The Big Ten's new look

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What kind of effect will Rich Rodriguez, Michigan's new football coach, have on the Big Ten?

Very positive. Rodriguez will bring in a spread option offense that will be a change-of-pace for Michigan and will attract a different breed of athlete to Ann Arbor.

For example, he will bring in a different type of quarterback, perhaps a Terrelle Pryor instead of a Ryan Mallett, someone with great athleticism, like Pat White at West Virginia or Juice Williams at Illinois.

Pryor is a priority. Rodriguez recruited the senior from Jeannette, Pa., for West Virginia. But Pryor, who liked Rodriguez a lot, appeared to be more interested in Ohio State. Now Michigan is in the mix.

The spread offense is the latest glamour offense in college football, as the T-formation, split-T, wishbone and double wing before it. It has been effective wherever it has been introduced...Florida, West Virginia, even Northwestern.

One of Rodriguez' first steps was to rehire Fred Jackson, who was former coach Lloyd Carr's running backs coach and an excellent recruiter. Jackson will help to bring great athletes to Michigan to implement the new offense.

That's one of the reasons why Tuscola quarterback John Wienke decided to de-commit from Michigan and opt for Iowa. He is a Mallett-type, pro-style quarterback, tall and strong but immobile. He doesn't fit into Rodriguez' new offensive scheme.

Most of all, Rodriguez brings an injection of fresh blood to the stodgy and wrinkled Big Ten, which has fallen behind the SEC, Pac-10 and Big 12 among the dominant football conferences in the nation. His arrival, along with the emergence of Ron Zook at Illinois, could signal the beginning of a new era.

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I think the Big 10 has already started to undergo the change. OSU ran some option when it had Troy Smith. NU has run the spread option for years and with success. IU has run it the last few years and went to a bowl this year. Illinois is turning the corner. Minnesota installed the spread option this year and put up some good numbers. The big 10 may lag other conferences (although that is debateable since OSU is playing for the title and Illinois was in the Rose Bowl and Michigan and Wis played on New Years Day and that ain't bad) but they are not stodgy. The lower rung teams adopted the hot new fad in offense to good effect. OSU adopted it when its personnel dictated. Michigan is just following an established trend in the Big 10.

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on December 23, 2007 6:15 PM.

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