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 (12:01 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's get started.
Big T (Kenosha WI)
Who is the first Big Ten Player drafted in April?
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
I'd expect Wisconsin left tackle Gabe Carimi to go first. If not Carimi, it'll be Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan. But NFL teams really value left tackles, and Carimi is an exceptional one.
Nick (Manchester, England)
What is the thought on the color scheme? At least have some consistency and tradition from the past logo...
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
You still have the blue in there, but the black is gone. I actually wouldn't have had an issue if they named the divisions Black and Blue. It would have been easier to remember.
Jeff (Jacksonville, FL)
Thank you Adam... Are you satisified with the answers you received from the Iowa Press Conference yesterday? I have a tough time believing there are not other serious issues not being released. How does a team with so much experience and leadership, falter at the end of the season. Something is being untouched here..
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Jeff, it's a tricky situation with Iowa, and I believe the news conference Tuesday was more to speak to the public and say the school is trying to be proactive about the problem. There were a lot of rumors going around, and Iowa squelched them, at least for now. The school wouldn't try to cover up other positive drug tests. Not a good idea. As to your last point, I totally agree. A senior-laden team like Iowa shouldn't have struggled so much in close games.
Obligatory Rich Rodriguez coaching question/comment?..I remain convinced that this evaluation period is nothing more than window dressing for an inevitable coaching change. If RR was Dave Brandon's guy, it seems fairly obvious that an endorsement would have already taken place, so as to avoid the constant speculation, etc. For God sake, when asked about that ridiculous sing-along during the banquet, Brandon referred to Rodriguez as "the coach". RR is a dead man walking?I guess that was more of a comment than a question. Oh, and the new Big Ten logo is absolutely horrendous.
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
Ha, Blair, thanks for throwing in that last line. We can all agree on that. ... I'm starting to come around to this line of thinking. Why wouldn't Brandon just come out and say Rich is returning if that's the plan? It would put Rich and all the recruits at ease. You could still make changes to the defensive staff after the bowl game. Either Brandon is really, really confident that he can land another coach like Jim Harbaugh after the bowl, or he really wants to use the bowl as a gauge for Rodriguez and the program. It's certainly an odd tactic.
I understand Joe Pa is a legend of coaching, but I think the most coveted trophy in the Big10 (championship trophy) should have been named after Woody/Bo, or at least Woody (no idea how many Big10 Champs Bo won). Joe Pa has only won a few Big10 championships. I get it, he is the winningest coach in college football, but give him coach of the year trophy and not Championship. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Sean, you make some good points here. The Big Ten certainly could have switched the two trophy names and not paid a price for doing so. Heck, we might need to name the championship trophy after Jim Tressel if he keeps winning league titles. I don't have a huge problem with the Big Ten honoring JoePa, but it didn't matter to me if it was the championship trophy or the coach of the year award.
Alex (Des Moines)
My two cents on the logo and division names. Seems like any time pro or college sports teams change logos there is always an initial backlash followed by acceptance after a year or two. I feel like that will be the case with the logo. Unfortunately I foresee the division names being a laughingstock until the league decides to change them in a few years. Agree or disagree?
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Alex, I tend to agree. I can live with the logo right now, especially because I like the way it has some adaptability. But the division names likely will never be well received among Big Ten fans. Maybe I could be wrong, but I've heard from so few people who actually like the names.
do you feel wisconsin will have a letdown on D next year with Doeren headed to NIU?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
I'm a big Dave Doeren fan and I think he's a very good coach who has molded some excellent players with the Badgers. There could be a drop-off next year, but if a guy like D-line coach Charlie Partride moves into the coordinator spot, the Badgers will have some continuity. A big question is whether J.J. Watt returns for his senior season. If he does, the Badgers could be very dangerous on D.
About your article on 5 OSU Juniors filing NFL paperwork, do you really believe Boom Herron is ready for the NFL? I know he had a great 2nd half of the 2010 season, and I love his running style, but I just don't see him as a leaving school early caliber guy. You think his "serious consideration" may have something to do with the talent creeping up behind him in Berry, Rod Smith, Hall and Hyde and the continuous fans calling for them, or is this actually based on his thoughts of his pro ability?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Sean, Boom was very, very good in Big Ten play, and the thing you have to consider is that the lifespan for an NFL running back is short. An extra year in college means one less year to make $$$ in the NFL. While Herron isn't a first-round pick, he'll get drafted and can start making some money. If he stays at Ohio State, there's a risk of injury or possibly getting leapfrogged by one of the Buckeyes' exciting young running backs. As you point out, there are quite a few backs in the mix.
