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)
I'm here, let's get started.
Russell (Iowa City)
Who is the first Big Ten player to get drafted in the 2011 NFL draft? Who will be the most successful at the next level?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
I'd expect Wisconsin LT Gabe Carimi or Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan to be the first pick from the Big Ten. Both should go on to have very good pro careers. I also expect big things from Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn at the pro level. If Wisconsin's J.J. Watt enters the draft, he's another one to watch.
Will (Cambridge, MA)
Do you think the reason why some PSU assistants haven't been given more head coaching chances recently is because they are viewed as high flight risk once Paterno retires?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Will, I'm sure that's part of it, but those ADs also have to make the best choices for their programs and I'm surprised a guy like Tom Bradley hasn't tried his hand at running a program. Maybe he just hasn't found the right fit, but he has the personality and the experience to be a good HC in my view.
Anything for real about Tattoo-gate?
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
A lot of smoke, not anything concrete yet. Stay tuned.
Kevin Wilson (Bloomington)
Will I have Tandon Doss next season? And who will be throwing him the ball if I do?
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
I think you will, Kevin, especially given your track record of helping receivers reach the NFL level. Doss certainly has pro potential, but he can get even better with a year under your tutelage. The QB situation will be interesting with Kiel, Wright-Baker and some younger players. It's WAY too early to make a prediction on that race.
Phil (Washington, DC)
Adam -- with the addition of the B10 championship game next year, we probably won't be seeing two B10 teams in BCS bowls EVERY year like we have the past few. What are the odds this actually helps the view of the B10 on the national radar? Meaning, finally the B10 teams are matched up with the other equal conference foes instead of playing up a game. Though this loses money for B10, I think it could help the national perspective on the conference.
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
Phil, this certainly could be the case. The Big Ten doesn't do itself any favors with the bowl lineup, and consistently having two teams in BCS bowls makes things harder. On the other hand, years like 2009 when you can go 2-0 in BCS games really helps. The one factor that will help the Big Ten more than any other is having a team win a national title. If the league goes under .500 but has a national title winner, the respect will come.
Denard (Ann Arbor, MI)
There has been all this talk about Rich Rod and his coaching status for next season, and how it could effect recruiting, but what about me? If a new coach comes in with a different system in mind, will I be the odd man out? They couldn't possibly do that to the Big Ten offensive player of the year could they?
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Sorry, Shoelace, they can do whatever they want. And if they feel a coach with a dramatically different system makes the most sense, you could be in some trouble. Not sure I can see you playing quarterback in anything but a spread system.
I am excited about the Rose Bowl for the Badgers, but I am already nervous about next season. Do you think UW will be able to maintain its recent success after losing Carimi, Moffit and Tolzein?
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Those are all big losses, Wade, and the biggest one could be if J.J. Watt enters the NFL draft in April. The offensive line should be OK because a lot of guys have experience, but replacing Tolzien won't be easy. As good as the running backs have been, Tolzien's presence takes the offense to a new level. It'll be important for Curt Phillips and Jon Budmayr to take steps forward during the offseason.
Kevin (Hendersonville, NC) [via mobile]
What is the latest on the division naming fiasco?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
The Big Ten is hoping this issue dies down, and it probably will during the bowl season. While commissioner Jim Delany sounded down and a little defeated on the WGN interview last week, I don't see the Big Ten seriously re-evaluating the names for quite some time. They won't make a change in early January and might stick with these names for the long term. That said, the league realizes it didn't connect with the fan base through Legends and Leaders.
Paul Bunyan (Frontier)
Brewster was a great recruiter, so there is a lot of talent on that Minnesota team. They were able to handle Illinois and Iowa, with an interim head coach. My concern is while Kill has a winning record, he has done so with underdog talent. How do you feel coach Kill will handle the current talent on Minnesota when big 10 play starts next season? Any predictions?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Paul, always good to hear from you. Hope the axe is doing well. ... A good coach can coach good talent, so I'm not worried about Kill handling the current Gophers players. A bigger concern is whether he can bring in top talent to Minneapolis on the recruiting trail. He's a guy who might need to start winning with Brewster's players before he really brings in the top talent of his own. But I think he'll be OK up there.
