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Big Ten mailbag

5/5/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

You rang?

Vince from Dublin, Ohio, writes: Hey Adam, have you checked out Terrelle Pryor's new tattoo on his right forearm? I guess he's a "Buckeye" for life now. He got it in the days after the Spring Game. Isn't it bad to screw with karma since he had a decent game in the scrimmage?

Adam Rittenberg: I just checked it out after getting several e-mails about it. That's dedication, I guess. Terrelle just needs to make sure he doesn't go on to play or coach at another Big Ten school. I still can't get over seeing the Hawkeye tattoo on Bret Bielema's leg. As for karma, I doubt a tattoo will affect his performance this fall. Better decision-making and footwork are usually bigger factors than body art.


Kevin from State College, Pa., writes: Hey Adam I was wondering if you seriously see Penn State and Pitt starting up the rivalry any time soon. I dont think theres any question that the rivalries with Ohio State and Michigan State are picking up but I know many Penn Staters who would love to see the series start up again. I think it would be great to see this historic rivalry come back as it would finally settle the fight between these fans and would help both of them in national exposure.

Adam Rittenberg: I found it interesting that Joe Paterno mentioned Pitt as a team he'd like to see the Big Ten add if the league ever expands to 12 teams. It almost sounded like that would be the only way Penn State would ever rekindle the rivalry with the Panthers. With Alabama, Virginia and now Rutgers on the schedule, Penn State likely won't add Pitt in the near future. Penn State doesn't part with home games easily, and Pitt would have to be pretty generous for an agreement to work out.


Andy from Vermillion, S.D., writes: Maybe it's a case of sour grapes from a Michigan fan, but didn't Desmond Howard get snubbed in the College Football Hall of Fame voting? I can't reconcile in my mind how Grant Wistrom, a great player, is deserving of being in the Hall while Desmond will have to wait at least one more year. I guess I thought that being a First Team All-American and winning the Walter Camp Award, Maxwell Award, and Heisman Trophy (with 85% of the 1st place votes) was worthy of the Hall of Fame. Did foregoing his senior year hurt him in the voting, in your opinion? Why would he not be voted in? (Tim Brown should have been in on his first ballot as well.)

Adam Rittenberg: I also was very surprised Howard didn't get in, Andy. I'm not sure if the College Hall of Fame voters are as crusty as their counterparts in baseball, but Desmond Howard seems like a first ballot shoe-in to me, for many of the reasons you've outlined. Not playing four years certainly could have played a factor for Howard, who did almost all of his damage at Michigan in just two seasons (1990 and 1991). Also agree Tim Brown should have been a first ballot Hall of Famer.


Steve from Washington D.C. writes: Adam, Just judging from the intensity of the exchanges between Hawks and Wildcats fans on the message boards, my sense is that there is a growing rivalry between these two schools. I don?t know if it?s just that I?m a native Iowan who graduated from Northwestern or if it?s because Northwestern has had Iowa?s number in recent seasons, but this is a game I always have circled on the schedule. Are you picking this up too as you travel around Big Ten Land?

Adam Rittenberg: I definitely sense the same thing, Steve. Iowa certainly has bigger rivalries with Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa State and other teams, but Hawkeyes fans seem to get ticked about losing to Northwestern seven times since 1995. Northwestern really had no business winning the game last year, which only fueled things, as did Iowa getting a better bowl bid despite losing the head-to-head. The Wildcats don't have a true rival in the Big Ten, and I know some of the team's recent players considered Iowa their top rival. I don't think the feeling is necessarily mutual, but this year's game in Iowa City should have a bit more buzz than normal.


Joe from Toledo writes: I feel that Michigan has the best group of running backs in the Big Ten and one of the best in the nation, with Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, Michael Shaw, and the almost forgotten about Kevin Grady. Do you agree with this? Also what are the chances of Minor, Brown, and Grady all getting drafted next spring and contributing to NFL teams as rookies?

Adam Rittenberg: Running back certainly will be a strength for Michigan this year, and I really like what I saw from Minor in 2008. Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois also boast a lot of talent at running back, so it's not clear cut as to which team has the best group. But Michigan is definitely in the discussion, especially if Vincent Smith continues to develop. As for the NFL draft, Minor certainly has a great shot. Not so sure about the others.