Big Ten mailblog

Sorry it's a day late, but I didn't forget you guys. Be sure and send in more questions and comments for another mailblog later this week.

Let's get to it ...

JC from Columbus, Ohio, writes: The players/future recruits love him, but would it at all be a possibility, Adam, that Luke Fickell stays at Ohio State and works as Defensive Coordinator even if he doesn't get the permanent head coach job? Why would he stay? If he isn't handed the job now, isn't that a sign that he'll never get the job and it's time to move on (which would be a shame)?

Adam Rittenberg: Totally disagree with your last point, JC. Fickell absolutely would have a chance to land the Ohio State job down the line even if he doesn't get the permanent gig after the 2011 season. Let's say he doesn't get the job and goes out and proves himself as a head coach elsewhere. The guy is only 37. He'd definitely have another shot to coach in Columbus, and his credentials as a Buckeye player and coach would help him. Whether he would stay on as an assistant for the next OSU coach is an interesting debate. I doubt he would because it would be a new regime and Fickell needs to become a head coach sooner rather than later, but you never know. He has roots in Columbus and a ton of passion for Ohio State.

Shannon from Texarkana, Texas, writes: When did Petrino change lanes? He never said he would have liked to play Ohio St. without the aforementioned players, he stands by wanting to play Ohio St. with their best players. What Petrino is pointing to is the NCAA loophole that allowed them to play, that's all. And like you said, many agree with Petrino.

Adam Rittenberg: Shannon, it still sounds like two viewpoints to me. If you want to take issue with the NCAA loophole, that's fine. Run with it. Hammer the NCAA, the Sugar Bowl and the Big Ten because all parties deserve it. But don't keep talking about wanting to face Ohio State's best team as well. We all know Arkansas would have faced a shell of the Buckeyes squad had Terrelle Pryor and the others been suspended. I'm fine with Bobby Petrino making the argument against the loophole. But if he does, stop talking about wanting to face the best Buckeyes team.

Devin from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Hey Adam,Great blog. I've got a question as a Michigan State student and fan (and I'm sure fans out there from other schools have the same question)-- How do you see MSU's chances of a Big Ten championship change (or Iowa's, Nebraska's, Wisconsin's, etc.) with the exit of Tressel and the possibility of further sanctions and such for OSU?

Adam Rittenberg: Overall, Michigan State's chances would improve if Ohio State can't compete for a Big Ten title. The same goes for the other 10 squads in the league. I would point out, however, that divisional play really changes how you should look at your team's chances for league championships, BCS bowls, etc. Michigan State must first worry about winning the Legends division, which doesn't include Ohio State. I'd say any penalties for Ohio State impact Leaders division teams more than they do Legends division teams.

Andrew L. from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam, I have been following your coverage of the Tressel collapse (I refuse to say enjoying but it is well done). One point I have noticed several commentators making is that Gee and Smith need to go as well. I can understand the calls for Smith to go but calling for Gee's head over this ignores the University part of The Ohio State University. Ohio State has over 64,000 students, most of whom are not on the football team, and a budget bigger than Delaware's. Gordon Gee has done great things for the school and I am much more concerned with the university as a whole than I am with the football team. President Gee has made some mistakes in handling this, but that is why he has Gene Smith. I frankly, hope he keeps paying more attention to Ohio State as a university that has a football team (along with any other student organization you can imagine - ie the Scrabble Club) than as a football team that is attached to a university.

Adam Rittenberg: Andrew, a university president should be evaluated on more than his somewhat indirect handling of the football program or the football coach. I agree that Gene Smith will face greater scrutiny here because football/Tressel falls directly under his responsibilities. That said, E. Gordon Gee certainly can be criticized for his foolish remark at the March 8 news conference. You could also take issue with how long it took Ohio State to part ways with Tressel. Ohio State football is a huge part of The Ohio State University, but it's not the only part. Gee should be evaluated accordingly.

Craig from Fort Wayne, Ind., writes: Adam, long time Boilermaker fan here and I just wanted to get your perspective on the program. Do you think Purdue football is dead for at least the near future? It seems as though the hiring of Danny Hope has not gone as planned and after 3 consecutive losing seasons (2 under Hope, 1 of those with a blown up roster), all the momentum from the Tiller era has been lost. I understand the schedule is set up for a bowl run this year, but is making a low tier bowl really going to revitalize the program? My beloved Boilers seem to have little in the way of a legitimate down field threat and are going to have to rely on their defense to win games this season. That paired with the fact that after this year the Boilers schedule seems to take a turn for the difficult in the coming seasons and it just appears to be a recipe for spinning tires. What does Purdue have to do to get back on the right track and if Hope doesn't work out has the AD burnt up to much good collateral from the Tiller era to attract a decent coach?

Adam Rittenberg: Craig, I realize it has been a tough time for Purdue fans and there seems to be little to no buzz around that program right now. That said, the 2011 team boasts some talented players on both sides of the ball. I'm really excited about guys like receiver Antavian Edison and cornerback Ricardo Allen. You also have players like running back Ralph Bolden returning to the fold. So there's hope for better things this season. It's hard to evaluate Hope right now, but this is undoubtedly a big season for him. He needs to show Purdue is headed in the right direction and can start making bowl games again. If Purdue falls short of the postseason, we could see a change.

Colin from Atlanta writes: Hey Adam long time reader first time writer.I felt this way before this Jim Tressel mess but especially with whats going down at Ohio State aren't the next 2-3 years really important for the Wisconsin football program to really take the next step and become a true power in the Big Ten?

Adam Rittenberg: Colin, I'm not the first person to write this, but Wisconsin could stand to gain the most from Ohio State potentially taking a step back during the next few years. The Badgers have been competitive with the Buckeyes, although Wisconsin hasn't been the Big Ten's top dog until the late 1990s. The fact that Wisconsin plays in the same division (Leaders) as Ohio State is extremely significant, and the Badgers could really move into a powerhouse position if they were to repeat as Big Ten champions this fall. While other teams could benefit as well, Wisconsin might be the most direct beneficiary.

Michael from San Francisco writes: Adam-In regards to Feldman's article, why would a big name be more interested in the OSU position that they were in the Michigan position? Michigan had difficulty (twice) getting the candidates they wanted, not to mention being unable to draw high profile names like Gruden, Stoops, etc. Why is OSU going to be so much more successful while they are under severe NCAA sanctions (or at least the threat of severe sanctions)? Wouldn't the big names wait for the Penn State or Texas positions?

Adam Rittenberg: It's hard to say, Michael. Ohio State has a lot of positives, and the program has been more dominant in recent years than either Michigan or Penn State. I also would disagree Michigan struggled to attract top candidates after Lloyd Carr's resignation. Les Miles was interested for a time, and Rich Rodriguez came to Michigan as a pretty big name. It's hard to tell how big-name candidates will view Ohio State without knowing what type of penalties the Buckeyes program could be facing. My colleague Ivan Maisel thinks big-time candidates will stay away from Ohio State, while I'm more optimistic there will be interest. We'll have to see.