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)
Hey guys, chat time. Don't know about you, but I'm going through major Big Ten football withdrawal. We need some games again. Anyway, what's on your mind?
MSU Fan (NY)
Can I buy my Capitol One Bowl tickets yet or do I need to wait until Sunday?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
I'd start looking for flights to Orlando, but root for USC to beat UCLA just to make sure.
AJ San Diego
Since you mentioned Big Ten teams traveling further to bowl games. Any chance a major city in the northern half of the country attempts to dip into the bowl $$$ and sponsor a "Great Northern Bowl" Cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, or Buffalo are large enough cities to hold these events. Even a city with a dome could host to reduce the effect of the weather.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
I hear this argument a lot, A.J., and I just don't see it working from a business perspective. I live in Chicago. I love Chicago. I would rather be in Arizona, Florida or with you in San Diego during late December or January than here. I just don't think it would make enough money, and that's what the bowls are all about.
Kirk Ferentz (Iowa City, IA)
Why would I leave the Hawkeyes to go back into the NFL when I have such a sweet deal right here in Iowa City? Also, what are the predictions for my team going into next year? Big Ten Champions?
Adam Rittenberg (1:03 PM)
I don't know, Kirk. You've got a great contract at Iowa, a good core returning for next season and your son James in the program as an offensive lineman. Besides, Phil Savage destroyed the Browns this season. Do you really want to work for him? Doubtful.
I was really hoping that Ohio State would have the opportunity to face an SEC opponent such as Georgia or Alabama in a bowl game. Now, it seems almost certain that they will face a Big 12 team, likely Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. Win or lose, I view this scenario resulting in a lost season. Not that I don't believe that Texas isn't a worthy opponent, but the Buckeyes have already played and defeated Texas. What they haven't done is win against the SEC, sporting a dreadful 0-9 record. Seeing as how OSU won't be in the title hunt and with nothing to lose, this would've been the perfect year to get that monkey off their back. An SEC victory is the second best thing to winning another national title and anything else is small potatoes in comparison, even if it is a BCS game. I'm going mad over how it has been promoted as a good thing that the Bucks are BCS-bound! Am I out of my mind here, or what? BCS? Who cares? This is one Buckeye fan who'll be cheering for the Bruins this weekend!
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
That's an interesting take, Columbus. But I wouldn't minimize a win against Texas or Oklahoma this year. The Big 12 is regarded as the nation's strongest conference, and a BCS bowl win really would do more for Ohio State than a Capital One Bowl win against an underachieving Georgia team with three losses. I don't know how many Buckeye fans would agree that an SEC win is second to a national title. I would think a Rose Bowl or BCS bowl win would rank a bit higher.
Matt, Harrisburg PA
Adam, you said yourself you've bought into the USC hype. I'd like to know why. I'm not trying to imply they aren't a great team with a lot of talent, but the same can be said of any of the top 8 BCS teams. The difference with USC is the hype, of which they get a disproportionate amount. Since you've bought in I'd like to hear your perspective.
Adam Rittenberg (1:06 PM)
USC gets hype because it takes care of business in November and in bowl games. I look at their defense, particularly the back seven, and see very few weaknesses. It's not to say Penn State couldn't find some, and with so much time to prepare, I'd expect the Nittany Lions to make plays. USC's offense is nothing special, but the defense deserves the hype. It has backed it up, albeit against so-so competition. But there are a ton of NFL guys on that side of the ball.
Chris , Clarks Summit, PA
Do you think the big 10 will change there stance on having a big 10 championship game in the near future. It seems like that hurts the overall perception of the big 10 champ every year becuase they are on the shelf for a month and a half?
Adam Rittenberg (1:08 PM)
The Big Ten first needs to find a 12th member that fits with the other 11, and not named Notre Dame. That process isn't easy and would take some time to figure out. I think it's more realistic for the Big Ten to stay scheduling more games after Thanksgiving to at least remain on the radar a little longer.
Do you welcome the spread offense in the Big Ten - personally I'm more of a running between the tackles guy, that's exciting for me, but I guess everyone has to catch the newest trend right?
