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. Let's chat!
What are the chances that Dayne Christ does decide to transfer to Wisconsin? and if he does, a) will he win the starting job? and b) does it affect Montee Ball's decision to come back next year.
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
It looking like Wisconsin or Kansas for Chryst, who must decide how much he wants to play for Charlie Weis again vs. a chance to win a league title at Wisconsin. He would have a good opportunity to win the starting job, but a lot depends on how Jon Budmayr responds from his elbow injury. Don't think Chryst's decision will affect Ball's too much. For Ball, it's about where he projects in the draft.
Hey Adam, I asked Brian this question on Monday, but I was hoping to get your thoughts too. Do you see any potential national title contenders from the B1G over the next season or two? Obviously, Ohio State is out for next year, but what about others? I think if my Huskers can build up some depth on defense, 2013 could be our year, but I know OSU will likely be favorites then. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Mike, I tend to think 2013 will be a year where we could see some Big Ten national title contenders. I don't see any obvious candidates next year. Michigan will have a good team with a tougher schedule. Nebraska needs to upgrade its defense. Wisconsin and Michigan State both lose a lot.
Rob (Bloomington, IN)
Do you think Indiana can ever bet a legit team within the Big Ten, how much credibility can coach Wilson actually bring to the Hoosiers?
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Rob, it's all about the defense for Indiana. I've been saying it for years. The Hoosiers are capable of fielding strong offenses, but defense has been their downfall for more than a decade. Wilson and his staff must recruit and develop more Big Ten-quality defenders if they want to advance the program.
AR, although appaling from a moral/ethical/criminal standpoint, should PSU actually be at risk by the NCAA???
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
MZ, it's hard to tell because this is new territory for the NCAA and for the Big Ten, which is also investigating the Penn State situation. The lack of institutional control charge is broad enough that it can be applied, but it's also an extremely serious charge that brings strong penalties. It's a slippery slope for the NCAA and Big Ten because the case is so unique.
Michael (Lincoln Park)
So Ohio State fans are outraged at the severity of their punishment and Michigan fans are scoffing at the leniency. The bowl ban and extra scholarship reductions are pretty fair, aren't they?
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
Yes, I think the overall penalties are fair, given the infractions. Ohio State wouldn't have an issue if it wasn't for the bowl ban. The scholarship losses sting a bit, but certainly not as much as the bowl ban. Ohio State gambled that the NCAA wouldn't pull the trigger, and it lost. In hindsight, the right call would have been to impose a bowl ban after receiving a second Notice of Allegations in early November.
Do you think Ferentz will stay at Iowa with the NFL interest and the player problems recently?
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Blake, you might have missed it, but Ferentz released a statement late Tuesday night reaffirming his commitment to Iowa for 2012 and beyond. This was in response to speculation about him being a candidate for the Chiefs' job. His son James will be a senior next year, and his youngest son could be joining the program as a freshman walk-on. So while the past two years have been tough at Iowa, Ferentz still has a very comfortable situation there.
Brandon (The Burg)
In a weird way, doesn't OSU's bowl ban help the Michigan-Ohio rivalry next year? It will basically be OSU's de facto bowl game/B1G 10 Championship game rolled into one.
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Brandon, I don't think The Game will need more fuel, but I guess the fact it'll be Ohio State's bowl adds something. Ohio State will be looking to avenge last year's loss, and the Brady Hoke-Urban Meyer connection certainly adds spice.
Any update on the Coker situation, he is the last person on the team I thought aould of been suspended for anything, then again he is an Iowa RB...
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Alex, it doesn't appear that Coker got into any legal issues that prompted the suspension. It's certainly a disappointing situation for a very good player. The bigger question is why Iowa can't keep running backs on the field? The Hawkeyes have had virtually no depth at RB since Shonn Greene moved on after the 2008 season.
Adam, let's go out on a limb here, IF Michigan wins the Sugar and then opens the season with a win against Bama, are they National title contenders the rest of the season, Possibly a favorite?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Not a favorite, Mark, but certainly in the mix. A win against Alabama would brand Michigan as a nationally elite team again. That's how good the Tide are almost every year. But keep in mind Michigan still will need to win in South Bend, Lincoln and Columbus, and also beat in-state rival Michigan State for the first time since 2007.
Hi Adam, so Jim Tressel to head coach at Hawaii is out of the question?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Haha, think so. Hawaii made a nice hire in Norm Chow, who will have teams that put up some crazy points totals. They like that style in the islands.
Curt (Des Moines, IA)
Adam - With the Buckeyes suspended from the BIG championship next year, do you like the Badger's chances of a 3 peat in Pasadena? Who could be a sleeper team in the Leaders division?
