Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Rittenberg joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four years at the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald, where he covered sports at Notre Dame, Northwestern, DePaul and several other colleges. He lives in Chicago.
Send your questions now and join Rittenberg in The Show at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday!
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK everyone, back for more chatting. Big Ten, general college football, whatever is on your mind. Fire away.
Adam, let's say Alabama-Clemson and Penn State-Oregon State happen in week 5, instead of weeks 1 & 2. Is Alabama still ranked ahead of Penn State?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Yes, but Penn State would get a lot more credit for the Oregon State blowout than it does now. The Lions deserve more recognition for crushing the team that beat USC and stayed close with Utah.
Brian E.Lansing MI
What are you more surprised about this big ten season, U of M's fall or PSU going undefeated?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
I thought Penn State would be good going into the season, but not this good, especially on the defensive side. It was hard to see Michigan falling this far, this fast, though.
Derek, Minneapolis MN
Do you honestly think that Tennessee and Washington are interested in Coach Brewster? And if so, what's the likelihood that he leaves for one of those gigs?
Adam Rittenberg (1:02 PM)
Tennessee wants a recruiter, and Brewster certainly fulfills that demand. I don't see him heading to Washington, Tennessee maybe. Then again, we exchanged some text messages the other day about how great the new stadium in Minnesota will be. I think he's looking forward to seeing the stadium through to next year.
Joe (NY, NY)
How high do you possibly see MSU ranked going into their game with Penn St., assuming they beat Purdue? Can they get better than 18?
Adam Rittenberg (1:03 PM)
The Spartans should be higher than 18, especially with games like TCU-Utah coming up. LSU could continue to fall with a loss to Alabama. My sense is Michigan State would be right around No. 15 (BCS) heading into that game.
Bob in Schenectady, ny
Big Hawkeye fan in upstate NY. Really appreciate the work you do to keep us all informed. Say there's heavy rain late Saturday afternoon in Iowa City. Could a Shonn Greene lead offensive attack keep the game within reach for the Hawkeyes?
Adam Rittenberg (1:04 PM)
Thanks, Bob. Looking forward to the weather Saturday. Greene will need a big game, but the Iowa defense will need a bigger game to slow down Penn State. Iowa's offense isn't balanced enough to keep pace if the defense doesn't play out of its mind.
adam, what are the chances the big ten commish changes vote to FOR a playoff if unbeaten penn st is left out of bcs title game for unbeaten or 1 loss big12/sec/usc? it seems like ohio st is the biggest name school in conference that is against a playoff...not a surprise.
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
I think it'll take more for Jim Delany to come over to our side (playoff advocates), but you never know. It certainly would be frustrating for Penn State, which has been in this position before. But my sense is if the Lions run the table, they'll be OK.
With the field conditions, cold weather, and two strong defenses. Do you think that score you predicted earlier today could be a little lower and could pose a threat Penn State losing NC contention?
Adam Rittenberg (1:06 PM)
It could, and the Lions could get bashed for a less-than dominant performance. But Penn State also has the chance to finish strong at home, where it has crushed teams this season.
Mike from Pittsburgh, Pa
Adam: Have heard several media sources discounting Penn States ability for several weeks now. Do you think they can compete against the elite SEC or Big 12 teams?
Adam Rittenberg (1:07 PM)
It's tough to say. Penn State is so balanced, and my sense is they could hang with a Big 12 team. I would be worried about Florida, but Penn State should be able to hold its own in a bowl game, as usual.
Notre Dame probably wouldn't make a change until after 2009, but do you think Charlie Weis is the right guy for Notre Dame? If not, who do you think would be a better fit for the program?
Adam Rittenberg (1:09 PM)
You're right about Notre Dame waiting a while to make a change. But this is a critical week for Weis and the Irish. My people down there say there's a chance he's losing the team, and some of the comments from players and coaches have been odd. If Notre Dame can take care of business against Boston College, finish strong and win its bowl game, things should be OK for Weis. But it's still unclear whether his personality is suited for the college game.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Would it be a good idea for the Big Ten coaches to decide not to play defense anymore since the country seems to think that you have to score 60 points a game to be considered good?
Adam Rittenberg (1:10 PM)
Haha, that's a good point, Cosmo. I was surprised at the criticism for the Ohio State-Penn State game. How different was that contest from some of the SEC games we've seen this season?
