Periodically, those of us who are members of the Big Ten Bloggers online group will agree to post answers to roundtable questions. Once all of our affiliates have posted, we'll link to them for you to check out later this week. The questions were written by a Penn State blog, Zombie Nation. I'll take a shot at answering the first round of roundtable questions leading up to the 2010 season:
How did your team do this recruiting class, impressed or disappointed?
I would put the incoming 2010 class into the "wait-and-see" category. Jimmy Gjere and Lamonte Edwards are the only four star recruits in the class, and the star rating system is usually accurate in predicting the likelihood of future performance. That being said, this class is chock full of three star recruits who could develop into solid producers. There are 18 Rivals.com three star recruits in the 2010 class.
The 2010 class, at first look, is slightly disappointing. I would expect a Big Ten team to land five or more four star recruits for any given class in order to reasonably expect top tier future success. At the same time, this recruiting class addresses several needs that the team has moving forward. In particular the squad is adding a few running backs, offensive linemen, and defensive backs. Many of these players may benefit from a redshirt year to hit the weights and gain another year of physical maturity.
Jimmy Gjere should develop into a top notch offensive lineman. Lamonte Edwards, from the footage I've seen, can at times look like a young Thomas Tapeh. I fully expect a few more solid offensive linemen, at least one above average running back, and a few above average defensive backs to emerge from this class within two to three years. Expect JUCO transfers Christyn Lewis, Tiree Eure, and Herschel Thornton to fill some holes and contribute immediately.
The media regressed a bit into their Big Ten bashing habits of the last few seasons. Many dogged the Big Ten for it's supposed inability to translate the bowl season success into a conference-wide monster recruiting haul. Warranted criticism, or not?
Is criticism that the Big Ten cannot recruit as well as the SEC warranted? Yes. Is the problem due to marketing or coaching talent? No.
The Big Ten definitely lags behind other conferences, in particular the SEC, with regards to recruiting blue chip athletes. In my opinion, this phenomenon is due to one single issue: admission standards and educational expectations. Blue chip athletes have usually been coddled since junior high. Their egos have been stroked by sports zealots who live vicariously through them, and by opportunists who are prospecting for a piece of their future earnings.
Education and hard work in the classroom often become obstacles and nuisances for these "child stars." In the mind of a teenager, why bother with academics when everyone tells you that you'll soon be worth millions?
Those who follow recruiting know all too well the tales of players that don't qualify academically for Big Ten schools and end up playing at Southern schools. Many Southern schools have lower admission standards, and by all accounts require less academic effort from their players. For recruits looking to play football and work towards the NFL with few distractions, Big Ten schools aren't usually going to be at the top of their list.
Surely you've already addressed this, but we'll ask anyway. Do you support Big Ten expansion?
Of the schools that have been mentioned as potential additions to the Big Ten only Notre Dame, Texas, or Rutgers would be valuable additions to the conference. I would be very surprised if any of those schools joined the Big Ten. Quality is better than quantity.
Every Big Ten team lost at least one star from 2009. For your team, what's the toughest hole to fill this spring?
Few will disagree with this answer: wide receiver Eric Decker. Based upon what I've seen junior Da'Jon McKnight may at least partially fill his shoes, but Decker is an all-time Gopher great and I doubt he will ever be replaced by any one player.
What will be the most intriguing position battle to watch this spring, across all the Big Ten teams?
Quarterback. Minnesota will have a quarterback competition. Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, and Penn State will all have new starting quarterbacks. Will Terrelle Pryor continue to develop? Can Tate Forcier hold the starting job at Michigan?
Urban Meyer (http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/sports_college_uf/2010/03/urban-meyer-uh-passionately-defends-deonte-thompson.html)...
Here's the video:
Urban Meyer could definitely use his planned year away from the game. Deonte Thompson's quoted statement was:
"You never know with Tim," Thompson said. "You can bolt, you think he's running but he'll come up and pass it to you. You just have to be ready at all times. With Brantley, everything's with rhythm, time. You know what I mean, a real quarterback."
Deonte Thompson was just telling the truth. Tim Tebow is a spread quarterback, and he is not a natural pocket passer. How is this any different from what the press has been printing for the last three years? Meyer's expectation that the local press should be intimidated from printing negative stories leads one to wonder why he would be so easily irritated about a breach of that secrecy.
In summary, I'd like to see Urban Meyer and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy locked in an Ultimate Fighting cage together while reporters read aloud articles that are critical of their coaching and teams: