You waited patiently for the Big Ten chat and, as always, brought good questions and insights to it. We talked realignment (of course), future Big Ten scheduling, recruiting and more. You even got a Super Bowl prediction from me (49ers don't lose Super Bowls, people).
Did you miss out on the fun? If so, read the full transcript.
To the highlights:
Dan from Florida: Hi Adam, Do you think Wisconsin needs one of its backs to become an elite NFL running back to cement its status as "Running Back U"?
Adam Rittenberg: That's an interesting point, Dan, and one I haven't thought about. Wisconsin seems to have more elite offensive linemen in the NFL than it does running backs. It doesn't change Wisconsin's reputation at the college level as an elite running program, but people do track NFL performance, and Wisconsin's backs haven't exactly been stars at the pro level. It'll be interesting to see if guys like Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon and James White can change things.
Doug G. from San Antonio: Adam-as a big10 homer, please agree that the SEC was not all that mighty in the bowl season. Yes we need to win more games and yes Alabam won...BUT, LSU and Miss St. lost, Michigan and Nebraska had USC and UGA on the ropes, etc. again, I need someone to agree with me. Thanks
Adam Rittenberg: Doug, I agree the SEC didn't have the best bowl season this year. But notice how no one's talking about that? All people care about, perception-wise, is the national title, and the SEC won another one thanks to Alabama. LSU's loss was disappointing, and you didn't even mention the biggest bowl flop from the SEC -- Florida getting crushed by Louisville. As for the Big Ten, it's hard to stump for a league that hangs its hat on close losses. As several Big Ten officials have told me in recent weeks, you ultimately need to start winning more of those games, not just coming close.
Donald from State College: I really like what BOB is doing at Penn State with emphasis on run ons. In some way doesn't it remind you of Belichick's draft strategy? His habit of trading higher draft picks for more multiple lower draft picks has been very effective, and has enabled him to find quite a few diamonds in the rough. Of course it's not exactly the same and BOB is doing it as a necessity, but do you think it could prove to be an effective method of recruiting that might be worth continuing even after the sanctions are over?
Adam Rittenberg: Donald, some really interesting points here. As you point out, the key difference is that O'Brien is emphasizing the "run-on" program by necessity, while Belichick's strategy is more of a choice. But there are some similarities there. Penn State ultimately will need many of these run-ons to have success in order to combat potential depth issues because of the scholarship reductions. We'll have to see how these guys pan out, but I like the way O'Brien has emphasized the program. Penn State certainly could become a destination-type program for these players, depending on how things go in the next few years.
Chris from New Haven, Conn.: Adam with so much controversy over the number of home games played and realignment issues in the conference do the schools need to drop other sports? I know the SEC doesn't run as many sports as most B1G schools do. Also, does Title IX impact the ability to do this? I mean it's all based around profits and lets face it, women's sports don't turn a profit. Only men's bball and football do. How does this all shake out?
Adam Rittenberg: Chris, good observation on the sport disparities between the Big Ten and SEC. It always gets overlooked. But I'll tell you this: the Big Ten prides itself on having broad-based athletic programs and more sports funded than any other conference. While each school must make choices about cutting sports, I definitely don't see a league-based push to cut sports that don't make money in an effort to improve football. That goes against everything the Big Ten says it stands for.
Mallory from Chicago: I'm not a huge fan of having earlier conference games. Four non-cons to start the season has always been a useful way for teams to work out some of their kinks early and get some experience before getting into the important league games. I think if earlier games become a trend we might see some upsets that could hurt the B1G, say if an experienced but mediocre B1G team gets to play a very talented but young B1G team early, have a huge and unwanted effected on the league race. Do you think this could become a problem?
Adam Rittenberg: It could, Mallory, but I don't think a league should construct a schedule based on potential upsets, which also could happen in October or November. What the Big Ten should avoid is the snoozer Saturdays like we've had in recent years -- 8 MAC games, 4 FCS opponents, you know the drill. That's bad branding for the league. It makes the Big Ten irrelevant on that day. Why not schedule 1-2 league games in Weeks 2, 3 and 4. You don't even need to have them for the season opener. But those matchups will get attention for the league. They'll help with TV, too. The Big Ten did this for years, and every other league does it now. I don't see the drawback.
Matt from Ann Arbor: With all that osu has lost on defense, including the entire d-line, why is it that they have so much hype for next year? Seems to me to be very similar to Michigan from last season. GREAT running qb and offense coming back but not much experience on defense.
Adam Rittenberg: Very fair point, Matt. Ohio State's defensive depth -- not just up front but throughout the unit -- is a huge question mark entering 2013. The hope is Ohio State's recent recruiting efforts up front will translate into younger players (Washington, Bennett, Schutt, Spence, etc) blossoming into stars and filling the gaps left by Simon, Hankins and others. Ohio State has a budding star in LB Ryan Shazier, and the secondary should be pretty solid with CB Bradley Roby and others. The concern is whether Ohio State can survive injuries on defense. One big difference between Ohio State in 2013 and Michigan in 2012 is the offensive line. Ohio State brings back a stronger line next year than Michigan did entering 2012.
Thanks again for the questions. If yours didn't make the rundown, be sure and try again during the next chat.