Big Ten Thursday mailbag

You got questions, I got answers. Let's do this.

Mickey from Battle Creek, Mich., writes: Your recent "Take Two" post really has me fired up. I'm pretty sure that I speak for many of the "little 10" fans out there who are just tired of seeing nearly every future projection regarding B1G dominance including only Michigan and Ohio State. When will you guys realize that just because you get top flight recruits and a have high profile program, doesn't mean success on the field? A national title for U of M or Ohio St in the next 5 years? Not at OSU with Braxton Miller playing, or the young guy after he graduates. Michigan I will admit is much more likely than OSU. I know they aren't the "sexy" picks, but I'd be willing to wager that a team that develops its players better (Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa) has a better shot, but still gets no mention, even with all the success those programs have had lately. Thoughts?

Brian Bennett: Well, I laid out my thoughts in that post. I don't know why you dismiss Braxton Miller, who showed major potential as a true freshman and seems like the ideal fit for Urban Meyer's offense. As I wrote, I wouldn't be surprised if Wisconsin or Michigan State or Nebraska, etc., jumped up and played for a title. But if I've got to pick one, I'll take a team that is getting elite-level recruits and has good coaches. Ohio State did pretty well, before last season's tumultuous events, in making BCS games and even championship appearances. With a coach who knows how to win titles, why wouldn't the Buckeyes be a safe bet for doing it again?

Max from Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., writes: I enjoy the blog and thinks you guys do a good job most of the time, but you seemed to have "mailed it in" today. OSU and UM on the fast track? Come on. In today's game defense wins national championships and only Michigan State has that type of defense. Speed and depth at every position, two players considered to be possible first rounders next year, and loads of experience. What am I missing here? Adam mentions that the losses on offense will hamper the Spartans then states that UM will challenge next year after they lose their only weapon. You mention OSU's lines while discounting the experience and depth of both lines at MSU. Come on, guys, you can do better.

Brian Bennett: I absolutely love what Michigan State is doing on defense. Yet I'm still not sure it's quite at the level of some of the recent SEC superpowers. Remember that the Spartans' 'D' was rated one of the nation's best a year ago, and yet it still gave up 30 points to Georgia. (OK, only 23 of those points actually came against the defense, but the 'Dawgs mustered just 10 points against LSU, for instance). A Big Ten team is going to need to score points as well to win a national title, just as Michigan State was able to put up 33 points in that Outback Bowl. I have serious questions about the Spartans' passing game this year. I think once Ohio State gets rolling, it will have a top-notch defense and a highly productive offense. But we'll see who's right in the next few years.

Ry P. from Greensburg, Pa., writes: You understated PSU's nonconference opponents. Temple is now a Big East school AND they are a rival, especially since they are 1 of 3 PA FBS schools and that many kids go to Temple after PSU and PITT pass them over. Also, Navy is an important independent school and cannot be overlooked and disrespected like that. PSU has one of most consistent nonconference schedules with n0 FCS schools scheduled the next 3 years. Personally I'd love to see PSUs nonconference schedule be Temple, PITT, WVU, and Syracuse EVERY season.

Brian Bennett: Memphis, San Diego State and SMU are in the Big East, too. Would you like to play those teams? Temple might be in the same state as Penn State, but it's hardly a rival, given the unequal results between the two. As you said, Penn State has consistently scheduled ambitiously, and the Nittany Lions should be taking on marquee teams like Alabama or USC at least once every year.

Jeff from Marquette, Mich., writes: Hey, Brian, how much of an impact do you really think Andre Rison can have as a coach for MSU? The current coaching staff has done a pretty good job developing receivers and it seems like we've got talent, just not experience. It's not like Rison can take the field so how much of a difference can he really make?

Brian Bennett: I see it as every little bit helps. Rison won't be the main voice in the meeting room or the practice field. But kids will listen to him, because of the success he had in his career. And he surely has some tips and advice to offer. With a group as inexperienced as this one, another mentor can only help.

Ryan from Geneva, Ohio, writes: I think Jim Delany really needs to play hardball with Mike Slive when it comes to campus sites/neutral sites north of the Mason-Dixon. If Slive doesn't capitulate then Delany and Larry Scott (of the Pac 12) should walk out of the talks and announce plans for starting a rival, 8-team playoff on their terms and let the other conferences decide who to follow. The other conferences, particularly the ACC, BE, and the former non-AQs will be inclined to side with the Delany/Scott playoff because they have greater access to it. To entice them to come any conference champion in the top 12 would automatically qualify. What are your thoughts?

