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)
Hey guys, I'm here. L et's do this.
Jason` (Akron, OH)
I am sure there will be ten thousand versions of this question, so I'll ask it ahead of time. What's your take on the overall recruiting class of the Big10?
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
Jason, it obviously wasn't the best recruiting year ever for the Big Ten, but I loved what Penn State did, and Michigan addressed a ton of needs. Ohio State's class didn't earn high marks, but the Buckeyes always will be fine. Michigan State maintained its momentum, and Wisconsin and Iowa both signed solid classes. The Big Ten has great coaches that develop players, so the recruiting prestige coming out of signing day isn't that important.
Bill (Pittsburgh, PA)
I've heard mixed reports on the status of the University of Pittsburgh joining the Big-Ten conference. What have you heard? What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
Absolutely no truth to this whatsoever. Pitt could join the Big Ten eventually, but nothing is imminent with any school. I recognize the desire of fans to want this to happen, but you need to be patient. Nothing will happen in the next few months.
Brandon (Las Vegas, NV)
Does Ohio State still have a shot at Seantrell Henderson?
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
Henderson listed the Buckeyes as his No. 2 choice, so if he backs out of USC, you'd think he'll end up in Columbus. Then again, his dad didn't sound too excited about Jim Tressel during the recruiting process, so maybe he goes elsewhere.
There's been some talk about the possibility of Texas in the Big10 (thanks to a great article you linked). While I agree with the author's points, wouldn't the fact that Texas would be an island out by itself geographically be a negative for it? In order to make it work, would other schools need to be added to "daisy chain" the Big10's footprint down to Texas, like adding Mizzou and Oklahoma?
Adam Rittenberg (4:05 PM)
Chris, because Texas is truly a home-run addition, much like Penn State was, I highly doubt the Big Ten would add more than one team. The geography certainly would look strange, and those State College to Austin trips would be fun, but I don't think the Big Ten would need to add teams from connecting states.
I heard alot about Missouri joining the Big 10, but to me, it sounds like a desperation move. Who would really be that excited to see Missouri play against Ohio State or Michigan? To me, they should either get Notre Dame, or stay at 11.
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
Saul, a lot of people agree with your last point, and I see the truth in it. Notre Dame and Texas probably are the only additions that would make a big splash for the Big Ten. Then again, Missouri might be a good fit, and the Tigers are competitive in the major sports and have natural rivalries with both Iowa and Illinois. Missouri definitely wouldn't make the same splash, which is why the Big Ten might look for multiple additions.
Coach Tressell has a history of 2 classes ranked very high followed by a filler class. Nothing new here for Buckeye fans. Would've been nice to get Henderson and Hicks though.
Adam Rittenberg (4:10 PM)
Yeah, as I've written several times on the blog, Ohio State fans shouldn't worry. Failing to add a second offensive lineman really is the only bad thing about the class. Keep in mind Laurinaitis and Jenkins weren't highly rated prospects, and they ended up much better than some of Ohio State's blue-chip guys.
I know that this won't happen, but say like the Big10 adds Texas, then Notre Dame realizes the Big10 won't add them ever in the future, so, they call up Jim Delany and beg to get in. Would the Big10 add them in that case?
Adam Rittenberg (4:12 PM)
Ha, I doubt it, Chris. One thing that could happen, though, is that the Big Ten adds no one after this expansion exploration. And then, in three or four years, Notre Dame decides to join. If Notre Dame ever feels the financial pull, it might give into the Big Ten. But I can't see both ND and Texas coming in together.
Adam, would you please say a few words to convince my fellow MN fans to step back from the cliff edge? Henderson wasn't really considering going to the Gophers, just doing a little shameless PR. Brewster picked up kids that wanted to play for him.
Adam Rittenberg (4:14 PM)
It would have been really hard to keep that kid at home. Jimmy Gjere was totally overshadowed in the state by Henderson, but he's a pretty good offensive lineman, too. The bottom line for Minnesota is getting the current players to step up, especially on offense. If we get a repeat of the 2009 offense this fall, you're probably looking at a sub-.500 record and a coaching change.
