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)
I'm here to chat. Let's get started!
Adam, as a blogger do you prefer being at the game or watching it on TV?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Brian, it really depends. Doing this all year long, you love being in those incredible atmospheres on fall Saturdays. I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else than Camp Randall Stadium last October for the Ohio State-Wisconsin game. But there are some weeks, like Week 4 of last year, where I prefer to be at home. I really get a better sense of the whole league when I can watch multiple games at once. That's the biggest drawback of being at a game -- it takes away my attention from other games.
Glenn (Rather, MI)
I was more than happy with MSU's 2010 season, even if it was the product of a favorable schedule. That said, do you feel MSU can stay at the top of the BigTen even with the lack of a "brand" like OSU, PSU, Nebraska and scUM? Thusfar in recruiting it seems like they are still the dominate program in the state, but they still need to pluck from 5 stars from OSU.Go Green.
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Glenn, I think Michigan State has positioned itself to become like Wisconsin and Iowa, teams that might lack the tradition of OSU/PSU/NEB/MICH but have been able to compete for Big Ten championships. Recruiting has played a big role in this, and the program upgrades like the Skandalaris Center have helped as well. Michigan State always has been able to recruit talent. The big thing is to build a consistent mind-set of success on and off the field. I also think line play is the biggest thing separating Michigan State from being a truly elite program. The Spartans must be consistently great up front on both sides.
Love the blog, Mr. Rittenberg. Nebraska has been searching for a deep threat since Nate Swift and Todd Peterson shipped out. Niles was fast, but he couldn't catch a cold. Having said that, who's most likely to emerge as a true deep threat? I think McNeill should move back to TE and Kyler Reed could transiton well to WR.
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
Spiegs, this is a concern, but I heard a lot about the speed Nebraska will have at wide receiver this spring. Players like Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner, while young, have the ability to stretch the field. Same with Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Kyler Reed seems to be thriving in his current role, so I'd have him stay put.
Jake (Thompson, Ill)
What about the Hoke monster already getting a commitment from the 2013 class!! MI QB Shane Morris is the real deal. He was just a sophomore this year but put up great numbers in the Michigan Catholic league. By all accounts, he can play.. M fans have to be loving the future right now.
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Jake, love the excitement. While I'd caution against getting too excited about a 2013 recruit, Michigan's recruiting push under Hoke and his staff has been very encouraging, especially on the defensive side. The coaches are executing their vision on the recruiting trail.
Jeeze Adam. Did you have to post the email from Patrick in your mailblog? Makes us OSU fans look like idiots. Please tell me he is in the minority of responses from OSU fans.
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Ha, I just got a kick out of that note. There are Patricks in every fan base, and from time to time I'll include their notes in the mailblog. I will say that his frustration is shared by quite a few Buckeyes I've heard from in the last few months.
How much of a hit has the B1G's reputation taken with Nebraska dropping out of the AAU and all of OSU's trouble.
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
The Nebraska/AAU situation only matters to the Big Ten's top academics (school presidents, provosts, etc.). I don't think most Big Ten football fans care that much, and they see the value Nebraska brings to the conference on the field. ... The Ohio State situation is different and could really hurt the league's reputation because Ohio State has been the face of the Big Ten throughout Jim Tressel's tenure. If the hammer drops on the Buckeyes, it'll look bad for the conference.
If you had to guess, who would you say is going to start at QB for PSU?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
My gut feeling is Bolden, but it could go either way. I just think Bolden ultimately has more upside, and if he continues to mature (which he seemed to this spring), he can be a very good player for Penn State going forward.
If you could choose one B1G running back to be on your team for next year, who would you take? As a WI alum it would be a very tough choice between Ball and White from the Badgers alone.
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
Tom, it's hard not to take one of Wisconsin's backs as my building block. Ball and White both are fantastic players. Other backs I'd consider are Nebraska's Rex Burkhead and Michigan State's Edwin Baker. I'm also really interested to see how Iowa's Marcus Coker and Penn State's Silas Redd develop in their sophomore seasons.
Adam, I'd guess I am in the minority of OSU fans when I say I am unconcerned by what has been "revealed." If the NCAA wants to remove all the wins from last year fine; the games still happened and we know who won. If Tressel is removed or resigns, fine; OSU is a premier job and will be able to have its pick of coaches. I think the worst case scenario, the "lack of institutional control" is just not present in this case.
