Big Ten: Seantrel Henderson
Missed the chat? Tsk, tsk. No worries, as you can check out the full recap.
Nastradamus from Los Feliz: Adam, I bleed Maroon and Gold and I thought that Jerry Kill did a good job recruiting in state and JUCO talent in the 2012 class. However, the out of state recruiting was extremely weak (most guys didn't have multiple BCS offers). I believe Jerry Kill needs 7 to 8 wins this fall in order to recruit better out of state in the future. What say you?
Adam Rittenberg: That's part of it, Nastradamus, but give Kill credit for keeping some of the top in-state players at home. That's the way you build a program, and that's what he's doing at Minnesota. Think about all the good in-state prospects who have gone elsewhere, whether it's Michael Floyd to Notre Dame or Seantrel Henderson to USC and then Miami. So keeping good players at home is a good start. But I agree that in the long run, Kill and his staff need to do better outside the area. The WR from North Carolina was a nice get.
Jason from Iowa: Hey Adam! Who would have guessed that Kirk would go vanilla on his DC hire? Ha...can't wait for more "bend but don't break (but actually break)" defense!
Adam Rittenberg: Jason, you're not alone in this belief. I don't think Iowa fans would have been upset had Kirk promoted Phil Parker back in December. But there was more to this search and outside candidates were contacted, I'm told. Ultimately, Iowa went with Phil Parker, who will maintain the defensive structure we've seen under Norm. The bigger issue in my mind is Reese Morgan moving from O-line to D-line. Morgan is a veteran coach who has seen it all, but he hasn't coached offense at Iowa. The defensive line, in my view, is the most critical area on the team in 2012 because of all the inexperience.
Jon from Colorado: Why is there so much confidence that MSU's running game/o-line will be so improved next year? That was supposed to be the strength of the offense last season and we all know how that turned out. They lose their best offensive lineman and I don't think the returning starters would start for a lot of other Big Ten teams. What exactly is causing the confidence that you and Bennett both seem to have? I think Maxwell will need to be exceptional (close to Cousins) for their offense to be in the same ballpark as last year's team.
Adam Rittenberg: Jon, who said the offensive line was supposed to be a strength in 2011? Anyone who did doesn't study Michigan State, which lost its starting offensive tackles and its starting center. Any time you're replacing those three linemen, you're probably in trouble. I think the Spartans will have fewer issues on the line because more players saw the field in 2011. Foreman is a big loss, but you can replace a guard easier than a tackle or a center. And I like Le'Veon Bell's potential, which he showed in games like Iowa.
Patrick from Chicago: Adam, if the Rose Bowl can't be protected, and is sort of left to twist in the wind, what sort of scenario do you see happening? Does it limp on with No. 2 teams from conferences, or does it fold up shop?
Adam Rittenberg: It doesn't fold up shop, Patrick. The Rose Bowl is the one major bowl that, in my view, still would be celebrated even in a playoff environment. And I think the access points are pretty clear. If the Big Ten and Pac-12 champs aren't in the top four, they play in Pasadena. If one is and one isn't, the champion plays the No. 2 team from the other league. If both champions are in the top 4, which likely will be pretty rare, you could see No. 2 vs. No. 2.
Thanks again for all the questions, and my apologies to those whose questions weren't asked. Let's do it again next week.
Bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Heather Dinich break down the matchup in Columbus.
Heather Dinich: Ahh, Ritt, the pleasure is all yours. First, he has to get the protection he needs -- something he hasn't always had, but that appeared to improve in the season opener against Florida A&M. Second, Harris has to continue to play mistake-free like he did in the first half last week. Turnovers were a big issue for him last year -- 17 interceptions -- and Cameron Heyward and the rest of the Buckeyes' D are more than capable of getting him flustered. He’s got to stay on his feet and make smart decisions. What about Pryor? Miami's rushing defense is coming off its best performance in three years, with eight sacks against FAMU. Is Ohio State’s front ready to hold off the Canes and make Pryor look worthy of the Heisman Hype?
AR: Pryor looked much more comfortable with the offense in the opener, but he faced virtually no pressure from Marshall and could sit back and wait for wideouts Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey to get open. That should change against the Canes, and it'll be interesting to see how often Pryor takes off and runs -- his old method for dealing with pressure -- or stands in the pocket and makes a tough throw. Ohio State's offensive line finally seems to be coming together after several years of underachieving. It's a group filled with blue-chip recruits that boasts good experience now, especially at the guard spots with Justin Boren and Bryant Browning. A big key will be whether left tackle Mike Adams can protect Pryor's blind side.
