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Pick Six: Talking Big Ten Football With Bruce Feldman

Tim Cary

It's time for another edition of Pick Six, where FBT interviews a nationally recognized writer, broadcaster, or football expert to chat about a half-dozen conference topics.  Today's guest is Bruce Feldman, a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. 

In addition to his work at the magazine, Bruce Feldman writes a college football blog on (Insider access required) and has published two books.  His latest book, Meat Market, gives a behind-the-scenes in-depth look at what the year-round college football recruiting process is really like.  For those of you who are trying to figure out why Ole Miss is a preseason Top-10 team, Meat Market and its stories of then-coach Ed Orgeron stockpiling talent in Oxford is a must read.

With the introduction out of the way, we'll jump right into the questions.

1.  Among current Big Ten coaches, rank the top five recruiters, and explain what the most important characteristic of a good recruiter is (i.e. why you ranked them the way you did.)

Zook, Rodriguez, Tressel, Ferentz, and Paterno.  I go with Zook number one because I think the biggest factors in being a great recruiter are being passionate about it.  The process can be grueling and you have to be committed to it.  Rodriguez is a great evaluator and knows how to find guys for his scheme and project under the radar prospects.  Ferentz I think is similar.  I have Tressel and Paterno in the top five because they are iconic in what they represent to both the parents of the recruits and their coaches, and that ultimately counts for a lot.
Penn State vs Temple

2.  How many Big Ten teams do you think will play in bowl games this season?

Feldman:  I think they'll more than fulfill the conference's bowl allotment.  I have Penn State, Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Michigan.

3.  If you were an NFL general manager right now and could have the pick of any Big Ten freshman to play for your team in four years, who's the can't-miss prospect you would choose?

I'm not a fan of the term "can't-miss", but I think the Wolverines coaches will really develop DT William Campbell into a real force, and athletic defensive tackles are so hard to find.

4.  Who do you think is the best assistant coach in the Big Ten?

Larry Johnson at Penn State is great at developing linemen and also as a recruiter.

5.  Which Big Ten school has the greatest stadium environment and why?

I really think being at the Shoe on a gameday is an awesome sight although, I'm going to go with Wisconsin.  I think it's such a cool stadium the way they've built it and the crowd is great.  It even smells like what college football in the fall should smell like.
USA Sports - November 22, 2008

6.  What do you think are the five most important games on the Big Ten schedule this year (conference or non-conference)?

Ohio State at Penn State, USC at Ohio State, Penn State at Illinois, Iowa at Penn State, Notre Dame at Michigan.

Many thanks to Bruce Feldman for dropping by this week!  Don't forget, if you're on Twitter, you can follow Feldman at @BFeldmanESPN and keep up with FBT at @FirstandBigTen.  Let us know who you'd like to see in the next edition of Pick Six! 



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