Big Ten: chat

Big Ten Thursday chat wrap

February, 6, 2014
With so much chatting going on during the signing day festivities, maybe we were due for a slower afternoon. That didn't stop the conversation from proceeding as planned, and there was still plenty to discuss this afternoon. The full rundown is available over there, and the highlights are right here.

Paul (Washington, DC): Who will have a better year next year? Michigan or Michigan State?

Austin Ward: I haven't seen any developments since the end of the season that would convince me Michigan is going to be better off than Michigan State next year. The Wolverines signed a better recruiting class based on the rankings, but that roster was in much more need of an upgrade than the one that just helped the Spartans win the league and the Rose Bowl. Certainly there's a lot of defensive talent to replace, but the cupboards aren't bare and that is one of the most well-coached units in the entire country in my opinion. I'm not sold on Michigan's hire at OC, either.

Pete (Eau Claire): In Brian's last chat, he stated he felt that Wisconsin playing LSU in the season opener makes it more likely that Stave would start since Coach Anderson would not want an inexperienced QB to face that opponent. I think he's 100% wrong because LSU as the opponent makes it is more likely Stave is on the bench. Stave has shown repeatedly he is incapable of beating a quality opponent. To do that, Wisconsin needs a QB who can make big plays and extend plays with his legs. If Wisconsin trots out Stave against LSU, UW will lose another close game. If Stave is on the bench, UW will have a shot. LSU knows what Stave does and can plan accordingly. With Stave on the bench, LSU won't know what to expect and UW will have the element of surprise. Better to go with the unknown that gives you a shot at victory than repeat the same close losses with Stave.

Austin Ward: I'm with Brian on this one, Pete -- at least for the moment. There's a lot of time between now and that game, and perhaps the Badgers will see something that changes their mind during spring practice or fall camp. But throwing an inexperienced quarterback out against a tenacious defense like LSU's for his first start is not a recipe for success, regardless of the element of surprise. The Tigers aren't likely to be caught off guard by anybody Wisconsin trots on the field under center, and a new starter is almost certain to be overwhelmed by the speed of that defense, the game and the early stakes.

Keith (Ohio): One thing I've always wondered is why the 2-3 star recruit (on as scale of 1-5) chooses attending schools like Ohio State and sit the bench for 4 years when they could play for a MAC team and maybe be a star? Ever here any discussions of that?

Austin Ward: That depends entirely on the individual, Keith, because there are definitely a number of kids who make that choice to drop down a level and get more playing time. For others, the chance to get an education at a school like Ohio State or Michigan while trying to get on the field in the Big Ten means more than getting the chance to shine elsewhere. It all comes down to personal preference.

GBK (Lincoln Park): Mark it down: Chicago will never get the Big 10 title game as long it continues to have the worst field in all of NCAA/NFL football.

Austin Ward: That is a factor that would have to be considered, GBK, but it could be outweighed by everything else Chi-town could offer the league in terms of exposure, dollars, ease of travel, hotels, etc. Personally, I think ensuring the best possible experience for fans has to be balanced with giving the players both safety and the chance to play their best game, which is why I'm not opposed to a city like Detroit being in the mix thanks to its dome. But, again, I think the game could stay in Indy forever and there wouldn't be any reason to complain.

Concerned Brutus (Woody Hayes Atheltic Center): Austin, straightforward question here: Now that signing day is over and given all the new recruits, which overall position group needs to develop faster for the upcoming season - Offensive Line or Secondary/Linebackers?

Austin Ward: Brutus, there is absolutely no question that the linebackers at Ohio State have to come along the quickest if the program is going to compete for a national title again next season. The loss of Ryan Shazier is obviously significant, and replacing him is no small task to be sure. I am curious to how exactly the Buckeyes are planning to fill that void, because the two most touted guys they've signed over the last two years, Mike Mitchell and Raekwon McMillan, both project as inside linebackers. Curtis Grant is already in the middle, though it wouldn't be a stretch to think he could be passed on the depth chart by one of them depending on how the spring shakes out. The secondary, even without [Bradley] Roby, [C.J.] Barnett and [Christian] Bryant, has plenty of talent. And I think the offensive line is in pretty decent shape, even if it will be largely inexperienced.

