Steve Helwagen, the Big Ten senior writer for 247Sports.com, conducted a Chat on Thursday on the Big Ten message board.
The archive of the Chat is below. Steve conducts these Chats on a weekly basis for 247Sports.com Big Ten fans.
BBucksorBeGone8: Steve.. how do you envision this OSU class ending?
Helwagen: My count is they are virtually full now, but I think they are still going to take 2-3 more guys as they predict there will be more attrition.
I think they'd love to have Dodson or Diamond on the OL, although Decker and O'Connor have been great gets last 3 days. They'd wait forever for Davonte Neal. They have Reeves and Williams on visits now.
Those may be the hottest names. If they can get 2-3 of them, they'll be in a great place. This has been nothing short of miraculous. They were dead in the water 2 months ago.
Cavsfan89: What are your thoughts on the addition of Matt Canada and Zach Azzanni to Wisconsin's staff?
Helwagen: It sounds like these are two great hires. Canada has Big Ten experience as the OC at Indiana from 2007-10 and was at Northern Illinois this past season. Canada has more experience in the spread, but will be in a pro style offense at Wisconsin. Maybe he will incorporate more spread with Bielema seeing what a difference a QB like Russell Wilson can make. (Even if they somehow still lost 3 games ... I know, 2 of them on Hail Marys.)
Azzanni was a big part of the success story at Western Kentucky this past season after working for Urban Meyer at Florida. Bielema needed these kind of guys to jump start his staff renovation. He still has 3 or 4 more to hire, I believe. But these two are a great start from my viewpoint.
Cavsfan89: Maybe you have answered this one previously, but how many Big Ten teams do you think make it into the NCAA Tourney? Projected seeds for those teams?
Helwagen: I saw where Jerry Palm had 9 Big Ten teams (including Minnesota AND Northwestern) and Lunardi had 8 on Monday (he has NW but no Minnesota).
I think 8 is a solid number. I don't think Minnesota will be an NCAA team unless they can win a few more on the road like Indiana. Minnesota is 36 in RPI, which is usually a good enough spot. Can they stay there?
Northwestern if it can just win their home games, they ought to be OK. They are 24 in RPI right now. They rarely keep anybody in the top 30 in RPI out of the tournament (like it's almost never happened).
My seeds today would be:
Ohio State, 2 seed, but if they get hot they can get back on the 1 line, this young team should only get better as some of the freshmen (Scott, Thompson, Williams) start to contribute more.
Michigan State, 3 seed, solid as a rock, Tuesday's loss to Michigan notwithstanding. They will be fine. Put them in the Sweet 16.
Indiana, 4 seed, they are starting to drop like a rock with 3 straight losses. You can't lose at Nebraska, although it's clear the Huskers are respectablle with Diaz and Talley. (How about Sadler doing the bounce with the students last night?) IU will be fine. These things happen. They'll get back home and take care of bizness. Would be great to steal 1-2 on the road, though. (Have I mentioned how much I like Zeller?)
Michigan, 5 seed and rising. Same story here. They went on the road to Iowa and got whacked, but redeemed themselves with home win over MSU. They need to get a win or two away from Crisler, hold serve at home and they could move up. I like this team. They seem to have great chemistry. They have welcomed the freshman Burke with open arms.
Illinois, 6 seed and rising. They went from fence to 8 seed to easily in the field with the win over Ohio State. But they need to build on it with a win at Penn State tonight. Can't give the big win back. This is a good team. Much better than I thought they'd be.
Wisconsin, 8 seed and rising. They went through a rough stretch, but the 20-point win over NW shows they've figured out some scoring issues. Taylor is starting to play like he's capable, and that is huge.
Purdue, 8 seed. Just a middle-of-the-road team. They need to beat a top-notch team somewhere to move up.
Northwestern, 11 seed. I'm going to say they're in, probably for a play-in game. They aren't much away from home. I think they have a homecourt advantage in that tiny bandbox that nobody talks about. It's a high school gym on steroids and they do get decent support for their big games. It's like a smaller Cameron (I know, nowhere near the fervor).
I just don't see it with Minnesota, even though they stole one at Indiana. They need to keep winning.
In the same vein, I shared where the four team pods of the top four seeds in each region might be place if the season ended today. This was in my weekly Point Guard column , which you need to make appointment reading every Tuesday if you like Big Ten bkb.
The opening weekend site breakdown for the four-team pods could be:
Albuquerque – Baylor, UNLV
Pittsburgh – Syracuse, Ohio State (just 2-1/2 hrs from Cols.)
