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, back for another chat. Some big news in the Big Ten this week with Joe Paterno's contract extension and the resignation of Michigan defensive coordinator Scott Shafer. Let's get started.
Adam (Parsippany, NJ)
With JoePa signing his extension and Penn State getting a verbal commitment from one of the best QB's in the country in Kevin Newsome to add to an already impressive recruiting class, do you think it was necessary for PSU assign a coach in the waiting?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
I do because Tom Bradley deserves the job. I know some Penn State fans disagree with me and feel the school is holding up the process more than Joe Paterno. But I find it odd that Paterno doesn't talk up his assistants for head-coaching jobs very much. Bradley seems like the obvious fit here, and it would be a recruiting benefit to get some continuity.
Josh (Grand Rapids, MI)
Hey Adam. You have done a great job all year. My friends and I are having a bet and we need an unbiased answer to seek a winner. So finish this sentence for us. In 2009, the starting quarterback and running back at Michigan State will be ________ and ________?
Adam Rittenberg (1:02 PM)
Kirk Cousins and Andre Anderson. I saw enough from Cousins this year to really like what he brings to the table. Nichol is also very talented, but I think Cousins gets the nod. It's a little cloudier at RB. One thing Michigan State failed to do this fall was give its reserve running backs more of a chance to develop.
David (Lima, OH)
I may be partial here, but I was just looking through the All Conference teams, and where is Beanie Wells in the Big Ten? I know that Ringer and Greene had great years, but are either one of these guys really better than Beanie, injuries aside?
Adam Rittenberg (1:03 PM)
It's a tough call, David. I know from an NFL perspective, Wells is the best running back in the country. But should we discount what Greene and Ringer did in 12 games to recognize a guy who only played in nine. It's the tough part about awards, but injuries usually take you out of the mix.
Best chance for an upset bowl win...Michigan State, Northwestern, or Wisconsin?
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
Northwestern has a shot if its offense finds the rhythm it showcased for part of last season. Missouri might not be as excited for this game as the Wildcats are. No one is giving Wisconsin a shot, but if the Badgers run game gets going, they could knock off Florida State. Michigan State also has a chance, but Georgia boasts more talent.
Mike Forestville, Ca
How many Big 10 teams do you predict will win their Bowl Games. Other than Iowa - I would say none!!
Adam Rittenberg (1:05 PM)
I doubt it will be only one team, but it's hard to see the Big Ten coming away with more than two or three of these bowl games. Obviously it's always good to have two BCS entries, but the Big Ten might have had a better record if only Penn State reached a BCS game. We'll see.
whats with all the speculation on Urban Meyer going to ND? is there any real possibility of this, or is it all pure banter?
Adam Rittenberg (1:07 PM)
Urban has a thing for Notre Dame, and it probably will result in him coaching there some day. Whether it's in 2010 remains to be seen, but I think he's a fool if he leaves Florida at this point for Notre Dame. Yes, you get a statue if you lead Notre Dame back to the top, but Florida is already there. Not sure why he loves the place (ND) so much, but a lot of coaches do.
who do you think plays QB at iowa next year, stanzi or the freshan weinke? i have heard alot about this freshman being better than stanzi right now.
Adam Rittenberg (1:08 PM)
They'll take a look at the freshman, but I think you have to stick with Stanzi. He played through his mistakes and showed the ability to remain confident and keep making plays. His fourth-quarter performance against Penn State was terrific, and I think he'll continue to get better. With Shonn Greene likely leaving for the NFL, Iowa would benefit from having some continuity in the backfield.
Chase (Columbia, MO)
Do you think Mizzou would have gone undefeated and playing for the National Title if it was in the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (1:10 PM)
Chase from Columbia, Mo. Hmmmm, wonder who this is. ... Missouri would have had a rough time beating Penn State and possibly Ohio State. Penn State would have shredded Missouri's secondary like the Big 12 teams did, and the Lions have one of the better defenses in the country. So unless the Tigers skipped the Nittany Lions on the schedule, they'd get beat.
joe (chicago, IL)
if ND loses big in its bowl, what will it take for weis to keep his job in 09?
Adam Rittenberg (1:10 PM)
He must win at least eight games and possibly nine next fall to remain employed. The schedule gets even easier in 2009, and anything less than 8-4 would be cause for dismissal in my opinion.
Mark (Minneapolis, MN)
Why on earth would you choose Jewel Hampton for Big Ten All Freshman team over DeLeon Eskridge? Hampton: 409 yds rushing, 7 TD; 0 yds receiving Eskridge: 652 yds rushing, 7 TD; 181 yds receiving
Adam Rittenberg (1:12 PM)
Eskridge was a starter who averaged 3.8 yards a carry. Hampton was a backup who averaged 5.2 yards a carry. Eskridge did a nice job and had a terrible O-line in front of him, but Hampton was the better back this fall.