The Big Ten could be looking at some great matchups in the Capital One and Outback Bowls--probably some combination of Michigan State and Ohio State against LSU and Georgia (right?). How do you think the Big Ten looks in these potential matchups? Perhaps they present a chance for the conference to get some more respect?
Adam Rittenberg (1:11 PM)
Definitely a chance to get more respect, John. A lot depends on whether Ohio State gets a second BCS bid along with Penn State. In some ways, it could benefit the league to have the Buckeyes play in one of these games and beat LSU, Georgia or another SEC team rather than face USC again. Both bowls will be tough, but I see the Big Ten going 1-1
Threet is questionable for Saturday...Sheridan has been horrible. Any chance we see Feagin this weekend? I'd love to see a quarterback that DOESN'T throw like Lamar from Revenge of the Nerds...
Adam Rittenberg (1:13 PM)
I think we will. I'm surprised Feagin played last week on special teams. I thought they wanted to redshirt him. But if Threet is out, I can't see how Rodriguez won't play Feagin, even if he's not "ready." Sheridan has really struggled this year, and Michigan needs to get something going.
Adam, Just to follow up, if things go south for Notre Dame in 2008 and Weis does lose this team, is there any reason other than money to keep him around for 2009?
Adam Rittenberg (1:13 PM)
Well, Notre Dame is still a pretty young team, especially at the offensive skill positions. And Weis continues to recruit at an extremely high level. And there's money, as you mention. Lots of it.
Brett Swenson (East Lansing)
How many of the 20 Lou Grozo finalists do you think are actually better than me? How could I get left off the list?
Adam Rittenberg (1:14 PM)
Brett, I'll address your situation later in the blog. But you deserved to be on that list.
brian E.Lansing MI
Adam-If Cal can pull the upset on USC and Sparty wins out were will they finish in the bcs? top ten?
Adam Rittenberg (1:16 PM)
I don't see it, Brian. Michigan State lacks the impressive-looking wins I wrote about earlier today with Penn State. The Spartans lost to Cal and their best win is at Northwestern, a team that has gone in and out of the rankings. I see No. 15 as the ceiling for MSU unless it beats Penn State.
Joseph, New York,NY
Hey adam. There has been long debate about who the better back is. Shonne Green or Javon Ringer. Im not here to debate about this. But heres the question: Is it fair to use the fact that Javon Ringer has a plethora of carries this season, much more than anyone else as a negative? To endure so much physical punishment is admirable in my book.
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
It certainly is a positive aspect about Ringer's play this season. Most FBS backs couldn't take on such a heavy load and perform the way Javon has. I've gone back and forth on the Greene-Ringer debate. Both are excellent backs in different ways, but Michigan State has been the better team this year.
Adam, I'm a grad student at Northwestern but a native Buckeye. I've got tickets to the game - but I'll be in the student section! Do you think I'll be safe in the Purple wave with my Scarlet Attire? And - the better question - Will Terrelle and Beanie be able to bounce back on offense after being shut down against PSU?
Adam Rittenberg (1:18 PM)
Jon, you won't be alone. A lot of people sit in the Northwestern section wearing the colors of the opposing school. I don't think it's right, but it's a fact of life at Ryan Field. As for your second question, I see Wells having a strong afternoon and Pryor getting going in the second half. NU's defense is strong, but I don't see the Wildcats offense doing much against the buckeyes.
Patrick (Mobile, AL)
Adam, what makes you think that Ohio State would be any different this year against an SEC opponent in a bowl game? They have become the SEC whooping boy as of late...and I dont see that changing. Why am I wrong?
Adam Rittenberg (1:21 PM)
It could be, Patrick, but keep in mind Ohio State would be playing the No. 3 or No. 4 SEC team, most likely. Georgia has been a disappointment this season in many respects, and LSU looks like a flawed team to me. Ohio State also has been disappointing in many respects, but its opponent in those two games wouldn't be at the same level as Florida of '06 and LSU of '07
Matt (St. Paul)
Does Adam Weber bounce back this weekend? His numbers last Saturday covered up what was really a poor performance I thought.
Adam Rittenberg (1:22 PM)
I think he does, and I disagree with your assessment last week. Minnesota has no running game outside of Weber, and the fact the Gophers have won seven games with that offensive line is really remarkable. Weber did a lot of good things last week, and the interception really wasn't his fault. He'll come back strong against a beleaguered Michigan defense.
Dennis Harrisburg PA
If Mich State beats PSU and ends up tied, what is the tie breaker?
