Big Ten mailblog

A ton of responses on the NU-NU debate, so I'll post those separately on Wednesday.

Keep the comments and questions comin'.

Alden from Chicago writes: Adam, No P?! Aaron Bates?!? Won the Notre Dame in OT with a 29yd TD pass to Gantt, a key punt fake to pass en route to a comeback win over Northwestern, plus consistent top tier production throughout the season. Highest production in the B1G with the highest avg yards/punt, 45yd/p, on 57 attempts. Very surprised he is not included given how much you spoke of him this season. Surprised to see no special teams personell in your top 25 at all. Any thoughts to share?

Adam Rittenberg: Alden, Bates had a special season and I strongly considered him for the rankings. His role in "Little Giants" and "Mouse Trap" won't soon be forgotten. Ultimately, I didn't feel Bates or any Big Ten specialist impacted games and their teams more than the 25 players I chose for the rankings. Special teams was a huge part of Michigan State's success this season, but Bates had help from Charlie Gantt and Bennie Fowler on those two trick plays. Other guys like Keshawn Martin and Denicos Allen also contributed to the Spartans' special teams heroics. If I had included a specialist, it would have been Bates, but there are other guys who did a little bit more.

Matthew from Atlanta writes: Adam, does ESPN or yourself not realize how hard it is to become the No. 1-ranked school in both football and men's basketball in the same academic year? Why does it seem like ESPN (or yourself) concentrate on the fact that Ohio State lost to Wisconsin and Florida, rather than actually look and see that Ohio State is the only school to be ranked No. 1 in both sports?Shouldn't that be commended, at least (or does ESPN just go with the usual script and just go with negativity towards anything Ohio State)?

Adam Rittenberg: Ohio State deserves credit for its athletic success, and I think I've given the Buckeyes their due on this blog over the years. I did call them the Goliath of Big Ten athletics, a term no one can dispute right now. I know Buckeyes fans feel the media is often too negative toward their program, but it sort of comes with the territory. The wind blows harder at the top of the mountain, and successful programs are held to pretty high standards. What hurts Ohio State both in football and men's basketball is all the recent success has come without a national championship since 2002. Winning a national title will shut up a lot of folks who like to rag on the Scarlet and Gray.

Adam from Cabot, Ark., writes: Adam,Can you tell me if Chris Carter ever signed a LOI with Ohio State? I can't seem to find that information. Thank you!

Adam Rittenberg: No official announcement from Ohio State, Adam, but every indication is that Carter will sign with the Buckeyes in the near future. He told The Columbus Dispatch last week, "“I don’t know when I’m going to sign it, but I’m due." I'll post something when it's official.

Mikey from Minneapolis writes: As a Minnesota alum of both sports and academics (multiple times), I love the Gophers for all their successes and despite their all too frequent faults. It's hard to be a Gopher football fan some days, but the fact that so many of us still care so passionately and deeply says a lot about the U and the program and our love for our teams - all our teams, whatever the sport. It's a reminder that life doesn't always go your way, but you can count on those true to you, come what may. And there's a whole lot of Gopher fans that fit that description. Hard times just make the successes, no matter how small in the grand scheme of things, that much sweeter to savor. (See Nov. 27 in the ice and cold for an example.)Plus we've got the best mascot in all of sports. That Goldy is one handsome and charismatic rodent.

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks for the note, Mikey. And I definitely agree on Goldy. Minnesota football faces some inherent challenges, but several pieces are in place for the team to have a breakthrough soon.

Brian from Tecumseh, Mich., writes: It's probably way too early to talk about this... but there's a long off-season to fill. With NU QB Dan Persa's amazing stats last year, tremendous work ethic, spectacular season-ending injury, and (hopefully) feel-good story of recovery and a huge senior year, is it reasonable to be fantasizing about a Persa for Heisman campaign? Setting aside the major question marks in his recovery, if he comes back strong this fall, is it reasonable to think he might be in the mix, or does Northwestern just not have a high enough profile in the sports media?

Adam Rittenberg: Brian, a lot depends on Persa's recovery from a very serious injury, but it's fair to include him in the Heisman talk. Northwestern players have a tough time entering the national or regional consciousness, and when they have in recent years, they've been senior quarterbacks (Brett Basanez, Mike Kafka). Persa has another season to play and people know his name from what he did in 2010 and how his season ended (suffering the injury while throwing the game-winning touchdown pass). His story resonates, but he'll need to put up some insane numbers right from the get-go to keep his name in the Heisman mix.

Zach from Omaha, Neb., writes: How about the future heartbreak for us Nebraska fans when Bubba Starling chooses pro baseball and millions of dollars over the Big Red.

Adam Rittenberg: That's a good call, Zach. It would be a surprise if Starling turns down his opportunities in baseball to pursue football, but you never know, right? He'd certainly make the quarterback situation more interesting if he ends up in Lincoln this fall.