Truth (San Francisco)
Why stop at Texas and ND? Why doesn't the Big 10 also grab USC, Oklahoma, Florida and LSU? This idea that the Big 10 can take anyone is beyond stupid. Hard to believe, but not every school wants to play against teams from fly-over country.
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
Clearly, that's not going to happen, Truth. But your premise is also silly. When you can offer more television revenue than any other conference (by far, in many cases), athletics directors and presidents are gonna listen.
Brandon (Las Vegas, NV)
If Terrelle Pryor's knee hurts him so badly, why is he dunking the ball at the half of OSU - Penn St yesterday?
Adam Rittenberg (4:16 PM)
Not sure, Brandon. But if I could dunk, I'd have a hard time not doing it, even if I had a bum knee.
Brett (King of Prussia, PA)
Adam,Is it just me or does talk of "multiple additions" to the conference sound excessive? I see adding one team in order to meet the 12 team requirement to hold a conference championship game, but considering the current options, I firmly believe going beyond 12 teams significantly diminishes the quality of our conference both academically and athletically. Outside of Notre Dame, Missouri, and Pitt, there aren't any legitimate contenders (I just don't see Texas making the jump) to improve the conference. And Missouri is certainly a stretch academically right now considering Big Ten ranks top to bottom.
Adam Rittenberg (4:18 PM)
Brett, I'm with you on this, although I'd understand the need for multiple additions if the Big Ten can't get Notre Dame. People don't see the potential downsides to a 14- or 16-team league, but they are there. As for Missouri, the school isn't too much of an academic stretch, but Pitt would be a better addition from an academic standpoint.
You probably heard Rich Rodriguez's reaction to Dorsey's signing, but shouldn't the media have the right to ask about a kid who has the background Dorsey has (in regards to crime)? It seemed like Rodriguez didn't appreciate the questions.
Adam Rittenberg (4:21 PM)
The media has the right to ask about Dorsey's legal issues, though Dorsey has the right to play college football. He's never been convicted of anything, and if Michigan is satisfied with its investigation into his background, the school must live with the consequences if he falls into trouble.
Kyle (Iowa City)
Adam, have you heard anything about staff changes for the Hawkeyes?
Adam Rittenberg (4:22 PM)
I haven't, Kyle. Norm Parker plans to return despite his health issues, which is certainly good news for the Iowa defense.
When you go to Happy Valley to cover JoePa, do you tell your editors you're going antiquing?
Adam Rittenberg (4:23 PM)
That's just mean, D. Mack Brown is getting up there, too.
Vincent (Nashville, TN)
Is there still a season in Columbus next year, Adam? I mean, judging from the reaction of some, Ohio State should close the university. Do people realize that recruiting rankings mean nothing?
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
They'll get over it, Vincent. Buckeyes are a legit national championship contender. Live in the now, Ohio State fans, not in the future.
Do you think Nebraska would be a reasonable choice for entry into the Big 10 + 2?
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
I think the Big Ten should at least consider Nebraska. Obviously, the football program and its tradition would be a good addition. Academically, the school fits. But as an overall athletic program, would Nebraska be a good addition? I'm not convinced. The other factor working against NU is the TV market in Lincoln.
How much of Ohio State's success next year relies on Pryor? If he does well, does that put him in line for the Heisman?
Adam Rittenberg (4:27 PM)
He'll definitely enter the season on the Heisman radar (fringe). A big game against Miami in Week 2 would certainly help his chances. Ohio State will continue to win with defense and the run game, but Pryor showed in the Rose Bowl that the Buckeyes can be so much better with a more balanced attack.
