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, let's get started.
Tyler (Amarillo, TX)
Ohio St. has the Big Ten Championship in the bag, right? Who else is a threat?
Adam Rittenberg (4:01 PM)
Yeah, it's over, man. No point in even watching. ... Actually, Iowa and Wisconsin are poised to challenge the Buckeyes. Both teams had pretty solid bowl wins, and both return quite a bit. Plus, Ohio State has to travel to both Madison and Iowa City.
Tom (Harrisburg, PA)
This is the first offseason in a long time that there's little talk of when JoePa will retire. That three year extension certainly helps. When he does retire, however, do you believe LJ Sr. will leave if he is not given the top spot? He's very loyal to the Lions, but he's waited his turn, and he's an amazing recruiter.
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
LJ Sr. certainly will be considered, Tom. It would be odd if he got the job ahead of Tom Bradley, who has also been at Penn State forever and holds a higher position (defensive coordinator). It's never easy being the guy who follows the legend, but if Penn State wants to keep some continuity, particularly for recruiting, it should look to those two men.
One difference I am seeing this year in ND's comments about remaining ind: both Swarbrick and Kelly have said that if there is a major shift they would have to consider joining a conference. At least there is a crack; which way would they go in your opinion, Big 10 or Big East? Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (4:05 PM)
Big Ten, Robb. Notre Dame would have to. No disrespect to the Big East, but the financial package doesn't compare to what the Big Ten offers, especially with the Big Ten Network. Notre Dame has A LOT of sports to fund, and it helps to get more of those sports on national television. The Big Ten Network could really help Notre Dame's overall athletic department. Don't see the Big East doing that much for the Irish.
david (canton, ohio)
adam -- you haven't included any buckeye stories in your lunch links for FOUR DAYS!!! why do you HATE ohio state? just kidding man, love your stuff. who do you think will help ohio states offense more this year, jamal berry or duron carter?
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
Haha. I've gotten a few complaints from Buckeyes fans, but Ohio State doesn't start spring ball for another week. And there is this thing called the NCAA tournament going on, so most of the Columbus media is following thekidet (Evan Turner) and crew. ... As for your second point, that's a tough one. Not sure how many carries Berry will take away from Saine and Herron, though he certainly could step into a big role. I'll say Carter because right now, he's Ohio State's clear No. 3 option at WR.
Assume Kevin Newsome wins the QB competition.. What happens with the Bolden and Jones? I'm sure they would like to redshirt one of them to cause separation.. which leaves the other one only a year behind Newsome. Would they redshirt the freshman they like more, because I can't envision both of them sticking around.. Thanks
Adam Rittenberg (4:09 PM)
Great question, Jordan. Not to be a tease, but I asked Jay Paterno about this yesterday, and I'll have a two-part Q&A with him in Friday's blog. So I won't give away too much, but I'll say this. Bolden needs to show a lot in a hurry to avoid being redshirted, as Penn State would like to finalize its starter about 10 days before the opener. Stranger things have happened, but if I had to guess, Bolden redshirts and Jones plays, regardless of who the coaches like more.
Hora (Ann Arbor)
Hey adam! love the blog. Do you see Will Campbell taking on more of an impact role this year? It seems to me that he wont be able to unseat Mike Martin for the NT role and not athletic enough to play outside on the line. Will we have to wait another year to see the 5 stars he came to UM with?
Adam Rittenberg (4:11 PM)
I thought about Campbell when I read about the 3-3-5 scheme, because it certainly reduces playing-time opportunities for the defensive tackles. I agree that he'd have a tough time beating out Martin, but on Michigan's defense, no job should be guaranteed right now. I'd expect Campbell to be more involved in the rotation this year, with a chance to make a major impact in 2011.
Matt (Cleveland, OH)
Which Big Ten player has done the most to improve his draft stock since the end of the bowl season?
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
Brandon Graham certainly has helped himself. I think Arrelious Benn restored some faith after a subpar 2009 season. One guy who wasn't on the radar much until recently is Northwestern QB Mike Kafka, who has impressed scouts in his predraft work.
Say that the Big10, Pac-10, and a couple other conferences come together and get the rule changed which states that you need divisions and at least 12 teams in order to stage a conference championship game. Do you think that increases or decreases the odds that the Big10 expands?
