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 (3:58 PM)
Hey guys, let's get going a little early. Got to jet in about 50 minutes for the airport.
Hi Adam, After reading your blog I've noticed that you've put a lot of emphasis on the Iowa-Minnesota "rivalry". For the past 10 years it hasn't been much of one so if we could end the season against Nebraska I'd be more than happy to take the sacrifice of not having to play a pathetic team like that to round out the year. If they decide they can compete at a serious level within the next few years, and not lose to teams like Iowa State in bowl games, I might reconsider.
Adam Rittenberg (3:59 PM)
Wow, no love for the Gophers, huh? I know you're not alone in that belief, Garmin, and I wouldn't be opposed to Iowa-Nebraska and Minnesota-Wisconsin on the last day of the regular season. A lot of Gophers fans think the Wisconsin rivalry means more anyway. But I also know there are those who want things to stay the way they are.
What is the general sentiment your getting as to how important a football league championship is to the Big Ten in terms of national notoriety?
Adam Rittenberg (4:00 PM)
Joe, I'll have more on this next week, but one Big Ten AD I spoke with this week says a football championship is likely, but not a guarantee. What is almost definite is that the league will be playing in December, but there's some talk about adding another bye week to the regular season to push the final week to December. I think a Big Ten title game will happen, though, and it'll be a huge hit for the league.
Adam, I liked your views on divisional alignment. But I personally like a split through Illinois with and "East" and "West plus Penn State" split and giving the Penn State it's choice of a protected crossover rival. What would be your thoughts on this type of split?
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
It's possible, Kevin, but you can't just give one team a choice of protected crossovers without at least thinking how things will work out for the other teams. Penn State would certainly feel like an outsider if all the other teams are from the western part of the league. That's why I have more of an east-west mix in my divisions (Penn State with Iowa/Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin with Michigan/Ohio State).
Ricky (Iowa City)
The World Cup.... Love it or Leave it!!
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
Always good to hear from the Manzi. I was loving it yesterday when Landon Donovan scored. Also loving the way Japan is playing now. But I can definitely leave it when it comes to all those scoreless draws.
Peter (Chicago, IL)
Adam, I saw your best case/worst case for Michigan the other day. If your worst case comes true, I might jump off the Mackinac Bridge. Honestly, 8-4 is a realistic expectation in year 3 of the Rich Rod experiment, I mean regime, right?? I think a 5-1 start is doable.....
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
Sure, that's a reasonable expectation, Peter. Michigan started 5-0 last year, and this year's team should be better. The key is a 2-0 start against UConn and Notre Dame, and then not falling flat in Big Ten play after Oct. 15. Michigan needs a quality win in league play.
Dan (Springfield, Oh)
With the departure of Duron Carter to a community college in Kansas, who do you see stepping up to be the Buckeyes #3 reciever this fall. Taurian Washington had a fabulous spring as did Fields. I also see the Buckeyes using Stoneburner as more of a receiving TE and swinging Herron or Saine out of the backfield
Adam Rittenberg (4:06 PM)
Dan, I'd love to see more of Stoneburner as a receiver, and you're right about both Saine and Herron having the potential to catch the ball out of the backfield. I think the No. 3 wideout spot comes down to Washington or Fields. Spoke with WRs coach Darrell Hazell at the Big Ten spring meetings and he sounded very pleased with both guys. Really likes Fields' potential.
Given the brutal road schedule Penn State has this season, it was supposed to be made up in the 2011 season with Alabama (though not determined by the Big 10), Ohio State, Iowa, and Wisconsin all at home. Since the schedule is being redone, do you think Penn State will still have a home schedule like this or will it just me completely thrown out the window?
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
Great question, Matt. I don't think the Alabama home game will need to be changed, but the Big Ten schedule probably will look different because of the new addition. We'll probably know a lot more by the end of August.
jimmy (nowhere, kansas)
why do i get the felling that there isnt going to be a michigan player in your top 25?
Adam Rittenberg (4:08 PM)
Because there isn't. Guard Stephen Schilling came close, but not enough guys have proven themselves to be elite players.
After spring practice did the odds of Gardner getting red-shirted increase with Robinsons play, Coach Rod can't use all of them can he? It would be nice if Harbaugh got to have Gardner with 4 years of eligibility left.
