Well Spring Football is in the books (I assume they have books on this somewhere) , early spring top 25 rankings are out, and it's about to hit quiet time for on field action until August. So what are the big headlines coming out of Spring Football?
Expansion or Super-Expansion?
Both the Big 10 and Pac 10 are directly looking to expand with the SEC considering expansion. The question is will there be an expansion to 12 teams or super-expansion to up to 16 team conferences. Now the 12 team conference has the advantage of a conference championship game, what's the story about super-expansion? That's a separate issue as the conferences we knew would fall by the way side. The idea here more of a) adding markets for television (e.g., Big 10 network) and b) limiting competition. By creating super-conferences the new Big 10, Pac 10, SEC, could form their own BCS and cut out the remains of other conferences thereby insuring a bigger cut of the ever growing college football pie. Now this might seem conspiratorial or what have you but the only reason for Super-Expansion of the Big 10 (i.e. adding 5 schools) is for greater leverage and control of athletics and the only reason for the SEC to respond in kind is for similiar reasons. If history is any guide, the big boys like excluding those smaller from the pot o'college money.
With end of Spring football you're seeing a spat of pre-season rankings - which in turn will influence the actual first AP poll so what are we seeing? There appears to be general consensus on the top 3 - 1. Alabama 2. Boise State 3. Ohio State. All are returning most of their offenses. Fortunately all of have big non-conference games (Penn State, V-Tech, Miami) so we should see quickly if they are for real. Behind them are a spat of your usual suspects - Texas, OU, Oklahoma, Florida.
Big 10 Questions
There's no secret that here at BSD a lot of our focus is on the Big 10 so what are some of the big questions out there -
1. tOSU - Oddly or ironically the biggest question for the Buckeyes might be on special teams. The Buckeyes need to replace both their kicker and punter and early spring returns are.... bad. Tresselball relies on field position and long range FG accuracy so poor special teams could be a big deal
2. Iowa - Iowa had an incredibly successful year last year can they duplicate it , if not exceed? That will fall on if they can rebuild their o-line. They need to replace 4 of 5 starters. Iowa has identified who they are going to be..it remains to be seen if they can gel.
3. Wisconsin - Wisconsin returns most of their team as well. The only question they have is at receiver. Outside of Nick Toon (Al Toon's son) Wisconsin doesn't have any established receiving threats.
4. Michigan - The biggest question around the Wolverines right now is at QB position. RichRod has held an open competition at the starting QB spot and Denard Robinson has apparently stepped up the game to that competition will continue into the summer and possibly into the Fall.
5. Michigan State - Arguably the best offense in the league, the Spartans return all the key parts. The question is the defense - specifically the porous secondary. MSU is switching to a 3-4 but I don't think that answers the question if the secondary can cover anybody.