Big Ten

Big Ten Monday chat wrap

February, 3, 2014
Sure, we can all be a little sluggish on the day after the Super Bowl. Why isn't this day a national holiday? But you guys still brought the energy for my Big Ten Monday chat. Here's the full transcript, along with some highlights:

Grant (San Francisco): Hi Brian! Happy Monday. What a terribly lopsided game last night. Obviously the Seahawks won because of the outstanding play of their defense and lock-down secondary. How will this impact the draft stock of players like [Darqueze] Dennard as teams perhaps try to develop defenses in a similar mold to Seattle's?

Brian Bennett: Seattle's secondary is so big and athletic, and I think you'll see teams try to copy that. It might help more for a guy like Stanley Jean-Baptiste from Nebraska because of his height. Dennard would be a top pick in any year, for any system.

Nick (St Paul): What do the Gophers need to do to get something going with the passing game next year? Looks like the QB competition will be open. They've landed a few recruits in the last few days. Do you see this year's team with a more balanced attack?

Brian Bennett: It could hardly be less balanced. The good news for the Gophers is that their three best receivers at the end of the year -- Williams, Wolitarsky and Jones -- were all freshmen. So some growth is inevitable. Leidner was also a freshmen. Patience is a key here.

Mike (New Jersey): You were great in covering the "old" BIG EAST. Every prediction I have seen so far has Rutgers in last place in the upcoming Eastern Division season. Come on we are even or better than Maryland, Penn State or Indiana. What says you?

Brian Bennett: I think Rutgers is going to have a tough first season, and the schedule -- which includes crossovers vs. Wisconsin and Nebraska -- is brutal. But I do like the Scarlet Knights to finish ahead of Maryland.

Ashley [via mobile]: With signing day approaching, I did some research I thought I'd share. Of the 53 non special teams players on either the media or coaches first or second team all B1G teams, they averaged 3.13 stars. One 5 star (Spence), six 2 stars, and two (Abbredaris and SJB) weren't even given ratings. Thoughts?

Brian Bennett: Does not surprise me. That's why I don't pay too much attention to recruiting rankings. Hunger and work ethic have so much to do with a player's development. Guys like Abbrederis, SJB and Darqueze Dennard would barely even have been mentioned on signing day when their careers began, they were such afterthoughts.

Hank (Washington DC): Is Brady Hoke's job in jeopardy as a result of the Brendan Gibbons situation?

Brian Bennett: Not unless we find out some more damning info, like what Hoke knew about the situation and when he knew it. But he does owe an explanation of the time line, in my opinion.

Adam (PA): Is Penn State a better football team than last year or will the lack of depth keep them as a 7-8 win team?

Brian Bennett: Depth is going to be an issue for a while, and there will be a transition with the new staff. But the schedule is manageable, and I think the Nittany Lions should go 4-0 in the nonconference portion. Still, I think an 8-win season would be a success in Year One for Franklin.

Big Ten

Big Ten Monday chat at 3 p.m. ET

February, 3, 2014
The Super Bowl is over, but if you think there's no football to discuss, you're crazy.

Signing day is Wednesday, and spring practice will be here before you know it. So come on by my Monday Big Ten chat, and we'll discuss it all. I'll be in my usual time slot of 3 p.m. ET, and you can find me right here. See you there this afternoon.

Big Ten chat: Today at noon ET

January, 30, 2014
It has been an interesting week of news in the Big Ten, from the Northwestern players seeking union representation to Ohio State coaches being stranded on a snowy Atlanta highway to quarterback Philip Nelson transferring from Minnesota to Rutgers. Have thoughts on these and other topics? You've come to the right place.

The Big Ten chat takes place today at noon ET. I'll be there. Will you?

