Our first Big Ten chat of 2013 is in the books. We talked bowls, divisions, personnel and more. Hope you enjoyed it.
If you missed out on the gabfest, check out the full transcript.
Ryan from NYC: Dwindling attendance is plaguing most bowl games. The fact that all BCS games are pushed off of New Years Day means less fans can travel as they are more likely to have to take off. But the bigger problem are these games are all meaningless.......any chance we see a 16 team playoff because bowl attendance will only further drop when there is a 4 team playoff.....
Adam Rittenberg: Ryan, some good points. I talked with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on Wednesday, and he said "whole business model around bowl games needs to be rethought." One thing he mentioned was not enough diversity in matchups -- same teams going to same bowl sites each year. There should be more flexibility in selections. Then again, the Big Ten had Nebraska back in the Cap One Bowl.
Mick from Fort Wayne, Ind.: To me the Purdue blowout was the best thing that could have happened for Darell Hazell. None of the players will be questioning how things used to be done or looking to hold on to anything Purdue "used to do." Do you agree?
Adam Rittenberg: Wow, that's a positive spin on things, Mick. I see where you're coming from, but if I were Hazell, I'd be a bit concerned about how much work I have ahead of me. Maybe that type of performance buys him some time, but he should have been able to establish himself even if Purdue had won the game. A good coach can get the players to believe, and even before the loss, Purdue players had to be questioning what they had done a bit since they only went 6-6.
Hank from Washington D.C.: Do you think Brady Hoke will finally win a big road game next year?
Adam Rittenberg: Hank, really good question. Hoke's teams have been terrific at home, but they've had problems away from the Big House. Michigan's top two road games in 2013 look like Michigan State and Northwestern. Will either qualify as big? It depends on how strong MSU and Northwestern turn out to be. Right now, I think Northwestern will be very good -- a definite division title contender. There are more questions around MSU because of the struggles on offense and losing Bell and Sims.
Rob from Columbus, Ohio: Adam,Enjoyed all the bowl coverage recently. I have been watching the bowl season debacles for the past 6 years and have identified a few things that are the main differences in the game (where the SEC has advantages): big plays of 40-70+ yards, it seems in every game the opponent has a punt or kick return for a touchdown, dropped passes and losing leads late in the 4th quarter when the B1G team played even with and/or outplayed them the whole game. It seems to me small details/miscues are hurting us in these close games. I understand the SEC might have a few more athletes than the B1G but the NFL's New England Patriots who were seemingly over-matched athletically and in team speed in several playoff appearances have found ways to win Super Bowl's. What are your thoughts? How does the conference learn from all of this?
Adam Rittenberg: Rob, some really good observations from you. The special teams miscues really stood out to be throughout the Big Ten's bowl season. You can throw in the Texas Tech TD return against Minnesota, too. Although Michigan State won its game with a long Dan Conroy field goal, most of the special teams play -- and the details -- weren't strong enough from the Big Ten teams. The SEC has more elite athletes for sure, but I didn't see any total mismatches other than Purdue-Okie State.
Chris from Broadview Heights, Ohio: I may be in the minority, but I like the Big 10 dominating (at least in terms of coverage) the New Year's Day bowl games. For a conference that makes its living off of tradition, isn't there something to be said for having a vast majority of the premium conference bowl games on the day they have traditionally been played?
Adam Rittenberg: In my proposed lineup, you'd still have Cap One and Outback to go along with Rose -- and, in some years, Orange. That seems like enough premium bowl games, and besides Cap One/Outback, they're staggered throughout the day a bit better. You don't need four games in basically the same TV window (noon/1 ET).
Thanks again for your questions, and my apologies if yours didn't make the rundown. Let's do it again next week (most likely the usual time, 3 p.m. ET Wednesday).