Adam Rittenberg (1:09 PM)
I think it's important to recognize what's going on in the game around you, and Big Ten teams are doing that. I don't understand the opinion shared by some of my colleagues that Big Ten football is outdated. Sure, some teams play the way they always have (Wisconsin, Iowa), but look at Penn State. No one would have ever imagined a Joe Paterno-team playing like that on offense.
Ohio State and the entire Big Ten gets a bad reputation for the last two championship games. Oklahoma has lost 4 straight BCS games, 2 by blow out and one to a non-BCS school. Why does nobody remember those or hold that against Oklahoma?
Adam Rittenberg (1:11 PM)
The Buckeyes are hurt more by the fact their losses occurred in the title game, not just any BCS bowl. But Oklahoma shouldn't get a free pass, either. Just because you sling it around and score 60 points against bad defenses doesn't mean the four losses didn't happen. This is a big year for Oklahoma to step up in a bowl game, especially if the Sooners get into the title game.
Rick Perry (Austin, TX)
Do you think the state of Texas has enough teams to make a BCS Conference?
Adam Rittenberg (1:12 PM)
Ha, that's a great question, Rick. Let's see, with Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, A&M, TCU, Houston, Rice ... still think we're a few short. North Texas ain't a BCS program.
Are you surprised Northwestern ended so well without Sutton?
Adam Rittenberg (1:13 PM)
Very surprised. Depth has been a major issue for Northwestern in the past, and to win three of the final four games without its best player by far is saying something. I talked to Tyrell this morning at practice and he's optimistic about returning for a bowl game. Check the blog later for a post on him.
Will the Big 10 redeem itself on a national scale with the way they perform in their bowl games this year? Especially if PSU and OSU both win their BCS games?
Adam Rittenberg (1:15 PM)
Those two games are everything for the Big Ten. A win against USC in the Rose Bowl and possibly Texas in the Fiesta would force people to give the Big Ten its due. This season has been sort of like a one-year prison sentence for the Big Ten after the last few BCS flops. But two wins in January would go a long way toward improving the league's national rep.
Bob from Schenectady
On the whole line of spread offense vs. a more traditional offense. Couldn't a selling point of the more traditional IOWA's and Wisky's offenses be that they are much more of a pro type offense. Play here and have a better understanding of the next level. Now if my Hawkeyes could just recruit more pro-type prospects...
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
That's a great point, Bob, and I'm sure it's one that guys like Bret Bielema, Kirk Ferentz, Paul Chryst and Ken O'Keefe sell to recruits. Iowa can point to offensive linemen and guys like Dallas Clark and say we can send you to the next level. Wisconsin can do the same with a guy like Travis Beckum, who might not have been featured in a spread system.
William (Atlanta, GA)
After Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech's surprising success this season with a very young team (16 of 22 starters were either Freshmen or Sophmores), how well do you see this team doing in the next few years?
Adam Rittenberg (1:18 PM)
Georgia Tech is the best team in the ACC, and it's a shame we won't see the Jackets in the ACC title game this weekend. I really like what Johnson's doing and think Tech will be a force in that league for years to come with so many young players.
adam, so is the time off in between end of regular season a bonus so big ten teams have time to prepare or is it a negative since big ten teams get rusty??? i hear big ten fans of ohio st and penn st both making excuses already. penn st is going to get beaten by 3 tds in rose vs a usc team that is bored of whipping big ten teams.
Adam Rittenberg (1:20 PM)
It's a negative, but not a huge negative. In some cases it allows players enough time to rehab injuries, but it's too long of a layoff before the bowl games. The Big Ten will begin playing post-Thanksgiving games in 2010, and it will benefit the league in the long run. That said, I don't think Penn State will be blown out in the Rose Bowl. Could happen, but unlikely.
John (Boston, MA)
Adam, Any more news on PSU Assistants being considered for other head coaching jobs? (JayPa at Toledo, Bradley at SU, etc)
Adam Rittenberg (1:21 PM)
Well, Toledo made its hire today, Oklahoma State DC Tim Beckman, so JayPa is out of the mix. If I were Bradley, I'd push for the Syracuse job, but he might be fine to stay put and wait for his turn in State College.
