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 (12:59 PM)
A happy Thursday to all. The Big Ten might be out of the national title mix, but there's still plenty to discuss. I'm yours for the next hour or so. Fire away!
Sam, Oklahoma City, OK
How are you doing today Adam? I have a few questions for you. What are the odds of Shonn Greene returning for his senior season? If he does decide to go to the NFL, what pick do you think he will be?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
I don't think Shonn Greene will be back next year. He's 23 years old and totally ready for the NFL. Sorry Hawkeyes fans, but Greene is a special back who doesn't need more seasoning. NFL scouts love this guy. He's a high pick if he comes out.
Jen (Sylva NC)
I am really frustrated with the news media, why can't Penn State get any love, or even recognition that they could be a different team then others in the Big Ten? It looks to me like they are getting typecast due to Ohio State's performance of the last few years.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
I agree to a certain extent, Jen. Penn State should get more credit for wins like Oregon State and even Ohio State. The Big Ten needs a strong performance from everyone, namely Penn State and Ohio State.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
Bret B. (Madison)
Who is more disappointing this year, Wisconsin or Illinois?
Adam Rittenberg (1:02 PM)
Hmmm, interesting name attached to this question. I'll go with Illinois, just because of the talent Ron Zook had coming back. But your team, er, Wisconsin, hasn't exactly performed to its capabilities.
Patrick (Mobile, AL)
Good afternoon Adam. How stupid was Notre Dame to sign Weis to a 10-year $30 mill contract? Its not like he was a proven coach like Saban, Carrol, or Meyer. Now they are stuck with him, unless they want to pay that $14-$21 million buyout. Do you think we will see the end of these rediculous multi-year deals and go to standard 2-year contracts?
Adam Rittenberg (1:04 PM)
Pretty stupid, if you ask me. I was covering ND at the time and couldn't believe they did that, after a 5-2 start and a loss to USC. It was done purely out of fear and driven not by members of the athletic department but outsiders who got wrapped up in Weis and the possibility of him returning to the NFL. The same sort of dumb talk about Weis surfaced at the 2007 Sugar Bowl, when Tom Coughlin, future Super Bowl winner, was on the hot seat. Ridiculous.
10 days from now, will the Gophers have the axe, the pig, both, or neither?
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
No axe. Pig, potentially, but Eric Decker has to get healthy. That offense looked totally lost without him, and Iowa is playing well, so the Gophers might go trophy-less this year.
Adam you sat down with Rich Rod. In your opinion, is he the guy for Michigan, or will the spread option fail in Ann Arbor?
Adam Rittenberg (1:06 PM)
I believe in Rodriguez and think he'll get things turned around in the next two years. He could have tweaked the system and maybe gotten another win or two this year, or he could have stuck with what he's always done and hoped it clicked over time. It was a tough call, but he chose to stick to his guns, even though it didn't pay off right now. The spread option will work once he gets a few new pieces.
Adam, please explain to tPatrick in AL that ND had a lot of pressure on them to keep Weis. He started off 8-0, and was the hottest coach in football. ND was worried that the NFL would come knocking, so in order to secure him, they had to throw rediculous amounts of money to him (which ND can afford). Now of course they're paying for it, but it was a gamble.
Adam Rittenberg (1:07 PM)
8-0? You're thinking of Ty Willingham, Mike, the guy Notre Dame fans love to hate. Last I checked, Weis started off 5-2.
Todd (Hutchinson, KS)
I was talking to some guys about this and it's still bothering me. Do you think that a conference championship game would help or hurt us in the long run in standings and BCS?
Adam Rittenberg (1:08 PM)
Good question, Todd. It makes no difference as far as getting teams into BCS bowls. The Big Ten has gotten two teams to the BCS more often than any other league. But from an image standpoint, a championship game might help boost the Big Ten's reputation, and in turn the rankings. Though a few more BCS bowl wins would help more.
Adam, on a scale of 1-10 what is the possibility of a Florida vs. Texas Tech National championship? I think it would be a very entertaining game and definately worthy of a National Championship game. Who do you like to win if that was the case?
Adam Rittenberg (1:09 PM)
I love what Texas Tech has done the last two weeks, but I don't see the Red Raiders winning in Norman. I'd put the likelihood at 4. But if those teams meet, Florida would get the edge because of its superior defense. It'd be a good game, though.
You've said that the big ten is down right now in comparison to some of the other major conferences. Do you think it's a question of talent? Coaching? What's the overall factor driving the disparity, and do you think that the balance will eventually swing back?
