Monday, July 8, 2013
Big Ten Monday mailbag
By Brian Bennett
It's mail time once again on a Monday. As a reminder, Adam is off all this week, so hit me with any questions or comments you might have here. If there's enough response, I may do three mailbag installments this week.
What's on your mind?
Randy from Kalamazoo, Mich., writes: I think that the Big Ten could use the Rutgers as a great way to help recruiting in the New York area. A great way to do that would be to give them some sort of an incentive to play big name teams like Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin or Ohio State in some of the professional venues located around the city such as MetLife Stadium or Yankee Stadium. The city of New York has a love for professional sports, so why not play Big Ten football games in some of those iconic venues? What do you think the chances of this happening are?
Brian Bennett: Randy, I think that's definitely on the radar, though not necessarily as an annual thing. Ex-Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti told me in January that the Scarlet Knights would be open to moving some games to those neutral sites before adding, "it's not something we're going to get in the habit of doing. ... Maybe once every three-to-five years, we'd consider doing that." It would make more sense to move a game to MetLife Stadium, which is still in New Jersey and holds more fans than Yankee Stadium, when a team with a large fan base like Michigan or Ohio State comes through. Rutgers wants to keep games on campus at High Points Solution Stadium, but it's hard to ignore the extra revenue of moving an occasional game to MetLife, where the capacity is around 30,000 seats higher. It also makes sense for Maryland to do the same thing on occasion with FedEx Field or M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
Rob NitLion from Morristown, N.J., writes: Bennett! I'm disappointed in you buddy, in response to "John from Omaha"'s BRILLIANT email to you that No One in NJ or DC cares about college football, you said he makes some "fair points"...really? To put it bluntly, his argument is ridiculous and has no basis in reality...clearly he has never been to the Tri-State area. I'd venture to say there are more B1G alumni, living in the NJ/NY/DC area (because this is where the jobs are) than in all of Nebraska (and maybe Iowa combined), heck there are thousands of fans of Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State in this area that didn't even go to those schools, just because of their tradition...as far as not watching competitive games, I guess John won't be watching Nebraska face Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota and Illinois, because these programs are just as bad, if not worse than Rutgers and Maryland have been in the past. Would adding Missouri and Kansas (as I'm sure John from Omaha wishes) instead of Maryland and Rutgers really have improved the quality of B1G Football overall while maximizing the value of the B1G brand?
Brian Bennett: I read that email in the context of Rutgers and Maryland and whether there are really large fan bases for those teams in New York City and Washington D.C. Clearly, there are a whole lot of Big Ten and college football fans in those areas, and as Adam put it so well, the Big Ten was betting on itself as much as anything by expanding into those markets. There are still no real compelling reasons to be too excited about the additions of those specific teams into the league for competitive purposes, although Rutgers has a chance to build into a contending program. Kansas and Missouri wouldn't have gotten the juices flowing that much, either, though I think Missouri would have been and still is a much more natural fit in the Big Ten than either the Scarlet Knights or Terrapins.
Jason from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Hope you had a great 4th. In regards to the reports of Florida being turned in by the OSU staff (whether it be with Urban Meyer's knowledge or not) for a bump violation, there is one aspect I don't see anyone touching on. Is the reporting of potential violations common by other schools? I can imagine that schools with smaller staffs cannot monitor boards and recruitment as thoroughly as powerhouse schools (I.E. Alabama, Texas, OSU, USC, etc). Unless you tell me this is uncommon, I have to believe the only reason this is getting so much attention is due to previous ties & the desire to rehash old wounds by some. Also: I'm a regular reader and appreciate the work you all do. It seems no matter what, you anger some fan base every day. When it comes to 'lunch links' what is your process for picking what you link?
Brian Bennett: Jason, it's not uncommon at all for other schools to alert the NCAA of possible violations by a competitor. Recruiting is a rough-and-tumble business, and that's just how it goes. The interesting thing here, in what was otherwise an extremely minor alleged violation, was of course the Meyer angle. Meyer has expressed his love for Florida and is also the one who hired the "bumper," Gators assistant Brian White. So if Meyer had any involvement in the whistle-blowing, that shows you just how cutthroat this business can be.