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
Chris, always good to hear from you. While I believe Jim Delany when he says a football championship game doesn't drive the Big Ten's expansion push one way or another, the rule change certainly would take some pressure off of the process. Big Ten fans would get the championship game they want. It wouldn't be perfect because the Big Ten doesn't play a round-robin schedule, but it would push the season into December and keep the Big Ten in the spotlight. So it would decrease the odds for sure.
david (canton, ohio)
a what would you rather scenario: would you rather a big ten team win the national championship (over alabama) with the rest of the conference struggling in their bowl games, or have another repeat bowl season as we did this year, but no national title. what would be better for the conference?
Adam Rittenberg (4:18 PM)
Great question, David. As Jim Delany and others have told me, nothing shapes the national perception of the conference like the national championship game. A win there, especially against the SEC, would be more valuable to the Big Ten than another strong bowl performance. Does it make sense? Not really. But the way leagues are viewed doesn't always make sense. The Big Ten was bashed between 2006-09 for losing national title games and Rose Bowls, so a win on the biggest stage would be the better option for the league's image.
Michael (New York)
Regarding expansion as a means of getting into the NYC market, wouldn't Syracuse be a no brainer over Rutgers. Neither of these schools move the needle football wise but you have to figure Syracuse basketball would cause a rise in subscribers in the tri-state area.
Adam Rittenberg (4:21 PM)
If neither school would move the needle football-wise, the Big Ten probably would be better off not expanding. Football always will drive the bus for this league, and if neither the Cuse nor Rutgers generates football buzz in a new market, the Big Ten has little reason to bring them on. Everyone needs to understand that as a very healthy league, the Big Ten can afford to be picky. Syracuse basketball would be great, no doubt, but you would get some opposition there from Boeheim and others.
Another Weber Pick Six (Minneapolis)
Despite what Brewster has said, I don't really get the feeling that there is a true QB competition at MN this spring. My gut tells me that, all things being equal, we'll get another season of Weber-ocrity or worse. I feel like it would take a big spring for Gray or Alipate to truly win over Brew. So what are your thoughts? Is this truly open? Or does Weber actually start this 'open competition' ahead? If so this really doesn't lend itself to an open competition.
Adam Rittenberg (4:23 PM)
Brewster has said Weber has a leg up, but I'd hope he keeps an open mind about the situation. I'd also hope that you keep an open mind about giving Weber another chance. He was a very good quarterback in 2008, working in a spread system that fit his skills. Last year, he looked overwhelmed and out of place in an offense that many say was too complex for college players. Let's see how he does in Year 2 of a pro-style system that will be simplified by new OC Jeff Horton.
Would the Pac 10 be better off abandoning its round robin schedule, and having a conference championship game should they not expand?
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
Absolutely, Noah. The round-robin schedule, while making things equal from a competitive standpoint, has really, really hurt the Pac-10. It's a major reason why the league consistently sends only one team to a BCS bowl each year. Those are 10 more guaranteed losses for your league. If the Pac-10 can get the rule changed about a title game, it should weigh the value of that game and make a decision. A Big Ten championship at a neutral site would be a slam dunk in my opinion, but a Pac-10 championship likely wouldn't generate the same amount of buzz from fans (I could be wrong).
Dan (Iowa )
Adam, you should have said yes to that first question and let it sit. Us die hard Hawkeye fans love to hear the over confident Buckeye fans run their mouths.....plus dont you think that Iowa always does their best when not talked about and people think they are not going to amount to much during the season?
Adam Rittenberg (4:28 PM)
Dan, I don't know if you'll get your wish about the last part. Iowa will be talked up plenty this year as a Big Ten title contender and a potential preseason top 10 team. The good thing is most of these players dealt with similar expectations last year, and they handled themselves really well. Largely because of Kirk Ferentz, Iowa players aren't delusional and think they're going to roll every opponent 40-0. The Hawkeyes prepare for close games and, last year, won most of them. It's a good attitude to have when a target will be on your back in 2010.
david (canton, ohio)
what's the over/under for games ron zook needs to win to keep his job at illinois. i say at least 6...
