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 (12:01 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here at it's noon. Let's get started.
Adam,Purdue (RS) Frosh Frankie Williams has been getting 1st team reps at Safety and played there in the spring game. Coach Hope said last year that he should not have shirted him as he would have been one of the better defensive players. What can Boiler fans expect out of him this season? Would it be too much to compare him to Ricardo Allen in his freshman season? Keep up the good work on the blogs!
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Thanks, Paul. I'm excited to see what Williams can do in games. He clearly has impressed the coaches with what he's done in practice. Purdue has one of the the Big Ten's top cornerback combinations back in 2012 (Allen, Johnson). If Williams can help solidify the secondary, it'll be tough to throw against Purdue.
Give me your predicted stats for Montee Ball and Danny O'Brien for this season (barring injury). I will say 65% for 2650 yards 22 tds and 7 ints for O'Brien and 1675 yards and 25 total tds for Ball.
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
You're definitely generous on O'Brien. I'll be surprised if he throws more than 18 TDs this fall. And he'll have to be much more accurate than he was last year. Montee will get his, and your prediction for him might not be far off.
Adam, on balance I think Delany's stewardship of the Big Ten has been fantastic. How long do you see him remaining on the job, and who are some candidates to replace him when he eventually retires?
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Patrick, I think it's important for Big Ten fans to see the big picture with Delany, which you do. For the Big Ten, he has been tremendously successful in building the league's brand. My sense is Jim wants to do one final television contract. The current deal expires after the 2015 season. It'll be interesting to see who the league would look for after Delany. Think it would have to be a sitting commissioner elsewhere. Big, big shoes to fill.
Trotter (Des Moines, Iowa)
With how favorable Iowa's schedule looks this year. How do you feel about my 9-4 predicition for the Hawks? I only want to hear your response based on the schedule. I dont need reminded that Vandy is scared in the pocket and can't throw the ball outside of Iowa City, or the fact our D-Line needs work. Iowa's headlines never change throughout the year. Thanks Andy!
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
Haha. And I don't know who Andy is, but I'll tell him you said thanks. ... The schedule does set up pretty well for Iowa. The Hawkeyes will have a tough time winning in the state of Michigan this year, but a 5-0 start is very realistic with the non-league slate and the opener at home against Minnesota. I think Iowa is a 7- or 8-win team that could win 9 if things fall right.
Matt (Pittsburgh Pa)
Adam, local paper columns here in pittsburgh indicate coach o'brien is nearing a decision on his starting qb. Who do you believe it will be?
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
It definitely seems like Bill is closing in on a decision. I'll be surprised if Matt McGloin isn't his guy entering the summer. Paul Jones also could continue to get a look, but you can't fault O'Brien if he goes with a guy who has played the most. Rob Bolden seems to have played his way out of the race, although he was taking a lot of snaps when I watched practice in mid-April.
Mr. T (Columbus)
Don't you think the B1G gave up too easily in pushing for home games in the semifinals of the playoffs? The biggest thing people complain about in bowl games is that the Southern teams never have to travel. Well this was the opportunity for our conference to keep pushing to change that but instead they would rather keep their allegiance to the Rose Bowl.
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Mr. T, I'm surprised the Big Ten didn't push a little harder. But the sentiment among Jim Delany an the ADs, one I believe to be correct, is that the national opposition would have been too strong to overcome. Is it worth fighting a losing battle? Perhaps it would have been, but the Big Ten also would have been viewed as a nuisance/obstructionist, etc.
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
It sounds weird, but it's a lot less controversial nationally for the Big Ten to stump for the Rose Bowl than for campus sites. Won't be too much opposition from other leagues to having bowl sites
Michael (Shreveport, LA)
Not to try to play the "If" game, Adam, but what if say Ohio State gets the No. 1 overall seed, goes to the Rose Bowl for the semifinals and plays the No. 4 seed USC Trojans? How is that incentive or a neutral field (Pasadena, CA)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Michael, it's not, and the Big Ten brass seems to be comfortable with it. Sort of. Purdue AD Morgan Burke told me he feels like every bowl game -- aside from the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl -- is a road game for the Boilers. And Ohio State might feel the same way in Pasadena, despite what would be a strong Scarlet turnout. The Big Ten is willing to accept the disadvantage it faces with the game sites.
