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)
It's about that time. Pretty crazy news week in the Big Ten. Let's get started.
Does Iowa stand a chance against the Georgia Tech "magic" offense? How well will Stanzi have to play to compensate?
Adam Rittenberg (4:01 PM)
Danny, Stanzi needs a solid performance and more important, he needs to limit major mistakes. But the big story line in Miami will be Iowa's ability to keep Georgia Tech's offense in check. The Hawkeyes are extremely fundamentally sound, but they can't lose the football in the triple option or it could be a long night.
kyle (Des Moines, Iowa)
hey adam, I happen to read your blogs alot and I have one question. Im hearing alot about how Penn State and Ohio State will be on top of the Big Ten next year (which always seems to happen), but im thinking that Iowa could be a great team next year because of them losing few starters. Is this true?
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
The Big Ten favorites next year should be Ohio State and Iowa, with Wisconsin and maybe Penn State in the next group. Penn State loses a lot from this year's team, including Daryll Clark, Jared Odrick, Sean Lee and possibly Navorro Bowman. Could be a bit of a rebuilding year in State College. Iowa only has significant losses at linebacker and possibly offensive line.
Do you see MSU ralling together and pulling the upset over Texas Tech?
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
It would be a heck of a story, wouldn't it, Ryan? But every time I thought Michigan State had turned a corner this season, the Spartans fell apart. I just have very little faith in that secondary to stop Taylor Potts and the Texas Tech offense.
Do you think Devin Gardner has the talent to overtake Tate Forcier for the starting QB job next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
He has the talent, Chris, but Forcier will have two full offseasons and a season in the system. If Forcier can just get a bit better at making throws in the pocket, I think he'll be the starter next year. He did a lot of good things as a freshman and should be a smarter player in 2010.
Is it true that the Big Ten has passed new rules legalizing the forward pass?
Adam Rittenberg (4:05 PM)
Not until next year, I think (I hope!).
Penn State vs LSU just sounds like a big game. What will be the biggest factor in the outcome?
Adam Rittenberg (4:05 PM)
Sam, I think it'll be experience. Penn State has more of it than LSU. This is the time for guys like Daryll Clark, Sean Lee and Jared Odrick to rise up against a talented but youthful Tigers team. Penn State has been through a few more battles, and needs to perform like it in Orlando.
Better tubed meat -- bratwurst or polish sausage?
Adam Rittenberg (4:06 PM)
This might be my toughest question of the day. Gotta go with the brat, though I'd take either one right now.
Do you buy dantonio's new tough guy, no nonsense routine, or is he just trying to make up for his previous mistake with Winston?
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
The routine isn't exactly new for Dantonio, but he has to be pretty humiliated by what has happened. He never should have let Winston back on the team. It looked like a bad decision at the time, and now it looks even worse. I'm all for second chances, but why not arrange a transfer to another team? You can't take such a big risk and have it backfire.
Adam, what's the word on Cameron Heyward? Coming back to OSU next year, or going pro? If he comes back, is OSU a legit NC contender?
Adam Rittenberg (4:08 PM)
He says he's coming back, Steve, but the NFL scouts love him. It'll be a tough decision, particularly if he puts Jeremiah Masoli on his back a few times in Pasadena.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
I didn't see Evan Royster on your list of PSU losses. Just an oversight or do you think he'll come back?
Adam Rittenberg (4:09 PM)
I think Evan wanted to go pro before the season, but things haven't worked out that well. Not that he had a poor season, but I think he knows he needs another year to really improve his draft stock. He should be back.
What do you think about Coach Brewster and his future with Minnesota? The all talk and not walking the walk is getting old to many Gopher fans.
Adam Rittenberg (4:10 PM)
It's certainly time for Brew to back up the talk of championships. He deserves one more year with his own recruits in key roles to get things right, but it'll be tough. Minnesota loses a lot on defense as well as Eric Decker on offense. Perhaps Year 2 of the pro-style offense will lead to better results. Another season like this one likely leads to a change.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Adam, wanted your persepctive from the "media" side: for a guy like Brian Kelly for example, if he says he's committed to Cincy but really would take an interview and hear out an offer from another place (like anyone would in any profession), he's a liar. If he says "never say never", then the floodgates open and he's all but gone. What's a guy really supposed to say in that situation?
Adam Rittenberg (4:12 PM)
It's a very delicate situation, Lou, and I think Kelly has handled himself pretty well so far. Kirk Ferentz always gets questions about other jobs, and he handles it well, too. I don't know if there's a perfect answer to these questions, and it's especially tough because teams still have bowl games to play and recruits to lure.
Will the Big Ten save face this bowl season, or will its national preception continue to slide downward?
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
Ryan, I can't imagine we'll see another 1-6. The matchups look a lot more favorable. Then again, it could happen. I would expect at least two or three wins, maybe as many as five.