Adam Rittenberg (4:09 PM)
Yeah, I'm sure Rodriguez wants to make things as smooth as possible for Jim Harbaugh. ... Michigan doesn't want to play Gardner this year, and barring injury to Robinson or Forcier, I don't see him playing, at least early on. If the team is struggling, however, you'll see Gardner. Coaches want to save their jobs.
Adam, did those two Iowa senators forget that they have a fairly large school in the Big 10...why take a shot like that at the big10?
Adam Rittenberg (4:10 PM)
Eh, they're protecting a state institution more than dissing another one. I was amused by the letter because I highly doubt they'll get much of the info they're asking for. And they probably don't care nearly as much now that the Big 12 has been saved.
Tom (Los Angeles)
Adam, I loved the three headed monster discussion the other day. How do you think Michigan State's three headed monster stacks up on a national level?
Adam Rittenberg (4:12 PM)
It's a little hard to tell, Tom, because we don't know which receiver will emerge as the No. 1. Will it be Martin? Cunningham? Dell? Keith Nichol? There are options there. And while I like the young RBs, they still need to prove they can produce consistently in Big Ten games. I think we'll get a much better picture of where MSU's monster stacks up nationally by the middle of the season.
Does Stanzi remind you of Stocco and Krenzel in that despite their lack of good numbers they simply win games?
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
A little, Matt, but Stocco and Krenzel didn't make nearly as many mistakes. Ricky Stanzi was very fortunate his interceptions didn't cost Iowa a few games last year. He knows that, and I expect him to improve.
Will (Cambridge, MA)
Shouldn't Penn State be given first choice to end the year against Nebraska since they are the only school without a primary rival? They could play for the Newbie Twelphy.
Adam Rittenberg (4:14 PM)
Well, technically, Penn State has an end-of-year rival in Michigan State, although neither school would be too upset to see that series changed. Wisconsin actually makes the most sense from a scheduling standpoint since the Badgers don't have a set-in-stone rival at the end of the year. But I love the potential for the Penn State-Nebraska series.
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
White Sox are unstoppable. Sorry, back to college football.
Will (Cambridge, MA)
Has all the expansion talk taken the attention/heat off of your choices for the Top 25 players?
Adam Rittenberg (4:16 PM)
Maybe a little, Will. But I exchanged text messages this morning with a player who was a little ticked to be left off the list. I told him it'll be motivation for the season.
Nat (NE Ohio)
Any thoughts on how Gary Emmanuel will impact Purdue's defense?
Adam Rittenberg (4:17 PM)
Good question, Nat. Emmanuel obviously has familiarity with Purdue, which is good. And the Boilers really need to improve against the run. They have the personnel to do it, and Emmanuel had some good rush defenses at Rutgers. I'm interested to see what type of impact he has.
Billy H. (Hoboken, NJ)
Hey Adam -- I really like your divisional setup, but with one small issue. Even if the Big Ten doesn't create a divisional format in basketball (which is still could), fans will. Thus, having Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State, and Northwestern in the same division is simply unfair. What would be the implication of switching Northwestern and Illinois?
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
I don't really understand your question. The chance of having divisions in basketball is slim to none, as confirmed by a Big Ten AD this week. So you're worried about fans' perception of divisions that don't really exist for hoops? Hmmmm. I don't think this will affect how the ADs decide things.
andy (The Field of Dreams, Iowa)
theres been a lot of hate for the hawks lately and ive been thinking about it. it seems like some of it has come from the hawks trying to shake things up with the "elite" teams of the big ten and the nation. (imnot saying iowa is an elite team) but they are are in the conversation with these teams. why do you think so many people have a negative feeling towards my hawks?
Adam Rittenberg (4:20 PM)
Andy, don't take this the wrong way, but Iowa's fans probably have something to do with it. They're very proud of their team, and they're not afraid to tell anyone willing to listen. Also, when a team wins so many close games and escapes several losses by the skin of its teeth, it creates a perception that the team is lucky. I'm not saying I agree with any of this, but it helps explain some of the negativity you're seeing.
If (when) the Big Ten has a championship game where do you think it would be played, Adam? Would it be more likely to be played at a school's home field or at a neutral site? Which stadium, Soldier Field in Chicago (seats 61,000) or Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy (63,000), would be a better place for the hypothetical neutral site championship game?
