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. Watching the U.S. women in the World Cup simultaneously. Let's get started -- and get a win!
It appears that Danny Hope will be going with the two QB system this year with Marve and Henry. Do you see this as a good decision or do you think he should pick one and go with it? Personally, I think playing two QBs can hurt the flow of the offense, espically given the troubles the Boilers had last year moving the ball.
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Well, let's see if they actually go with two QBs, though it's possible. I'd strongly prefer Purdue to pick one quarterback and go with him. And I think Rob Henry has done enough during the offseason to win the job. He played through pain last year and was the team's most improved player this spring, according to Hope. I know the Purdue staff is invested in Marve, a big-time transfer, but Henry should be the guy in my view.
Looking at talent produced by state, would the top five in the Big Ten, in order, be 1. Ohio 2. Pennsylvania 3. Illinois 4. Michigan 5. Wisconsin?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
You're definitely right about Nos 1, 2 and 5. I might switch Illinois and Michigan, but it's close.
Adam whith the difficulty of Nebraskas schedule and the break Iowa gets by not playing OSU or Wisconsin and getting Michigan, MSU and NW all at home am I crazy to think Iowa has a shot at winning their division this year even with all the losses they need to replace?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
You're not crazy Rob, but keep in mind Nebraska also gets Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa on its home turf. Nebraska's division schedule actually is very beneficial in my view, despite the tough crossover games. But you're right: if Iowa can take care of business at Kinnick Stadium and steal some wins on the road, it'll be in the mix for a division title.
Cameron Meredith (The one and only NU)
When will you be posting your player rankings for the best mustache in the B1G?
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
LOL! Cameron, I think you've won that award already, my friend. I'll take a look around the league, but unless some Penn State players start following in Josh Hull's footsteps, your stache stands alone.
After a slow start in 2010, Montee Ball picked up his game and became a big playmaker as part of Wisconsin's "Three-Headed Monster." With John Clay gone and MB/James White getting a heavier load, do you see them having as big (or bigger) 2011 season? How does Russell Wilson fit into the running game- is there a new Three-Headed Monster in Madison?
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
James, it's hard to see Wisconsin putting up bigger numbers than it did in 2010, as the Badgers shattered several records on offense. But I really like the potential of White and Ball at running back. Both players are strong candidates to eclipse 1,200 rush yards. Russell Wilson moves around the pocket a bit, but he's not a run-first quarterback. I think the running will be confined to Ball and White.
Bill Swartz (Sarasota, FL)
Adam, Thank you for your blog. I was wondering since there is now two of you, why not split the week so you could have new commentary on the weekends? Second why do you all seem to think MSU will not repeat and Big 10 champions?
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
As to your first point, we will be blogging seven days a week when the season starts, but the offseason format works best to go Monday-Friday with two bloggers. We both need a bit of time off on weekends, so it works out best this way ... Michigan State could repeat as a league champion, but it must address questions along the offensive line and, perhaps more important, win several huge road games. The Spartans must show they can beat elite opponents away from EL, and they'll have plenty of chances this year. The schedule is very tough, in my view.
Jeremy (Marshalltown, IA)
Have they came up with a name for the Iowa-Nebraska rivalry?
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Not officially, Jeremy. You got any suggestions?
Adam, do you think that every Big Ten team is pretty much guaranteed a chance to play for the National Championship if they go unbeaten this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Chris, I'd be surprised if an undefeated Big Ten team was shut out of the national title game, especially if that team enters the season ranked in the top 20. So if the undefeated team is Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska or Michigan State, it shouldn't have trouble getting to New Orleans.
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
when is B1G media day
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Big Ten media days take place July 28-29 in Chicago. Brian and I will be on hand along with several of our ESPN colleagues. Should be a fun time.
Can you just admit as an ESPN employee that ESPN has it out for Ohio State. They had someone in Columbus for almost a month, found nothing new and than proceeded to sue Ohio State for more information. Auburn did not get nearly the investigative reporting, no one sued North Carolina even though their crimes were worse the OSUs and ESPN refuses to even mention the potential violations at Oregon. So come on just admit it.
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Mike, I understand the frustration Ohio State fans have, especially toward ESPN and other media outlets. I just think it's an easy argument to accuse bias before these cases are concluded. I think there's a long way to go with the Oregon and Auburn cases, and more coverage to come. The fact is Ohio State is a program that truly moves the needle nationally, so when there is controversy in Columbus, it will receive more coverage. I agree North Carolina has totally flown under the radar here. And part of the reason is not that many folks care about UNC football. If this was UNC basketball, it'd be a different story.