Kyle Novak (Ada, OH)
Adam,Love the blog. What's your take on where OSU will be ranked to start the season next year if they can manage a "w" vs. the ducks? I feel like they would be number one, if not, still getting a significant number of first place votes.
Adam Rittenberg (4:14 PM)
Kyle, they likely won't be No. 1 because of the national Buckeye backlash, but I would say win or lose, Ohio State should be a top 5 team in 2010. There are only a handful of major losses, namely safety Kurt Coleman. But the core of the team will be back.
George (San Antonio)
Why do you think Big Ten teams haven't hired a African American coach in recent years?
Adam Rittenberg (4:16 PM)
It's certainly a concern, George. I wrote last year how there aren't very many black coordinators in the Big Ten, either. We should see a few vacancies in the near future, so I would hope black candidates get a fair shot at a Big Ten job or two.
Adam,What a recruiting week for Purdue! Along with MSU (assuming the scandal doesn't hurt their class), they might have two of the most underrated classes in the country. Are the Big Ten's non-traditional powers FINALLY turning the corner in recruiting?
Adam Rittenberg (4:17 PM)
Great recruiting week for Danny Hope, Bax. And he's not just getting the Florida kids that the big boys don't want. He's getting solid prospects from Florida and other areas as well. I'm pretty excited about the future in West Lafayette.
Who will have the best backfield in the Big 10 next year? Clay, Ball - Wisc... Hampton, Robinson, Wegher - Iowa... Saine, Herron - Ohio St.
Adam Rittenberg (4:18 PM)
Great question, Craig. My initial feeling would be Wisconsin, but a lot depends on how Jewel Hampton responds from his knee injury. Ohio State also should be solid if Jaamal Berry backs up the hype.
Speaking of African American coaches do you think Larry Johnson will ever be a d1 head coach? we all know how good of a recuirter he is
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
I would hope so, Scott. He would have been a great fit at Maryland if they'd dumped Fridge (though they already have a coach in waiting). Paterno's assistants are so loyal to him, but I would hope Johnson moves on in the next few years to bigger things.
ben (peachtree city ga)
adam. how do like northwestern's chances in the outback bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (4:20 PM)
I like them, Ben. Northwestern finished the season a lot stronger than Auburn, though the Tigers looked tough against Bama. The Wildcats will need to limit big plays against Gus Malzahn's crafty offense, but I'm pretty certain Mike Kafka will put up points against a thin Auburn defense.
Matt (Ithaca, NY)
How well do you think Ohio State's smash mouth d-line matches up with Oregon's wide splits, spread it out o-line? The ducks o-line was extremely underrated this year save the boise state game.
Adam Rittenberg (4:22 PM)
Absolutely agree on your last point, Matt. While getting pressure on Jeremiah Masoli is critical, I'm more interested to see how Ohio State tackles in the open field against Oregon. The Buckeyes' tackling last year against Texas was superb until the final minute, and OSU made the Longhorns offense look very gimmicky. I don't care what Pac-10 people say, but the tackling in that league doesn't compare with the Big Ten, so we'll see how the Buckeyes fare.
Matt (Ithaca, NY)
What does the future hold for Minnesota? They started off so strong this year, but after the loss of decker they really lost their bite.
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
I know people aren't excited about the Insight Bowl, Matt, but I think it's absolutely critical for Minnesota to win that game. Iowa State is hardly an intimidating opponent, and a win would give Brewster some positive momentum for 2010. Right now, the program has recruited better than it did until Glen Mason, but the results are the same, or even a little worse. Brewster needs to start getting the most out of his own recruits.
Do you see the Big 10 altering its schedule in the near future so that they're still playing conference games during the conference championship weekend? The other two conferences without a championship game (Big East and Pac 10) push their schedules back and seem to have gotten good positive publicity from it, especially this year with exciting winner take all games on the final week of the season. Will that success convince the Big 10 to do the same? Or do you think it's better for the conference to keep the current system, essentially finishing the season while everyone else plays two more weeks?
Adam Rittenberg (4:26 PM)
Rob, one thing for everyone to remember is that beginning next year, the Big Ten will play the weekend after Thanksgiving, so the gap between the Big Ten and other leagues shrinks by a week. While I think some coaches would love to have a bye during Thanksgiving and finish league play in December, I don't see it happening. Still, I could see more schools playing later games like Illinois and Wisconsin did this year.
Mardy Gilyard (Cincinatti)
Since we now have banned you guys from our banquet does the media think our coach is all but gone?
Adam Rittenberg (4:26 PM)
Zach ((Toledo, OH))
How do you feel between the matchup between Masoli vs Pryor? Their numbers are nearly identical (in respect to yardage), and considering Pryors limited role since the Purdue game you can't get a good read on where he is at right now. Is he poised for a breakout game when Tressel (hopefully) lets him loose on January 1st?