Big Ten Monday chat wrap

January, 27, 2014
What better way to kick off Super Bowl week than with a super Big Ten Monday chat? If you missed it, here's the full transcript, along with some super highlights:
Patty (Salt Lake City, Utah): Who will be the Big Ten's best running back in 2014? Ameer Abdullah or Melvin Gordon are the favorites but i like darkhorse candidates like Derrick Green or Jeremy Langford.

Brian Bennett: I think we're going to be blessed with a deep and talented class of RBs next year. Don't forget Venric Mark is coming back, as well as David Cobb and Penn State's guys and Mark Weisman and Tevin Coleman. I'm not sold yet on Green. It's an Abdullah-Gordon race for me. Gordon has more room to grow still.

Eric (Los Angeles, CA): If a B1G team makes it to the playoffs and competes/wins a game, but falls short of the national championship, and say, goes .500 in the rest of the bowl games...would the season be viewed as a success for the B1G or another season without a national championship?

Brian Bennett: Yes, I think that would be a rousing success. Moving forward it will be all about getting into that four-team playoff. Remember that the Big Ten hasn't played for a title since 2007 so it's vitally important for the league to get back into that mix for championships.

Jon (Seattle, WA): Which would be a bigger non conference win for the Big Ten, UW on a neutral field against LSU or MSU @ Oregon?

Brian Bennett: I'll say Michigan State, just because both teams should be in the Top 5 and that would be a huge road win that could really propel the Spartans on the national stage. Of course, beating an SEC power is also really good, and Wisconsin might not lose again for a long time if it won that game.

Samuel (Iowa City, Iowa): Brian, Iowa's next superstar will play at what position?

Brian Bennett: The guy on the roster who looks most like a future superstar to me is Desmond King. So I'll say CB. That's been a strong position for the Hawkeyes of late.

Sean (Colorado): Do you think the Badgers have the ability to coach-up Stave or are we going to see a couple good throws offset by a horrible, game-changing decision again in 2014 (assuming he beats out Houston and McEvoy)? His success/failure could be huge for future recruiting at the position for UW, don't you think?

Brian Bennett: Sure. I mean, he was just a sophomore this past year. There's no reason Stave can't improve his accuracy and decision making. You have to wonder how high his ceiling actually is, but he's got a good arm. Houston and McEvoy have no experience in big-time college football, so they've got a lot of ground to make up, even if they might be better athletes overall.

Ghost of Wide Receivers Past (Downfield): Is 2014 going to be another down year for the Big Ten at wide receiver like 2012? Or will the return of so many starting quarterbacks help that position thrive again?

Brian Bennett: Much like in 2012, a lot of talent is leaving the league at WR, including Robinson, Gallon, Abbrederis, Enunwa, Philly Brown and Latimer. I think there are some good young receivers still around and some strong veterans like Kenny Bell. But if you asked me right now, for instance, who will be the leading WR at Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State, I wouldn't have great answers. So it is a concern heading into '14

Big Ten

Big Ten Thursday chat wrap

January, 23, 2014
As we suffer through winter and the offseason together, we also bond over Big Ten football. Thanks to those who joined me earlier today for the weekly Big Ten chat. We discussed the East-West balance in the Big Ten, recruits flipping, new coaching hires and more.

[+] EnlargeJames Franklin
Matthew O'Haren/USA TODAY SportsAs James Franklin can attest to, flipping recruits is part of the business.
Did you miss out? Not to worry. Here's a full chat transcript, along with some highlights:

Bernard from Columbus: Larry Johnson an upgrade over [Mike] Vrabel in both recruiting and coaching?

Adam Rittenberg: Hmmm, good question. In coaching, I'd say yes, mainly because Johnson has way more experience than Vrabel and a track record of producing elite defensive linemen. As a recruiter, I'd also give Johnson a slight edge because of his long-term success, but Vrabel had quickly developed himself into an outstanding recruiter.

Rob from Morristown, N.J.: What is your honest take on [James] Franklin flipping recruits from Vandy to PSU? I hear a lot of other teams' fans talking about how we were up in arms when other programs were poaching our players once the sanctions were handed down ... as much as many of us were upset that recruits like Noah Spence and Armani Reeves flipped to Ohio State ... there is no comparison, we were upset that other schools were trying to flip our CURRENTLY enrolled players ... just wanted to get that out there...