Adam Rittenberg (1:11 PM)
It's not the coaching. I would say recruiting and geography hurt the Big Ten more than anything. The better athletes are generally in the south, southeast and west. The Big Ten needs more of those players, and it seems like coaches are gearing their recruiting more toward those regions. I think the changing recruiting landscape in the Big Ten will lead to a stronger league in the coming years.
Who do you think has the inside track to the UW job?
Adam Rittenberg (1:12 PM)
I would love to see them hire Chris Petersen, just to see how he does in a big-time job. Jim Mora's name continues to float out there despite him denying interest. And my guess is Muschamp would get a look
Tigger (Therrrrrrrrre, Great)
Who you got tonight...VT or Miami?
Adam Rittenberg (1:13 PM)
Tough one, as always in the ACC. I'll go with Va Tech after last week's performance, but Miami also is playing better. Loved you on my cereal box, by the way.
Mark, (Business Statistics, Iowa City)
Hello and good afternoon. What are the chances of Decker being back for the Iowa-Minn game, and what bowl do you see Iowa going to if and when they win out? Glad that Ken O'Keefe didn't allow Iowa to lose another close one on another final drive last week, thank you football gods!
Adam Rittenberg (1:14 PM)
Man, the O'Keefe bashing never stops in Iowa. Decker is expected to return for the Iowa game, though he could be limited. He went back in against Northwestern after originally sustaining the injury, and he tried it again last week. A high ankle usually takes 2-6 weeks to heal, so it's hard to know how effective he'd be. As for Iowa winning out, I see them in either Outback or Alamo if that takes place.
Kenny: (East Lansing, MI):
Hey Adam, love your blog. Just sitting here in psychology class and wondering about post-season awards and such. I know there is still a few weeks to go but who do you see as the front runner for the Doak Walker Award and the RB spot for the first team of All-Americans. Personally, I see Javon Ringer as the front runner for these spots, but you also got to consider the likes of Shonn Green and Donald Brown. They have definitely been more consistent but no one in the country is more valuable to his team than is Ringer. Just wondering what your thoughts are on this. Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (1:15 PM)
Always nice to hear from bored students, Kenny. It's going to be a tough call for the Doak Walker. Ringer can certainly help his cause with a big game against Penn State, but looking at it purely from a statistical standpoint, Greene should win. Brown is a nice back, but the Big East is so lousy this year.
Mark D. (East Lansing)
Do I deserve to be Big Ten Coach of the Year? If not me, who?
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
You have my vote, Mark. Tim Brewster from Minnesota also deserves some consideration, but you have gotten more out of your team than any other coach this year.
Ryan (Ferndale, MI)
Michigan vs Northwestern on Saturday. Can the Wolverines build off the win in Minnesota?
Adam Rittenberg (1:18 PM)
It will be an interesting game, very tough one to call. I'm not sold on Nick Sheridan, but he managed the game nicely and limited mistakes. Michigan will have the emotional edge, but if it turns the ball over, it will lose. Same goes for turnover-prone Northwestern and QB C.J. Bacher.
Bryan (East Lansing, MI)
If Ohio State wins their next two games, what motivation exactly is there for the Spartans to beat Penn State? I understand pride, and being 10-2, but it seems as though they are pigeon-holed into the Outback or Capital One Bowl (not that that's a bad thing). Are there any other bowls that remain a possibility?
Adam Rittenberg (1:19 PM)
There's still plenty of motivation for the Spartans, Bryan. For starters, Michigan State has yet to show it can beat an elite team. Penn State provides the perfect chance. And if MSU wins, it puts itself in the mix for an at-large BCS berth. It's not likely, but there's a chance.
Lou (Bethesda, MD)
The Old Man in State College has done a pretty good job with a team that was not supposed to be in the Top 3rd of the Big Ten this year too.
Adam Rittenberg (1:20 PM)
He has, Lou, for sure. Also deserves consideration, but Penn State has a lot more talent than Michigan State or Minnesota. A lot of NFL players on the Lions' two-deep.
Where does Britt Miller stand in the Big 10 in terms of linebackers? Ohio State's LB seem to get all the pub, but Britt shows up every Saturday.
Adam Rittenberg (1:21 PM)
He does, David, and he deserves better. If you would have told Ron Zook where Brit would be in the Big Ten defensive stats before the season, Zook would have thought he'd be coaching an 8-2 team right now. Brit has stepped up big time, but other members of that defense simply haven't.
Tyler (St. Louis, Mo.)
If Terrelle Pryor had gone to Michigan would they have a winning record?
