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 everyone, I'm ready for your questions.
I'm going to make something up for the sake of a question: The over-under wins for the Big Ten for the bowls is 5. Want the over or under?
Adam Rittenberg (12:00 PM)
Tough question, Sam. Big Ten teams are only favored, I believe, in two of the 10 bowl games. Would be surprised if the Big Ten goes 2-8. I'm thinking 4-6 or 5-5 would be more likely. I guess I'll talk the under. Sorry, Big Ten fans.
Tim (Newark, NJ)
Hey Adam,Can you explain to me why Ohio State got a waiver for Urban to recruit? The school is still under investigation for serious NCAA violations, which was why they fired Tressel in the first place, and now as a direct result of that investigation they have been given a huge recruiting advantage. It doesn't make any sense to me.
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Tim, I'm hoping to post on this later today, but my understanding from talking to folks who know is that it's common for teams entering bowl games that have made head-coaching changes to request these waivers after they hire their new coaches. I can confirm that Ohio State's infractions case had no bearing on the NCAA's decision to grant the waiver. While that has upset folks, and justifiably so, the NCAA looks at these requests independent of any unresolved infractions cases. So they are "completely separate" issues, I've been told.
Brian (Dallas, TX)
Yo Adam! Does anyone actually want the Penn State HC job other than Bradley and some assistant coaches in the NFL with no HC experience? It seems anyone PSU is interested in gets a contract extention and a raise! Can you mention my name as a potential candidate?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
I'll see what I can do, Brian. There is some interest in the position, but the big names are largely staying away because of the uncertainty at Penn State. I really believe Penn State needs a program stabilizer more than anything, someone to guide the program through what could be a rocky few years.
Rex Burkhead (Sea of Red)
I am looking forward to the test they call an SEC defense. However, I think we have the ability to wear down the Gamecocks if they let me run the ball 38 times. (crossing my fingers) I think that we'll have to run the ball up the middle more in this game since those dang South Carolina guys are fairly quick. I also think that we will have to run the ball 4 out of 5 plays to open up big plays in the passing game to get past this stingy defense. (Not to mention, me or my boy Taylor might bust off a nice long rushing TD somewhere along the way) What are your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
South Carolina is a lot better defending the pass than the run, so I'm sure you'll get plenty of touches, Superman. It's also important to run away from Ingram and Clowney, the two standout defensive ends. If you end up running the ball 38 times or more in the bowl game, Nebraska should be in pretty good shape to win. The concern is if the Huskers' offense has quick drives and can't stay on the field. South Carolina's offense isn't nearly as dangerous as it was with Lattimore, but the Gamecocks have some weapons.
Adam, there are many Buckeye fans who are thrilled with Meyer as head coach, but I'm not one of them. First, I'm still a little grumpy about that 2006 championship game. Second, he seems to me like a used-car salesman...he tells you what you want to hear, but then he goes and does the very thing he says he isn't going to do (see leaving Bowling Green, leaving Utah, retiring 1, retiring 2, leaving ESPN). I won't deny his ability to win big games and recruit strongly. But his track record of win a few and move on doesn't seem to fit in the Big 10, where the coaches become the program and embrace the tradition of the school (with a few exceptions, like RichRod and Zook). What do you think? Are my concerns justified?
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
Steve, I think it's totally fine to have some concerns about Meyer. Just because most Ohio State fans are gaga over him doesn't mean he doesn't have some potential drawbacks. Will he coach at Ohio State for 15-20 years? I don't see it. But I also believe he'll have tremendous success while he's there. The new Big Ten seems to have fewer of the long-term coaches, anyway. After Kirk Ferentz (13 years), the next longest-tenured Big Ten coaches are Fitzgerald and Bielema (6 years).
Jim (State College, pa)
Hi Adam....Did Penn State get shafted in the bowl selection?
