Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at noon ET!
Adam Rittenberg (12:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's get started.
Adam with so many elite teams loosing these past few weeks what do you think will happen to the Big 10 in the ranking of the conferences. An unbeaten OSU would have pushed us closer to the SEC, but this may be a year where there may not be any unbeatens in the AQ conferences. How do you think this will play out this season.
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Michael, it depends if people can get behind teams like Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin, depending on what happens the next few weeks. The Big Ten might not have a truly elite team -- MSU might be, we'll see -- but the league has more very good teams than I can remember. And as you point out, there aren't many truly elite teams in college football this year, so I think the Big Ten will remain among the top two or three conferences.
Bruce (Columbus, OH)
Adam, Thanks for your column; I follow it everyday!Okay, let's get to it; I have been living in Cbus as a Spartan expatriate for a number of years. What is it going to take in the rankings for MSU to play for a national championship if we don't crumble anywhere along the way and also get past Iowa?Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Bruce, MSU obviously needs to run the table. The Spartans also would be helped by either Wisconsin running the table as well or Wisconsin losing to Iowa and then running the table, and Iowa beating everyone else besides MSU. The Spartans don't care about OSU because they don't play the Buckeyes, so a Buckeyes loss to Iowa helps MSU if MSU beats Iowa. Also, it would help MSU to have Notre Dame keep winning.
Kirk Ferentz (Iowa City)
Adam, love your blog...I show it to recruits all the time to let them see how much exposure they will get if they come to Iowa. Question for you, I got my old friend Bret coming back to town this weekend. Do you think he secretly wants the hawkeyes to win? We all know about his tattoo, do you think he still feels some loyalty to the black and gold? Who wins on Saturday??
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
Kirk, if you love the blog so much, can you let DJK talk to me on the record, please? ... As for Bret, no, he doesn't want Iowa to win. Clearly. He might pull for Iowa when the Hawks aren't playing Wisconsin, but not when he hasn't won many big-time road games as the Badgers coach. Bret always will have a connection to Iowa, but he's very much a Badger now. Wait until Thursday morning to see my game pick.
post your question or commentAdam - What justification can you offer for placing Denard Robinson 4th in the Offensive POY race? So far this season he has: significantly more rushing yards than Clay (#2); almost as many passing yards as Stanzi (#1); and a better passer efficiency rating than Chappell (#3) - all without the benefit of playing Michigan's defense! Yes, he needs to get more wins in the Big 10 to win the award at the end of the year - but to this point, he is clearly the most deserving candidate, statistically speaking.
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
It's not all about stats, Oracle, simple as that. And Denard hasn't been nearly as impressive in the last two games, with the injury obviously playing a role. If he goes out and torches Penn State, he'll move back up in the race. It's by no means over, but players like Ricky Stanzi and John Clay have stepped up more the last two weeks.
Dave (Milwaukee, WI)
Adam, will my Badgers need to win out to have any hope of a BCS with the top of the Big Ten looking a little crowded? How concerned should we be if another team wins the conference, and we're sitting there with 1-2 losses and Ohio State/MSU/Iowa all have similar records for an at-large bid? I saw your last projection had us in the Outback Bowl, Badger fans are getting a little tired of going to a bowl game in Florida not named "Orange."
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Dave, winning out would be the best path for Wisconsin, obviously. Wisconsin also should root for Michigan State to either lose twice or win out. If the Spartans lose twice, Wisconsin could get a BCS berth ahead of MSU, despite the head-to-head loss. If MSU wins out and Wisconsin wins out, it hands Iowa two losses and puts a 1-loss Badgers team ahead of the Hawkeyes. Wisconsin obviously has the head-to-head win against Ohio State, but another Buckeyes loss wouldn't hurt, either.
Brad (Boise, Idaho)
How did Illinois shut down MSU's strong ground attack? Any chance Northwestern can too?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Illinois' defensive line is much improved, and Corey Liuget gave Michigan State all sorts of problems. The Spartans' O-line has exceeded expectations so far this season, but they're going to have a few games like last Saturday's. I don't think Northwestern's D-line is as strong as Illinois', although if D-tackles Corbin Bryant and Jack DiNardo play well, the Wildcats have a chance to contain Baker/Bell/Caper.
How many more wins do you see for Purdue? Any chance this streak stays a few more weeks?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Pete, Purdue always plays Ohio State tough. The Boilers and Illinois are two teams that somewhat surprisingly give the Buckeyes trouble. Then again, I have a feeling a bit of a reality check arrives Saturday in Columbus. I still see Purdue winning six or seven games this fall.
