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.