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)
Big news today in the Big Ten. Let's get right to it with your questions.
BSU fan (Killeen)
Would the Big Ten take Texas if they had to accept Texas A&M due to Texas legislature?
Adam Rittenberg (4:01 PM)
This would present an interesting dilemma for the Big Ten. If the league can add Texas, it has absolutely no need to add more teams. But if Texas only comes with A&M, the Big Ten would really have to weigh the options. The league also would have to find another team. The Big Ten would be reluctant to do so, but man, Texas is one heck of an addition.
Caleb (Los Angeles)
Adam, if Ricky Stanzi plays at a 1st team All-Big Ten level next year where do you see Iowa's record?
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
Very, very good, Caleb. Stanzi's erratic play nearly cost Iowa several games this fall, but his absence likely led to both Iowa losses. The defense has a few holes to fill but should be very strong again. Iowa must rebuild a bit at offensive line to protect Stanzi, but if he trims his interceptions total and keeps hitting those downfield passes, Iowa will definitely be in the BT title mix.
Ajay (Crestwood, KY)
If the Big 10 were to add Texas... do you see them adding any more teams or leaving the total at 12 teams?
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
Unless the Big Ten was forced to add more teams with Texas, I see absolutely no need to go beyond 12. Fans tend to get greedy, but a 12-team conference with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Texas as your headliners would be insanely good an entertaining. Imagine a Texas-Ohio State championship game. Or Texas-Penn State. No need to add more teams unless the Big Ten is forced to do so.
Andrew (State College)
Adam,Do you see Paul Jones or Robert Bolden having a realistic chance to start for Penn State this year; if not in the beginning at least by year's end?
Adam Rittenberg (4:05 PM)
Absolutely, Andrew. Most of the buzz centers on Bolden, but Jones is a heck of a quarterback, too, and he's already on campus for spring ball. Kevin Newsome probably enters the spring as the frontrunner, but he still has a lot to prove to nail down a starting job.
Sarah (Chelsea, NY)
I heard you on Colin Cowherd's show today. Do you realize that even UConn may have a stronger following in New York City than Rutgers? Rutgers doesn't exactly carry that market (regardless if it's a pro town).
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
Thanks for listening, Sarah. The point I made with Rutgers relates to any school in that area. Can you prove that you truly carry the New York market? Connecticut might have a strong following, but is it strong enough? I tend to think it isn't. Now if you add Rutgers AND UConn AND Syracuse, you've got a much better chance of cornering New York. Then again, if the Big Ten can add Texas, none of this matters.
Steve (Dublin, OH)
Do you figure that the surgery on Pryor's knee was just a normal scope to explore and he'll be back up and running in a couple of weeks? Do you figure he just did this in precaution, despite what he said last month about no surgery being needed?
Adam Rittenberg (4:08 PM)
Yes, Steve, this really was a routine procedure to ease the lingering soreness Pryor experienced. He'll be ready to go well before spring ball, and as a two-year starter, he doesn't need to push himself beyond his limits this spring. We saw what Terrelle could do with a bum knee in the Rose Bowl. He should be more comfortable now that the clean-up surgery is done.
After the 2008 season, with the graduation of most of the offensive play makers, many analysts predicted Northwestern to be anemic on offense. However, players like Mike Kafka, Andrew Brewer and Zeke Markshausen filled in the gaps pretty well. Does Northwestern have talent of the offensive side of the ball to allow players to step in and pick up where those graduating players left off?
Adam Rittenberg (4:10 PM)
Northwestern has the talent, but more important, Pat Fitzgerald and his assistants do an excellent job of developing players. Wide receivers coach Kevin Johns is one of the best around, and I fully expect him to find guys to replace Brewer and Zeke. Drake Dunsmore will play a bigger role in the offense next fall. The big key will be identifying some running backs who can be consistent contributors. The run game really struggled in 2009.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Adam: Do you think Texas to the Big Ten would have any effect on recruiting for the rest of the conference?
Adam Rittenberg (4:11 PM)
A huge effect, J.B. You would have an actual presence in the state, and Big Ten assistants wouldn't be "outsiders" coming across state lines. The Big Ten Network would be everywhere, so recruits and their families would be plugged in to the Big Ten. The addition of Texas would pay major dividends for Big Ten recruiting.
Doesn't just talking to Texas provide an additional benefit of getting Notre Dame to be more open to coming to the table? If the Big Ten got Texas, that will likely not be an option for ND in the future.
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
Simply coming out publicly and saying that expansion is on the table should get Notre Dame's attention. Talking to Texas might help matters, but Notre Dame has got to express some legitimate interest. I'll tell you this: If Texas joins the Big Ten, the door is more or less closed to Notre Dame ever joining the league. There would be no need to add the Irish at that point.