Adam Rittenberg: Rob, we both know that no fan base likes it when coaches flip their recruits, but fans also should know by now that it happens all the time and will continue to happen unless there's an early signing period. James Franklin was honest about it when asked: Players do pick coaches, not schools, and will follow coaches if they leave. Is it unfortunate? To a degree. But it's the nature of the business, and Penn State has experienced both sides of it in recent years. I agree that the attempts to flip current players -- looking at you, Tim Beckman -- annoyed PSU fans more than losing recruits to Urban [Meyer].

TB from Champaign, Ill.: What are the odds of me keeping my job with the Illini after 2014 and finishing off my "Fighting Force 2015" recruiting class?

Adam Rittenberg: It could happen, TB, but you need to make a bowl game this season. Few coaches with three bowl-less seasons are going to survive, especially those who have never won over the fan base/boosters. So how do you get to six wins? It's certainly possible with a schedule that includes three likely non-league wins (Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Texas State), and a crossover schedule that doesn't include Michigan State or Michigan. The road schedule is once again brutal (Washington, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Northwestern), so your team must play well on its home field.

Rick from Georgia: Adam, with a new OC at Michigan, do you think they may go in the direction of using a two-QB system similar to Northwestern? It would be nice to see [Devin] Gardner line up at wide receiver while also getting snaps at QB.

Adam Rittenberg: Rick, while you can't rule this out because Michigan loses both [Jeremy] Gallon and [Drew] Dileo, the team would like to keep Gardner at quarterback, if at all possible. The Wolverines have some talent at tight end with [Devin] Funchess (essentially a WR) and Jake Butt, but they must develop some other options at receiver this spring. Shane Morris' progress at QB also will be key. Can he really push Gardner, or will a healthy Gardner separate himself in spring ball? Should be really interesting.

Steve from NJ: Adam, really miss chatting with everyone since the turn to Facebook, but oh well. As for the B1G East this year, I have no trouble giving OSU credit for what they did, although you have to admit, many of [its] games could have gone either way. MSU looks very strong. UM hasn't shown much of late. And PSU, even with the sanctions, is still hanging on. My point is, the winner of the East could be any of those four based on how the ball bounces. In the West, I really only see Wisc and Neb, with NW and Iowa having an outside shot.

Adam Rittenberg: Steve, I guess I wonder why you think Wisconsin and Nebraska are far and away the favorites in the West? Wisconsin loses an enormous senior class and has QB questions. Nebraska lost to Iowa and Minnesota and was a Hail Mary tip from losing to Northwestern. Will the Huskers suddenly eliminate their sloppiness and become dominant in 2014? Maybe, maybe not. I think the West is pretty even with the top 4-5 teams, while the East likely will be a 2- or 3-team race, as I don't think Penn State has enough to keep up.

Thanks again for your questions and participation. Let's do it again soon.

Big Ten chat: Today at noon ET

January, 23, 2014
It's another frigid day in the Midwest. Come inside the Big Ten chat room to warm up. Let's talk recruiting, coaching hires, spring ball and the 2014 season. If you want to review 2013, that's cool, too.

See you for the chat today at noon ET. Don't be late.

Big Ten Monday chat at 3 p.m. ET

January, 20, 2014
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everybody. Just because it's a national holiday doesn't mean we're not still pumping out Big Ten football content. My Monday chat will be in its usual time slot of 3 p.m. ET.

Come on by if you're off work or just itching to talk some football. Here's the link. Hope to see you there.

Big Ten chat: Today at noon ET

January, 16, 2014
My apologies for the technical issues that shortened last week's chat. We should be good to go today, so please join me at noon ET to discuss all things Big Ten. Have thoughts on James Franklin at Penn State? The NFL draft decisions? The 2014 season? This is your place to share them.

See you at noon.

Big Ten chat: Today at noon ET

January, 9, 2014
You had better not miss today's chat. I'll be introducing myself as Penn State's next head coach and will take your questions. Part of that statement is true.