Mike (Evergreen, CO)
Any chance the B1G/Pac12 adopts the same schedule routine as the B1G/ACC b-ball challenge? Sure football provides a few more complications but as long as each team has a date and home/away designation set in their schedule, why wouldn't it work? Sure would make it a lot more fun having the best teams match up every year???(if this came throught twice, sorry)
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Mike, the nature of football scheduling likely would make this difficult, although I'm sure the games that the two league offices schedule will have quality in mind as much as possible. There are some arrangements between schools that will carry over when the agreement kicks off, like Northwestern and Stanford meeting between 2019-2022. I think USC will be getting quite a few calls from Big Ten schools to arrange a series.
Goldy MFing Gopher (Mariucci Arena)
What are your stadium rating for the B1G? Feel free to go by amenities or atmosphere.
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Goldy, hate to be a tease, but you'll have to wait to see these. Brian and I did videos from all the stadiums we visited this spring, and we'll be ranking all 12 stadiums in video form later this month or next month.
Which one position group on any team do you think is the strongest? I feel that UM's (homer, I know) CB's are the best group on any position in the league. Courtney Avery, Terrance Talbott, Raymon Taylor, and Delonte Hollowell would all start for just about any team in the conference but are backups for UM. Add in JT Floyd and Blake Countess, and I believe you have the best collective group in the Big Ten. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Whether or not you're right remains to be seen, but how nice is it to type that statement after what Michigan endured at cornerback during the RichRod era? The position was drained by player departures, injuries, bad draft decisions (hello, Donovan Warren) ... you name it. And now, look at what Michigan brings back at CB, led by Floyd and Countess. I disagree it's the Big Ten's strongest position -- would probably go Penn State LB, Illinois D-line or Ohio State D-line -- but it's up there.
Chris (Santa Monica, CA)
With the B1G/P12 agreement, does this shut down the 9 game conference scheduling that was supposed to go in effect?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Yes, it does, Chris, at least for the Big Ten. The Pac-12 is keeping nine league games for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if that changes in the future. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Wednesday it was a close call on staying at eight or going to nine, but the Big Ten pretty much shelved the nine-game schedule as soon as the Pac-12 pact came about.
Is there any chance the B1GCG loser gets a BCS bowl bid this year? What has to happen for that possibility?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
David, history shows that league title game losers, except those in the SEC, typically get left out of the BCS mix. I think the Big Ten title game loser likely would have to enter the game undefeated and lose by a close margin. Could a 2-loss Big Ten runner-up earn a BCS berth? Probably only if the overall field of teams was a little bit weak this year.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Who do you think will have a breakout season for Coach Pelini's blackshirt defense in 2012?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Tony, I think safety Daimion Stafford will have a strong season after breaking out a bit in 2011. Also excited about Will Compton's potential at linebacker, where he has really taken charge. Up front, Cam Meredith and Baker Steinkuhler both have played a ton of football. Nebraska will be looking for both men to play their best as seniors.
Lou (Gaithersburg, MD)
Adam, is B1G's push for the Rose Bowl really a function of history with the Rose Bowl or more a fear of having to play in Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Definitely not a fear of playing in Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa, Lou. The Big Ten already plays virtual road games. What's the difference for Ohio State playing LSU in New Orleans or Baton Rouge? Or if Penn State plays USC at the Rose Bowl or the L.A. Coliseum? The Rose Bowl push, in my view, is the Big Ten seeing it can't win the campus-sites fight and pushing for its traditional partner as much as possible.
BAMA fan here. Why is your conference commisiosner attacking BAMA? Clearly ther results of last years NC game showed that the Tide belonged in that game. And with our upcomgin game with Michigan--a team and program I much admire--why give us more reasons to get fired up? Is he nuts or just extrememly unaware?
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Ah, I love Bama fans, don't you? Phillip, Jim Delany made an extremely poor choice when he said "that team" as opposed to "those teams" in discussing teams that didn't win their division or league. To say that months after Alabama won a national championship was silly. Delany would have been much better off talking about teams that finished No. 4 in the BCS standings, not No. 2.
