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Big Ten Chat Wrap: Dec. 28 Archive

Steve Helwagen, the Big Ten senior writer for, conducted a Chat session Wednesday on the Big Ten message board.

Tom Izzo

Click here to access the Big Ten board. Click here to see the original thread with the Chat.

We will target next Wednesday or Thursday for the next Chat.

Below are excerpts from Wednesday’s Chat:

Vinegar Str0kes: So Steve, the last 3 MSU basketball seasons have been disappointments? Since when is reaching a final four in consecutive years a disappointment? You know what I call a disappointment? Being a number 1 seed, and crapping your pants in the Sweet Sixteen like your Buckeyes did last season.

Helwagen: Good point. It was wrong to characterize those first 2 years as disappointments. Any time you make a Final Four, that is a great finish and a tremendous accomplishment. I know when MSU was dumped out of the Big Ten tournament early in both of those years, few expected them to rally and go on a run like they did. But then again maybe only playing 1 game in Indy helped them stay fresh for the real tournament, where they did heavy duty damage. (Did I mention Tom Izzo is an amazing coach with an amazing record?)

Agreed on Ohio State, they've been a high seed 2 years in a row and have not gotten past the regional semis. It's New Orleans or Bust this year, I'd say.

Beardy: So Steve, you say that MSU wins a lot of game 60-50 and that is the Izzo way.

What do you say to the fact that a number of people said the same thing in 2000 before Michigan State ran Florida out of the building in the National Championship. Or in 2010 when they out ran USC and UConn in the tournament? Did you not know that the Izzo way is quick transitions off forcing turnovers and rebounds, and only a complex set of plays if forced into a half-court offense?

Helwagen: Izzo puts a premium on his teams playing great defense and playing with great effort. He holds guys accountable if they don't do that. That remark about 60-50 was off the cuff. I did crunch the numbers and in the 5 competitive games they've played against good opponents the average score this year was MSU 65, opponent 55.

You're missing my point if you focus on how they did against Grand Valley State, when they ran up 103 points or whatever it may be.

They are comfortable in a nut cruncher game, like the next 18 will be. Indiana comes in averaging 84 points a game. Maybe I'm wrong. But I wonder if MSU wins like 70-60 tonight.

I don't know that 60-50 is a putdown. Winning games is the big thing, winning tight games against good competition is even more important. They do that on a consistent basis. They are primed for a great year.

Rocket_Play: Steve With all the unfair penalties lobbed OSU's way, do you think there is any chance the B1G lets OSU have a third or even a fourth coaching staff to help even things out?

Helwagen: Ha ha, this one has been covered sideways and backwards. Illinois has 2 staffs in place now --- one coaching the game led by Koenning and the other recruiting led by Beckman. But because it's Illinois nobody cares.

The NCAA allows schools to do this in transition situations. Michigan's AD and coach complained about it, not knowing that Rich Rod just did it himself there in Dec. 2007.

It's legal under the rules.

psufankc63: I wanna know who the next PSU FB coach will be. Any insights?



Helwagen: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the search panel wants Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak. Click here for the story.

Munchak played for Joe Paterno on the OL from 1978-81. That story says Green Bay assistant Tom Clements is also in the running.

It would be almost unprecedented for an NFL head coach to walk away and take a college job, particularly if PSU isn't going to pay the going rate (probably $2.5-3 million or more).

Munchak previously said he was not interested in making such a jump. But these are extraordinary circumstances. Maybe he can be convinced to come home and circle the wagons. Going from NFL to college is hard because of the year-round recruiting rigors.

They are going slowly because they need to get this right. Things always seem worse than they really are (just ask me ... LOL). But I think some dark clouds will lift once their white knight is in place and they can move forward.

PSUfanatic25: Steve we all know how good of a program OSU is at developing young men into good members of society,

any insight on the arrest of former Heisman Troy Smith...

would he know somewhere I could get a nice tattoo in Columbus.

Much Appreciation.

Helwagen: Ohio State's graduation rate and APR are doing just fine in comparison with its Big Ten brethren. Troy Smith was pulled over for a license suspension, I think.

Beardy: When you completely ignored Michigan State being competitive for the Legends in 2012, did you screw up and think that they were in the Leaders?

