Well, it's spring time in college football-land! What better way to pass the time than to gather the expert minds of the Big Ten Bloggers, and have ourselves a little round-table Q&A.
Today's questions come to us from the good folks over at the Penn State blog Linebacker-U.com.
At some point they will post a recap of all the answers by the participating Big Ten Bloggers, so make sure to head over and get a full dose some Happy Valley goodness. Enjoy!
LBU: How did your team do this recruiting class, impressed or disappointed?
MBN: With all Things considered in 2009, recruiting was a success. A little late signing day acquisition of S/DB Demar Dorsey was actually the cherry on top of an already solid recruiting class. Clearly, defense was the focus of this year's class. Other defensive standouts such as Cullen Christian and Marvin Robinson could see some early playing time in the depleted Michigan defensive backfield.
It was interesting to watch the offense-heavy class turn much more defensive oriented once things really started to fall apart mid-way through the 2009 season for Michigan, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Clearly, Rodriguez and DC Greg Robinson saw that more depth was something we needed all around. All areas of the defense were addressed in this class.
Offensively, another great group of fast and talented play-makers for Rodriguez. Inkster 5-star QB Devin Gardner will undoubtedly be in the mix this fall as he has the benefit of early enrollment to get up to speed with the offensive scheme. I doubt he'll replace Tate as the starter next year, but he could be used in the backup role as Rodriguez looks to get Denard Robinson mixed into other roles on the offense to take advantage of his speed.
WR's Jerald Robinson, Jeremy Jackson and Ricardo Miller all enrolled early. We will need them.
I would have liked to have seen OL addressed a little better, the only OL recruit being 3-star Christian Pace. But our great depth in that area and much more pressing needs on the other side of the ball, I guess I can let it slide this year.
LBU: 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?
MBN: I honestly didn't hear much of this "dogging". We don't really cover recruiting with the same vigor and aggressiveness as other members of the Big Ten Bloggers. But if this criticism is out there, we didn't dig far enough to find it.
My $0.02 is that teams like Michigan, tOSU and Penn State...perennial recruiting powerhouses all did about as well as expected if not better. tOSU got screwed on signing day...but that was okay with us.
But I will say that Wisconsin winning their bowl game against Miami and only turning in a #87 ranked recruiting class according to Rivals...WTF Wisconsin?!
Big Ten Expansion:
LBU: Surely you've already addressed this, but we'll ask anyway. Do you support Big Ten expansion?
MBN: We sure do. [Part 1] [Part 2]
LBU: If so, 12, 14, 16 teams? Which ones?
MBN: This is a can of worms.
Honestly, I think it's going to be 14 teams. But I'd love to see 16. Just for the sheer chaos of it.
If you would have asked me two months ago, I would have said probably Missouri or Rutgers or maybe even Pitt. But right now I think the Irish are the leaders in this debate. Not only do I think Notre Dame is perfect for the Big Ten, but I think the folks in South Bend are starting to realize that a conference affiliation is worth way more at this point in time than ever before.
Forget all this Texas nonsense. That was a pipe-dream to begin with.
Without getting too long-winded, which is surely something we could do on this topic, let's just say that the Big Ten is definitely going to expand within the next 2 years. Notre Dame and Rutgers seem to make the most sense on paper. It's going to be up to Pitt and Missouri to fight it out for the last spot.
LBU: Every Big Ten team lost at least one star from 2009. For your team, what's the toughest hole to fill this spring?
MBN: I have to say CB Donovan Warren. His early departure for the NFL (and a rather premature depature according the draft experts), leaves yet another hole to fill in this Swiss-cheese we call a secondary. The only bright spot in the backfield last season was Warren. His play at CB was pretty solid all year long.
Redshirt-freshman Justin Turner is the likely candidate to fill his spot this year. Many were surprised to that he didn't see the field last season considering all the woes our secondary had.
But it goes without saying that the vacancies left by DE Brandon Graham and S/LB Stevie Brown will also be very tough to fill.
LBU: What will be the most intriguing position battle to watch this spring, across all the Big Ten teams?
MBN: I'd have to say the QB spot in Happy Valley will be interesting to watch. Darryl Clark left some pretty big shoes to fill. It wasn't always about his ability or his stats, which were both typically good, but he ran that offense with such poise and purpose. It will be interesting to see who steps forward there. Former 2009 Michigan commit - turned Penn State signee Kevin Newsome is my pick for the starting role on Sept. 4th against Youngstown State.
LBU: Urban Meyer (http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/sports_college_uf/2010/03/urban-meye...)...your thoughts.
MBN: Urban was out of line. First of all, the guy is standing in the press area of the open practice with probably a dozen or so other reporters who all posted the same quote in their columns. If Urban wants to threaten someone, start with the player who said it in the first place. Don't shoot the messenger(s).
I just read yesterday that Urban has come out publicly and apologized to that reporter. Case closed.
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