Adam Rittenberg (1:22 PM)
Hmmm, I'm going to say yes, just because of how quickly he's progressed in a system that probably doesn't fit his skills as well as Rodriguez's would have at Michigan. I could see Pryor winning the Toledo game for sure, and maybe Purdue, Utah or Illinois.
Patrick (Mobile, AL)
Adam, do you maybe see Jo Pa bowing out gracefully at the end of the season? I know that he and Bobby B. are just trying to out do each other in the winningest coaches race, but it has to end sometime...
Adam Rittenberg (1:23 PM)
I see Joe coming back for another season. He's fully intent on having surgery and then hitting the recruiting trail. Jay Paterno said Saturday night that Joe will be back on the sideline next fall. It might not be the graceful exit many want, but he's earned the right to leave the way he wants to.
Robert Griffin (Waco Texas)
Is my team gonna have enough to contend in the Big 12 next season? I would love to have a winning season, is that possible or are my hopes too high?
Adam Rittenberg (1:25 PM)
Robert, you're a heck of a player. I was really impressed watching you against Connecticut back in September. But that's an awfully tough division, and Baylor always seems a few players short of being a real contender. Having you for the next three years will certainly help, though.
Brett Basanez (Northwestern)
Will CJ Bacher have a greater legacy at Northwestern that me?
Adam Rittenberg (1:25 PM)
Nope. You improved every season and won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors with Michael Robinson as a senior. Bacher has had some big games, but his inability to limit interceptions is extremely troubling considering how much he's played.
Nick (St. Louis, Mi)
Do you think Tim Brewster would leave Minnesota for Tennesse or any of the other jobs that will be open this year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:27 PM)
From corresponding with Tim last week, he's extremely excited about the future at Minnesota, particularly with the new stadium next fall. I think he wants to see that project through. If he continues to win, though, I could see him jumping to the Big 12 or SEC.
Let's say Ball State somehow works there way up to the top 8 in the BCS, how much of an outrage would this be nationally? Would they even be competitive with a power conference BCS team?
Adam Rittenberg (1:28 PM)
It's so tough to say, Disco. Ball State is much improved on defense, and Nate Davis clearly is a guy who can play on the next level. But I'm skeptical of a lot of non-BCS teams right now. The Utah-TCU game didn't show me a team that could win a BCS bowl. I doubt Ball State will get to the top 8, though.
Three Big 12 QB's (Harrell, McCoy, Bradford) plus Crabtree plus Tebow. Do you see this as the 5 headed to NY and right now - any could win?
Adam Rittenberg (1:29 PM)
I do, Bruce, though it would be nice to see a Big Ten running back (Greene or Ringer) in there, too. I'll come down to Harrell, McCoy or Bradford for the Heisman. Right now, you have to go with Harrell.
Curtis Painter (W Lafayette)
Do you think I could beat Justin Siller in an arm wrestling match?
Adam Rittenberg (1:30 PM)
Only if you could run him down first, and I don't see it happening.
Is Gary Barnett a realistic candidate for one of the open or soon-to-be-open coaching jobs? He has announced that he wants to get back into coaching.
Adam Rittenberg (1:31 PM)
Interesting, Dennis. I know Barnett has some baggage that would turn off some programs, but he's an interesting name who had a decent among of success on the field. I could see him popping up somewhere for some job.
Why won't Penn State throw the ball over the middle? It seems like all the passes to wide recievers are short out patterns.
Adam Rittenberg (1:32 PM)
Penn State needs to start making more big plays again. Just 2 for more than 20 yards in the last two games after making 51 through the first eight games. As for going down the middle, Daryll Clark tried to do so in the fourth quarter last week, and you know what happened.
Paul (Fort Worth)
Utah-TCU didn't show you a team that could win a BCS game, huh? Did USC-Cal? Did the OSU-Penn. State game show you one? BCS colored glasses must be getting passed around like candy there in Bristol!
Adam Rittenberg (1:34 PM)
Paul, I didn't say Utah didn't deserve a spot in a BCS game. I just don't see the Utes winning one of those games. The offense isn't consistent enough, and could you honestly see them stopping a Big 12 offense?
Dan (East Lansing)
What is with the big ten's bye week woes?
Adam Rittenberg (1:35 PM)
It's awfully strange, given how much of a fuss the coaches made for a bye week. There's clearly some rust with some of these teams, though Ohio State looked pretty solid last week. Michigan State is up next.
