Big Ten Friday mailbag

November, 21, 2008
11/21/08
5:23
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

I'm reporting from Columbus, where I'll be covering Ohio State-Michigan on Saturday (ABC, noon ET). Not to worry, as we'll also have coverage from State College, where No. 15 Michigan State takes on No. 8 Penn State (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET).

Time for your last-minute questions on Big Ten rivalry week.

Stephen from Baltimore writes: Adam, how high do you see D-Will getting drafted after the season? Justin King went in the third round last year on pure speed and athleticism alone, so since Williams has actually produced nicely this season, I would think he would have a spot in the league (plus he can make an impact on punt and kick returns).

Adam Rittenberg: Derrick Williams, who Stephen is referring to, has really come on strong down the stretch. He's showing why he was the No. 1 recruit in the country back in 2005. Still, I think Williams will need a strong showing at the scouting combine to solidify his draft status. Williams' versatility as a ball-carrier and on special teams could put him in the first or second round.


Nathan from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, writes: I'm starting a petition and would appreciate your signature as well as those of your readers. My cause is the effort to change the name of the UGA running back's name to No Shonn.

Adam Rittenberg: Good one. Nathan will be here all night, folks. The 11 o'clock show is totally different from the 8 o'clock show.


Nick from Boulder, Colo., writes: Adam, A buddy sent me an email that if OSU wins Saturday, they will be the winningest team in Big Ten History-based on win %. Is that true? This would be the best yardstick of comparison, because it would take out a lot of the subpar competition that the teams played when football was more like rugby.

Adam Rittenberg: That is correct. Ohio State currently is .2 percentage points behind Michigan and would edge ahead by a miniscule margin with a win Saturday. This story in The Cleveland Plain Dealer details how close the two teams are on the all-time chart.


Brad from Chicago writes: Adam, In regards to Shonn Greene coming out of nowhere, I would say Larry Johnson in his senior year at Penn State would have been a similar situation. Without looking at his stats, if my memory is correct he split time with other running backs his first three years so nobody knew exactly what he was capable of.

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks for the submission, Brad. Several of you have brought up Larry Johnson at Penn State. Todd from Detroit mentioned Devin Thomas at Michigan State. But what I truly find unique about Greene is that he wasn't even a little-used guy in the program last year, getting a few carries here and there. He wasn't a junior-college transfer. A year ago, he had nothing to do with playing football for a FBS program. He was hauling furniture and working out on his own, having very little to do with the Iowa program. To come back from that at a servicable level is one thing. To come back as an All-American and a potential Heisman Trophy finalist is something else. Can any of you remember a guy who was completely out of football, and then came back to have a season like Greene's?


Jamie from Detroit writes: What has happened to Michigan State's Mark Dell? I have not been able to find any updates on why he isn't playing.

Adam Rittenberg: Dell has been a bit banged up with a knee injury and didn't play against either Wisconsin or Purdue. He opened with a huge game at Cal (202 receiving yards, 1 touchdown) but has been a bit overshadowed by Blair White in recent weeks. With the bye week, he should be better for Saturday's game at Penn State.


Mark from Bloomington, Ind., writes: Adam, Is Kirlew and Mayberry coming back next year? I just want the Hoosiers to finish this season strong against Purdue and have a new start! These two have been nothing but spectacular on a injury plagued defense. I still Cant quite comprehend how Mayberry isn't on Second team all conference and going to put Bowman who he totally outplayed last week when people wanted to see that matchup between them two and Pat Angerer from Iowa.

Adam Rittenberg: Well, Mark, if NFL scouts are anything like those who read this blog, Matt Mayberry will be the No. 1 overall draft pick and definitely should come out. Just kidding. No disrespect to Mayberry, but both he and Kirlew need another year in the system before jumping to the NFL. Remember what happened to Hoosiers defensive end Greg Middleton after a breakout season in 2007. You need to perform at a peak level for multiple seasons to truly be considered an elite pro prospect. Mayberry definitely looks like he has what it takes to play at the next level.


Chad in Chicago writes: Adam, Ignoring for the moment the ridiculous rules in place in the Big Ten that could mean a potentially 7-5 Iowa or Wisconsin team could jump over a potentially 9-3 Northwestern team in bowl selection, I have a question for you: If you looked at the feasible bowls each Big Ten team could play in, and the possibly projected opponents they would play there, what would be the dream matchups in terms of interesting story lines/good matchups/intense rivalries? While it's pretty unlikely, I'd love to see my Wildcats play Vandy in the Outback Bowl, or Missouri in the Alamo (a huge battle for sportswriter alumni of both schools' journalism schools), or Wake Forest in the Champs Sports Bowl (revenge for Fitz for the loss in 1996, plus a great matchup of academic schools)....what other potential matchups would be interesting for even casual fans?

Adam Rittenberg: I definitely like Northwestern-Vanderbilt. The game definitely would be covered well in the media. Other matchups I'd like to see include Penn State-USC in the Rose, Ohio State against Oklahoma/Texas in the Fiesta and Michigan State-South Carolina (Mark Dantonio's alma mater) in the Capital One or Outback. Though I agree with you about the sportswriter interest in Northwestern-Missouri, I don't think that'd be a good matchup for the Wildcats.


Miller from Iowa writes: Adam, Why is it that you only write stories on Michigan, Ohio St. and Penn St. there are other schools and big games going on in the conference. Why not write a story on Shonn Greene and his push to become a Heisman finalist and win the Doak Walker award. It's the media that going to keep these things from happening because no one will cover the story. You all should be ashamed. I know you've called him the best back in the nation, but that's all that you said, no story, nothing.

Adam Rittenberg: Uh, Miller, I was one of the first media members outside of Iowa to do a full story on Shonn Greene, which ran several weeks ago. I've called him the best running back in the country several times this week. What more do you want? He plays for a four-loss team. If he doesn't get to New York for the Heisman ceremony, blame a team that couldn't close out games.


Teddy from Decatur, Ill., writes
:
Brit Miller gets no credit for being the only player on a lousy defense to show up week in and week out. He is proud of the school he represents through the bad and the good. However, he still gets no credit and is supposedely not as good as James Laurinaitis from OSU. Can you shed some light on why Brit, who gets better stats, gets no love?

Adam Rittenberg: You kind of answered the question for me, Teddy. He plays for a lousy defense that has underperformed for most of the season. It's the same reason why no one knows about Matt Mayberry or Jammie Kirlew. They play for a poor defense. Brit has had a phenomenal year in moving to middle linebacker. He absolutely should be named first-team All-Big Ten on Monday. But he hasn't gotten enough help around him to generate hype.


Russell from Tucson, Ariz., writes: If Michigan State and Ohio State end the year tied for the big ten title, who goes to the Rose Bowl?

Adam Rittenberg: Ohio State, because it won the head-to-head matchup 45-7 on Oct. 18.


Steven from Madison, Wis., writes: Hey Adam, I have an idea for getting students to the game on time. How about Camp Randall starts selling beer at games. Not only that, but you can only buy with a wristband you get when you come early. Brilliant, right?

Adam Rittenberg: You made me think of those Guinness commercial guys who always yell, "Brilliant!" An interesting thought, Steven, but I don't think Wisconsin wants to condone any more underage drinking than what already takes place in Madison. Maybe this plan gets more juniors and seniors (21 and older) to the game, but I don't see it happening.

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