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
I would add that Auburn was under tremendous media scrutiny during the season. We tend to forget that, especially fans focused on their own teams, but Auburn was a top story for weeks.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Just booked the RV for the PSU/Alabama game. I have one open spot - you in?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Cosmo, I might take you up on it! I just looked at hotel prices for that weekend and it's brutal. Might have to stay near Pittsburgh if I'm sent to cover the game. Let's keep in touch!
T-Magic (Lincoln, NE)
Bubba's here...should I be concerned?
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Not yet. Let's see how things play out with the Royals. Bubba would have to turn down a ton of money to stick with football long term. Plus, you had a good spring and appear to have a good grip on the starting job entering the season. Focus on staying healthy and playing your game and you should be fine, T.
Joe (Fairfield, CT)
Adam, thoughts on the Wisc/NIU game? Chance for a close one?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
I'm looking forward to seeing former Wisconsin DC Dave Doeren go up against his former team. Doeren remains close friends with Bret Bielema and many of the folks in the program. Northern Illinois boasts a strong offense that will test the Badgers' defense, but I'd be surprised if NIU can contain James White and Montee Ball for four quarters.
Adam, with all the attention Nebraska is getting do you think the other B1G fans will build resentment towards them throughout the season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
It's possible, Brian, but I've received mostly positive feedback about Nebraska from other Big Ten fan bases. I think there will be a lot of curiosity about the Huskers, their fans, their traditions, etc. The real resentment typically comes if a team starts winning championships (read: Ohio State).
David (New York)
How fast do you think the love affair in AA turns if Hoke's former team, SDSU goes into AA and beats Michigan?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
That would be rough for Mr. Hoke. The optimism around the Michigan program right now is certainly noticeable, particularly with the recruiting success, but things will change quickly if the team doesn't get off to a good start.
Purdue's recruiting classes recently have not looked so good on paper. Is Danny Hope a mad genius who knows something no one else knows, or is the future of the Boilers just not looking so good?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Ted, I think Hope will hit on some players like Ricardo Allen and miss on others. Much of Purdue's recruiting is focused on Florida players who have flown under the SEC radar. The philosophy is to upgrade the speed and athleticism on the Boilers' roster. I think Purdue will be a faster and more athletic team this fall, but whether the Boilers can avoid the inconsistent stretches and injuries that have plagued them the past two years remains to be seen.
Bjorne (Moorhead, MN)
What kind of hype will the Gophers get if they manage to do the unthinkable and upset USC in SoCal? Would it boost recruiting? Would the Gophers get more love on BTN and ESPN?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Absolutely, Bjorne. It's a great opportunity for Minnesota to make an early splash in Jerry Kill's first game as coach. Even a respectable showing in SoCal should help the Gophers' stock a bit. But a win at the Coliseum would be absolutely huge for that program.
With Rob Bolden coming back, who do you think will start at QB for Penn State this fall?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Craig, I think it will be Bolden. He was the team's top option when healthy and should have been used in the Outback Bowl, a decision both Joe Paterno and Jay Paterno regret. While I don't fully trust that he'll remain at Penn State if McGloin is named the starter, I think Bolden gets the nod for the opener.
Adam, Love the blog but when can we get a countdown clock to the kick off of college FB? If ESPN can have one for the NFL draft (which may have a season) why not CF!!!!!!! Thanks keep up the great work.
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
Ron, great idea! I'll see what I can do.
Adam's boss in Conneticut: "Adam, you go to PSU-Bama game and Brian will go to Michigan game" PSU FANS:" YESSSSS!!!!!"
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Haha, I don't think either of us would complain. And since Brian also handles Notre Dame coverage for us, it could work out that way. No matter what, we'll have those two games covered on the blog.
Adam, which big 10 player do you think has the biggest chance of being in the Heisman mix mid-season? QB's have dominated the award of late and I don't really see any Big 10 QB with the potential to put up big enough numbers, but maybe a certain running back or two??
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Drew, you bring up an interesting point. A running back like James White, Montee Ball or Edwin Baker could put himself in the Heisman mix with a strong start. I still think if Denard Robinson dazzles, he'll enter the discussion because everyone knows who he is. Same with QBs like Dan Persa, Taylor Martinez and Kirk Cousins.
Joey (Ann Arbor, MI)
"Nebraska's division schedule actually is very beneficial in my view, despite the tough crossover games." Adam, I think you need to understand that all B1G games count towards conference records....it doesn't matter if Nebraska goes undefeated in their division if they lose their seemingly impossible crossover games they won't make it to the championship game. I feel as though you are putting the divisional games on too high of a pedestal....just saying.