Do you believe that Iowa is the 5th best 1 loss team in the country as most of the pollsters do? Will the respect that most of us Hawkeyes constantly struggle with come in the next few weeks if we take care of business? Thanks Adam.
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
I don't think Iowa is better than Alabama, but the Hawkweyes certainly are one of the best 1-loss teams out there. The respect should come if Iowa beats Wisconsin and MSU, especially in convincing fashion. It also might take a win against Ohio State, one that would knock the Buckeyes out of the Big Ten race, to truly gain some national recognition.
Bill Lynch (Bloomington, IN)
Now that Brewster is gone, am I the coach on the hottest seat in the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Hard to say, Bill. I still don't think you're in major danger of losing your job this year. That said, you've got to start getting it done in Big Ten games. You can only have so many close losses before the AD and the fan base get fed up. I love the attitude you bring to IU and the enthusiasm to be the Hoosiers' head coach. But can you get this program over the hump in Big Ten games? We'll find out soon. Next two games (at Illinois, vs. Northwestern) are critical.
Do Dane Sanzenbacher's numbers appear to be on track to be a contender for the, forgive me here for spelling, Blientkoff Trophy?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Nate, I hope that Dane gets consideration. He's the toughest wide receiver in the country, in my opinion. I spoke to him yesterday about playing with a level of fearlessness, which he shows every Saturday. Just a great receiver, a great guy and one of my favorite Big Ten players. I hope he gets some national recognition.
Your Bowl predictions still have Penn State going to the Dallas Football Classic; although I'm a proud fan of PSU, I have a hard time seeing the Penn State team that has been showing up the past 2 weeks winning 3 more games to even be eligible...do you think the fact that the injury list has begun to shrink a bit will make that much of a difference?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Sam, I struggled with whether or not to put Penn State in the bowl projections, but ultimately I think the Lions have enough to win three more games. The offense can't be this bad all season, and the injury situation on defense, while bad, seems a little more promising at the linebacker spot. We'll learn a lot on Saturday against Minnesota, a team playing with nothing to lose. If Penn State loses Saturday, it won't be going bowling.
Mike Leach (Key West, FL)
What's it gonna take for Minnesota AD Joel Maturi to let me dock my pirate ship on Lake Minnetonka and bring the Air Raid to Minneapolis? Arrrggghhhhh
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
Mike, I think I can speak for all the Big Ten media in saying I'd love to see you in Minneapolis. The bigger question is: do you want the job? Can your offense work in the cold weather? How much will it take? Minnesota is willing to pay for a good coach.
Will Edwin Baker and Le'veon Bell get back on track this weekend against a softer Northwestern defense?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Corey, I'd expect Baker and Bell or break off a big run or two. Northwestern is solid at linebacker, like Illinois, but Illinois has a better defensive line. Minnesota and Purdue both ran the bell well against NU, so I'd expect more of the same from the Spartans.
Jonathan (Rocky Mount, MO)
Adam, are you avoiding a simple question, would like to find out what you think, iowa is better than alabama.
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Not sure what you mean by avoiding a question. Alabama is better than Iowa in my opinion. More elite athletes through the depth chart and more dangerous skill players on offense. Not a shot against Iowa, but Alabama still looks like a national title contender to me.
The Vest (Columbus, OH)
Tell me what you think... I keep hearing that my play-calling is holding this team back. Should I hire a true Offensive Coordinator? Also, how many more "big games" can I lose before they just send me packing like Cooper in 1998?
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
Vest, I actually thought you called a great game in the third quarter, but why did you go away from the pistol in the first half? It was working so well! As for your second question, don't worry at all. Ohio State fans don't make the decisions on when coaches should go, and you still have a ton of good will with AD Gene Smith and others.
Matt (St. Paul)
Isn't it in bad taste for Maturi to make the quote, "it isn't like you're following Lombardi here." in his press conference regarding Brewster's firing...I mean, c'mon Joel...YOU were the one who made the last hire....
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
I've been told that Joel didn't mean in a derogatory way, but he still said it, which was inappropriate. Listen, he wasn't the biggest Brewster fan by the end, or even entering the season, from what I've been told. And I loved how candid Maturi was at the news conference Sunday. But that comment didn't sit well. Unnecessary.
