Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg will stop by to talk college football.
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 Thursday at 4 p.m. ET!
Adam Rittenberg (4:00 PM)
Can you believe it's Week 11? Time to chat. Fired up. Let's get started.
Nick (Nashville, TN)
Adam, I know you posted your bowl predictions on sunday, but I am still confused about the overall bowl picture. I have read that the Big Ten could still have two BCS bowl teams even if Iowa loses on saturday. If this is the case, do you believe penn state would go based off national fans, coach, and realistically more $$ for the bowl? Orange bowl? Thanks for your clarification on this.
Adam Rittenberg (4:01 PM)
The Orange Bowl would be the likely destination for Penn State if it gets into the BCS. There are a lot of BCS experts out there who feel the bowls wouldn't pass up the Nittany Lions because of their name and national following. Iowa and Wisconsin both would have legit beefs about Penn State getting that second berth, but that's what looks likely to me.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
Do you see Minnesota making it into the top half of the conference over the next 2-3 years?
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
Craig, 2010 is an absolutely critical season for Tim Brewster at Minnesota, most likely a make-or-break season. We've heard a lot about the good recruiting. It's time for those players to start being difference-makers. The Gophers have been way too inconsistent this year despite boasting a ton of veterans. That can't happen next year for Brewster. There must be obvious progress.
Joe (Scranton, Pa)
I haven't seen a defensive line this good at OSU since the 02 National Champions, but even though that group won the title I feel this years group may be better. Agree or disagree?
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
I think the 2002 group is a little better and certainly a little flashier, but this line has been really impressive ever since the USC game. Ohio State has made a ton of plays during the Big Ten season, and the front four always puts pressure on the quarterback. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that NO ONE can run the football against Ohio State.
adam , which of the following will get bowl eligible this week... michigan st, michigan, or minnesota?
Adam Rittenberg (4:06 PM)
I picked Michigan State and Minnesota to win, but I'm not overly confident in either squad. Michigan State hasn't played well on the road, and Minnesota looked unprepared last week. South Dakota State might not get the players' attention, but this is a team that beat Northern Iowa, also known as world beaters according to Iowa fans :-)
Brian (Barrington, IL)
Hey Adam, Love your blog. I have a question about the Hawkeyes. Do you think Ken O' Keefe is a good enough coordinator for the Big Ten? He seems too predictable. I have a feeling that his lack of creativity would hurt the Hawkeyes in a BCS bowl this year (if they make it that far).
Adam Rittenberg (4:08 PM)
I broached this topic with some of the Iowa beat writers and they made a good point. O'Keefe is good for Kirk Ferentz. I couldn't see Ferentz ever going with an unorthodox offense, something gimmicky like from the Big 12 or WAC. I think O'Keefe fits the way Ferentz wants to win games. And for the most part, he's done a decent job, although I don't know why you'd ever call a bootleg in your own end zone.
I know you're Big Ten but you're up there close to them so --- Charlie Weis, In or Out after this season?
Adam Rittenberg (4:09 PM)
Weis needs to win this week because Pitt likely will be the highest-ranked team left on Notre Dame's schedule. A loss Saturday probably seals his fate, because I don't see the Irish beating Stanford on the road.
How mad are you that Illinois scheduled two late non-conference games so you can't just sit around with your feet propped up the last 2 weeks of the season?
Adam Rittenberg (4:10 PM)
I actually like it, Matt. Like Joe Paterno says, it's tough watching all the other conferences get the spotlight two weeks after the Big Ten teams are through. I really think the Big Ten loses something by not playing later. So I'm happy there will be something to blog about with both Illinois and Wisconsin playing after Nov. 21.
Tom (San Francisco)
Great blog Adam, Is Adam Robinson completely ruled out for Saturday? How does that Hawkeye backfield look next year with Robinson, Wegher, and Hampton?
