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Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Big Ten mailblog

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

I'll have another one of these Thursday, one day earlier than usual. So get your questions in fast.

Doug from Minneapolis writes: Yes, the Big Ten is a collection of academic institutions and not an openly commercial enterprise like the NFL. Having said that, do you think that there is a chance that the Big Tenwill follow the NFL model and base expansion in part on building up the Big Ten Network in large and potentially lucrative TV markets like St Louis, Pittsburgh, New York and perhaps Boston? (If that is the case, it would make expansion to 14 members a plausible scenario.)

Adam Rittenberg: Doug, I can guarantee you the Big Ten Network and the possibility of adding large TV markets are HUGE factors in the Big Ten's push for expansion. Though expansion to 14 teams still seems a bit far-fetched to me, you can bet a 12th member will add something from a TV market standpoint. That's why Iowa State doesn't seem like a viable candidate -- just not enough TV sets in Ames. Rutgers, meanwhile, is a candidate solely because of the TV market it could bring.


David from Chicago writes: Adam is Small and Rose in or out for the Rose Bowl? ESPN has not reported on it. What is going on?

Adam Rittenberg: David, I've reported it on here, but we're not going to do a news story until Ohio State officially rules these players out for the Rose Bowl, which might not come until Saturday. So far, wide receiver Duron Carter is the only Buckeyes player officially ruled out for the bowl. Small's father told a Columbus television station that his son won't be playing the Rose Bowl, and I don't expect to see Small or Rob Rose in California next week. But things can change, as we saw last week with Rose's academic issue, so we'll wait for the official word.


Scott M. from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, writes: discussions around expansion have mostly circled around FBS colleges. what about a villanova type school that has a solid championship football team. Connecticut made an incredible transition with their team to the big east. Why not an FCS school?

Adam Rittenberg: Scott, with all due respect, this is still the Big Ten we're talking about. I realize the league has struggled a bit on the football field in recent years, but it remains the richest and best-run conference in all of college sports. Those who suggest the Big Ten add a MAC school or an FCS school are kidding themselves. Trust me, the Big Ten will have enough options for expansion, and better options than Villanova. Oh, and you can cross Youngstown State off your list of expansion candidates.


Chad from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam:I have to question why you felt the need to include the qualifier, "especially at Ohio State", when discussing the changing status of suspensions? This carelessly implies that Coach Tressel is more lax in this regard than other coaches, which obviously, is not the case. Afterall, there is one guy playing in the Rose Bowl who was suspended FOR THE SEASON, and he doesn't play at OSU. I like reading your blog and the work you do, but, I think your chose your words poorly in this instance.Thanks for your time.

Adam Rittenberg: That's a fair point, Chad, and I probably should have explained my word choice. The thing is, Ohio State has some history in changing players' status before the season/bowl games. You had the Donald Washington situation two years ago. And just last week, Rob Rose's status changed after he got in some hot water academically. Neither Rose nor Small reported with the team for preseason camp in August, but things changed and they were reinstated before the season. All I'm saying is that things change at Ohio State, like they do with many programs. But I'll add this: both Rose and Small have been given multiple chances to stay in line with the program. If they indeed violated the rule that I've heard they did, they don't deserve another shot with the Buckeyes.


Rakesh from Champaign, Ill., writes: After watching Missouri beat Illinois the last three years and watching Zook repeatedly have losing seasons, how big do you think Dave Christensen's name will be next year? He had a pretty sweet win versus Fresno state (another Illinois opponent).

Adam Rittenberg: Just come right out and say it, Rakesh. You want Christensen to be Illinois' next head coach. Hey, I don't blame you. He did a great job in his first season at Wyoming, which upset Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. And while he's from Everett, Wash., he worked in the Midwest for some time at both Missouri and Toledo. Ron Zook will get another chance to get things right with a very different staff of assistants, but if he fails, Christensen's phone could be ringing.


Lance from Bedford, Pa., writes: Hi Adam, Merry Christmas to you. As we enter bowl season and many seniors are approaching their final games alot can be said for what they leave behind as their legacy. Some have already made their mark and others have one final chance. Darryl Clark comes to my mind as a player still lacking a definitive footprint on his program, winning a BIG10 title but playing poorly in every spotlight game. I am very interested to know where you think he will end up in Penn State lore and will beating LSU help him?

Adam Rittenberg: Happy holidays, Lance. You bring up a great point about Clark. The Capital One Bowl will help shape his legacy at Penn State. While he certainly deserves a lot of credit for Penn State's play the past two seasons, he does lack many signature wins. I would disagree with your claim that Clark has struggled in spotlight games, as he actually played pretty well against the vaunted USC defense in last year's Rose Bowl. Clark has been fabulous for the most part in two seasons as the starter. He struggled at times against Iowa this year and really had a rough time with Ohio State on Nov. 7. Clark's overall profile shouldn't be discounted, but he can really cement his legacy with a win against LSU. If Penn State loses, he'll be remembered as a very good quarterback, but not one who won many big games.