Which games do you think are a real threat to MSU? As a Badger fan, I want to see them lose twice, but they have a soft remaining schedule... Who can challenge them besides Iowa?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Brett, I don't think this weekend's game at Northwestern is a gimme for Michigan State. The Wildcats have a history of knocking off ranked opponents. The trip to Penn State also could be interesting, only because of the emotions surrounding what could be Joe Paterno's final home game in State College and Paterno's quest for win No. 400. The intangibles around that matchup could work against MSU.
Where did the atmosphere this past week in Camp Randall rank in your experiences in previous trips to Madison or elsewhere in the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Unreal, Bobbby. I had a buddy who came with me to the game and sat in the last row of the upper deck. He said it's one of the greatest sporting events he's ever attended, and he has a World Series ring as a former Red Sox employee. The atmosphere was unreal: perfect weather, packed house, GameDay, big-time opponent. It was the perfect storm.
Ancient Mayan (mysterious location)
Will a head on collision between John Clay and Adrian Clayborn this weekend accelerate my prediction for the end of the world in 2012?
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
I hope the Richter scale is operable in Iowa City, because there might be a few earthquakes Saturday afternoon.
Matt K. (Ann Arbor)
Should Tate Forcier be brought in more as a change-of-pace QB when teams are actually containing Denard? He showed against Iowa that he still can find open receivers (although he also showed his bad judgement under pressure and poor ball handling when he scrambles).
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
You make an interesting point, Matt, but Rich Rodriguez on Tuesday sounded very committed to Denard Robinson as the starter. I don't think Rich will think about any changes unless Denard gets hurt, which has happened quite a bit this year. Still, Tate brings some different skills to the table, and he provided a nice emotional lift Saturday.
Does the absence of Norm Parker catch up with Iowa? Can they sustain a 1 back workload in the upcoming weeks?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
The answer to your first question is no. I worry that the answer to your second question is yes. Adam Robinson has been an absolute warrior, but how many hits can he take?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
My bad: I worry that the answer to your second question is also no. Read that wrong.
Dan Persa (Evanston)
How excited should I be about going up against MSU's suspect secondary?
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Don't get too excited, Dan, because Michigan State's secondary is making a ton of plays this year. The Spartans already have twice as many interceptions (12) than they had all of last season (6). That said, MSU is still a little vulnerable in the back four, particularly without Chris L. Rucker, the team's best defensive back in my opinion.
With the recent loss of Holman and Bryant, coupled with the bubble-bursting emotions of losing in Madison last week, do you think this Buckeye team is in real danger of severe downfall the rest of the way? I worry about Purdue, who always plays the Buckeyes tough... and you know that Iowa City is hungry for revenge.
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
After looking at Jim Tressel's history in revenge games and talking with Dane Sanzenbacher last night, I think the Buckeyes will have the right mind-set to bounce back. The big keys will be protecting a still banged-up Terrelle Pryor from Ryan Kerrigan and the Purdue pass rush, and finding ways to stop Rob Henry and the Boilers run game. Henry has done a great job so far, but he hasn't faced a team nearly as good as Ohio State.
Am I in the minority of Ohio State alum/fans who just don't care anymore about Jim Tressel coached teams because nothing ever changes? If the offensive line stinks, nothing will change. Same goes for special teams, tailbacks, etc.
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Brian, you have a point about the offensive line, which hasn't been as strong as I thought it would be this season. But don't group special teams and tailbacks in there. The special teams has only been a problem this year, and Ohio State's tailbacks, while unspectacular, played well in 2009. Also, Dan Herron still had a pretty nice game at Wisconsin. So while I agree with the frustration about the O-line, the other problems are relatively new.
Nick Toon (Madison)
How important has my return to health been for the Badgers' chances of running the table for a possible BCS birth?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Extremely important, Nick. By all accounts, you had a terrific preseason and were on track for a big year before the toe injury. Now you're healthy again, and it showed against Ohio State as Wisconsin went to the swing pass 5 or 6 times. Your presence also makes it easier for tight ends Lance Kendricks and Jacob Pedersen to get open.
Alex (Des Moines)
Are chances of a Big Ten Heisman winner this year effectively dead? As much as I love Stanzi, the Heisman? No way he puts up the numbers he'd need to have a shot.
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
Alex, given how much the Heisman landscape changes every week, I'd never say a league's chances are dead. Stanzi is putting up Heisman-caliber numbers right now, so if he keeps it up against better competition, he deserves to be considered for the award. Denard Robinson's numbers also are still remarkable, and if he has some big games against Penn State, Illinois and Purdue, he'll be back in the mix. It won't be easy, but the door is still open.