Adam Rittenberg (4:23 PM)
I think you could see a permanent site in a place like Indy, or perhaps a rotation of Indy, Detroit and Chicago. A Big Ten AD brought up an interesting point with me this week. He said from talking to people in leagues with title games, there's a concern that both fan bases going to the title game might not turn around and make bowl trips three weeks later. Big Ten teams don't want to see their bowl attendance drop, so if they have a championship game, they want to make it as convenient as possible to as many fans as possible.
With Nebraska getting the nod, expansion talk has died down completely. I know it's still being discussed to a degree...can you define that degree? I haven't heard another word on it since the Neb. announcement. Have you heard anything??? I think they should still offer Rutgers, Pitt, Missouri/Kansas and Notre Dame. Any chance of that happing sooner than later?
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
Shawn, the Big Ten is back on its original timetable, which takes a slower pace. There are some discussions going on now, but the league also has to figure out divisions, scheduling, a championship game (or not), etc. You could definitely see further action, but most likely not until the end of the fall or early winter. Notre Dame would be the clear goal. I doubt you'll see any more Big 12 teams pursued.
Do you think the addition of Nebraska has even perked the interest of ND whatsoever, or did it make them grab on tighter to the independant rail?
Adam Rittenberg (4:27 PM)
Notre Dame certainly took notice of what happened, but I think the overall expansion push probably helped ND maintain its independence. A move by Texas would have had a much greater effect, potentially, on the Irish. But the Big East remains intact and the movement is minimal, at least for now, so ND can stay put.
Why in the world would the Big 10 want Texas? Yeah, I know they have money, but they've ruined two conferences in the last 20 years. Be glad you got the Big Red and leave it at that. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
I agree, Steve, but there are a lot of Big Ten fans who wanted Texas and might have been willing to sacrifice a lot for the Horns. You can't ignore what Texas brings to the table, but for all the positives, there's a lot of power (probably too much) and a lot of baggage that the Big Ten can do without.
Tom (Los Angeles)
One of the reasons cited for not liking a championship game in the Big XII was because it actually may have potentially prevented that league from sending two teams to BCS bowls. On the other hand, the BigTen has been sending two teams to the BCS, and has had trouble competing in all of its bowls as a result. Adam, do you think that staging a championship game in the BT, and potentially only sending our best team to the BCS, could actually help national perception of the strength of the BT?
Adam Rittenberg (4:30 PM)
Tom, that's a great point, but Big Ten fans want their teams to compete in the best bowls, and the league loves the revenue and the exposure that BCS bowls brings. I definitely think having your champion in the Rose Bowl most, if not all years, can help the league's performance in the big games.
Will S. (West Philadelphia )
Adam, I have a question regarding your proposed divisions and sacrificing the Iowa/Wiscy game. Although I disagree with you, I obviously understand that you've explained why you think it's necessary. So my question is this: what is the likelihood of the Big Ten actually sacrificing that rivalry in the way you proposed?
Adam Rittenberg (4:32 PM)
From talking with Barry Alvarez this week, I think it's likely the Wisconsin-Iowa will be preserved. He really hated it when Iowa rotated off the schedule in the late 1990s. It was one of the reasons the Big Ten went to protected rivalries. While I'm shocked that the Big Ten wouldn't use my proposal and ask no questions, I also understand the need to protect the Wisconsin-Iowa game.
Brett (King of Prussia, PA)
If you had to make your pick at this point in time, who would you take between Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin? I saw the blue-white game again on ESPNU sunday night and even though Matt McGloin didn't impress as much as he did the year prior in blue white, he seemed to have a presence, and a lot of dropped balls, mixed in with his few mistakes. And obviously with Newsome you get the athleticism factor. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (4:33 PM)
Brett, I'd love to be able to see a few practices instead of making the decision purely based off of the Blue-White Game. I'm sure you feel the same way. Newsome definitely brings you more athleticism, and McGloin made some very poor throws in that game. It's a tough call. I'd probably go Newsome, but I also want to see more from both guys and Paul Jones, who did some nice things in the spring game.
Watching OSU play last year, it was definitely noticeable how much of a better runner Saine is than Herron. Saine is quicker and stronger and has much more pro potential. So why does Herron get the playing time? My guess is that it is only because he understands the offense better, and Tress might be using Herron to model to Saine what it takes to be a great back. I get the impression that talent wise, Saine is superior, but Herron just might want it a little more.