Matt (Madison, WI)
After this years let down, preseason expectations should be a little lower in Madtown next year. We have a fair group returning next year including some WRs that have come into their own and a TE in Garret Graham that looks like a great NFL prospect, not to mention a QB that should start a second year that looks to have the confidence of the team. Do you think the Badger might OVERacheive next year, which we haven't seen for a couple of years?
Adam Rittenberg (1:23 PM)
That's a good point, Matt, and Wisconsin has always been better when it's a bit under the radar and overachieves. There are some holes to fill along the offensive and defensive lines and at linebacker, but the Badgers should be OK next year with all the running backs coming back around Dustin Sherer, who really gave the team some confidence down the stretch.
Alex , Tallahassee, FL
Adam help me out here, im still a little confused with how Ohio State is getting a share of the Big Ten title. I understand that both Ohio State/Penn State each have one conference loss, but Penn State beat them heads up and has a better overall record. In addition to this OSU didnt even play Iowa so they cant use the "we beat Iowa who beat you" arguement. Just doesnt make much sense to me. Any help?
Adam Rittenberg (1:25 PM)
I'm not a big fan of the co-championship at all, but since the Big Ten has no title game, anyone with the highest overall record is labeled co-champ. Since there's no round-robin in the Big Ten, the co-champ title holds up even in the case that you mention, where Ohio State didn't play the team that beat Penn State.
The Oklahoma Texas Conference could be enough. Throw in OU, OSU, and Tulsa with the 7 Texas teams mentioned above and that's a pretty solid BCS conference.
Adam Rittenberg (1:26 PM)
There you go. That's the solution.
Chris, Austin, TX
If we see an OU blowout of Mizzou while Florida barely beats Bama, could we see UT vs. OU rematch for the NC? Florida is way behind in the BCS computers... Everyone assume's they're in the title game if they win. I don't get it.
Adam Rittenberg (1:27 PM)
That's an interesting take, but I think Florida would get the necessary bump whether it beats Alabama by 28 or 3. Anything is possible, but an OU-Texas rematch seems highly unlikely to me.
Brandon (East Lansing, MI)
Hi Adam! What do you think Michigan State will look like next year, with key players such as Javon Ringer and Otis Wiley leaving? Any thoughts/predictions? Also, do you still see a chance of Iowa jumping MSU in bowl selection on Sunday? As a Spartan Marching Band member, I'd like to start feeling comfortable about where we're going, haha.
Adam Rittenberg (1:30 PM)
I wouldn't be worried about Iowa jumping MSU for Cap One. I spoke to someone in the know who said Cap One is only really considering MSU and Northwestern if Ohio State goes to the BCS. The Cap One wants a ranked team. As far as the Spartans, I'm disappointed the coaches didn't get more work for the backup running backs. Ringer will be a major loss, though the passing game should be better.
Cam (Pensacola, FL)
Is Beanie gone or is the chance of hurting himself again going to make him leave?
Adam Rittenberg (1:31 PM)
I think he's gone. The injury thing is a legit concern, but Beanie is an NFL back who happens to still be in college. He'll be a top 15 pick if he comes out early, and with the new collective bargaining agreement next year, he might be wise to take the money now.
You mention the Big 10 possibly taking a 12th team. Which schools would be top of the list? I was thinking Rutgers or Syracuse would fall into that category due to size, academics and, most important, access to NYC market. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (1:32 PM)
I'm not sure the Big Ten wants to go farther east. Penn State often feels like an outsider in the league, and geography is a reason why. I think the Big Ten would stay more in the Midwest and look to a school like Missouri.
Aaron: Cedar Rapids IA
Adam, it is never to early to look ahead at next year. I know recruiting has not wrapped up yet and we don't know who is leaving early. However, could you give us your pre-season Big 10 standings for next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:33 PM)
Aaron, I haven't studied it too closely yet, but I really like what Michigan State is doing so far. Not saying the Spartans are at the top of the list, but they're doing well. Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan will be fine, but I like MSU, Minnesota and Illinois as well.
Marcin (Cleveland, OH)
Who would the Big 12 take if they lost missou? Why wouldn't the BIG 10 take Notre Dame?