If wilson makes the right choice at DC (whoever that may be), can we become a contender for the title?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Perhaps, Nicholas, but the first step for Indiana needs to be consistent bowl games. IU needs to become how Northwestern is now, or how Purdue was throughout most of Joe Tiller's tenure. The Hoosiers might be able to compete for a Big Ten title every once in a while, but getting to bowl games consistently would really be a step up. And the defensive coordinator hire will be HUGE given the team's chronic struggles on that side of the ball.
any real danger of losing don treadwell from msu at this point? seems all the high profile vacancies are filled.
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Haven't heard his name mentioned for too many other jobs, but there are some vacancies in the MAC. Not sure he'd take a MAC job, but a place like Temple could be a good spot, given the recent success there. Treadwell is ready to become a head coach, but I'm sure he'll get a raise from Michigan State to stay as OC and can afford to be a bit picky.
Drew (Evanston, IL)
In your post about NU signing 2 of Indiana's recruits you implied that Kevin Wilson might be angry at FItz. This "stealing" of recruits seems to happen all the time, especially with a coaching change. Would Wilson really be upset, and would he have a legitimate gripe? NU lost lil Watt to Wisco, isn't that just the breaks of the game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Yeah, that was more of a joke, although I'm sure Wilson isn't thrilled about losing recruits. It's part of recruiting these days, and it's going to continue unless we see an early signing day or some major change to the system. Good point about Northwestern losing Derek Watt to Wisconsin. I'm sure Fitz isn't pleased, but he's still buds with Bielema.
Illini Mike (Chicago)
Adam, why can't we as fans just call the divisions the Black and the Blue? It is way better and easier to remember. The only reason I know which is which is Nebraska is in Legends having zero years of Big Ten legendary-ness.Plus the Black and the Blue could be easily remembered like this: the first two teams alphabetically are Illinois and Iowa, one has black one has blue.I encourage you to just use Black and Blue my good man.
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Haha, we can start a revolution Mike, you and I. Black and Blue certainly work for me. Just something to keep it simple, for fans to know who goes where. Legends and Leaders doesn't do it.
Kevin (Columbus, Ohio)
Hey Adam,You mentioned the other week in one of the chats that Coach Tressel is only going to coach for a few more years. If this is the case, whom do you see replacing him?Thanks
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Kevin, that's a really tough question. I hear Urban Meyer is available :-) Ohio State would have to conduct a national search. While there are some good assistants on Tressel's staff, it's too big of a job with too many big-time candidates not to open it up to the country. There are so many coaches from Ohio who might be interested: Meyer, Stoops, Pelini ... the list goes on.
Any comment on the MSU billdboards with the Wisconsin MSU score on them? I thought MSU was taking this in stride. I'm MD and the players are but the fans seem to still be upset. Isn't the objective on the the tiebreaker to send the BEST Big 10 team to the Rose Bowl? Don't most without an interest in who goes feel like the best team was correctly chosen?
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
Tom, I'm going to post on this a little later today, but I'm never a fan of the fan billboard message. It seems small time to me. You're right that most casual observers believe Wisconsin is the Big Ten's best team, and the Badgers proved it by winning their last seven games. Even though Michigan State beat Wisconsin, I think the Spartans have a better case for being chosen ahead of Ohio State, which lacks a true quality win.
Adam, can't you just have a sit down with Jim Delaney and let him know that the names and logo just aren't working for you?
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Haha, I wish it were that simple, Ted. Jim and I have a good relationship, but he doesn't value my opinion nearly that much.
Did no one at the Big Ten office read aloud the names for some of the trophies? The Griese-Brees Quarterback of the year trophy just is going to end up as a disaster the first time a poor ESPN analyst has to mention it.
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
Yeah. I'm just waiting for Letterman or Leno to mention it in one of their monologues. Too many burritos will give you the Griese-Brees Trophy. ... I'll be here all night, folks. Be sure to tip your waitress.
If Wisco, OSU, and Sparty all win their bowl games, could the Big 10 have 3 teams in the top 5 of the final BCS/AP standings?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
It's very possible, Simon. The national title game winner would be No. 1, obviously. Stanford would stay in the top 5 with a win. Wisconsin and Ohio State definitely would be in the top 5. Question is whether Michigan State could get there by knocking off 9-3 Alabama.
