NCF Nation: Mailbag 122812

Big Ten Friday mailblog

December, 28, 2012
Big Ten bowl season is finally here. How ya feeling?

Jones from Omaha, Neb., writes: I was originally opposed to additional B1G expansion (Maryland, Rutgers) on grounds of brand dilution. They don't seem to bring nearly as much to the table as the Huskers. I'm warming to the brave new world. Now that even more expansion is likely and divisions must be realigned, I'm for Old B1G vs. New B1G. As a Husker fan this will give us exposure in far away lands, plus we've already given up all of our old traditional matchups by leaving Big 12. Bring on NC, Duke, Rutgers, Maryland, Virginia, and whoever else might be an expansion target.

Adam Rittenberg: Jones, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to create a much easier path to the Big Ten championship game for your beloved Huskers. Being in a division with all of those ACC teams certainly looks more favorable than having to beat the likes of Michigan each year. I disagree with this view, as Nebraska has a better chance to build rivalries with teams closer to its campus. Geography will be a bigger factor in the next division alignment, and if Wisconsin is moved to the "West" division, Nebraska would have annual games with both Wisconsin and Iowa. These games could turn into truly great rivalries that Husker fans will value. I think Nebraska needs to be paired with at least one of the other major name-brand teams -- Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State -- but it makes more sense to divide things geographically if the Big Ten's next additions are on the East Coast.

Pat from Detroit writes: Not even a quick blurb about the passing of Reggie Garnett? I know i was over the holidays, but c'mon! The far too soon passing of an early 90s big ten stud could've at least made the lunch links. RIP Reggie.

Adam Rittenberg: Apologies, Pat, as I've been working on something outside the blog for most of the week and Brian has been busy with bowl assignments as well. It was sad to hear about Garnett's passing -- he was only 38. Check out some links about Garnett here and here and here. Coach Mark Dantonio released a statement about Garnett on Wednesday night. It reads: "We were very saddened to hear about the passing of Reggie Garnett yesterday. A four-year starter in the mid-1990s, Reggie was a tremendous player and a true Spartan. More importantly, he had remained connected to the MSU football program, returning to campus for reunions and games. Reggie was an outstanding young man, who will be missed by all of us. We’d like to express our deepest sympathy to his family as well as his extended Spartan family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, teammates and friends."

Russ from Bloomington, Ill., writes: It sounds like there are going to be lots of openings for NFL head coaches starting next week. Is Kirk Ferentz still considered a good coach in those circles? And given that Iowa is going to be lucky to go 4-8 next year, could he finally be tempted to make the leap and spare us Hawkeye fans more one yard pass plays on 3rd and 3?

Adam Rittenberg: Good question, Russ. The Ferentz-to-NFL rumors seem to be an annual thing, and I doubt this year will be an exception, despite his recent struggles at Iowa. The job to watch is Kansas City, as Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and Ferentz are close from their time with the Cleveland Browns. Pioli thinks very highly of Ferentz, but Pioli's own job should could be in jeopardy. My sense is that Ferentz doesn't want to leave Iowa on such a down note and would be likelier to make a jump when the program is in a bit better shape. His youngest son, Steve, just finished his freshman year on the team, and some think Ferentz, 57, wants to stay at Iowa until all of his children have graduated. Money clearly isn't a problem for Ferentz, although it's hard to resist the pull of the NFL.

John from New York writes: I understand Bennett's logic about a healthy D line and your loyalty to the Big Ten but there is no possible way he thinks the score of Purdue-Oklahoma State will be 31-27. Ok St scored 30 against Kansas State, 36 against Texas, and 48 against Oklahoma. Purdue gave up 41 to Marshall, 44 to Michigan, and 44 to Minnesota, they have no coach and not to mention they won't have a fan within 1000 miles of the stadium... Either you're required to show some sort of confidence in the league or he needs to be checked into a hospital. That game will be closer to 70-27

Adam Rittenberg: John, Oklahoma State certainly has the ability to light up Purdue's defense. But Kawann Short is a potential first-round pick at defensive tackle and played much of the season with a bum wheel. The Boilers' cornerbacks also will challenge the Cowboys receivers, but it really comes down to the defensive line and what type of pressure it can apply on the Pokes. Purdue's defense needs its best effort of the season to keep Oklahoma State's offense in check, but it's also important for Purdue to control the ball on offense and keep the Pokes offense off of the field. Could we see a 70-27 game? Sure. Oklahoma State has that type of firepower. But how much do the Pokes really want to be in this game? Purdue has an interim coach, but I really think the Boilers will be more motivated than Okie State.

Nick from Marion, Ohio, writes: Like most level-headed and educated realignment prognosticators, you believe the ACC is the most likely conference to supply the Big Ten with its next expansion targets. What happens if Maryland isn't able to wiggle out of its $50 million buyout; are Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia Tech still the likely looks? Also, give us three non-ACC schools you could see joining the ranks of the B1G.