Portland – San Diego State, Georgetown (Georgetown doesn't travel, send them West)
Louisville – Kentucky, Indiana (Yum Center tickets will be hard to get)
Columbus (OSU can’t play there) – Michigan State, Connecticut (just 3-1/2 hrs from East Lansing)
Greensboro – Duke, Virginia
Nashville – Murray State, North Carolina (I moved UNC here to spread the wealth and assure sellouts in both locations)
Omaha – Missouri, Kansas (man that would be cool)
Cavsfan89: With it looking like Burrows and Marshall will give OSU a fast start to the 2013 class, do you see a domino effect occurring leading to other recruits like Price, Day, Woodard, Derrick Green, Zaire committing early/soon?
Helwagen: I think you are on to something. I will be in Dayton later today for Burrows' announcement and all indications are it will be for Ohio State. Same goes for Marshall in a couple weeks.
I think with Marshall and Zaire they need to sort out who could be a QB and who projects as a RB or WR. Green would be the impact RB they need in that class. I don't know iif anybody beyond Burrows and Marshall will verbal immediately. But you seem to have the wish list. Price is clearly the top lineman in the state.
247 just came out with updated 2013 rankings here.
Cavsfan89: Who has(or will have) the best recruiting class in the Big Ten for basketball in this recruiting class?
Helwagen: It looks like Arizona is No. 1 , followed by Kentucky (shock surprise, lose 4 NBA freshmen, replace them with 4 more, it's like an assembly line there).
In the Big Ten, MSU has the best class followed by Michigan State and Indiana.
MSU is getting probably the best guard in the Midwest in Gary Harris. He is a stocky 6-3 or so and has that Big Ten build. He will do well in the conference.
Michigan is getting 6-10 Mitch McGary from an Indiana prep school as well as 6-6 Glenn Robinson Jr. (they love legacies at Michigan, even though Big Dog played at Purdue).
Purdue is getting a nice SG in Raphael Davis and a thick 7-footer in A.J. Hammons (spent last 2 years at Oak Hill but grew up in Indiana).
Ohio State only has one spot and is hoping for burly 6-9 center Tony Parker to replace Sullinger. But UConn is now involved there along with Duke, Georgetown and UCLA.
zeke_tolliver: 1. What is up with Indiana hoops right now? Is the Big Ten THAT tough this season, or are teams in the B1G starting to figure them out? Do you think they'll bounce-back and finish strong, or make a run in the Big Ten Tournament?
2. Who do you and the 247 Sports staff see winning the B1G mens basketball? How many B1G teams should we expect to see in the NCAA tourney?
3. After Michigan and Ohio State, there are a full 26 recruiting classes between The B1G's No. 2 and No. 3 recruiting class, Penn State, who is No. 29 in 247's rankings. Also, only Kansas and Kansas St have worse recruiting classes than the worst in the B1G (Illinois at No. 76) is there any hope of the B1G improving its stock on a national level? Does the Big Ten have brighter days ahead, or are we looking at a return to it being Michigan, Ohio State, and a whole lot of middling football teams after that? ...I grant that Michigan St, Wisconsin, and Nebraska are going to continue being relevant, regardless of what the recruiting rankings are, but it's tough to have a positive outlook for the Big Ten as a whole, when recruiting is so bad.
4. Which of the seemingly poor B1G recruiting classes are deceptively good?
5. I don't expect Meyer to pilfer from so many other programs' recruiting classes every year, but I have to ask what the general thought is with regard to how Meyer's recruiting at Ohio State will impact the rest of the B1G? Is Meyer going to leave the rest of the B1G in the dust, or will the rest of the B1G take the fight to Meyer on the recruiting trail? To put it another way, is the way that Meyer is recruiting going to change the recruiting culture in the B1G?
Helwagen: Great questions ... I will take them in order.
1. Indiana will be OK. They are showing it's hard to win on the road in the Big Ten. They lost a tough one at home to Minnesota, got blown out at OSU and blew an 11-point lead at Nebraska. These players have not had any real success away from home in their career. They need to get that worked out. They will hold serve at home (by and large) and need to get 1-2 road wins back. They should be fine. They will definitely have a huge following in Indy for the Big Ten tourney.
2. I think it is still Ohio State's title to lose. The issue is OSU still must play home-and-home Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State. Going 4-2 over that stretch may be ambitious. That would leave them no better than 14-4 in the league. They got gypped with only one game each against Minnesota (and it's on the road), Penn State and Iowa. If they win it, they will have definitely earned it. But MSU should end up right there, too.
I covered the NCAA bids earlier. I think NW makes it 8, but the Wildcats still have some wins to secure to make it happen.
3. You make a great point. The other schools absolutely need to step up their game. Ohio State and Michigan have made the commitment to win with facilities and coaching salaries. The expectations are clear --- win the Big Ten and contend for national titles. The rest will be left in the dust unless they can up the recruiting. The Big Ten usually has 4-5 schoools in the top 25 or 30, so this may just be an anamoly. Look at the staff turnover at Wisconsin, Penn State and Illinois. That factors into this. Not sure why Iowa, Nebraska and MSU aren't doing better given their circumstances.