Speaking of highly recruited offensive linemen and Ohio State, how is our pal Seantrel Henderson doing? Let's just say Buckeye Nation is waiting. Moreover, how do you see Miami's O-line matching up with Heyward, John Simon and Ohio State's front four?
AR: Heather, I'm glad you brought up the Champs Sports Bowl. I know this is a different and supposedly better Miami team, but I have a hard time forgetting how Wisconsin outclassed the Canes in that game, and would have won by more points if not for a Garrett Graham fumble near the goal line. If Wisconsin's defense makes Harris look like that, I can't imagine what Ohio State's will do to him. You also bring up a good point about Cooper, who missed most of the Wisconsin game. He's a tremendous athlete and could be a big factor on Saturday if he plays. Ohio State running back Brandon Saine is another guy who looks better and better as time goes on and had a great performance in the opener.
OK, you're on the spot. What happens in this one?
HD: Well, one of two things: A.) Miami wins and is an instant surprise contender for the national title, or B.) The Hurricanes lose and ACC fans flip the channel to the Florida State game, clinging to desperation that somebody can represent on the national level. I think Miami is good, but I don’t think they're ready for Ohio State -- especially not in the Shoe. I'm still in believe-it-when-I-see-it mode with these guys when it comes to national relevance. Can they win the ACC? No doubt. But the Canes need to win the Coastal before they're in the same realm as the Buckeyes. Do you see any upset in the making?
AR: Miami certainly has the talent to win this game. The Canes must win the turnover battle, force Pryor into some bad decisions and hold the edge on special teams, which surprisingly might be Ohio State's biggest weakness this year. While I forecast a great game, I don't see the upset. Ohio State is simply too strong up front on both sides of the ball and wins the battle at the line of scrimmage. Ohio State got over its big-game hump in the Rose Bowl against Oregon, and the Buckeyes aren't a slow Big Ten team, as they're often portrayed. The Buckeyes win this one by a touchdown.
From the looks of your e-mails, the answer is yes. How did some of you function before our little blog network kicked off? Anyway, I'm back from Mexico, revived and refreshed as we're less than a month away from the start of preseason camps in the Big Ten.
The league didn't follow my advice and expand again during my vacation, but there was some news during the last 10 days or so. Here's a quick recap:
- Heralded offensive line recruit Seantrel Henderson was released from his letter of intent from USC, but ended up signing with Miami instead of Ohio State, Minnesota or another school. It seems like these days, every drama king shirks the state of Ohio and ends up in Miami. Buckeyes fans certainly wanted Henderson, despite his father's less-than flattering comments about head coach Jim Tressel, and there are some disappointed folks out there. But remember that Ohio State has had its share of five-star offensive line recruits who didn't pan out. The 2011 recruiting class looks stellar, and the offensive line likely will return three starters next year. My take on Henderson heading to the U? No big deal.
- Iowa starting defensive end Broderick Binns faces some type of a suspension after his arrest early Friday on suspicion of drunken driving. Binns' arrest comes about a month after running back Jewel Hampton and cornerback Jordan Bernstine were charged with public intoxication. These incidents are common around college campuses, but Iowa should have a heightened sense of awareness and concern after enduring a swell of player arrests in 2007 and 2008. Iowa had minimal issues between the spring of 2009 and early this summer, but it can't afford another string of conduct problems. These things tend to happen in waves.
- Joe Paterno seems to be out of the woods after health issues sidelined the 83-year-old for much of May and June. Although Paterno's recent illness never posed a major threat to him coaching the team this fall, any health problems can't be taken lightly at his age. There also were some updates on Penn State's quarterback competition from the Lift for Life charity event, which raised more than $98,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association (congrats to Scott Shirley and his staff for another great event).
- Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick thinks the realignment issue isn't going anywhere, and while nothing is imminent, he'll continue to monitor what happens around the golden dome. Swarbrick told the South Bend Tribune: "I had a lot of people shouting across the street to me to stay independent and it was interesting, but correspondences ran both ways. I think there's an assumption that there's a universal view among our fans and alumni on this, and there isn't. It's always great to hear what people think, but there are so many of the pieces of information they didn't know, they couldn't know, that there's limited value to that input in this case." I like this perspective from Swarbrick. He recognizes the pressure to stay independent, but he also doesn't put too much stock in the opinions of the less informed. My take: Notre Dame won't make a move unless Texas does.
