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Big Ten Friday mailblog

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

A few questions and answers before the weekend.

Donny from Decatur, Ill., writes: I've been hearing a lot of the hype surrounding this years Illinios receivers, everything from "Maybe the best in the country", "best in the Big Ten". Maybe it's because I am in Illinois. But I am excited to go see these guys in action this year. What are your thoughts on them this year? Do you think they will live up to the hype? WithBenn, Cumberland, Sykes, Jenkins, Duvalt, James, and TE Hoomanawanui and Newcomers/Red shirts etc. Fayson, Ramsey, Scottand Hawthorne the Illini look to have a very solid group for a few years to come. Also Juice has gotten better with every year he has played. What do you truly expect from these guys this year?

Adam Rittenberg: Well, since I've been writing some of those things myself, I'd say my opinion is pretty high of Illinois' group. As an Illini fan, you have the right to get very excited about these wideouts. Arrelious Benn will contend for All-America honors this fall, and Illinois could have a legit No. 2 receiver to complement Benn in Jarred Fayson. I never thought Jeff Cumberland could truly be a No. 2, and now he won't have to be. But all those weapons you list easily make Illinois the best receiving corps in the Big Ten. If Juice Williams gets time to throw, look out.


Brian from Dayton, Ohio, writes: Could you explain why OSU has only 16 scholarships available (I think) but they lost 33 players from last year?

Adam Rittenberg: Ohio State signed a fairly large class in February (25 recruits), which accounted for most of the graduation losses. The Buckeyes also boast a pretty sizable junior class, which includes true juniors like Brandon Saine, redshirt juniors like Thad Gibson and even transfers like Justin Boren (Michigan). You always have to factor in the number of redshirted players and the number of fifth-year seniors when calculating how big or small a recruiting class will be.


Derek from New Jersey writes: I saw you posted a lunch-link about Minnesota's new stadium. I also watched a video about it. I was just wondering, from somebody who has been there, what your thoughts on it were. Is it built up (ie: Beaver Stadium) or out (Michigan Stadium)? Do you know where the student section will be in the horshoe stadium, or how many seats will be blocked off for them? Any neat novelties worth mentioning? It's not often a college team gets an all new stadium. Thanks for any extra insight!

Adam Rittenberg: TCF Bank Stadium breaks the traditional mold of most Big Ten football facilities. For starters, it is located in a major metropolitan area, which will be a big part in the atmosphere surrounding the stadium. Fans in the upper deck and suites will get a great view of downtown Minneapolis. It definitely doesn't compare with any of the huge Big Ten facilities in terms of size, though it could expand to 80,000 seats if Minnesota chooses to add another deck. The student section will be in the east (non-open) end of the horseshoe, near the Gophers' tunnel. As far as novelties, the massive scoreboard in the open end will be pretty cool. Fans also will be able to see the field while walking along the main concourse. There isn't much excess space on the field footprint, so fans will be very close to the action. Overall, it should be a great venue, and I love the fact that Minnesota didn't build something too big to start off. For more, check out my tour of the facility back in November.


Warren from Huntsville, Ala., writes: Sup Adam, about the possibility of Big Ten expansion. Wouldn't Temple be the best fit for the Big Ten? Sure they're a MAC team but, does the Big Ten really think that the Big East is going to let any more teams leave the conference after the whole ACC deal? Why would the Big 12 let anyone leave them to benefit the Big Ten? Then it would be the Big 12 scrambling for a 12th team. The MAC already has 13 teams and it just so happens that Temple belongs in the division that has 7 in it. No realignment would be necessary for them. Plus, Penn State would have a in-state rivalry and having Temple in Philly gives easier access to New Jersey, Maryland, and other surrounding areas. Just my 2 cents...

Adam Rittenberg: The Big Ten isn't going after Temple, not unless the Owls football program really takes off, and even then I would highly, highly doubt it. As for the Big East and Big 12 not wanting to lose teams, it's ultimately up to the schools. Conference realignment isn't usually fair. My proposal has Missouri joining the Big Ten, primarily because the Big 12 has a better pool of potential replacements to choose from if it lost the Tigers. The Mountain West and the WAC both have programs that could cut it in a major conference (Utah, Boise State, BYU, TCU) like the Big 12. The Big Ten doesn't have that luxury with its non-BCS neighbor, the MAC. I don't see a MAC school that could realistically join the Big Ten.


Chris from Chicago writes: Purdue just added Oklahoma State for 2012 or 13 while we're discussing ease of schedules. ND every year and Oregon 2008/2009, Hawaii 2007. Not too shabby for the Boilers if you ask me.

Adam Rittenberg: Totally agree, Chris. Purdue has really broken the mold in its willingness to schedule tougher opponents. The Notre Dame series obviously has a ton of benefits for Purdue, but the Boilers have been willing to play a second quality BCS opponent, which really elevates their overall schedule. Purdue maintained this approach for much of Joe Tiller's tenure, playing teams like USC, Arizona, Wake Forest and Cincinnati, in addition to Notre Dame every year.