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 noon ET!
Adam Rittenberg (12:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's get started!
Adam, fill in the blank. Notre Dame will be ??? against the Big Ten yhis year.
Adam Rittenberg (12:00 PM)
Dahz, safe bet is 2-1 or 1-2. Don't see the Irish sweeping the Big Ten or vice-versa. Swing game could be Michigan State-Notre Dame in Week 3.
Rick (Louisville, KY)
Why has OSU finally announced they were backing up Tressel? Do you think because other B1G members took the lead and stated their position on Tressel, causing OSU to finally state their position?
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
No, I needed to ask Gene Smith about his support because it appeared as though the school had been distancing itself from Tressel a bit in recent weeks. His response is no surprise because Ohio State has to support Tressel right now, but it was important to get it out there.
Rick (Louisville, KY)
Can you tell us where each school stood in reference to the possibility of playing 8 or 9 conference games?
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Most of not all of the Big Ten coaches oppose the nine-game slate because they're judged on wins and losses and nine conference games is harder than eight. Most of the ADs either support nine games or are coming around to the idea. Ohio State AD Gene Smith said that while an 8-game sked makes more money for Ohio State, a 9-game sked is in the league's best interest and he has shifted his philosophy. Michigan State AD Mark Hollis is one of the few who really opposes the 9-game slate, and he makes a good case against it.
chris (Bloomington, Indiana)
With Nebraska's recent history over the past two years, they have forced some big name quarterbacks into the worst games of their careers including Colt McCoy, Blaine Gabbert, Locker, Landry Jones and to a lesser extent Sam Bradford who ended up with a season ending injury against them. How do you see the Big Ten's quaterbacks like Robinson, Persa and Pryor fairing against them?
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
It'll be a challenge for all three of those QBs, Chris, especially Terrelle Pryor, who will be playing his first game since the Sugar Bowl on Oct. 8 in Lincoln. Nebraska's D is used to spread offenses, which could make things tough for both Persa and Robinson.
Hey, Adam--I was very disappointed to hear Brady Hoke being interviewed at the Spring Meetings. He sounded/looked lost, confused and in way over his head. Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
Really, Steve? I didn't feel that way at all. Hoke came across pretty genuine to me, and he's less uptight than some of his colleagues in the league. He really has that regular-guy feel about him that is refreshing.
Adam, I see PSU added another big commitment today. I seem to remember this time last year when everybody was panicking and declaring that the sky was falling and PSU couldn't recruit well with Joe Pa's age. So is he telling recruits he'll coach til he's 90? Wouldn't surprise me if that actually happened. Wouldn't upset me either. Keep up the good work!
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Thanks, Gary. I think fans overreact to recruiting no matter what's happening. The panic last year was somewhat understandable, but Penn State had just signed a great class in 2010. These things go in cycles, and you knew Penn State would pick it up this year, especially with more scholarships to give. It's a good start but again, I'd caution against getting too excited or worried about recruiting.
Sara (San Diego)
Even though it's just at the proposal stage, would the payment plan for student-athletes put some schools with more sports (more athletes) at a disadvantage? Wouldn't these schools have to pay more out, thus have less money to spend on maybe the high-revenue sports (like football)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Yes, they would, Sara, but the schools with more sports also have more revenue to fund those sports, and they wouldn't go along with this unless they felt it was the right thing to do.
What do you think the chances are of Wilson joining Wisky? Does it make them Champion material?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Wisconsin is certainly interested in Wilson. I still wouldn't put the chances that high because of his ties to the ACC/SEC region and his baseball situation with the Rockies. If he did come to Madison and the transition went smoothly, it could be enough to put Wisconsin over the top. You can make a good case that the Badgers are a QB away from another Big Ten title.
Adam, do you think that the B1G will eventually get the championship game to be played in Indianapolis and Chicago. Like the Big XII used to do. Just alternating each year, or do you think that Indianapolis will be the permanent spot?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
Brice, I think a rotation is very much in play. The Big Ten has a pretty good idea of what it can expect at Lucas Oil in Indy. But the Chicago event is more of a wildcard. It might be really cool to have a championship game at Soldier Field at night, or it could create more problems. You don't know until you try.