- A few coaching nuggets, as tight ends coach Greg Nord left Illinois for Kentucky before spending a single game on the Illini sideline. Also, Purdue head coach Danny Hope named a full-time recruiting coordinator in Don Coller, while promoting Casey Nuss to supervisor of football operations.
Mike from New York City writes: Hey Adam,The PSU-Nebraska series over the past century is extremely close with PSU winning 7-6. There seems to be a lot of dormant animosity between the two schools after the bad call in the 1982 NC game, and the lack of a shared NC title in 1994. The largest crowd ever in Beaver Stadium was the Nebraska game in 2002. And the geography of the two schools puts them in a prime position to have a "Fringe State" rivalry within the big ten, as they both occupy the furthest reaches of the B10. How would you feel about changing PSU's end of season game from Michigan State to Nebraska for the Fringe State Trophy? I feel like that would be a rivalry both schools would care about very much.. a lot more than the MSU-PSU rivalry anyway.
Adam Rittenberg: Let's do it! I would really like to see that game at the end of the season, especially since the Michigan State-Penn State series doesn't do much for either fan base. One thing to consider: Nebraska always has played Colorado around the same time, so we need to see what happens with that series now that the Buffaloes are heading to the Pac-10. If Nebraska and Colorado play every year in September, I could definitely see things worked so that they play Penn State (or Iowa) at the end of November.
Jon from Ohio writes: Adam, can you provide a few steps the Big Ten can take to prevent collateral damage from expansion that the ACC seemed to have suffered? For example, the ACC championship game doesn't sell out, the basketball league was actually weakened and every prediction seemed to have worked out opposite. How does the Big Ten prevent this?
Adam Rittenberg: The Big Ten has some built-in advantages over the ACC, namely more tradition in football and larger fan bases. Jim Delany always brings up the ACC championship game as if to say, "Hey, it's not a guaranteed success." To which I roll my eyes. You put a Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis, and you're telling me it wouldn't be a super hot ticket every year? It would be a huge success for the Big Ten. You bring up a good point about the basketball product being weakened. Nebraska certainly doesn't add to the Big Ten that way. Notre Dame is an average hoops program, and Rutgers is totally off the radar in men's hoops (great in women's hoops). That has to be a bit of a concern with expansion, but if Nebraska is the only addition, the hoops product remains pretty strong.
Tim from Austin, Texas, writes: Adam, I'm a big UM and Big 10 as a whole fan. Everything that's going on with expansion has of course peaked interest, but something Kirk Herbstreit said... I disagree with. Kerby said that the Pac-10 is "stealing the thunder" from the Big 10. I know that Texas is the big fish here, but the Big Fish comes with so much baggage. Texas A&M and the Tech problem are 2 things that I don't think the Big 10 wanted to deal with, so they won't. Texas is a great addition, but with the package deal that includes the entire Big 10 South (minus Baylor), I don't think the Big 10 lost. It's like asking the hot girl to prom, but she makes you take all her fat friends too. What do you think? Is the Big 10 Losing?
Adam Rittenberg: Tim, I totally agree with you, but be prepared to hear people saying the Big Ten "lost" the expansion game if it only adds Nebraska and the Pac-10 expands by six. People will look at a much stronger Pac-10 on the field and disregard the extra baggage stuff. The bottom line is these two leagues -- Big Ten and Pac-10 -- are in different positions, although they have some similar philosophies. The Pac-10 really needs to expand to improve its brand and become more relevant nationally. I contend that while expansion helps the Big Ten, it's not absolutely necessary. The Big Ten would be compromising a lot to take on all of Texas' baggage. But again, be prepared for some Big Ten bashing.
Nathan from Montana writes: Do you think that Jim Delany made a huge mistake announcing his intentions and plans in relation to expansion, Adam? Not really announcing that the Big Ten was looking to expand, but announcing some details? Also, did the Pac-10 trump Delany in a major way? Is there anything the Big Ten can do and will each Big Ten school still make more money than any other conference (since money drives a lot of things)?