Adam Rittenberg: Nick, I definitely think the outcome of the Maryland-ACC dispute about the buyout will be a major factor in any additional defections from the league. If Maryland indeed has to pay the full $50 million, it might discourage other schools from leaving, although the Big Ten long-term future revenue projections suggest it still might be smart to make the move. I firmly believe when the Big Ten expands again, it will once again look to the ACC. Georgia Tech is definitely on the radar. Virginia could be an attractive candidate and North Carolina is the grand prize, although UNC might not be realistic. We'll see. Outside the ACC, I don't see many realistic candidates. Maybe Kansas, although the Big Ten made a big deal about wanting to have a greater East Coast presence, and Kansas isn't there. Connecticut needs to become an AAU member to gain serious consideration.

Gabriel from Virginia Beach, Va., writes: 1st round pick Lewan vs. Future 1st round pick Clowney: Who wins on Jan. 1st????

Adam Rittenberg: Gabriel, it should be a tremendous matchup in Tampa. It's hard to pick against Clowney, who has been so dominant this season as just a true sophomore. Lewan had some nice moments as well, but as he told me earlier this month, he hasn't seen a pass-rusher quite like Clowney. Michigan's offensive line has struggled at times to generate push in the run game, but it has protected the pocket well, allowing only 15 sacks in 12 games. I think Clowney records at least one sack in the game but doesn't dominate Lewan. I'm really interested to see what coordinator Al Borges has brainstormed for Michigan, which will need a creative game plan against such an athletic Gamecocks defense.

Craig from Braintree, Mass., writes: Troy Stoudemire is very close to breaking the NCAA kick return record. Will he get drafted as a kick returner considering the NFL's kick return rules? Is he the top kick returner in the country? in the B1G?

Adam Rittenberg: Craig, I think Stoudermire has a chance to play at the next level because of his versatility. He has played cornerback and receiver with the Gophers and obviously has talent as a return man, although his production has gone down since the 2008 season. He'll have to show well in the postseason all-star games, the NFL combine and any other pre-draft events, but he has a chance.

Mailbag: K-State '13, Seastrunk, Bowlsby

December, 28, 2012
Thanks for all your emails this week, folks. Enjoy the game tonight between Texas Tech and Minnesota, and follow me on Twitter for a little live commentary.

Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

J.J. in Tumalo, Ore., writes: Dave thanks for the B12 takes.Seastrunk - is a prima donna jerk. Is he calling out his coach to give him more touches? I never heard James or Barner breast beat. Why are his references to Willie Lyles taken with validity when James comments are not? The kid is just another blow hard and his coach is a fool for supporting his remarks. It is BAYLOR after all. RG3 caught lightning in a bottle. No Baylor kid is going to win another Heisman.Peace out.

David Ubben: A lot to chew on here, much of it a bit silly. First off, Seastrunk isn't a prima donna. I don't buy that at all. He's a kid who perhaps overestimated his ability in relation to other Oregon backs coming out of high school, and got discouraged when he didn't see the field. Not being as good as De'Anthony Thomas or Kenjon Barner isn't much to be ashamed of. He wanted to go somewhere closer to home and somewhere he could play. I wouldn't fault any kid for that. He's clearly a very talented guy who is extremely confident in his abilities. He's done a decent amount to provide some evidence for his belief, even if it's a touch premature. If you're Briles, you better support him, too. You undermine a player, you run a real solid risk of losing the locker room. What kind of coach would tell a player he can't win a Heisman? Belief is the first step to achievement.

I don't know what you mean in regards to Lyles. It's a whole lot of dishonesty by one or both parties in that whole deal. Everyone involved with that whole Oregon deal has given plenty of reason for skepticism. I'm not taking anybody's word for anything on that whole scandal without some kind of documented proof. Let the NCAA do its job (albeit slowly and with ineptitude) and dish out the punishments as they come.

I wouldn't be so sure that this is the same Baylor. Baylor never had Art Briles. The game has changed. Ask around the Big 12. Baylor lost a Heisman winner and the leading rusher and receiver in the Big 12 and still won seven games. That's a near impossibility in the past, but this year, it was largely accepted. That's huge. Baylor can definitely win another Heisman and do so in the near future.

John in Olathe, Kan., writes: The last two years, the media voters underestimated the quality of the K-State teams.Last year they were picked to finish 8th in the conference and ended up 8th in the nation. This season, we all know the media predicted a 6th place spot for the Cats and the are ranked 5th with one loss. Will the media short change K-State again next year? In a way, I hope they do because it provides great motivation for the team. But the question is, when will the media start to believe in Snyder's ability to coach his 3-star recruits, transfers and walk-ons to beat the over-hyped programs?