Big Ten chat. Today at noon ET. See you then.

Big Ten Monday chat at 3 p.m. ET

January, 6, 2014
The Big Ten bowl season is officially over, which means we have eight months without another real game featuring a league team.

But the Big Ten Monday chat is still here. We can discuss all the postseason games, plus offseason news and what to expect next season. Here's the link to the chat, which starts at 3 p.m. ET.

See you there.

Big Ten Thursday chat wrap

January, 2, 2014
My first Big Ten chat of 2014 is in the books. We debated Big Ten perception after most of the bowls, what's next for Penn State, the potential Big Ten favorites next year and more.

Did you miss the chat? Be sure and check out the full transcript.

To the highlights ...

Dave from Rhode Island: If Ohio State wins Friday, and with Michigan St and Nebraska winning along with Iowa and Wisconsin being very competitive against SEC schools, will the big ten finally get a little more respect going into next season despite its bad loses by Michigan and Minnesota?

Adam Rittenberg: We've seen that leagues don't get respect for being competitive in bowls. It comes down to wins and losses. Two BCS wins would help the Big Ten's perception, but you're not going to get many points for Iowa and Wisconsin. I thought Wisconsin had a really bad game, actually. Poor end to the season.

Jim from Langhorne: Adam - James Franklin is actually from my hometown. I personally believe that he would be the best hire moving forward, he has familiarity with the recruiting region and made Vanderbilt a fairly relative team. Your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: From a recruiting standpoint, he'd be a grand-slam hire. Penn State would clean up in the Maryland/eastern PA/New Jersey corridor, especially if Larry Johnson also remains on staff (which I'd expect). There are some character questions, though, after the Vanderbilt football rape case, as text messages from coaches are being sought as evidence. Could be an issue after what Penn State went through two years ago.

Mike from Alabama: How can you say this is a good bowl season for the Big Ten? No matter what happens with Ohio State, this is still the 11th consecutive losing bowl season for the Big Ten. How can anyone start to respect a conference that is still a loser?

Adam Ritenberg: The losing records can't be denied, but if other leagues played lineups like the Big Ten's, they'd have plenty of losing records, too. The Big Ten has set itself up for failure in the bowls year after year, especially with sending two teams to BCS games. A record around .500 with two BCS wins is a success in my book when looking at the matchups. But your statement supports my long-held belief that the Big Ten goes overboard with the difficulty of its lineup.

Jon from Seattle: It's a new year, let's focus on next season. Who is the early favorite out West, Wisconsin or Nebraska?

Adam Rittenberg: The West will be wild, Jon, with no clear favorite. I'd give Nebraska the nod right now as Wisconsin has some serious issues at QB, WR and maybe on the defense as well. Iowa could contend as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if Northwestern really turns things around after a season where everything went wrong. Will be a fun race.

Joshua from CBus: of all the bowl games i'm most disappointed in wisconsin. they seem to let the conference down every year in their bowl game. the badgers are supposed to be one of the elite teams in the conference yet they can't ever win their bowl game which not only hurts them but hurts they're conference. if they would have just held on we'd be 2-1 against the sec instead of 1-2. what it it about the bowl season that makes wisconsin forget how to play football?

Adam Rittenberg: I'd add Michigan to the most disappointing category as the Wolverines didn't show up in their game. But Wisconsin has let the Big Ten down by losing big games in the postseason. They had an excellent chance to beat a good but not great South Carolina team and couldn't capitalize on opportunities, especially the SC fumble early in the second half. Wisconsin struggles to play from behind and has won the games it should, but not many of the toss-up games in recent years.

Thanks again for the good questions. We'll recap the entire Big Ten bowl season next week. Looking forward to it.

Big Ten chat: today at noon ET

January, 2, 2014
Still reveling in Michigan State's Rose Bowl victory? Want to chat about Nebraska's upset of Georgia in Jacksonville or Ohio State's upcoming matchup against Clemson? Let's do it today at noon ET as my chat takes place from sunny Los Angeles.

