Here's Tuesday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: I think this list (of player rankings) says volumes about what is going on in the Big Ten. Why generally are the big-time players not going there anymore? Is there a theme here? Although not separately broken out, I notice that six players on the list are in C-USA -- just one short of what the big time, Big Ten has. Is this more a comment on where C-USA is going or where the Big Ten is going?
I think it's a little of both -- plus an anomaly of sorts.
No question, C-USA is getting better thanks to a blend of capable experienced coaches (like UAB's Mike Davis and Southern Miss' Larry Eustachy) and quality young coaches (like UTEP's Tony Barbee, Tulsa's Doug Wojcik and Marshall's Donnie Jones). Meantime, the Big Ten is in transition based upon A) Indiana being stripped of everything and B) Michigan and Illinois being down relative to the type of prospects they are used to enjoying. So that's what you're looking at, although in fairness there were several Big Ten players on the cusp of the rankings -- namely Ohio State's Evan Turner, William Buford and David Lighty and Wisconsin's Marcus Landry. Also, not including Purdue's E'Twaun Moore was perhaps a mistake, as I acknowledged last week.
Anyway, does this mean C-USA is as good as the Big Ten?
But I do believe the Big Ten is the weakest of the BCS leagues, though I'm not sure how long it'll stay this way. Looking ahead, I think it's safe to always assume Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue will be good based upon the way those programs recruit. Wisconsin under Bo Ryan speaks for itself. And then when you consider that Illinois (with Bruce Weber) has enhanced its recruiting, Indiana (with Tom Crean) will almost certainly return to prominence and Minnesota (with Tubby Smith) is headed in the right direction it's pretty simple to conclude that the Big Ten will be strong again soon.
So if you're a Big Ten fan, my advice is to relax and be patient.
The league should still get no less than four bids to the NCAA tournament.
And there's at least an outside chance that it could somehow get five if things break correctly.