DU: It's all about known quantities. I was skeptical of K-State after it lost Daniel Thomas from a very average team, but Collin Klein's emergence made the Wildcats a contender and surprised us all. I thought the skepticism around K-State this year was nutty. I believed in the 'Cats from the start. Next year, I expect them to be just outside the top half of the Big 12 or so. It's just natural. They're losing the heart of the team on both sides of the ball. If K-State exceeds expectations, it will do so on the back of Daniel Sams or Jake Waters. It's just that simple.


DU: Love the passion there, Dale, but don't get too bent out of shape. First off, "The Dallas Bowl Game" would more likely refer to the Cotton Bowl out in Arlington, which I'm sure Bowlsby will attend. However, it's a little unfair to fault the man for skipping out on what should be a yawn-worthy game at what amounts to the crack of dawn after New Year's Eve. He spent a long while out at Stanford, and the Rose Bowl is a bit of a different ballgame compared to the inaugural Heart of Dallas Bowl. Maybe he should be limiting himself to Big 12 games, but it's all just figurative anyway. Not much changes whether Bowlsby is at a game or not. It doesn't affect his ability to do his job. It's a little silly to get worked up over something like this.

Zach Viglianco in Morgantown, W.Va., writes: RE: GRANT OF RIGHTS-I'm not a lawyer (yet), but I am a second year law student who was the top student in my Contracts class. I just wanted to comment briefly on the "grant of rights" situation.There is a fundamental tenet of contract law that says, basically, that the maximum amount of money one party can get from another party who breaks a contract the face value of that contract. IE, if I agree to buy your 96 Chevy for $10,000, then I back out of the deal, the MOST you would be able to get out of me in a lawsuit is 10 grand. (You might get less, but you certainly won't get more.)As you described in a recent mailbag, conference exit fees are basically arbitrary numbers- in legalese, they are "liquidated damage clause." Such a clause is used when figuring out how much a contract is worth is very complicated, or if the amount is variable. Basically, a liquidated damage clause says: We know that University X being in conference Y is worth something- Millions of dollars. But figuring out exactly how many millions its worth is either too hard or the value is constantly fluctuating, so instead of trying to figure it out, we'll just agree to [whatever the buyout is]. However, a liquidated damage clause must be REASONABLE and it cannot be used as a penalty-- a court won't enforce it if its unreasonable or clearly intended as something other than an estimate of damages (These clause are, of course, intended to be deterrents to breaking the contract... but they have to be structured in such a way that they are enforceable.) My larger point is that any Big 12 school can break its contract with the conference at any time. If that's the case, the grant of rights (as a provision of a contract that is no longer in force) would either be voided... or a court might construe the grant as essentially (you guessed it... a liquidated damages clause or a proxy for it). Then the question comes back, as it always does, to reasonableness.The grant of rights is quite possibly a better estimate of damages. It might hold up in court. But it might not. And even if it did hold up, a court could not force say, Texas, to show its football games on TV. At best it would force Texas to turn over proceeds from such showings to the Big 12 (which, of course means, that if Texas was offered a ridiculous amount of money... say to hypothetically join the SEC... the grant of rights wouldn't be a barrier to that move).Love the blog, hopefully this explanation makes sense and is at least somewhat helpful. Lets Go Mountaineers!!!

DU: Very interesting stuff. I don't have a ton to add, but this was a pretty interesting read from a more experienced legal perspective. I don't know if I can speak to the legitimacy of it, but it looked sound to me. Thanks for the email Zach, and good luck in law school. You seem bright. This is a complex issue.

Blake in Kansas City writes: You don't think K-State has a chance to be a title contender next in the Big 12? Not even a chance? That's harsh to cut out the champion from the previous from even having a chance to do it.

DU: I don't know if I'd go as far to say they don't have a chance, but it's going to be very, very difficult in a league that should be well-stocked with teams who can win the league and teams who will have more experience. It's going to take a lot to climb over those teams like OSU, Texas, Oklahoma and TCU. Look at OSU this year. The Cowboys dealt with a lot, but they looked like a pretty good team and just didn't have enough to make a super serious run at a Big 12 title. They were alive late and logged some really nice wins, but even they won just seven games. That's not going to cut it. They finished three games back of the champions in Big 12 play. I'd expect K-State to do something similar next year.

Big East mailblog

December, 28, 2012
Our last mailbag of 2012!

(Sheds a tear).

Lev in Hoboken, N.J., writes: Do you think Jawan Jamison will declare or is ready for the NFL? Also where do you see Logan Ryan and Khaseem Greene falling in the draft?

