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 (1:01 PM)
The bowl picks are in, the awards show is tonight. Let's get started.
Ace (Bound Brook, NJ)
Adam, how do you think the Devlin transfer will affect Penn State both in the short term (Rose Bowl) and the long term (possibly recruiting another Clark-like dual threat QB)? As sad as I am to see Devlin go, I feel like we can look to build our offense in the future to be much the way it has been this year, with Clark's ability as a passer and a runner. We also can bring in a recruit who will only have to wait a year backing up Clark, then can take the helm, thus we will have more play time with him than we would with Devlin.
Adam Rittenberg (1:03 PM)
Well, Ace, I don't think the short-term situation will be too bad. Paul Cianciolo has experience at least, and though it would be far from ideal to lose Daryll Clark to injury, Cianciolo has played a bit this year. The long-term prospects are a little more unclear. Penn State has to add a top-of-the-line QB recruit, and there are a few out there. And you're right, some of the guys they're looking at resemble Clark in style.
Emily G from Atlanta, GA
Is there any concievable way that Shonn Greene won't win the Doak Walker award tonight? Simply being objective (if I can) his stats are better than anyone's and I'm disappointed he didn't get a Heisman invite. What, if anything, would keep him from winning tonight?
Adam Rittenberg (1:04 PM)
I would hope not, Emily. Shonn is clearly the nation's best running back in my opinion. His ability to produce week after week is unmatched around the country. The only thing that could prevent him from winning are selection people who didn't watch Iowa enough. The Hawkeyes, and Greene to some extent, flew under the radar until November.
Tommy (Austin, TX)
I think is is a disgrace and an insult to both Tech and Harrell that he wasn't even invited to New York. He may not have won, but it would have been a huge honor!!! Your thoughts??
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
It would have been nice to see both Harrell and Shonn Greene get invitations to New York. The Heisman is way too hype-driven, and the numbers put up by both of those players make them deserving.
Sam Bradford (Norman, OK)
Do you think Colt McCoy is going to get more Heisman votes than me because the voters feel bad about Texas getting jobbed?
Adam Rittenberg (1:06 PM)
That's a good question, Sam, and it could definitely factor in to some extent. I voted for Colt (sorry dude) because I felt you had more weapons surrounding you than he did. But it'll be interesting to see how the voting works out. I like your chances.
JC (Lewis Center, Ohio)
Are some underestimating Terrelle Pryor's ability to improve during these off-weeks and the ability of the coaching staff to completely change the Ohio State offense?
Adam Rittenberg (1:07 PM)
Well, JC, Ohio State has to want to change the offense, and there's been some hesitancy to change in the past. But I definitely agree that Pryor will continue to make strides during bowl practices, and Ohio State could and should put in some new wrinkles for Texas.
Adam, why is everyone completely writing off Penn State in the Rose Bowl? Yes, we know USC is ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring defense. But Penn State is ranked ... No. 4. And Penn State's offense is scoring more points per game than USC's. Penn State is NOT Illinois.
Adam Rittenberg (1:08 PM)
I agree, Evan. This is the first time in a while that the Big Ten will have its best team playing in the Rose Bowl. Penn State needs to come out with an aggressive game plan, attack the USC secondary with the three WRs and set up the run. Playing conservative won't cut it in this game. Penn State must take a few risks. USC's offense is nothing special, in my opinion.
Do you see Ohio State and Penn state battling till signing day to add Qb depth the board seems pretty dry after the starters for both teams...
Adam Rittenberg (1:09 PM)
Those two teams are always going to be competing for top QB talent. Kevin Newsome is considering both schools, but it looks like he'll have a chance to play much sooner at Penn State than Ohio State, barring an injury to Terrelle Pryor.
Charlie (Montgomery, AL)
Spurrier to Auburn is the buzz? What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (1:10 PM)
Interesting. It would be an admission of failure at South Carolina, basically saying that he'll never be able to get it done there. Let's see what happens. I still think some of the other candidates are more likely to head to Auburn.
