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Big Ten mailblog

You have questions, and I might have the answers.

As always, contact me here.

Ryan from Madison, Wis., writes: Hey Adam, As a Badger fan, I am obviously excited about the addition of Wilson. However, I think some sports writers are going over the top in thinking Wilson is a "great fit" for the Badgers run-heavy offense. Wisconsin has never really had a QB as athletic and mobile as Wilson, so do you think Wilson will make the Badgers and the Badgers coaching staff stray away from its run-first offense? I would hate to see a repeat of the Rose Bowl, when, for whatever reason, Paul Chryst and the rest of the coaching staff tried to do too much and seemingly forgot about our run game. I can see this happening more often with Wilson under center. Do you really think Wilson is a "great" fit for the Badgers? Do you think us Badger fans need to worry about us turning slightly away from our powerful run game?

Adam Rittenberg: Some really good points, Ryan. How Wilson fits at Wisconsin ultimately depends on Wilson himself and how Chryst tweaks the offense to accommodate Wilson's skills. After setting a bunch of records in 2010, Wisconsin should not deviate from its offensive identity, especially with James White and Montee Ball in the backfield. The Badgers should remain a run-oriented offense that wears down its opponents at the line of scrimmage. But if Wilson is the starter, Wisconsin also must find ways to use his unique talents. That's up to Chryst, who, despite some over-thinking in the Rose Bowl, typically knows how to get the best out of his players. Chryst should be able to find ways to let Wilson do what he does best without compromising the integrity of the offense.


Darek D from Colorado Springs, Colo., writes: Hey Adam, whenever people discuss what they think Luke Fickell's performance will be like this year they talk about consistency. They seem to think not much will change as far as team concept is concerned. However, Fickell is trying to earn a job. In order to do that he needs to put his own stamp on the program in order for the kids to follow. I'm hoping the stamp will be less conservatism on the offensive side of the ball. What do you think the difference will be between him and Tress?

Adam Rittenberg: Darek, while there will be some changes, keep in mind the coaching staff is the same and Fickell's background is on the defensive side. With Jim Bollman remaining as offensive coordinator and major question marks at quarterback, we can expect a pretty conservative game plan, at least early on. Ohio State has been successful with TresselBall, and while Fickell wants to show what he can do as a coach, winning with defense, special teams and field position is a proven approach in Columbus. The formula for success isn't broken at Ohio State, and Fickell might be judged more on how he handles the big-picture issues, especially with all the distractions swirling around the program.


Tom from Madison, Wis., writes: Adam, Having lived next door to Budmayr all last year and sharing a patio with him i don't see him rolling over and giving up that spot to Wilson. He spent time at Wisconsin under arguably the smartest quarterback in the nation he knows what it takes to get the job done. He would get home later than i would and i am engineer. I think some people may surprised when the starting job is not won by either player until the Oregon St. game and even then Russel may be wishing he had stuck with baseball. But either way this pick-up makes the Badgers better!

Adam Rittenberg: Tom, thanks for the inside perspective! I agree with you about Budmayr. He seems like a mentally tough kid who understands the right way to approach things. He won't back down now that Wilson is in the mix, and he should know he has something to prove to the coaching staff. Your last point is the most important one -- Wilson makes Wisconsin a better team and strengthens the depth at the most important position on the field.


Ryan from Zanesville, Ohio, writes: Adam, I take it you are familiar with your network's show "Around the Horn". I think that the 8 college football bloggers should do something similar each week. Get someone else like Maisel to serve as a moderator who can determine topics and award points. Each week 4 bloggers can be on the panel on some sort of rotational basis. Stream it live on the website each week and then have it archived so the blog followers can catch it later if they missed it. I think it would be a huge hit! What do you think?

Adam Rittenberg: Ryan, I like the idea! I'll pass it along to the powers-that-be in Bristol and see what they say. Maybe I'll start calling Maisel "stat boy." I'm sure he'll love that. We're always looking for ways to incorporate more debate and blogger interaction into the blogs. You're going to see a lot more videos like this one in the coming months. Big plans ahead for the blog.


Vivek from Chicago writes: Adam,It was great meeting you on the 8th tee at Sportsman's CC yesterday. I told a couple of friends about the encounter and they immediately asked me what Spartan football questions I peppered you with. I told them I couldn't think of anything, but I got something more broad now that hopefully you can choose for your mailbag: In some of your previous posts you have suggested that Soldier Field be converted to an artificial field turf surface so that it would be more attractive as a big ten championship site, but studies have shown that the risk of serious injury is much greater on field turf than natural grass. That being said, why don't more Big Ten universities use natural grass? It may be a cost factor at some of the smaller football schools, but should not be an issue for the bigger ones.

Adam Rittenberg: It was great meeting you, too! Great day for golf. Now I've got to call you out for sharing a cart with a Michigan fan (nice guy, by the way). What's up with that? ... I'm all for playing football on natural grass, as long as it's properly maintained. Michigan State does a great job with its field, and Northwestern's natural playing surface at Ryan Field has won awards for its upkeep. Soldier Field is a very different story. The grass there clearly doesn't hold up well enough, and it impacts games and looks horrible on TV. I can't imagine such a poor playing surface helps reduce injuries, either. If there was a way to improve the natural surface at Soldier Field, I'd be all for it. But I don't see one. Bring on the FieldTurf.


Tony from Minneapolis writes: Hey Adam - I'm starting to get me head around the implications of Nebraska, Divisions, tOSU, etc. I'm really starting to look forward to the Division races, and potential B1G championship matchups.My favorite matchup would be Iowa v. Wisconsin (bring the Heartland Trophy).I don't want Neb in it in their first year, and I'm sure I'll be sick of OSU stories by then. I also don't want Michigan and their new coach to waltz right into Indianapolis.Your thoughs?

Adam Rittenberg: Tony, glad to hear you're adjusting to the new Big Ten. An Iowa-Wisconsin matchup in the first Big Ten title game would be pretty cool, especially since the longtime rivals don't meet this season. Ohio State might not be eligible for the title game, depending on how things shake out, but there's no shortage of potential intriguing matchups in Indy.