Adam Rittenberg (1:35 PM)
OK, all of you need to understand it's not like the Big Ten says, "Hey, Notre Dame, let us take you." Notre Dame has to want to join and really has no reason to do so from a business perspective. Would you want to share the TV revenue if you didn't have to? Of course not. As for the Big 12, I could see them making a run at TCU
Mike (Cleveland, OH)
Adam, What's with the argument that Michigan doesn't have the players for Rich Rod's system? These kids are still Division I, UM recruits, and I would assume are just as fast and athletic as the players Rich "needs." Who is the ideal player for this system? Seems like such an insult to the current roster that they're "not the right type of player." Last I checked, they're still on a football scholarship at a D1 school.
Adam Rittenberg (1:37 PM)
I don't want to blame it all on one position, but Rich needs a quarterback who fits his system. Since this is a pretty boring week around the Big Ten, I spent some time yesterday looking at YouTube clips of that Shavodrick Beaver kid who comes in next year. Now he FITS the system. I agree it's a jab at the current players to say they don't fit, but I think more of them will fit once a capable quarterback arrives next year.
What is your opinion on ND playing in a lower bowl, ie. Music City Bowl, etc.? They really have nothing to gain from that other than a few more practices. If they win against a MAC or Sun Belt team it will be expected, but if they lose, it would really add to the negativity.
Adam Rittenberg (1:39 PM)
It's a tough decision, Robb, but Notre Dame needs a bowl victory, no matter how it gets or or against whom. The bowl losing streak really hangs over that program. A lot will depend on when the bowl game is played (later the better), but I believe that Weis will want to finish this year on a potentially good note before a huge season in 2009.
Adam, I'm a sucker for defense. I still don't believe that the Big 12 has as good of a defense as some of the Big 10 and SEC teams do. UT, OU, and TT's offenses haven't been tested by a good out of conference D yet. They've just been beating each other and scoring a lot of points. I saw a lot of flak on Big 10 boards from Big 12 fans saying how boring the OSU vs PSU game was because it was so low scoring...I thought it was a great defensive performance from both teams. I don't know Adam...for all I know the Big 12 could be an over hyped joke. If Ohio State ends up playing Texas or any other Big 12 team...I think OSU will rout them. What do you think???
Adam Rittenberg (1:41 PM)
The jury is out on those Big 12 offenses until the bowl season. Between Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma, I would only take Texas' defense. And I agree with you about the Ohio State-Penn State game. It was a field position, defense, first-mistake-loses type of game. But offense sells and quarterbacks sell and points sell. I wouldn't expect Ohio State to stomp anyone in a BCS game, but the Buckeyes' defense will provide a better test for Texas or another Big 12 opponent.
Mark (Chicago, IL)
What do you think will be PSU's best weapon against USC? Do you think Royster between the tackles will be more effective? Or will Daryll Clark passing to the smurfs be more effective? Obviously one helps the other and vice versa, but which do you feel will crack the USC vaunted defense?
Adam Rittenberg (1:42 PM)
Penn State must come out with an aggressive offensive game plan and attack the strength of USC's defense down the field. Test those safeties and corners with the three senior wideouts. That's what made Penn State so impressive in so many games this season. Royster will be a weapon, but only if the USC defense has to respect the downfield passing game.
Why is it that Boise State won't even get the dignity of facing a very good major conference team in a non-BCS bowl? Why is it that they're still forced to face either a terrible team or a mid-major? And why is it that you guys at ESPN keep doing their best to not help out good mid-majors?
Adam Rittenberg (1:44 PM)
As a non-BCS advocate, I feel bad for Boise State. But unfortunately for non-BCS teams, winning isn't enough. You need your conference to be good and you need to generate preseason hype. Boise didn't have that this season. Still, a matchup against TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl doesn't sound too shabby to me. I know I'll be watching that game, and so will many others. If Boise wins, it will go into 2009 as the frontrunner to bust the BCS.
