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Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Big Ten Tuesday mailblog

By Adam Rittenberg

Danny Etling
Starting experience might be the difference for Danny Etling in Purdue's QB race.
Spring ball is under way in the Big Ten. Who's excited? Me, too.

Let's check that inbox, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter.

Graig from Indianapolis writes: Who has the edge in the quarterback competition at Purdue: Blough, Etling or Appleby? Do any of them potentially change positions?

Adam Rittenberg: Graig, I'd give Danny Etling an edge because he played so much as a true freshman last year and can grow from his experiences, despite the team's struggles. Etling clearly has the talent to be Purdue's starter, and he has better reference points than both Austin Appleby (has barely played) and David Blough (true freshman, no game experience). That doesn't mean Appleby and Blough are out of the mix, and the competition this spring should be open. I like the confidence in the QB group, and I'd be surprised if any of the three moves positions. It's more likely one transfers than shifts to a different spot.




 

Anthony from Washington, D.C., writes: Adam, How can you write an entire article, one in which you take a strong position against the unionization of Northwestern's football players, and not mention the word "revenue" once? Furthermore, the fact Northwestern isn't "ground zero" of this issue is another case of a talking head oversimplifying a situation into moral relativism -- 'It's not the perfect example, which makes it imperfect.' At best, your latest article is incredibly conservative, and at worst it's downright ignorant to the bigger picture at stake here. It's fine to be against the unionization of college athletics, just do us a favor and at least mention the fact the coaches are highly paid employees of the university, and yet perform ZERO educational function.

Adam Rittenberg: Anthony, it's your opinion that coaches perform zero educational function. I'm not naive about their salaries, which are ridiculously high, or their primary objective, which is to win championships and bring positive attention -- and money -- to their schools. But many football coaches have a profound influence on educating and developing players for the real world. Players have told me this every year as they finish their college careers. Why do you think so many former Penn State players came out in support of Joe Paterno? It's an unfair generalization to say coaches are simply high earners who perform no educational function.

My point about Northwestern is while the school generates plenty of revenue through its Big Ten affiliation, players are not being exploited there. They have restrictions, just like anyone choosing to participate in an organization, but they also receive benefits. Should they get more from their scholarships? Absolutely. Should they get long-term medical care and a voice in discussions about issues affecting their well-being? Absolutely. But unionization isn't the answer here.




 

Tom from Chicago writes: What are the chances of Damion Terry seeing the field for the Spartans this year?

Adam Rittenberg: Tom, I think there's a very good chance. Terry won't leapfrog Connor Cook as the team's starting quarterback unless Cook is injured, but Michigan State's coaching staff sees the value in having more mobility at quarterback and a potential change-up guy in Terry. He gives defenses a different look and someone else to prepare for, whether he lines up as a traditional quarterback, a Wildcat quarterback or at another position.




 

Tom from 50 miles due east of the Memorial Stadium press box: Hey Adam, when Delany or the ADs are talking about stadium attendance do they ever mention the pace of the game? I could care less about Wi-Fi, I don't mind if only the scores of other games are updated, so what if we just keep trotting out the same tired band show (that tired show is the pride of all Nebraska you know)? But 3.5-4 hours is too long for me to deal with my allotted 20 inches of concrete bench and less knee room than coach. The league should push for fewer commercial breaks in their next deal. Huskervision replays every single play in the stadium with a sponsor shown before each one. There no reason the networks can't sell that time, too. Sell the booth reviews, sell the first down line, go the baseball route and sell green screen ads along the field, just keep the game moving so I don't have to sit through 4 hours of NU v Northern Middle Podunk State A&M.

Adam Rittenberg: Does Northern Middle Podunk State A&M have a mascot? Tom, you're not the first person to bring up the slow pace as a detriment to the in-game experience. Ultimately, TV drives the bus, and sponsoring replays vs. 30-second commercials isn't really comparable in terms of revenue generation. There are some efforts being made to speed up the games themselves (independent of commercial breaks), but some of the clock rule changes implemented in 2006 received heavy criticism and ultimately were overturned. I agree that game can be shortened a bit, and efforts must continue there, but I'd be surprised if commercial stoppages are cut.




 

Robert from Cambria, Wis., writes: I keep hearing about NFL teams contacting college coaches (i.e. Browns and G. Andersen) and colleges contacting each other’s' coaches (i.e. Arkansas and Bielema). Is there some football coaches directory that any team can look up some coach's private number? Some ADs, like Alvarez, seem to be total surprise at their coach's departure. How do they contact them and negotiate without tipping anyone else off?

Adam Rittenberg: Welcome to the agent world, Robert. Every college coach has an agent or at least an attorney who acts as a middleman in some of these interactions. It's very rare that schools will initiate contact directly with the coach right away, although there are some cases where it happens. But those making the hires, whether they're ADs or general managers, always have lists of potential candidates in case they have vacancies. A lot of the contact information is gathered in advance so schools can act quickly.