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 and ready to roll. Let's get started.
josh (lafayette, in)
i know that bill lynch guided iu to it's first bowl game since the cubs won the world series, but how short of a leash will he be on?will another losing season be his last in cream and crimson?
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
Tough to tell, Josh. Of the four Big Ten coaches on the hot seat this year, Lynch's situation is the murkiest. Could five wins save him if he does better in the Big Ten? Maybe. But AD Fred Glass has big plans for that program and did a great job increasing the attendance last year. Indiana has some major challenges ahead on defense, so it might be a year away there. I think five wins is the interesting number. Any more, he stays. Any less, he's gone.
I'm worried about Big Ten expansion. I think some of the people having this debate underrate the value of having an intimate conference. For instance, the Gophers have 3 of the best trophy games in CFB, but even with 11 teams Michigan is not on the schedule last year or this year. Aren't Big Ten fans going to be angry when they see the upcoming schedule and realize instead of playing against Michigan, Ohio State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Penn State they are instead playing one of those Big Ten teas, and Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn.
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
Bjorne, you bring up a great point here, and some of the intimacy of a conference would be lost, certainly if the Big Ten adds five more teams. Now I'm sure the league will do all it can to preserve rivalries and trophy games, but you can't please everyone and some fans will be upset. This is all about money, no doubt, and rivalry games could be lost in the process.
Adam...thanks for the chat. I heard a while ago that Demar Dorsey was "maybe" going to be at Michigan this year. Any word on that yet?
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
Jason, we won't know anything for a little while, until Dorsey's grades and scores from high school are finalized and evaluated. Check back with me in about a month.
Sean McKenzie (Van Wert, OH)
I finally got it down to 2 teams for Big Ten expansion, Rutgers and West Virgina. Rutgers for the TV market, and West Virgina for football and basketball. Here in Ohio, the Ohio State vs West Virgina game is very quickly becoming a rivalry here. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (4:05 PM)
West Virginia is not a realistic option because of the academic reputation. Doesn't meet what the Big Ten is looking for from that angle. Rutgers definitely in the mix, though.
Adam- Love your work! Why don't more high profile recruits look at Iowa, especially linemen. All Ferentz does is put OL in the NFL. Is it the simple answer; it's Iowa?
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
That's part of it, Brad. Also, Iowa really doesn't flaunt their program very much. I think the Hawkeyes could do more with their marketing and media relations to get their name out to national media. You just don't hear much about Iowa from the national level ... Then again, Kirk Ferentz runs a tight ship and has been successful doing things this way for some time. I get the sense Iowa likes the under-the-radar recruits because they have less baggage and are more willing to work and develop.
Mike (Madison, WI)
Now that the Badger Buckeye game is officially at night...A. Will you be in attendance B. What is your prediction C. Badgers final record and bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (4:09 PM)
As I'll remind you people about 1,000 times, I don't choose where I go each week, and we don't make that decision until the Sunday before games. Direct your requests to General Duff in Bristol ... But there's a very good chance I'll be in Madison on Oct. 16, and looking forward to it very much. As for Wisconsin, I'll go 10-2 and Cap One Bowl.
Putting you on the spot here, so I'm sorry, but please tell me what you think of the progress of each Big Ten team this spring? Which teams improved the way they needed to, and which teams do you see struggling?
Adam Rittenberg (4:10 PM)
There wasn't dramatic improvement or regression from some teams, but I would say Michigan State definitely improved. Purdue might have taken a slight step back because of all the injuries. Same with Wisconsin, which had a lot of key guys out. Ohio State looks ready to go. Michigan should be better. Penn State worries me b/c of the QB situation.
Phillip (Dublin, Ohio)
Should Jim Delaney and the Big Ten really care about the well-being of the other conferences such as the Big East? Isn't it his job to worry about the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (4:11 PM)
Yes, you're right, but he also has to consider the repercussions of his actions in the rest of the sport. And trust me, Jim Delany will consider everything before making a move.