Adam Rittenberg (4:11 PM)
Kirk Ferentz left the door open for Robinson to play, but I wouldn't expect A-Rob to be too effective coming off of a high ankle sprain. It's one thing to be a tight end like Moeaki and have that injury. It's another thing to be a running back.
Joe (Stamford, CT)
How would you feel about a 13-0 Boise State getting passed over for a BCS berth by a 10-2 Penn State?
Adam Rittenberg (4:12 PM)
It would be unfortunate because Boise is deserving, but that's business. And if I'm running a bowl, I know I'm losing a ton of money by passing on Penn State for Boise State. Sure, it would please the media, but they're not paying my bills.
If Rich Rodriguez doesn't make a Jan. 1 bowl in 2010, wouldn't it be time to make a move (if he doesn't make a bowl this year)? Why can't sometimes people just admit some things don't work?
Adam Rittenberg (4:14 PM)
The expectations definitely need to be raised on Rodriguez for next fall. There has been enough time to develop his recruits and at least field a decent defense. The offense should be fine, and there will be more depth at QB with Devin Gardner. I would say a minimum of eight victories for U-M next year.
Hey Adam, I'm pretty sure neither Michigan, MSU, or Minn. can become bowl eligible this week because they'll only have 5 wins over FBS schools - from nick (ohio)'s question above
Adam Rittenberg (4:14 PM)
Nope, you're wrong. Every win counts, even those against FCS teams. That rule has changed.
Chris (Concord, CA)
Great job by Pat Fitzgerald this season, but with all of the injuries on both sides of the ball, how do you see Northwestern finishing out the season?
Adam Rittenberg (4:16 PM)
I know that Fitz has enjoyed coaching this team more than any other, perhaps because of all the adversity they've faced injury-wise. I think the Wildcats will win another game, maybe two. They could also lose out. But 7-5 wouldn't be terrible given how banged up they've been at key spots.
WKRP (Cincinnati, OH)
Do you think Cincy can beat Ohio State anywhere (home, neutral, & away)?
Adam Rittenberg (4:17 PM)
Like the name there, WKRP. ... I'm still not convinced Cincinnati could win at The Shoe, particularly with the way Ohio State is playing on defense. Those quarterbacks never seem to be pressured much, and the Buckeyes would bring some. If the game is at Nippert, I like the Bearcats. Neutral site could go either way.
Arent we tired of seeing 2 Big 10 schools get smashed in BCS games? Why not give the Pac 10 two teams this year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:18 PM)
You might get your wish, Ray, as USC could go to the Fiesta Bowl if it wins out. But the fact remains that Big Ten schools make more money for bowls than anyone else. Big Ten schools will always be more attractive than Pac-10 schools, who have fans that don't travel well at all.
Matt (Kansas City)
Adam, with a week to prepare, is it possible that Vanderberg can at least manage the game for Iowa? Its not like Ricky was the greatest qb (16 tds, 15 INTs, 56% completed). If iowa gets back to why they win defensive turnovers and great special teams play, iowa could possibly pull this out right? purdue did it. purdue.
Adam Rittenberg (4:20 PM)
Matt, this is an excellent point. Let's not forget that Ricky Stanzi often made a mess for the defense to clean up. Sure, he came up huge in the fourth quarters of games, but if Vandenberg can just limit turnovers and hit on a big play or two, Iowa might be able to force Terrelle Pryor to win the game.
Are OSU and Iowa legit top 5 contenders next year? (I'm not who OSU loses this year)
Adam Rittenberg (4:22 PM)
Ohio State will be a legitimate top 5 team entering next season. The 2010 campaign was always The Year for the Buckeyes, who shouldn't lose too many key contributors. As for Iowa, the Hawkeyes could certainly be in the top 10. They'll need to replace Angerer, Edds and maybe Spievey and Bulaga, but they bring back a lot of good players and should be a deeper team overall.
