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Nitt Picks Will Not Be Split Geographically

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Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany has said several times that when deciding on divisional splits in the new Big Ten, the league will look at A) competitive balance, B) protecting traditional rivalries and C) the geography of the conference before making any decisions.

Well, it's increasingly looking like the latter most of those three isn't nearly as important as the first, after these comments from Delany Tuesday in Lincoln.

Delany also strongly suggested Tuesday night that the divisional outcome will not be an exact east-west split. Ahead of geography on the Big Ten's list of important principles, he said, is for divisions to be viewed as equally competitive and for the best rivalry/trophy games to be preserved.

"We didn't think there's any way we could achieve principle one and two if we were rigid about geographic contiguity," Delany said. "We are aware of geography, but we're not going to be driven by it."

We've said before that if the league is split geographically, Penn State belongs in the eastern division. If the divisions aren't going to be split geographically, well then, there's really not much to say right now because we don't know how that would work. However, if Delany's comments are a pre-cursor to sticking Penn State in an otherwise geographically split western division to keep Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan separate, then prepare for message board melt down in 3...2...1...

Among the other noteables coming out of that meeting, Tom Osborne told the press that had Nebraska not joined the Big Ten, it would have gone along with plans to start its own television network by 2011.

Big Ten Position Rankings

Adam Rittenberg at ESPN.com's Big Ten blog is ranking league teams by position. He recently ranked the linebackers, slotting Penn State in a tie for fifth with Iowa.

Penn State loses all three starters, but Nate Stupar and Bani Gbadyu have played a lot of football. Michael Mauti's return from an ACL injury and Penn State's strong recruiting at linebacker also elevate hope for the group.

The strange love affair with Wisconsin continues, as it seems the Badgers are ranked third almost exclusively on the backs of Chris Borland's Big Ten Freshman of the Year award in 2009.

Me? I'd take Penn State's linebackers over anyone but Ohio State and Michigan State's.

WPIAL Influence

Ron Musselman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes about the leadership role Central Catholic graduate Stefen Wisniewski has taken, especially among his fellow western Pennsylvanians.

[Mike] Farrell, [Adam] Gress and Wisniewski have formed a bond since all three are from Western Pennsylvania.

Farrell, the Nittany Lions' No. 2 left tackle, is from Shady Side Academy. Gress, the No. 3 right tackle, is from West Mifflin. Wisniewski, a first-team All-Big Ten Conference center last season who has since moved back to right guard for his senior season, is from Central Catholic.

In all, there are 11 Western Pennsylvania players on Penn State's roster. Six of them are offensive linemen, including three true freshmen -- Tom Ricketts (North Allegheny), Miles Dieffenbach (Fox Chapel) and Luke Graham (Penn-Trafford).

"It's nice to have so many Western Pennsylvania guys on the team," Farrell said. "It's a little bit of comfort zone knowing everybody's always looking to help each other out."

Always good to see older players visibly helping younger players. Even better to see them all bonding together as a team this early in the season.

In Scores Of Other Games
  • Rivals unveils its Ohio State preview [Rivals]
  • A nice story on Penn State opponent Kent State's stud running back Eugene Jarvis [Rivals]
  • Adam Rittenberg's interview with Wisniewski from Big Ten Media Days, posted yesterday. [ESPN]
  • Remember to add our Facebook and Twitter pages today as part of our push toward 1,000 by football season. If we get there, good things happen folks, good things...