MT (Cleveland, OH)
Why only 1 team for B10 expansion? Why not cherry pick the B12's best (Texas, Oklahoma, A&M, Nebraska
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
Why do fans want a 14-team conference so badly? It would create more problems than people realize. If you add Texas, you've got a great 12-team setup, two six-team divisions, a championship game, four national powers. Plus, your member schools wouldn't have to divide things 14 ways, just 12. There's no need for overkill if you add Texas, no need at all.
I don't even think the Big Ten wants Nd any longer. What re you thoughts. I wold take Texas over them in a second!
Adam Rittenberg (4:16 PM)
I'd like the Big Ten to add Texas simply because I'd stop getting asked about Notre Dame. Can't tell you how annoying that question gets.
If the Big Ten is forced to add A&M as well as Texas who would be the front runner as the 14th member? Would they extend an invite to 3 Big 12 teams, or attack the New York market?
Adam Rittenberg (4:17 PM)
Good question, Kyle. In this case, it might be wise to go east and try to get a piece of the New York market. You could add Rutgers, UConn or Syracuse as the 14th team.
Tom (Southport Corridor)
Adam, couldn't the Big 10 just add another conference game and forget about expansion? To me, the PAC10 is the only conference with a true champion, and as we talked about last week, the ACC hasn't been improved by expansion.
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
Yeah, but the Pac-10 gets absolutely no benefit from playing a round-robin schedule. It adds five more losses to the league and prevents multiple Pac-10 teams from reaching the BCS. The Pac-10 would be better off by adding two teams, going to an eight-game league slate and adding a lucrative championship game. Sure, it's nice to play challenging schedules and a round-robin, but the negatives far outweigh the positives.
Jon Ellis (Bloomington, Indiana)
What do you see for Indiana football in 2010
Adam Rittenberg (4:21 PM)
I see a ton of offensive firepower and, once again, a lot of question marks on defense. Indiana needs to find a pass rush, two linebackers and a secondary that can stop people. The Hoosiers lost a lot of playmakers from a defense that wasn't very good in 2009.
Connor (Detroit, MI)
Adam, does your gut feeling tell you Richrod will still be the coach at Michigan at this time next year, or will it be Miles or Harbaugh?
Adam Rittenberg (4:23 PM)
I still have faith that Rodriguez will win in Ann Arbor, so I'm going to go ahead and say yes. But if the defense doesn't get a lot better, Michigan will hover around .500 again, which could mean the end for Rich. If he departs, I'd fully expect Michigan to go after Harbaugh 100 percent and land him.
Jeremy (Worcester, MA)
Is there any possibility to the B10 dropping a team in the expansion process?
Adam Rittenberg (4:23 PM)
Nope. But there is a possibility -- I know fans don't want to hear this -- of the Big Ten NOT expanding. The league has gone through this process before and decided not to do anything.
Tom (Los Angeles)
How much does a good geographical fit factor into expansion? It seems that Nebraska, Missouri, and Pitt make better sense for expansion when you consider where the schools are located. Of course, it's hard to resist the opportunity for more recruiting in Texas...
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
Geography is a factor, Tom, but it shouldn't be the deciding factor. If the Big Ten can add a home-run addition like Texas, the league should absolutely do it. Expansion isn't always pretty, and you're not going to get your nice, neat division alignments. I feel similarly about splitting up Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. While it might not make geographical sense, it makes competitive sense. Adding Texas makes sense for the Big Ten on a variety of levels.
You picked the Gophers to pick 9th in the Big Ten and one of the things you cited was a young D. The truth is that most of the key young Defensive players got extensive playing time this year and showed they were far more athletic than the starters (Tinsley, Cooper, Carter, Wilhite, etc.). The Gopher D will be the 4th or 5th best D in the Big Ten next year. If the line O line improves at all the emergence of MarQueis Gray will be enough for the Gophers to make noise next year in the Big Ten. I know the Gophers are going to win 7-9 games next year. What prevents you from reaching the same conclusion that I do?
Adam Rittenberg (4:28 PM)
What prevents me? Minnesota loses NINE defensive starters, and while you're right in that several young players impressed, that's a lot to replace. Especially at linebacker. But I agree with you that Minny will be OK on defense. My bigger concern is the offense, especially the O-line. Minnesota hasn't been nearly as physical as it needs to be to effectively run this style of offense. Plus, no playmakers have emerged at wide receiver or running back. Not to say they won't emerge this year, but from a realist's point of view, there are a ton of questions surrounding that team entering 2010.
Tim (Brillion, WI)
Any news on Mike Taylor for the badgers? How's his rehabilitation going? The Taylor-Borland combo should be fearsome next year if both are 100%
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
Tim, while I don't have a definitive answer on this now, I'll definitely check in about it and post something soon. Taylor really was having a nice season before the injury against Iowa. And you're right, he and Borland could be scary in 2010. I'd imagine Taylor is still rehabbing the knee, with a few more months to go.