Bryant (State College)
Which newly signed recruits could have the most impact for their teams next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
Demar Dorsey has to be a factor for Michigan right away. Devin Gardner and Penn State's two quarterbacks could make an impact as well. Indiana has three juco defensive players who will contend for starting jobs. C.J. Fiedorowicz could be Iowa's top tight end if he beats out Allen Reisner.
who are your predictions for coaches being let go next year in the big 10. you can give odds too if you want. like fitzgerald 10000 to 1, brewster 20 - 1.
Adam Rittenberg (4:30 PM)
I'm not much of an oddsmaker, Luke, but I'd say four coaches need good seasons to keep their jobs: Ron Zook, Bill Lynch, Tim Brewster and Rich Rodriguez. Zook's seat is definitely the hottest entering the fall.
Marvin McNutt First Team All Big-10 next season. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (4:32 PM)
Matt, it's very possible. I loved what McNutt did this year for Iowa, and he'll only get better as he learns more about the wide receiver position. Iowa isn't afraid to attack down the field with McNutt and DJK, so if Stanzi gets more consistent, Marvin should have a really nice season.
Paul (Sacramento, CA)
Adam, did Ohio St. return credibility to the BIG TEN by beating Oregon? I could see it if they had beat USC.
Adam Rittenberg (4:33 PM)
I think there was certainly a measure of credibility restored. Oregon is a media darling because of Chip Kelly and the offense, and for Ohio State to really control that game certainly said a lot about the Big Ten. The next step for the league is to compete at a championship level. In other words, it's time to beat the SEC's best.
Why is Lynch on the hot seat? Indiana has been irrellevant for years. At least now they're playing people tough (vs. Michigan) and progressing.
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
Indiana clearly wants some more continuity on its coaching staff, and Lynch has kept his staff together the last few years despite the losing. But at some point, IU needs to evaluate whether he can take the program to the next level. This season and 2011 should provide a good indication. Being competitive is great, but you need to eventually get over the hump.
does michigan state has a chance for the big 10 championship?
Adam Rittenberg (4:35 PM)
I don't think the Spartans will contend this year, but if their young defenders mature and they get better on the offensive line, they could make a run in 2011. Obviously, losing Greg Jones is tough, but MSU will have experience at QB, RB and DB.
I think Mike Leach had problems in the cold (I think). But would Mike Leach's offense work at a school like Illinois and against Big Ten defenses (maybe the Alamo Bowl could be an example)?
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
Avery, I definitely think Big Ten teams should think about Mike Leach if they have an opening next year. Illinois could be a good spot for him because the Illini aren't afraid to pay their coaches. The weather obviously is a factor, but Leach can really coach, and he'd inject some fun into the league for sure. He'd be facing better defenses than the ones in the Big 12, but if he gets the right personnel, look out.
What B10 school has the best football/basketball combo going?
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
Great question, Kevin. I'd have to say Wisconsin. The Badgers football squad comes off a great win in the Champs Sports Bowl and will enter 2010 as a possible top 10 team. Bo Ryan is one of the best hoops coaches in the country and once again has his team in the top 15.
How much of an impact do you think Michigan's recruiting class will have on the feild next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
If there's one class in the Big Ten that needs to have an impact in 2010, it's Michigan's. The Wolverines were bad on defense in 2009, and they lose their top two contributors in Graham and Warren. If these new guys can't come in and help right away, Michigan could be looking at another bowl-less season, which could spell the end for Rich Rodriguez.
David Lee (New York City)
Love the blog. Wish my team was over .500 though. I digress, what i really want to know is your opinion if AJ Derby at Iowa could change the offensive style eventually and if you think O'Keefe could be replaced in the next few years.
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
Kirk Ferentz mentioned something about a style change in his news conference Wednesday, but I'd have to see it to believe it. As much as Iowa fans dislike Ken O'Keefe, the guy fits Ferentz and what he wants to do on offense. That's why Kirk has been so loyal to O'Keefe. And to Iowa's credit, they did a lot of good things on offense this year. They shouldn't try to make A.J. Derby into something he's not, but they also shouldn't overhaul a system that works for the head coach.