Adam Rittenberg: He might have made a mistake in thinking other leagues wouldn't react aggressively to what the Big Ten is doing. It's clear to me that the Big Ten has been forced to rush things now because of how quickly Larry Scott and the Pac-10 are moving. But if Scott was going to expand the Pac-10 anyway, did it matter that the Big Ten went public? And as far as the details, there haven't been too many that have damaged the Big Ten. Besides Texas, there isn't a school that both the Pac-10 and Big Ten coveted in expansion. Regarding money, the Big Ten and SEC always will generate a ton of revenue, but an expanded Pac-10 could enter the discussion if things go well.
Mark from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Given the penalties that USC will suffer over the next few years and the recruting promises made to the contrary, what are thechances that a recruit like Seantrel Henderson can re commit to another school?
Adam Rittenberg: It will be very, very interesting, Mark. We'll really find out about Lane Kiffin's recruiting skills now, as he needs to keep this team together and find ways to bring in small but productive recruiting classes during the next three years. Henderson certainly came close to signing with a Big Ten school (Ohio State and Minnesota both were in the mix), and I'm sure he's considering all of his options.
Cory from Ohio writes: Hey Adam, what happens if only Nebraska will go to the Big Ten? What will happen to Mizzou and the Big East teams that are interested? Also, will Notre Dame go to the Big Ten if it is the 13th and final entree?
Adam Rittenberg: If it's just Nebraska, the Big Ten forms a 12-team league, splits into two divisions, holds a championship game and that's the end of it. But I have a feeling this is just Phase 1 of the expansion process. Missouri is on the radar along with several others, but not at the very top of the list. Notre Dame knows the deal and can join as Nos. 13, 14, 15 or 16, but it has to actually want/accept the reality of being in a conference. Notre Dame likely could have been No. 12, but now I think it's more likely the Irish are team No. 16, forced into saying yes.
It seems like the staff took things a little too far when trying to lure heralded in-state prospect Seantrel Henderson this winter.
Colleague Joe Schad reports that Minnesota has suspended recruiting coordinator Dan Berezowitz after self-reporting a secondary violation relating to Henderson's recruitment. According to a letter written by athletic director Joel Maturi obtained by ESPN, Henderson watched a personalized video and was shown a PowerPoint presentation during an unofficial visit in January.
The football program must get pre-approval from the school for recruiting activities during the next year. Both Berezowitz and Brewster received letters of admonishment and have met with compliance officials at the school.
Not a huge deal here, especially since Henderson didn't even end up at Minnesota (he eventually signed with USC). But this is something Minnesota doesn't want to repeat.
The school finished 11th nationally in percentage of stadium capacity filled at 101.6 percent (50,805 average attendance). Only Ohio State (102.9 percent capacity) and Michigan (102.6 percent capacity) ranked higher than Minnesota in the Big Ten.
It's safe to say Minnesota will have little trouble drawing big crowds again this season.
Although Tim Brewster's team has its doubters, Minnesota boasts one of the nation's most attractive and toughest home slates. The Gophers will host USC, Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa this season. Those four squads combined to go 42-10 in 2009, and all won bowl championships, with both Ohio State and Iowa prevailing in BCS games.
As Minnesota enters a pivotal season, the Gophers' ultimate fate likely will be decided on their home field.
Some coaches might shudder at Minnesota's home schedule this fall, but Brewster welcomes it.
"It's truly exciting to play the type of schedule we're going to play," he said during the Big Ten's spring meetings. "How about to be a Minnesota fan and you're going to see USC come to TCF Bank and Ohio State and Iowa and Penn State. We've got them in our backyard.
"It really motivates our football team."
Minnesota has mastered the win-enough-to-reach-a-minor-bowl-game formula, having done so in nine of the past 11 seasons. But for the Gophers to turn a corner, they need some signature wins, and this fall provides plenty of chances at home.
The Gophers last beat Iowa in 2006 and have dropped eight of their last nine to their archrival. Minnesota last beat Penn State in 2004, Ohio State in 2000 and USC in 1955 (last faced the Trojans in 1980).
"Our guys are jacked," Brewster said.
A few other Gophers nuggets:
- Colleague Joe Schad reports that Minnesota will self-report a potential secondary violation involving the recruitment of heralded in-state prospect Seantrel Henderson. Henderson, an offensive tackle from St. Paul, ultimately signed with USC over Minnesota and many other schools.
- Brewster expects linebacker Gary Tinsley to be in the mix for playing time this fall. Tinsley faced multiple charges following an April arrest, including fleeing police after allegedly driving a moped the wrong way down a one-way street. Tinsley wasn't suspended from the team and, according to Brewster, won't face felony charges from the incident.
