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)
The clock strikes 4, and the chat begins. Fire away.
Adam, whats up my man? Love the blog. What do you see as the worst case scenario for the big ten bowl lineup? For the most part I see the Big Ten lining up pretty well but what would you see as "disaster matchups" for the big ten?
Adam Rittenberg (4:01 PM)
I wouldn't want to see Oregon in the Rose Bowl, despite the sexiness of the matchup for Ohio State. Also, I'd rather not face Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl. The other matchups look fairly manageable.
Matt (Atlantic Mine, Mich.)
MSU's bowl situation where is it at? Anyway the stay in Detroit?
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
Highly unlikely, Matt. The Big Ten would have to be limited to only one BCS entry, and the Insight would need to take Minnesota for the second straight year. Don't see either of those two things happening, unless the Insight is forced to take Minnesota, which would mean MSU to the Alamo Bowl.
We Wildcat fans really have nothing to worry about when it comes to the Pat Fitzgerald to Notre Dame rumors right? Right?
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
Nah, I wouldn't worry, Sam. Listen, from the outside, Fitz looks like a good candidate for Notre Dame. But those who keep calling him a candidate probably don't know him too well. He's very happy in Evanston and wants to coach NU for a very long time.
If Jim Tressel was asked behind closed doors and had to choose, would he rather face Oregon or Oregon State? Would a win over Oregon State (even Oregon) really even help the Big Ten's image or is it just a step in the right direction?
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
Bobby, as someone who has heard the "Big Ten stinks" argument for two seasons of blogging, I think any win in a BCS bowl should help the Big Ten's image. Oregon State is a solid program, and it would be hypocritical to harp on the Big Ten after a win. As for Tressel, I think he sees what the rest of us do with Oregon, and he probably doesn't like it.
Jeff (North Carolina)
Adam, what's with Brandon Graham not being named an All-American? After playing n Michigan's defense that alone warranted big ten honors. Looks like he got snubbed eh?
Adam Rittenberg (4:06 PM)
Totally agree, Jeff. Graham was the most dominant player in the Big Ten this fall. He clearly got victimized for playing on a horrible Michigan defense. It's really too bad.
David Lee (Madison Square Garden)
Do you think either of the Big Ten teams would match up well to Boise St.? What matchup do you think would be bad for either Iowa or Penn St.?
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
David, say whazzup to my guy Wilson Chandler if you get a chance. ... Wow, Boise State. Probably a tough matchup for both Iowa and Penn State, but Boise hasn't faced a defense remotely resembling Iowa's or Penn State's in quite a while, perhaps all season. The key would be putting up points on the Broncos' D. If Penn State can run the ball with Royster, I like the Lions' chances. If Ricky Stanzi returns to form and gets the big-play pass game going with DJK and McNutt, I like the Hawkeyes.
Michelle (Dublin, Ohio)
Can you give a grade on Ohio State's corners this season? There was a large void left by Malcolm Jenkins, but outside of Purdue, the OSU corners didn't really seem to get beat a lot. Do you think Torrence will hold the job in 2010?
Adam Rittenberg (4:09 PM)
That's a really great point, Michelle, and something I hadn't thought much about until now. Ohio State has done a very solid job overall after losing Malcolm and Donald Washington. Chekwa has established himself as a solid corner. There probably will be some competition on the other side, but Torrence has done OK.
To put it in simple terms, Tim Brewster is not getting the job done in Minnesota. The team is at another standstill and the offense has just gotten progressively worse. He is on the hot seat and I already have my list of candidate ready. They are: Turner Gill, Ken Sumlin, Marc Trestman, Charlie Strong, Bud Foster, and my sleeper is Major Applewhite. What are your thoughts on the best option if indeed Brewster is no longer the coach????
Adam Rittenberg (4:11 PM)
I still think Minnesota will stick with Brewster for another year, but a blowout loss in a bowl game could change things. He's still recruiting at a high level, and he deserves another year to get the offense together. If they did make a change and could get Charlie Strong, I'd do it and not think twice.