Lou (Bethesda, MD)
Adam, with a lot of talk lately about the number of minority coaches in D-1, can you see the NCAA instituting some form of the Rooney Rule to at least get some deserving head coaches in the mix?
Adam Rittenberg (1:14 PM)
That's an interesting debate, Lou. It seems as though African American coaches are getting interviewed for positions, but not many of them are getting hired. It's definitely a problem and needs to be addressed more head on. I'm always leery of a rule that requires teams to interview a certain group of candidates. I feel it might turn them off from actually hiring one of those people.
Will J (Portland, OR)
The FSU and Wisconsin matchup seems like an odd one. Does Wisconsin stand a chance, especially with the game being played in Orlando?
Adam Rittenberg (1:15 PM)
It's your classic speed vs. power matchup, and we in Big Ten country know how those have gone in recent seasons. Obviously Florida State has some advantages going into this one, but the Seminoles offense isn't great and if Wisconsin's defense can finally play to its potential, the Badgers should hang around. The big thing is Wisconsin seemed to find an offensive identity down the stretch with QB Dustin Sherer and RBs P.J. Hill and John Clay.
Devon (State College)
What team is going to have the most difficulty overcoming player losses from graduation next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:16 PM)
Ohio State takes a pretty big hit and so does Penn State (on offense), but both teams should recover. I'm interested to see how Michigan State bounces back from losing some seniors at key positions (QB, RB, S).
HOw much does it hurt that Zook lost Locks considering his recruiting abilities and offensive play calling?
Adam Rittenberg (1:17 PM)
It hurts more from a recruiting standpoint, Patrick. Locksley was one of the best, if not the best Big Ten assistant as far as recruiting goes. Zook isn't too shabby himself and with Reggie Mitchell, Illinois will continue to dominate the Chicago market. But you have to think Illinois' pipeline to Washington D.C. is now closed.
Ryan (Iowa City, IA)
With Iowa and Minnesota both improving this season, which team do you think in the long run has a better chance to pull in better recruits?
Adam Rittenberg (1:19 PM)
It's a good question, Ryan. Iowa has shown it can pull in some solid recruits, but it's hard to pick against Tim Brewster and Minnesota. The Gophers are competing nationally for top talent, while Iowa still seems to be based mostly in the Midwest and East Coast. I would say Minnesota pulls in a better crop in the long run, but Iowa will have its share as well.
John Heisman (New York, NY)
What is your opinion on how Tebow was left out of the 154 Heisman ballots?
Adam Rittenberg (1:20 PM)
I've heard that a good chunk of ballots came in before the SEC championship game, which certainly helped Tebow's candidacy. I made sure to vote after the championship games, but the ballots were sent out several weeks earlier.
Adam, Any way the Buckeyes do NOT get blasted by us Longhorns? Can they possibly stop Colt? I think their O line is going to get completely dominated by Orakp, Kindle, and Roy Miller. Thoughts? HOOK EM
Adam Rittenberg (1:21 PM)
Ohio State's offensive line underperformed big time for much of the year, and Texas' defensive front, led by Orakpo, could give them trouble. But the Buckeyes seemed to come together on offense down the stretch and finished the season playing their best football. I wouldn't be surprised if the game is closer than many expect.
Mike (Leawood, KS)
Who do you think would win if JoePa coached USC and Pete Carroll coached PSU in the Rose Bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (1:22 PM)
Ha, great question, Mike! I would pay to see that happen. USC players would have to get used to not having Snoop Dogg and Will Ferrell around the football complex. I'm not sure Penn State players would take to Carroll's style, either. It would be fascinating.
Stadiums every college football fan must visit in their lifetime...Notre Dame, Michigan, LSU, Rose Bowl, Tex A&M, Florida, Penn St and Va Tech. Anything to add???
Adam Rittenberg (1:23 PM)
I would add Camp Randall Stadium and Autzen Stadium (Oregon). I'll think of some more I'm sure.
Ben (Lansing, MI)
With Schafer finally gone, who do you think will be Michigan's defensive coordinator come next season? Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg (1:26 PM)
If Rich chooses to stay in house, he'll likely promote linebackers coach Jay Hopson, the former DC at Southern Miss. I could also see him going back to West Virginia for Jeff Casteel.
Larry (Glendale, CA)
Better match-up...Texas vs. USC in the Fiesta Bowl or the current Rose Bowl match-up?