Helwagen: No, I hadn't fully studied the situation. MSU fans begged me to dig deeper, so I have. Here is what I found about MSU in 2012 ...

They should have 6 starters back on offense and either 9 or 10 back on defense, depending on what DT Jerel Worthy decides to do. He figures to be a first-round pick and will have a tough decision to make.

They lose Foreman on the OL, but have 4 starters back as well as their top 3 RBs. My guess is they will build off the running game until the new QB, Andrew Maxwell, has his feet wet. Maxwell threw 26 passes in support of Cousins this year, completing 18 for 171 yards and 1 TD. If he can do that or more each week next year, they'll be in great shape. They lose their top 3 receivers in Cunningham, Nichol and Martin, so some new names must emerge there (ask Ohio State about pressing new receivers into action).

Maxwell has bided his time. He was considered the nation's No. 36 QB by one service in 2009. I know MSU fans are optimistic he will take over from Cousins with minimal slippage.

The defense was great this year and has potential to be great again next year. I like Gholston and Allen and everybody on that unit, really.

So, yeah, I made too much of Cousins and Cunningham leaving. They aren't the whole team. MSU should be pretty good again -- maybe even 10-win good -- if Maxwell and the WRs step up.

PSUfanatic25: On a serious note though I was wondering who you guys see as the breakout buckeye in 2012? Braxton Miller seemed ok to me, but you guys lost a lot of weapons, who's up next?

Helwagen: That's a tough one because nobody really stepped up to support Miller this year. Philly Brown was hurt and inconsistent at WR. He may be the top one. Carlos Hyde has potential to average 100 yards a game at RB, but ball security is an issue. Jordan Hall is just a spot player. He is not a between the tackle feature back in the Big Ten. Not sure what the disconnect was for Rod Smith at RB.

They need some WRs to step up, no doubt about that. Herron and Posey won't be there any more after the bowl game. Good news is it really doesn't matter until 2013.

Bucktooth2: With their once proud program in ruins and their HC job considered "toxic", how does PSU ever get back to what it use to be or what they wanted everybody to think it was?

Helwagen: It is going to take special people. It will take a visionary AD. It will take a dynamic, energetic head coach who is immersed in the real history and tradition of Penn State football. If you don't have that, the fans will not buy in (see Rich Rod at Michigan). He needs a great staff that will recruit PA hard. Too many guys have leaked out to other schools.

More than anything, it will take time. This is something that will dissipate over time as things continue. It will require a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Look at Indiana basketball ... the fans stayed positive and largely stayed behind the program and they are starting to reap some of the rewards of that support. They need to stay united.

The bad news is going to be the bad news. There isn't anything fans or coaches can do to stop the reporting on civil and criminal cases that will be in the courts for the next 5 years. Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative ... that's all they can do.

Penn State is still Penn State and rational people understand that.

OldOaken: Steve. How do you feel about the start of conference scheduling in basketball? IU gets an advantage going to MSU with no, or little, students. OSU the same to IU and MSU the same going to Wisconsin. Do you feel that they should schedule some lighter teams so the marquee games get the atmosphere they deserve?

Helwagen: When they went to the 18-game schedule, they decided that was too many games to shove into the 9 weeks between Jan. 1 and the conference tournament. They wanted an extra week, so they backed up the start of the conference to the last week of December.

It is what it is. You trade things off for other things. It isn't perfect. But the fans don't play the game. The players on the court decide it. You hope that real fans get those student tickets for those 1--2 games this week and they make it tough.

Everything comes out in the wash. I assume everybody has 1 home and 1 road game this week to make it even for everybody.

bengalbux: Steve,

With Whisky's Russell Wilson graduating, MSU's Kirk Cousins graduating, Penn State imploding and OSU on probation, who is the favorite for the Big X Championship Football game next year? Michigan? Who else?

More importantly, do you see any National Title contenders from the Big X next year?

Helwagen: This comes up each week.

I think you dismiss NW (heavy grad losses) and Minnesota (still year or 2 away) in the Legends.