Adam Rittenberg (4:28 PM)
The last part of your question is key, Zach. Will Tressel let him loose? I think he has to because Pryor must be a difference maker for Ohio State to win this game. Oregon's offense is simply too potent, and the Buckeyes need to put up at least 24 points to win. Mistakes happen in football, but you can counteract them with big plays by letting your quarterback do what he does best.
Which Big Ten bowl game are you most looking forward to watching?
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
I'm kind of a Big Ten dork, Ned, so all of them. But especially the Rose. Love the contrast in teams and the Pryor connection. Of the non-BCS bowls, I'm actually really excited for Champs Sports. Miami and Wisconsin should give us a good game.
Your thoughts about next years Miami vs Ohio State, both bringing back good teams. Miami losing only about 2% of it's team, and Ohio State about 8%.
Adam Rittenberg (4:30 PM)
It should be a monster matchup, Eric, one of those games that sets the course for the rest of the college season. You've got Harris vs. Pryor, two very athletic teams, two different types of programs. Should be great.
Do you think that Al Golden leaves Temple in the off-season? Can he sustain his success at Temple?
Adam Rittenberg (4:32 PM)
Where would he go, Chris? We could see Big East openings at Cincy and/or UConn, so those would be good spots. But otherwise, I see Golden at Temple for a little longer.
Kind of a random question, Adam, but I was wondering how the bowls determine the home/away team. Looking at the breakdowns of which Big Ten teams would be home/away that you posted, I saw only one team (Wisconsin, I believe) was designated the home team. I don't really have any strong feelings on the matter, but I was just curious how it worked/why 6 of the 7 Big Ten teams are going to be "away."
Adam Rittenberg (4:33 PM)
I actually addressed this in my Tuesday mailbog, Ned. There's no universal formula for determining home and away, but if you remember last year, Big Ten teams were home in the Cap One, Outback, Alamo and Insight. Wisconsin was the road team in Champs Sports, so it's flip-flopped to the other side. The Rose Bowl is the only game where the Big Ten will be the away team two years in a row.
Best chance for a Big10 bowl win? Worst chance?
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
Worst chance is definitely Michigan State vs. Texas Tech. Best chance is a tough call. Maybe Penn State?
The local media keeps mentioning Virginia where he was Defensive Coordinator....Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (4:35 PM)
Well, the local media should know Virginia just hired its head coach.
Adam-Overall, does the school's location help or hurt Northwestern? The Chicago area is a big draw to recruits, but the team gets lost in the shuffle of the local sports scene, and local other B10 schools have larger alumni bases here.
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
Good question, Dan, one I've pondered for quite some time. I don't know if it matters where NU is located because the alumni are scattered around the country. The Chicago market certainly helps in recruiting, but in terms of media attention, the Wildcats don't get much at all. Jim Phillips is an excellent AD, but his biggest challenge will be finding better ways to connect to the Chicago market, which really doesn't consider Northwestern a home team.
Iowa and Penn St. are wearing their home uniforms though, Adam.
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
That's correct, but only because LSU and Georgia Tech wear white as the home team.
Anytime I see your picture I think its the back up punter for Illinois.
Adam Rittenberg (4:38 PM)
That's a lot better than who most people think I look like.
Coach Brewster (Minneapolis, MN)
Hey Adam my team hasn't put points on the board against a team from Iowa since 2007. Do you think this will affect my teams performance against Iowa State?
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
Yes. Absolutely. Your players will run out of the stadium at the first sight of corn. ... In all seriousness, no, of course not. Iowa State is a different team. You'll put up points (I think).
Adam, what do you think of the future look of some of the mid-level Big Ten teams? You've told us you like Purdue and the bigger powerhouses will be good (and of COURSE we know just what Wisconsin's team will look like) but what do you think about the recruiting efforts of teams like NU, MSU, or a dark horse from the bottom of the conference?
Adam Rittenberg (4:41 PM)
Northwestern is putting together its best recruiting class since Tyrell Sutton arrived in 2005. Michigan State has recruited very well the last two years, though this season could hurt the Spartans a bit. Indiana has a ton of commits already, but most of them aren't highly rated.
Paul (Chicago, IL)
What are you hearing on the Coach Zook rumors? It seems since the only thing he's good at (recruiting) is starting to fail, and players are jumping ship, we Illinois fans might actually be spared this year, instead of at the end of next? Guenther's silence is certainly deafening.
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
Guenther isn't expected to make any additional statements about Zook, but he's got to be considering the possibility of making a change. The program has totally lost momentum. Expect some staff changes down there very soon, and transfers are possible as well. Not a good situation at all.