Kelley (Los Angeles)
What do you think Penn State is going to be able to do in the fall with games like Alabama and not having a returning starting QB. We only have 12 starters coming back.
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
Alabama will be a tough game, no doubt. Penn State will have to contain Ingram with its new-look linebackers and find a way to control the clock with Evan Royster and the run game. Penn State's offensive line will be better in 2010, and Alabama's D-line might not be as dominant without Cody. It'll take a great effort from a young Nittany Lions team on the road to beat Bama.
Carson (Marion, Ohio)
If Jaamal Berry, Jordan Hall and/or Carlos Hyde have productive springs, could any of the young Buckeye tailbacks unseat Boom and Zoom? This is the same coach that benched a sixth-year senior BTW at QB?
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
Interesting question, Carson. I'm actually a big Brandon Saine fan, and I think he deserves a shot, at least in the start of the season, to be Ohio State's featured back. Now that's not to say Berry, Hall and Hyde won't have a chance to compete, but Saine really did some great things down the stretch, along with Herron. Those two shouldn't be dismissed.
James (Colorado )
Give us your best 3 non-conf games coming this fall.
Adam Rittenberg (4:47 PM)
From a Big Ten perspective, here goes. 1) Ohio State-Miami 2) Penn State-Alabama 3) Iowa-Arizona
You just know that Kevin was looking for you to say Michigan State because everyone around here fawns over Tom Izzo.
Adam Rittenberg (4:47 PM)
Hey, I love Tom Izzo, too. Had a great visit with him to talk football last summer. But Michigan State football needs to get more consistent before the football-basketball combo reaches Wisconsin's level.
Dana (Wooster, OH)
Some people are concerned about the loss of the three linebackers at PSU. But Mauti, Gbayu, and Zordich are ready to play. Mauti was in position to play the 09 season till the injury in camp. Gbayu has been playing. Zordich is another good hard playing son of a Nittany Lion. The addition of Fortt and others helps to deepen the tradition and strength of Linebacker U.
Adam Rittenberg (4:49 PM)
I agree, Dana. Penn State will be young in the defensive front seven, but there's no evidence in recent years to say the Lions won't once again be very strong there. My bigger concerns are the secondary and the quarterback position.
Adam Rittenberg (4:49 PM)
Penn State also must get better on special teams in 2010.
Dan (San Francisco)
Given who is returning for Ohio State, how good of a chance do you give them do play in the National Championship this season and beat an SEC Team?
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
Ohio State will have to continue its dominance in Big Ten road games, as the Buckeyes visit both Wisconsin and Iowa this year. But I love Cameron Heyward, Ross Homan and Brian Rolle on defense, and the offense returns just about everyone. This is the year for Ohio State to make a title run, and perhaps win it all.
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
Got time for two more ...
Brett (King of Prussia, PA)
Adam,I need your help here. I am in the process of booking everything for the trip to Alabama next year. Which road conference game should I go to next year? Already going to Indiana since they moved it to D.C., but between our growing hatred for Iowa, the new stadium at Minnesota, and the Shoe where I've already been, I can't quite decide.
Adam Rittenberg (4:53 PM)
Wow, some interesting options there, Brett. If the Iowa game is played at night (good chance), I'd go to Kinnick Stadium. An electric atmosphere at night, much like Beaver Stadium. Minnesota's new stadium is definitely worth seeing, though. If you don't mind harsh environments, I'd go to Iowa City.
Do you think Jim Delaney is moving towards retirement in 2013 (or 2012) or will he continue on and see out expansion (if it happens)? There seems to be a lot of projects on the table for him to leave.
Adam Rittenberg (4:55 PM)
I think Jim will be around through the end of his current contract. I don't see him working too far past age 65. Expansion could be his final project, if it ends up going through. Not a guarantee.
Adam Rittenberg (4:55 PM)
OK, guys, had fun chatting. Talk to you soon.