Bo (Iowa City)
I know Purdue is not a team to be overlooked. A few years ago, they defeated Ohio State out of nowhere, but why didn't Iowa get Penn State as cross-division rival. I feel with the past 10 seasons, Iowa has earned it. There is kind of a rivalry between them with Iowa doing so well against them. There really isn't anything between Nebraska and Penn State and there's really nothing between Iowa and Purdue.
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Bo, while I've enjoyed the Iowa-Penn State series, you can't say there "really isn't anything" between Nebraska and Penn State. First off, the schools have played before. There's a link with Joe Paterno and Tom Osborne. And, most important, Nebraska-Penn State moves the needle nationally more than Iowa-Penn State. The Nebraska-Penn State is a national game almost every year, whereas Iowa-Penn State likely won't generate the same interest unless both teams are ranked high.
Jesse (Rhode Island)
Adam,Terry Richardson picked Michigan over Bama, LSU, USC and Notre Dame. Admit it. This is beginning to look like the old Michigan.
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Jesse, I'd rather admit things after actually seeing the team play a few games. Yes, the recruiting start is very impressive and I understand the excitement from Michigan fans about Brady Hoke. But you still have to get it done on the field.
Jared (Bloomington, IN)
Will IU's offense finally make up for what it lacks in defense?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Jared, the IU offense has done enough over the years, and while Kevin Wilson and his staff should get that unit on track, nothing will matter unless there are upgrades on defense. It's not about Indiana outscoring people. You have to win with defense, and Indiana simply hasn't been good enough on that side of the ball for more than a decade.
Nate (Dublin, OH)
I know Gene Smith was in the Big 12 during its creation. He saw how the original revenue-sharing plan was not really equal (it still isn't). That being said, what if someone makes Ohio State a deal it can't refuse when the Big Ten Network contract is up in a few years? I don't know if he'll be the AD, but wouldn't you have to listen at least? Smith said OSU was on-board with the conference, as of now.
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Nate, I guess every school has its price, but Ohio State sees the benefits from being united with the rest of the Big Ten. It's not as if the league and its members aren't making money from their media rights agreements. The league is stable, and you don't have the problem of one member fracturing things like Texas has done in the Big 12.
Danny (Chicago, IL)
Adam, with Vandenberg, Derby, Weinke, and Ruddock, what are the chances that Tyler Gabbert even considers becoming a Hawkeye?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Danny, it's interesting to see where that situation goes. Gabbert seemingly would be a better fit in a spread offense, although he expressed interest in Iowa the first time around. Vandenberg has two years left, so Gabbert would have to evaluate how he fits in with those other QBs. Whether or not Gabbert comes to Iowa City, the Hawks have a pretty good situation at QB.
Adam, how do I simultaneously watch the Badgers-MSU night game and attend to my sister's wedding?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Do you have a slingbox? Otherwise, start scouting out the wedding venue for TV possibilities. I know you can do this!
Ryan (Grandville, MI)
Hey Adam, love the blog. Which team do you see having the best chance of surviving an injury to their starting quarterback?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Ryan, this is an interesting question. Obviously, I don't hope for any starters to get hurt, but some teams are in better shape than others. If Rob Bolden sticks around at Penn State, the Lions have two options with starting experience (Bolden and Matt McGloin). Nebraska has some insurance behind T-Magic (Green, Carnes, maybe Starling). Purdue has a pretty good situation at QB behind Rob Henry with Marve and TerBush. Michigan likes Devin Gardner behind Denard Robinson, and Michigan State is excited about backup Andrew Maxwell.
When the Big Ten was exploring expansion, much was made of the idea of cornering the NYC market by adding teams like Rutgers and Syracuse. Do you think the same goal might be accomplished by making the new Giants Stadium the site for the Big Ten Championship game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Don't see the Big Ten going in this direction, JC. Unless there's another expansion push, which I don't foresee on the horizon, the Big Ten will play its championship in Big Ten territory.
Feldman has to be nuts to leave John Simon off of his workout freaks list, right?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Jacob, Simon made Feldman's "Freaks" list in 2010. Here's the link: http://insider.espn.go.com/ncf/blog?name=feldman_bruce&id=5322140
what a chicken response to ryan in MI. He wasnt talking back up's. Admit it Iowas Vandy is big and sitting behind a pretty good O line. So there I did your job for you.
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
My job is actually to read the questions rather than spout off. He asked to name the team that could best survive an injury to its starting QB. Vandenberg, last I checked, is Iowa's starter. Not much proven depth behind him.