Adam Rittenberg (4:35 PM)
Interesting theory, Joe, although I doubt that's how Jim Tressel views it. Herron seems like the better between-the-tackles runner, even though Saine is big enough to take a pounding. I really like Saine around the edges, and he's the superior pass-catcher of the two. I think Saine has a great chance to be Ohio State's featured back this year.
Dan (Springfield, Oh)
How much of a boost do you see Tyler Moeller providing to the Buckeyes secondary now that he's been cleared to play in 2010?
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
I think it's a big boost, Dan. Safety was one of the few spots where Ohio State took a major experience hit in graduation. Moeller might have started in 2009 (before the assault), and should help right away this fall.
Eric (Lansing, MI.)
i saw in Joe Rexrodes blog, that someone suggested a 3 division split. the divisions werent that great but his idea wasWest: Neb, Minn, Iowa, WiscyCentral: Indiana, Pur, NW, IlliniEast:MSU, OSU, UofM PSUany thoughts on this, one person pointed out the obvious cupcake factor in the central, but this couldnt really work...could it?
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
I wouldn't hold my breath on this, Eric. It's more likely the Big Ten goes to no divisions than three divisions. Now if the league adds four more teams, you might see a four-pod setup.
Hey, could you please call up Ohio State and tell them to do a home and home with UGA? I'd absolutely love to see a faceoff of the two reds. great tradition, great fans, great football. i know that you have final say on these matters, so please get it done, thanks. really though, what are the best Big 10 SEC matchups that are up and coming (dont say Bama Penn state i already know that one)
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
Ooh, I like that one, Chris. Ohio State recruits Georgia well and has some star players like Cameron Heyward from the state. It would be a great series, but these teams are so afraid to give up home games that I don't know if we'll see it. There aren't many Big Ten-SEC matchups that are finalized. I know Michigan State-Alabama is coming up, and Northwestern-Vanderbilt continue their series beyond this year.
Do you think Ferentz or Tressel gets the appetitite to coach pro ball in the future?
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
I think Ferentz will make the move eventually, just to see how he fares as an NFL head coach. I can't see Tressel making this jump. His style fits much better in college. Ohio State likely will be his last coaching job.
Noah (North Hollywood)
Which PAC team do you NOT want to see in next year's Rose Bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (4:41 PM)
Tough call, Noah. I would have said Oregon a few weeks ago, but the Ducks look like a mess right now, and Ohio State just beat them. Don't have to worry about USC ... so I can't really think of anyone that really scares me.
Dan (Springfield, Oh)
Adam, I think you might be forgetting about the OSU- Tenn home and home matchup coming in a few years
Adam Rittenberg (4:41 PM)
Yes, good call, Dan. Thanks.
Adam, seemingly everyone talks of adding Rutgers, Syracuse, or UConn to draw in the New York market...or Virginia, Maryland for the D.C. market. Particularly the NY market, doesn't PSU appeal to more people there than any of the options would? And the DC market? I mean, PSU already recruits big time from Conn., NY, NJ, DC, VA, etc...
Adam Rittenberg (4:43 PM)
You're right, Shawn, and teams like Michigan and Ohio State also appeal in those markets because they're national brands. Nebraska, too, to a certain extent. The reason why you add a program located in those markets is that it gives you a reason to be there, to showcase your teams live several times a year. And, most important, it gives you a chance to get the Big Ten Network on more cable providers. I've always said that schools like Rutgers or Maryland are simply ways to get in the door.
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
Got time for two more ...
How long before Coach Mark Dantonio becomes bigger than Tom Izzo? Does MSU have the best two coaches in the nation? I say yes.
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
Nice to hear the confidence, Jon, but I highly doubt Dantonio will ever be bigger than Izzo at Michigan State. Not a knock against Mark D., but Izzo is a God there, and deservedly so.
Jimmy (West Virginia)
Is this Joe Paterno's last season as head coach? 400 and done?
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
Always a chance, Jimmy. His recent health issues raise my level of concern a bit. But with Joe, he keeps showing up every fall, so I've got to believe he's got a few more left in him. We'll see what happens.
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
OK, guys, sorry to cut out early. Got to catch a flight to NYC. Talk to you soon ...