestern. Not being judgmental but a lot of these top athletes wouldn't be able to fit into the academic environment at Northwestern or the team game Fitzgerald preaches e.g. 2-QB system. What I'm trying to say is that top 15 recruiting class is like Alabama, OSU, or Michigan taking the top recruiting spot and Northwestern is close. Its excellent for the athletes Northwestern is trying to find. It can and will get better as the facilities upgrades start to happen. I really do a feel like they're the next big thing not just for the B1G but college football as a whole.

Adam Rittenberg: Kevin, I hear you on the potential ceiling for Northwestern in recruiting and potentially on the field, but Stanford has shown that an academically elite private school can compete at the highest level of college football. Northwestern lacks the location or tradition Stanford enjoys, but it has moved a little bit closer to the Cardinal on the field and on the recruiting trail. I agree Northwestern won't have top 10 recruiting classes because of the academic standards and, perhaps, because of the need to find a "fit" rather than just the most talented players available. It'll be very interesting to see how the facilities upgrade impacts recruiting because Northwestern always has been so far behind in that department. You're right, there's probably a ceiling for Northwestern in recruiting rankings, but Stanford has shown that programs like this can compete on the field at a very high level.


Douglas from Akron, Ohio, writes: "If Herman called a pass, Miller believed he had to throw one, even when the window wasn't there." Adam, either you are thoroughly confused or you didn't watch enough highlights of last year's games before writing this silly statement. The opposite it true: if Herman called a pass, typically Braxton would see 1 or 2 options that 'weren't open' and he would get happy feet. He would turn a designed pass into an improvised QB run. The problem was that he 1) did not look for enough checks in his progression, 2) bailed on the play too soon, and 3) hesitated as to which lane he wanted to use for scrambling. Next time, consult people who know better before you make statements that may be the exact opposite of the truth. Just some friendly advice that you should take to heart.

Adam Rittenberg: Well, Douglas, I actually consulted someone who knows a lot about this topic: Ohio State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Herman. Pretty good source, I think. Here's a direct quote from Herman to me about Braxton Miller's scrambling skills or lack thereof: "When he escapes the pocket and we've called a pass, it’s almost like he thinks the ball has got to be thrown. No, it doesn't. You’re the best athlete on the field, you've got the ball in your hands, you've got open space, go take off and run. We've done a better job as a staff of making him aware of why we want him to do that. It doesn’t make him less of a quarterback because he scrambles." Herman also told me that of Miller's 1,271 rush yards last year, only about 200 came on scrambles. Both Herman and Urban Meyer say Miller has been a bad scrambler. Sure, he needs to improve in going through his progressions, and consistent footwork, as Herman told me, is a big part of that.

But thanks for the friendly advice.


Alden from Chicago writes: Adam, I'm not a fan of running two quarterbacks in a season. I think Dantonio should make a decision before the season starts and go with it. I think it adds undue pressure to the position by making the QB stress over mistakes, thinking he'll get the hook if he screws up, which can then breed mistakes. What are your thoughts? Has there been a successful team that ran a 2-QB system?? By successful I mean a team that won a BCS game. Thanks.

Adam Rittenberg: Alden, while Florida didn't run a complete two-quarterback system in 2006 with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, both men contributed to the Gators' national title. There are also Big Ten examples like Northwestern, which rode quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian to a 10-3 season last fall. But in most cases, you're right that a two-quarterback system brings more problems than positives. Michigan State is in a tough spot because Andrew Maxwell has had every opportunity to establish himself as The Guy, and he can't quite do it. Maybe he will in preseason camp and carry that over to the season, but the coaches can't assume Maxwell will separate himself and ignore the other players on the roster.

Connor Cook certainly has some potential along with Tyler O'Connor, and incoming recruit Damion Terry brings explosive athleticism to the quarterback position, which Michigan State hasn't had there since Drew Stanton. Unless Maxwell has a really good camp, I think it's a bad idea for Michigan State to completely hitch its wagon to him. If there's some uncertainty, I'd be OK if the Spartans experimented a bit at the QB spot in the first three games before settling on a guy for the Week 4 trip to Notre Dame.


