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Friday, February 14, 2014
Big Ten Friday mailblog

By Adam Rittenberg

Like Brian, I'll be starting bi-weekly mailblogs beginning next week, so send in your questions here. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter.

To the inbox ...

Tanner McEvoy
Wisconsin's Tanner McEvoy, a safety in 2013, will get another shot at QB during the spring.
Jackie from New York writes: Hey Adam, I can't understand why Tanner McEvoy is moving back to QB. He made a real impact for the Badgers last year at safety, and the need for him there is even greater this year than it was last year. I know the Badgers QB situation isn't perfect without him, but they do return their starter from the past two seasons (Joel Stave), a highly touted recruit from a few years ago (Bart Houston) and this year's big recruit D.J. Gillins, who will get all the benefits of enrolling early. So, with three QBs already in the mix, why add a fourth when you know McEvoy can succeed at safety, a position with much less depth?

Adam Rittenberg: Good question, Jackie. It's not as if Wisconsin lacks experience at quarterback with Stave back in the fold, despite his struggles last season. McEvoy came to Wisconsin to play quarterback and wants another chance to show what he can do there after joining last year's competition only for preseason camp. Coach Gary Andersen believes McEvoy deserves an extended opportunity at quarterback, and he has the skill set (more mobility) that Andersen wants to see at the position. There's definitely urgency for McEvoy to distinguish himself early in spring practice. If he fails to do so, it makes more sense to keep him in the secondary.

Louie writes: Where the hell is Rutgers? Piscataway? New Brunswick? All of the above? None of the above? I lived in High Bridge, N.J., for four years a while back and never figured it out. Looking forward to visiting when MSU comes out.

Adam Rittenberg: I've been confused at times, too, Louie. So Rutgers' main campus has facilities in both the city of New Brunswick and the township of Piscataway, which are separated by the Raritan River. HighPoints Solution Stadium (football) is located in Piscataway, along with the Rutgers Athletic Center (basketball, athletics administration) and other athletic facilities. But the campus' main address is in New Brunswick, along with many other buildings. But for sports purposes, it's Piscataway.

Chris from PDX writes: For those of us who are college football fans but who lack knowledge of the rule-making process, can you update your post to include the process by which such recommendation get adopted? For instance, is the playing rules oversight panel that meets on March 6 the body that approves such a rule, or does the approval process involve more steps? Thanks.

Adam Rittenberg: The panel can approve the proposal, which would make the rule go into effect for the 2014 season. According to the NCAA's story about the proposal, member schools can weigh in on proposals from now until the panel meets. So the panel will be aware of the criticism many coaches have voiced since the proposal went public.

Jake from T-Town, Ohio, writes: Hey Adam, this new "clock proposal" for player safety is ridiculous. If player safety is really the moving factor I have the perfect solution to protect players and prevent teams at the same time from "faking" injuries to slow down the other team. If any player is injured and the game is stopped for them then that player must sit the rest of the possession. You won't be seeing starting defenders taking dives if they can't come right back in the next play. What do you think?

Adam Rittenberg: I like it, Jake. There's no way to be absolutely sure that injuries are real or not, unless players are being carted off the field. But seeing defenders re-enter games one play later definitely raises some eyebrows. If they're really hurt, they should have the full possession to rest up. On another note, I think it's ridiculous that players who have their helmets ripped off by an opponent must sit out the next play. I'd rather stop the game so the helmet can be put on again correctly and not penalize the player.

Noah from Bloomington, Ind., writes: We've been hearing for years that "this is the year IU's defense turns a corner" and obviously those have turned out to not be "the year." But now I'm hearing what almost could be a tangible reason to believe it's this year, in Knorr's hiring. What are the chances of this being the year?

Adam Rittenberg: The chances are slightly better because of Indiana's improvement on the recruiting trail. Although 10 defensive starters return and experience is no longer an issue with the unit, I'm more excited about some of the younger players from the 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes (DT Darius Latham, DE David Kenney, S Will Dawkins). Indiana's defense is fighting a very long track record of being very bad, and while Brian Knorr has had some decent credentials, many in his position have failed to get results. The Hoosiers' offense doesn't do the defense many favors with how fast it operates, but it's certainly realistic for IU to have a defense that isn't always at the bottom of the FBS. Ultimately, it comes down to talent. And on paper, the Hoosiers have more now.

Akshay from Seattle writes: Adam, about the B1G attendance numbers. One big factor I think you guys missed out on: Season-ticket purchases happen before the season starts. So attendance numbers usually lag the team's performance by one year. For example, MSU's attendance numbers should be up next year, and Northwestern's should be down next year based on their 2013 performance.

Adam Rittenberg: Akshay, that's a good point, and the start of Michigan State's home schedule -- Western Michigan, South Florida, Youngstown State, Indiana and Purdue -- didn't help boost interest after a disappointing 2012 season. The same would hold true for Iowa, coming off of a 4-8 season in 2012. It's no surprise that MSU drew its largest crowd for the Michigan game (76,306), and the finale against Minnesota (71,418) took place after Thanksgiving and with the Legends division title already wrapped up.