Terry (the 'Burgh)
Which of these events has a better chance to happen within one year: a) my marriage to Jennifer Anniston? or b) Rich Rod is still coaching Michigan?
Adam Rittenberg (4:12 PM)
No offense, Terry, but there's a better shot at Rich still being at Michigan a year from now. If he shows progress next fall (8-4 or better), he should be safe. Though a new AD changes the game over there.
I think Ohio State would have beat USC the second time around if they would have drawn them in the Rose. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
Ohio State should have won the first game, and USC's defense certainly looks more vulnerable now than it did on Sept. 12. I still worry about playing USC in a virtual home game at the Rose, but I'd like Ohio State's chances.
Hey, Adam. As you?ve previously noted, the Big Ten has been struggling recently at the quarterback position. Were there any QBs this season that made you optimistic about the future of this position in the Big Ten? Any chance we see the emergence of a dominant QB next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
Great question, Andrew. As you know, the decline of the QB spot in the Big Ten has been the primary reason for the league's decline, imo. I really liked what I saw from Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien, who will be back next fall. Iowa has two pretty good options in Stanzi and Vandenberg. But two of the more surprising QBs, Mike Kafka and Joey Elliott, both graduate, along with first-team All-Big Ten selection Daryll Clark.
Ian (Fresno, Ca)
What are your thoughts on the Fresno State v. Illinois game? Who wins? Does Matthews make an impact?
Adam Rittenberg (4:16 PM)
Ian, I picked Fresno to win, 33-30. And Matthews will be the biggest reason why. The Big Ten lacks many RBs of his caliber, and since Illinois didn't face Wisconsin's John Clay, the Illini haven't seen anyone really like Matthews all season. Juice Williams plays well in his final game, but Fresno finds a way to win.
Terry (the 'Burgh)
Any Big-10(11) coaches or coordinators on ND's short list? I keep hearing rumors about NW's Pat Fitzgerald. Makes sense academics-wise, except he hasn't really accomplished anything noteworthy championships-wise.
Adam Rittenberg (4:18 PM)
The two rumored candidates are Fitzgerald and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, though I doubt either man would leave his post. Cincinnati's Brian Kelly seems like a great pick to me, but ND appears to want to aim higher. We'll see what happens.
Brynn (New Albany, OH)
Have you given a thought to what if Rodriguez starts another true freshman QB next season (Devin Gardner)? Isn't that basically signing his own death warrant or would it be an excuse for him?
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
Well, he'll have to do an honest assessment of Gardner when he arrives, and a lot depends on Tate Forcier's progress this offseason. Forcier did a lot of good things for Michigan as a true freshman, and his edge in experience could be the difference next fall. Then again, if Gardner is clearly the best guy, Rich has to play him.
Greg (Stockton, CA)
Next year in 2010, which Big 10 teams' stock goes up? Which teams' stock falls?
Adam Rittenberg (4:20 PM)
Good question, Greg. I like Purdue's stock to go up, Wisconsin's as well, maybe Michigan State's and Michigan's. I'm concerned about Minnesota with all the losses on defense.
Mike (LV, NV)
What are the chances now (given what is going on in EL) that Minnesota gets picked for the Alamo? Will these recent event tip the scale, or is it still MSU then MN?
Adam Rittenberg (4:22 PM)
Alamo Bowl CEO Derrick Fox told me he's definitely keeping track of the investigation at Michigan State. I don't think the Insight wants Minnesota again, so perhaps Alamo takes the Gophers and the Spartans go to Insight. I don't know if either fan base is really fired up to travel.
Craig (St. Paul, MN)
Putting you on the spot: If you were the Fiesta Bowl committee, who do you pick and why?
Adam Rittenberg (4:23 PM)
I pick Iowa because I have two great options. If one team's profile was significantly worse, you take the team with the better total package. But if both teams bring fans, why not take the team that won the head-to-head meeting and avoid a negative backlash?
If you could pick one Big Ten coach to prepare your team for a bowl game, who would it be?