Adam Rittenberg (1:27 PM)
Wow, that's a tough call. I know most of the country would rather see Texas-USC, but I really think Penn State will provide some decent entertainment for everyone on Jan. 1. The Lions are a pretty good team, and people around the country probably will see why in the Rose Bowl
Hope (Chance, CA)
Do you think a non-BCS team would ever win the national title ever again like BYU did years ago?
Adam Rittenberg (1:28 PM)
It would be awfully tough, Hope. You would need most of the big-name teams to lose two games. The non-BCS team would have to play a murderous nonconference schedule (at least two powerhouse BCS teams). I really don't see it happening.
Bradford (Boise, ID)
Adam, who do you have winning the poinsettia bowl? It seems most "experts" think TCU is going to roll.. I disagree. Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (1:29 PM)
Seeing where you're from, I'm not surprised. I wouldn't write off Boise State as fast as some people. Kellen Moore is a terrific quarterback and Boise State plays big in big games. I'm not sold on TCU's offense at all and think Boise could put up some points.
rem (coralville, ia)
why is shonn greene still CONSTANTLY deprived of recognition. granted he won the doak walker/1st team all american but didnt he deserve more heisman hype than received (how about more hype in general period)??? not even mentioned in nfl talk, everybody talks about beanie wells blah blah blah THEY ARE THE SAME STYLE RUNNER but b/c of a 10 team media bias he STILL gets no love. what gives????
Adam Rittenberg (1:31 PM)
I gave Shonn a ton of love on the blog, but I see what you're saying about national attention. The fact that Iowa lost three games by Oct. 4 really hurt Shonn in terms of national pub. As far as NFL talk goes, trust me, pro teams are aware of him. From those I've talked to, it'd be a major surprise if he chooses to stay in school. He'll be a first-day pick.
Luke (Los Angeles)
Adam, what's wrong with Pete Carroll's coaching style? At least he can stay on the sideline.
Adam Rittenberg (1:32 PM)
Nothing wrong with it, Luke. I just know the Penn State players and they're used to a more serious style of coaching. Carroll has fun with football, which not enough coaches do, but he recruits players who fit his personality, just like Penn State.
Can Brewster continue his recruiting momentum? Will he stay here? What is this program's ceiling in the next 4-5 years?
Adam Rittenberg (1:33 PM)
He's continuing to recruit at a very high level for Minnesota, and the new stadium opening next fall will only help their cause. I think Brewster will stick around for 2-4 more years and contend for a Big Ten title at least once.
Do you think we'll see more of Royster and less of Green in the Rose Bowl? Against that defense, Royster's ability to pick up extra yards on short runs seems more valuable than Green's speed, which USC could match. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (1:34 PM)
That's a good call, John. I was continually impressed by Royster's patience. Not enough backs wait for their blocks to develop, but Royster always allowed his linemen to make plays in front of him. I think Penn State needs to set up the run with the pass in that game, but Royster should be featured more than Green.
Todd (Cleveland, OH)
If Ohio State is dominated again this year in the BCS do you see Tressel making any changes to his staff?
Adam Rittenberg (1:36 PM)
I could see a change at offensive coordinator with Jim Bollman remaining as O-line coach. Ohio State got things together late in the season on offense, but it took too long to form an identity. And the Buckeyes are still a little too reliant on big plays.
Tim Tebow (Gainesville, FL)
Was I one yard shy from winning the Heisman? (Hint: I am inferring to the Ole Miss game.)
Adam Rittenberg (1:37 PM)
You might have been, just as Colt McCoy might have been one dropped interception or blown coverage away from hoisting the trophy last Saturday night.
As a lifelong Penn State fan, if Clark and the boys open it up like they should have agains IOWA, and OSU. Then could PSU surprise the Trojans and get up big quick.
Adam Rittenberg (1:38 PM)
I completely agree. Penn State MUST come out with an aggressive game plan against USC and attack down the field with Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood. If the Nittany Lions play passively and simply try to win the field-position battle, they'll lose.
Will the economy hurt Big Ten fan presence at bowl games this year? Big Ten fans tend to have a much longer trip to these games than opposing teams (the Rose Bowl being the prime example). Ebay seems to be absolutely flooded with tickets to these games. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (1:39 PM)
There are already signs of the economic impact throughout the Big Ten. I just posted stories about declining tickets at Wisconsin (Champs Sports Bowl) and Ohio State (Fiesta Bowl). I talked with Northwestern's AD yesterday and he said Northwestern is doing OK for the Alamo Bowl, but with the poor economy, a lower Big Ten presence is inevitable.
Do you think that Sam Bradford will do better than the last Heisman winning QB to face Florida in the BCS title game, Troy Smith (held to 35 yards)?