Adam, I am a die-hard Michigan fan. While I am extremely disappointed in how far Michigan fell so fast under Rich Rod (year 1 I am going to give a free pass), I think that firing him after the 2010 season if he wins only 6 games or so, would set the program back even further. Another overload of players and coaches seems completely counter-productive, thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
I had this conversation with a Michigan fan yesterday. Do you have to see things through with Rodriguez, meaning a full recruiting cycle, before cutting ties and bringing in a coach who likely will go in a very different direction with scheme/recruiting? There's certainly risk involved, but Michigan could be irrelevant for two or three more years if it blows things up again. That's the danger of bringing in a guy like Rodriguez, who was so different from the previous regimes.
Tony (Iowa City)
Hey Adam, tell me, what would happen if the B10 went to a 14-16 team conference with a Champ. game, we would lose the opportunity for two BCS Bowl games a year. Wouldn't we lose money over this, just to create a B10 Champ. game? Or would the possibility of such a game be that much more lucrative for B10 Network?
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
The Big Ten makes some nice cash from its at-large BCS teams, but the league could generate much more from a league title game, new cable agreements for the Big Ten Network, etc. So while you're right in saying the league likely would have fewer BCS entries, it likely wouldn't lose money in the long run.
Love the blog Adam. Just got done reading your diversity quotient article and was struck by this quote of yours, 'And lastly, how did Minnesota and Michigan State not win more?'As a Gopher fan this realization actually made me hopeful. When the Gophers had those phenomenal offenses Glen Mason was totally unable to amass any talent on the Defensive side of the ball. After watching a couple practices, and the spring game there is no doubt in my mind this is the most athletic Gopher D I've ever seen.Do you think the Gophers use this athleticism on D to win 7+ games this year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:17 PM)
You make some great points here, Bill. I'm still amazed that the Gophers couldn't put it all together with those great backs. But the defenses under Mason weren't up to par. The current staff is very excited about their defensive recruits, and though Minnesota loses 9 starters on D, most of the key guys in 2010 will be Brewster recruits. I heard good things about the D-line this spring. Linebacker and cornerback are the two iffy spots, but talent isn't the problem there.
If neither soph qb at PSU is ready, why not start a taleted frosh? What do you have to lose?
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
That's the way I look at it, Mike. Play the best player, no matter his age. We're not in 1965 any more. Whether Joe Paterno sees it this way, hard to tell. He really doesn't like playing freshmen, especially at key spots. But if he sees Paul Jones move past Newsome and McGloin, he's got to play him, right?
No one has really said that Paul Tagliabue was wrong when saying Rutgers doesn't remotely carry the New York market. Aren't those Big East teams more takers than givers? And wouldn't you agree that New York is a pro town and doesn't care about Syracuse or Rutgers football?
Adam Rittenberg (4:21 PM)
Bobby, excuse the shameless plug, but read my blog post from earlier today (http://proxy.espn.go.com/blog/bigten/post/_/id/12073/bt-expansion-push-fueled-by-internal-faith). I don't know if New York would care that much about Rutgers or Syracuse, but NYC likely does care about Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State, especially with so many alums in the area. The Big Ten might use Rutgers or one of the schools as simply a reason to be in New York more often and get the Big Ten Network on local cable providers. Rutgers and Syracuse might be takers, but their location gives the Big Ten opportunities for growth.
Mike (Marion, OH)
Isn't it somewhat of a smart tactic if the Big East really did what Randy Edsall was suggesting and kick Notre Dame out to attempt to save the league (as long as a deal is in place with the Big Ten)? Would Notre Dame and only Notre Dame added keep the SEC from expanding to 14 or 16?
Adam Rittenberg (4:22 PM)
Absolutely, Mike, an excellent statement by coach Edsall. Notre Dame could save the Big East, potentially, by joining the Big Ten. Although the Big East would have to replace ND in all sports except football, it's better than losing three of eight football-playing members to the Big Ten.