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Curt, Ohio State's ban makes Wisconsin the clear-cut favorite in the Leaders division. It's hard to size up Penn State's chances without seeing the new coach, but the Lions will face some obstacles for sure. Could Purdue be a sleeper team? Perhaps. But the Boilers need to upgrade several areas and be much more consistent in 2012.
Adam,Two part question. First Penn State is clearly suffering right now in their recruiting due to the uncertainty of the head coach. It seems the more days that pass without a set coach the more recruits leave and even the messier the relationship even between teammates has become (Drake and McGloin). First question is do you think this is all tied together and when is this circus going to end and allow the University to properly move forward?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Shane, I would be hesitant to draw a link between the McGloin-Drake fight, the lack of a head coach and the off-field turmoil. Fights happen on teams, and while it's notable that the starting quarterback was involved and suffered a serious injury, I don't think the situation is unusual. As for the second question, no one is stopping Penn State from hiring a coach. The school is being deliberate because of the pressure it's under to find the right guy, and also because it's looking at a unique and reduced candidate pool. It certainly would seem to benefit PSU to name a coach sooner than later.
I wanted some clarification on Ohio State's scholarship reductions because I have read conflicting accounts. Are there to be three scholarships eliminated in each of the next three years, or may Ohio State choose how the reductions are divided among the three years?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Lucas, colleague Tom VanHaaren actually checked on this before the NCAA ruling. Had the NCAA upheld Ohio State's self-imposed reductions, Ohio State would have been allowed to divide them as it saw fit. But since the infractions committee increased the scholarship reductions, it determines the distribution. Therefore, Ohio State will lose three scholarships in each of the next three seasons for a total of nine lost scholies.
If Peter Konz can't play in the Rose Bowl, does he come back for his senior year? Are NFL teams going to downgrade him because of the injury?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Zac, that's an interesting question. Konz projects very well to the next level, and the ankle injury shouldn't be a long-term concern for an NFL team (like a knee would). But not playing in the final four games might be an incentive for Konz to return in 2011. I know he loves Wisconsin.
John (Ann Arbor)
Adam, I read earlier this year that David Brandon was in favor of holding as many non-conference games in the Big House as possible, and it seems now as though many people are criticizing Michigan because of this year's weak schedule (4 home non-conference games). I realize that Michigan is playing Alabama in Dallas to open next season, and that game, along with other significant away games during B1G play will significantly increase the difficulty. My question is whether michigan fans will see small team home games or bigger match-ups in future non-conference play.
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
John, athletic directors don't like to give up home games, especially those with big stadiums like Brandon has in Michigan. So you need to pick your spots. Michigan will continue to play Notre Dame on the road every other year, so seasons like next year's will be unusual with only two nonconference home games. Also, the Big Ten's move to nine conference games will reduce the number of nonconference road games played, since most teams need a minimum of seven home games per year.
Hank (Washington DC)
Do you think Jim from American Pie (aka Luke Fickell) will take the Pitt job?
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
Haha, I thought Luke was Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore? No, I think Pitt will go with Cristobal or Paul Chryst, but we'll see. Fickell certainly would be a good hire somewhere.
Hi Adam, how do you think the Big 10 will do this year in bowl games? Particularly Iowa against a hugely talented Oklahoma team and Wisconsin against the 'speedy' Ducks. And what will the Big 10/SEC record be when all is done?
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Myles, this has the potential to be another rough bowl season for the Big Ten. It's imperative the league gets at least a 1-1 split in the BCS games. The Big Ten-SEC matchups look more favorable than they did a year ago, and the Big Ten should win 1-2 of these games. The Big Ten-Big 12 matchups, however, look extremely tough. Would expect the Big Ten to go 0-2.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
Adam, the official statement from the NCAA regarding the bowl ban reads, "Postseason ban for the 2012 football season, which includes the conference championship game." The fact that the NCAA states the year 2012 indicates, to me, there was some forward punishing intentions by the NCAA. Had Ohio State self-imosed a bowl ban this year, could they have still faced a bowl ban for 2012 based upon this?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Bren, it's always good to hear from my hometown! The NCAA doesn't like to answer hypothetical questions, but my sense from talking with committee member Greg Sankey and reading the public report is that if Ohio State had imposed a bowl ban for this year, the NCAA wouldn't have tacked on another year. The other penalties are in line with a 1-year bowl ban, not a 2-year ban.
Illini Zach (Highland Park)
Hi Adam, sitting in class with a professor with your same last name. You're a bit more fun though. Why is it that a team near a city like Chicago is struggling to find good recruits and coaches while the Michigans and Ohio States of the world seem to get whoever they please?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Really? Wonder if it's a long-lost relative? As far as Illinois goes, the Illini had some recruiting success in the Chicago area during Ron Zook's tenure, luring players like Juice Williams and Martez Wilson to Champaign. A lot of it has to do with winning and having tradition. Illinois actually has a great football history, but recent years have brought struggles and inconsistency. If Tim Beckman can win at a reasonable rate, he should be able to recruit well in the Chicago area. Will Illinois beat out Ohio State and Michigan for top recruits? It can happen, but not too often.