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Joey, while you're right about every game counting, I don't think Nebraska's crossover games are "seemingly impossible." The Huskers get Ohio State at home, which is a plus, and winning at Penn State isn't nearly as tough as it used to be. The Wisconsin game is a challenge, for sure, but Nebraska could get a W in Madison. My point is that a division win puts you 1.5 games ahead of the team you beat. So if Nebraska beats Michigan State or Iowa, those teams had better do well in the crossover games to leapfrog the Huskers in the division standings.
You say an undefeated B1G champion would go to the NC game, but Ted Miller says an undefeated Oregon would be a lock. We all know what C Low would say. Which one of them is wrong?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
There's definitely a belief that the SEC champion, whether undefeated or with 1 loss, will make the title game no matter what. I guess when you win five consecutive championships, you've earned that right. If we somehow get undefeated teams from the SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten, someone gets left out, and it could be the Big Ten squad if Oregon or Stanford runs the table. But the chances of this happening seem pretty slim to me.
#1 leaders division dark horse - Illinois. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Totally agree, Drew. I really like Illinois' potential on offense with promising young QB Nathan Scheelhaase and a powerful line anchored by Jeff Allen. The Illini must fill gaps on defense, but they always have the athletes to do so. Plus, the schedule finally sets up well with five consecutive home games to begin the season and six of the first seven in the 'Paign.
Ricky Wagner is getting a lot of love right now, especially from your ESPN draft colleagues. Do you think he can really replace Carimi and if so, given the depth and experience across the line, do you think the O-line could (gasp) be even better than last year's?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Drew, I'm interested to see how Wagner transitions from right tackle to the more glamorous left side, but he looks like the real deal. Injuries to the offensive line have allowed Wisconsin to build depth. So even though the Badgers lose three starters -- Carimi, Moffitt and Nagy -- and two All-Americans (Carimi and Moffift), they could be as deep up front this year. Not sure the line will be better than last year's though.
Adam, what Big 10 team would have the best chance of bringing the national championship to the Big 10 and stop the criticism that faces the Big 10 every year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Josh, it has been Ohio State, which has reached two national title games and won two BCS bowls in the past five seasons. But it's hard to view the Buckeyes as a title contender this year after all that has happened. I'd go with Wisconsin or Nebraska, but both teams must show they can take that final step to become nationally elite.
Adam, how do you choose Tyler Moeller, who has never been able to stay healthy and wasn't elite when he was, over Mike Taylor on your Leaders all star team. Covering the B1G, you must know Taylor is a tremendous playmaker who seems to be involved with every play. What was your reasoning for choosing Moeller over Taylor?
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Taylor is a solid player no doubt, and I considered him for the team. But I think Moeller will affect games more this season. The injury question is valid with Moeller, but he was a beast early last year and should be better after having extended time to recover from the pectoral issue, which has bothered him for years.
Adam, do you remember 94? if PSU and Neb meets in CCG it will be HUGE. revenge for National Championship snub, JoePa-Osborne, Blue vs. Red, it just seems right. your thought?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Add in the fact it could be JoePa's final game at Beaver Stadium, and the Nov. 12 matchup really could be special, Will. Both teams could be in the mix for division titles, too.
Adam, I'm at work and feeds aren't working for the World Cup. How's the team looking?!
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
They nearly went up 2-0, but France has had its chances, too. It has been a fun first half to watch. Lot of scoring chances.
Illini Mike (Chicago IL)
Hey Adam, I truely believe Illinois will fill those gaps on defense. Last year it seemed VK did a great job nuturing and developing talent. I think he'll continue that production into this year. Mark my words, towards the end of the year you'll be call Illinois the most underratted defense in the league.
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Mike, I agree Vic did a great job in his first season as coordinator. Although the defense seemed to let down in November against Michigan, Minnesota and Fresno State, the unit's overall strides shouldn't be dismissed. I think the secondary will be fine and even better than last year's unit, especially if Hawthorne and Sanni stay healthy. The front seven concerns me, especially after losing Liuget, but if Ian Thomas, Akeem Spence and others step up, Illinois should be in decent shape.
Who's your (monopoly) money on to win the starting QB job for the Buckeyes? I think Braxton will give us the best chance to win. With a lack of experience at receiver, I think we need a playmaker at QB.