Whats better for the big ten going 2-5 but wining the 2 big games or going 5-2 but losing the 2 big games
Adam Rittenberg (1:11 PM)
Great question, Scott. Given how much flack the Big Ten gets for its recent BCS performances, I would go with 2-5 and wins in the Rose and Fiesta. No one would remember the other games.
Dan Beebe (Irving, TX)
How do you like this CHANGE for the BIG 12...bequeath Mizzou to the Big Ten, drop Iowa State, pick up TCU and SMU, and realign the divisions; sending the two Oklahoma schools to the North Division and adding TCU and SMU to the South Division. This would have solved this season's tri-tie conundrum.
Adam Rittenberg (1:11 PM)
I like the idea, Dan. But I don't see it happening.
Brett (Rockville MD)
Is the Tom Bradley to Syracuse buzz finally starting to fizz out, and can Penn State relax knowing our amazing D. Coordinator will be around to take over the helm?
Adam Rittenberg (1:12 PM)
I doubt Bradley will leave, but if I were him, I would. This delay in announcing a coach-in-waiting for Joe Paterno is ridiculous. They need to pull the trigger there and give Bradley the title he deserves.
JC (Lewis Center, Ohio)
I think you made it to each Big Ten stadium this season. Which press box had the best spread (food) for the press and which one left you starving?
Adam Rittenberg (1:14 PM)
Now there's a question that warms every sportswriter's clogged heart. I didn't get everywhere, but let me think ... Wisconsin always has a solid spread. Ohio State isn't bad either. Iowa and Michigan State need to pick it up a bit.
SHONN GREENE (IOWA, CITY IOWA (Orlando today))
Who wins in a shoulderpad to shoulderpad collision: ME, BEANIE, JAVON, OR RITTY RITTENBERG?!
Adam Rittenberg (1:15 PM)
That last guy would be running the other way. Hmmm ... I'd pay money to see you and Beanie go head-to-head. Javon is a tremendous athlete, but I don't know if he would hold his own with you two.
Tommy (Los Angeles, CA)
Any chance of USC getting at least a share of the national title if all the BIG 12 SOUTH teams lose in their bowl games and USC blows out Penn State? USC beats Penn State who beat Ohio State who beats Texas who beat Oklahoma. Hence, USC's opponent is better than Florida's opponent in the BCS National Championship Game. Split the national title!!!
Adam Rittenberg (1:16 PM)
I don't see it, Tommy. People have accepted that Oklahoma and Florida are probably the two best teams right now. The winner of the game should be voted No. 1 in the AP Poll as well, so no split title.
Ryan (Mansfield, OH)
I have a problem with OSUs defense. They seem to have as much, if not more talent on the field than any other team in the nation, and yet they always play in this soft zone and have the "bend but don't break" mentality. The blitzes are ill-timed and they rarely get the neccessary pressure on the QB to affect him. Is this going to get it done against Texas, or does Heacock need to adapt a more Dantonio style of defense that won us the 2002 title?
Adam Rittenberg (1:18 PM)
I understand your frustration Ryan, but Ohio State really does a good job of limiting points. They'll give up yards and big plays here and there, but the scoring average against them is still pretty low. That said, Jim Heacock should put in some wrinkles for the Texas game. Ohio State can't let McCoy scramble and beat them with short passes all game.
Ryan (Mansfield, OH)
Please tell people there are no split national champs anymore. The AP still awards its own champion, but the only thing the conferences decided to recognize is the BCS Champ
Adam Rittenberg (1:19 PM)
I agree. It's a waste of time to talk about split titles. The BCS winner is the acknowledged champ.
Speaking of end of season rankings... ...how far could Boise State rise if they manage to beat TCU? Where would they be projected to start in the preseason rankings next year? If they complete two undefeated seasons in a row, should they be considered for a shot at the national championship?
Adam Rittenberg (1:21 PM)
The Broncos could get a little bump if Utah loses and other top teams stumble in their bowl games. As for next year, they should be Top 10-15. But the WAC has to get a lot better for Boise State to have a better shot at a BCS bowl. The national championship won't happen for a non-BCS team. Not now at least.
Ryan (Canton, MI)
Adam, While watching the Spartans play at Indiana this year it looked like they were expanding the stadium that, at the time, was probably only half full anyway. I've been wondering since then, um... why?