Adam Rittenberg (1:23 PM)
Michigan State would win the Big Ten's BCS tiebreaker if it ends up tied with both Penn State and Ohio State. If the Spartans are only tied with the Buckeyes, Ohio State gets the nod.
I was reading something yesterday about the five worst coaching jobs this season with Bielema at number 1. What are your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (1:24 PM)
Yeah, I saw that, too. I would put Tommy Bowden and a few others ahead of Bielema, but there's no denying Wisconsin has been a major disappointment this season. I think Bielema will mature from this season and the Badgers bounce back in 2009.
James (Champaign, IL)
Do you think the BIG TEN should play a round-robin schedule to legitimatize their conference champion?
Adam Rittenberg (1:25 PM)
James, you can't do a 10-team round robin. It will never fly. Nine teams, maybe, but not 10. I know fans want to see the best matchups, but athletic departments care about bowl games and the money they bring in. They're not going to sacrifice non-con games.
Matt (Hollywood, FL)
How many or maybe what bowl games does the Big Ten have to win this year to regain some respect? I personally would take the Big Ten over the Pac 10, ACC, Big East and the SEC which is the most overhyped conference in my opinion.
Adam Rittenberg (1:26 PM)
Obviously winning the national championship or the Rose Bowl would be big, but those Florida bowls against the SEC really could help the Big Ten this year.
Doug (East Lansing)
Adam, with ringer and hoyer leaving this year what are the chances msu has another bowl season next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:27 PM)
I actually started thinking about this the other day. My sense is Michigan State will be fine at quarterback, but there are major questions at running back and along the offensive line. The Spartans also lose their best defender in Otis Wiley. It could be a tough transition there.
In regard to Ron Prince, isn't it fair to say that Bill Snyder left him a team with no talent. Snyder was a great coach, no doubt about it, but his last 2 teams were awful. Prince had not only to replace a legend but one who left the cupboard bare. Do you agree?
Adam Rittenberg (1:28 PM)
I do, Dennis. Three years isn't enough time to evaluate a coach, especially one replacing a long-tenured guy like Snyder. I think Kansas State saw what was happening in the Big 12 South and panicked. Then again, Prince might have been put in this job too soon. He's pretty young.
You all do a great job, but I was wondering, of all the espn ncaa bloggers, who would win in a brawl?
Adam Rittenberg (1:29 PM)
I don't like my chances. We have some feisty people on our blogging staff.
Taylor (Baton Rouge, LA)
Do you think the Tigers have a shot at upsetting the Crimson Tide this weekend? Will Charles Scott rush for over 100 yards?
Adam Rittenberg (1:30 PM)
LSU will need at least 100 yards from Scott because the QB situation looks so shaky. If the Tigers can keep the score low and control the clock, there's a chance. But Alabama looks too physical on the offensive and defensive lines.
Matt (Madison, WI)
I've got G-Dub, Graham Watson in the blogger brawl. She seems fiesty
Adam Rittenberg (1:32 PM)
Graham would bring the pain, for sure.
I'm trying to be as optimistic as possible, but is there really ANY chance MSU goes into Happy Valley and locks up a Rose Bowl berth?
Adam Rittenberg (1:32 PM)
I just don't see it, Nick. Michigan State is a disciplined, physical team, but it lacks the firepower on offense to keep pace with Penn State. The Ohio State loss still was very telling about the Spartans against elite competition.
ataylor (provo ut)
If Penn State finishes unbeaten (beating Michigan State) and Ohio State drops another game, will the Big Ten only send one team to the BCS? Doesn't that mean a second non-BCS team would get in since the Big 12 and SEC would have the maximum of two teams each and the ACC, Big East, and Pac-10 probably wouldn't have a second-place team in the top 14 of the BCS?
Adam Rittenberg (1:34 PM)
I agree that the Big Ten would only get one BCS berth in this scenario, but I'm not sure about a second non-BCS team getting in. There's certainly a chance, though. The Big East, ACC and Pac-10 certainly don't deserve a second team, unless Oregon State goes to the Rose Bowl and USC wins out.
Scott Schafer (Ann Arbor)
Why don't my players tackle anyone? I keep telling them to!
Adam Rittenberg (1:35 PM)
I don't get it either, Scott. I was ready to talk you up for head-coaching gigs after this season. The defense carried the team for the first four games. What happened?