Jason (Lewis Center, OH)
What do you think about the legacy of Terrelle Pryor post-OSU? He came here with a lot of hype. Was a star player. Three BCS bowls with two BCS Bowl MVPs (currently), but never a Big Ten post-season MVP, or any other post-season awards? Safe to say he will not win anymore awards this year with 5 games gone with no stats.
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Jason, Pryor will leave a truly unique legacy at Ohio State no matter what happens this fall. You bring up a great point about bowl awards vs. regular-season awards. Pryor clearly thought he should have been All-Big Ten in 2010, but most folks agreed with the selections. One other accolade he can achieve is four consecutive victories against Michigan as the starting QB. But you're right about him facing an uphill battle for regular-season recognition after the suspension.
Mike (Davenport, IA)
Adam, the B1G has always seemed to pride itself on being a tough conference that loved bringing in "warm weather" teams to Big Ten country. With our "braving the elements" attitude, don't you think that playing the championship game in Chicago, outdoors, would be like a symbol of B1G football?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Mike, I agree that playing a championship game indoors doesn't feel like Big Ten football. It depends on whether having a game that best reflects the league is your top priority. Some people will point to the lower injury risk, simulating a BCS bowl environment and other factors that favor Lucas Oil as issues that should be priorities. If your ultimate goal is to win a national title and as many BCS bowls as possible, you can make a good case that an indoor game is better.
What do you got affected more: Iowa's rush defense (3 DL and 1 LB drafted) or their pass defense (losing Sash and Greenwood)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Peter, good question, but I think it's definitely the front seven. Although losing both safeties hurts, Iowa brings back quite a few defensive backs with playing experience. The big question is what the Hawkeyes do up front. There's not much proven depth on the D-line, and linebacker was an iffy position for much of last season. Do you shake things up and go with the 3-4 this fall? Who generates the pass rush? Those are big questions for Iowa going forward.
Dave (State College, PA)
Thanks for all of your work on the blog, great stuff! Any idea when PSU will announce if Bolden is staying? I know they were waiting until after the spring semester (which is over now) and I'm hoping to find out when to expect the decision so I don't keep expecting to find it and wind up disappointed.
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Dave, I'm as anxious as you are to find out. I asked Joe Paterno about Bolden yesterday, and he deferred me to Penn State's sports information department. Paterno really didn't have any interest in talking to the media, although he did make some jokes walking by us this week.
Michael (Liberty, TX)
Does a one loss Wisconsin or Nebraska have a chance at a national title this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Tough to say, Michael. It really depends on what happens in other conferences. The loss would need to be early and probably in a close game. I'd have to think the SEC champ will be in the title game, so the Big Ten would need to have no undefeated teams from leagues like the Pac-12 and Big 12.
How about a countdown clock till kickoff on the top of your big ten blog? I can't wait for the season to start!!!!
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Ha, I'll see what I can do. Maybe I'll call Brady Hoke to ask where he gets his countdown clocks.
Adam, in your opinion which team has the most pressure to succeed this year? Michigan (new coach), the Ohio St (ncaa violations), Nebraska (conference transition), or Wisconsin (continuing to be "at/close" to the top).
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Great question, Brian. I would go with Ohio State because there's a concern than the Buckeyes could be headed downhill if the NCAA drops the hammer on Tressel and the program. Nebraska faces a certain degree of pressure as well, especially with a very tough schedule. But as you outline it, all four teams face unique pressure.
You saw the media/fan attack on the Big Ten when the conference released the division names and the new logo. If the championship game is played outdoors in December, wouldn't this just add fuel for the critics? These people will never agree with anything the conference does (regardless of what it is) b/c they do not like the Big Ten.
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
Christy, there will be criticism no matter what, and it does seem like a lot of media folks love taking shots at the Big Ten. Sometimes, it's justified. Sometimes, it's not. But you might be surprised by the reaction for an outdoor title game. It could be more positive than you think.
Joe (Elyria, OH)
"Paterno really didn't have any interest in talking to the media, although he did make some jokes walking by us this week."Good for him! I wish more coaches did this, the media is bush league. You guys take way to many cheap shots.
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Joe, I really don't understand why you folks have this attitude. You want information, right? Well, we're there spending hours and hours trying to get it for you. I'm not going to harp on Joe Paterno because he does what he wants and has earned that right, but fans shouldn't celebrate when coaches don't talk to the media because, in a sense, they're not talking to the fans.