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Yes, the Lions did. It's not a huge surprise that some bowl games passed over Penn State because they didn't want to deal with a negative story line. It's still not fair to the players, who had nothing to do with the sex-abuse scandal and weren't at Penn State when the allegations took place.
Tony (Lincoln, NE)
Before the season Jim Delaney said that he would wait and see how the season goes before doing anything with the Legends and Leaders division names. Any word on if the names will stick or not?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Tony, it's certainly a question to be asked after the bowl season. But my sense is that Legends and Leaders are here to stay. The Big Ten has invested greatly in the names with its marketing efforts. While the names still annoy folks, the outcry predictably has died down.
Hey Adam, been trying to get a question answer for the past 3 chats; hopefully this one gets through! I know recruiting is not a specialty, but what is your opinion on Urban Meyer's recent recruiting haul? First Schutt from Penn State, second Pittman from Sparty, and rumor has it Dunn is official. Do you think he might go for the Tri-fecta and get Kyle Kalis to swtich from M!chigan back to tOSU?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Ben, it's your lucky day. Schutt and Pittman both were likely to bolt, but Meyer certainly played a role in getting both to switch their pledges to Ohio State. He also kept Dunn on board, at least for now. I doubt Kalis would switch back to Ohio State after all the criticism he received from Buckeyes fans.
Taylor Martinez, starting QB at the end of next year for the Huskers or is it someone else? With the way he throws, would they be better just running a Wildcat with Super Rex at QB?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Jeff, Taylor actually passed the ball better this year, particularly in Big Ten play. Keep in mind he's just a sophomore and has spent only one year in the current offensive scheme. He'll never be an elite passer, but he doesn't really have to be.
Also, I just want to correct you on something the reason this waiver is not specifically for only programs who are in bowls. I can tell you from first hand experience a waiver can be granted to a school not participating in a bowl who has lost a coach and replaces him on the recruiting trail by a director of operations or another support staff member while their future assistant coach is fulfilling his responsibilities at another program.
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
You're not correcting me because I never asserted it was only for programs in bowls. But I'm glad you brought this up because the waiver has been granted for teams not going to bowls. In these cases, sometimes the athletic director is given the ability to contact recruits as a "countable coach" before the next head coach is named to try and maintain the recruiting class.
Matt (Oberlin, OH)
Hi Adam, can you give us reasons why Meyer won't be Rich Rodriguez v2.0? They run very similar spread-option offenses. Who's to say the Buckeyes won't turn out the same as RichRod's Wolverines?
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Offense didn't get RichRod fired. I repeat: offense didn't get RichRod fired. The perception that the spread can't work in the Big Ten is absurd. If Meyer can field great defenses at Ohio State, a team that consistently produces them, he won't have the same problems Rodriguez had with Michigan's D.
Should we be happy we're getting Everett Withers, or upset that Mike Stoops is not coming to town?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Depends on whether you wanted Luke Fickell to remain on staff, too. Stoops was unlikely to take the job when Fickell would also stay on in a significant role. I think Fickell is a really good coach who has tremendous upside for Ohio State. But it didn't seem likely Stoops and Fickell would ever share coordinator duties. Withers has a lot of experience as a defensive coach and is well regarded.
Boob McNutter (ClownTown)
Of the Big Ten/SEC bowl games, which Big Ten school has the best shot at the W?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
I really think if Michigan State shows up to play, the Spartans have an excellent chance to beat Georgia. If MSU is still stinging from the Big Ten title game loss, Georgia will win. But MSU was playing great football to end the season.
Adam, what do you think will determine the outcome of the Ohio State Florida game? Will it come down to offensive or defense?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Think it will come down to the offenses, which both have struggled for most of the season. If Braxton Miller is the same guy we saw in Ann Arbor, Ohio State should win this game.
There is no way that I see Robert Bolden surpassing McGloin...Does he transfer now?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Depends on the next coach, Jerry. Bolden will have to evaluate the system and the coaching staff and whether he can develop, which he hasn't been able to do this year for some reason.
