Big Ten mailblog

As always, send me your questions and comments here and follow me on Twitter.

Stan from Waukegan, Ill., writes: Hi Adam - great work as always! Can you remind us Spartan fans (who aren't at all used to paying attention to things like this) what the tiebreaking scenario is for 2 or more teams at the top of the league standings? Is it overall record first or just straight to BCS standing to see who gets the automatic nod. Obviously there's a ton of football left, but we haven't dreamt like this (legitimately) in 20 years, so I'm dying to know the procedure!Thanks!

Adam Rittenberg: Sure, Stan, happy to help. Some fans still think the team that had the longer Rose Bowl drought goes to Pasadena, which is ancient history. If two teams are tied, head-to-head meeting is the first tiebreaker. If there's a two-team tie and the teams didn't play each other, the first tiebreaker is better overall winning percentage. If the winning percentages are identical, the team with the higher rank in the final BCS standings wins the Big Ten's automatic BCS berth. If there are three teams tied, here's how it works:

  • If one team beat both of the other teams, it gets the BCS berth

  • If the teams are still tied and two of the teams beat the third team, the third team is eliminated and the two-team tiebreaker is used

  • If there's still a tie or two of the teams didn't play each other, the team with the highest overall win percentage gets the BCS berth. If one team is eliminated through overall win percentage, the two-team tiebreaker then goes into effect.

  • If three teams are still tied and all have the same overall winning percentage, the team with the highest rank in the final BCS standings gets the BCS berth

Jonny from Pasadena, Calif., writes: Adam, great job with the blog. It gets me through my seminary lectures. People keep saying that Stanzi racks up Heisman-like numbers, yet he doesn't seem to be getting any Heisman love. How long do you think it will be before he gets recognized? Will he have to beat both Michigan St. and Wisconsin at home before getting recognized as a potential, or will he have to bring Iowa to Pasadena for that sort of recognition?

Adam Rittenberg: Check my Heisman update in about 90 minutes, Jonny, and you'll see some love for No. 12 in there. Ricky Stanzi is still fighting the perception from 2009, one he helped to create, that he still makes too many major major mistakes in his decisions. This certainly isn't the case in 2010, as Stanzi has thrown 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions, one of which wasn't his fault. But he absolutely has to put up big numbers against both Wisconsin and Michigan State to gain serious Heisman consideration. Iowa's so-so competition and Stanzi's reputation from 2009 are the two factors hurting his Heisman cause.

Adam from Boston writes: Adam, Thanks for the time. Realistically, what are the chances of the following happening for Ohio State: Win the Conference (at least a share), Make a BCS Bowl, Make the National Championship? What situations would need to occur for each to happen? Thanks again.

Adam Rittenberg: Adam, I'd never count out Ohio State winning at least a share of the Big Ten title, even with Saturday's loss. The Buckeyes obviously would have to win out for this to happen, but the game at Iowa is the only one where Ohio State might not be favored. The Buckeyes' best route to a BCS bowl is to win the Big Ten's automatic berth or share the league title with another team. They would benefit from Wisconsin losing again and would be helped by Michigan State stumbling a few times, too. I don't see Ohio State having a realistic shot at the national title unless we see a repeat of the wild finish to the 2007 season.

Jesse from Minneapolis writes: Adam - Great blog! Christmas has come early for the Gopher Nation (ironic that I am still using this moniker...). Adam, what will need to be done in order to ensure the best transition with a new coach coming to Minnesota next fall? It seems that every coach since Murray Warmath has had an abrupt end (that's 1971), which is unfair for everyone from the state, to the fans, and ultimately the athletes. Do you think that the extra time the administration will have looking for a new coach will help? Also, how will this affect recruiting? At least we got that shiny new stadium, right?

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Jesse. The stadium definitely will help in luring a new coach. It's a major selling point, unlike the Metrodome, which turned coaches away. The extra time also should help AD Joel Maturi study potential candidates and gauge interest through back channels. He also can begin talking to any candidates not currently in coaching (i.e. Mike Leach). The affect on recruiting will be interesting, and colleague Tom Luginbill has an interesting take. Expect to lose some recruits, which happens with every coaching transition.

Tate Freed from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: First of all, I love the blog and send questions all the time, unfortunately I've never been answered by you. Second of all, yes I'm aware my name is Tate F. and I'm a U-M fan. Is this Michigan team different than last year? Have we officially started our downward spiral? Or are we just victims to 2 very good teams in MSU and Iowa? What does it say that we had 522 yards on a great Iowa defense and really beat them up in a lopsided 4th quarter?

Adam Rittenberg: Tate, I love the "yes I'm aware my name is Tate F. and I'm a U-M fan" line . I'm sure you get the Tate Forcier line quite a bit. I know a lot of folks see this as a re-run of 2009 for Michigan, but I still have hope that the Wolverines can make some noise down the stretch. The offense remains extremely explosive, and Michigan should have a chance to simply outscore teams like Penn State, Purdue and Illinois. My concern is that the defense continues to look like a mess, and special teams aren't much better. We knew the defense could struggle again this fall, especially with some of the injuries and departures, but it's hard to win when you struggle so much in two of football's three phases.

Dave from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Thanks for all of the great work on the blog, I read it religiously!!! One thing I have noticed from you and other media members is that MSU hasn't left the state of Michigan yet. What is being implied by that? Is it that MSU hasn't played a true road game yet, because that is not the case. I don't think the green and white are too welcome in Ann Arbor, doesn't really matter that it is in MI, that is still a true road game. Your thoughts??

Adam Rittenberg: The implication is that Michigan State still must prove itself a little bit more on the road, which is fair. The Spartans played great at Michigan, which isn't easy to do, given the heated rivalry. But a 65-minute trip from East Lansing to Ann Arbor when you can leave after the Friday night team dinner is a little bit different than a major road trip across a state or two. Look what happened to Iowa when it had to go out to Arizona: totally different team than the one we've seen in the other games. Michigan State has played a true road game and won it impressively, but the Spartans must show they can keep winning road games down the stretch at Northwestern, Iowa and Penn State.

James from Kalamazoo, Mich., writes: Hi Adam, it seems odd Michigan has had a total mental breakdown since the start of the Michigan State game. What is your take on the situation? Also why do you think Greg Robinson has been hiding from the media regarding the defense and why isn't he being held accountable for the dismal performance of the defense to date? Will Michigan ever get better on defense with Greg Robinson as DC? Maybe these items need to be addressed in your next interview session with Rich Rodriguez.

Adam Rittenberg: James, I wouldn't call it a mental breakdown so much as struggling against better teams like MSU and Iowa. Michigan's offense has done some really good things -- racking up 522 yards against Iowa isn't easy -- but has not put the ball in the end zone as much as it could have. The problems on defense have been there all season. Teams like Connecticut just didn't expose them nearly as much as Indiana, Michigan State and Iowa have. I think it's ridiculous that Robinson continues to dodge the media despite repeated requests from my guy Mike Rothstein and others. As a former head coach, he should know he has a responsibility to address the situation when so many fans want to hear from him. Michigan's other assistants like Rod Smith understand this responsibility. Rodriguez has faced plenty of questions about the defense, and I'm not sure he really knows what will happen there. He has taken care of the offensive side well, but the Robinson hire isn't looking good right now.

First of all, I love the blog and send questions all the time, unfortunately I've never been answered by you. Second of all, yes I'm aware my name is Tate F. and I'm a U-M fan. Is this michigan team different then last year? Have we officially started our downward spiral? Or are we just victims to 2 very good teams in MSU and Iowa? What does it say that we had 522 yards on a great Iowa defense and really beat them up in a lobsided 4th quarter?