- Seantrel Henderson's father tells The Columbus Dispatch that his son will stick with USC.
- SI.com's Stewart Mandel looks at the big questions this spring in the Big Ten.
- Scott Tolzien is Wisconsin's clear starter at quarterback, but he doesn't take his position for granted, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Should Michigan hold its spring game at night? The Detroit News' Angelique Chengelis doesn't think it's a bad idea.
- Michigan likely will face probation and practice time restrictions following the NCAA investigation into its program, annarbor.com's David Jeese writes. Here's what Michigan can expect to face at its NCAA hearing in August, annarbor.com's Dave Birkett writes.
- Terrelle Pryor's style of play shouldn't hurt the Ohio State quarterback when he moves onto the NFL, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- A recap of Purdue's pro day from The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier's Mike Carmin.
- Indiana lands its first commit for 2011, and he's a very familiar name, Scout.com reports.
- Whether the NCAA's allegations against Michigan are trivial or serious, they still don't help the cause of embattled head coach Rich Rodriguez, SI.com's Stewart Mandel writes. Michigan needs to decide what type of program it wants to run, Drew Sharp writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Probation is likely for Michigan after the NCAA process concludes, David Goricki writes in The Detroit News. The allegations put Rodriguez on notice, but his fate still comes down to winning games, Bob Wojnowski writes in The Detroit News. An interesting take from the compliance side of things from mgoblog's Brian Cook.
- Seantrel Henderson's dad tells The Columbus Dispatch that there's no timetable on when Seantrel will sign (he has to do so by April 1), while Ohio State remains interested.
- Former Ohio State safety Kurt Coleman plans to "seize the moment" at the combine, Carlos Holmes writes in the Dayton Daily News.
- Iowa's football team gets some love from the suits in Washington, Nick Pugliese writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- The couple who paid $9,000 for Joe Paterno's glasses tells First Take all about it.
- Former Wisconsin safety Chris Maragos talks about falling through the cracks as a walk-on in his latest dispatch to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- The Daily Gopher breaks down Minnesota's newest junior college signings.
- Ron Zook sees some self-inflicted problems at Illinois, but it's hard to blame the fans, Brian Cook writes in The Sporting News.
Adam Griffin, the son of former Buckeyes star and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, has signed a national letter of intent, becoming the 19th member of Ohio State's 2010 recruiting class. The younger Griffin played running back, defensive back and handled returns for St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus.
"Adam Griffin has a passion to be an Ohio State Buckeye," head coach Jim Tressel said in a statement. "He will add a great deal to our football family on the field, in the locker room and on our campus. Adam clearly understands the privilege of being an Ohio State Buckeye."
Adam Griffin's signing comes as a bit of a surprise, as he didn't receive any other big-time offers. Ohio State had a few extra scholarships to give after coveted offensive linemen Matt James and Seantrel Henderson went elsewhere (Henderson could still end up as a Buckeye if he doesn't sign with USC).
ESPN Recruiting says of Griffin, "He lacks great overall size but he's well-defined and deceptively strong and sturdy. Runs with a low base and good balance. Displays good feet and is effective as both an inside and outside zone runner."
Archie Griffin is the president and CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association.
- Penn State head coach Joe Paterno weighs in on a variety of topics in this Sporting News interview.
- Former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett is seeking an early release from prison. Seantrel Henderson's father wants Buckeye fans to welcome his son with open arms even though Ohio State wasn't the younger Henderson's first choice, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Iowa athletics significantly reduced expenses in 2009, including costs for football recruiting, Scott Dochterman writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Purdue coaches reflect on the college career of reigning Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- In keeping with this theme, Indiana coaches remember Tracy Porter in Bloomington, Chris Porter writes in The (Bloomington) Herald Times.
- Michigan quarterback recruit Devin Gardner simply wants a chance to compete, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News. Former Wolverines star Tyrone Wheatley lands a job as Syracuse's running backs coach, colleague Brian Bennett writes.
- Heralded recruit Seantrel Henderson says he's still on the market, despite committing to USC, John Millea writes in the Star Tribune. Whether Henderson looks elsewhere, Ohio State must address its left tackle position, most likely with Mike Adams, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Illinois has filled its final coaching-staff vacancy with Tulsa assistant Ron West, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette.
- The Detroit News' Bob Wojnowski agrees with me and writes that Michigan taking a risk by signing Demar Dorsey is simply part of big-time college football.