4. Probably MSU. They are getting some good players, regardless of the rankings.
5. It's been shock and awe with the way he's taken guys from ND, Michigan State and Penn State and still trying for guys from PSU and Wisconsin. He is recruiting the guys he sees as the best players available, regardless of where they may have verbaled. He is not on a 5-year plan. He wants to win TODAY. It's an interesting way to go, that is for sure.
Proud2BBlue: Your, (oops I mean Bucknuts) board has declared that Hoke is a dirty recruiter, telling kids that osu will get a multi year bowl ban, and maybe even the death penalty. Yet a recent osu commit that is now a UM commit says Hoke never mentioned osu, which seems to contradict your, (oops, bucknuts) thoughts. What have you heard? And if you really want this thing to take off, answer the question.
Helwagen: If Kalis says Hoke never badmouthed Ohio State, then we have to take that at face value. That's fine. Given the predicament Ohio State was in (uncertain future, no permanent coach), I think it would be a natural thing for any other school to point out. If Hoke didn't do that, then that's great. Nobody knows for sure unless you're sitting in a room with the coaches and the kids. It's all board fodder as far as I am concerned (i.e. has nothing to do with the process or what we'll see on the field in the fall). Just interesting things to discuss in the Hot Stove League.
Proud2BBlue: You have 4 beers, and four beers only. Two go to Big Ten football coaches(and one is not Ohio's new coach), and two go to Big Ten basketball coaches. Who, from what you have heard from recruits, parents, players, writers, sits and drinks these beers with you to just shoot the bull about sports and life. So, who's the nice guys in the Big Ten?
Helwagen: A fun question, let's see ...
Iowa's Fran McCaffery wears his emotions on his sleeves. He seems like an interesting guy. Matt Painter is an earnest kind of guy and a hard worker. You root for people like that to succeed. He's Steve Alford but with the wins. I'd say those two, but I'm sure Izzo and Bo Ryan would have some great stories to tell as well with everywhere they've been and everything they've seen.
In terms of football, Hoke looks like a big ole' football coach who coaches the game and then goes and has a beer and some wings. I met him years ago I think when he was at Ball State and he just came across as this good ole' boy type of guy. I think Bielema has a great sense of humor. He is serious as can be at times and will tweak people he doesn't like (or appreciate) from time to time. I know Mark Dantonio from his time at OSU and he's a great guy. Pat Fitzgerald would know the best places to go in Chicago, so that's a plus. Kirk Ferentz is slowly morphing into Hayden Fry, it looks to me.
karlmalowned: How do you perceive B1G coaches will take Urban's approach towards recruiting? Do you think it will draw angst among the elites? Do you think that it will sour the opinions that other coaches might have towards Ohio State?
Helwagen: No doubt, this is going to upset some people. There will probably be some tense moments in the springtime coaching meetings. But I don't think Meyer cares. He's getting paid to put Ohio State on top and sometimes you have to break some eggs to bake a cake. In turn, he can't appear to be upset if one of these offended coaches gets a chance to bury Ohio State on the field ... and does it. So, yeah, it will definitely be interesting.
karlmalowned: How do you envision Nebraska's defense performing next year? What are the biggest holes that need filling and who do you see stepping up?
Helwagen: They must improve. They were 7th in the conference in scoring (22 ppg), seventh in total defense (350 ypg allowed) and 11th in sacks (just 17 in reg season). They missed Jared Crick. He was a difference maker and tone setter up front.
They lose their top two performers in ILB Lavonte David and CB Alfonzo Dennard. They need some real play makers to emerge. They need a pass rusher and an ILB to replace David. I think they'll be fine in the secondary.
karlmalowned: Given the hire of Bill O’Brien to Penn State, what do you think Penn States offense will look like next year?
Helwagen: Bill O'Brien's offense should be a strength at Penn State. He can X and O with anybody, but who will be those X's and O's? They lose 4 of their 5 OL, their top receiver and tight end. They have McGloin back at QB and Redd at RB. Those are nice pieces to build around. It may take some time to bring the line along. I think he'll want to establish Redd and the run game first and then go from there. It will be a pro style attack, no doubt, with some spread sprinkled in.
karlmalowned: With Kirk Cousins leaving MSU, who do you see stepping up for the Spartans? Do they have a reliable QB waiting in the wings?