Michigan State has 6 offense/9-10 defense back

Iowa has 7 offense with QB and 5 defense back

Michigan has 5 offense with QB and 7 defense back

Nebraska has 8 offense with QB and 7 defense back

MSU gets Iowa and Nebraska at home and must visit Michigan

Michigan gets MSU and Iowa at home and must visit Nebraska

It is going to be a real tough call. I said Michigan last week. See me in two weeks (after we've watched the bowls) and maybe I take somebody else. I think it could be the winner of MSU-Michigan. UM is due in that rivalry and they're playing at home. UM by the slimmest of margins, as of today (until Va Tech knocks them out of the box ... LOL).

Other division looks like Wisconsin's to lose. They need a QB but will have 8 back on offense (7 if Ball leaves) and 10 on defense.

Ohio State may win anywhere from 8-11 games but is ineligible.

Penn State has 5 starters back on both sides of the ball.

Michigan-Wisconsin. Michigan was my early pick because of Denard.

Put aside who you're a fan of and tell me who you think wins it and why.

Cavsfan89: Steve, What are your thoughts on Indiana basketball going forward? Do you think Crean is the right fit? It sure seems like he has been bringing in some talent in the future recruiting classes to go with the players he has now. Can Indiana compete for the Big Ten Championship year in and year out?

Helwagen: They are upwardly mobile. They have averaged 9 wins a year last 3 years and already have 12. If they can get Zeller to stay for 2-3 years, they could win the Big Ten by the time he's gone. He is that good. I saw him score 30 in an AAU game once and it was not all dunks. It was threes, jumpers, putbacks, hooks, you name it. He is highly skilled.

And they have great pieces coming in with the PG Yogi Ferrell and guards/wings like Hollowell and Patterson. Indiana is rebuilding behind Indiana kids. If you don't think they won't get behind that team full throttle, you don't know IU basketball.

If Sully and Thomas leave (and I expect at least Sully to do that), then next year is open for Indiana to make that move (provided Zeller stays).

They have blown past Purdue like Purdue was standing still. MSU will be tough too with Gary Harris.

Cavsfan89: Steve, Do you think Wisconsin will take a big step back after losing Chryst and Bostad, along with Wilson and the other seniors? Or will Wisconsin quietly be right there in the Big Ten race like it always seems they are.

Helwagen: Chryst has been the guy behind the curtain for Bielema the last few years. They need to clone him and they'll be fine. That's easier said than done sometimes.

As noted, Wisconsin has a ton coming back. If Ball does leave, then one of the other backs (White) will step forward. They need a QB, though. They were special this year because they had a run/pass QB. Maybe that's the kind of guy they need to target in the rec process. Hmmm.

Cavsfan89: Steve, Have you heard anything about the outgoing OSU coaches like Jim Heacock, Jim Peterson, Doc Tressel, Jim Bollman, and Nick Scillano. Do you think Heacock is a candidate for a job with the Illini? Could Peterson return to Akron with their new coach?

Helwagen: No, mum has been the word. There was talk that Heacock could go to Illinois to work for Beckman. Haven't heard a peep on the rest. Heacock, Dick Tressel and Bollman could opt to retire. Peterson is a great guy. He'll get a job very quickly.

mjw1200: Which of the 3 non bowl eligible teams in the big ten, iu minny and nw, do you think have a chance of making a jump next year?

Helwagen: Northwestern is actually playing in a bowl this year. They play Texas A&M in the Meineke Bowl. NW could struggle next year. Coulter replaces Persa at QB but they only have 4 starters back on both sides of the ball.

Minnesota has 5 back on offense with the QB and 6 back on defense. They beat Iowa and Illinois this year, just win a couple more and they would be bowl-eligible. So I'd say they are closest.

Indiana was a struggle. They have 7 starters back on offense and 8 back on defense. Edward Wright-Baker and Roberson were promising at QB. Maybe they move up to 4 wins next year.

stauff07: Steve, I know it's really early and months away but, what you have seen from B10 basketball during the non-conference part of the schedule do you think the B10 can make some noise during march madness?

Helwagen: I previewed the conference season here.

It was a good nonconference as they played and defeated a lot of good teams. OSU, MSU and Michigan all played Duke, as an example.

Ohio State may be the only team with a high ceiling to be in a position to win it all. I think Wisconsin, MSU and Indiana could all be Sweet 16 teams. Illinois, NW, Purdue and Michigan could all win 1 or more games.

