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Mailbag: The Best Big Ten Towns
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Mailbag: The Best Big Ten Towns

October 18, 2016

Nebraska fans are known to travel. It’s just the Huskers’ thing. Since joining the Big Ten, Nebraska has made it clear that its fans will not only come to your city but probably also overtake it in the process. Now that the Huskers have made their way to almost every Big Ten town, what are the favorites? That was one of quite a few Big Ten questions we received this week. Guess we’re all in a Big Ten state of mind after traveling to Bloomington, Indiana.

Brandon Vogel, Jacob Padilla and Erin Sorensen answer your questions in this week’s Hail Varsity mailbag.

Q: What has been your favorite Big Ten stadium to visit? And which Big Ten city is your favorite? – A.

JP: Not Purdue’s.

BV: Favorite stadium is Ohio State’s. It’s huge and historic. You just feel like you’re there for a big game, and that’s usually the case. Favorite town is Madison, by far. Really great vibe, beautiful city, great food and the gameday atmosphere is tough to beat.

ES: From those I’ve visited so far, I really like Madison. It’s a great college town. I also didn’t mind Bloomington, although it’s considerably smaller than I expected. I’ve never been to Columbus so this year will be a great experience as far as that’s concerned. I can’t wait.

Q: Which is a better road trip/game atmosphere and why: Madison or Columbus? – E.A.N., Neb.

JP: I haven’t been to either one. However, I will be going to Madison this year and am looking forward to seeing what all the hype is about.

BV: See above, but those are probably the top two road trips in the Big Ten for me. Camp Randall doesn’t have quite the appeal for me that Ohio Stadium does, so give Ohio State a tiny edge there. Madison has a slight edge over Columbus in terms of overall atmosphere, so this is really as close as the game these two teams played last week. Considering that you spend 10 to 16 hours soaking up the “atmosphere” on a road trip and only about four hours enjoying a stadium, I guess I’ll pick Madison. (Bonus take: Penn State is last.)

ES: I’ll get back to you after the Ohio State game.

Q: Have Big Ten fans been welcoming to Husker fans on road games? – R.C., Grand Island, Neb.

BV: For the most part, I think the answer is yes. There’s always some good and bad. I heard from some Husker fans that they didn’t particularly enjoy their first trip to Madison. I also heard a lot of people loved their first trip to Bloomington.

Q: What is the word on Westy and Carter coming back and is Tommy Armstrong feeling OK? – D.G.

ES: Mike Riley gave an update on all three (and more!) yesterday. You can check that out here.

Q: Is it time to burn some O-line redshirts? – D.P., Lincoln, Neb.

JP: This late in the season, burning a redshirt would be a bit of a waste. It is disappointing that the coaches seem to be finding every possible way to avoid playing the redshirt freshmen (Michael Decker, Jalin Barnett, Christian Gaylord) and juniors (Zach Hannon, Dwayne Johnson) on scholarship. I think Robby Painter might be the only walk-on left that hasn’t already seen time, so even with the team’s hesitancy, I’m guessing they’d play one of the above mentioned scholarship players if they need to go any deeper on the depth chart. Playing a true freshman at this point cuts half a year from his career, and considering none of them have played a second of college football, I’m not sure any of them would truly be an upgrade over any of the other options, at least not enough so to make it worth it.

BV: Logically, no seems to be the right answer. But if Nebraska is undefeated going into its two toughest games with everything still on the table and if Nebraska’s offensive line isn’t looking like it will be any healthier and if the staff knows there’s a freshman that could make that group better immediately, I think it’s OK to have that conversation. You tell the player what he’s already given up (a half season), tell him what you think his role would be and then let the player weigh those options and make the call. If a true freshman wants to jump in and you’re confident he’s seriously considered the pros and cons, I don’t think it’s off the table.

Q: If the B1G ever decided to expand to 16 teams, who do you this would be the wise and likely choices? – 3.L.C.

ES: I am a big fan of Oklahoma joining the Big Ten. I’d also take Kansas. Obviously both of those choices have other state schools attached (Oklahoma State and Kansas State) so as long as the Sooners and Jayhawks could part with their in-state foes, we’d be in business. I think Oklahoma makes sense from a historical standpoint in the Big Ten. They’re your traditional powerhouse football program, making them a good fit for the Big Ten. As for Kansas, the basketball program makes a lot of money and is solid. That would be a huge get for the Big Ten on the basketball front. So give me those two Big 12 teams and let’s just call it a day.

Q: What’s more exciting, a 1-0 finish in the MLB playoffs, or an overtime NFL game? – K.B., Omaha, Neb.

JP: That depends on how each game ends. If someone hits a grand slam in the MLB team, that’s pretty exciting. If someone breaks free for a long touchdown, that’s pretty exciting as well. If the baseball game ends with a short pop-up or the football game in a 30-yard field goal, neither one is very exciting at all.

Q: What exactly is Bruce Read’s job description and do you think he will be coacher for Nebraska next season? – C.S.

ES: He is Nebraska’s special teams coach. His job description would literally be to coach the special teams. Beyond that, I don’t have an answer for whether or not he’ll coach at Nebraska next year, the year after and any year going forward. I don’t have quite the problem with Read that others seem to (aside from struggling to spell his last name correctly 90 percent of the time) but I get it. A punt is blocked? Read’s fault. A return is fumbled? Read again. I think a lot of the criticism has to do with his salary (which is $450,000/year if you didn’t know from all the tweets about it already) so it’s easy to blame him when things go wrong. I’d say give it time. He’s working with a punter that was supposed to be redshirting this year and dealing with just as many injuries as any other coach on the team.

Q: If the Nebraska Cornhuskers are not a top 10 team (as some have said), what DOES it mean to be in the top 10? – C.S.

JP: Nebraska is a top 10 team because that’s where they are currently ranked. They are currently ranked there because there aren’t 10 other teams that have proven they are more deserving. Nebraska may have its flaws, but to this point the Huskers have taken care of business while other teams that may seem more talented have not. If Nebraska loses a game, it will drop, and rightfully so. Polls are merely a snapshot of what the college football landscape looks like in any given week. Nebraska is one of the few power conference teams that has yet to lose a game. That’s what being a top 10 team means for Nebraska.

Q: Are manicures mandatory for special teams holders and long snappers? – S.

ES: I think so, yes.

Q: Do I let go of my balloon after the first points or the first touchdown? – T.P.

ES: This has actually always bothered me because there does not seem to be a consistent answer. People seem to assume it’s after the first points, but they very hesitantly let their balloons go. It’s weird. I think it makes sense to just make it after the first points but there needs to be more conviction behind that. Let the balloons go, people! Be proud!

Q: Soooooo… Nebraska is not going back to the Big 12? – B.S.

JP: Better check in with @TheMontyShow to confirm.

Q: Who exactly lives at the same address with Tommy Armstrong? – M.S., Omaha, Neb.

ES: You have TWO options for this! Jordan Westerkamp and Trey Foster are both alleged roommates of the one Tommy Armstrong Jr. This is also my favorite question because I like to pretend they’re sitting around at home running through plays and practicing in the backyard.

Q: Will I survive the Cubs in the playoffs? – K.K., Omaha, Neb.

BV: We both will, but it’s going to feel like we won’t every step of the way.

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