Tom (St. Louis)
Adam, Tony from Iowa City has it wrong when he says the Big 10 would lose the opportunity for two BCS teams by having a championship game. I think this would be true if the additions were the likes of Rutgers and Missouri, but if you get a name team like Nebraska, wouldn't the chances be enhanced?
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
Possibly, but I doubt it, Tom. You'd still have a championship game, which adds a loss for one of your top teams. And that loss comes at the end of the season, which could hurt its BCS chances. The big bowls love Big Ten teams because they bring tons of fans, but I just don't think you'd see a stretch like the current one -- five straight years of two BCS teams -- if the Big Ten expands, no matter who it adds.
Nick (Westerville, Ohio)
Jake Stoneburner really looked good with Terrelle Pryor in the Spring Game and from all reports he's one of the first looks for Pryor in the passing game. Does OSU finally start passing to the tight end or is it just Spring?
Adam Rittenberg (4:26 PM)
Nick, we all think they should open things up, and Stoneburner isn't like the typical tight ends Ohio State has. He can be a dangerous downfield threat, and Pryor seems to like what he brings. Then again, I heard a lot about Stoneburner last spring, and he wasn't much of a factor in the passing game. But if Pryor gets better, Ohio State has to think about opening up the passing game to tight ends, fullbacks, etc.
Kevin (Grand Rapids MI)
Adam, you said you thought MSU improved in their spring game. How did you come to that conclusion? Everything that a team does well in its spring game can also be seen as a problem. Last year both QBs threw for 350 yards, good for the QBs not so hot for the secondary... Obviously you understand this. So again, how can you say that MSU definitely improved?
Adam Rittenberg (4:28 PM)
Yeah, that's a good point, Kevin. But I see a team with an older and better QB (Cousins), older RBs (Caper and Baker), tons of WRs and TEs and enough talent on the defensive side. Sure, those passing totals concern me, especially after the secondary's struggles last year, but a lot of the guys who struggled against the pass aren't there any more. It's time for guys like Robinson, Adams, Rucker and Hyde to really step up. Another reason I like MSU: Greg Jones has the best closing speed I've seen from a linebacker in a long time.
Yo Adam, I was stuck in Florence last week because of the volcanoes and asked you for advice. I've made it to Amsterdam after all! God I love this place, and I can't believe I'm actually checking out B10 chat while I'm here! I guess your blog is just that damn good.
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
Pat! Great to hear from you again! Just don't ask me what you should do for fun in Amsterdam. I'd like to keep my job.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
I really really don't like the idea of adding more than 1 team. 14 is just a weird number and 16 is WAY too big. Everything about the league gets diluted - from talent to traditions and rivalry to market share. And no matter what TV market may/may not come with the teams, at the end of the day UConn, Rutgers, et al don't add that much attractiveness and run the risk of completely lessening the product value of the Big Ten. If it's not Notre Dame, Nebraska, Pitt (for PSU's sake), or MAYBE Missouri, it may not be worth it.
Adam Rittenberg (4:31 PM)
Lou, you're not the only one who feels this way. There are a lot of greedy folks out there, but also people who want college sports to stay the way they are. Here's the problem, though. Notre Dame is the only candidate that makes a big splash on its own. Maybe Nebraska, but it's not as convincing. So if you don't get ND or Nebraska, you're almost certainly looking at multiple teams.
John (Palm Harbor, Fl)
Why doesn't Indiana recruit from the state of Florida. There are plenty of "also rans" available here backs that have speed and lineman with size. IU keeps going after the also rans of Ohio, Ill and Kentucky. Then they might win some games and make some money for the school.
Adam Rittenberg (4:33 PM)
John, while IU certainly should look to Florida, there was a guy by the name of Jammie Kirlew who earned All-Big Ten honors the last two seasons at defensive end. His hometown? Orlando, Fla. Indiana has a few other Floridians on the roster, including corner Donnell Jones and safety Jarrell Drane.
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
Another reason IU should recruit Florida: Purdue's coaching staff practically lives there for recruiting.
