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Big Ten mailblog

Sorry this is coming a bit late. Been hanging with the Badgers all afternoon in Madison.

Andrew from Laingsburg, Mich., writes: I have no reason to doubt your claim that Jim Harbaugh could be Michigan?s top choice but there are a couple reasons that I?m not sure Harbaugh would want the job. First, wasn?t he just courted by the Bills (and Raiders)? I find it hard to believe that a coach would turn down an NFL job to take the same position at any college, the following season. Secondly, Michigan is not stocking the cupboard for a pro-style offense. They are recruiting lots of skill position guys but few linemen. Additionally, the linemen they are getting are generally of the smaller / faster variety. Harbaugh would have trouble meeting expectations for three or four seasons - when his linemen recruits start being productive. He?s a smart guy and must realize this.

Adam Rittenberg: Harbaugh clearly could go to the NFL if he wants, but Michigan isn't exactly any old college job, especially to Harbaugh, who attended U-M. He's turned down enough opportunities to make me think he'd be very interested in an opening at U-M, should one become available. Now you're absolutely right about Michigan going away from the pro-style offense with its recruiting under Rich Rodriguez, who pioneered the spread. Would Harbaugh want to step into a team recruited for Rodriguez's system? It could dissuade him, but he seems like a pretty confident guy in his own recruiting abilities. And if Michigan brought him in, I think the school would be somewhat patient, especially if things really go south this fall. Then again, Michigan runs the risk of falling off the map for some time with a bunch of mediocre seasons.


Luke from Philly writes: Hey Adam,Quick thing - thanks for the update on Jim Tressel's contract - but at the end of the article, you listed his accomplishments and left off one of the most important: his record against the Wolverines! What the heck?!I am aghast!

Adam Rittenberg: Ha, I almost included the Michigan record but had to race out the door to get to Madison. As most Big Ten fans know, Tressel owns an 8-1 against Ohio State's archrival, including wins in each of the last six games. That is unprecedented in the series. His only loss to the Maize and Blue took place in 2003, a 35-21 Wolverines victory in Ann Arbor.


Bart from Columbus writes: According to your own rankings OSU has a fairly weak team this year in terms of talent, with one player in the top ten and zero in the top five. If the Buckeyes finish first or second this year do you think that would be enough for Tressel to win Big ten Coach of the year? If not what do you think it will take? Is it even possible considering that OSU hasn't received CotY honors for 30 years? Can the award even be taken seriously in light of that statistic?

Adam Rittenberg: Ohio State might have lacked a ton of superstar players in 2009, but by no means were the Buckeyes a "fairly weak team." They did only have one consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection in Kurt Coleman, so if there ever were a year for Jim Tressel to win Coach of the Year, it was 2009. Unfortunately, Tressel fights the perception that Ohio State always has the most, if not the second most talent in the Big Ten every season. Ohio State once again will be the preseason favorite this fall, and no one will be shocked if the Buckeyes win another league championship. Will it preclude Tressel from winning Coach of the Year? We'll see, but fairly or unfairly, he always fights an uphill battle for that award. I think the more media members know he has never won Coach of the Year, the better his chances are of claiming the award at some point.


Sammy from Bloomington, Ind., writes: Adam,Indiana is having their spring game at night. I think this is an awful idea. What do you think? Also, can if IU does not make a bowl game is Lynch out?

Adam Rittenberg: It's funny how Big Ten fans want more night games during the season but don't seem to want a spring game held at night. The weather issue certainly is a factor, as late April days can be a lot more pleasant than late April nights. Mgoblog's Brian Cook outlines the downsides here, and I agree that a night spring game would work better in, say, Gainesville, then up here in Madison. As for Bill Lynch's future, I could see him surviving with five wins this year, but it would be a tough decision. Indiana has to show more tangible improvement, and a bowl appearance certainly would keep Lynch around. They didn't do him any favors by moving the Penn State game to FedEx Field, but Lynch needs to show he's a guy who can get IU over the hump.


Tim from Bloomington, Ill., writes: Adam,As a Hawkeye fan, I feel very good about next year regarding the players that are returning. It could be a very special season for the Hawkeyes. My major concern is filling the holes left from this year's class on the offensive line. Your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Totally agree with you about the offensive line, Tim. Iowa really has only two players (Riley Reiff and Julian Vandervelde) who have logged significant playing time up front. But the Hawkeyes' tradition of developing linemen and even Reiff's emergence last year gives me confidence that things will be OK this fall. Bryan Bulaga and Dace Richardson both are pretty big losses, and it'll be interesting to see who becomes the Reiff of 2010.