Mailbag: When will B1G have national respect?

The BTN bus tour is almost over, but keep those cards and letters coming. This is a great time of year. Optimism is high on each campus and the possibilities seem limitless at some places. Let’s answer some of your letters.

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When do you think the Big Ten will again have national respect/recognition? – Curt

Simple: When it wins a national title. Beating a SEC team to do so would be even better for the league. Gotta beat the best to be the best, right?

Do you think Nebraska can win the Big Ten title, and make the playoffs? – Aaron Dreeszen

That may be asking a bit much. I think this could be one of Bo Pelini’s better teams, but few are picking the Cornhuskers to win the Big Ten West-let alone the Big Ten. And even if they do, Nebraska would be an underdog to likely East champ Michigan State or Ohio State. But, you never know. If the Huskers win the Big Ten and go 12-1, they no doubt will probably be in the playoff. But the defense has to excel and quarterback Tommy Armstrong needs to become a better passer.

What is your game-by-game prediction for Michigan State? Will the Spartans make the playoff? – Ben

MSU is my likely pick to win the East. I love this team. The defense needs to develop with six new starters in the fold. But the offense looks to be very good; maybe one of the best attacks in the Big Ten. I think MSU is the favorite to win the league. And, if the Big Ten champ is unbeaten or has just one loss, it would seem to be a lock to earn one of four playoff spots.

  • Jacksonville State W
  • At Oregon L
  • Eastern Michigan W
  • Wyoming W
  • Nebraska W
  • At Purdue W
  • At Indiana W
  • Michigan W
  • Ohio State W
  • At Maryland W
  • Rutgers W
  • At Penn State W

The visit from Ohio State obviously will be tough, but keep an eye on the trip to Maryland. That could be a trap game coming off back-to-back games vs. Michigan and OSU. The Terps could be a strong team.

I like the new divisions of East and West much better than the old way of dividing up the teams. The only thing I wonder about is whether they ever considered splitting the teams in the states with two Big Ten schools. For instance: Michigan-East, Michigan State-West; Indiana-East, Purdue-West; Illinois-East, Northwestern-West. If I lived in a state with two teams, I would always look forward to the possibility of them facing each other in the Big Ten championship game. Do you know if anything like this was ever considered? – Randy Ninmer

I don’t think that ever was considered. The top marching order when re-drawing divisions was geography. I think it was more vital for these state schools to be guaranteed to play each year rather than hope they meet in the Big Ten championship game. (Purdue and IU are in opposite divisions but are annual guaranteed crossover foes.)

With a soft schedule to open the season, can Purdue sneak up on teams? Darrell Hazell had an awesome second year at Kent State and we can expect the same this year!! – Tony Raab

We shall see. He went 11-3 his second year at Kent State and had the Golden Flashes within an eyelash of a BCS bowl. Purdue does seemingly have a chance to win three of its first four games (Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Southern Illinois all at home). If the Boilermakers can do that, they should have some mojo entering league play. If Purdue can win a game or two in the Big Ten and finish 4-8 or 5-7 overall, it would be a huge improvement and offer hope, which this program so desperately needs.

Guess you forgot about Maxx Williams! – Donna Moonan

Oh, no: I never forgot. He has been on my radar. Seeing him up-close again was good while in Dinkytown this weekend. The guy is VERY impressive. Big, strong, best hands on the team. He will play on Sundays. Guaranteed.

How will Iowa do in 2014? Can the Hawkeyes win the West? – Trevor Chase

If you have read any of my ramblings over the last few months, you know how I feel about the Hawkeyes. I love this team and think it should be the favorite in the West. There is ample talent, great coaching and a user-friendly schedule.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (8 Comments)
IASux on 8/18/2014 @ 12:12pm EDT Said:

Iowa’s schedule…user friendly? its a joke and a disgrace…

Chaz on 8/18/2014 @ 2:18pm EDT Said:

I like the Big Ten just the way it is. They tend to be well rounded schools that have good academic programs and grad schools. A good football team is a nice revenue generator but who would you rather have taking out your gall bladder; a guy from Michigan or a guy from Alabama? Just sayin’…………..

bob on 8/18/2014 @ 4:07pm EDT Said:

Iowa has a soft schedule so what. All the teams will from time to time. You must be a Iowa State fan to hate, excuse me, to be so jealous!!

maryam on 8/18/2014 @ 11:47pm EDT Said:

Chaz, I agree entirely with you.
Jealousy over money is the reason the Big 10 gets disrespected annually and so be it.
As long as there is no 16 team playoff system, the Big 10 will continue to get screwed over.
Like I have said many times, Michigan and Ohio State got the shaft in 1973, especially Michigan in the Big 10.
Michigan got the shaft in 1985 compared to Oklahoma who was whipped at home by Miami.
I saw Penn State get disrespected in 1994, Michigan in 1997, Ohio State in 1998 and both Michigan and Ohio State should have played for the national title in 2006.
The rules always change when a Big 10 team is involved.
If it benefits the Big 10, the Big 12 or SEC gets the nod.
The Big 10 doesn’t get the rematches like Florida State got in 1993, Florida got in 1996 and Alabama got in 2011. But Michigan deserved the rematch in 2006 and they gave it to Florida.
True double standards.
Now that Nebraska is in the Big 10, they will find out they won’t get the handouts like their Big 8 and Big 12 days.
So keep Scott Frost in the closet HIDING FROM LAWRENCE PHILLIPS after he bursts into his girl’s room.

maryam on 8/18/2014 @ 11:50pm EDT Said:

I love these silly predictions!
I love how EXPERTS say this team is going to win this and that.
When you’re dealing with college athletes, INJURIES, SUSPENSIONS, SUB PAR PLAY and COACHING changes the dynamics.
I remember how MSU was supposed to be the dynasty in 2012 and how no one could win in THE WOODSHED and they lost every Big 10 home game.
MSU was picked to win the Big 10 in basketball last year and we saw how that turned out.
Don’t quit your day job Tom.

maryam on 8/18/2014 @ 11:53pm EDT Said:

When Michigan was beating Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn in back to back to back bowl games, twice beating Florida with Grossman and Tebow (all those games were in SEC country), beating Alabama, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Ole Miss, I didn’t hear anyone ragging on the SEC.
How quick they forget.
All those Michigan wins were either on the road or in SEC country EXCEPT the Vanderbilt game.
Stop hyping the SEC because they won’t come to Big 10 country to play games.

maryam on 8/18/2014 @ 11:59pm EDT Said:

Michigan is 23-9-1 against SEC teams ALL TIME and since Jan 1st 1984 they are 9-6, 7-5 in bowl games and in those 15 games ONLY twice has those SEC schools played AT Michigan.
So please stop talking about the SEC because a 11-2 South Carolina just two years ago needed the final 11 seconds to rally and beat a weak 8-5 Michigan team.

Bob on 8/19/2014 @ 1:50pm EDT Said:

Not known or ignored but IOWA has a winning record against SEC teams in bowl games!!