Tucker (New York, NY)
If and when Tressel hangs up the vest (and I agree it will be sooner than people think)...does OSU stay in house with his successor? None of his assistants seem to be of the caliber of other Coaches in Waiting sprinkled throughout college football, nor do they have the head coaching pedigree Jim had at Youngstown
Adam Rittenberg (4:35 PM)
Tucker, Ohio State certainly will consider some in-house candidates, with Luke Fickell seemingly the best option, but I really think the Buckeyes would need to open things up on a national level. So many elite coaches would be interested in the job, and you can't ignore than if you're OSU.
Kosmo (Anytown, USA)
Adam, love the blog! Before people even think Jones has a shot to start we need to look at things rationally. Daryl Clark couldn't beat out Anthony Morelli for a spot. Pat Devlin couldn't get snaps against Iowa with a starter playing one of the worst games of his career with a lingering concussion.McGloin has a better shot of starting than Jones.
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
Could be, Kosmo. But some would argue Joe Paterno didn't give Clark a chance ahead of Morelli (Joe has practically admitted this), and the coaching staff might have been too stubborn with Clark at Iowa in 2008 as well. So this might be a bigger issue with the coaching staff than the age of the players. Now I agree that the spring game shouldn't mean everything, but McGloin needs a lot of work, no matter if he's competing against Newsome or Jones.
Any word on John Clay's progress? Do you think he'll actually shed some pounds this summer and get into great shape for the fall or do you think he will enter into the fall as un-motivated as last year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
Although he didn't practice this spring, he really got after it with his rehab, doing work in the pool at 5:45 a.m. or some ungodly hour like that. It will be interesting to see how Clay looks after the surgeries, which he says corrected a problem he has always had with his ankle. It could be a positive thing for him in the long run. But the weight issue, as you point out, will always be there with Clay. I don't think motivation will be an issue, but he's got to stay in the 240-250 range.
Rob (Omaha, NE)
Hey Adam, this year the big ten bowl record still wasn't too hot, however some top notch wins were gathered. But still some close games left me feeling like the Big 10 was on the verge of a very good bowl season. If the Big 10 gets a NC birth as well as another BCS bowl... how do you see the league fairing as a whole in 2011?
Adam Rittenberg (4:41 PM)
Rob, have to disagree with you, pal. A 4-3 bowl record is VERY GOOD, especially when two of those wins come in BCS games. And bowl games are going to be close most of the time, if the pairings are good ones. You're right in that it could have been better, as Northwestern and Minnesota had great chances to win. As for next year, the Big Ten has some teams that should fare well in bowls, in large part because they won in the postseason this year. But a lot of times, it comes down to the matchup.
What do you think about the Gophers come out of spring ball Adam? The brilliance behind the blog FBT believes the Gophers D and O-line are better, and this season is up to Adam Weber and the WRsDo you think Weber puts it together this year and returns to 2008 form (or hopefully, better than that)? Or do you think he struggles again?
Adam Rittenberg (4:43 PM)
I agree that the line play should be better on both sides for the Gophers. A defensive tackle led the team in sacks with just three last year, so that total must improve. All reports I got about the O-line indicated some improvement with a simplified system. These O-linemen need to get tougher, but they want to be better run-blockers. As for Weber, I've always liked the guy, and I think he'll be better this year. Whether he has enough help around him remains to be seen.
Aaron (Irvine, CA)
Would some schools that purport themselves as high-level academic institutions really want to join the SEC? In contrast, would the Big Ten allow a school that isn't very highly-regarded academically to join the conference? This would eliminate some Big 12 schools, right?
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
Aaron, I can't speak for the SEC, but the Big Ten won't accept a new member that has an academic reputation far below the current 11 schools. That's why suggestions like West Virginia and Cincinnati just won't cut it. I think Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa State -- the three Big 12 schools most often mentioned as Big Ten expansion candidates -- all would be solid academic additions.
