Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, June 22, 2013

It?s time of the week for me to reach into my mailbag. Some good correspondence this week, as my Big Ten stadium rankings seemed to rankle many people and drive a few debates.

Remember that you can always email me on this page, or find me on Twitter (@BTNTomDienhart). Keep those cards and letters coming. Football is right around the corner.

I read your stadium rankings. Here are mine: Beaver Stadium (Penn State) 2. The Big House (Michigan) 3. The Horseshoe (Ohio State) 4. Memorial Stadium (Nebraska) 5. Camp Randall (Wisconsin). – Ace

Nice list! The entire exercise is very subjective, obviously. Things I considered when doing mine: intimidation; aesthetics; tradition; noise. I think your top five is on target. I do think Spartan Stadium is one the cusp. The place can be tough to play in; ditto for Iowa?s Kinnick Stadium.

I think Michigan?s Big House rivals any Big Ten stadium when it comes to volume. Clearly, you were not there two years back for the night game vs. Notre Dame. The Big House was shaking!  Michigan Stadium is clearly better than Beaver stadium. The other top three are a toss-up, I agree. – Ryan

Yes, I may have been unfair in knocking the volume and loudness level of the Big House. The place has cranked up the volume in recent years. No doubt, winning makes fans cheer louder and more often. The Big House is just a cavernous sea of people that can swallow up the opposition. Very big, bold and intimidating.

I grew up in Central Ohio and am a traditionalist. I wonder how much schools like Ohio State, Notre Dame, TTUN (That School Up North) balance tradition and catering to recruits when you see these special uniforms every season? I personally hate them but understand why recruits might not. – J.C.

Good questions. But the consensus is that schools have these alternate unis to appeal to recruits, as you say. Like you, I don?t like most of them. And it seems like we?ve hit the saturation point, with schools seemingly trying to out-do each other with one outrageous design after another. When is enough enough? And, honestly: Do kids REALLY base a decision on what a school?s uniforms look like? It seems like an awfully shallow and flawed way to pick a school. It would be like buying a car because you liked the cup holders. Come on.

I?m glad that Ohio State is the only one in the Big Ten that has a good offense. Really? Please, get off the Buckeye bandwagon. They haven?t done anything yet. – Scott

Well, Urban Meyer did go 12-0 last year in his first season. That wasn?t too bad. And OSU has more recently won Big Ten and national titles than Michigan. is even-handed in its coverage of all teams, I think, trying to spread the wealth. Yes, we had a Q&A with Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman.

But the week before, we had one with Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges. We give as much love to Michigan as we do to Ohio State.

Why do you think Northwestern?s non-conference schedule is more difficult than Ohio State?s?

You're referring to my list here. Each team plays Cal, so that?s a wash. Look at each team?s foes. Ohio State: Buffalo (4-8 MAC); San Diego State (9-4 MWC, 1-0 vs. top 25); Florida A&M (4-7 FCS, 0-1 vs. top 25). Northwestern: Syracuse (8-5 BE, 1-2 vs. top 25); Western Michigan (4-8 MAC) Maine (5-6 FCS).

The rankings aren?t based solely on how schools did last year; some projection is used. First off, NU plays two schools from power leagues in Cal and Syracuse; OSU plays one in Cal. Second, NU?s FCS foe (Maine) is traditionally better then Ohio State?s (FAMU). Ditto NU?s MAC foe. Western Michigan is usually always better than Buffalo. So, there you. Maybe my gap between the two shouldn?t have been as great-but no doubt in my mind NU has the tougher non-con 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.

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