You say the Big 10 needs more BCS wins to gain credibility? What about Oklahoma, who has lost 4 straight BCS games? Florida got run off the field against Michigan last year. Anyone remember Ohio Sts 24-7 beatdown of Texas in Austin two years ago. Those teams are allowed to choke in big games, even AGAINST the Big 10. Such a joke the way the Big 10 is portrayed by ESPN.
Adam Rittenberg (1:36 PM)
Tim, I agree with you for the most part. But you HAVE to be competitive in the national title game. You just have to. You can't do what Ohio State did against Florida, after everyone, including ESPN, hyped you as the greatest team ever. I agree the league deserves some credit for those wins -- Michigan's was not in a BCS bowl, by the way -- but the performances in the national title game and against USC in the Rose Bowl aren't acceptable.
Mendenhall (Ft Campbell, Ky)
Hey Adam, how do you think Michigan will do next year with there returning players and the recruits they have this year? I mean Michigan has a pretty good recruiting class this year.
Adam Rittenberg (1:37 PM)
You'll start to see Michigan turn the corner next year, particularly on the offensive side. Then in 2010 is when you'll really see dividends start to pay off from the recruiting.
Bradford (Boise, ID)
Adam, you said you are skeptical about the non-bcs teams that could make it to the BCS. Provided we make it, are you skeptical about Boise State?
Adam Rittenberg (1:39 PM)
I'm not sure what to make of Boise State. There's a good track record there of beating BCS teams. Oregon wasn't at full strength and the WAC is woeful this year, so I'm hesitant to say the Broncos would win a BCS bowl this year. Love Kellen Moore, though.
Lorenzo White (MSU)
You need three yards are you giving the ball to me or my boy Ringer?
Adam Rittenberg (1:40 PM)
That's a tough call, Zo. Are we talking about you in your prime or right now? Both of you guys can get the tough yards.
Brett (Rockville MD)
How do you see Darryl Clark performing in these last two home games? I think its fair to say all of Nittany Nation is behind him, he seems like he's a great kid and a leader, shouldn't take the Iowa game too hard on himself.
Adam Rittenberg (1:40 PM)
I think Daryll will bounce back nicely this week. I felt bad listening to him last week at Iowa City. He was on the brink of tears. He really cares. It's genuine. That's what you like to see in a quarterback.
Do you see any coaching turnover in the Big 10 this year..Seems that the teams with better athletes and senior leadership are on top and parity exists in the coaching ranks throughout the conference.
Adam Rittenberg (1:41 PM)
I don't, unless a coach leaves for another job. Obviously, Purdue will have a new coach with Danny Hope coming in, but other than that, it should remain. Bill Lynch will get one more year at Indiana after some major struggles this fall.
How far is Notre Dame away from being great again? Some think next yr could be special.
Adam Rittenberg (1:42 PM)
I wouldn't worry about next year, Bob. Worry about beating Navy and Syracuse, and winning a bowl game. A loss on Saturday would be devastating for the present and potentially the future of the program.
Adam (Hermosa Beach, CA)
Hey Adam, what chances are you giving of Illinois upsetting the Buckeyes on Saturday in Champaign?
Adam Rittenberg (1:43 PM)
For some reason, Illinois always plays the Buckeyes tough. As Malcolm Jenkins told me, the talent level is pretty similar in this game. I'd expect a strong effort from the Illini, but you can't bet against the Buckeyes on the road.
I love Texas Tech. and assuming they win out I'm terrified that they'll lose to Missouri in the Championship Game...they've killed us the last two years and it'll be cold in Kansas City with a partisan crowd? Talk me down.
Adam Rittenberg (1:45 PM)
See, Big Ten fans, here's a case where the championship game hurts the league more than it helps it. ... OK, back to Tech. You have a better offense, a quarterback who has been more consistent and a defense that is pretty underrated. It won't be an easy game if you get there, but I like your chances more than I do against Oklahoma.
Since the dominant performance against Wisconsin, Penn State has been looking weaker with each outing--a slow start against Michigan; a tight game against Ohio State that could have gone either way, and finally, the Iowa loss. As a Penn State fan, should I be troubled by this trend? Or will the Indiana game provide the team the opportunity to turn things around before Michigan State and the bowl game?
Adam Rittenberg (1:47 PM)
John, Indiana is so banged up that Penn State will get things rolling again. I don't know how much relief that will provide, though. The lack of big plays are really hurting the Lions right now. Michigan State has done a nice job of limiting explosion plays, so next week's game could come down to long drives, defense and who commits turnovers.
Randy (St. Paul)
Hey Adam, I love Adam Weber, but it looks like he is starting to struggle at the end of the year, much like last year, even before Decker got hurt. Is this a product of him wearing down, or is something else wrong?