Which would do better for Ohio State's Rep; beating an SEC team in a bowl game or winning a National Title?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Beating an SEC team in the national title game would be ideal, Kelvin, but this is the next best thing. Ohio State has to get rid of the 0-9 tag. Players hear it, fans hear it, media people hear it and write about it. The Buckeyes might not truly restore their rep until they win a national title again, but back-to-back BCS bowl victories will help.
Doesn't Michigan realize that the longer they hold out on making any decision whether Rich Rod comes back, the more it hurts recruiting?
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
I know that AD Dave Brandon is meeting with the recruits when they come on campus, which seems a little odd but could be helpful in keeping them committed to Michigan. I know the wait doesn't exactly help matters, but Michigan is still putting together a nice class.
Adam, when Coach Ferentz said that Hampton's transfer was "mutual" did that mean that they wanted to him leave too or just that it was done on friendly terms? I didn't actually see or hear the presser, only read about it.
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
He meant that both parties agreed it was probably in Jewel's best interest to move on. I don't want to speculate too much, but Hampton did have a suspension for the first game and could have had another conduct issue since his injury. Iowa certainly could have used him in 2011. Then again, the Hawkeyes will get Marcus Coker and Adam Robinson (hopefully) back for next fall.
Would an undefeated Big 10 finished ahead of Auburn or Oregon? I think Ohio State would have based on preseason ranking and the fact they beat Oregon last year in the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin, on the other hand would be on the outside looking in.
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Tough to say, Brian. If Wisconsin had beaten Michigan State and then steamrolled its way through the Big Ten like it did, it might be tough to leave the Badgers out of the title game. I agree on Ohio State, though.
Will the Vikings playing at TCF Bank Stadium help Minnesota coach Kill with recruiting?
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Good question, John. I think it can be a huge help any time a coach can say, 'Look at our new stadium hosting an NFL game on Monday Night Football.' You can't buy that type of exposure. Everyone will get a look at the great job Minnesota did with this facility, including the recruits. So yes, the game can only help Kill and the Gophers.
Do you feel Nebraska was slighted at all in the trophy naming? There is only one trophy named after a Nebraska player. It seems somewhat odd considering Nebraska's football legacy.
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Brett, the Big Ten had to be careful there. You don't want to name three or four trophies after a team that hasn't played a game in the league yet. I know there was some chatter about naming the defensive line award after Ndamukong Suh. I wouldn't have minded that, but you can't go overboard with Nebraska stuff. It does a disservice to the schools who have been in the Big Ten for much longer.
Adam, how do you see my Bulldogs fairing against Um in the Gator Bowl? Can we stop Robinson, and can UM stop us from grinding the clock out?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Blaine, if Michigan's defense doesn't get better during bowl practices, I think your Bulldogs will be fine in the game. You have a balanced team and an offense that can move the ball. Every Big Ten team but Purdue moved the ball well against Michigan, and I'd expect the same to hold true with Mississippi State. Denard Robinson certainly is a threat, but you see a lot of speed in the SEC, or so I hear.
Chase (Jacksonville, Florida)
Help Badger fan trapped in the heart of SEC Country! How long before the BIG TEN is respected nationally again? Even with three one loss teams we get looked at as a walk in the park. What can we do to restore BIG TEN pride outside of the obvious BIG TEN-SEC bowl matchups?
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
Well, your Badgers can help by taking care of business in the Rose Bowl. A second straight Rose Bowl win would be huge for the Big Ten and confirm that the league's struggles in Pasadena had more to do with the USC dynasty than a backsliding Big Ten. The other major step has to be getting to and winning the national title game. That one game shapes national perception more than anything else in college football.
James (Ames, IA)
Why didn't the Big Ten incorporate a silhouette of twelve in their emblem like they did with eleven?
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Jim Delany told me that design firms all said it would be a bad idea. Not sure that's the case because the last logo was adaptable to 12 teams or more. But I don't know much about design. Getting the "most improved" award in eighth grade art class was the high point in my artistic career.
What do you think it says about the SEC/Big Ten argument when Auburn (arguably the best team this year) had to beat Northwestern last year in OT? I know every year is different and no team is the same from year to year but......
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
I get what you're saying, and Auburn certainly had some holdover from the Outback Bowl team that Northwestern could have beaten. But you can't minimize the Cam Newton effect. If Newton plays in that game, it's probably a rout. He's just that good.