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Jim, this is a rational approach about the situation, although I don't know how many Buckeyes fans would be fine with Tressel's departure given all his success. But you're right: Ohio State remains a premier job that will generate interest from top candidates. ... While I'd say if more comes out, the "lack of institutional control" and "failure to monitor" charges are possible, the fact is they aren't on the table right now.
Aaron (Lincoln, NE)
Adams, it really does sound like Bubba Starling has no idea what he'll do yet. It all sounds honorable to say that his heart is at Nebraska and all of that, but can an 18 year old really pass up what would almost certainly be a longer, more lucrative career? What do you think his chances of being on the roster in the fall are?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Aaron, it has been interesting to read his recent comments to the Nebraska papers. There does seem to be some momentum -- whether it's from Starling's parents or elsewhere -- for him to suit up for the Huskers. But I tend to agree with you about the baseball situation. Great baseball players can make a lot more money and play a lot longer with fewer significant injury risks than great football players. If I have a son who excels in both sports -- highly unlikely, given my gene pool -- I'd push him toward baseball.
I have a feeling that JoePa has one more last great run in him.. do you agree?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Jeong, I've gotten that feeling, too, but Penn State enters the season with some question marks on both sides of the ball. The key for the Lions is to start a lot faster than they did in 2010. Their closing schedule (Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin) is simply too daunting for Penn State to survive a slow start. So I guess we'll find out early on whether this Penn State team has something special.
By all accounts Denard can throw a ball and this isn't the first time he will have drop back from under center (that's how he played in HS). So, how much does his height (or lack thereof) create a ceiling for his abilities in Hoke's preferred offensive system? Any decent chance, before he graduates, he makes it back into serious Heisman discussion?
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
Robinson will have to transform his game to a certain degree, but his natural ability still makes him one of the nation's most dynamic players. We'll see if the height thing affects Denard this season. He obviously has the ability to create some space for himself before making his throws, but he will be operating more from inside the pocket. Should be interesting.
Is this finally the year IU starts consistently going bowling, or am I doomed to an undergraduate career (through the 2012-13 season) without a bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Eric, it will be tough this year as IU goes through a transition and faces some challenging games. But if Kevin Wilson and his staff can make some significant upgrades on defense, there's potential to get to six or seven wins.
ben [via mobile]
Adam why did john clay leave early if he didn't even get drafted
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Clay is an older back, and I'm not sure what else he could have done at the college level, especially since he'd be sharing carries with both Montee Ball and James White next season. I wasn't surprised by Clay's decision and didn't fault him for it. While it was a bit surprising he didn't get drafted, he has had issues with weight and durability that seem to have kept NFL teams away.
Adam, what do you think about a cross over series with another conference (like what men's basketball does)? B1G-SEC, PAC10-ACC, BIG12/Big East/NonBCS)
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Brian, it would be great for fans and media, but I understand why it's unlikely in a league like the Big Ten. You're dealing with several schools that have important nonconference tie-ins they don't want to give up (Mich/MSU/Purdue with Notre Dame, Iowa with Iowa State, etc.). You also have several schools that need seven home games every season. The logistics of a scheduling agreement with another league that has the same issues would bring a huge headache.
Luke (Eureka IL)
does illinois have a chance at a big ten title?
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
Luke, a lot of things would need to fall right, but Illinois hosts the top two teams in the Leaders division (Ohio State and Wisconsin). Plus, the Illini visit Penn State, a place where they won last year. The big keys for Illinois are on defense. Can they replace Liuget, an absolute monster inside, along with Wilson, Bussey and others? I'm confident the offense will be good, but there are quite a few question marks on defense.
Is there any change that Budmyr loses his job to Stave (sp?) at starting QB for the Badgers
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Wade, not at the start of the season. Unless Russell Wilson shows up in Madison and blows away the coaches with his play, Budmayr is your starting quarterback for the first few games. Stave would have to make major strides to have a chance to overtake Bud. But if Bud struggles, the coaches could consider a change at some point.
Adam, Will Northwestern finally win a bowl game this season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Brian, it depends on the matchup. Northwestern has had some tough matchups throughout its bowl losing streak. I thought the Wildcats would get it done against Auburn, but they couldn't complete the comeback. With a healthy Dan Persa, they might have beaten Texas Tech. So the Wildcats need certain things to fall right. I think they're helped by having a group of senior leaders who are tired of losing bowl games and have made a bowl win a top priority.
What is your analysis of the roundtables on CFL.I thought they have been great.
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
David, I totally agree. I know that might come off as homer-ish, but those guys are doing a great job breaking down not only the teams, but the current states of each program. Ohio State should be coming up soon on the countdown.