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
Joe Paterno. He has won more bowl games than anyone else.
If Texas loses, how on earth will the bowl reps justify taking 10-2 Iowa or Penn State over a 13-0 Boise that will likely be ranked #4 or #5 in the final BCS poll? Can you justify it Adam?
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
They would justify it based on fan support and TV ratings. Though Boise is a known name, the Broncos don't travel quite as well as Iowa or Penn State. Plus, the game might not draw the same TV ratings. Not saying it's fair, but the bowls look at a lot more than overall records.
Hey, Adam. Since 2006, people have been making a big deal about the ridiculous layoff between the last game of the regular season for Big Ten teams and their bowl game. Obviously, this year we've seen teams like Illinois and Wisconsin play later than the Big Ten schedule suggests (though for Illinois maybe they would have preferred to end their season earlier, as it turned out).Wisconsin aside (because their layoff will be much less than others), how do you think the layoff will affect the Big Ten's best teams (Ohio State/Iowa/Penn State/Northwestern) heading into January bowl games? I'm specifically thinking of Iowa having three extra days for Stanzi to recover/practice should they receive a Fiesta Bowl berth, which makes me think such a long layoff may actually be beneficial to teams...I don't know.
Adam Rittenberg (4:27 PM)
Ned, you bring up a good point about the extra time allowing some key players to heal. I buy the layoff argument to a certain extent, though I think the Big Ten gets hurt more by the lack of media exposure with its early finish. The thing about last year's bowl performance was that several teams (Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan State) played competitive games, but the opposition was just better. The matchups are a bigger deal, and having two teams in BCS bowls makes everything tougher.
Steve (State College, PA)
Adam the blog is sick, check it out everyday......I saw today you put up more info about the Iowa/PSU debate, but do you think if Pitt were to somehow beat Cincy, that there would be a possibility of a Pitt/PSU match-up in one of the BCS bowls? (As a life long PSU fan and student let me be clear that I would want nothing more than to see Pitt fans get knocked off the cloud 9 they're on)
Adam Rittenberg (4:30 PM)
There would be a possibility, Steve, though not a likely one. The Fiesta Bowl would have to bank on Pitt being available for its second selection after taking Penn State with its replacement pick. And the bowl would have to wonder if a Penn State-Pitt game would be nationally appealing. We both know it would be HUGE in PA, but would people around the country really care?
Adam..what will the bowl record be for the big ten?
Adam Rittenberg (4:30 PM)
Depends on the matchups, Milton, but I highly doubt the league goes 1-6 again. It'll be more around the .500 mark.
hey adam. just wondering if there is any chance that we see yet another new dc in ann arbor next season? i know the defense was a little young and inexperienced this year, but considering we had the probably the best player in the big ten on that side of the ball this year, the d was somewhat disappointing (to say the least)
Adam Rittenberg (4:32 PM)
I don't know, Pam. They could make a change, but it would be the third coordinator in as many years. The problems this fall weren't all on Greg Robinson, as Michigan clearly has youth and talent issues on defense. I think Robinson comes back, but he'll need to produce much better results in 2010.
Adam Rittenberg (4:32 PM)
Nate in Boise, I thought this answer already came through. Here it is, again. They would justify it based on fan support and TV ratings. Though Boise is a known name, the Broncos don't travel quite as well as Iowa or Penn State. Plus, the game might not draw the same TV ratings. Not saying it's fair, but the bowls look at a lot more than overall records.
With Northwestern bringing in a lot of new guys on offense and defense next year, where do you see them falling record wise in 2010? No Michigan or Ohio State should help...
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
The secondary is the only area that concerns me on defense. NU should be very solid at LB and pretty decent at defensive line. On offense, Mike Kafka is a big loss at QB, but the running game will be stronger and a receiver or two will emerge. The key is getting Dan Persa up to speed and keeping him healthy.
lance (houston, tx)
hey adam, i know you cover the big 10, but do you ever just get sick of some of their games, catch the highlights on sportscenter and kick back and watch some different leagues play?