Which division do you see being stronger next year? Take into account the obvious leaving for the NFL.
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Good question, Brad. My first impulse is to say the Legends division, but I need to see what happens with Michigan. Wisconsin's situation could be impacted by NFL departures, and so could Illinois'. If players like J.J. Watt, Mikel Leshoure and Martez Wilson all return to their teams, I might have to go with the Leaders. Hard to say right now.
Do you find it ironic that they named half the Big Ten Coach of the Year award for Woody who represented a school that hasn't received said award for 31 years?
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
It is ironic, Bart, and I know Buckeyes fans really don't like how Jim Tressel keeps getting passed over year after year. But you can look at it this way: if Ohio State wasn't such a powerhouse, didn't recruit so many great players, Tressel probably would have two or three Big Ten Coach of the Year awards. The reason he doesn't get it is because Ohio State is considered a team that should always achieve at the highest levels. In a weird way, it's a compliment to the program Tressel has built over time.
One question about the troubles at Iowa? REally? Wow...just when I thought your credibility couldn't get any worse. But hey, let's talk about singing songs at banquets!
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
What is there to say, Jason? And plenty of Iowa fans have been filling up my inbox telling me I suck because I haven't lauded the program for actually having drug testing. It was a weird news conference, they have some problems there, the DJK situation is an absolute mess but there aren't 50 players getting suspended, either. What more do you want?
Will Ohio State ever embrace TP if he doesn't go undefeated? Even before Troy went undefeated, I feel like the fans embraced him much more than they do TP and TP has been pretty darn good
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Good question, Sarah. I wonder how Ohio State fans will look back on Pryor in 10 or 20 years if he doesn't win a national title but wins two or three BCS bowl games and four Big Ten titles. He's certainly a victim of his own hype, which he helped to create. And I think he's held to a different standard than any other player in the Big Ten. Can't really say what Pryor's legacy will be, but he still has some time to shape it.
There are a lot of cocky Wisconsin fans saying that they are going to destroy my Horned Frogs in the Rose Bowl. What are your thoughts on this game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Brett, I can tell you the cockiness doesn't spill over onto the team. The Badgers players I've talked with know just how dangerous TCU will be on Jan. 1. They know they'll have a size edge, but they expect TCU's speed to provide some major challenges. Both offenses have scored the same number of points, although Wisconsin did it against better defenses in the Big Ten. The biggest key will be whether the TCU defense can get to Scott Tolzien and match Wisconsin's physical style up front. Can't wait for that game!
Mike (Las Vegas)
Sometime before you move on, you've got to rank the fans 1-12. I've got to think Iowa has to be #1.....oh the ranking is based on blind bias in the face of any all all facts.
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Ha, Mike, I should let you do the power rankings and let you take all the criticism, too! Um, yeah, Iowa wouldn't be No. 1 on my list right now.
Adam if you were Michigan A.D David Brandon what would your decision be and why?
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
I'd say I'm keeping Rich Rodriguez and clean house on his defensive staff after the bowl game. I'd make him hire a defensive coordinator who I liked and who I thought had a scheme that fit the personnel. And I'd only keep Rodriguez if he's willing to be a lot more flexible with the defensive scheme (i.e. not so loyal to the 3-3-5).
What more do I want? Let's see...drug dealing, doing drugs, bar fights, cheating on drug tests, drinking and driving, rape...all in the last three years? The highest arrest rate in college. You make a bigger deal about a Josh Groban song...
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
One player is responsible for several of those categories, and you don't have proof of any specific cheating on drug tests. If players are identified, I'll be happy to rip away at Iowa, just like I did when James Ferentz kept getting in trouble. Penn State went through a similar string of conduct problems in 2007-08. And we can always look to Oregon or to the SEC if you'd like. ... As for Michigan, it's Michigan. It always will be in the news more than Iowa, win or lose. More fans and more casual interest.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Last one ...
With the possibility of five important OSU starters leaving early for the NFL, who do you see as the early front runner in their division and even the conference as a whole?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
Ryan, well I don't see many of Ohio State's juniors making the jump. Running back Dan Herron is the likeliest to go, and Ohio State has plenty of depth behind him. I would still put the Buckeyes as my early favorite for the division and possibly the conference. Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State also have to be in the discussion.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
OK, time's up. Talk to you soon.