Adam Rittenberg (1:22 PM)
Indiana hoped to build on the momentum it generated last fall with the stadium expansion. But filling those seats will be extremely difficult following a 3-9 season. Bill Lynch is very much on the hot seat entering 2009, and Indiana must see some improvement at a critical time for the program.
Dan (Los Angeles, CA)
I would say that Iowa's defense looks to develop into something even more special the next two years. Sure they lose King and Kroul after this year, but Spievey is only a sophomore, Sash a freshman, Edds... etc. Nearly everyone returns next year. Many sophomores and freshmen.
Adam Rittenberg (1:23 PM)
They will be better in the back seven next year, Dan, but I worry about the interior line. Mitch King could very well have been the Big Ten's defensive MVP, and two four-year starters at defensive tackle don't come along too often. I really like Adrian Clayborn at D-end, but they need to fill the middle.
Outback Iowa Vs South Carolina who you got????
Adam Rittenberg (1:24 PM)
Iowa should and will win the Outback Bowl. The Hawkeyes are playing much better football down the stretch than South Carolina.
Texas got shafted, the SEC is down, the Big 10 is down, and Cincy and VaTech are in the Orange Bowl ahead of teams like Boise St. who went undefeated AND won their conference. The BCS system just doesnt cut it. What revisions would you make to the system or would you sratch and opt for a playoff?
Adam Rittenberg (1:25 PM)
Playoff, playoff, playoff. It's always at this time of year when I get sad about college football, a sport I love. There's always a deserving team (or three or four) left out of the mix. While I'm looking forward to the BCS matchups, I keep thinking all this could be solved with a small playoff system.
Deepak Chopra( India)
Adam, will the big 10 have a winning record in bowl games this season? I personally don't think they have a shot.
Adam Rittenberg (1:26 PM)
It's going to be tough, Deepak. Iowa is the only favored Big Ten team, and several (Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State) are heavy underdogs. I think the Big Ten would be happy with 3-4, as long as one of the wins is a BCS game.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
You voted for McCoy not because he was better but because Bradford had better players around him? Since when was that the criteria for the Heisman? If Bradford loses the Heisman because of that logic, the voters for the Heisman will be as big a joke as the BCS is!
Adam Rittenberg (1:28 PM)
That's not the sole reason, Jeff. I believe both players are excellent and that McCoy did more with less around him. There's definitely an argument for Bradford as well, but McCoy's numbers and ability to lead his team -- including a win over Bradford and Oklahoma -- made the difference in my mind.
Sammie (nowhereville, IN)
Do you think the B10 can win both of its BCS matchups. If not, who has the better chance to win. I dont know if OSU will win but I think they will give Texas' a taste of their own medicine when they had VY. If used properly he could tear up that Texas defense. If PSU plays well on defense, I can see them winning their game as well. maybe restore some respect to the B10
Adam Rittenberg (1:29 PM)
Penn State has a slightly better chance to win, but both teams can get it done. A lot depends on the mindsets of the two opponents. Does USC really want to be in the Rose Bowl again? How will Texas respond from the BCS snub? I think both Penn State and Ohio State will be prepared for those games. And it's critical for the Big Ten that at least one of them gets a win.
Lars (Pleasanton, CA)
You keep saying PSU needs to play aggressive on offense, but do you really think they will? Clark has been shaky, and if they had run the ball more (conventionally, not with D-Will), they likely would have beaten Iowa. Royster and Green were running all over them. Joe will want to keep the game close, and will trust his defense to stop a USC offense that can't seem to put up points against anyone outside the state of Washington.
Adam Rittenberg (1:30 PM)
He didn't look too shaky against Michigan State, Lars. That's the type of game plan that could work against USC. The Trojans' front seven will shut down the run game if you don't challenge them down the field. I agree that sticking to the run more against Iowa might have led to a win, but this will be a different type of game.
Adam, love your work. Please tell me this is the year Notre Dame ends this woeful Bowl streak? And with ND having another lackluster season, do they still have a good,talented recruiting class coming in? Top 10 class, perhaps?