Brian Bennett: Boy, I hope that doesn't happen. We're so close to a workable college football playoff system that your scenario would be a nightmare. And can you imagine the fan backlash against the Big Ten and Pac-12 if they were basically to announce they were taking their ball and going home? Delany and Scott have no interest in expanding the playoff beyond four teams, anyway. The problem is the Big Ten doesn't have a ton of leverage against the SEC, because Slive is the one holding all those trophies. The home site idea appears to be dead or dying; at the very least, the Big Ten needs to make sure that Midwest sites are strongly considered for the championship game.

Brian from Warrensburg, Mo., writes: Am I the only one that was shocked to see both Montee Ball and Rex Burkhead missing from Todd McShay's way too early 2013 mock draft first round? Are they both too undersized to be first rounders?

Brian Bennett: I'm not surprised by Burkhead's omission. As much as I love him as a college player, I don't think he fits the mold of what NFL scouts -- who often rigidly adhere to measurables and preconceived notions -- are looking for in a running back. But he'll play in the league. It has to be disheartening for Ball, who came back to school largely to improve his draft status after receiving a third-round grade. But after seeing Doug Martin and David Wilson go in the first round, Ball has to like his chances of moving up with a big senior season.

Charlie from Chicago writes: As a Northwestern fan, I think it's a little lame that Fitz is copying Woody Hayes by calling Illinois "that team from Champaign." What do you think about him maybe changing it to "Champaign's Big Ten team"?

Brian Bennett: That's funny, though I've grown tired of the "Ohio" and "That team up north" stuff. Everybody knows who you're talking about. Let's find more clever ways to tweak our rivals.

Andrew F. from Fairbanks, Alaska, writes: As a Buckeye fan, I love Terrelle Pryor -- the kid was awe inspiring on the field, and its not like he was beating up women crashing cars off of it. I don't want him to go away. Did he screw up? Did Tressel screw up? Sure. But I don't care if Urban Meyer is the coach now, I have enjoyed the best coach that Ohio State will ever see, and Terrelle Pryor gave us three wonderful years. I am proud to call them Buckeyes.

Brian Bennett: We have found Terrelle Pryor's fan base: it's in Alaska. Just kidding, Andrew. So you don't want Pryor to go away? Well, Ohio State certainly does, since it banned him from any association with the program for five years. And get back to me if he does actually write that book he promised. I've got two words for you: Jose Canseco.

Logic from Ohio writes: Brian, I agree with your comments about Terrelle Pryor's tattoos not being much help for his family. Another thing - didn't Pryor's attorney claim that his mother bought him a car last May? (The Nissan 350Z that he showed up to a team meeting in). If she couldn't afford her rent, why was she buying him a car? It's hard to feel bad for a kid who time and time again appears dishonest, and only out for himself.

Brian Bennett: You're right, and there was also the issue of some pretty nice cars with dealer tags he drove around Columbus. Was he doing "God's work" in those? Look, I can't begrudge anyone for trying to help their family, and sometimes people go through economic ups and downs. But the point is that Terrelle Pryor has always been about Terrelle Pryor, and I don't find him credible on any of this stuff.

Drew from Milwaukee writes: I can only imagine what kind of completely outrageous emails you are receiving about this Ron Brown business, but I do have a bone to (respectively) pick with you about something you said in your chat on Monday. I find the approach of giving equal consideration to opposing view points, even when one of those viewpoints is utterly objectionable, to be completely irresponsible. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. If any public figure associate with a major institution like the University of Nebraska had spoken up to say the same things about laws protecting African Americans or Women from discrimination he would fired immediately (especially if he listed his residence as a campus building). Should he be arrested? No. Should he be fired? I'm not even sure about that. But lets stop saying that this is a 'complicated issue' because people have the right to believe whatever they want to. Its not complicated. Ron Brown is a bigot.

Skip from Omaha writes: I want to let you know that I come to ESPN to read about SPORTS! If I wanted to read about social issues I'd go over to a news website. There is a large Christian following that agrees with Coach Brown. You should run some articles about their points of view, but right now you are just making a lot of people like me very angry. I support Coach Brown, he is a very moral person who has had a great impact on many people. Being openly against the gay community is not uncommon, nor is it an immoral stance. The way these articles beat up on Coach Brown, you would think that he is some sort of pedophile or anomaly. He is not. I support Coach Brown and his stances, and I know a vast amount of people who would stand up for him and agree with him. You need to be careful running articles like this. There is no reason to lose sports fans and paying customers over political, social issues.

Brian Bennett: I have largely stayed away from commenting on the Ron Brown story, because you start getting into political, religious and social views that are probably a bit too much for a college football blog. Others have had strong viewpoints and have made their case well. I do know this: I really, really don't want to read any of the articles Skip is talking about.