Carl: Charleston, WV
Adam: Four coaches out before the end of the season: that surely is a high. Does that signify anything? Past coaches have mostly been left in place until the end of the year. Is it early recruiting needs, just coincidence, or what?
Adam Rittenberg (1:36 PM)
It's just a panicky world we live in. I didn't have a problem with Bowden and Willingham. Fulmer might have deserved another year and Ron Prince certainly did. But athletic directors and boosters see what's happening around their leagues and feel changes need to be made immediately.
Nick (Charlotte, NC)
Any chance Rich Rod leaves for Clemson? Things are not going as planned in Michigan, he used to be OC at Clemson, he could dominate another weak conference, he is not making that much money at Michigan, and he is certainly not above bailing on a school.
Adam Rittenberg (1:37 PM)
No way, Nick. He doesn't want to go out like this. No matter how much he'll win at Clemson, ditching Michigan after one of the worst years in team history would tarnish his legacy. Rich has every intention of seeing this through and turning things around.
What did you think of Ball State last night? Dropping 45 on a defense that has given up 8.2 PPG is pretty impressive. A far cry from the 23 game losing streak that I endured as a student.
Adam Rittenberg (1:38 PM)
I was really impressed, Kyle. If a Big Ten team faces Ball State in the Motor City Bowl, look out. I hope the Cardinals end up in a better bowl, though a BCS berth is unlikely. Brady Hoke deserves a lot of credit for improving the defense to match a high-powered offense.
Elia from St. Louis
Adam, huge fan of your blog. Do you see a scenario in which Northwestern wins 9 games and gets shut out of a New Year's Day bowl game?
Adam Rittenberg (1:39 PM)
Thanks, Elia. That's a likely scenario, especially if Ohio State falls to the Outback or Capital One. As you might remember, Northwestern got passed over for both bowls in 2000 when it shared the Big Ten title and fell to the Alamo.
Mike Locksly seems to be a coach with rising stock, do you see him with the orange and blue next year or might he find himself running a program next year? (Tenn, UW, or replacing a coach that left for one of those schools)
Adam Rittenberg (1:41 PM)
He might bolt this year. If not, certainly after 2009. Locksley makes good coin at Illinois, and he might want to finish things out with quarterback Juice Williams and wide receiver Rejus Benn (likely to go pro after 2009). But Locksley is an excellent recruiter and will get a head-coaching job very soon.
I think the best Big Ten game that never happened this season has to be Michigan State-Minnesota. Are there any other good matchups that got rotated off the schedule this year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:41 PM)
You're giving me an idea for a blog entry. Thanks, John.
Jim Delany (Ivory Tower)
What is wrong with this scenario... PSU loses to iowa and everyone can be happy with an SEC BIG 12 matchup...We get off the hook from seeing another big flop & we finally win a rose bowl. OSU exorcises it's demons against subpar Georgia or LSU, MSU does it's job too and the rest of the big ten teams get the job done and finally prove how tough our confrence really is.
Adam Rittenberg (1:42 PM)
Not a bad scenario, Jim. How's the Ivory Tower this time of year? Anyway, I'm sure you would prefer a national championship victory, but this isn't a bad alternative.
big ten has been called a weak conference for 4-5 years now. Is it the coaches or the recruiting?
Adam Rittenberg (1:43 PM)
It's the recruiting, no doubt. The speed is in the south and west, and it's harder for the Big Ten to go get those players.
Adam Rittenberg (1:43 PM)
That said, the recruiting landscape is improving in the Big Ten.
Going back to Ball State, let them join the Big Ten, I really think the conferance needs a championship game if it wants to be on the level of SEC and Big 12. I know that isn't popular arund the conferance though. What do you think, about Ball State or trying to add any other school to achieve this?
Adam Rittenberg (1:44 PM)
It won't happen with Ball State. I think they had 15,000 at last night's game? Don't hold your breath for expansion, people. The league office likes the way things are right now, with the Big Ten getting two BCS berths every year. If it did expand, look to teams like Missouri.
It's hard to imagine that a program like Michigan and a title-caliber coach could sink to depths they've reached this year. How soon do you think they'll be able to rebound, and how long do you think they'll be looking up at MSU?
Adam Rittenberg (1:45 PM)
It will take two years to get the Wolverines program back on track. Meanwhile, Michigan State has really boosted its recruiting, particularly in state. I see the Spartans ahead of Michigan next year, and then things evening out in 2010.