Adam Rittenberg (4:35 PM)
Lance, when the Big Ten is playing, I'm always locked in. I don't mind the style of play as much as others do. But I also really enjoy watching other leagues. I'm psyched to watch Oregon-Oregon State tonight and hope you join me in the Virtual Pressbox starting at 9 p.m. ET.
so does PSU face a rebuilding year with a new quarterback, and the possible loss of Royster to the NFL or are all the new recruits coming in enough to keep us winning at least 9 or ten games next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
It'll be interesting, Steve. I think Royster should stay and will stay for another year. He won't project high enough after this season. But certainly Kevin Newsome's progress will be huge, though he'll have a better offensive line to work behind. The losses on defense could be significant, though Penn State always seems to reload at linebacker and line.
Adam, saw something earlier this week about Dace Richardson possibly seeking a 6th year of eligibility. Any idea on the chances of this happening? We'd love to have him back for another year.
Adam Rittenberg (4:38 PM)
Yes, Kirk Ferentz said he would discuss this possibility with Dace at some point this week. Dace would be a strong candidate for a sixth year because of his myriad injuries. Ultimately, it's up to him. He'd be a year older, but he could be a year better and prove to the pro scouts that he can stay healthy for a decent stretch.
If Michigan has a similar year in 2010, do they go after Harbaugh at Stanford?
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
Absolutely. That is, if he's still at Stanford and not at Notre Dame.
Hey Adam, I heard a rumor that Spievey has already decided to go to the NFL after the bowl game. Any truth to this? And if so, will it hurt Iowa a lot next year having possibly multiple (Bulaga being the other one) juniors leaving?
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
Joe, of the Iowa juniors considering the NFL draft, I've been told that Spievey is the likeliest to leave. Certainly it would hurt the secondary, but Iowa does get Jordan Bernstine back from injury. Bryan Bulaga also would be a big loss at left tackle, but Iowa seems to have survived its hiccup on the line in 2007 and is back to top form.
James (Idaho State Fan who does not like Boise State)
(Nebraska wins) I think you are wrong about Boise State. I think the commitee will figure out that their are as many BSU fans as Iowa (Iowa State is the other big school). Also the Fiesta would draw more locals for a Northwest team. Nevada, Arizona and others would rather watch Boise!
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
James, I agree that Boise State would travel well to the Fiesta Bowl. But to say Boise State has as many fans as Iowa is just silly. Same goes for Penn State. Big Ten teams travel better than anyone in the country. There's really no debate there. None.
Mike (LV, NV)
How do you think the national reputation of the B10 really effects the conference? Does it really hurt recruiting and therefore output on the field or is it just nice 'banter material' for posters and bloggers?
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
Mike, it all depends. If you look at some recruiting rankings for 2010, the Big Ten seems to be lagging a bit (aside from Penn State and Ohio State). So the national perception talk could be hurting the league in recruiting. As far as money being made, it doesn't hurt one bit. The Big Ten likely will set an attendance record on Saturday and continues to draw high TV ratings.
how soon after conf. championships do they announce the major bowl matchups?
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
Milton, if the matchups haven't been announced already, they'll all be announced on Sunday.
Who do you see at the top of the B10 in 2010?
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
Ohio State and Iowa could both enter the fall in the top 10. I also think Wisconsin will be up there in the league. There will be questions about Penn State, but the Lions have recruited well. Then there's Northwestern, Michigan State and Purdue.
Andrew (East Lansing)
Any chance you think Greg Jones goes pro after this season?
Adam Rittenberg (4:47 PM)
He certainly has to consider it, Andrew. Greg has been absolutely fabulous in three seasons for the Spartans. He doesn't need to prove much more on the college level. The one thing that could hurt him is his size (6-1, 228). He might need to get a little bit bigger for the league.
James (Urbana, IL)
If Notre Dame agreed to join the Big Ten, how would you make the 2 divisions?