Mac (Huntington, WV)
If both win out and go 6-6, which is the better "turn around" story - Illinois or Purdue?
Adam Rittenberg (4:23 PM)
Mac, my man, always bringing it with the good questions. Gosh, I really don't know. You'd have to give Illinois some credit because that team looked absolutely pathetic for the first seven games. Then again, Purdue has survived more adversity in bouncing back from so many close losses. I'd give the edge to Illinois, but not by much.
Jake (Honolulu, HI)
Adam, shouldn't a rivalry trophy have some significance, tradition and history? The Lincoln hat brings none of that to the table, is it even worth having a trophy for that rivalry?
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
Well, Lincoln obviously means a lot to the state's history, but I agree. I preferred one of the other proposals, for the Graham-Grange Trophy, which would honor former stars Otto Graham (Northwestern) and Red Grange (Illinois).
Jacory Harris (305)
If I lead my team to 10-2 overall record, 4-1 against ranked teams and some where in the top 14 BCS standings...why will I not be playing in a BCS game?
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
Because your fans don't like leaving Miami, that's why.
With USC apparently out of the Rose Bowl picture, isn't this as good a year as any for the Big Ten to end the drought?
Adam Rittenberg (4:26 PM)
It's always a good thing not to face USC in the Rose Bowl. Oregon appears to be in the driver's seat, and the Ducks' offense is awfully impressive. It would be a tough test for Ohio State or Iowa.
As a PSU fan, did last week's game expose my team as a phony, or did they just run into a defense playing at its best? That performance has me worried about my team in a BCS game.
Adam Rittenberg (4:27 PM)
Your team is a good team, but not a great one. This season has proven that, since Penn State couldn't capitalize on having its two toughest games at home. Penn State still isn't a Big Ten power, but the Lions could be heading there if the recruiting continues at this pace.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Best pro QB prospects in the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
Well, there's, uh ... Daryll Clark maybe? ... Kirk Cousins in two years? ... honestly, there aren't many.
I know the big game in the Big Ten is on at 3:30, but which noon game are you most looking forward to watching?
Adam Rittenberg (4:30 PM)
Sara, I'm really interested in Michigan State-Purdue. It's basically a bowl play-in game for both teams. Purdue can't afford to lose, and Michigan State has Penn State coming to town next week, so the Spartans need to win as well. Should be a good one.
Adam, if Wisconsin and Northwestern finish 4th and 5th respectively, what are the chances that the Champs Sports Bowl and Alamo Bowl strike an agreement so we don't have these two going to the same bowls as last year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:31 PM)
I think there's a good chance, Mike. Wisconsin goes to Florida bowls every year, and the Badgers fans deserve a chance to go somewhere else. I saw the Champs Sports officials last week at the Iowa game, and I know they're not looking at the Hawkeyes, who will go to a higher bowl. So yes, I think it's definitely possible.
Dillon (The Buckeye State)
Just wanna see my name on the screen with one of my questions, just one time. Who do you see as the best best pro prospect from Ohio State's defense?
Adam Rittenberg (4:32 PM)
Your wish is granted, Dillon. I'd go with Kurt Coleman or Cameron Heyward. Heyward is a beast and can play multiple positions, which helps him at the next level.
Collin (Grand Rapids )
Were do you think Michigan state will place in the big ten next year because I think are offense could be one of the big tens best once are quarter back and running backs get some more experience?
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
I really like what the Spartans bring back on offense, Collin. The bigger question in my mind is defensive consistency. It just hasn't been there for MSU, particularly in the secondary. And if LB Greg Jones goes pro early, the Spartans will lose a ton of production.
Larry (Glendale, CA)
Does Temple have any chance of being picked up by the Big Ten as the 12th team?
Adam Rittenberg (4:35 PM)
Nope. The Owls don't have the overall facilities and need some sustained success in a BCS conference in football.
