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Big Ten mailblog

Let's do it.

David from Iowa writes: My question for you is do you think the down hill slide for the Iowa Hawkeyes is due to the fact that Kirk Ferentz shows no emotion. The way I see it the players mimic there coach and they feed off of him, if he is jumping around, high fiving, chest bumps or what ever, the players see that and get fired up. I am by no means asking for KF's head but it would be nice to see him get a little more excited. The word that best describes him is vanilla. What are your thoughts.

Adam Rittenberg: David, a coach's emotion or lack thereof can work both ways. While I'm sure you'd like to see more fire from Kirk, you probably don't want to see him go all Bo Pelini on the sideline, either. Kirk can't change who he is, and his calm demeanor has worked well for a very long time at Iowa. Although Iowa's end-of-season collapse certainly is troubling, I don't think Kirk's behavior on the sideline had much to do with it. Ferentz is a lot like Jim Tressel: calm on the sideline but potentially more emotional within the locker room. He knows what buttons to push most of the time, but he didn't push them this year. It's troubling to see a senior-laden team struggle as much as Iowa did in close games.


Thomas from Gettysburg, Pa., writes: Adam, I am sure your busy and have alot on your plate, but answer this question for me.... Where is tyhe love for Terrelle Pryor? He has had an amazing season and gets no accolades whatsoever? Its almost bad as Tressel not winning Coach of the Year honores, ever. Most bcs bowl appearances, most ten win seasons this decade by any school and still no love. Wow, you guys must like these one season wonder teams and have no appreciation for consistent success and dominance. Be Blessed.

Adam Rittenberg: Same to you, Thomas. I think Pryor is held to a different standard, and at times an unfair standard, because of the hype he has generated both as a high school player and early in his Ohio State career. People love to take shots at TP, and many of them aren't warranted. He is a better player in 2010 than he was in 2009. But I think Pryor suffers from a similar problem to Tressel when it comes to awards: Ohio State's abundance of talent. Could Ohio State win games without Pryor? It would be tough, but the Buckeyes have enough on defense and offense to make any team work for a win against them. I don't think Pryor did as much for his team as both Dan Persa and Denard Robinson did for their teams. So it's not a knock against Pryor or a snub. It's just that those other guys did more in a big year for Big Ten QBs.


Drew K. from Madison, Wis., writes: Hey Adam - I've really liked your reporting on the BCS bowl jockeying by the top three teams thus far, but I desperately want to know where you stand on things. The rules are pretty clear that Wisconsin should be the team to go to the Rose, but what about MSU and OSU? Who do you think deserves to go more? Or does one or the other deserve the Rose over Wisconsin, rules be darned?

Adam Rittenberg: I believe Wisconsin is the best team to represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl. That said, I don't understand why Michigan State continues to suffer in the BCS computers, which don't factor margin of victory. The Spartans played a tougher schedule and have more wins against bowl-eligible teams than both Ohio State and Wisconsin. I just wish it wasn't so cut-and-dried that Wisconsin and Ohio State are in BCS bowls and Michigan State is an afterthought. I agree with Mark Dantonio and Mark Hollis that the Spartans deserve to be part of the discussion. And if I was on a bowl committee and felt confident that my game would be attractive and profitable with Michigan State involved, I might select the Spartans ahead of an Ohio State team that boasts a ton of talent but no real signature win. It shouldn't just be a popularity contest.


Bill from Salem, Va., writes: Just saw the All-Big Ten selections and I think all the selections were pretty accurate. However, I'm wondering how much sense it makes to leave the Offensive POY, Denard Robinson, off both 1st and 2nd Teams in the Coaches selections. Let me first say that I agree he was the best Offensive player in the Big Ten, however, if there are two players better than him at his position, how can he even be considered for Offensive POY?

Adam Rittenberg: Colleague Ivan Maisel brought this up today in his 3-point stance, and I tend to agree with him. If the coaches feel Denard Robinson is the league's top offensive player, he should be the first-team quarterback as well. While I understand that Robinson is such a unique player and it's hard to categorize him as a quarterback or a running back, he does play QB for Michigan and should be recognized as such. The media got it right by putting "Shoelace" as first-team QB and Offensive Player of the Year.


Tim from Denver writes: Adam,I can't get my head around White winning FOY over Scheelhaase. White was UW's #3 (THIRD!) option at RB. He also missed a game, and mostly sat for another. Further, haven't we learned that anyone can run for big yards behind their enormous o-line (see PJ Hill)?Scheelhaase took 95%+ of Illinois' QB snaps while directing one of the highest scoring Illini offenses ever to a surprising 4th place finish. In addition to his passing prowess, he wasn't that far behind White in rushing yards too. Finally, he was FPOW five times.Can anyone honestly say that White was more valuable to his team than Nate? Clay and Ball were equally, if not more, capable. The Illini would have been in trouble without NS. None of this makes sense.

Adam Rittenberg: Tim, you make some good points, but how much did you watch James White play? He might not have been the starter, but he was Wisconsin's most dynamic running back for pretty much the whole season. White showed the breakaway ability that John Clay lacked and was in the game at critical points throughout the Big Ten season. Nothing against Nathan Scheelhaase, who had an outstanding freshman season as well, but he had some up-and-down games the first half of the season. White was outstanding from the get-go. The coaches and the media got this one right.


Drew from Chicago writes: I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment that firing Bill Lynch is the right move. Three Big Ten wins in three years does seem poor, but you have to consider the context. Indiana coaches have carried similar Big Ten winning percentages for years. Too many schools fall prey to the mindset that the only solution is to rip out the guts and start over. Schools like Indiana should temper their expectations according to history. It would also be wise to take the example set by Dave Brandon at Michigan and look for progress, not just record. Indiana was competitive in several losses, including being a dropped pass from upsetting Iowa. They would be much better off trying to build a program around someone that wants to be in Indiana than starting over every three years. Put some money into the assistant coaching staff budget and motivate them to improve every year and they can be going 8-4 within the decade.

Adam Rittenberg: Some good points here, Drew. I'll touch on this more in a video post later today, but I really think the timing had a lot to do with this move. The Big Ten is getting tougher in 2011 with the addition of Nebraska, and schools like Indiana and Minnesota need to make upgrades in order to give themselves a chance to compete. Lynch showed he could field competitive teams but had really struggled to get over the hump. Does he survive if Damarlo Belcher makes that touchdown catch against Iowa? Perhaps, but it didn't happen. The other thing is that Indiana could take a step back in 2011 after losing QB Ben Chappell. This isn't the worst time to bring in a new coach, show greater commitment in the program and start building things as the league improves. As Fred Glass said Sunday, "Any change often results in one or two steps back." But a new coach, preferably with a defensive background, could take the program to the next level.