Hey Adam!...How come nobody is giving Wisconsin a chance in the Champs Sports Bowl? All these analysts keep reiterating that Miami's aerial attack will be too much for Wisconsin's inexperienced secondary to handle. However, few are mentioning John Clay and his ability to take over a game, especially against smaller defenses. Even Nick Toon has become a playmaker, giving Tolzien another solid option after reliable Garrett Graham. I know the Badgers didn't come to play last year against FSU, but this is an entirely different team this season.
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
Totally agree, Evan. People who don't actually watch games see Big Ten and Wisconsin and think slow, plodding, ineffective. I enjoyed watching Wisconsin's offense more than any other in the Big Ten this season. The Badgers balance out Clay and the power run with a great play-action passing attack. They'll be able to score against Miami. Whether they can stop Jacory Harris is another issue entirely.
With Tressel's dismal performance(0-6) in recent big games, say he loses to Oregon and to a top 5 Miami next year, will the administration look to make a change?
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
Nope. No chance. As long as he wins the Big Ten. There could be more pressure on him to upgrade his staff and actually bring in a big name or two, but Tressel is safe for the foreseeable future.
David (Chicago, IL)
Man it is cold here!
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
I hear you, David. I tried to warm up my car this morning and my key broke off in the door.
2010 Preseason big 10 offensive player of the year...who's in the conversation?
Adam Rittenberg (4:48 PM)
You've got to start with John Clay, who won the award this year. Evan Royster will be in the mix if he comes back to Penn State. Other than that, I'm not sure. I don't think you'll see Terrelle Pryor in the discussion until he gets more consistent results.
Scott (Iowa City)
Adam - Great job all season! Do you hear many rumors on what underclassmen might jump to the NFL next year? I'm mostly concerned with Adrian Clayborn but also Bulaga and Spievey.
Adam Rittenberg (4:49 PM)
Those are the three who are most likely to leave, Scott. I don't think all three will be back, but I also don't think all three will leave. If I had to pick one player to depart, it'd be Spievey.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Adam: Do you think Joe Pa will make the same mistake as Bobby Bowden and hand around too long or will he get out before we have a fiasco like they had in Tallahassee?
Adam Rittenberg (4:50 PM)
I think Penn State's program is at a point where it can not only survive but excel regardless if JoePa is there or not. Look at the way Penn State has upgraded its recruiting the last few years. Recruits want to play there whether Joe coaches one more year or five. That's the big difference with Florida State, plus a better overall staff of assistants.
What changed in the last week of the season (with neither team playing) to convince the Fiesta to take TCU as their anchor team instead of Iowa? Or were they convinced by some other sources....(conspiracy???)
Adam Rittenberg (4:53 PM)
I don't think it was a conspiracy, Nate. Whether you like the matchup or not, you're probably going to watch that game as two undefeated teams square off. I highly doubt John Junker fell on his sword so other bowls could get better games. Would I like to see TCU and Boise play BCS squads? Absolutely. But I'll still tune in.
Adam, what do you think the backlash will be if the Big 10 has a showing similar to last years bowl season, do you believe there is an atmosphere of urgency to get the wins this year as opposed to last year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:54 PM)
The urgency is definitely there, Seth, but the backlash will be brutal if the Big Ten lays another egg in the bowls. It's crucial to get at least three wins, if not four or five, and/or at least one BCS bowl victory.
Gill (MPLS, Mn)
With all the talk about shutouts should Brewster have kicked Field Goals against Penn State and the Hawkeyes in the 4th Quarter? It would have at least looked better.
Adam Rittenberg (4:55 PM)
Eh, maybe. Minnesota's offense still looked pretty pathetic in those games. Penn State didn't get a pass for its offensive performance against Ohio State even though the Nittany Lions scored.
any big 10 heisman contenders next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:55 PM)
John Clay from Wisconsin should get some consideration entering the fall. Other than him, no one else really jumps out to me as a legit contender.
Tyler (Eugene, OR)
Adam - Duck Fan here. Your take on the Rose Bowl? Will Ohio State be able to put up enough points to keep up with the Ducks? I think they need to score atleast 31 to have a chance. Whats your take?
Adam Rittenberg (4:57 PM)
Welcome, Tyler. I went with at least 24 points, as Ohio State's defense is awfully good and can dominate a game. But Terrelle Pryor must be a difference maker for the Buckeyes rather than just a mistake-limiter. He has to change the game.
Mac (Huntington, WV)
Adam, since there are virtually no Big Ten players up for awards this season (Mesko @ UM is in there), which player has the biggest gripe with not being named an award finalist?
Adam Rittenberg (4:58 PM)
I would have loved to have seen Brett Swenson from Michigan State become a Groza finalist. And it's too bad Brandon Graham can't win something for being one of the most dominating defensive players in America.
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
OK guys, back to the blog. Enjoyed the chat, as always, and will talk to you folks next week.