- Michigan State fans deserve credit for speaking up to keep the school's current logo in place, Eric Lacy writes in The Detroit News. Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio didn't grade this year's recruiting class, but he seems pleased with the haul, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Former Penn State safety Anthony Scirrotto is healthy and hopes to pursue a pro career in football or baseball, Bob Flounders writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News.
- Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst has been hitting his recruiting targets with quarterbacks, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
Adam Rittenberg: First of all, great name. Henderson is waiting to see what happens with USC and the NCAA investigation before signing with the Trojans. He has until April 1 to sign, and the situation at USC may or may not be resolved by then. He said Ohio State finished second to USC in his recruitment, so the Buckeyes obviously would be in the mix if things don't work out with the Trojans. Then again, his father didn't sound too excited about Jim Tressel or the Buckeyes in this New York Times story. Let's see what happens with USC, because there's still a decent chance he signs there.
Jason from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, writes: Hey AdamJust a quick note. I notice this line being repeated over and over for Iowa and recruiting. "Arguably no staff in the Big Ten gets more out of less than Iowa's coaches, so fans clamoring for five-star recruits should simply consult the history books."I am a huge Iowa fan, but I have to disagree. The past 6 years in recruiting (Including the 2010 class) Iowa has (20) 4 star recruits and (1) 5 star recruit.Wisconsin has (16) 4 star recruits and (1) 5 star recruit per Rivals.com.The win totals of the past 5 years are Iowa with 39 wins and Wisconsin 48 wins.I would say without a doubt. Wisconsin does the best with less talent. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: Well, the word "arguably" means it's not a definitive statement, but you can apply this belief to both Iowa and Wisconsin. In fact, those are the two staffs who consistently get the most out of their talent in the Big Ten. Wisconsin probably has a bit more in-state talent to work with, and both staffs recruit the Chicago area very hard. The Badgers have more wins during the last five years, though Iowa had the BCS bowl win last year. It's pretty close between those two programs, but both coaching staffs develop players very well.
Leroy from Detroit writes: Yeah .... Those number one recruiting classes surely haven't helped the SEC with their 4 cons National Championships ...huh ?
Adam Rittenberg: Leroy, my point wasn't to discredit the recruiting process, but certain programs that rarely win conference titles or BCS bowls always seem to get a ton of attention in early February but don't translate it onto the field. Florida and Alabama win national titles because of great coaching, above all. The recruiting helps, but Urban Meyer and Nick Saban have more to do with it. Big Ten teams like Iowa and Wisconsin never get any attention on signing day, but they consistently get it done during the season, when things really matter.
Ryan from West Lafayette writes: Adam, you have to agree that this has been an embarrassing day for the Big Ten. Only 2 teams recruiting classes ranked in the top 25, a good handful of the Midwest's top prospects leaving the region, the top 4 players in Ohio not going to the buckeyes, the list goes on and on. I know the league's coaching staffs do a good job of developing, but the fact of the matter is that every national championship team has signed elite talent. The Big Ten can't even keep the few good prospects home. What are your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: It wasn't a great signing fay for the Big Ten, Ryan, but just because the league didn't make a ton of noise on Wednesday doesn't give me major cause for concern. Ohio State's 2011 class should be better than its 2010 group. Penn State did a great job, and Michigan closed well with Demar Dorsey. The Big Ten hates to lose players like Jordan Hicks and Seantrel Henderson, but most of the talent ended up staying in the Midwest. I'll be more concerned if the Big Ten has another good bowl season after the 2010 season and once again struggles on signing day.
Billy from Compton, Calif., writes: Do you think a coach like urban myer would be questioned about signing a player like Demar Dorsey who has had a troubled past, or only a coach like Rich Rod, who is always questioned, would?
Adam Rittenberg: Florida has faced questions about the number of its players with recent arrests, but all that typically gets brushed aside by winning. The same goes for Michigan. If the Wolverines win the Big Ten this year, the focus will be shifted elsewhere. It always works that way. People can talk about Michigan's character issues and Rodriguez being a bad fit, etc. But as soon as he starts winning, the noise will die down.
The Big Ten fell out of the top 10, as Penn State dropped to No. 11. Joe Paterno and his staff still signed a heck of a class, in my opinion. Most likely the only reason for the drop was having no real big splashes on signing day itself. Penn State wrapped up its class a little earlier than some teams, and there's nothing wrong with that as the Lions replenished their defense and added two outstanding quarterbacks in Robert Bolden and Paul Jones.