Didn't Joe Tiller already prove that a Mike Leach style of passing spread offense can work in the B10? NW has run a similar style as well now for years with success.
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Mike, that's a good point, and I'm sure it's one Joel Maturi would make to Leach if they sit down and talk about the job. The other thing with Leach is that he can recruit good players to places that aren't in recruiting hubs. It's not easy to get talent to Lubbock, Texas. At least Minneaoplis is a major market.
Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue)
How many sacks, TFLs, QB hurries, pass interruptions, etc will I need to give the rest of my team a chance against the Buckeyes?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Ryan, if you do what you did last year against Ohio State -- one of the best individual defensive performances in recent Big Ten history -- the team should be in good shape.
Jacob (Cottage Grove, MN)
Adam, I don't listen to people outside the Big Ten. Do you think that the rest of the nation respects that the Big Ten has 4 legit teams beating eachother up even though they may not all be undefeated? Or would the rest of the nation rather see a single team dominate the conference? PS Go Hawks.
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
Jacob, I think this is an excellent question, one I might steal for a blog post. It seemed like the outside media hated Ohio State being atop the Big Ten every year. Now the Buckeyes are one of the contenders, not the frontrunner necessarily. Will this change the Big Ten's perception? Maybe. I still think outsiders give more respect to SEC teams like Auburn and LSU than they do to Iowa, Wisconsin or Michigan State. Not sure why, but it's just the way it is. The Big Ten race would get more respect if Michigan and Penn State were involved because those are "name" programs with bigger fan followings.
Alex (Iowa City)
So Adam, tell me you are going to be in Iowa City this weekend. The last Heartland trophy battle for at least 2 years that pits No. 15 against No. 13. I better see you tailgating on Melrose. Make it happen Ritt.
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Alex, as I've told you people a million times, I don't decide where I go every week. Darth Duffey does. I can tell you this: We will have the game covered in some form.
Mike (NE Ohio)
Adam, is there a timetable for the return of Homan and Bryant? OSU is getting dangerously thin in the back 7 of their defense, which doesn't bode well for upcoming games, especially Iowa and Michigan.
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Mike, I'd expect Homan to be back after the bye week when Ohio State hosts Penn State on Nov. 13. As for Bryant, cellulitis is a pretty serious infection, but they caught it early, which is good. I wouldn't expect him back for at least two weeks, but it depends on his recovery.
vogter27 (Ames, IA)
Who is Darth Duffey and why does he have so much control over your life?! Your AR for christ's sake!
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
I'm just a slave to the man, vogter.
Akili (Columbus, OH)
You're Ohio State and you've lost the benefit of the doubt until you win another national title (perhaps even more). Do you have to re-invent yourself or completely change the culture due to this? Kind of like a company changing everything (Apple with mobile devices, hotel chains, etc.).
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Great question, Akili. I couldn't see Ohio State reinventing itself while it keeps winning Big Ten titles and beating Michigan every year. But you're right that Ohio State won't fully be satisfied again until it wins a national title. Gene Smith doesn't seem like the type of AD to simply overhaul everything, and Jim Tressel has earned the right to remain coach for a lot longer. The big question will be what Ohio State does when Tressel moves on: hire someone from within the family or open up the job and play it bold?
I know this is a Big Ten chat, but its something that's been bugging me. I know as a football fan you probably catch every game you can. Do this years Auburn Tigers remind you of the Cardiac Buckeyes that upset Miami in 2003?
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Kevin, interesting question. I don't know if Auburn has had quite as many close calls as Ohio State did in 2002. It might be a combination of Auburn and LSU, which always lives on the edge under The Hat. But that's a good parallel and one to watch if Auburn keeps winning dramatic games. Should be a great one this week against LSU.
Do you think Minnesota would look at Glen Mason again?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Not if Joel Maturi is the one making the hire. And I wouldn't expect Glen Mason to want that job after getting dumped once by Maturi.
Mike (Columbus, OH)
Who goes to the Rose Bowl if the following happens:Wisconsin Beats Ohio StateOhio State Beats IowaIowa Beats Wisconsin and Michigan Statelove the blog!
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
I think I'm following this right ... If Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State all have one loss and MSU and OSU don't play, it would be the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, head hurts now. Last one for the day ...
Would John L. Smith be a good fit at Minnesota? He was close to breaking through at Sparty and he has a good reputation for cleaning up programs.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Uh, no. Michigan State fans can tell you why.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, guys, that's all the time I have. Enjoy Week 8!