Adam Rittenberg (1:40 PM)
I would imagine he'll do better. The Oklahoma offense is a ton of fun to watch, and though Florida's defense is tough, Bradford and the Sooners will put up more than 14 points.
Nick (charlotte, nc)
Do you follow recruiting? If so, did you notice that Ohio State has the No.1 class in the country? Do you see any end in site to OSU's dominance of the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (1:41 PM)
I follow recruiting to an extent, but most of the rankings I've seen don't have Ohio State at the top. The Buckeyes certainly are in the top 5, though, and they will continue to be at the top of the Big Ten for the foreseeable future.
Mike (Cleveland, OH)
Adam, Any chance Michigan brings back Ron English to coach the D? He's the guy who should have replaced Lloyd Carr to begin with
Adam Rittenberg (1:43 PM)
It would be an interesting move, Mike, but I'm not sure English wants to return to Michigan. I would expect Rodriguez to look elsewhere to fill the position.
Hey Adam Shouldn't the Big 10 Love that ND is keeping weis around..He is lowering their credability enought that in 2 years they'll be the ones asking to join not the other way around!
Adam Rittenberg (1:44 PM)
Not sure if I agree, Sylvain. Part of the reason the Big Ten's national reputation suffers is because beating Notre Dame no longer qualifies as a strong nonconference win. When Notre Dame is strong, the Big Ten usually is strong and so is northern football. One thing I've learned this season is college football right now is dominated by the south and southeast. The north needs to get back in the mix, and part of that is getting Notre Dame back on track.
Do you think the PAC 10 will rebound next season after their woeful 2008 campaign?
Adam Rittenberg (1:45 PM)
I would think so, Jake. UCLA won't be down for long, and Stanford seemed to be making strides. It'll take a while for Washington to get back to prominence, but with Oregon, Oregon State, Cal and Arizona pushing USC, the Pac-10 should be OK.
Prince (Falls Church,VA)
Hey Adam, I am rooting for PSU against USC but looking forward what impact do you think Kevin Newsome will have on the Lions future, we haven't been very consistent this decade? Do you think a player of his caliber brings more high quality guys in the future?
Adam Rittenberg (1:47 PM)
He might, Prince. What Newsome's commitment does is virtually ensure that Penn State's offensive system (Spread HD) will remain in place beyond 2009. It should help Penn State recruit specific types of players for the system to surround Newsome. For a program that has been solid but not spectacular in recruiting, Newsome could turn out to be a major find.
Fo Sheezy, Pittsburgh
Hey Adam! I have heard that when the ACC raided the Big East back in 2004, the Big 10 put feelers out to Pitt to join the Big 10 and give it 12 teams, thus enabling the conference to have a championship game. Did that really happen and have you heard of Pitt possibly joining the Big 10 in the future? I think it would certainly enhance the Big 10 basketball league and also give Penn State a big time rival within the conference? If not Pitt, any other rumblings about adding a 12th member?
Adam Rittenberg (1:49 PM)
There's a lot of stories like this one out there. Pitt always seemed like a decent fit to me, especially with the Penn State connection. Big Ten teams do a lot of recruiting in the Pittsburgh area, so that fits as well. Right now, there are no imminent plans to add a 12th team, but Pitt, Rutgers and Missouri are the three most often talked about.
With Joe Flacco's success in the NFL do you think NFL teams will start to draft more players from FCS schools?
Adam Rittenberg (1:49 PM)
I think if you go back, you'll see a lot of successful NFL players came from FCS or formerly Division I-AA programs. Certainly a guy like Flacco raises the profile for some of those teams, but smart NFL scouting directors will always look to the FCS for talent.
Kaitlyn (Detroit, MI)
Hey Adam, love the blog...keeps me entertained while I work. Do you think the Heisman curse (winners tending to lose their bowl games) while affect Bradford? As a Buckeye fan, I would love to see him crush the SEC but I think Florida will have a couple big special teams plays...thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (1:51 PM)
Thanks, Kaitlyn ... I think if Oklahoma loses, it won't be Bradford's fault. He should have a solid game in Miami, but Florida will be awfully tough to stop on offense. And you bring up the Gators' special teams, which are especially sound. If Oklahoma loses two of the three phases, it might not matter what Bradford does.
What are your thoughts on Penn State giving Joe Paterno a three-year contract extension? Will this guy ever retire?
Adam Rittenberg (1:52 PM)
Not surprised he received the extension. A little surprised at first that it was for three years, but that's more for recruiting purposes than anything else. I have a hard time seeing him serve out the entire contract, but you never know!
Adam Rittenberg (1:53 PM)
OK guys, that's all the time I have today. Enjoy the first group of bowl games -- the Big Ten debuts Dec. 27 -- and Happy Holidays!