Big Ten mailblog

The FedEx Orange Bowl is finally here!

Please join me and ACC blogger Heather Dinich (who's in South Florida) tonight in the Virtual PressBox to discuss the game. We'll get started at 8 p.m. ET.

Kyle from Columbia, S.C., writes: Love the blog, Adam. As great as Bill Martin has been for Michigan, by raising cash and expanding the programs in important places, how do you think David Brandon will compare as the new AD?

Adam Rittenberg: Brandon looks like a strong hire for Michigan, Kyle. He has been about as involved in Michigan athletics as you can be without being an employee. He knows how to raise funds. As a successful CEO, he knows how to delegate responsibility and surround himself with good people. Brandon fits the mold of the new athletic director in college sports, someone who didn't necessarily spend their career in athletics, but has a connection to an institution and had success in other areas (business, law). You see similar guys at Notre Dame, Indiana and Purdue. Being an AD of a major department like Michigan is a lot like being a CEO, a role Brandon clearly understands. His biggest challenge will be uniting Michigan fans around a struggling football program. He talked today about how there's no place for factions and divisiveness around the program, and as a Michigan man, he can unite people. But he also can't feed into the old guard that seems dead set against Rich Rodriguez.

JJ from Madison, Wis., writes: Hey Adam. How about that Rose Bowl!? I was hoping to get your opinion on a college football playoff. In my opinion, the best part of college football is the fact that there ISN'T a playoff. I don't see how anyone as a true fan could be in favor. The beauty of college football is that half the decent teams can finish the season with a bowl win and feel decent about their season; while also giving all the fans a chance to vacation, party, and route for their favorite team. As an Ohio State grad, a national championship would be perfect, but I can still feel great about the season and had an absolutely awesome time in Southern California (I'm probably remembering it even better than it was now that I'm back in Wisconsin). What do you think?

Adam Rittenberg: I respect your opinion, JJ, and it's one shared by a lot of folks around the Big Ten. I'm in favor of keeping the bowl system and using a small playoff (four or eight teams). A bunch of teams would still finish the season with wins, and fans could, for the most part, plan their bowl trips in advance. It's definitely a tricky situation, but we demand clear definition from our sports, and college football doesn't really give us that each year. After being in California for Rose Bowl week, I see how special it is for players and fans. You might lose that with a playoff system, but something like a plus-one format probably doesn't take too much away.

Adam from Hershey, Pa., writes: Adam,I'm sure you are busy preparing for the Orange bowl, but when you have a moment, can you address my question: Was Chip Kelly's statement that "Terrelle beat us (Oregon)" a cop out? From what I watched, it was not just Terrelle, but a whole team effort...not to take anything away from Terrelle incredible performance.

Adam Rittenberg: No, definitely not a cop out, Adam. Kelly acknowledged other areas of Ohio State's performance that contributed to the win, like the way the Buckeyes contained Jeremiah Masoli. But he was also admitting the obvious, and Terrelle Pryor played a huge role in Ohio State's win, especially with his clutch third-down passes.

Dave from Saginaw, Mich., writes: Adam, now seeing how Michigan State's season played out, do you think they were a little overrated coming into the season? I hate to say this in hindsight, but in the beginning of the season I didn't really believe they'd live up to the expectations. Not just because of the "same old sparty" mentality which Dantonio seems to have eliminated to some extent, but because we lost Javon Ringer and Brian Hoyer, Otis Wiley, and many other excellent starters on both sides of the ball. Coming in to the season I didn't really expect them to be competing for any kind of title.

Adam Rittenberg: Dave, you bring up some good points about the players Michigan State lost. I remember being concerned about the Spartans' line play on both sides of the ball after seeing them in spring practice. You knew there was youth in the offensive backfield, but for the most part, Kirk Cousins and the running backs did OK. The wide receivers were a pleasant surprise. The secondary was a major disappointment, any way you slice it. Mark Dantonio talked up this group throughout the preseason, and they really let him down. Wiley definitely was a major loss. And neither line was particularly great, as I had feared. Still, I think Michigan State is in pretty decent shape heading into 2010.

Scott from the Quad Cities writes: Adam,I appreciate your work on the blog. There have been many interesting articles many of which I have commented on myself. I'd just like to ask you: "Why all the love for Iowa?" Do we really need 6 articles on them over three days? I know the Orange Bowl is coming, but there are other items to report on, i.e. finishing up the recap of the best case / worst case series. Honestly, there are very few people outside the state of Iowa that care about the Hawkeyes and are tired of all the attention you have paid to them all year long. Can you change the subject and give some attention to other teams?

Adam Rittenberg: I just can't win, can I, Scott? Last week, I was writing too much about Ohio State. Now I'm writing too much about Iowa. Here's the deal. There are certain times of the year when the blog will be unbalanced with the coverage, especially around BCS games. That's just the way it is. I'll still finish best case-worst case, re-rank the Big Ten's top 30 players and weigh in on recruiting. But for the past few days, Iowa has been the focus, and deservedly so.