Adam Rittenberg (4:49 PM)
The hard part would be what to do with Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan. Having them all in the same division could create a Big 12 South type deal, where one division is much stronger. But if you put Notre Dame in the West with Wisconsin and Iowa, it could balance things out.
gary (state college)
how is navaro bowman still not getting more credit for his season? he probably is at least a top five linebacker in the league now and is barely even written about on your blog (which i read daily) let alone nationally, at least you should give him credit that he got snubbed from all-american, since no offense to odrick but i feel most penn state fans would name bowman as our best defender which is saying alot
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
Well, Gary, I argued that Bowman deserved more consideration for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Navorro is a terrific player, and he certainly deserves regional and national accolades. The reason he's not hyped all the time is because Penn State couldn't win its featured games against Iowa and Ohio State.
So if you are "psyched" to see the Civil War tonight....Who is your pick?
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
I've got to go with Oregon, but it should be close. Definitely a lot of points scored. I'll go Ducks, 38-35.
Is it just me or has Prior at OSU lifted his game after Purdue? Can he/OSU beat a good BCS Foe this year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:53 PM)
Paul, he's certainly limited his mistakes, which makes Jim Tressel very happy. But Ohio State also has scaled things back on offense, trying to put Pryor in situations to succeed. Do they really trust him? That's certainly a point for debate, but you've got to credit Terrelle for playing within the system the last few games.
Is Gerhardt Heisman worthy?
Adam Rittenberg (4:54 PM)
Absolutely, Paul. If McCoy doesn't have a huge game against Nebraska, Gerhart most likely has my vote.
Troy (Montrose, CA)
Any chance for a USC vs. Notre Dame rematch in the Sun Bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (4:55 PM)
Troy, I don't believe that's possible because of the seven-win rule. I think all the slots would be taken by seven-win teams before a 6-6 squad like ND could make the cut.
Do you see anything possibly bad with the stockpiling OSU is currently doing at RB and WR recently? The buckeyes return Saine, Herron, Hall and Martin who all played this year, and redshirted star recruit Berry. They are bringing in at least 1 more star recruit in Rod Smith and should be getting Carlos Hyde as well. At WR, only losing rarely utilized Ray Small and redshirting 2 freshman and bringing in another 2 or 3 in next years class. Do you think any of the current buckeyes (Berry,Fields, Hall) would consider transferring with all the depth being built up at those 2 positions for the future?
Adam Rittenberg (4:56 PM)
Do I see anything bad with stockpiling good skill players for an offense that rarely ranks in the top 50 nationally? In a word, no. Sean, transfers are part of the deal, and every good program will have them because guys want more PT. But USC stockpiles talent at running back every year and it seems to work out OK for Pete Carroll.
Adam, what are the best nonconference games for the Big 10 next season? I know Iowa is at Arizona which could be big, what else is there?
Adam Rittenberg (4:57 PM)
Iowa-Zona is a good one. So are these: Miami-Ohio State, Penn State-Alabama, USC-Minnesota, Wisconsin-Arizona State.
Scott (St. Louis, MO)
Northwestern question: with the obvious desire for Notre Dame to nix some of its current matchups that aren't helping their national perception (Stanford, Pittsburgh), do you think they may bring back their yearly game against the Wildcats? It seems like having them play each other early in the season in Soldier Field would be good for both programs.
Adam Rittenberg (4:58 PM)
Highly doubt it, Scott. The series only benefited Notre Dame when the Irish were winning. As soon as Notre Dame lost to Northwestern in '95, it saw no need to continue playing the Wildcats. I'd like to see it, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
Manti (South Bend)
If Brian Kelly is not our coach who is bigger name we are gunning for?
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
By "bigger name" I was only talking about Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer, guys who own national titles. Brian Kelly is a big-enough name in my book, and I think he'd do really well in South Bend. You need a coach who can embrace the Notre Dame-ness of it all, and Kelly would do so.
Adam Rittenberg (5:00 PM)
OK guys, time's up. Enjoy the Civil War tonight and the BCS selections on Sunday. I'll bet they'll be partying in Iowa City or State College.