A few emails before hitting the road.
Evan from Arusha, Tanzania, writes: Adam, I know you've been fair is the past and when Purdue was 1-5 two years ago you understood that they were better than that. So I am having a hard time believing your prediction. Purdue is not reeling and even if they were, they went through this last year and that's when they had no running game! Did you make this prediction because you got last years Northwestern Purdue game wrong? You can tell me, it's ok.
Adam Rittenberg: Ha, Evan, it had nothing to do with last year. It's great to hear from Tanzania, by the way! I just worry about the psychological effect of losing Rob Henry, who had established himself as Purdue's offensive leader and who had made major strides during the offseason. Caleb TerBush certainly could get it done at quarterback, and it wouldn't surprise me if Purdue performs well despite the adversity, but Middle Tennessee isn't a pushover and I don't see the Boilers lighting it up.
Ted from Charlottesville, Va., writes: Yesterday you commented that you think the University of Virginia would be a good fit in the B1G. Can you please explain why? Also, if you could pick and choose from any schools you wanted, which would you pick to add to the B1G and why?
Adam Rittenberg: Ted, I brought up Virginia because I want to get people thinking about cultural fit more than just athletic fit. A lot of fans look around and go, "Hey, Oklahoma State has a great football program. Let's invite them to the Big Ten." Few people really explore whether Oklahoma State as an institution would truly fit the Big Ten culture. I don't think it would. The Pac-12 seems to be OK with inviting schools that don't really fit its culture, but that league has a relevancy problem the Big Ten doesn't really have.
Getting back to Virginia, while the Cavs aren't an athletic program that moves the needle nationally, the school is an excellent fit from an academic standpoint. It's one of the nation's best public schools and fits well with Michigan, Wisconsin, etc. The market isn't great and I don't think Virginia would be too high on the Big Ten's list, but it does move the conference East and closer to the Washington D.C. market.
Michael from St. Louis writes: If you had to build a football team from scratch and had full access to the Big Ten's pool of coaches (coordinators/assistants included) from which to build your own staff, who would you choose as your OC, DC, and head coach?
Adam Rittenberg: Great question, Michael. I'd choose Wisconsin's Paul Chryst as my offensive coordinator. I love watching his scheme, how he mixes plays, how he uses motion. In the era of the spread, Wisconsin's offense is a thing of beauty. Chryst would need to bring along line coach Bob Bostad, too. Ohio State's Jim Heacock would be my defensive coordinator. He's one of the nation's most underrated assistants and puts out a top-10 unit practically every year. Head coach would be tough, but I like Iowa's Kirk Ferentz. He's a no-nonsense guy who gets a ton out of his talent. While I'd want him to be more visible than he is at Iowa, he connects well with fans and alums and knows what he's doing on the field.
Chris from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam, could you please explain the third tiebreaker rule in the case of three or more teams tied in a division: "Records of the teams are compared against the next-highest teams within the division."
Adam Rittenberg: No problem, Chris. You basically would go down the standings and look at the records. So if three teams tie for the lead, you would look at their records against the fourth-place team. If one team beat the fourth-place team and the others didn't, it would go to the title game. If two teams beat the fourth-place team and one didn't, the two that did would then revert to the head-to-head tiebreaker to see who goes to the title game. If the fourth-place team doesn't break the tie, you go to the fifth-place team and so on.
Ryan from Omaha writes: Hey Adam-Love the blog - I'm a daily reader. I have to point out that your poll "most irreplaceable non-QB" should've had Lavonte David instead of Crick. I hate when people write you and complain about everything but David is much more crucial to our season than Crick. If Crick goes down, we have so much depth at DL it wouldn't kill our season. Thaddeus Randle, our 2nd string DL, is a name you should note. Randle is 6'1 and has one of the fastest jumps on the ball I've seen in Memorial Stadium the past 10 years. I also believe having a DL that's a little shorter and lower to the runner helps in the run-heavy B1G. As for David, our LB depth is so weak we would struggle without him. If David were to go down, we could go from 10-2 to 8-4
Adam Rittenberg: I'll definitely keep an eye on Randle, Ryan. You bring up some good points about David, and Nebraska's defensive line depth is very strong. I still think losing a dominant interior lineman like Crick really hurts, though. And Nebraska should be deeper at linebacker this year than it was in 2010 as Sean Fisher and Will Compton return to the mix. The Huskers shouldn't have to rely so much on David, although he's an outstanding player and would be a major loss.
Jeff from Elyria, Ohio, writes: Still, Smith's claim last December that memorabilia sales and players receiving benefits isn't a systematic problem seems very tough to believe. This issue goes deeper than the Tat-5.Thursday's announcement gives the NCAA more incentive to keep studying the Ohio State program. The infraction committee's ruling on Ohio State is expected sometime in the next two months. Adam:THIS IS WHY YOU A TOTAL JERK!You have always been an OSU hater, and this totally shows it. You fit in at bspn perfectly!
Adam Rittenberg: Jeff, the truth hurts. OSU hater? I'm the guy projecting the Buckeyes for 10 or more wins. But you can't say these issues are isolated. They're not. Now will the NCAA prove they're not? Remains to be seen.
Kevin from Indianapolis writes: Adam,when asked about possible B1G expansion, you always state that any new teams need to "fit" the conference beyond just football. If you could hand-pick four teams that "fit" the B1G to expand to 16, who would they be? Notre Dame and Texas seem to be the obvious two, but do you see any others?
Adam Rittenberg: Kevin, if I could add Notre Dame and Texas to the Big Ten, I'd have no need to expand further. The only reason would be if I had to get to 16 to get into a playoff. As I've mentioned before, the Big Ten shouldn't expand just to expand. Notre Dame and Texas would be the ultimate home-run additions, and if the Big Ten added them, why should it expand further? Do you really want to share the revenue with anyone else? Now if you absolutely had to, I'd look at Maryland to bring in an East Coast school near a major market. I'd go to the Big Ten presidents and have them discuss Oklahoma, a great athletic fit but a non-AAU member and a school that doesn't exactly match the conference academically. Boston College always has intrigued me, but BC struggles to make waves in a pro sports market. Syracuse is a possibility and I wouldn't rule out Georgia Tech, but to be honest, none of these programs really excite me.