Jabber (What Cheer Iowa)
Who will Iowa hire as DC? Please don't say Phil Parker.
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
If Ferentz decides to stay within the program, Parker is the likely choice. If he goes outside, all bets are off. Iowa fans obviously would love Mike Stoops, but he has some higher-profile options for a coordinator role.
Adam, would you say Wisconsin has a 10% chance of winning the Rose Bowl? 20%? 30%? How high will you go?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Oh, I think it's a better than 30 percent chance, Patrick. Wisconsin's offense can outscore anybody, and Oregon's defense won't be the best unit the Badgers have faced this season. The key is whether Wisconsin can get off of the field on defense and keep pace with the Ducks, who have an obvious speed advantage with their offensive skill guys. But Wisconsin can win this game, no doubt.
I've heard talk from Delaney and others (including your response above) about how much the B1G has invested in the Leaders and Legends names. I have my doubts. Where, exactly, did all that money go? And how expensive could it really be to hold a press conference declaring a name change to something more sensible (East/West, Lakes/Plains)? Could you give some insight into these supposed expenses that the everyday fan doesn't appreciate? Cause otherwise, it sounds like a pretty lame excuse not to change division names that nearly everyone hates.
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
John, I see what you're saying. But as Big Ten fans, you probably see what I see: commercials on the Big Ten Network that include "Legends and Leaders," a Big Ten mobile tour this year called "Honoring Legends. Building Leaders." So the Big Ten is doing all it can to promote the division names and, in their minds, hopefully get fans to embrace them more. Would a switch be easy? Sure. But the Big Ten will be reluctant to do so.
Who's the best RBs returning for the next season in the B10?
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Jake, the running back position should once again be strong in the Big Ten next year. If Wisconsin's Montee Ball returns for his senior season, he might be the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. Other good backs include Penn State's Silas Redd, Nebraska's Rex Burkhead and Iowa's Marcus Coker. Michigan's Fitz Toussaint and Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell are two other backs worth watching.
david j (los angeles)
Why in the world would Kirk Ferentz leave a job where he can go 7-5 and make nearly 4 million bucks a year for a mediocre NFL job like Kansas City? I don't see it happening. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
David, I don't see it happening, either. As I wrote Monday, it all depends if the NFL pull remains for Ferentz. If it does, he might consider the Chiefs job because of his friendship with GM Scott Pioli. He also might wonder how many more NFL coaching opportunities he'll get. But the safe, smart choice is to remain at Iowa, where he can coach a long time, make a ton of money and not face the pressure to win 9-11 games per year.
Ian (Racine, WI)
Adam, in your honest opinion, if Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller have three full years to get comfortable and build an explosive offense together (We know O-State will always field tough Defenses), do you see tOSU winning a National Championship within that timeframe?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
It's quite possible, Ian. Miller appears to be an excellent fit for what Meyer likes to do on offense. Meyer talked about developing Braxton more as a passer, which is smart because he obviously can do special things with his legs. I think Ohio State enters next year as the Leaders division favorite. Another year or two and the Buckeyes could be in the national title hunt.
How classic would the B1G championship game be if the participants came down to the winners of the Iowa/Nebraska and the Ohio St./Michigan game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Pretty classic since three of those teams are in the same division ;-) Sorry, Anthony, couldn't resist.
Josh (STL MO)
Why no love for Marvin Mcnutt on any of the all american teams? First team all big ten, top WR in big ten, broke many records and he doesnt get anything more than big 10 honors.
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
Josh, Marvin should have gained greater recognition for the Biletnikoff Award, and he should be in the mix as a second- or third-team All-American. But the first-team All-America spots should go to guys like Blackmon from Oklahoma State and Woods from USC.
I still find it amazing that Mattison didn't win the Broyles award. What he did to the Michigan defense was insane.