As for the lunch links, we try to find the most interesting stories to bring you, and we try to represent every team whenever possible. It's not easy during this time of year for some of the schools that don't get as much media attention, as there just are not a lot of new stories out there. We try to stick to mainstream media sources or respected blogs instead of fan-generated or paid recruiting service-type sites. Adam and I often spend close to an hour per day scouring the Internet for links, but we can't let it dominate our whole day or we'd never get anything else done.
Brian from Portland, Ore., writes: Hey, Brian -- thank you for spelling your name the correct way. With a roster of only 60-some scholarship players this year, do you think Coach Bill O'Brien continues to go with an up-tempo offense or will he have to slow things down to try to give his starters and limited depth a chance to rest?
Brian Bennett: There is no 'I' in team but there should be one in Brian. Anyway, O'Brien used the up-tempo, no-huddle offense -- what he called the NASCAR package -- to great effect last year, though Penn State didn't employ it all the time. The Nittany Lions could also line up and run a more traditional Big Ten style attack with Zach Zwinak pounding the ball on the ground. Even with the scholarship limitations, I doubt O'Brien will back off the gas pedal this year. The Lions had depth concerns last year and were fortunate enough to stay healthy. If injuries start to mount this season, perhaps that will force O'Brien's hand more, and you have to consider that a first-year starting quarterback -- whether that's Tyler Ferguson or Christian Hackenberg -- may not be able to handle things quite as well as a fifth-year senior like Matt McGloin did. Ultimately, however, you have to go with what gives you the best chance to win, and going at a fast pace clearly works for Penn State.
Denzel from Columbus, Ohio, writes: With the way Brady Hoke has been recruiting over the past 2 seasons, you can only assume it will continue. So with that said, do you see Hoke winning at least one national championship in his tenure?
Brian Bennett: That would be the hope, of course, and it appears like Hoke is building the type of roster that is talented enough to contend for a national title. Actually predicting a national championship for Michigan requires a leap of faith, however. The Wolverines have claimed just one national title since 1948, and that was the split championship with Nebraska in 1997. Moving forward, they'll have to navigate a world with a four-team playoff, not to mention the SEC dominance and going into a division with Ohio State. A realistic expectation for Hoke and the Wolverines is for them to win multiple Big Ten titles and to gain entry into the playoff more than once. From there, who knows?
S.H. Tan from Singapore writes: Hi Brian! Amid the excitement generated by B1G's new bowl line-up and the tiered selection process, how likely is it for B1G to add a 10th bowl? The SEC has 14 teams and 10 tie-ins, the ACC is likely to have 10 tie-ins, while the Big 12 has 10 teams but 8 tie-ins! Will B1G teams be shortchanged ( e.g. having to wait for an at-large spot) if there are only 9 tie-ins when the bowl contracts are finalized?
Brian Bennett: Hello, Singapore. Right now, we know of nine tie-ins for the Big Ten bowls. They are:
Kraft Fight Hunger
Heart of Dallas/Armed Forces
The lineup is by no means final, and there is talk that the league could add another lower-tier East Coast bowl, possibly the Military Bowl. That would make for 10 tie-ins for 14 teams, and remember that this doesn't include a potential spot in the College Football Playoff. The question might not be whether that's enough tie-ins, but whether it's too many. The SEC only had nine bowl-eligible teams last season out of 14. True, the Big Ten would have had nine last year if Ohio State and Penn State had been eligible. But in many years, the league has put two teams in the BCS and had trouble filling all its bowl slots; for example, the conference appeared in the Detroit bowl just three times in the 11 years. And when the nine-game schedule begins in 2016, it's going to become harder for teams to slip into bowl eligibility. There may be some years when the Big Ten has more bowl-eligible teams than it has official slots, but I believe that any team that gets eligible from the conference will find a postseason home.