Adam from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Just read your Camp Preview for Ohio State. Not sure how you see David Durham making an instant impact. You do realize they are going to start him out at LB, arguably the deepest position on OSU's roster. Not sure how he is going to beat out the likes of Dorian Bell, Andrew Sweat, Storm Klein, Jonathon Newsome, and Jordan Whiting? Christian Bryant making an immediate impact as well? Do you even look at the depth chart and/or roster? The defensive secondary is possibly the second deepest position on the team. Do you think guys like Donnie Evege, Nate Oliver, Corey Brown, Travis Howard, Dominic Clarke, and Zach Domicone are all going to quit? How about doing some research before making statements and predictions that have no chance of proving true.
Adam Rittenberg: Adam, you're right, none of the Buckeyes freshmen will many any impact this year. No chance. We're talking about a category in a training camp preview, not a proclamation that guys definitely will see the field. It might happen, it might not. You're right about the depth at linebacker, but the secondary is definitely not the second-deepest group on the team. Ohio State has more proven depth at offensive line, running back and linebacker, and I like the defensive line group better than the secondary. Sure, several defensive backs return, but Ohio State loses Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell at safety. Chimdi Chekwa and Jermale Hines are nice pieces, but I don't see anyone back there who you can say is a sure-fire all-conference player.
Greg from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: "Geography shouldn't be a deciding factor," you wrote regarding Big Ten football divisions. "Not that many fans travel to road games as you think."That may be true for some teams, but not Iowa. Away game tickets can be very hard to get, even for many season ticket holders who are donors. And Hawkeye fans have been known to outnumber the home team's fans at Minnesota and Northwestern.
Adam Rittenberg: Greg, I'm well aware of Iowa fans' fondness for traveling, but on the whole, road travel among Big Ten fans is down. And while the league wants to accommodate its fans, it also must look at the bigger picture, specifically television appeal. My problem with divisions based on geography is that when (not if) Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan all are good in the same year, no one nationally will care about the other division. That's not a knock against what Wisconsin and Iowa do on the field, but those are excellent regional programs that don't appeal nationally as much as Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska do. That's my concern.
Rakesh from Memphis writes: Hey Adam,Everyone talks about Zook getting canned but can they even afford it? And if they buy out his contract then how are they going to pay a quality coach for the next round?
Adam Rittenberg: Rakesh, these are very relevant questions. After spending so much money on new coordinators Paul Petrino and Vic Koenning, Illinois might have to consider whether or not to take another financial hit if it comes down to that. I can't see how you push forward after another three- or four-win season, especially after all the pressure from boosters and others to make a change. But AD Ron Guenther seems willing to let this situation run its course. Your second question is a good one, too. If you buy out the remainder of Ron Zook's contact, can you spend enough to get a solid replacement? It won't be easy, especially given the budgetary struggles in the state right now. At least Illinois has some stability at the top with a new president.
Scott from Knoxville, Tenn., writes: Adam, nice blog. If the BT moved OSU and UofM into different divisions, the game would need to be earlier in the season, why not opening BT game, and then a week off for each team as their bye week-end. The players that I have talked to, say that they would need a week off just to get over the physcial play that their body had to endure in that game. That would book end the season and really move the needle. Also the loser would have the season to make up for the loss. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg: Wow, an Ohio State-Michigan Big Ten opener? That would seem pretty strange. It also would be tough to have a permanent bye week for those two teams while rotating the bye weeks for the other 10 Big Ten squads (Nebraska included). If they move The Game, and I'm not sold on moving it, I'd rather see it played in mid to late October. There's enough of a gap before the end of the regular season, and it could shape the league title race in certain years.
Steve from State College, Pa., writes: Adam,Love the blog and it keeps me goin throughout the day. My question is about Penn State's linebackers. Obviously they won't be as good as Lee, Bowman and Hull but no one expects them to be. People expect them to carry on "Linebacker-U". I feel Stupar, Mauti and Gbadyu can keep that tradition going. But what about the other guys? Hodges, Colasanti, and Yancich. Hodges is a converted safety and if he was still at safety he would kill people. Whats your take on that position for Penn State?
Adam Rittenberg: Gerald Hodges is a guy I'm really looking forward to seeing on the field this fall. He played sparingly in 11 games in 2009 and recorded three tackles, but he should be a much bigger presence in 2010. Chris Colasanti may or may not start, but he boasts a lot of experience as a reserve the past three years. He'd start on several Big Ten teams this fall. The reports on Michael Yancich are very favorable, and he should see the field a good amount this fall. So you're right: the linebackers won't be as decorated as Navorro Bowman, Sean Lee and Josh Hull were in 2009, but the overall depth should help Penn State continue the Linebacker U. tradition.
Dirk from Cincinnati writes: Are you Jared from the Subway commercials?
Adam Rittenberg: I wish. I'd be A LOT richer.
Kyle from Fort Worth, Texas, writes: Hey Adam,A future Big Ten member here, and I read your article about splitting up Michigan and OSU, and I think that is a terrible idea. Coming from the Big 12 I can tell you that will destroy the rivalry the same way it did with Nebaska and Oklahoma. The final game of the regular season in each division needs to be OSU vs Michigan in one and Nebraska vs PSU/Iowa/Wisconsin in the other. That way the OSU-MU rivalry still potentially decides the Big Ten Champion the same way it has for many years.
Adam Rittenberg: Kyle, thanks very much for the perspective. It's a real shame how the Big 12 destroyed Nebraska-Oklahoma, and the Big Ten certainly should learn from what happened. Now, the Big Ten never will let the Ohio State-Michigan game go off the schedule in any season, but it must preserve the integrity of the rivalry. I'd love to see the Big Ten have a second blockbuster matchup to go up against Ohio State-Michigan on the final Saturday of the regular season, whether it be Nebraska-Penn State, Nebraska-Iowa or Nebraska-Wisconsin. All three of those games would get some play nationally, especially Nebraska-Penn State.
Nick from Madison, Wis., writes: Wisconsin's offensive line is looking to be one of the best in the nation. What would be a good name for this squad? Moffits marauders? the big red blockade? I'm sure you/the blogosphere can do better.
Adam Rittenberg: I'll open this one up to the group. Suggestions? Here's one option: The Thick Red Line. Here's another: The Madison Block Party.