Any chance Penn State can beat Alabama this year? The game was closer than the score appeared last year. If it wasn't for costly and untimely turnovers from the true freshman Bolden, that game would have been within one score. Penn State put together a lot of nice, methodical drives on Bama's stingy defense, and Penn State's defense basically held their own. It's in Happy Valley this year!
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
Chad, there's definitely a chance, but you hit on the critical point. Penn State must limit or completely avoid turnovers to keep pace with Alabama. The Lions must execute a lot better in Tide territory and finish drives, something they struggled with early last season but improved upon as the games went by.
Any reason only Chicago & Indy made proposals for the championship game? Thought alot more cities were interested in hosting the game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
Phil, other cities and venues made proposals, but the Big Ten narrowed it down to these two as the top options and had the groups come in to present on Tuesday. It's important to get these future dates finalized by early to mid summer, so the Big Ten has to start reducing the pool of proposals.
Any thoughts the primetime schedule to be released on the BTN tonight? what games may be selected?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
David, don't want to get into too many details, but you can expect to see 6-7 games revealed tonight. Also, teams that weren't represented on the ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 primetime list will be represented tonight. Every Big Ten team will have at least one game in primteime this season.
Do you think that the B1G snaps its streak of getting two teams in the BCS this year. If they do i do not necessarily think that this is a terrible thing considering that there were teams in bowl games last year (Michigan and Michigan St) that were playing in bowls that they clearly did not belong in.
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Brady, this is the constant debate with the Big Ten, which always seems to have teams playing tougher competition in bowls. Although "playing up" can help a conference, never being favored in these games also has its drawbacks. As for this year, I still think there's a decent shot we see two Big Ten teams in BCS bowls. You're adding Nebraska, which has a lot of appeal for BCS bowls because of its reputation and large fan base. A lot will depend on how much the league's top BCS bowl contenders beat up one another.
Isn't the Soldier Field turf really an issue? I recall hearing NFL teams having a tremendous issue with the grass there and even the Bears management or players. Wouldn't this issue need to be ironed out or is it a factor (I know the Bears thought about FieldTurf)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Andy, this is a great question and something I thought about after the Chicago group made its proposal. The playing surface at Soldier Field is terrible, and the Big Ten would need to have some assurances about its condition before scheduling its championship game there. I wish they'd just go to FieldTurf already.
What you see Nebraska record when they meet Wisconsin? Go Big Red
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Justin, I'd be surprised if the Huskers don't head to Madison at 4-0. The non-league schedule is pretty favorable, and you can bet Bo Pelini will have the Huskers ready for Washington after what happened in the Holiday Bowl.
Steve (New York)
With Pryor out the first five games, who do you see as the starter for those games? Personally, I'd prefer Braxton Miller because of his vesatility and that his style is similar to Pryor's. I just can't imagine Bauserman being successful. Also, whoever the starter is, does Pryor go right back to being the starter even if Ohio State is dominating opponents offensively in the first five games?
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Steve, I think it really depends on the supporting cast. Bauserman can most likely get the offense through the first five games without making too many major mistakes. But I don't see him as a total difference maker. If Ohio State thinks it will be able to run the ball at a high level with its stable of backs, I'd expect the Buckeyes to go with Bauserman. If the coaches feel like they need a difference maker at QB, Miller might be the option because he has a lot of upside. There's more risk, obviously, with Miller because of his age.
Michael (Liberty, TX)
How well do you think tim beck will do in his first year as OC for Nebraska?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Michael, I think Beck has enough at the skill positions to have success in Year 1. My big question is the offensive line. Teams don't win in the Big Ten without excellent line play, and I'm not sold on Nebraska's group. It'll be the big key because if the Huskers create room for players like Burkhead and Martinez, they'll be dangerous.
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
OK, last question for the day ...
Illini Mike (Chicago)
Adam is ASU going to be a real threat when they visit Champaign or paper tigers?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Mike, Arizona State is getting a ton of hype as a national sleeper team this year. The Sun Devils impressed me last year in Madison, and Illinois' revamped defense will be tested. I see a pretty close game that could really springboard whichever team comes away with a win.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, guys, enjoyed the chat. Talk to you soon.