Matt C. from Springfield, Ill., writes: Your article about the B1G just accepting always being at a disadvantage during bowl season overlooks one big point. B1G fans travel. If the B1G was smart, they would ONLY schedule outdoor bowls in northern stadiums, and just play whoever will show up. The SEC and every other league will eventually realize it's worth their time and money to show up.

Adam Rittenberg: This is why fans shouldn't run bowl games. These are businesses, Matt, and your model is, well, flawed. Bowl games hinge on people spending money -- at hotels, at restaurants, at the game itself and also at events surrounding the game. The problem here is Big Ten fans would come to the game for sure, but they wouldn't spend a week leading up to the game in a city they can easily access for game day itself. Play whoever will show up? What if lower-level MAC teams and Conference USA teams are the only ones that do? What if no one shows up? If you think the SEC will suddenly see the light and migrate to the Midwest icebox around the holidays, you're going to be waiting a very long time. The other element you're ignoring is recruiting. By playing bowls in fertile recruiting states like Florida, California and Texas, Big Ten programs can showcase their product to some of the nation's best players about a month before national signing day.


Brian from Washington D.C., writes: Please explain to me you logic for ranking Rutgers #10 in your future power ranking? Given their recruiting success, string of bowl appearances, and outstanding player development, how can you justify entrenching Rutgers deep in the bottom half of the B1G? Is this just a way to mess with Rutgers fans, or are you serious? If you are serious, you have likely lost your grip on reality. There are three possible explanations: (1) you greatly undervalue Rutgers; (2) you greatly overvalue the teams in the B1G; or (3) a combination of (1) and (2). Under any of the above scenarios, your blogger card should be temporarily suspended for negligent/reckless behavior.

Adam Rittenberg: Best email of the week, Brian. There's a blogger card? Who knew! I should get one. Maybe my boss can revoke it and suspend me, temporarily of course. Rutgers is a solid program that has developed players very well over the years and upgraded its recruiting. The last NFL draft certainly reflected this. Greg Schiano did a masterful job building that program. Perhaps I'm overvaluing the Big Ten a bit, but I think you're grossly undervaluing the move Rutgers will make from the Big East to the Big Ten. You're going to be in the same division as Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. Do you think Syracuse, Connecticut, Pitt and Temple are on the same level? If you do, good luck to you.

Nebraska has had an adjustment period to its new league, and the Huskers were coming off of back-to-back Big 12 North championships before they moved over. Rutgers and Maryland will hit similar speed bumps in my view, especially in the East division. The Big Ten, despite its struggles in recent years, is a superior league to the Big East, especially with the resources available to its programs. Maybe Rutgers proves us wrong, but I'm hesitant to put the Scarlet Knights in the upper half of their new league.


Kevin from Fairfax writes: I for one am pumped up that the Big Ten is moving away from bowl games located in the southeast and signing contracts with games on the West Coast. While I largely agree with your reasons for not having bowl games in Big Ten country, I do feel the Big Ten needs to push and push hard to hold the national championship game in its boundaries more frequently than other regions. And the Big Ten, which has the largest, most affluent alumni base in the country could certainly do more than they are. It's not like people are going to stop going to national championship games just because they are in a northern city.

Adam Rittenberg: Now this is an argument I can completely get behind. The Big Ten absolutely should push for the national championship game to be held outside of the traditional bowl sites in future years. Originally, the conference commissioners talked about the title game being bid out nationally, where all bowl groups or city groups could make a push. I would like to see this happen to give that game a truly national feel. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis would be an excellent spot, and I could see indoor venues in Detroit, Minneapolis or St. Louis also bidding on the game. It's also important for more of the early season blockbuster neutral-site games to take place in Big Ten country instead of only at JerryWorld in Texas. It's encouraging that Wisconsin would get a "return" game of sorts with LSU at Lambeau Field. Weather isn't a factor in the Big Ten in early September, so it makes sense to have neutral-site games in the league footprint.