Tim (Essex Fells, NJ)
Adam, what do you think of NU's secondary this year? Can the 'Cats overcome the losses of Smith, Phillips, and especially McManis? I'm especially worried about corner, since Jordan Mabin looked very shaky last year.
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
Mabin definitely needs to step up after enduring a sophomore slump in 2009. But he has a lot of experience as a two-year starter. I think there's enough depth at corner with Justan Vaughn, Demetrius Dugar and Mike Bolden. Safety concerns me because besides Brian Peters, there's no experienced options (David Arnold played more at LB last year).
What do you think Robert Marve's impact will be this season?
Adam Rittenberg (4:48 PM)
All indications say it will be a positive impact. Marve's teammates and coaches say he's really stepped up as a leader and showed maturity on and off the field. Of course, he'll be tested after the first sign of adversity this fall, but he has a ton of ability and should have some good weapons at his disposal. I also like that Caleb TerBush continues to push him for the starting job, although I'd expect Marve to lock up that spot.
Grace (Upper Arlington)
Ohio State fans are complaining that there aren't as many home night games for the Buckeyes this season or maybe next season. Gene Smith has said OSU actually loses money with night games. Do the fans realize that and that college athletics is a business?
Adam Rittenberg (4:50 PM)
Fans don't realize a lot of things, Grace. That's what I'm here for :-) Ohio State has its financial concerns, but it also recognizes that its fans want more night games. This is a compromise for now.
Tim (Essex Fells, NJ)
If the Big East were to issue an ultimatum to Notre Dame, what do you think the chance would be that they'd join the Big Ten? How about the Big East or a return to complete independence?
Adam Rittenberg (4:52 PM)
It would be pretty interesting, Tim. Notre Dame would have a hard time surviving as a total independent. The two sports that really get hurt, from a scheduling perspective, are men's basketball and women's basketball. Being removed from the Big East would really test Notre Dame's commitment to football independence.
Father Time (Sandmanland)
What is your post spring ranking of Big Ten teams? If you don't have that list now are you planning on ranking the teams coming out of spring ball?
Adam Rittenberg (4:53 PM)
You'll have to wait until Monday for the new rankings. And since your name is Father Time, patience shouldn't be a problem for you.
If Michigan loses a few games early in the conference season, do you believe the players would fight for a coach who they know will be out? Or does the season snowball again for Michigan?
Adam Rittenberg (4:55 PM)
Interesting question, Tim. The feeling I got from spending some time at Michigan this spring is the players are having fun in this program and enjoying these coaches. It might be doom and gloom outside the program, but not inside Schembechler Hall. Also, the guys recruited for Rodriguez's system should fight for this staff because a new staff could introduce a very new system that could hurt those individual players.
Any chance of Robert Bolden impressing at QB at Penn State in the fall or is it just too late?
Adam Rittenberg (4:56 PM)
It depends on how quickly Bolden can catch up to the three QBs who went through the spring. We know Penn State has a long way to go at QB, but Newsome, McGloin and Jones all benefited from going through the spring. Bolden would really need a phenomenal August to be in a position to earn the top job. Can't see it happening, but you never know.
Carl (Washington D.C.)
You talked about a successor to OSU coach Tressel above. If Pelini has continued success at Nebraska, would he be someone that might jump or is he at his dream job now?
Adam Rittenberg (4:58 PM)
Bo Pelini is one of several big names who could or would be interested in an Ohio State vacancy. He had some very nice things to say about the school last week at the coaches clinic. So he's a name to watch, but there are many more.
Adam Rittenberg (4:58 PM)
OK, last one for the day.
Adam, Tate or Denard ? You think Tate would be named starter having started all games last year, but with Denards spring. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
Nick, it's very close and got a lot closer this spring after Denard's performance. There was more buzz about Denard, and he looked more confident in the spring game. But you can't take away Tate's game experience, and he certainly brings a lot to the table as well. I think it's going to go at least a week or two into fall camp before we have a starter.
Adam Rittenberg (5:00 PM)
OK, guys, I'm out. Good chat. Talk to you soon.