Big Ten mailblog

You have questions, I have answers.

Jared from Palo, Iowa, writes: As an Iowa fan I started noticing this last year. 7-5 Iowa vs 10-2 Missouri in the Insight. This year it's more of the same:201010-2 (14) Oklahoma State vs 7-5 Arizona in the Alamo11-2 (7) Oklahoma vs 8-5 UCONN in the Fiesta10-3 (18) Nebraska vs 6-6 Washington in the Holiday20117-5 Iowa vs 9-3 Oklahoma in the Insight9-3 (15) Baylor vs 7-5 Washington in the AlamoThe Big 12 is clearly getting lesser bowl games per win than other conferences (and actually ending up where I think they should, but I digress). Is the problem that they are just a sad little conference or does the commish need to step up his game?

Adam Rittenberg: Jared, I'd take the Oklahoma-Connecticut game off of the list because the matchup was a product of the BCS bowl selection order. To your larger point, yes, the Big 12 has some favorable bowl matchups because it isn't sending two teams to BCS bowls as often as it used to. The matchups you list pair Big 12 teams with opponents from conferences -- Big Ten, Pac-12 -- that have sent two teams to BCS bowls in each of the past two seasons. We've written extensively about how the Big Ten's already difficult bowl lineup gets tougher when the league receives an at-large berth every year. The Big 12 certainly had to be disappointed Kansas State didn't receive an at-large berth this year. People can blame Chuck Neinas if they want to, but the bigger issue would be if BCS bowls passed over teams like Oklahoma or Texas for a team like Virginia Tech. When your traditional powers are missing out on at-large berths, that's a real problem.

Mike from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Adam,Love the blog, I just read about Meyer taking recruits from other schools (and I love it), and it seems there is a misconception that Meyer is only recruiting and Fickell is only working with the team. This is completely false, I know this because I work at the Blackwell Hotel, which I'm sure you've been to at least once before, and I have seen Fickell in there with Coach Vrabel talking with recruits. Though It may be a little unfair to have the two staffs, the current coaches under Fickell still have their recruiting duties, thus making this loophole maybe not as severe or unfair as people think. I'd love to hear any thoughts from you. Keep up the good work!

Adam Rittenberg: Mike, thanks for writing and for bringing up this point. Ohio State's current coaches are still recruiting, and the NCAA waiver was initially sought so Meyer could also recruit for the team. The waiver specifies that no more than 10 coaches -- and no more than seven at any one time -- may be involved in recruiting. As Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Associated Press, "We have only one coach who is not coaching -- and that's coach Meyer. We don't have a whole new staff out there recruiting. Keep in mind, the guys we have recruiting are also coaching." People are upset because Ohio State seems to be benefiting from making the coaching change when it did, and Meyer certainly is no ordinary recruiter. But Ohio State isn't the only program looking to capitalize on the situation.

Ted from Atlanta writes: Adam, although it's disappointing as a Michigan State alum/fan to lose a commit the caliber of Se'von Pittman, Mark Dantonio really has his program rolling. The MSU defense is one of the best in the B1G and overall is very young with some very promising redshirts that will be competing for playing time next year. I think Spartan fans need to remember that no one player makes or breaks a program. The Spartans are here to stay for a very, very long time. Go Green!

Adam Rittenberg: Ted, I like your perspective. It amazes me how much people get wrapped up in individual recruits who may or may not meet the hype. Michigan State has recruited extremely well, and the defense looks promising for the future even without Pittman on board. The Spartans boast some talent front seven players like William Gholston, Marcus Rush, Max Bullough and Denicos Allen. They should once again be solid in the secondary next year. Decommits happen. Fans get upset. But it ultimately comes down to building depth and developing players, and Michigan State has done an excellent job on both fronts.

Alex G. from Fairfield, Iowa, writes: I'm starting to become more and more intrigued by this Oklahoma-Iowa matchup in the Insight. I did ESPN's College Bowl Mania, which I love, and picked Oklahoma as a mid to low-confidence pick. As a diehard Hawk fan, it was agonizing to pick against Iowa. But a few days later, I'm starting to wonder if Iowa might have the upper hand with all the injuries STILL stacking up for Oklahoma. Will the Sooners even have an offense with 2 receivers and their running back gone? And with Iowa's track record with bowls (not to mention their track record with upsetting top-15 Big 12 teams in the Insight Bowl while playing a disappointing 7-5 season), it seems to be a more exciting game than when it was announced. Your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Alex, it's clear that Oklahoma's offense isn't nearly the same unit as it was for the first two months of the season. That said, Iowa still might need its best defensive performance of the season to beat the Sooners, who still boast some weapons. Iowa has been pretty mediocre on defense all season, and its offense hasn't been nearly as potent away from Kinnick Stadium. The bowl track record is a very good point and a reason for Hawkeyes fans to feel optimistic heading into the game. Iowa always is well prepared for bowls. But beating Oklahoma will be a tall task for this particular Iowa team.

Matt from Michigan writes: Hey Adam I hope you answer. What are your thoughts on moving the B1G champ game to Chicago? Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't the founding member (or one of the founding memberS) of the B1G Chicago University. It would only make sense that the B1G would honor it's founding member even though it is no long a part of the conference.

Adam Rittenberg: Matt, there would have to be more compelling reasons to move the game to Chicago than honoring the University of Chicago, but you certainly can make the case for a move. While the inaugural event in Indy was a big success, the game didn't sell out and the ticket demand wasn't as strong as many had hoped. I definitely see the rationale for keeping the game in Indianapolis, where it will be played through at least 2015. The facilities are great. The location is terrific, as many hotels and restaurants are close by. The event really takes over the city. But I also know this, from living in Chicago. There are more Big Ten fans here than any other Midwestern city. It's not even close. And the Big Ten title game would be a hotter ticket here than in Indianapolis. While there could be issues playing the game outdoors on a horrible field at Soldier Field, the ticket demand wouldn't be an issue in Chi-town.

Greg from Boston writes: hey adam, Given that on paper the Wildcats should be underdogs in their bowl, what do you think there approach will be on offense? Do you think Fitzgerald will stick to Persa predominantly or do you think Kain Colter will get more looks under center to prepare for the transition? I don't think either is really worse than the other, I'm just curious.Thanks!

Adam Rittenberg: I'd expect Persa to remain the predominant quarterback for Northwestern. He has played really well despite not being 100 percent, and the offense has moved the ball well with him under center. Colter also will get some snaps here and there, but Persa should be even healthier for the bowl with some added rest time, and he deserves the opportunity to lead the team one final time. Northwestern has to start thinking ahead to 2012 and should get Colter, Trevor Siemian and Zach Oliver plenty of reps during bowl practices. But Persa should be the primary QB during the bowl game.