Adam,This is a Larry Johnson Sr and PSU staff question... I am a die hard PSU fan. But how can the Lions continue to keep that recruiting machine together and not lose either Bradley or Johnson... Doesn't it seem like they should both have had head coaching jobs by now? Is this a sign of the future in Happy Valley?
Adam Rittenberg (4:31 PM)
Some coaches don't like to move every 2-3 years, and Bradley and Johnson know they'll have steady employment at Penn State. Both guys obviously would love to get the top job in State College, but I'd be surprised if more teams don't start looking at them for head-coaching jobs. Johnson would be an excellent fit at Maryland, in my opinion, while Bradley certainly has the credentials to run a program.
Joe Paterno (State College Pa ( The Happiest Place on Earth))
Adam, did you see i sold my glasses and had corrective surgery on my eyes? While everyone gets older I get younger
Adam Rittenberg (4:32 PM)
I did hear that, Joe. And your glasses are being auctioned off for $5,000 plus. Wonder how much I can get for my glasses.
Brett (King of Prussia, PA)
If Texas joins the Big Ten, can we call the annual UT-PSU game the Richard Nixon Bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (4:33 PM)
Done. Great suggestion.
Kevin (Davenport, Iowa)
If both Iowa and Ohio State are undefeated going into their game at Kinnick Stadium, do you see the winner going to the national championship?
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
Depends on what both teams do in non-league play. Ohio State faces Miami at home, while Iowa has a tricky trip to Arizona. But given the preseason hype for the Big Ten, an undefeated team should get to the title game.
Ashish (Prospect, KY)
Does Seantrel Henderson eventually land up at Ohio State when the dust settles from the NCAA Sanctions meeting with USC?
Adam Rittenberg (4:35 PM)
Nah. I still think he ends up at USC. I don't know if his family will get too much more information before April 1, the deadline to sign. Anything is possible with that kid, but my money is on him ending up as a Trojan.
Nate (Iowa City, IA)
Adam, what is Iowa going to do with a loaded backfield next year? Possibly move somebody to defense?
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
You have to consider it, Nate. Hampton, Robinson and Wegher will be your top three backs. The freshman from Maryland (Coker) will remain at running back as well. Anyone else could be moved.
Calvin (Irvine, CA)
Can other receivers outside of Posey and Sanzenbacher emerge for Ohio State if Pryor does not continue to develop as a passer? You saw that Jim Tressel doesn't mind taking the ball out of his hands if it means OSU wins the game.
Adam Rittenberg (4:38 PM)
Duron Carter is a guy to watch, Calvin. He worked his way into the rotation as a true freshman, and if he matures both on and off the field, he could be very good in 2010. Posey and Sanzenbacher are studs, but Ohio State needs a third receiver. Also interested to see how Jake Stoneburner's role increases this fall.
Peter (Atlanta, GA)
Who do you see starting at QB for my Wolverines by mid-season?
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
I still think it'll be Tate Forcier unless he gets hurt, which is a possibility with his size and style of play.
is it possible for 2 of 3 favorites(WI,Oh St, and or iowa) to meet in the title game? And does this hurt the conference?
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
Joe, I highly, highly doubt it because all three teams play one another. And if Michigan and Ohio State didn't have a rematch in the 2006 title game, it's never going to happen.
Quinn (Springfield, OH)
I'm an Iowa fan that attended the Ohio State vs. Iowa game this season and watched James Vandenberg play. Many people, including yourself say that he played a great game. I say it was an alright performance even in that atmosphere. Do you think after Stanzi leaves it will be him that takes over or new prospect A.J Derby?
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
Man, you've got some tough standards, Quinn! First career start, Rose Bowl at stake, Ohio Stadium in mid November. I would say the performance was better than alright. I also think Vandenberg will be Iowa's QB of the future, although Derby is an interesting prospect. It'll be interesting to see if Ferentz and O'Keefe tweak the offense for Derby, who they seem to like a lot.
Tim (Brillion, WI)
How do you see the Badgers receiving corps shaking out? Toon and Anderson I see as 1-2 again, but is Appleton ready to take that next step to get to the #3? I was kind of disappointed at the amount of playing time he had last year, but he was clearly not ready to play at this level quite yet. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
Toon is definitely your No. 1 and an All-Big Ten candidate in my opinion. Anderson is the No. 2, with Gilreath and Jefferson in that mix with Appleton for No. 3. I also would like to see more of Appleton. Excited to get up to Madison and watch him this spring.