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
He certainly would have been a worthy recipient, Blair. Can't be too upset about LSU's John Chavis winning, but Mattison fostered the bigger turnaround at Michigan for sure.
Curious on your take of the ALL SEC title game (I'll take a break from my hawks for the week). I feel like it doesn't represent college football well. Although they might be the 2 best teams in football this year, I like we really don't know for sure since the game doesn't feature 2 champions from 2 major automatic qualifying conferences. I'll definitely watch...but am actually a little more interested in a couple of the other BCS games. would love your take Adam...unless I missed it in a previous blog..in which case you have my DEEPEST apologizes. :) Merry Christmas. Go Hawks.
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Mark, I'm with you on the title game. Would have preferred to see Oklahoma State go up against LSU. While LSU would be a heavy favorite most likely, you never know what can happen in the game. With the rematch, I don't know whether I'll truly consider Alabama a national champion if the Tide win. LSU already has beat Bama in Tuscaloosa. While I'll certainly watch the game, I would have preferred LSU-Ok State.
It seems to me that the PSU job would not be attractive to "big name" established HC's because it will presumably be a long time before the trustees let a coach run around without significant oversight. Most established HC's have high-egos and don't want people constantly looking over their shoulders. Wouldn't giving an up-and-comer assistant be the best bet then? They'd be more likely to accept institutional restrictions and for the chance to prove themselves.
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Jay, I see what you're saying, but I really think Penn State needs a guy with previous head-coaching experience. He needs to understand leadership and how to oversee an entire program and all the outside things that go along with it. Most important, he needs to have no character issues. There are coaches looking to prove themselves who have previously run programs. Penn State should be able to find one.
Jabber (Oelwein Iowa)
What non-B1G affiliated bowls would you like to see go with the B1G? Peach? Holiday?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
The Holiday would be great, Jabber. It's disappointing the Big Ten has only one bowl tie-in with the Pac-12. Big Ten schools have much more in common with the Pac-12 institutions than they do with those from the SEC or Big 12. And as a California native, the more Cali bowls, the better.
Adam, do you think there is any way to construct a playoff WHILE keeping the Rose Bowl a traditional Big Ten v. Pac-12 matchup? Perhaps as one of the playoff rounds?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
It would be tricky, James, because a plus-one is the most likely format to be used. If teams were seeded and sent to two BCS bowls for the semifinals, you might not see the Big Ten-Pac-12 Rose matchup nearly as often. I'm sure efforts would be made to accommodate it, but if the Big Ten champ is seeded 4 and the Pac-12 champ is seeded 2, they'd be going elsewhere.
Brett (Conshohocken, PA)
"I really think Penn State needs a guy with previous head-coaching experience."Is Tom Bradley excluded from this criteria because of his knowledge of the program? He practically has represented PSU in that capacity for the last few years anyhow with JoePa not being on the road as much.
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Brett, it comes down to this with Bradley: Can Penn State handle naming a guy head coach who replaced Sandusky and worked on the staff with Sandusky? That's all a lot of people are going to see with Bradley. Is he a good coach who could handle the program going forward? I think so. But the guilt-by-association stigma would be there, and I don't think Penn State could handle the backlash.
Tim (Newark, NJ)
If Kain Colter doesn't make it into the exclusive 500/500/500 (yards passing/rushing/receiving) club in the Texas Bowl, what are the chances he makes it next year? Do you think he'll be a full-time QB next season or play the same role he did this year, with Siemian as Persa?
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Tim, I think he'll play a similar role next year, possibly playing a bit more quarterback. It depends on Siemian's development and that of freshman Zack Oliver, who has been impressive in some practices. Now if Colter can make significant strides as a passer during the offseason, he could take on a full-time QB role. But he's very valuable to Northwestern as a slash player.
