Big Ten mailblog

What ya got for me today?

Brian from Minneapolis writes: Love the blog and I have to say you do a great job of spreading the wealth to all the teams in the conference. I wanted to gauge your opinion on the chances that Tim Brewster finishes out his current contract at Minnesota. What record will he need this year to keep his job? What names come to mind as replacements if he does get fired?

Adam Rittenberg: Brian, it's no secret that 2010 is huge for Tim Brewster and the Minnesota program. Despite a contract extension in January, Brewster needs to show tangible progress this fall. What does that mean exactly? Minnesota has to start beating its rivals, Wisconsin and Iowa, and playing better in the month of November rather than regressing as the season goes on. The Big Ten's best coaches, namely Ohio State's Jim Tressel, have excellent records in November, while Brewster has yet to win a Big Ten game after Nov. 1. Minnesota's schedule is no picnic, and I could see the Gophers being a better team with a similar record to the last two seasons (7-6 and 6-7). The key for Brewster is quality wins, beating Wisconsin or Iowa or Penn State or USC. Those are the wins that tell the athletic director and the fans that progress is being made. If things don't work out, Minnesota should look for a guy with Midwest ties who can also recruit elsewhere. Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin, an Indianapolis native and a Purdue alum, would be a potential candidate. I don't know if Temple's Al Golden would be interested, but he has done a great job with the Owls.

Matt from NYC writes: Adam, I am surprised they are completely disregarding the Michigan game as a whitehouse. There is a good chance that game could be JoePa's 400th win, if psu loses to 'bama and Iowa before hand, something that as a Penn State fan is saddening, but in reality a highly likely scenario. You think feelings around Happy Valley would change if this game has the potential to be number 400?

Adam Rittenberg: Matt, I was thinking the exact same thing when I saw the news about no White House for 2010. It would be nice if Penn State could reassess the situation in early October, but it sounds like this is an event that must be scheduled way in advance. Paterno certainly could be going for No. 400 against Michigan, but he also might reach the milestone by that point. I also think Penn State doesn't need anything extra, like a White House, to celebrate Paterno and win No. 400. Even without the White House, the Michigan game has the potential to have a great atmosphere.

Greg from Chicago writes: I believe that the Purdue football team may be better than many people think. Most people write off the 1st game as a loss against the new Notre Dame team with Kelly at the helm. Do you think that there is a good chance that the boilermakers could leave South Bend with a win?

Adam Rittenberg: I do, Greg. The thing that concerns me is that Notre Dame tends to find ways to win games like this, when it's the start of a new era and the fans and players are all fired up. The Irish have lost their opener under a new head coach just once since 1934 (Lou Holtz dropped his first game to Michigan in 1986). I could see this turning into a shootout, and Purdue has to be prepared to score a ton of points against Brian Kelly's team. Quarterback Robert Marve needs a big performance, especially with questions about the run game. Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan also will play a big role as he pursues Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist. This should be a good one, and Purdue certainly could come away with the W.

Travis from St. Louis writes: Adam- I love the column and reading it is my lunch time ritual. What coaches do you believe are the hot seat? Zook? Brewster? RichRod? Any others?

Adam Rittenberg: Those three for sure, Travis. I'd include Indiana's Bill Lynch in that mix, but his situation doesn't seem as dire as Rodriguez's or Zook's. Lynch clearly has helped stabilize Indiana's program, and his work on the recruiting trail can't be overlooked. I really get the sense that Indiana wants to give Lynch a real chance to get the program on track in all facets rather than rushing to make yet another change. The Hoosiers weren't far away from being a good team last fall. Then again, can Lynch get the program over the hump? Rodriguez and Zook have to win this year, and Brewster needs to show progress in Big Ten play and against Minnesota's rivals.

Robert from Philadelphia writes: Adam, Even though Nebraska isn't yet in the Big 10, why not start including a little about them in your blog and add the link to their team page over on the right of your blog. I'm interested (and I'm sure a lot of other people are too) in keeping track of their doings this year as we anticipate them joining the Big 10 in 2011. Their Junior and Sophomore players will be the key players we'll face next year and it's interesting to keep an eye on them for the future. Thanks!

Adam Rittenberg: Robert, I'll hit on Nebraska quite a bit and certainly post some updates on the Huskers' recruiting efforts, as any player Bo Pelini recruits right now will be competing in the Big Ten. I would also tell you that Nebraska remains part of the Big 12 for 2010, and colleague David Ubben has all the info you need at the Big 12 blog. I promise I won't forget the Huskers, but I have to cover 11 teams as equally as I can, so most of my attention will be on those programs.