Don (Livonia, MI)
Wouldn't Texas joining the Big10 make it that much harder for the middle of the pack teams to compete? I feel as if only Texas, Ohio State, and Michigan(assuming they get back to prominence) would be the only teams that would have a real shot at a BCS game. More teams also could end the chance of 2 teams getting to the BCS each year. The big name of Texas may bring in more money, but it may also bring in negative effects for the Northwesterns and Michigan States of the world.
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
Don, you bring up a great point. It could be harder for the rest of the league to compete. I disagree that it would prevent multiple BCS entries because the bowls would be so tempted to take Texas, just like they're tempted to take Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State (or Iowa, or Wisconsin) when available. But for teams like NU, MSU, Purdue, it would create another very tough game.
Many people are questioning PSU because of their loss at LB, but they forget that Nate Stupar, Bani Gbadyu, and Cris Colasanti saw decent playing time, while Michael Mauti sat out last season because of injury. Whats your opinion on PSU's linebacker corps next fall?
Adam Rittenberg (4:47 PM)
I know better than to question Penn State's ability to reload at D-line or linebacker. The Lions will be fine there. Very excited to see a healthy Mauti. Stupar had mixed results last year filling in for Lee, but he should be better. I'm still more concerned about the secondary than the front seven at Penn State, which is always solid.
Anthony (Dearborn Heights, MI)
Who do you see starting in secondary of Mich? I'm thinking Dorsey and Turner at CB and Emilen and Woolfolk @ S.
Adam Rittenberg (4:48 PM)
Anthony, you could be spot on with those picks. Christian also will get a look, but if Turner is as good as the coaches said he was on scout team, he's got a great chance to start. Dorsey has to be a starter, and Woolfolk, too.
Craig (St. Paul, MN)
Who wins a game of checkers between Kirk Ferentz and Jim Tressel?
Adam Rittenberg (4:49 PM)
Hmmm, tough question. Both coaches would shy away from the double jump.
Kevin (Grand Rapids MI)
Adam, I emailed you this question earlier, but I figure I've got a better chance of getting an answer in a chat...Why do you think that Texas has a strong enough negotiating position to dictate that the Big Ten must add their own rival? I think the Big Ten holds all the cards here. If Texas says no, why not Florida? Everyone in the SEC seems to hate them anyway...
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
Kevin, you can't say the Big Ten holds all the cards when Texas is in a pretty good position right now in the Big 12. It's not like Texas is bleeding money and desperate to move out of a league that makes a lot of sense for the university. The Big Ten has the right to say no if Texas will only come with A&M, but I do think Texas is a huge prize and will ultimately determine if it wants to leave for a new league.
Brett (King of Prussia, PA)
To pay devils advocate to Don from Livonia's point, with two divisions, and two of the traditional "powers" in each division, the MSU's and NU's don't necessarily play the two "powers" in the other division at least half the time, if they have protected crossdivisional rivalries, correct?
Adam Rittenberg (4:52 PM)
Right, that's a good point, Brett. The Big Ten probably would maintain an eight-game league schedule, though nine games would be possible, too. The bottom line is few teams would be playing Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Texas all in the same year, every year.
Henry (East Lansing)
how do you see MSU's season playing out next year? I believe a 7-5 record is realistic, but a 8-4 or 9-3 could happen if the defense improves and given the schedule. Where do you see them losing next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:55 PM)
That's a fair way of looking at it, Henry. The defense must improve for the record to improve. Beating Notre Dame at home will be key, but Michigan State skips Ohio State and has three winnable league home games (Ill, Purdue, Minny) along with Wisconsin. It's important for Dantonio to get back to the 8- or 9-win range.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Adam: Could you also see more lucrative bowls trying to tie in with the Big Ten if Texas jumps from the Big XII?
Adam Rittenberg (4:57 PM)
Well, the bowl contracts are complete for the next four years, but after that, I could definitely see some shuffling. Maybe the Big Ten gets the Alamo Bowl, a fan favorite, back on the schedule if Texas is still a possibility for the game.
Wouldn't adding Texas help out NU and MSU? These schools would get direct exposure to Texas recruits every year...
Adam Rittenberg (4:58 PM)
Absolutely, Chris. And that would be a major reason why Big Ten schools should want Texas. All these coaches recruit in Texas right now, so adding the Longhorns would give them even more incentive to spend time down there with recruits who get more exposure to the league.
Adam Rittenberg (4:58 PM)
Last one for the day ...
Blake (Abilene, TX)
Adam, Do you think the Big 10 might propose some neutrell sights for games against Texas as an insentive for Texas to keep travel costs down?
Adam Rittenberg (5:00 PM)
I doubt it, Blake. The Big Ten isn't going to take away money from its schools (hosting those games) and shift things to Kansas City or Tulsa or somewhere like that. Texas would know the deal coming into the league, and it means increased travel costs (also increased TV revenue).
Adam Rittenberg (5:00 PM)
OK, guys, my time is up. Really enjoyed it today!