Adelson: I think Jamison would be best served if he stayed in school for another year, though the weak running back class in the 2013 draft may impact his decision. Ryan is one of the best cover cornerbacks in the country, and rated the No. 2 junior prospect at his position by Mel Kiper Jr. I am not sure what he will do. As for where they will get drafted, I have not seen a solid analysis yet on that. Ryan is the only Rutgers player ranked among the Top 50 prospects. So I would figure Ryan would get picked ahead of Greene, and both would be gone by round four. But that is just a guess.

Barb in Cincinnati writes: Hi AA, re: Chris C's comments about not selling out Nippert. The AD is correct that our winning ways are pretty recent and that is true. It takes time to get fans back when your team has been bad for a long time. But the other issue is the competition that UC has from the Bengals & Reds. Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State don't have any other sports, what else is there for people to do in Ann Arbor or Lansing but go to their football games? We'll fill the seats, it's improved so much over the last few years.

Adelson: Bearcatvol in Dalton, Ga., also wrote in and pointed out there are thousands of obstructed view seats at Nippert as well. Cincinnati has sold out its full-view seats so that is big. But again, this all comes down to creating more financial opportunities with premium seating AND making itself more attractive to prospective leagues whenever another wave of realignment happens.

Lucy the Bearcat writes: AA, I see a lot of talk that Willie Taggart is the best hire the Big East made. I'm wondering why? He is much younger than Tommy Tuberville and has accomplished much less over the course of his career. Isn't it a safe bet Taggart will use the BE as a stepping stone and leave USF in a few years? Maybe I'm wrong, but Tuberville has nothing more to prove, and at his age could easily finish his career at UC. I just don't see a guy with a 16-20 record being a better hire than Tuberville. You even said it yourself. Taggart could be demanding big money from bigger programs before long. To me, that's not the ideal coach everyone's making him out to be.

Adelson: Here is why I say he is the best hire. USF is in major need of revitalization, and picked the best, young coach with ties to the area to get it turned in the right direction. I think most of us believe USF should have won a Big East title by now, given its location and resources. I think he is the perfect guy to take this team to the top. I don't think the future has anything to do with the hire right now. You are right -- Tuberville doesn't have anything to prove, and Cincinnati is already at the top of the Big East. There is no doubt that it was huge to get a coach in from the Big 12, but there are no guarantees he stays for the long-term, either. I just think Taggart is a better overall fit in Tampa, given his background and how he took a program that was consistently winless into a bowl team (and back-to-back 7-5 regular season). That's more impressive that what Tuberville did at Texas Tech, if you ask me.

Michael Foster in Miami writes: Shakespeare's "What's in a name?" comes to mind when I think about the Big East. What are the chances that the Big East grabs a few more schools from out West, then re-names itself. I'll even provide the new name free of charge. Let's call it the "Coast to Coast Conference." That sounds great to me. My main point here is that much like the mini-van, the Big East suffers an image crisis. IF YOU AGREE..TRY TO GET SOME SUPPORT FOR THE ENDEAVOR...."Coast to Coast" sounds better than down the drain.

Adelson: Michael, I agree -- the Big East should let the basketball schools keep the name and begin rebranding with a new name. Continuing on as the Big East will only serve as a constant reminder of what this league used to be, hampering efforts to foster a new image.

Doug in Middletown, Conn., writes: Where do you see this Boise State dilemma going? Do you see Boise joining the Big East or pulling out? If they pull out, what do you think will happen to the Big East?

Andrea Adelson: I do not think even Boise State knows what it is going to do at this point, so it is too early to really hazard a guess. It will all come down to money -- where can Boise State make more? I still think the answer might be the Big East, but it is going to be a tough decision. If Boise State does leave, well, the Big East will survive, somehow. This league has been an eight team conference for years, so it is not necessary to be at 12 to move forward.

Gordon Hudson in Richfield, Utah, writes: All this realignment talk is really confusing. Do you think the Big East would be stronger if they had two divisions, one in the East and one in the West? They could keep their Eastern schools in one division, then have a West division with Boise State, San Diego State, and then get Air Force, BYU, Houston, SMU, Colorado State, and UNLV? The division champs could play each other and keep their BCS status. The Mountain West Conference is horrible, mostly because of their commissioner. Maybe a conference name change would help. We who live in the West would love that. As a BYU fan, it would be good to get into a conference again, even though independence hasn't been too bad. Would it ever happen?

Adelson: You are not the first who has suggested this idea to me. First, the Big East does have two divisions though the West does not really have many Western teams. And second, the Big East is not keeping its automatic spot in the BCS, no matter who ends up joining the league. I can see the value in having more of a partnership with the Mountain West in order to bring in more Western teams, especially since it is going to be hard to bring anybody else in right now with no answers on Boise State or TV money at this point. But I'm not sure if that is feasible, especially when you begin to consider travel for basketball and the other sports.