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
It should be a fascinating competition in camp, Adam. I'd still give Joe Bauserman the edge because I think Luke Fickell wants to win games with defense, special teams and the run game, much like Jim Tressel did. But if Miller makes significant strides between the spring and the preseason, he'll have a chance to win the job for sure.
Adam, last year Jared Crick was expected to have a huge year, and it was good, but not huge due to a lot of double teaming. Do you see him getting more tackles this year due to a lot more running in the B1G, or do you see a recurring of last year since everyone is going to be looking for him? Or can anybody stop him?
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
So 70 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hurries isn't a huge season for a DT? Wow, tough crowd. Crick definitely will face double teams in the Big Ten, but I still think he turns in a huge season and contends for Defensive Player of the Year honors. He's a beast.
Brandon (Las Vegas, NV)
Who's replacing Boom for the Bucks? My guess is a tandem of Berry and Smith with Hall mixed in every now and then. Although, I have heard rumblings of Carlos Hyde showing promise.
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Brandon, I tend to think it'll be a mix of backs as well. The NFL has showed us that you typically need two running backs, and Ohio State has several good options as well as some nice variety. Smith can be your bruiser, and both Hall and Berry can provide a change-up with their speed. I'm really excited to see who emerges among that group.
Do you think we might see some Devin Gardner this fall? Usually I wouldn't want to, as it would mean an injury to Denard, but Devin would be a very good option just to give Denard a little rest. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
I'd expect to see Gardner, as Michigan wants him to get acclimated to game action in the new offense. And if Robinson has to run as much as he did last season, he'll probably need a break (or be forced to take one because of an injury).
Will you be in Madison at all to let us know how RW is doing once practices start?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
I hope so, Brian. It's an easy drive for me, so I hope to check in on Mr. Wilson and the Badgers in August.
Les (Quad Cities, Iowa)
Adam, I'm a little worried about our secondary. Will my Hawkeyes have enough speed this season that our "vanilla D" will continue to rank with the best of them covering against the pass?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Iowa has two nice pieces in Prater and Hyde. The key is filling the gaps and building depth around them. Iowa needs players like Bernstine, Miller and Castillo to step up this fall. It also needs a more consistent pass rush, especially against spread teams, to take pressure off of the secondary. While Iowa typically does well against the pass, the Hawkeyes dropped to 84th nationally in pass defense in 2010.
What are the chances OSU pulls the trigger and removes the interim tag from Fickell? They are losing recruits, and they've hired Vrabel.
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Nothing will happen until after the regular season, at the earliest. Ohio State can't panic just because a few recruits are looking elsewhere. And Fickell should be evaluated on what he does during the season before any permanent tag is placed on him.
rmilia1 (cedar rapids)
I cant see any team in the Legends division losing less than 2 games this year in conference. What are the odds we have a 3 or 4 way tie just for the Legends division title? I think MSU, Iowa, Nebraska, NW and even Michigan all have a shot.
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
That would create quite a tiebreaker headache, wouldn't it? But it's possible. The Legends looks to be the deeper division, and I agree that five of the six teams could end up on top. That's why the division games are so critical.
Which frosh will have the most impact for my wolverines this season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Nick, I'm interested to see if one of the freshmen running backs, Justice Hayes or Thomas Rawls, works his way into the mix. I think there's opportunity there. I also liked what I saw from linebacker Jake Ryan in the spring game. He should be able to help at a pretty shaky position.
Justin (New York)
Adam, I am entering into my senior year at UW and I need to buy a football jersey one last time. Who is the best playmaker on either side of the ball for Wisconsin?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Justin, I'd go with James White on offense. Defense is a little trickier, but if Chris Borland stays healthy, he'd be my pick for sure. If not, you could go with Aaron Henry.
Why are you ignoring all of the Northwestern questions?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Haven't received many today, Pat. You got a question?
Dave (State College, PA)
I know you mentioned earlier that you felt Bolden gives Penn State the best chance to win and I am wondering if you have an idea of when a starter will be named?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Dave, I'd expect Penn State to make a decision fairly early in camp. We should know something by Aug. 15 or so. You don't want to drag it out too long, especially after having all spring to evaluate Bolden and McGloin.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Last one for the day ...
Adam why dont you have any love for RW? Brian knows how good he is
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Ha, I guess I'm more of a wait-and-see type of person. I think Wilson has tremendous talent, but I'd like to see him in some practices and games before making predictions. He's making a pretty big transition in not very much time. So we'll see. But he could be real good for the Badgers.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, time's up. Great chat! Season's getting closer, so we'll do it again soon.