Adam Rittenberg (1:32 PM)
It's a tough call. Notre Dame has looked like a lifeless team the second half of the season. There are major questions about Charlie Weis' ability to motivate his players. Notre Dame looks like the stronger team to me, but Hawaii always plays tough on The Rock. Notre Dame's recruiting still looks strong for 2009. That's the one area where Weis has excelled despite the ups and downs on the field.
Brutus (Columbus, OH)
Why is there not an annual rivalry between Ohio State and Cincinnati or at least try to build one?
Adam Rittenberg (1:34 PM)
The teams played in 2004 when former Ohio State assistant Mark Dantonio coached Cincinnati. It would be a fun rivalry to foster with Cincinnati's program clearly on the rise. But at least for the foreseeable future (2012), Ohio State will play three cupcakes and one "name" team from outside the region (USC, Miami, Cal) in the nonconference.
Matt Leinart (Phoenix, AZ)
I don't regret my decision to stay at USC for an extra year AT ALL. Tim Tebow should come back to do what I couldn't do. Win a third national title and a second Heisman. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (1:35 PM)
I would love to see it, Matt. Think about it: Tebow could go national title, Heisman, national title, Heisman. He would go down as one of the top 5 players in college football history. That would be pretty amazing in this day and age.
Karl (Ballinger, Tx)
Adam, Will Michigan be very much improved in the second year under Rich Rodriquez? Will they have a QB that is able to run the zone read more effectively next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:36 PM)
To your second question, I definitely say yes. They couldn't be much more ineffective this year. But it might take until 2010 for Michigan to really make strides. I definitely see a few more victories next year, but Michigan likely will be starting a freshman at QB, so there will be more trial and error.
Adam, do you think it's a fair argument that Devlin transferring actually helps Penn State in recruiting Newsome, just for the fact that he would only sit one season, possibly a redshirt year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:37 PM)
In that respect, yes, but I'm sure Penn State would rather have had Devlin, a pretty darn good quarterback with experience, as the starter for 2010. In the long term, a multiyear starter will benefit the program, but 2010 could be a little rough.
Adam, another ND question: I guess I'll buy the notion that the reason why the Irish have hit some road bumps is because they are young. So next year, no more excuses. Is it BCS or bust for the Irish next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:40 PM)
I don't think so. If Notre Dame can get to 8 or 9 wins, which shouldn't be an issue with such a soft schedule, the program should be OK. Once recruiting starts to suffer, then you should be worried. That hasn't happened yet.
Will the Big Ten ever dump James Delaney? He's the leader of the pack (though not solely responsible) against the BCS playoff, against expanding the Big Ten to 12 teams and against playing a game later than the Thanksgiving weekend (which means no Big Ten games for three weeks before the BCS is finalized). He hurts the Big Ten more than he helps it.
Adam Rittenberg (1:42 PM)
I disagree Ned, and so do the Big Ten presidents. Delany has brought a ton of revenue to the Big Ten, which has appeared in more BCS bowls than any other conference. I agree his opposition to a playoff hurts things, but the Big Ten will start playing a game after Thanksgiving starting in 2010. Overall, the presidents are pretty pleased with Delany.
Talal (State College, PA)
Hey Adam do you think that Newsome's recent visit to PSU might have had something to do with the transfer of Devlin? Do you think he might have secretly committed during his visit? The timing of this situation makes me believe so, what do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (1:43 PM)
That's an interesting conspiracy theory, Talal. But I can't imagine the coaches were going to forget about Pat Devlin, who performed pretty well this season behind Daryll Clark. The timing is a little interesting, but it's important for Devlin to enroll elsewhere so he can play next fall.
Kyle Sharp (Angelo State University)
Hi Adam, i was wondering your take on this NC game? Who do you think wins, by how much, and Who do you think needs to step up and play a good game for each team. Also, do you know if both Murray for OU and Harvin for UF are both going to play?
Adam Rittenberg (1:45 PM)
Wow, Kyle, it's tough to call right now. I would pick Florida by 3-6 points, but it could easily go either way. Both Harvin and Murray are expected back for the game, and that should provide an excellent undercard matchup to Tebow vs. Bradford.