Mike, Johnstown, PA
Adam, How do pre-season rankins (which I think are worthless) influence people into thinking which conference is better than others? I see the SEC/Big 12 as not really better than the Big 10, but they all are high on themselves because everyone has them ranked high in the pre-season before anyone has even played.
Adam Rittenberg (1:46 PM)
Well, Wisconsin being ranked so high in the preseason and falling so far down hasn't helped the Big Ten. But in addition to Ohio State's flops in the national title game, Michigan being down really hurts things. The Big Ten will be fine once Michigan is an elite program again.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Adam, do you think of Oregon St. and Penn St. played today the game would be closer than it was?
Adam Rittenberg (1:47 PM)
Probably, but Penn State would still contain the running game and probably hit a few home runs on offense. I still think the Lions win by 10 points or more.
It's tough to see Coach Tiller go out with a season like this. Will Purdue be back to an upper tier Big 10 team anytime soon or is it going to take a while to get back on track?
Adam Rittenberg (1:49 PM)
It will take a little bit of time because Danny Hope is changing the program's recruiting direction, looking more toward Florida and the southeast and recruiting different types of players. Expect the spread offense to look more like Michigan's version than the one Purdue ran for years under Tiller. Next year could be a little rocky, but as we've seen with Minnesota this year, things can turn around quickly.
Rory (Athens, GA)
Adam, Do you see an end in sight the the problems the receivers are having at State? Blair White has been incredible down the stretch thus far but no one else has really. If the receivers can hold onto some of those beautifully thrown passes from Hoyer do you think State can win at PSU?
Adam Rittenberg (1:50 PM)
I had my concerns about MSU's receiving corps before the season. Hoyer really deserves better in some of these games, though White has been a real nice surprise. But it will take more than a few more receptions to win at Penn State.
Nick (Tempe, AZ)
Is Ball State the best Non-BCS team this year? Wouldn't a TCU/BSU bowl game be great?
Adam Rittenberg (1:51 PM)
I'm continually impressed with Ball State. Unfortunately, we might not get a real gauge on the Cardinals until the bowl season. It would be great to see BSU-TCU, but any formidable opponent would provide a good read on Ball State.
Mike (KC, MO)
What was the best Halloween costume you saw last week?
Adam Rittenberg (1:52 PM)
A girl dressed up as grapes by the U of Minnesota campus and a guy dressed as a speedskater in my hotel. Wacky Minnesotans.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Adam, are there any QB's in the MAC that you think could playin the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (1:52 PM)
Uh, I think Nate Davis would play a bit. And Rich Rodriguez could use Dan LeFevour at Michigan. Tim Hiller from Western Michigan as well.
Corey (Michigan State University)
Adam, do you think the MSU vs. Cal game at the beginning of this season actually helps MSU's bowl senario because of the amount of fans that showed up 2,300 miles away from home (15,000+ fans)? They often take that into consideration, dont they? Also, if MSU and Cal both win out and get another chance to play in the Rose Bowl, who do you pick to win?
Adam Rittenberg (1:54 PM)
I'm sure Michigan State AD Mark Hollis will note that fact when he meets with bowl representatives in the next few weeks. But I think Michigan State is in good shape for one of the Florida Bowls (Outback or Capital One), no matter what.
Hey Adam, can you remind your SEC-loving colleagues at ESPN that mighty Florida lost AT HOME to Ole Miss? I mean, why is everyone forgiving that loss?
Adam Rittenberg (1:54 PM)
I have, Joe, but it doesn't work. Feel free to beat Ole Miss at home, ya know?
Big East Guy in Indy
Will we see Pitt v. Penn State renew their historic series after JoePa retires?
Adam Rittenberg (1:55 PM)
I would hope so, but the logistics could be tough with Penn State needing home games and wanting to play marquee opponents (Alabama, etc.) in the coming years.
Who do you like as a potential replacement for JoePa out of this list: Tom Bradley, Larry Johnson, Greg Schiano, Al Golden, None of the above? (And I'm not saying I want JoePa out anytime soon, but when he does eventually hang it up)
Adam Rittenberg (1:56 PM)
Tom Bradley is the only realistic candidate on your list at this point. Things could change, but there's a growing sentiment that Bradley deserves a shot after JoePa.
Adam Rittenberg (1:56 PM)
OK guys, that's all I've got today. Enjoy Week 11 and I'll chat with you again next week!