PaJo (State College)
To clarify.... (for future reference)... the 3 schollies each year for 3 years for Ohio State means they can only have 82 on schollie each year for 3 years or 82, 79, 76 each succesive year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
No, 82 scholarships for the next three years, grand total of nine lost.
Will The University of Houston hang half a hundred on the dumpster fire once known as Penn State ?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Don't see it happening, Filosa. Penn State's defense has been really good all season, aside from the Wisconsin game. The Lions have too much pride and too many talented players on that side to let Case Keenum go nuts against them.
As a life long Hawkeye fan and alumni, do you think it's crazy if i'm starting to think Ferentz's time should be up at Iowa? I'm not expecting national championships by any means but for a guy who is getting paid almost $3.7mm, it sure seems like they should be better than they are consistently compete in the top 15 in the nation?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Greg, while I don't think you should want Ferentz out, you have every right to expect more from a coach making what he makes. The program has backslid since the Orange Bowl, and the Big Ten has become more competitive with the arrival of Nebraska and Wisconsin's surge the past two years. Iowa can get a lot of coaches who can go 7-5 and be paid much less. It's fair to expect Ferentz's teams to win 9-10 games, beginning in 2012.
Ty (Camp Lejeune, NC)
Who is the favorite to win the Big Ten next year with Ohio State being banned from a bowl game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Ty, I think the favorite will come out of the Legends division. Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska would be my top choices, and Wisconsin shouldn't be overlooked even though the Badgers will lose some key pieces.
Goat (Un-Happy Valley)
Will Tom Bradley end up as the Auburn Defensive's boss
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Don't think he'd want to enter that situation, but you never know. Would think he'll end up at a school a little closer to home if he doesn't remain at PSU.
Do most schools even use up all 85 scholarships every year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Dave, many schools save a few scholarships for deserving walk-on players and award them before seasons. Ohio State, for example, didn't give all its available scholarships to recruits during Jim Tressel's tenure. So the scholarship penalties Urban Meyer faces during the next three years aren't too bad.
Tony (Castle Rock, CO)
How will Hawkeye fans respond after Ferentz pulls the upset against Oklahoma, especially w/ out Coker?
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
I'm guessing they'll be thrilled, and they should be. Ferentz's bowl record is one of his strongest attributes, especially in a league where most teams struggle in the postseason. But Iowa fans still should expect more beginning in 2012.
I keep hearing from people that oh time of possession means nothing for the Ducks because thata??s how their system operates. But it actually is a huge deal considering it plays right into the hands and strength of this Wisconsin team because the Ducka??s have not yet faced an opponent that is as potent, as efficient, and as consistent on offense as Wisconsin. Looking at the stats, I think that if the Badgers hold onto the ball for 36+ mins they hands down win, 35 mins they have the advantage, 34-35 mins ita??s a close and even match, and anything less than 34 mins the Ducks win. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Mike, Wisconsin will have an edge in time of possession, but Oregon can score on almost every play it runs. I don't think the game necessarily comes down to how long Wisconsin holds the ball. Wisconsin needs to tackle well in space, certainly better than it did against Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. Ball control is important, but Oregon will have chances to score in this game. Wisconsin needs to get the Ducks off of the field.
Mochila (Grand Rapids)
Adam, we are a team hungry for respect, and last time we were this hungry Alabama killed us in a bowl. What can we do differently to stay focused and stop Georgia's passing game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Michigan State will learn from last year's experience, but Georgia certainly is not as good as Alabama was last season. The Spartans are also better on defense this year and boast a strong secondary led by Johnny Adams and Trenton Robinson. It's also important that MSU generates a strong pass rush to pressure Murray and force some mistakes. The Spartans' offense also must show up in the game after struggling mightily against Bama. I think MSU will play much, much better this time around.
How can Ohio State fans legitimately complain about the one-year bowl ban? They went to the Sugar Bowl last year only because the coach decided to play with players he knew were not eligible AND those players played in the Sugar Bowl when the head coach wasn't telling the full story.
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Andrew, fans can and do complain about everything, but in this case, I think the complaining comes from being surprised about the bowl ban. Ohio State didn't think it was coming and neither did most media members, including yours truly. So I think the reaction stems more from surprise than anything else.
Norm Parker (Iowa)
Who would replace me or who is the potential candidate for the job.
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
If Kirk Ferentz looks within the staff, Phil Parker is the likely replacement. If he looks outside, it will be interesting. Mike Stoops' name has come up, but he's also in the mix for other jobs. Wonder if Ferentz would look at Penn State's defensive assistants (Bradley, Johnson, Vanderlinden) if they aren't retained in State College. Those guys would do really well at Iowa.