Do you see Wisconsin trying to recruit a dual threat quarterback like they had with Brooks Bollinger?
Adam Rittenberg (1:46 PM)
From talking with Dustin Sherer this week, he told me how running the ball was one of the things he had to improve the most this season. So Wisconsin is definitely looking for mobility at quarterback. They don't run the spread, so I'm not sure they look for a true dual-threat guy, but the QB can't be a statue.
Mike (Leawood, KS)
Mike Locksley and Danny Hope have moved up to head coaching positions already, do you see any other Big Ten coordinators getting jobs in the next few weeks?
Adam Rittenberg (1:47 PM)
Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will be a head coach some day. Will it be at Penn State? Who knows? Other than Bradley ... Michigan State's coordinators (Pat Narduzzi, Don Treadwell) will get a shot. Paul Chryst at Wisconsin as well.
If Ohio State beats Texas then Beats USC in 09 will they regain respect with the national media?
Adam Rittenberg (1:49 PM)
I believe so, to a certain extent. Some might question Texas' mindset after the BCS title snub, but a Buckeyes BCS victory would be huge for the program's image. Ohio State's dominance of Michigan and the Big Ten has been largely overlooked nationally because of the BCS struggles. A Fiesta Bowl win would be a great way for the senior class to solidify its legacy.
Adam, Tim Tebow wasnt the starting quarterback when Florida won their national title.
Adam Rittenberg (1:49 PM)
Yes, I realize that, Mike. But he was on the team and played a key role.
Josh (Moline, IL)
Do you think teams should be ranked according to how to play at the end of the season or results from during the season? For instance Texas/OU and on our Big 10 scale, Iowa/NW? NW beat Iowa on the road but then lost to Indiana while IA beats PSU. What trumps?
Adam Rittenberg (1:52 PM)
The thing with all those teams is that none were playing poorly at the end of the season. It wasn't like Texas was just getting by, and Northwestern won three of its final four games despite major injuries to the running back and middle linebacker positions. Though you can argue Oklahoma and Iowa were playing a little better, it's not enough to warrant a higher ranking.
Mike (Leawood, KS)
What do renowned Big Ten college football bloggers do in the offseason?
Adam Rittenberg (1:53 PM)
Offseason? There is no offseason. I'll be blogging throughout the winter and into spring ball.
Will Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant be the best QB-WR combo in the nation next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:53 PM)
I love Dez Bryant. He's an NFL receiver right now. I haven't see a ton of Oklahoma State, but that combination should be pretty effective for some time.
Hey Adam what bowl games will you be attending this bowl season?
Adam Rittenberg (1:54 PM)
I will be at the Fiesta Bowl. Beyond that, I'm not sure.
Can Michigan State beat Georgia with a heavy diet of Javon Ringer and some play action from Hoyer to Cunningham, Blair White, Gantt, and Keshawn Martin? What would a win like this do for there already outstanding 2009 recruiting class?
Adam Rittenberg (1:55 PM)
That would be the formula for MSU, ball control and power football behind Ringer. Georgia really struggled to stop Georgia Tech's run game, so there could be opportunity there for MSU. I think the 2009 class will be excellent either way, but a Cap One Bowl win would help Michigan State's national image for 2010 and beyond.
Adam, you should ask Santa for a brain for Christmas
Adam Rittenberg (1:56 PM)
I'll take that under advisement, Mike. Happy holidays to you (not).
Nathan (Los Angeles)
Who will be the better NFL QB Bradford, Tebow, or McCoy? I would go with Bradford because he's the better passer of the three. Tebow and McCoy are both College QBs and they can't run around defenses in the NFL like they did in College. Tebow would be to slow against NFl defenses and he can't over power them like he did in College. That's why Bradford will be the best NFL QB.
Adam Rittenberg (1:57 PM)
Bradford will be the best NFL quarterback, hands down. He has all the fundamentals and can make all the throws. If I'm an NFL general manager, he's at the top of my draft board.
Adam Rittenberg (1:57 PM)
OK, guys, it's been fun chatting. Talk to you next week.