I'm interested in your thoughts on the Big Ten's bowl season, Penn State's upcoming coach search and more. See you at noon.

Big Ten Thursday chat wrap

December, 26, 2013
There's a lot of news around the Big Ten as bowl season approaches, and we discussed it all and more during the weekly chat. Did you miss it? If so, I've got you covered with a full transcript.

Some highlights:

Eric from Milwaukee: If Wisconsin wins its bowl game and beats LSU in the 2014 opener, could the Badgers be a legit playoff team if they win out in 2014?

Adam Rittenberg: The Capital One Bowl should have no bearing on Wisconsin's playoff hopes next year, Eric. At least it shouldn't. But beating LSU in the opener and running the table would make Wisconsin a virtual guarantee to make the playoff. Undefeated teams from major conferences aren't going to get left out, especially when they challenge themselves in non-league play.

[+] EnlargeShilique Calhoun
AP Photo/Al GoldisThe absence of Max Bullough (40) will be felt throughout the Michigan State defense.
Henry from Rochester, N.Y.: Adam, I was wondering about Max Bullough. I know he's the QB of the defense, and we won't be able to replace his football IQ on the field, but I trust MSU's coaches to be able to find an adequate replacement. Who do you see the coaches tabbing to fill Bullough's MLB spot? My bet is Darien Harris.

Adam Rittenberg: Henry, you're absolutely right about the difficulty in replacing Bullough's intelligence and leadership. No one can really do that. I think Kyler Ellsworth will get the first chance to replace Bullough, as Harris is a little undersized to play MLB. How odd would it be if Riley Bullough, Max's younger brother and the backup MLB this spring, got a bunch of playing time in the bowl because of Max's suspension?

Jay from Minneapolis: Adam, to most people Iowa was a surprise this season. The should have beaten Northern Illinois and they were in every game they lost. Still they don't seem to get respect for the defense that ranks in the top 10. Do you feel they can stack up to the LSU offense? I remember them shutting down a Georgia Tech offense that was supposed to be unstoppable (under Norm Parker).

Adam Rittenberg: Jay, I think Iowa ended up about where it should have. Sure, the Hawkeyes could have beaten NIU, but they easily could have lost to Northwestern or Michigan. The defense is very strong, and with Zach Mettenberger out, Iowa certainly could stop LSU if it contains the run attack. Although LSU's receivers are very good, Mettenberger isn't the one throwing passes. Iowa typically has been a very good bowl team, and if its offense shows up in Tampa, it should be a very competitive game.

Tony from Richmond, Calif.: How pivotal is next season for Brady Hoke's long term future at Michigan? Does another season with losses to rivals Michigan State and Ohio State within the conference, and likely Notre Dame outside, place him firmly on the hot seat?

Adam Rittenberg: It should be pivotal, Tony. Athletic director Dave Brandon loves Hoke, and as long as Brandon is in place, Hoke might be safe. But by Hoke's own standards, Michigan is failing, not even reaching a Big Ten title game in three years. Next year is huge for him and the Wolverines, and it won't be easy in the same division as MSU and OSU.

Jon from Ann Arbor: If the BIG title game were to ever expand to include more locales, what places would you like to see be in the running to host it?

Adam Rittenberg: I think Chicago, despite its outdoor stadium, would be the next logical spot because of its proximity to so many Big Ten schools. Minnesota's new stadium could be an option as its indoor. Maybe Ford Field, too, down the road. But I wouldn't be surprised if the title game moves for a year to New York or DC because of the new additions.

Thanks again for the questions. I'll keep you posted on the date and time for our next chat.

Big Ten Monday chat at 3 p.m. ET

December, 23, 2013
It's Festivus. Time for the airing of the grievances. Of course we do that every Monday on the Big Ten chat, anyway.

It's your final chance to tell me what you want for Christmas. I won't get it for you, but I may just answer your question about the league bowl season, offseason news and any other Big Ten issue on your mind. So come on by at 3 p.m. ET and chat with me for an hour.

Here is the link. See you there.

Big Ten