Mike (Birmingham, MI)
How can you put the Penn State LBs over the MSU LBs? Three returning starters, two of which were all B1G last yeat in Bullough and Allen.Also, Johnny Adams & Darqueze Dennard >>> any um CB
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
Mike, I'd take Penn State's LBs ahead of Michigan State's LBs, especially if Mauti is healthy. Not a huge gap, but a gap. I would, however, include Michigan State's cornerbacks and Michigan State's D-line in my list of top position groups. While Adams might be the Big Ten's top corner entering the year, I wouldn't put Dennard ahead of the Michigan guys.
Adam, do you think some of Delany's comment on changing bowl affiliation and requirement, moving from 6-6 to 7-5 for eligibility, statements are based on the fact that many of the B1G bowl games are agaisnt the SEC and he wants to change that?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
No. Although a 6-6 Ohio State team played Florida last year, most of the Big Ten-SEC bowl matchups feature teams with 8 or more victories. So the increase in wins for bowl eligibility would impact the Big Ten's agreements with the Meineke Car Care Bowl (Big 12), the TicketCity Bowl (Big 12/Conference USA) and the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (MAC) more than any of the Big Ten-SEC bowls.
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
That said, Jason, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Big Ten reduce its SEC bowl matchups from three to two in the next cycle. Don't really see a need for the Big Ten to play three Florida bowls on the same day against the same league. A bit silly.
Much like the Cousins Era at MSU, Maxwell is also organizing summer drills. How much do you think this will help the offense to gel more quickly...and how many games do you think it will take for Maxwell and the WR corp to be on the same page as each other?
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
Not a surprise to see Maxwell taking charge, Ginger. He learned from one of the best. And after Maxwell missed the second half of spring ball because of the knee injury, he needs to capitalize on the summer and build those bonds as best he can before preseason camp kicks off. This is a huge summer for the Michigan State receivers and tight ends. Although the Spartans undoubtedly will be more of a running team in 2012, they'll need to challenge defenses with the pass, too.
Mr. Tea (Arnold Palmer Island)
In, say 3 years, after Hoke, Meyer and O'Brien have settled in (/right before Meyer is about to leave) and Pelini has become acclimated to the B1G, which division do you see being stronger? Thanks Adam!
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
I think it all depends on Penn State, Mr. Tea. If Penn State can become a consistent 10-win team, the Leaders could overtake the Legends as the deeper division. But with Michigan on the rise and Michigan State enjoying its most consistent stretch in a very long time, along with Nebraska and Iowa, the Legends is the stronger division right now. Should Penn State become a power, joining Wisconsin and Ohio State, the Leaders could have the edge.
cutter (Silver Spring, MD)
Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon recently outlined a 7- to 7-year, $250M master plan to upgrade the non-revenue sports facilities at UM in part so that those venues can be used to host conference and NCAA tournament championships. Isn't that an ironic seeing that Michigan recently spent around $300M on the stadium renovation and the new practice facility, but won't be able to use those structures for a college football playoff? Over the last decade, I imagine the Big Ten has spent over $1B on football related facilities (including a new stadium at Minnesota), yet none of those investments will be utilized for anything other than bowl preparations.
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Good points, Cutter. The Big Ten facilities, for the most part, would be more than capable of hosting national semifinals. The league has the biggest and most iconic group of stadiums in the country. It's not really close, in my view. And it's unfortunate for fans that those games won't be part of the playoff mix.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
Do the Gophers and the Hoosiers have any components of their teams that are in the top three in the B1G?
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Craig, nothing jumps out right now that would be in the top 3. If you want to consider quarterback running ability, Minnesota's MarQueis Gray is up there for sure. But it's more important for the Gophers and Hoosiers to get out of the bottom three in major areas than it is to get in the top three. Baby steps.