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
That's a good call, David. He's got to do more with less this year, after doing less with more the last two seasons. Making a bowl game at 6-6 should keep Zook safe, especially since AD Ron Guenther stuck with him this long.
Michigan Fan in (Columbus)
Who will see more time at QB in running situations (like the wildcat) this season, Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner?
Adam Rittenberg (4:31 PM)
I'd expect Denard Robinson to fill that role. If Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson both make progress, Michigan coaches can go into the season not officially redshirting Gardner, but hoping they don't have to use him. We know how dynamic Robinson can be with the ball in his hands, and while Gardner could be the long-term answer, Michigan likely will stick with Shoelace.
Charlie W. (KC)
If ND joined the Big 10, who would they keep on the non conference schedule? Seems like they would keep USC and Navy each year, but who else might make the cut?
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
Charlie! How's the Chiefs' offense shaping up? I think if ND joins the Big Ten, USC and Navy would be the only two permanent non-league games. Notre Dame could rotate a third game against teams like Boston College, Stanford, Georgia Tech, etc. And then the fourth game would have to be against a beatable team, probably from a non-BCS league.
Oliver (Columbus, OH)
Would you expect a school like Ohio State to name a coach in waiting while Jim Tressel is still the head coach (just to help recruiting)? Would it have to be someone on-staff for that to happen?
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
Yes, if Ohio State named a coach-in-waiting, it'd have to be someone on Jim Tressel's staff to maintain some continuity. Will Ohio State go that route? I think it would be awfully tough. When that job comes open again, a lot of the nation's top names will be gunning for it. Think about how many elite coaches grew up in Ohio. A lot of them wouldn't mind getting back there. I think ultimately you'd need to open it up to a national search, but you can bet Tressel will have a say in who takes over.
Hey Adam, if Indiana has another poor season, and Bill Lynch gets sacked, how would you feel about Mike Leach coming in? I think he would be a really great fit for their program.
Adam Rittenberg (4:38 PM)
James, it's likely we'll see at least one head-coaching change in the Big Ten this fall, if not more. And I think Mike Leach would be a GREAT addition to the league. He'd definitely add a colorful personality to a group of coaches who could use one. His credentials speak for themselves. Could Indiana pay him what he wants? That's certainly debatable. But I think he'd be a great fit at a place like IU or Illinois.
Jon (Washington DC)
Why did people make such a big deal about Alabama visiting the "White House"? They won't visit the real White House until 9/11/2011.
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
Nice, Joe. I hope I'm there, too.
Are you in Iowa City for spring practice? Just wondering because the president is and if he's here you knows it a good place to be.
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
Ha, not yet, Rad. But I'm heading out to IC in mid April. Look forward to visiting with Kirk Ferentz, my guy DJK and other Hawkeyes players.
This is somewhat of a rhetorical question, but why is it necessary to report on Rich Rod's personal investments? I realize most of the conference loves reading such stories, but where does the line get drawn?
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
Adam, this is a fair question and one I thought about after I saw the story broke last night. It's news because Rodriguez is a public person and a lot of money is involved. The story also has momentum because it's not his only legal issue. Not to sound like a journalism professor, but I agree that it needs to be reported. I chose not to blog about it because it doesn't affect Michigan's spring practice sessions or what will happen between the lines in 2010.
david (canton, oh)
i know ohio state has had a decent start for their 2011 recruiting, what about the rest of the league? anybody else making any noise?
Adam Rittenberg (4:43 PM)
Michigan State has once again started strong within the state. Wisconsin recently landed its first commit. Otherwise, things are pretty quiet right now.
Just having some fun with all the ND expansion talk, I'm curious who you think they would play in their "rivalry" game to end the season. I think it would have to be PSU or MSU as the game between the two has never generated any juice (it was a manufactured rivalry).
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
That's a good call, Chris. A lot would depend on the division alignment. Notre Dame shouldn't be in the same division as Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, but you would want to have protected cross-over games with Michigan (if not in same division) and maybe PSU or OSU. I could certainly live with Penn State-Notre Dame on the final weekend of November. Man, that would be good stuff.