That's probably how I'd break it down right now.

mjw1200: Top tier teams, Who falls off? Michigan with their tougher schedule, msu or wisc losing qbs, or Nebraska with losses at OT and Defense? Don't want to judge psu without a new coach

Helwagen: I wonder about Iowa without McNutt and we'll see what happens with Coker. Maybe Illinois takes a step forward with a new set of eyes judging and coaching the talent.

It's natural to think that Wisconsin could take a step back. Same for MSU without Cousins. Nebraska must improve defensively, but they lose Crick and David.

Timber: Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the treatment of Steve in this post is unfair. Remove the fact that I'm a Buckeye fan, and lets look at the facts. Many journalist stick with their own team and stay exclusively "Homers." At least Steve has the balls to stick his neck out. Next, there are more OSU alumni and students than any other school in the world, they are going to have more posts. I check every other B1G school's site and OSU has significantly more posts and questions, so they are going to get more answers. Also, You cant judge anyone fairly unless you read them all the time. I've read many posts from Steve that he has been critical towards OSU. Finally, Steve's knowledge is going to be significantly better for OSU since thats is his base school. 24/7 has every resource available to get you questions answered, even though these guys have thick skin, this serves no purpose.

Steve, my question. Indiana seems to have the BB recruiting in full gear. If you add this 2012 class to an already good team, especially with a center like Zeller, could you see them being the team to beat in the B1G in 2012-13.

Helwagen: Good point on Indiana. I eluded to that earlier. Their roster is going to be pretty good next year. They will lose some seniors, but Watford, Hulls, Sheehey and OIadipo will be back. If they can get Zeller to stay, they should be in the top three easily.

M.A.C. System: Steve you mentioned last week that "Izzo's Way" was 60-50 games. Can you please explain why you attacked MSU when your beloved buckeyes sport a much slower pace of game: Pomeroy Adjusted Tempos:

MSU: 106

OSU: 174

In fact MSU is one of only 3 big ten teams in the top half of Men's bball tempo.

Can you explain why you took a shot at Izzo's style in the last chat wrap when it is one of the fastest in the big ten?

If you are going to focus on tempo feel free to destroy Wisconsin's abomination of the game (345th out of 345 teams), or Nebraska 336, PSU 304, Mich 290, Minny 263, Illinois 241, Northwestern 240 etc.....

Helwagen: You can't judge anything off these nonconference games. I think MSU has more scoring punch this year. They stood around and waited on Lucas to do too much in the past in the halfcourt. I like their team this year. They are built for success. My guess is we see a good showing tonight vs. IU.

jimtaco: Who will have a winning season first, Indiana or Minnesota?

Helwagen: Minnesota just seems closer. They have Gray for another year, even if he was up and down. Then again, if Gray can't do it next year, IU would be closer with Roberson doing it the following year maybe.

kitemac: I don't know a whole lot about Steve or really the b1g. I do disagree with anyone saying that a staff member should hold their tongue and not speak their opinion sometimes. I understand it isn't a good idea all the time to talk openly. There is certainly sites and writers that don't post enough and that isn't what anyone pays for. Is Steve talking too much about OSU? I have no clue but I know they have a lot going on right now. You guys would know more about who he is covering more than me. He maybe answering too many questions from one fanbase I really don't know. I always want writers/staff members to post more often than not and speak their mind. I was a member of rivals for a long time and the staff never interacted with the customers at all other than the articles they put out.

Helwagen: I appreciate it. That's what we're going for is interaction and building a community. It's OK to jab each other about being fans of other schools, but we all know there is a line you don't cross with those comments. We want to build a great Big Ten community and breed that loyalty to 247. That's our hope here. It helps having great recruiting reporters like Bill Kurelic and Steve Wiltfong.

Hey guys, thanks for the great questions. I think I have handled all of the ones that were serious questions ... and even some that weren't (ha ha).

We're going to build something really good here together. I can feel that there are enough people out there who are interested in talking Big Ten football and basketball that we can make it work.

I will be traveling next Wednesday, so maybe we can target Thursday for a Chat next week. Thanks again for participating!!

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