Michigan beats Va Tech, Alabama loses to LSU. Next season: Michigan v. Bama, who wins?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Darren, I don't think either bowl game has much bearing on next year's opener. Alabama is an extremely talented and well-coached team, but Michigan will be very solid next year, too. A lot depends on whether the Wolverines defense can survive some key personnel losses and keep taking steps forward. Should be a great one at JerryWorld.
What Big Ten coaches are on the hot seat next year? Anyone other than Danny Hope?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Hope would be at the top, most likely. After that, there aren't really obvious hot-seat candidates. Wilson and Kill need to show improvement, but they'll only be in Year 2. Everyone else is a new coach or appears pretty safe.
Dave Wannstedt (Buffalo)
I have head coaching experience. I know the area for recruiting. Can I have PSU's job?
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
You sure you wouldn't rather have your old one back? Hear it might be coming open.
John (Ann Arbor)
Adam:Personally I think michigan won vs a "soft" schedule this year. Next year I think we michigan fans are going to be in for a rude awakening because of the amount of road games and tougher teams. Your thoughts
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
John, the schedule undoubtedly gets much harder next year. Michigan could easily be a better team with a worse record, much like Michigan State was this season. The Wolverines must face Alabama (neutral), Notre Dame (road), Nebraska (road) and Ohio State (road), plus Michigan State and others. Will be a tough slate for Brady's crew.
Are you going to watch the "intermim coach bowl" aka: the Fight Hunger Bowl in SF? Who do you have winning?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Absolutely I'll watch, Ken! You'll have to wait a bit for our predictions, but it's very hard to know what to expect from either team. Gamblers, stay away.
What's the premier non-conference B1G game next year? I'm guessing it's Alabama-Michigan, but I'm not sure if there are any other big games out there - are there any others we should look forward to seeing before the B1G sked begins?
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Michigan State opens with Boise State on a Friday night, which should be pretty cool. Ohio State hosts Cal, Wisconsin visits Oregon State, Nebraska visits UCLA. But Michigan-Alabama is the big one.
any news on the new illinois DC or OC jobs
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Vic Koenning is supposed to give his answer today on whether he'll remain as DC. The OC job will be interesting because Campbell, the guy Beckman wanted, got the Toledo head-coaching job.
Andrew (New York)
Will Wisconsin ever explore playing a neutral site game, or are they going to continue their 4 patsy non-conference strategy?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Technically, the Badgers played a neutral-site game this season against Northern Illinois.
Jon (Chicago, IL)
The weather is not really a factor, if you look at statistics/data. But would the Big Ten want Soldier Field to get the grass/turf right before remotely thinking about making the move to Chicago for the Championship Game? The grass is disgusting at times at Soldier Field, but Chicago is a great city to host the game.
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Totally agree, Jon. The field should be a significant concern for the Big Ten if it considered moving the game to Soldier Field. The league doesn't want two of its best teams, possibly national title contenders, competing on such a lousy surface. But I agree Chicago would be a great place to host the game. Many more Big Ten fans live here than any other Midwestern city, so the market outside of the two participating fan bases would be much greater.
Will Rex Burkhead get any preseason love nationally next season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Probably not as much as he deserves, but those who watch Burkhead have to be impressed with his consistency and production.
With non-conference games agreed by contracts years in advanced, is it possible/common to end a deal and raise the SOS overall for B1G non-conf games, or is the general league stuck until 2014, '15 with those games? Shorter version, can any action actually be taken that will change the near future ('12, more likely, '13)
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Aaron, I don't think you'll see a league-wide push to break those contracts. I think it's important for Big Ten teams to reconsider which nonconference games they play after this year's BCS computer numbers were so poor. But I wouldn't expect many Big Ten teams to break contracts. The overall SOS should increase in the coming years, but until we see fewer MAC opponents, the Big Ten could lag behind other major conferences in this category.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
OK, last one for the day ...
Gray for Heisman next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Love the optimism, Tony. I think MarQueis will be a much better player next year. But he won't be on the Heisman radar.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Thanks again for the questions. Talk to you next week!