Big Ten mailbag: On recruiting, Joey Bosa & our expert's campus rankings

Big Ten mailbag: On recruiting, Joey Bosa & our expert's campus rankings

Mail time! You know the drill. You email me nice questions while at work sipping a Macchiato … and I answer them while sipping Sanka. It’s fun. And, it’s free. How can you send me fresh questions? Lots of ways.

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Why would a quarterback of Torrance Gibson’s caliber sign with a team (Ohio State) loaded with quality quarterbacks? Conversely, why would Ohio State even sign a quarterback, given its depth at the position? – Frank Benham

Gibson had to be intrigued by the success of the Ohio State program as well as with the way quarterbacks have developed under Urban Meyer’s watch. Plus, what QB wouldn’t want to play with all of that talent and win national titles? As for the Buckeyes, you always want to take at least one quarterback each recruiting cycle and let the position sort itself out.

Why can’t Iowa ever get a good recruiting class? Do the Hawkeyes not try? Or does nobody want to play at Iowa? – Andrew

Look, Iowa never is going to sign a class that is considered “elite.” So, if you are waiting for the day when the Hawkeyes recruit on the same level as USC, Florida, Texas or Ohio State, you are going to be very disappointed. Iowa is a developmental program—like about 85 percent of the rest of the country. It’s just a fact of life. And the Hawkeye program has done very well “developing” players dating back to when Hayden Fry took over in 1979.

Do you expect the scope of Wisconsin’s recruiting to change with the new head coach? – Sudippy

Nope. Paul Chryst was raised in this program. He played in Madison and coached in Madison. He knows the type of players needed to succeed—and he knows where to get them. Wisconsin can recruit nationally for running backs, while filling out the bulk of its roster with Midwest talent. It’s a formula for success Chryst won’t deviate from—nor should he.

Are my beloved Michigan State Spartans NIT-bound? – Steve Wilt

I don’t think this is one of Tom Izzo’s better teams. The Spartans brought a 15-7 overall record and a 6-3 Big Ten mark into the week. And the bracket experts at ESPN.com and CBSSports.com each have MSU in the NCAA tourney. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com has Michigan State as a No. 11 seed. Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com has MSU as a No. 8. I think the Spartans will get there with a 9-9 Big Ten mark. And, that’s very doable. But the seed probably won’t be that good.

In your ranking of the seven best Big Ten campuses, how can you leave out the beautiful campus on the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston–Northwestern? When did the Medill School of Journalism reject you? – Margie

Northwestern does have a nice campus. I just don’t think it rates with some of the others. It is swallowed up by Chicago and lacks a vibrant “strip” area with restaurants, shops and bars. And, no, I wasn’t rejected by Medill. I never even applied. But, had I applied, I would have been rejected. So, there, you win. You are smarter than me.

Why leave out Columbus, Ohio, in you campus ranking? – Chris

The campus is nice—and there is a lot happening on High Street. But the place is a bit too big for me. It’s just a massive school located in a big city. Not too much “quaint” about Ohio State. It’s almost a “city” school, if that makes any sense.

On Wisconsin! I like that you had Madison No. 1 on your “best” campus list. I spent four amazing years there. Speaking of “Hollywood’s version of a campus”—as you note about Penn State–the Rodney Dangerfield flick, “Back to School,” had its outdoor campus scenes filmed in Madison. – Scott

Madison is off-the-charts great. State Street … the lakes … the capitol building … the Union … just awesome. And, yes, I am well aware that “Back to School” was shot in part in Madison. Great movie. I love Thornton Mellon and his Triple Lindy dive. I think of it each time I go to Madison. I always look for Professor Terguson’s class.

Did you have your eyes closed when ranking campuses? Michigan doesn’t have a campus, and not many in country are nicer than Michigan State. – Bob Sturgis

What? Huh? My eyes are closed. Help me.

 Joey Bosa is very good, but don’t start comparing him to J.J Watt yet. – Gary Engberg

Well, Bosa is certainly on his way to being as good as Watt was in college—if not better. In fact, Bosa has done more his first two seasons in college than Watt did, already earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors as a true sophomore this past season. Not bad.

No question, the Number One defender in the Big Ten is Branden Dawson hands down by far!! – Michael Christy

He is such an active, physical and strong player who poses many issues for opponents. A true disruptor. But I think there are several players in the Big Ten who can lay claim to “top defender” status. I also like Purdue’s A.J. Hammons, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Iowa’s Aaron White, among others. There is no clear-cut guy.

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, 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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