Craig (Braintree MA)
Adam, do you think the tenacity that the Gophers showed after Brewster was fired, will carry over to this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Craig, it's hard to say whether the final two games will provide a springboard, given that Minnesota has a new coaching staff and new systems on both sides of the ball. I think Jerry Kill will have his players fired up and focused for the season, but there will be some growing pains with the scheme and with what the coaches expect from their players. So I'd be patient early on in the fall.
Who are your Top 5 candidates for the Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year ?
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
I'll tackle both of these questions in the coming days on the blog. For Offensive POY, I'd look at Persa, Robinson, Cousins, Ball, White and maybe Edwin Baker. For Defensive POY, the Nebraska guys (Crick, David, maybe Dennard) should be in the mix. Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy could be a force this fall. I also love what Ricardo Allen from Purdue brings to the table as a playmaker.
Al Golden (Miami, FL)
Adam, how bad will I look when I bolt Miami after one season to replace my former coach in State College? Will they even be interested in me?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Well, I doubt you'll look bad to the Penn State fans, and they'll matter more, won't they? This all comes down to whether Penn State wants to stay in the Paterno coaching tree or branch out. If the school wants a Paterno guy and you have a good year at the U., you've got a chance. But for now, you might want to worry about other things, like all those players in off-field trouble.
Phillip (Bay Area, CA)
Has the whirlwind 2010 season that Iowa endured with the suspensions, legal issues, 4th quarter disappointments, and workout regimen controversy finally blown over? So they can start focusing on 2011.
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Phillip, I definitely think the focus has shifted to 2011 and hopefully a season filled with more winning and less drama. Iowa does a good job of focusing on itself and stressing the hard work it takes to be a good program. Although none of us can predict if more troubles are ahead, it seems like Iowa has turned the page.
Adam, I occasionally see people bash you and imply that you are supposed to be the mouthpiece of the B1G conference offices. Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you not an independent reporter/blogger (with some obvious biases that would mitigate against overly-strong critiques of the league)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
Jay, getting bashed is part of my job, but you basically have it right. Not sure what you mean about obvious biases preventing strong critiques of the league, as I have taken shots when I feel it's warranted. The big misconception among blog readers is that I'm supposed to advocate for the Big Ten. They don't sign my checks. I'm here to cover the league, not actively promote it.
Do you think Taylor Martinez can regain his explosiveness he had the first part of the year last year? Can he be the B1G player of the year or be considered a heisman candidate?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Dave, I wouldn't worry about Big Ten Player of the Year or Heisman regarding Martinez. Just hope that he stays healthy for the entire season because he can be dangerous when he's at or near 100 percent. On the flip side, I don't think Martinez is the type of player who can maintain anywhere near the same effectiveness when he's injured.
Vincent (Dublin, Ohio)
If Ohio State does change head coaching positions, wouldn't the athletic department be severely limited in who it hires based on the fact it would probably have to pay out a settlement to the current coach? This means it might not be able to afford the person everyone thinks will eventually coach the Buckeyes.
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Vincent, I don't think this would be an issue because Ohio State will be within its rights to fire Tressel with cause because he failed to pass along pertinent information, signed compliance forms saying all players were eligible, etc. And I also don't think money will be an issue for Ohio State when it pursues its next coach. There's a ton of money around that program.
I know they got the W, but if the Bulls are gonna let Jeff Teague do that to them, what do you think Lebron and D-Wade will do?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Jack, it's brutal, man. Jeff Teague? Really? Got to give him credit for a great series, but you're right. Bulls could be in trouble if they get past the Hawks. Then again, some of the other matchups might be more favorable against Miami. We'll see.
Adam, where are Herbie and Musberger gonna be on Sept. 10th, State College or Ann Arbor? Do you see these 2 games going up against one another in the prime time slot?
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
Ha, believe it or not, Jeff, I have absolutely nothing to do with the TV side, where broadcasters go, where "College GameDay" goes, etc. But it's a good bet Brent and Kirk will be in one of those two locations.
Adam, the biases I refer to is that being too strongly critical may result keep people losing interest in talking to you. Also, your employer has a pretty big investment in the Big Ten, theoretically this should not matter, but some may see it as a bias against going off half-cocked against the league (in other words, it may improve impartiality). But in general, my point was: I want to hear reality, not league propaganda when I read your posts.
