An early happy holiday weekend to all of you. Can you believe it's July already? That means we'll have football practice next month.
On to your e-mails before we start shooting off some fireworks ...
Andy from Bloomington, Ind., writes: Just realized you aren't gonna be covering my beloved Fighting Irish now as you blog for the Big 10! Being an IU student (Yes I'm one of those that still loves the Irish being from ND) do you sense that the IU program maybe turning the corner ever so slowly? Ten verbal commitments on board already, which might be an IU record this early, and Kevin Wilson seems to have energized the fan base down here. Defense was absolutely atrocious last year but I like the direction of the program right now.
Brian Bennett: Andy, rest assured that I will still be covering Notre Dame. Things are a little quiet around the Irish this summer but will pick up steam quickly. As for Indiana, that's not an easy place to win, obviously. It seems like every time the Hoosiers gain a little momentum, they can't sustain it.
But I really like the Wilson hire. I think a program in that situation can really benefit from an exciting and potent offensive system. That becomes attractive to recruits, and it allows IU perhaps to sneak out some shootout wins over more talented teams. The spread certainly worked wonders for Northwestern. The difficult part will be finding and developing top-notch defensive talent, especially up front.
Matt from Pequannock, N.J., writes: Hey, Brian. Impressive job so far. There are countless examples of short quarterbacks succeeding in college, but isn't there a potential problem with a sub-6 foot Russell Wilson throwing behind a notoriously huge line?
Brian Bennett: That's an interesting question, and no doubt the Badgers have some big ol' boys up front. They've got a 6-foot-5 center, plus tackles listed at 6-6 and above. Meanwhile, Wilson is listed at 5-foot-11. Still, I don't think it's a major concern. Wilson wasn't exactly playing behind Oompa Loompas on the NC State line, and his mobility allows him to find passing lanes and move the pocket if need be. Besides, Jon Budmayr, who was the No. 1 quarterback coming out of spring, is only an inch taller.
Phil M. from Louisville, Ky., writes: Just wanted to say its good to see you on the Big Ten blog and that I am familiar with your stuff since I have been getting The Courier-Journal for like the past 10 or 12 years. So how about hooking up a fellow Louisvillian with some press box tickets some time (only Sconnie games though haha). Joking aside, now that Russell Wilson is officially with the Badgers, what is your opinion on how this changes the outlook for the season? Now, I know I am not ready to call my Badgers the definite Big Ten favorites and a National title contender until I see Wilson play a couple of games. With that said what's you take on it all?
Brian Bennett: Phil, it's good to see another Big Ten-centric person in my hometown. I went on record earlier this week during the Take Two post with Adam in picking Wisconsin as the new Big Ten favorite. I was leaning toward the Badgers anyway because of the problems facing Ohio State, and I think Nebraska's schedule is too tough. I've seen Wilson play a lot because he faced some Big East teams I was covering the past couple of years, and I think he's the real deal. Quarterback inexperience was the main question for me about the Badgers, and now that should be answered. I wouldn't call Wisconsin an overwhelming favorite, and I think national title talk is a bit much. But optimism should run high in Madison.
Alex W. from Tipton, Iowa, writes: Hello, Brian. You and Adam have been a great pair so far on the new B1G blog. Anyways, I wanted to comment on the Russell Wilson situation. I realize that Wisconsin has a great line and a great running back tandem, and how dynamic of a player Wilson is. But for the people that voted in the SN poll that Wiscy is the outright favorite to win the B1G, you all need to have some common sense. This IS STILL the Big Ten in all reality. PHYSICAL FOOTBALL is what we are known for. If an injury does not occur, (which one will), if Russell Wilson adjusts perfectly to the completely different style of football than the ACC, (which he won't), and Wisconsin is at their best every Saturday, (which they won't), only then will they win the B1G. I don't see how a sane person could pick Wisconsin, WISCONSIN, over a Nebraska, or heck even OSU.
Brian Bennett: That's a fair point about the physicality. We saw how Denard Robinson got banged around last year. In Wilson's favor, he has been very durable during his career. He missed a couple of games in 2008 and was knocked out of the bowl game early that year, but otherwise he's held up strong. He doesn't run nearly as much as Robinson, either. The good news for Wisconsin is that Budmayr got experience as the starter this spring; the Badgers really needed depth at the position, and now they have some.
Brad from Valdosta, Ga., writes: Which record matters in determining who goes to the B1G championship game -- the division the team belongs to or Leaders and Legends record. If Nebraska lost to Wisconsin, OSU and Penn State but won all the Legends games and Iowa wins all their Leaders games but loses to Nebraska, who would go?
Brian Bennett: Much like in the SEC and the old Big 12, the team with the best conference record in each division will advance to the Big Ten title game. In your scenario, Nebraska would be 5-3 with a win over Iowa. Iowa would be 7-1 (assuming no other losses, which you did not indicate). So the Hawkeyes would go to Indianapolis despite losing to the Cornhuskers. The head-to-head record would only come into play if both finished with the same record.
Jon from Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., writes: What happened to the ex-Michigan recruit Demar Dorsey? Did he ever enroll at Louisville? I figured that the combination of your Big East and Big Ten experience makes you the perfect person to ask!
Brian Bennett: Sure thing, Jon. Dorsey tried to go to Louisville, but academic issues held up his enrollment there. He headed off to a junior college this winter. Maybe we'll see him again in two years.
Max from Just Outside Guwahati, Bangladesh, writes: I read a little while ago that you and Adam were thinking of ways to utilize having two bloggers. I and I'm sure others would love to see some comparisons in the lists of position players, it would be interesting to see how the two of you differ. Also the two of you could debate team power rankings or things like just how much Russell Wilson will help an already pretty strong Wisconsin team, surely one of you is up for playing devil's advocate. And if all else fails, video of the two of you bare-knuckle boxing would go over great in my opinion.
Brian Bennett: Wow, Bangladesh. I'm always amazed by the reach of these blogs. Anyway, as you may have noticed, Adam and I have squared off in some features like the Take Two segment, plus the Nebraska debate video from earlier this morning. I expect we'll do more of that as I get more familiar with the league (and I'm sure Adam is worried, since I'm usually right). I don't have much experience in bare-knuckle boxing, but I'd like my chances of a podium finish in a bloggers' octagon challenge.