Adam Rittenberg (1:48 PM)
He needs a running game, big time. And Minnesota has gotten by with a very iffy offensive line this season, much like Northwestern. Weber can't be the leading rusher for that team to succeed, and defenses seem to be exploiting Minnesota's struggles up front.
What are the chances that USC can get into the BCS championship. I would love to see a USC vs Florida game. Two extremely talented teams with two great coaches battling it out. What a game!
Adam Rittenberg (1:49 PM)
It would be a great game, Nathan, but the chances are very slim. It's hard not to see a Big 12 team going ahead of USC.
Adam, do you think the Big 10 teams should alter their schedules to either a.) add another bye week or b.) start a week later so that they have games past Thanksgiving? I think it hurts the conference in the rankings when their season ends two weeks before all the other major conferences limiting their exposure in a time when it is most important, regardless of whether a championship game is involved or not.
Adam Rittenberg (1:50 PM)
At least one team (Illinois) is playing a later game next year, and I think you'll start to see more of this. The Big Ten is less hung up on finishing before Thanksgiving than it used to be. I agree that it's important to have some games on the weekend after Thanksgiving, even if you don't have games the weekend of the league championships (Big 12, SEC).
Touchdown Jesus (South Bend)
My arms are tired.
Adam Rittenberg (1:51 PM)
You do a great job.
Greg (Iowa City, IA)
Hey Adam, I agree with you that Greene won't be back next year, he is ready right now. But what did you think of our support of him at the Penn State game with the "Greene Out"? Any chance he will get invited to New York?
Adam Rittenberg (1:52 PM)
It was pretty cool to see the green shirts with the Hawkeye logo. I thought I was at Notre Dame for a second. I think there's a slight chance he goes to New York, but it's hard not see the four QBs (Harrell, McCoy, Bradford, Tebow) going as well.
Bob Knight (USA)
Adam, when the Big Ten wins both the Capital One and the Outback Bowls this year, will respect be given or will excuses rain down for the SEC losers?
Adam Rittenberg (1:54 PM)
It depends on what happens in the BCS games. The biggest boost for the Big Ten, quite honestly, would be for Penn State to beat USC in the Rose Bowl. USC still gets a ton of credit despite a total meltdown at Oregon State. Then again, the Trojans prove every year that they can get it done in the bowl season. A win in the Rose Bowl would be absolutely huge for the Big Ten.
If Beaniw Wells comes back net year, what do you think OSU's chances of winning a national title will be? Do you think he even will come back?
Adam Rittenberg (1:55 PM)
Ohio State needs to replace a ton of starters on defense, but a backfield of Wells and Pryor would be pretty formidable. Wells is ready right now for the league, along with Greene, but he might want to come back. Having a healthy season and making a run for the Heisman might bring him back to Columbus.
Do you think Tressel will make some changes with his coaching staff? I know he'll never give up the play calling on offense but the O line play has been horrible with the talent they are supposed to have. Personally I don't understand why the D doesn't show up in big games.
Adam Rittenberg (1:56 PM)
Nice name. I could see a few tweaks here and there, maybe a change of the offensive coordinator. But if Ohio State finishes strong and manages to win its bowl game, they might keep things as is.
DC (Atlanta, Ga)
What is the chance of UGA making an at-large BCS bowl, given that they were blown out twice on national tv?
Adam Rittenberg (1:57 PM)
Very slim, D.C. Florida and Alabama are the two most-deserving teams of BCS bids in the SEC. Georgia had its chances and failed miserably.
Mark (Minneapolis, MN)
I personally don't think he is ready but one sportscaster in Minneapolis thinks Decker would be a first day draft pick this year. Do you think Decker leaves early?
Adam Rittenberg (1:58 PM)
It's a tough call. If this injury persists and he doesn't play much more, I could see him coming back. He looks pretty ready to me, but he also seems like a guy who wants to play four years. And with the new stadium and all the excitement and being a Minnesota native, I could see him coming back.
How much of an effect do you think weather plays into the opinion of the big ten? Teams aren't going to look flashy when it's cold and snowing. The SEC and Big 12 have the luxury of playing in warm weather. I'd like to see a team from one of those conferences come north in november.
Adam Rittenberg (1:59 PM)
It plays a factor, certainly. People love offense, and with a game like last week in Iowa City, you're not going to see much of it. But last I checked, the weather ain't gonna change around here in November.
Adam Rittenberg (2:00 PM)
OK, guys, it's been real. My time is up. I'll turn things over to Big Ten spokesman Pat Forde.