Big Chuck (Solon, OH)
What are the keys for the Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl? Do you see them coming out with some trickery and then slowing things back down like they have in recent years?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Chuck, I definitely think Ohio State will try to slow things down on offense and mount long, sustained drives behind the offensive line and Boom Herron. The Buckeyes want to limit Ryan Mallett's time on the field and keep their defense fresh against that dynamic Arkansas passing attack. Another big key is special teams. Ohio State can't have the breakdowns we saw earlier this season against the Hogs.
Robbie Doran (Newton, IA)
Adam, what are your thoughts on Iow's depleted offense going into the insight bowl? Do you think that Marcus Coker will do well in replacing Arob?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Robbie, I think Coker will be fine as long as he hangs onto the football. He showed some good things down the stretch in Big Ten play, and bowl practice should help him. Iowa really needs a big performance from QB Ricky Stanzi, WR Marvin McNutt and TE Allen Reisner. The Hawkeyes will have to go to the air more than they'd like.
I know the media loves the "Buckeyes have never beaten a SEC team in a bowl" story, so I'm really excited for the "Razorbacks have never beaten a Big Ten team in a bowl" story that I'm sure is soon to follow. Just a heads up in case you want to get in on the ground floor of that one.
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Nah, not compelling enough :-) We'll just stick with the 0-9 thing and see if the streak ends on Jan. 4 in the Big Easy.
Curt (Des Moines, IA)
Adam - Do the Badgers need John Clay in order to beat TCU? I think a steady dose of Ball and White should suffice. Maybe use Clay on short yardage plays? Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
Curt, Clay will be much healthier for the game, so why not use him? TCU hasn't seen a back like Clay all season, and his size takes a toll on a defense. I talked with RBs coach John Settle yesterday and Settle says they always stick with the hot hand at running back. If Clay can be effective, he'll earn more carries. But he should definitely be part of the game plan.
Mark (O'Fallon, IL)
More likely to be back in Champaign next season - Liuget or Martez?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Mark, wow, that's a really tough question. I could see both guys going, and Liuget might project a little better to the NFL. But Martez has been there four years and I think this is his time to make the jump after a great season. So I'll go with Liuget.
Alex (Des Moines)
To have a successful bowl season the Big Ten needs to (fill in the blank).
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Win its BCS bowl games. A second straight season of 2-0 in BCS games can't be overlooked on the national scene, regardless of what happens in the other games. Now you don't want to go 2-6, but a .500 record with two BCS wins would qualify as a success to me.
Bob (Allentown, PA)
Comments about the e-mails and speculation regarding coach JoePa's future?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
It's speculation. We've heard this again and again and again. If there's a health setback with Paterno, we could definitely see a change. But right now, this is just noise.
i completely disagree with you re: denard. while a new coach might build for the future with his own system, that doesn't mean that he won't build around denard's unique talents. any assertion otherwise is baseless speculation.
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
OK, but if you're a coach who runs a pro-style offense and has had great success with it, like, I don't know, Jim Harbaugh, you're going to scrap the system because of one player? I can't see Denard running a pro-style offense. He's a spread quarterback, plain and simple. Maybe a coach can tweak things a bit, but if the coach believes in a pro-style system, he needs to start building toward it right away.
Elijah James (Iowa)
Do you think any further suspensions will come from Iowa in regards to the drug testing that took place following DJK's arrest?
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
I don't think so. Last week would have been the time to announce more suspensions. Now the team is in Arizona and less than a week away from its bowl game. I wouldn't expect more suspensions to be announced.
Concerned (On Campus)
Adam, in response to Bob's question and your answer. The buzz on campus is that there is going to be a big announcement at the end of this week in regards to Joe Pa's health. Any news conferences set up?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Nothing set up and the team is in Florida. Joe Paterno put the players through two practices Tuesday and celebrated his 84th birthday. This is the prime time for rumors, and while I wouldn't dismiss anything, I wouldn't buy into everything you hear on campus.
Last four seasons, Alabama has signed 113 players to Michigan State's 88; Mississippi State 113 to 93; Arkansas 109 to OSU's 79. Are you missing this, Adam, in all of your bowl coverage? Kind of an advantage, no?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
It's a major problem, Chase, and it should be addressed from the league level. That's an SEC issue, and it's getting out of control. I couldn't see this type of oversigning happening in the Big Ten.
