Big Ten mailblog

Mail time.

Bruce from Huntsville, Ala., writes: I am a PSU graduate and a big fan. I was wondering what the take is on the Lions for this year. O'brien has names McGloin the starting QB, Redd is a very good running back, from what I've read the linemen are happy with the new weight program (and have gotten stronger - something they really needed). The defense should be pretty good (not sure about defensive backs), so I was wondering how good they might be this fall.

Adam Rittenberg: The defense will be the strength of the team, particularly the front seven. The positions that need time to mature, in my view, are both secondary spots, quarterback, wide receiver and offensive line. The buzz this spring is that the offensive line is coming along at a very good rate, undoubtedly helped by their progress in the new weight program. This would be a huge plus for Penn State, which needs to establish Silas Redd in the run game and give McGloin enough time to get comfortable in the pocket. The defensive front and the run game need to get Penn State a few wins early in the season, and then the hope is McGloin and his receivers will be more settled. This is most likely a seven- to nine-win team, looking at the schedule.

Steven from Florida writes: Adam,I enjoy your columns and reporting. I have not found the answer to below question anywhere:Name the 12 member BCS oversight committee and the universities/colleges they represent

Adam Rittenberg: Here's the full list, Steven. The members are: Scott Cowen, Tulane; Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame; Bernie Machen, Florida; Max Nikias, USC; Duane Nellis, Idaho; Harvey Perlman, Nebraska; John Peters, Northern Illinois; Bill Powers, Texas; James Ramsey, Louisville; Gary Ransdell, Western Kentucky; Charles Steger, Virginia Tech; and John Welty, Fresno State. Steger is the committee chair, and Perlman obviously is the Big Ten's representative.

Wellington from Duluth writes: Adam,I think most of the footballs nerds, such as myself, disagree with your opinions of the computer polls. Computer Polls take in to account strength of schedule, which seems to be your biggest argument for a selection committee, in fair, non-biased, sort of way. They are more fair than the human polls, which usually rely more on prestige than on the field performance when rating both a team and their schedule.Here's a basketball tournament example that might strike home with you...In years where they've been "on the bubble", have traditional powers Kentucky, Arizona, or UCLA ever been left out of the field? In years where they've been on the bubble has non-traditional power Northwestern ever bet let in?

Adam Rittenberg: Wellington, I don't think anyone has an issue with using a computer system, as long as it takes into account the right factors and reveals how it reaches its calculations. The problem with the BCS computers is that five of the six systems aren't made public, so we don't really know what goes into them. How big of a factor is strength of schedule? What else is weighted? Why do we get such different results? As Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told me last week, it's fine to use something like the RPI because the formula is known. But he also added that the human element must be involved in selecting teams for a playoff.

Dave from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Hi Adam -Why is it that the B1G gets beat up all the time for the things they don't like (the way a playoff is designed; Rose Bowl inclusion; initially standing in the way of a playoff in the first place), but gets only passing mention of what it's done to improve the game of college football (putting in place the first replay; starting its own TV network; and now, doing comprehensive concussion research)? I'd argue that some of it's biggest accomplishments - things that many college football fans take for granted now - were B1G initiatives. What will it take for other fans to realize that the B1G, and by extension, Jim Delaney - aren't/isn't nearly as evil as they think?

Adam Rittenberg: Dave, the Big Ten has a bit of an image problem with the media. A lot of it stems from its loyalty to the Rose Bowl and its opposition to changing the BCS. While some of the good things the league has done have affected other conferences, the opposition to a playoff is viewed as impacting the sport more. You couple this with winning only one national championship during the BCS era, and the Big Ten is seen as this loud voice in the room with no hardware behind it. It doesn't help when the Big Ten has some progressive ideas about the college football postseason (selection committee, etc.), but couches them with its preference to have the status quo or a plus-one, which has virtually no support nationally. The truth is the Big Ten has had a lot of achievements in recent years, and Jim Delany deserves a lot of credit for them. But when you aren't winning championships and you deliver messages in head-scratching ways, your image gets sullied.

Jacob from Seattle writes: Adam, why no mention whatsoever of Ohio State's win over ESPN in the Supreme Court ruling over the release of records? No mention at all from ESPN or yourself? You say ESPN has no agenda against Ohio State, right?

Adam Rittenberg: Here's the story. I'm sure it made your day.

Ryan from Fort Gordon, Ga., writes: Adam, What do you see as the key to Michigan State's first game of the year against a good Boise State team? I know our defense is going to be great, and that we have alot of question marks on the offensive side, but what does Boise State bring to the table? Will it be a low or high scoring affair?

Adam Rittenberg: Ryan, it's going to be all about the defenses on Aug. 31 in East Lansing. Both teams are replacing decorated senior quarterbacks (Kirk Cousins and Kellen Moore) and quite a lot of offensive firepower. Michigan State's defense is the single best unit on the field, and the Spartans must establish themselves early, perhaps with a big takeaway. A takeaway for points would be a huge boost for Andrew Maxwell and the Michigan State offense. I expect a low-scoring game for sure -- would be surprised if either team scores 24 points -- and it'll come down to the little things (turnover margin, special teams, etc.).

Herky from Iowa City writes: Bird's eye view - If 6- 7 wins is the bottom for the Hawks don't you think that is a victory for the Iowa program ? With the Ferentz system in place it would take a lot of unfortune for the team to reach 5 or lower. This is good times to be a Hawk. Look at some of the other programs that bottom out at 6-7... the elite.

Adam Rittenberg: That's true, Herky, as Iowa hasn't won fewer than six games since 2000, Ferentz's second season at the school. The flip side of the argument is Iowa has won more than eight games just twice in the past seven seasons after a wonderful run from 2002-04 (31 wins). So Iowa has done a good job of avoiding a really bad season, but the Hawkeyes haven't put together a ton of great seasons. Are seven- and eight-win seasons satisfying enough for Iowa fans? Some see Ferentz's salary and expect more. Then again, there are some inherent disadvantages (location, limited recruiting, etc.). So it all depends on your viewpoint.

Will from Hoboken, N.J., writes: Hey Adam -- I just read the article saying Stoneburner and Mewhort were suspended. As a Buckeye fan, I am a bit shocked, but I would say in a positive way. These guys are two projected starters that are supposed to be leaders of the team. The spotlight is always on the Buckeye football team, even the smallest of infractions. I like how Meyer is making these guys earn their way back to the team. The culture of entitlement among football stars is always a constant struggle and Meyer is doing something about it. Yes, it may be a bit of posturing, but I see this as a wonderful opportunity of these guys to embrace the attention to detail necessary to be great representatives of Ohio State every single day in everything they do.

Adam Rittenberg: As I mentioned in this video, Meyer is setting the tone for how he'll handle off-field issues involving players. In a way, the Stoneburner/Mewhort issue afforded Meyer the chance to make a statement. These are two senior starters and potential leaders. They have no history of off-field issues, and there's no reason to think they won't work their way back onto scholarship and with the team by the fall. The key is that Meyer's actions now are on record and he'll be looked at to respond similarly with other situations. The Stoneburner/Mewhort issue seemed fairly minor to me. What if there's a more serious situation involving a key player during the season? Does he lose his scholarship or sit out several games? If not, Meyer's response here might look more like posturing in a convenient situation.