What are the big non-conference games scheduled for Big 10 teams in 2010? That seems to be there year for a lot of teams
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
Off the top of my head ... Penn State-Alabama ... Miami-Ohio State ... Iowa-Arizona ... USC-Minnesota
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
So some pretty good ones, in my opinion
Spencer (Iowa City)
Hey Adam, with that new salary cap rule in the NFL, this is the last year NFL rookies can make big money. Do you think anyone will leave early from Iowa after this season, and if so, who? I'm worried about Spievey, Clayborn and Bulaga.
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
I wouldn't worry about Clayborn. He's probably coming back. Spievey is the guy most likely to leave, and Bulaga still gets a lot of hype coming off last year even though he hasn't been as dominant this fall.
Jeff (Columbus Ohio)
Why is it that reporters never talk about the fact that an SEC team or Pac 10 team never plays in snow or cold weather? I would love to see how good they really are in all types of weather!
Adam Rittenberg (4:38 PM)
What's the point, Jeff? This argument is so tired to me. It's like saying, 'Why don't we play BCS games in the Midwest?' Because we don't. And we never will. So let's not waste our time. The Big Ten used to win the Rose Bowl. It can be done. And it can be done again.
Brian (Springfield, Ohio)
What's your take? Stanzi in or out would not have made a differenxce in this OSU-Iowa game.
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
Oh, he definitely would have made a difference. I'd anticipate Ohio State would still be favored, but not by 17 points. And in a close game on the road, you have to like Iowa's chances with Stanzi at the helm.
Tom (Big 12/Big10 Border Country)
Top 5 Big 10 vs. Top 5 Big 12 teams - how many match-ups does Big 10 take? And how many does Big 12 take?
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
Hmmm ... good one
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
I see the Big Ten going 3-2. Texas beats Ohio State or Iowa, but no one else scares me in that league. I think the Big Ten holds its own.
Will Ken O'Keefe and Kirk Ferentz go for broke and let Vandenberg throw the ball a lot in the Iowa - OSU game?
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
How's sociology class? ... I think they need to take calculated risks with Vandenberg. The long pass has become an integral part of Iowa's offense with McNutt and DJK. You can't just take that out of the playbook. But you need to pick the right spots to take shots.
With Decker hurt, who's the go-to WR in the Big Ten right now?
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
Tough question, John. I really like Michigan State's Blair White. In terms of reliability, I'd go with Keith Smith from Purdue or Zeke Markshausen from Northwestern. But I've also been impressed with Tandon Doss and DeVier Posey, and the two Iowa studs, McNutt and DJK.
Gary (Sacramento, CA)
Adam - Can you tell me how good do you think Michigan will be next season? Do they continue to get better? Or do you think they will have another poor season next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
I think they'll be fine on offense. The key is replenishing that defense and finding more difference makers. The scary thing is Michigan loses Brandon Graham and maybe Donovan Warren as well. They are your two best players from a bad defense. U-M will need guys like Van Bergen, Woolfolk, Martin and Roh to really become difference-makers in 2010.
Vandenberg is the Mandenberg. Discuss.
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
Put it on a T-shirt and send me one.
Idris (Fullerton, CA)
What is your take on the Danny Hope/Rodriguez thing last weekend? Is it justified knowing that Rodriguez stole recruits close to Signing Day (among other things this season)?
Adam Rittenberg (4:47 PM)
It was surprising to me, Idris. Surprising that Hope would do it after such a big win for the program. Surprising that Rodriguez would bring it up in a news conference basically unprompted.
Penn State's OOC Schedule (Happy Valley (always))
People keep telling me that I need to beef up and add some real teams, but honestly, why would I ever change when a 10-2 Iowa and Wisconsin with stronger schedules are predicted to be picked for lower bowls than a 10-2 Penn State (which lost to that Iowa team anyway)
Adam Rittenberg (4:48 PM)
Something tells me this isn't from a Penn State fan.