Do you give TCU a chance in the Rose Bowl? Who do you think wins and why?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Absolutely I give TCU a chance, and a good one, Britt. Not ready to reveal my official prediction -- it will come next week on the blog -- but I expect a close game that could go either way.
Adam, most analysis that I have seen on the Bama-MSU game says MSU's only chance is if Bama doesn't come fully committed to playing hard. Does MSU have a chance in a straight up game against Bama?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Ben, the Spartans will need an excellent effort from their offense if both teams are "up" for the game. Alabama's defense is vulnerable this season, but I'm concerned about Michigan State's ability to handle all of Alabama's offensive weapons. From a pure talent standpoint, Alabama does have an advantage in this game. But from a mental standpoint, I give the edge to a Spartans team that has won a bunch of close games.
Bret Bielema said that if he lost one of his coordinators, which he did lose Doreen, he would give them his blessing and wish them good luck. I call bs, how in the world can a head coach of a BCS team not be bitter about losing one of his coordinators after the year Wisconsin has had?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Maybe because he used to be a coordinator waiting for his shot as a head coach, and he got one at Wisconsin. Good coaches should want their assistants to get the same opportunities they received, and while I know Bielema will miss Doeren, he's excited for his assistant to move on to Northern Illinois. It's a bit selfish for a guy making seven figures to be bitter about losing an assistant.
If Illinois and/or UM win their bowl games, does it save their coaches for at least 1 more year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Nate, Ron Zook will be back at Illinois regardless of whether he wins or loses in the Texas Bowl. With Rodriguez and Michigan, it's harder to say. I think AD Dave Brandon genuinely wants to see how Rodriguez does with a month to prepare for a bowl game. It would be tough to make a change if Michigan finishes with a win.
John (New Lexington)
I ask you a question every week and you never answer but some people ask you mutiple questions and you get all of them. Whats up with that?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Not sure, John. I must be a jerk. But at least I answered your question!
Mac (Huntington, WV)
Hey Adam, which is more likely to happen - Illinois, NW, and Iowa all win their bowl games or Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota all qualify for bowl games next season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Both are unlikely, Mac, but I can't see Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota all making bowls in 2011. Purdue is a good bet, but IU and Minnesota have a long way to go. So I'll go with the bowl sweep.
If Clay comes back and the three headed monster returns. Does Wisconsin have the deepest and most talented backfield in the Country going into next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
Definitely the deepest, Bryant, especially if all three backs end up with 1,000 rush yards after the Rose Bowl. But I'd be very surprised if John Clay returns in 2011. I think he's ready to move on to the NFL after four years in Madison.
Nick (Washington DC)
Hi Adam, I wonder if you can talk a little bit about your thoughts on Danny Hope and his future in West Lafayette? Do you see him staying past next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Nick, the 2011 season is a big one for Danny Hope. He has shown that his teams play extremely hard, but they don't always play extremely well. Too many mistakes at bad times. But he's building a good young talent base with players like CB Ricardo Allen. You couldn't get a true read on Purdue with all the injuries this season. I think the Boilers will be pretty solid in 2011.
Devon (State College, PA)
What Big Ten bowl game are you most looking forward to and why? Where are the upsets?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Devon, really looked forward to all of them because I cover the league year-round. But the Rose Bowl, Insight Bowl, Gator Bowl and Outback Bowl really intrigue me. Could see any of those four going either way, and a lot of compelling story lines.
Hey Adam, which OSU players do you think will make the jump to the NFL? If Brewster goes, how will the OSU O-line look next season? I know they return Adams, Shugarts, etc., but Brewster is the leader of that bunch.
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
Joe, I don't expect too many Buckeyes to make the jump. Running back Dan Herron is a possibility. Brewster might go, too, but you just don't see too many centers leave school early. I agree with you, though, about his value to the offensive line. He's the leader and the team's best O-lineman along with Justin Boren.
