Big Ten mailblog

Let's get to it.

Glenn from Fletcher, Ohio, writes: Adam, what kind of precedent will Delaney and league officials set if they bow to media and fan pressure to change division names? Wouldn't that leave the door open for public criticism of any name changes? As Bob Dylan and Abe Lincoln said, "You can't please all the people all of the time". What makes you or any of us more qualified to make those kinds of decisions? It's good that Delaney is open minded and does consider outside opinion, but if he reacts each time people don't agree with him, then he should be replaced by someone who is strong enough to do the job he's being paid to do. Incidentally, as the Big Ten reporter, I read how you will sometimes acknowledge that other opinions make good points. However, I've not ever seen you change your position. Hmmm.

Adam Rittenberg: Glenn, I don't think changes are imminent for the Big Ten division names, and I'd be surprised if any action is taken for at least several months. There's a strong possibility that these names remain in place for the foreseeable future. But it's still refreshing to see Jim Delany and the Big Ten acknowledge that yes, these choices aren't resonating with fans and it might be worth reconsidering them at some point. They aren't going to be hasty and they will let these names "breathe" for a while, but they aren't being totally stubborn, either. And c'mon, we're talking about Big Ten division names, not a media rights agreement for the conference or a choice for expansion. In the grand scheme of things, the division names don't matter all that much, and Delany shouldn't be judged too heavily on them.

David from Chicago writes: Hey Adam-Everyone is caught up with the new division names, but I have a question about the makeup of the divisions themselves. Do you think the divisions really are competitively balanced? Although they might be evenly matched top-to-bottom, it seems that the Legends division is a lot more competitive within the division, while in the Leaders division there is a gulf between the top teams and the bottom teams. I see every team in the Legends division winning three to six conference games in a typical year (even Minnesota when they get their act together), but the Leaders division will probably always have the same teams at the top and bottom. Do you see that too?

Adam Rittenberg: David, I think the league did a nice job with competitive balance within the divisions. Obviously, some team in the Leaders division needs to start challenging Ohio State on a regular basis. Wisconsin did so this season, and Penn State did so in 2008. I would agree that after Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State, there's a gap before you get to Illinois, Purdue and Indiana. It's very important for a program like Purdue to get back to the level it was at for most of Joe Tiller's tenure (6-8 wins, bowl games). Right now, the Legends division looks more compelling, but things can and will change from year to year.

Steve from Cherokee, Iowa, writes: Adam, I have been reading your blog for a couple years now but this is the first time writing you. I see on your blog that Delaney is considering changing the names already for the divisions in the Big Ten. I believe that would be a mistake and I think the 90% disapproval rate is just a vocal majority. I like the names and I am sure there are others that don't feel the need to rant about it. So, please put me in the 10% side and maybe I can push it up to 11% because I like the names and I think years from now people will be happy that the Big Ten used such unique names. Everyone keeps saying "what's wrong with East and West?". East and West are BORING. Legends and Leaders rolls off the tongue and is unique and original.

Adam Rittenberg: Steve, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'd agree that it's often easier to hear criticism than praise when you make a major announcement like the Big Ten did. I also like to think I have a pretty good sense of how Big Ten fans feel on a certain topic. Flipping through pages and pages of e-mails the past few days, I've only found a handful like yours who support and even like the division names. All the polls on this topic show that a strong percentage of fans disapprove. My feeling is that the names should be simple and easy to remember, and Legends and Leaders doesn't really do it for me.

Brandon from Oskaloosa, Iowa, writes: Adam, I'm a little worried about Coach Kill's recruiting questions up in Minnesota. I've noticed two 3-star recruits leave their verbal commitments and head to Illinois and U Conn. Am I getting worried over nothing or is this just a natural process with new coaches? It almost seems some of the recruits may have been hoping for a bigger name to take over than Kill. I believe Coach Kill will eventually have success in the Gopher state...but it looks like he will have to prove it first before he can land the type of recruits needed to compete in the Big Ten. The one positive note is the talent returning for the Gophers could give him that proof sooner than later. Or am I just too optimistic as a Gopher fan?

Adam Rittenberg: Brandon, I think a lot of this can be expected with a coaching change. It's very hard for a new staff to keep an entire recruiting class together. But you bring up a really good point about Kill and the returning talent for 2011. I think Minnesota has enough talent to field a good offense, especially with MarQueis Gray leading the way at the quarterback spot. The big question is whether the defense benefits from this season and makes strides as several players move into their second year as starters. It's certainly not a make-or-break type season for Kill, but there are some legit concerns about his ability to recruit at the highest level, and he certainly would be helped in that effort with a strong performance on the field.

Max from Detroit writes: Hey Adam, so as if being snubbed by the BCS wasn't enough 11-1 MSU is also double digit underdogs against Alabama. And from listening to all the "expert" talk it seems that the only way for MSU to win is for Alabama to not show up for the game. Granted Alabama is the defending national champs and a very good team, but if MSU goes out and beats bama will they finally get some national respect or will everyone just use the excuse that bama didn't care about the game?

Adam Rittenberg: Max, be prepared for the talk of Alabama apathy if the Spartans win the bowl game. Unfortunately, that's how a lot of this plays in the media. You can bet I'll give MSU plenty of credit if it wins the Cap One. Where Michigan State will really benefit, however, is next summer. The Spartans will be highly ranked in the preseason polls and will have an easier time maintaining elite status than they did this season. Rather than having to prove themselves every week like they did this year, the Spartans can actually enter the season with some hype and attention.

Darren from Chicago writes: "The lineup is brutal, especially compared to what other leagues (ahem, Big 12) are facing." Yeah you're right the Big 12's lineup is pretty weak, especially since 3 out of the 8 teams they're playing are from the Big Ten. Yeah UConn and Syracuse aren't great teams, and Washington is so-so but LSU and Arizona are good teams. So since you're saying the Big 12 bowl schedule is pretty easy I guess you're saying the big ten is as weak as everybody in the country thinks it is. Your comments are a joke. Next time write something worth reading. I'm tired of this Big Ten arrogance; from the commissioner, coaches, and fans. Guess what the big ten didn't win a sigle national title in the 70's or 80's, then they win 1 in the 90's and 1 in the 2000's and they think cause they get to play in the Rose Bowl they are still the best conference. Gimme a break.

Adam Rittenberg: Darren, I agree I took a shot at the Big Ten with my comment, but the Big 12 has two teams playing in its home state (Baylor and Texas Tech) and another (Missouri) facing a team with three fewer losses (Iowa). I'll give you LSU as a good team and a tough matchup, but if the Big 12 can't go .500 or better, it would be a pretty big disappointment. Arizona finished the season much like Iowa, and Washington backed into a bowl game at 6-6. Look at the Big Ten's bowl lineup and look at the Big 12's. No comparison on level of difficulty, especially when you factor in the sites.