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
Jay, I see what you mean. And there are some cases where I need to pick my battles. But I can't hold back when I have a strong opinion. A good example is the Michigan State/Chris L. Rucker situation from last year. I was pretty hard on Mark Dantonio and his handling of the situation. But I've had several conversations with Mark since that time and had a very productive visit to East Lansing this spring. If people keep things professional on both sides, you can offer strong opinions and still do the job right.
What B1G Football 2011 Labor Day Weekend Match-up intrigues you the most? There are plenty of Cupcakes out there, but are any of them a cause for concern?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Nick, you're right, it's not a great slate of games by any means. The debuts of the three new coaches interest me, especially Minnesota's trip to USC. Northwestern-Boston College should be a good matchup. And there will be plenty of attention on Ohio State-Akron even though the outcome shouldn't be in doubt.
Adam, do you think Nebraska learned a lesson from Rich Rodriguez's persistent use of Denard Robinson in the BIG? I think if Nebby looks to use Taylor Martinez in the BIG like they used him in the BIG 12, then they seriously risk injuring him. Do you foresee a change in Nebby's offense to accommodate that?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Johnson, it's something the Nebraska coaches must consider, especially considering that Martinez got banged up in the Big 12 last season. You don't want to take away his running ability, but you want to limit the pounding he takes, especially in a league like the Big Ten. Martinez's ability to get through the season without major injury could be pivotal for the Huskers.
Hawkeye Steve (Des Moines, IA)
What is your prediction for the Iowa Hawkeyes' record in 2011? I say 11-1 with the only loss coming to Northwestern, and a beatdown of Nebraska to end the season.
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Ha, like the optimism, Steve. I'm sure Hawkeyes fans would love to see the team get over the hump against Northwestern. I can't foresee a Nebraska beatdown on the road, but the schedule sets up well for Iowa to make some noise, especially if it can start off strong and pick up another win in Happy Valley on Oct. 8.
Why can't you do this chat for 2hours? I mean...WE LOVE THIS CHAT. and we KNOW YOU LOVE THIS CHAT
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Ha, I do love the chat, J, but I've got to get back to the blog. So many posts, so little time.
Ryan (Traverse City, MI)
Adam, who do you think should start at linebacker for the Spartans, TyQuann Hammock or Max Bullough? Both looked great at the Spring Game!
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Ryan, both men will be in the rotation, and it was encouraging to see Hammock make a move this spring. I know the coaches still really like Bullough and his potential. My sense is he'll start, but Michigan State seems to have some good options at LB despite losing Greg Jones and Eric Gordon.
Adam, if the Big Ten goes to 9 conference games, is there any chance they revamp their system of playing all/most of their nonconference games in September.
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Brad, that's a really good question and one I'll check on next week at the Big Ten spring meetings, where the 9-game schedule is expected to be put to a vote. Most other conferences, including the Pac-12, which has a 9-game league slate, play more conference games in September than the Big Ten typically does. My sense is there would need to be more flexibility early in the season with conference games.
Who do you think will emerge as Michigan's running back this year? I think Michael Shaw is being forgotten about. He was limited this spring with a broken hand or thumb...
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Chad, I agree we shouldn't forget about Shaw, but I'm really interested to see if Stephen Hopkins continues to develop. He has the size and skills that might fit this offense a lot better than the spread.
They say defense wins championships. Who do you think in the Big 10 will have best overall defense this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Dave, I actually think the Big Ten could be more of an offense-driven league in 2011. The league loses quite a few defensive standouts, including five linemen drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. Nebraska's defense stands out as a championship-level unit, and Ohio State's track record on defense speaks for itself. But how many other Big Ten teams will boast elite defenses? Hard to say right now.
Regarding the 9 game conference schedule, would the extra game be another rotating one, or would they consider adding another rivalry game to renew some of those they took away with the new divisional format?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Mark, I think there would be strong consideration for making the ninth game a second protected crossover. This way, Iowa and Wisconsin could play every year. Same with maybe Michigan and Penn State.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Last one for the day ...
Dave (Okoboji, IA)
Adam, whats your take on Ferentz offering a High School freshman O lineman a sholarship? I know Ferentz is an excellent O Line coach and he loves O lineman with good wrestling backgrounds, which I agree is a plus. Do you think this hurts the full potential off this kid in the future or is a possitive?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Dave, it seems a little out of character for Iowa, but they must love what they've seen from this kid so far. It's important for the kid to keep making progress and not let all this early hype get to him.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, guys, another great chat. I'll be at the Big Ten spring meetings next week, so we might be chatting at a different time. Check the blog for updates!