Joe (Lorain, OH)
Hi Adam:What would be more a more impressive win? A Michigan State win vs an SEC team, Georgia or michigan vs Big East Virginia Tech?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Va Tech is in the ACC, not the Big East, Joe. But I think Michigan State's win would be more impressive. It's always big for the Big Ten to beat the SEC in bowls. And after being embarrassed last year against Alabama, Michigan State can gain some respect by bouncing back, especially coming off of the heartbreaking loss in the Big Ten title game.
Coker's breakout game came in last year's Insight Bowl. Any chance his main replacement could do the same?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
It's a bit unrealistic to expect a duplicate performance from whoever takes over the ball-carrying duties against Oklahoma. I think it'll be more of a RB-by-committee than one featured back, as no back besides Coker has received significant carries this year. The difference in 2010 was that Coker had started several games before the bowl.
Given the tough bowl lineup, what record would you consider a success for the B1G?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
5-5 or better. I'll argue this every year. The Big Ten going .500 in bowls is like other leagues winning 6 of 9 or 5 of 7. The Big Ten plays the nation's toughest bowl lineup -- by far. So a .500 record or better equals a successful bowl season in my view. It's also important to pick up some wins on Jan. 2 after what happened earlier this year on Jan. 1.
Tony (Castle Rock, CO)
Where does Persa go from the bowl game, does he have a shot at the NFL as a Flutie type?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Tony, it will be interesting. Persa needs to show NFL folks that he's fully recovered from the Achilles' injury and can show the mobility he had before the injury. He's smart enough and accurate enough to play at the next level, but his size is a significant drawback.
RIIITTTTTTTT!!!! Throw me a bone and say something positive about my Gophers. Bowl game in 2 years????
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Absolutely. I can see it if Minnesota makes upgrades on defense. The offense should get better with time, as Jerry Kill's track record shows. But like many teams in the lower half of the Big Ten, Minnesota needs to build greater depth and talent on defense to really make strides. But a bowl game in the next two years seems reasonable.
Herky (Iowa City)
I am offering a truce to Our Most Hated Rival, Purdue. We'll get our god to stop injuring your guys' ACLs, if you get your god to stop getting our RB's hurt and/or suspended.
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
I'll pass along the message. Sounds like a fair trade.
Superman (Sexy Rexy) (Lincoln, Nebraska)
I've been hearing some rumors about talk of starting up a Heisman campaign for me for the 2012 season. Not that I'm the type of person to dive into it and campaign for myself (I like to stay humble about my success) but do you think that I have a chance to be invited to New York next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Interesting. I think more people know about you now than a year ago. If you come up and put up some big numbers in September, even more folks will take notice nationally. If Montee Ball is gone, you become arguably the Big Ten's most recognizable back along with Penn State's Silas Redd and Iowa's Marcus Coker. Plus, you play for a team known for running the ball well.
Hank (Washington DC)
Denard and Touissant both run for over 100 yards against the Hokies. Agree?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
If Virginia Tech's defense performs like it did against Clemson, then yes. Absolutely. But the Hokies still have talent on that side of the ball.
Which is the more promising budding rivalry: Iowa v. Nebraska or MSU v. Wisco?
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Think you just gave us a Take Two topic for later this week. Thanks, Lucas. Check's in the mail.
Tony (Castle Rock, CO)
Asked Brian the same thing.......over/under AR gets 2 wins against BB in fantasy games next year. Brian said bet the under.
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
He's feeling rather good about himself, isn't he? He owes about six of those wins to Montee Ball alone (Cardinals fans stick together). I won't pull another Jerry Angelo and draft as poorly as I did this year. Bennett knows I'm coming for him.
Adam, the SEC will win the national championship by default, but if it doesn't win another bowl game will anyone even notice?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
It would be interesting if it happened, Patrick. The national title game is really the only contest that shapes national perception.
Indiana has outstanding facilities, a great campus and solid academics. How is Vandy a better destination and why can't IU ever get to the level of Northwestern/Vandy?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Vandy has invested more in its program and benefits more from its location than Indiana does. But it really comes down to tradition, or lack thereof, at Indiana. Northwestern has been a pretty solid program since 1995. I'm not ready to say Vandy has arrived just yet, but Franklin seems like the guy to get it done in Nashville.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
OK, last one ...
Mark (Muncie, IN)
Does Wisconsin have any QB depth on their roster in the event that Budmayr doesn't recover and Crist goes to Kansas? Could the Leaders division potentially have a 2012 like the PAC 12 South?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Mark, the QB question will be a huge one at Wisconsin if those things happen. Joel Stave might be the best option, or maybe even incoming freshman Bart Houston. But yes, it wouldn't shock me if we had a UCLA situation -- maybe not that bad, but close -- in the Leaders division next year.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Enjoyed the chat. Have a great day!