Mark (South Point, Oh)
Who do you think will be the starting rb at ohio state next year? They have 4 backs returning and Jaamal Berry will be a true freshman and they're bringing in roderick smith...
Adam Rittenberg (4:49 PM)
I think it's wide open, Mark. But Ohio State seems like the type of team that needs a true featured back. Someone needs to emerge and take hold of that job, unlike this year.
Adam, you see any coaching changes in the Big Ten after this season or does everyone stay put?
Adam Rittenberg (4:50 PM)
From talking to some sources this week, I think everyone stays put. But you could have as many as four coaches on the hot seat in 2010 (Zook, Rodriguez, Lynch and Brewster). So it should be interesting.
Out of all the players in the Big 10 right now, who has the best shot at the hiesman next year or beyond?
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
John Clay from Wisconsin should be on the radar next year. If he can stay healthy, he'll be a Shonn Greene-like guy who gets 100 or more yards every time out. Other than Clay, I don't see many obvious candidates. Terrelle Pryor would get the hype if he makes some significant progress this offseason, but his stats aren't good enough.
you really think Penn St gets picked over iowa for an at large BCS bowl? Iowa fans travel just as well as PSU. But then again, Penn St has the JoePa factor for TV. Fine, I see your point.
Adam Rittenberg (4:52 PM)
I enjoy questions that answer themselves.
Drew (Washington DC)
Do you think Jewel Hampton has his spot secured for next year, after seeing ARob and the Weigher-Bomb?
Adam Rittenberg (4:54 PM)
Not at all, Drew. While I think Hampton, when healthy, has the best chance to be a true featured runner for Iowa, Adam Robinson deserves a chance to compete for that job. Very impressed with Robinson's consistency and ability to hang onto the ball.
Is it possible for ND to lose to both Pitt and Stanford..if so, what then?
Adam Rittenberg (4:54 PM)
Brian Kelly's phone rings. So does Jon Gruden's. And Urban Meyer's, but he hangs up immediately.
Do you think PSU will be better or worse next year? Do they have a chance at the BIG TEN title? or will they fail at the big game again?
Adam Rittenberg (4:55 PM)
It depends on several factors. Will Evan Royster stay? Will Navorro Bowman stay? You're going to get worse at quarterback with the young guy, but you should be better along the offensive line and at wide receiver. With a good running back like Royster, the offense could be solid. Penn State still must get better in the secondary, but the front seven is always good. It would help to have Bowman back, with Sean Lee gone.
Zach (Toledo, OH)
Do you own a snuggie?
Adam Rittenberg (4:56 PM)
No, but several of my bosses do. I'm waiting for them to do some video posts on the blogs.
Chris (Des Moines, IA)
If a "Vandenberg is the Mandenberg" t-shirt is made, and sent to you, will you do a video blog wearing it before the season is over?
Adam Rittenberg (4:56 PM)
Northwestern is still looking for that Autry / Anderson / Wright / Sutton - type back. Can Arby Fields be that type of back next year? Or someone else?
Adam Rittenberg (4:58 PM)
Arby should be better after a full offseason. He certainly needs to get stronger, but I like what he brings to the table. Concannon also should continue to be used for carries, but you're right, they lack a star.
Do you ever feel left out when your coworkers are talking about football?
Adam Rittenberg (4:58 PM)
I think Evan is conducting his own chat with himself today.
Evan Royster (State College, PA)
So should I enter the draft this year even though I couldn't put up big numbers against Iowa and OSU? I mean it really wasn't my fault the O-line couldn't block!
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
I wouldn't blame you if you did, but I'd like you to come back and put together a really good senior season. Plus, the Big Ten needs offensive stars, so come back, Ev!
Adam Rittenberg (5:00 PM)
Todd from Detroit gets the last word ...
Adam, you can relax on this last one, I'll take us out.... Great chat as always everyone. Enjoy the games and read my blog! See you back here next Thursday. -A.R.