Have you had a chance to talk with new gophers OC Jeff Horten? What's your take? No neutrality - Is he an upgrade or downgrade from Fisch?
Adam Rittenberg (4:47 PM)
I have, Sam. I'll hold off evaluating Horton versus Fisch until I see a game or two this fall, but Horton understands the need to identify the strengths of his personnel and cater the system toward them. In other words, he understands that the offense was too convoluted last year, especially for two quarterbacks (Weber and Gray) recruited for the spread. So from an awareness standpoint, I think he's an upgrade.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
In the Big Ten, which is your favorite stadium, favorite uniform, and favorite college town?
Adam Rittenberg (4:48 PM)
Favorite Stadium: Camp Randall. Favorite Uniform: Penn State. Favorite Big Ten town: Madison and Ann Arbor.
Michael (St. Louis)
Many B10 fans raise the issue of weather in sunny bowl destinations contributing to the conference's performance. Do you think the wet/cool bowl weather in Florida last bowl season effected the conference's showing?
Adam Rittenberg (4:50 PM)
It certainly played some role, Michael. I got a chuckle out of seeing Miami players shivering in 50-degree temps vs. Wisconsin. Penn State probably was better prepared for the muck bowl than LSU. The weather at the Rose Bowl was perfect, so no advantage either way. The bottom line is Big Ten teams were more physical than their supposedly faster foes, rain or shine.
Ryan (Kansas City)
What's your take on Iowa's running back situation for 2010. With Hampton coming back from his injury, seems like things will be a little crowed. Who's the odd man out?
Adam Rittenberg (4:52 PM)
It's interesting that Hampton is back for the spring while Robinson will sit out following shoulder surgery. With a strong spring, Hampton once again could enter preseason camp as the frontrunner. I really like what A-Rob brings to the table, and his performance at Ohio State last year was one of the gutsiest things I've ever seen. Plus, you can't count out Wegher after the Orange Bowl. It's going to be a rotation there, and all three guys will be involved.
With all the troubles experienced at MSU, is Dantonio on a hot seat? He has done good things with the football aspect, but from a student development standpoint, it seems to have been lacking. I know all schools run into problems, but it seems to be getting out of control there. And does winning games absolve him from a potential hot seat?
Adam Rittenberg (4:54 PM)
As to your last question, the answer is yes. Winning cures just about everything in college football. Dantonio isn't on the hot seat at MSU, but he needs a good year both on and off the field in 2010. He came in talking about the need to regain fans' respect. He did that with two solid seasons in 2007 and 2008. But Michigan State lost respect off the field with two pretty ugly incidents involving football players (Glenn Winston, in particular). I'll just say it's an important year for MD, not a super critical one.
david (canton, oh)
obviously, certain spring games are more exciting than others because some teams have more new pieces to plug in then some other teams. for instance, ohio state has a TON of people coming back, so we basically know what we have. what spring game are you most excited about watching?
Adam Rittenberg (4:56 PM)
I'm not saying this just because its on our air (ESPN2!, ESPN2!), but Penn State's spring game really intrigues me because of the QB situation. Michigan will have an interesting spring game as well. Same with Purdue and Minnesota.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Which College Football Players that played for Wisconsin in 2009 will play in the NFL In 2010?
Adam Rittenberg (4:57 PM)
Garrett Graham will get a shot somewhere. I really hope a team takes a chance on O'Brien Schofield, who was transitioning well from DE to OLB before his unfortunate knee injury. Jaevery McFadden and Chris Maragos are also trying to get in camps.
If we want the NYC market...why not play a championship game at Yankee Stadium?
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
I like the suggestion, Jay, but it's not that simple. One game won't bring in a new market for most of the year. It will, however, show that the Big Ten is serious about being a presence in that area. But given the league's Midwest roots, I just can't see the championship game being held anywhere but Indianapolis (Lucas Oil), Detroit (Ford) or Chicago (Soldier). Lucas Oil would be the clubhouse favorite at this point.
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
Last one for the day ...
david (canton, ohio)
which surgery was more important this off season -- pryor's knee surgery or joe pa's eye surgery?
Adam Rittenberg (5:00 PM)
Depends if Joe likes what he sees. ... I'll be here all night. Be sure to tip your waitress.