Thoughts on Tom Bradley and Ron Vanderlinden interviewing for the Temple job? Do you think JoePa would be able to find any suitable assistants if these major holes appeared on his staff, especially with the uncertainty facing the PSU program?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
John, that's a really good question. It could be a tough sell for Penn State given Paterno's situation and the likelihood that he steps down after the 2011 season. Then again, Penn State can pay well and a lot of talented assistants would want to work there. Another thing to keep in mind: If Bradley goes to Temple, Vanderlinden could step into the D-coordinator role. Then, you'd only have to fill a position coach vacancy, which isn't as big a deal.
If Ohio State wins, Jim Tressel will have the sole record for most BCS bowl game wins of any coach (he's currently tied). Is there a reason why people want to concentrate more on the losses? Is it not a grabby to mention the wins? Or is this just OSU being an easy target due to size?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
The Buckeye backlash is a real thing, Bryan, not so much around my blog but elsewhere in the media. Ohio State still has a tough time restoring its reputation despite consistent Big Ten championships and even a Rose Bowl title in 2009. I will say that if Ohio State beats Arkansas, the argument against Tressel and that program will get even weaker. It might only take another national title for Tressel to truly be recognized for how great he has been.
Brian (New York)
Adam,You answered a question from my sister (Devon from State College) and I was hoping you could answer one of mine, for the sake of familial bragging rights. Who has a better chance in their bowl game, Penn State or Michigan? And what are you thoughts on the ESPN piece on oversigning?
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
Haha, happy to keep it in the family, Brian. I'd go with Penn State. I think the Lions really have a chance to improve between the end of the regular season and the bowl game. They'll be a lot healthier on defense, and Florida has an unstable situation with the coaching staff and the quarterback position. Florida is a talented team, but I definitely could see Penn State winning this one. Michigan, meanwhile, still has too many issues on defense.
Why aren't these chats archived so that I can read it later?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
They are, Moose! Enjoy -- http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/archive/_/id/69/name/adam-rittenberg
Jose Jimenez (Quito, Ecuador)
Adam, any chance there's ever a bowl game up north where the northern teams would have a "home field" advantage?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Not likely, Jose. Better chance we'll see a major bowl game in your backyard in Quito than in a northern city. It's just bad business to expect people to travel to the cold.
Tyler (Decatur, IN)
Hey Adam! Just because Harbaugh is the fan favorite in case Rich Rod goes bye-bye, does that mean Brandon should be pressured into that decision? Or will he do what he feels is right (if he is leaning towards anyone else)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Tyler, you don't have to worry one bit about Dave Brandon being pressured into a decision like this. The fact he's waiting so long has been greeted mostly with criticism, and he doesn't seem to care, tells you all you need to know. If he feels Harbaugh is the right guy and can be brought to AA, I'd expect him to make the change. But it won't be because fans want this or that.
Dave (Ann Arbor)
Don't you think that Michigan almost has to hire Harbaugh if available? This may be the only chance to get him. So, no matter what happens in the bowl, it depends on Harbaugh?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Dave, I agree that Harbaugh's stock might never be higher than it is right now. And I wouldn't fault Michigan for striking while the iron is hot and making the change. But Michigan better be sure it can land Harbaugh before making a change. No other candidate is worth such a shakeup right now.
The conference is in a holding phase (as Jim Delany says) in regards to expansion. Do you think as we get closer to the new TV deal (I think it's 2014-15) the league will again look to expand? You saw that the Pac-10 expanded just for TV and money.
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Colin, the Pac-10 expanded because it had to. The league isn't nearly as relevant as it could be on the national stage and lacks the fan bases, tradition, etc., that the Big Ten has. The Big Ten didn't "have" to expand but did so to enhance its product. While I fully expect the league to consider expansion again in the future, the sense of urgency for the Big Ten isnt' the same as it was for the Pac-10. Larry Scott HAD to do something, and to his credit, he did.
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Last one for the day ...
Who would you rather have at QB heading into Pasadena, Dalton or Tolzien?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Wow, tough question. Both are great QBs for their teams. Dalton does more than Tolzien, but if I have Wisconsin's O-line and RBs, I want Tolzien as my quarterback for a big gane. No question about it.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
OK, guys, got to jump on a call. Talk to you soon.