Jim (Grand Junction, CO)
Adam: Isn't there basically something wrong with a coach like Rich Rod who needs players to fit his system instead of making a system to fit his players? He could create a system team over the years: isn't it bad coaching to try to do it overnight? I'm a Nebraska fan and think that Callahan & the school would both have been better off if he had used existing talent, slowly & carefully building into his desired system. Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (1:47 PM)
I'll admit Rich didn't do a good enough job of adjusting his system, but at the same time, he can't get away from what he knows. If he changed his core beliefs and tweaked his system too much, he would lose his identity as a coach. And that could have long-term ramifications for the program rather than just one very lousy season.
Adam, love your work. Being around ND, are you shocked Weis will be back next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:48 PM)
I'm not shocked because there's not an obvious candidate to replace Weis right now. The timing of this season helped bring Weis back. Plus, the core of the team is young. Trust me, there will be a lot of new assistant coaches next season. They need to develop a toughness, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line play the last two seasons has been nothing short of pathetic.
Ryan (Boston, MA)
You say that it makes no sense from Notre Dame's perspective for them to join the Big Ten. But is it possible for them to have a few more lean years and then lose enough of their national standing that it does make sense for them to join a conference?
Adam Rittenberg (1:50 PM)
Now that's true, Ryan. If Notre Dame continues down its current path and gets in danger of losing the NBC contract, it might consider joining a conference. Notre Dame's BCS payout also is a lot less than what it was only three years ago. Still, you would need to see three or four more seasons like this year for Notre Dame to be in jeopardy of joining a league.
Adam, all this talk that USC is going to be a big favorite, I am still not sure why! PSU has a great defense maybe not quite as good as USC but darn close. Next PSU has the better offense on paper compared to USC! So if you ask me it should be a toss up and maybe a SLIGHT edge to USC since the game is in their backyard. What are your thoughts? Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg (1:52 PM)
USC will be the favorite because of its Rose Bowl track record, but I agree with you that Penn State's defense and overall balance will create a competitive game. Penn State shouldn't be lumped in with other Big Ten teams that haven't performed well in BCS games. The Lions are dynamic on offense, boast an excellent front seven on defense and play good special teams. I agree with you that USC gets a slight edge in the game.
Jason (Des Moines)
Do you think Shonn Greene will be invited to NYC or was he off the radar for too long?
Adam Rittenberg (1:53 PM)
He deserves to go, but I doubt he will. The Heisman usually doesn't bring in more than three or four finalists, and my sense is the three Big 12 QBs and Tebow will go.
Eric (Ann Arbor)
1. Did ND retain Weis because Brian Kelly turned down an offer? I don't see why else an announcement was made yesterday--right after UC's announcement--when ND's season was scheduled for review next Monday. 2. I love Lloyd Carr, but why isn't he taking more blame for Michigan's terrible season? He left the cupboards completely bare in Ann Arbor, save the d-line.
Adam Rittenberg (1:55 PM)
1. I found it curious that the ND news came on the same day Kelly said he was staying at Cincy, but my sense is Jack Swarbrick never intended to fire Weis. 2. Carr never had a season like this one, so he doesn't deserve a ton of blame, but Rodriguez definitely noted that Michigan had some depth issues before he arrived that showed up to hurt the team this fall.
Mike (Portland, OR)
Do you think we should get rid of preseason rankings and rank teams say, the first week of October. I looked at the teams that were ranked in the preseason and you have Auburn, Clemson, and Arizona State to name a few that were definitely overrated. I know it's fun to have ranked teams match up at the start of the season to hype up the game but some teams can suffer by not being ranked highly in the preseason.
Adam Rittenberg (1:55 PM)
I completely agree. The rankings shouldn't come out until mid-October.
Tyler (Altoona PA)
Hey Adam, simple question here, why doesn't Penn State schedule harder OOC games? Is it Paterno or just the nature of our program? And do you think that will change when he leaves?
Adam Rittenberg (1:57 PM)
I do see a series with Alabama on the schedule beginning in 2010 (I think). So that's excellent news. But Penn State needs to beef up the non-con schedule. Too many people overlooked the Oregon State game this year, but there wasn't much on the slate outside of that contest. Next year's schedule looks even worse. So I hope the Nittany Lions beef things up in the coming years. They need to.
Adam Rittenberg (1:58 PM)
OK guys, time's up. Talk to you next week.