Michigan moved up to No. 14 in the final rankings, thanks to Demar Dorsey's surprise signing day decision. Dorsey gave a solid class some star power alongside quarterback Devin Gardner and others.
Ohio State dropped to No. 16 after signing a small class that didn't include offensive linemen Seantrel Henderson or Matt James. If Henderson ends up not signing with USC, Ohio State certainly would be on his radar. This is still a very solid class, especially at defensive line, wide receiver and defensive back.
- Michigan recruit Demar Dorsey said he has put a troubled past behind him, Jim Schaefer and Nicholas Cotsonika write in the Detroit Free Press. The Wolverines' 2010 recruiting class has improved competition for a struggling defense, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News.
- Penn State's recruiting class drew high marks this year, Bob Flounders writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News. Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Tom Bradley talks about his daylong trip to deliver supplies to Haiti, Mark Wogenrich writes in The (Allentown) Morning Call.
- The Big Ten's subpar year in recruiting likely won't become a trend, Darren Everson writes in The Wall Street Journal.
- Seantrel Henderson is available, and the offensive lineman could be headed to Columbus, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Head coach Tim Brewster's new contract at Minnesota will pay for performance, Dennis Brackin writes in the Star Tribune.
- Wisconsin doesn't care about recruiting rankings as it follows a successful formula, Tom Oates writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- A.J. Derby will play quarterback at Iowa, at least for now, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald might not be the grinch of signing day, but he doesn't like what recruiting has become, ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg writes. Wildcats offensive lineman Nick Adamle won't play again because of recurring shoulder problems, Rivals.com's Louie Vaccher writes.
Big Ten teams certainly signed their share of top prospects, but the landscape around the league seemed much quieter than the ones in the SEC, Pac-10, ACC and Big 12. If I had to list the major newsmakers on signing day, it would look something like this: Urban Meyer, Lane Kiffin, kid picking from several hats, Mack Brown, Seantrel Henderson, kid mispronouncing the name of his new school, Derek Dooley, Kiffin, Meyer, Jimbo Fisher, Mack, Gene Chizik. Did I mention Kiffin? Kiffin!
You get the point.
Aside from Demar Dorsey's surprise signing with Michigan and the testy Rich Rodriguez news conference that ensued, the Big Ten was completely out of the spotlight.
Is that a bad thing? I don't think it is.
"There hasn't been much drama or excitement," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said, "which is OK with me."
Fact: the Big Ten didn't have a banner year in recruiting. The league certainly lost some key homegrown players (Henderson, Jordan Hicks) to other programs. And recruiting plays a major role in winning national championships. I get that. But so does coaching. And player development. And guys truly blossoming after they arrive at college.
I don't think the hoopla of signing day matters as much to the Big Ten as it does to teams from other leagues. How many times have you heard how great Clemson will be after signing day? Or North Carolina? Or Mississippi? Or Auburn? Or California? When was the last time those teams won anything significant?
The Big Ten doesn't need to make a lot of noise about new players who might be good. Certain Big Ten teams like Wisconsin and Iowa make noise when it counts, during the season, largely with unheralded recruits.
"I'd rather be ranked at the end of the year than the start of the year, and the same thing holds true in recruiting," Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema told me Wednesday. "It doesn't really matter, coming in, how many stars you have behind your name. It's about what you do while you're there. We recruit to that motto a little bit.
"It was brought to my attention today, we're ranked by one recruiting service at 30th and another at 83rd. There's so many factors into this recruiting that are off-the-wall ridiculous."
And some of those things take place on signing day.
"I don't cohabitate very well with prima donnas," Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "The hat charade and the decommitting and the recommitting, I'm not looking to recruit those kind of young people. Those aren't the things that we believe in and value in our program. ... I don't really care what anybody ranks our class right now. They fit us, we believe in who they are, and more importantly, we trust our evaluation."
Although Ohio State was involved in post-signing day drama with Terrelle Pryor in 2008, several of the Buckeyes' recent stars (James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins) weren't big names on the day they signed. A bunch of first-team All-Big Ten players in 2009 -- Daryll Clark, Greg Jones, Tyler Sash, Tandon Doss, Sherrick McManis -- arrived as largely unheralded recruits.
Does a quiet signing day really hurt the Big Ten? Doubtful.
"I don't want to win signing day," Fitzgerald said. "I want to win on Saturdays in the fall."