Another installment of the Big Ten chat came your way earlier today (I've got mad rhymes). Thanks to those who participated for good questions and good debate.
In case you missed out, here's a full transcript.
Kevin from MI: Who would you rank as the best player, regardless of position, in the Big10 for the upcoming season? I think it comes down to Denard, Montee Ball, and Gholston
Adam Rittenberg: Montee Ball will be our No. 1 player on the preseason countdown, I can tell you that. He has proven himself to be nationally elite at his position. I can't say the same about Denard Robinson, who tossed 15 INTs last year, or William Gholston, who had some big games but wasn't as consistent as defensive ends like Illinois' Whitney Mercilus. Could Robinson and Gholston reach that elite level this year? Without a doubt. But Ball is already there.
Rick from Valdosta, Ga.: Hello Adam, it seems to me every conference commisioner has a different plan for the playoff. Scott is mentioning a plus 1, Delany is pushing for conference champs, and Slive is pushing for the 4 best teams. Is this going to happen with everyone on a different plan?
Adam Rittenberg: Here's the deal, Rick, and it's really important folks from SEC country understand this (I'll explain it during a post at 2 pm). Delany is NOT advocating for conference champs only, but rather a hybrid plan that includes conference champions and at wild card spot for a top non-league champ or an independent like Notre Dame. Larry Scott isn't advocating for a plus-one; he just said we shouldn't dismiss that concept. Obviously, the SEC wants the "best four teams." What we'll see is either the best four teams (SEC) or a hybrid model (Big Ten), and I think the hybrid model has a better chance of being approved.
Patrick from Chicago: Adam, you've often mentioned the Big Ten has 4 brand-name programs: UM, OSU, UN, & PSU. What does it take to acquire a brand-name this day and age, and which other Big Ten school is closest to achieving that distinction?
Adam Rittenberg: Patrick, that's a great question. I think winning a national championship or several major bowl games can move a program closer to that brand-name distinction. The most interesting case in the Big Ten has been Wisconsin. The Badgers have been a good to great program for the better part of the past 20 years. But are they a national brand-name program? Not quite. A national title would help, and some Rose Bowl victories after the recent stumbles. But it's hard to match the histories of programs like Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska. It takes sustained success at a very high level.
Seth from College Station, Texas: Do you think Ted Roof can sustain the level of success PSU's defense has seen in recent years, especially with Vanderlinden and LJ staying on as position coaches? Or do you see a slide there without Scrap?
Adam Rittenberg: Seth, this is a really interesting topic. I had one Big Ten coach tell me Penn State's defense will be dramatically different from what Scrap ran. Roof has to be careful because Penn State's defense hasn't been a problem. The Lions do what they do well, and they've been consistent over time. Every new coach wants to establish himself and put his own spin on things, and Roof is no exception. I do like that he kept LJ and Vanderlinden, two of the nation's best position coaches. But the unit as a whole has some question marks, particularly in the secondary and at defensive end.
Colin from Sterling Heights: If Notre Dame was forced to join a conference, why WOULDN'T they join the B1G?
Adam Rittenberg: For starters, the Big Ten has made two attempts to add Notre Dame and been spurned each time. Notre Dame also wants to remain independent in football, and I don't think the Big Ten has any interest in adding ND if it's not a full member. There's also the feeling that ND would fit better into the ACC rather than a league filled with major public research institutions. Lastly, Notre Dame makes no secret about its desire to be a national program. Joining the Big Ten would regionalize Notre Dame to a degree.
Because of upcoming BCS meetings and the like, my chat will go on hiatus for a few weeks. Brian Bennett will be taking care of you on Mondays the next few weeks, and I'll be back later next month in my regular Wednesday slot.