As you'd expect, there were a ton of Jim Tressel/NCAA-related questions this week. We'll start there and move onto other items.
John from Lincoln, Neb., writes: What is your gut on what will happen with Jim Tressel? Is it a possibility he could miss the whole year or longer? What are the long term ramifications for the conference as a whole
Adam Rittenberg: I don't expect the Committee on Infractions to rule before Tressel's self-imposed five-game suspension ends, so I expect to see The Vest on the sideline at some point this season. It could be for the final eight or nine games, it could be two or three if the NCAA levels penalties restricting him from coaching. Tressel has too many allies at Ohio State to be fired before the season, and his most critical supporters might not be Gordon Gee and Gene Smith, but rather the donors that truly drive universities. My gut instinct says this will be his final year, but that he will coach the full season before stepping aside.
Joshua from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam, in total honesty, do you think that if Tressel is fired, do you see any possibility of former Florida Coach, Urban Meyer, being hired as the New OSU coach? I am a Buckeye fan and believe that Tressel did make a big mistake but I am not going to say bad stuff about him like other people would. Besides, OSU fans (like me) should not be worried about the 5-games, right? With the new quarterback in Braxton Miller? Thanks
Adam Rittenberg: Joshua, Meyer's name definitely will be mentioned if there's a vacancy at Ohio State, and most folks will consider him a top candidate because of his ties to the school and to the state and because he isn't currently coaching. But Meyer won't be the only name out there for one of the best jobs in college football. My feeling on this hasn't changed: if and when there's a change, Ohio State should do a thorough national search and gauge interest rather than targeting one candidate.
Should you worry about the first five games? There are reasons to be a bit concerned, but Ohio State has better personnel, even without the suspended players, than all five of its opponents.
Billy from Philly writes: After today's events I am predicting a "Tressel Only" mailblog, so here's my entry.If this is the end of the Vest as coach of the Buckeyes (now or at season's end), how much do you think it tarnishes the Terrelle Pryor era? I think if Tressel is forced to step down, that would be the final nail in the coffin for TP and whether or not he is ever fully embraced by Buckeye fans who already have a love/hate relationship with him. Like it or not, he will be blamed.
Adam Rittenberg: Billy, this is a really interesting question. Some will argue that Ohio State would never be in this situation had it steered clear of Pryor during the recruiting process. On the other hand, Tressel should have known better and come forward with the information right away, which would have spared the program from this mess. Pryor wasn't the only player involved, and other players Tressel has coached have made bigger mistakes. But you're right, Pryor will take a lot of blame if the ship goes down. A portion of Buckeye Nation likely will never embrace him despite his big-game performances (2010 Rose Bowl, 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl) and other achievements. He'll leave a very unique legacy -- that's for sure.
Chris from Los Angeles writes: Adam,Why haven't you mentioned the potential and increasingly likely show cause penalty that may be handed down to Ohio State, essentially necessitating they fire Tressel? Isn't this far and away the most pressing matter for the school at this point? Do you see any way that Tressel avoids this fate given his actions and NCAA precedent?
Adam Rittenberg: Chris, the show-cause penalty is a concern for Tressel, but some of my media colleagues and fans throw this around like it's a certainty, when it's really not. I take a believe-it-when-I-see-it approach with the NCAA and major penalties. Sure, the NCAA could hammer Tressel and Ohio State, but from reading the Notice of Allegations, I don't get the sense the program will face crippling penalties when all is said and done. And I'd also be surprised if Tressel gets hit with a show-case, but maybe I just don't think the NCAA has the guts to do it to such a high-profile coach.
Jake from Davenport, Iowa, writes: Hey Adam, it wasn't too long ago I was suffering severe anxiety at the thought of losing coach [Tom] Izzo. Now, with all the looming violations and the talk of Ohio State firing Tressel, how nervous should I be about losing Dantonio? I worry OSU is the one dream job he would leave Michigan State for...
Adam Rittenberg: Jake, while I agree Ohio State is the only job Dantonio might leave East Lansing for, I don't see this happening. Although Dantonio has done great work at Michigan State, Ohio State can land a bigger name if it needs to replace Tressel. There will be interested candidates with more impressive credentials. Also, I don't know how Dantonio would feel taking over for his close friend and mentor, Jim Tressel, in these circumstances. It's a little awkward. And as I've written before, Dantonio is in a terrific situation at Michigan State, a program I really believe can compete at the highest level.
Chad from Dubuque, Iowa, writes: Adam, I love your blog and read it daily! I was wondering if you buy into the Ricky Stanzi-Tom Brady comparisons and if you see Stanzi as an eventual starter in the NFL?
Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Chad. A Big Ten coach told me two springs ago that Stanzi reminded him of a young Tom Brady. It's interesting to see the comparisons as Stanzi moves closer to the pro level. They both have similar body types and throwing motions, and both players are extremely intelligent. Both players struggled with interceptions as college juniors before becoming much more accurate as seniors. Stanzi obviously has a long, long way to go to get near Brady's level, but the comparisons are being made by some pretty knowledgeable football folks.
Cam from Paris writes: Cool link on Big 10 drafts over the last decade. I think Nebraska and Bo Pelini's undeniable defensive acumen bode very well for the Big 10. They have Suh from last year obviously, Prince looks to be a top 10/15 this year for Nebraska. For next year they have Crick for sure in the first round with the potential to be the top DT overall and Dennard and David have a chance to move in to the first round as well. What are your thoughts in general of Big 10 talent as it relates to the next few drafts and where Nebraska fits in?
Adam Rittenberg: Nebraska undoubtedly will help the Big Ten's NFL draft position, and I really think this year's draft, even without the Huskers, will be more promising for the league. Although the Big Ten likely won't have a top 10 selection, several defensive linemen are expected to go in the first round (J.J. Watt, Corey Liuget, Adrian Clayborn, Ryan Kerrigan, maybe Cameron Heyward). Nebraska certainly adds to the mix with players like Jared Crick and Lavonte David entering the draft after the 2011 season. One area that still concerns me about the Big Ten and the draft is a lack of truly elite offensive skill players, particularly quarterbacks and running backs.
Mark from Toledo, Ohio, writes: Hi Adam - Great work with the blog. I'm curious to get your take on Bret Bielema's decision to play ones vs ones in the spring game this year. Putting Jon Budmayr out there with a somewhat injury ridden offense (Toon, Pederson, Byrne, etc.) against arguably the best defensive secondary that Wisconsin has had in the past 4 years seemed like a recipe for disaster. I'm all for learning from your mistakes but going 10 for 23 with an interception and lost fumble could definitely damage a quarterback's confidence going into the summer. Did you like the original decision of going ones vs. ones? What do you think of it now? Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg: Mark, you bring up some good points. I liked the initial decision and still think Bielema made the right call. Budmayr has to get used to facing good defenses on big stages, and while the spring game isn't really a huge stage, it provides some additional pressure. While a poor performance could hurt the confidence level for some players, I don't think Bielema is too worried about Budmayr, a self-assured kid who has been through three spring sessions at Wisconsin. Budmayr doesn't seem like the type of player who will get too down after a poor performance, although he'll use the spring game as motivation. He also won't cite the injuries as an excuse. So while this could be a problem for some quarterbacks, Bielema knows Budmayr pretty well and I don't think there's an issue going forward.