Helwagen: The MSU fans swear by Andrew Maxwell (6-3, 208). He'll be a junior. He threw about 30 passes this past season in relief of Cousins. He was a nicely rated QB coming out of HS (in the top 30 at that position, that year, I believe). I think they try and ride Le'Veon Bell early. Bigger question is who replaces Cunningham and Martin at receiver, although they have enrolled DeAnthony Arnett (Tennessee hardship transfer).
buckeye_mikey69: 1. Steve, do you see Cam Williams and Armani Reeves flipping to Ohio State? Williams seems to love the Buckeyes and Reeves didn't seem to like his trip to Michigan University and I have to think he's uneasy with PSU, given their controversy and lackluster head coach hire. Just wondering what your thoughts were.
2. It's obvious that Urban Meyer is the best recruiter in the Big Ten, while Brady Hoke (who's first year success was greatly aided because of Ohio State's tattoo scandal and Tressel firing) is probably second. Much of that can be attributed to hiring great recruiters for assistants (who require better compensation than your average position coach). The Big Ten conference gets great money from the BTN. My question is this: With all that extra money from the Big Ten Network, why haven't other Big Ten teams opened their wallets for big time head coaches, position coaches, and coordinators? Thanks for your time, Steve. You do great work, despite what some tool bags on this site proclaim.
Helwagen: Thanks for the comment. 1. I think they have a great chance to pull that flip. They are visiting now and we'll know more after that. OSU just got an LB verbal from David Perkins, but I assume they'd take Camren Williams as well.
2. You ask a great question there. Revenue should not be an issue. Michigan State held on to Narduzzi, its great DC, as an example when A&M wanted him. Wisconsin just lost half its staff to Pittsburgh, for goodness sakes. That can't happen if you want to have continuity. The other schools need to step up or get left behind.
bourney22: Steve, Part #1-----If you were starting a team (NCAA football), which position would you recruit the hardest and why, (outside of the obvious----QB)?!?
Part#2-----How much contact can Meyer have with his players during the month of Feb, and before spring practice for that matter?!? Meyer's interview on BTN said it's going to be a tough month in Feb. Is Marotti the only coach who can actually "coach"?!?
Helwagen: Part 1, I'd probably go for an athletic pass rusher who was a disruptive force on the defensive line. Those are usually in short supply and can turn a game with a negative play or forced fumble or INT.
Part 2, I think the head coach and assistants can supervise some conditioning workouts at this time of the year. But they can't do football-related coaching, if that makes sense. I'm not sure what the rules are on contact in the meeting rooms, but I assume the players can watch all the film they want voluntarily.
Hawkifish: Your impressions of Iowa's 2012 recruiting class?
Helwagen: I see three 4 star guys and some others with potential. I saw Greg Garmon at OSU's class and I like him a lot. He could play a lot of different places and I think they will use him well at Iowa. I also like the big DE Faith Ekakitie from Illinois. He is 6-3, 285 and probably reminds a few of Adrian Clayborn with that size. Would be nice if he could play like him, too (LOL). It is an OK class. They have some holes they need to fill though.
dustelli: It is looking like Andy Buh, the defensive coordinator at Nevada will be the LB coach. Formerly on Harbaugh's staff at Stanford. Another rumor is that Steve Loney from the Rams for OL. Not sure on that one, but there is another confidential rumor that could be pretty good.
Anyway I have heard talk that Dodson is leaning back towards Wisconsin. Is it realistic to think that we get one of Diamond or Dodson? I know that there is a chance we get niether, but that is starting to look slim. I still say we could have both.
Helwagen: I think they could get one or the other, but likely not both. I have also heard Dodson could be leaning back to Wisconsin a bit. We'll see how it ends up. Good they got O'Connor and Decker, though.
3ydncloudofdust: Steve, what do you see for OSU as far as DBs; both recruits and current players - given the recent events?
Also, don't you think, and do you forsee OSU getting a WR like a Dorial GB? Obvoiusly there's only one of those, but I mean a kid w/his size and speed. Treadwell possibly in the next class?
Helwagen: They are thin at corner, but could slide Bryant or Pittsburgh Brown there if need be. They need Doran Grant to turn out now.
You'd love to have that kind of stretch receiver that can go up and make plays and stretch defenses. I'm not sure I see one quite like that on the horizon. That kid is a special breed.
BadAsBuckeye: This may be more of a recruiting question.
But can a Coach talk about a player that is enrolled in school and going though the winter workouts, but have not yet signed their national letter of intent?
Helwagen: Yes, once they have enrolled, they can be discussed. They are no longer prospective student-athletes.
Oryhara: With what you've seen of Doc Sadler so far do you think he is capable of leading Nebraska to its first NCAA tournament victory in basketball?
Helwagen: I like Doc. He has a veteran team. I don't think it's happening this year, but at least they're gonna make people earn wins over them going forward. Without Diaz they weren't very good. Yeah, I think they need to stay the course, recruit off their new league and new building and see where they're at. It will be apparent within a year or 2 whether he has it or not. Nebraska is making the commitment with the new 16,000 seat building.
Already have an account? Sign In