Adam - tried to submit this a second ago but don't think it worked, so sorry if this is a repeat. I know not a lot of people are giving Michigan much of a chance to win their opener in Dallas against Alabama and Nick Saban. What I want to know is what exactly Michigan needs to do in order to have a chance at winning. Obviously Denard needs to make better decisions (and better throws) with the ball, but given Blue's lack of top-flight receivers, I don't think that alone will carry the Wolverines. What else can Michigan do to win?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Adam, it's imperative for Michigan to keep the score down. Alabama might have lost a bunch of stud players, but the Tide have other stars ready to step in. And they should be able to pass the ball pretty well this year. Michigan needs a big game from its corners -- the guys we were discussing earlier -- and it has to capitalize on scoring opportunities in Alabama's half of the field. I don't think Michigan can win this game with more than one turnover, and that's all on Denard. It's all about limiting mistakes and efficiency against a team like Bama.
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Also big for Michigan's new-look defensive line to handle Barrett Jones and the Alabama offensive front.
FFX Lion (DC)
Do you have any idea when the 2015/16 conference schedules are coming out? I've been thinking about what that schedule will look like, and the B1G is going to have to use a bit of a different model, compared to the 2011-14 model that year in scheduling rotating crossovers.
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
FFX, I confirmed that the 2015/2016 schedules were approved by the ADs on Tuesday. They should be released very soon -- was told by the end of the month for sure, but probably by the end of next week at the latest.
Would Penn State consider going to the ACC ever? I know it sounds crazy but PSU has ties to Pitt and Syracuse and could fit in nicely there.
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
That idea is out there, but I'd be surprised if Penn State made the jump. The Big Ten is a stronger overall athletic conference. It has an incredibly successful television network (BTN), and Penn State has seen the benefits for many of its programs. Penn State is not a basketball school, and the ACC always will be a hoops-first league. My take: If Penn State wants to play with Pitt and Syracuse so badly, it's an admission of where PSU fits in to the national picture. If PSU wants to be big time, stay in the Big Ten and win more Big Ten football titles against Michigan, Ohio State, etc.
Jack (State College)
PSU has 67 wins over the last 7 years. No math involved that pretty close to a consistent 10 win team. Just curious to what you meant by that. I believe it's 72 and 70 wins for OSU and UW in that span.
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
Jack, you're right, but it's important for Penn State to consistently compete for Big Ten titles and challenge Ohio State and Wisconsin year after year. Most people would look at that division and see Ohio State, Wisconsin ... and then Penn State. When Penn State can truly join the other two at the top, the Leaders division could be stronger than the Legends.
Awhile back you said you thought Michigan State was a basketball school. Do you still think that? Or has Dantonio changed your mind?
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
It's interesting, Brian. When I posed that question to the blog last year, I got tons of emails from MSU fans saying it's a football school, end of story. I think there's a lot of truth to that, and Mark Dantonio's recent success has brought the football passion out of a fan base that had been knocked down too many times in the early part of the last decade. Does MSU basketball get more media coverage than MSU football? Without a doubt. Is Tom Izzo a bigger deal than Dantonio? Without a doubt. But I think Michigan State is one of those rare schools that has great passion for both major revenue sports.
I'm an oregon fan, so i totally understand the draw of the idea of having semi-final games at campus sites... However, i'm not sure the folks in BIG country understand that not many folks want to travel to the upper midwest in december for games. not sure many people would want to travel to Eugene in december either, on only 2-3 weeks notice at that...
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
That's fine, Tim. The home team fans would fill the stands for those games. Big Ten fans would fill their stadiums, and you and your fellow Duck fans would fill Autzen Stadium. The idea of campus sites is to make it easier on fans by preventing them from making two long trips in back-to-back weeks. That's what Big Ten fans are facing with the playoff proposed by the league's brass this week.
Will (San Diego)
If no national title comes out of this four-team playoff for the Big Ten, did conference AD's, presidents and the commissioner fail in acting in the best interest of conference schools?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
You could say they did, Will, although there's also an argument that a four-team playoff creates better access for Big Ten teams than the current BCS setup does. The SEC champion essentially has one spot in the title game reserved right now. That creates only one other spot for a team from the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, etc. With a four-team playoff, it opens up more spots for a Big Ten champion.
Do you secretly wish John L. Smith was a Big Ten coach? We have some great coaches in the league, but I imagine the press conferences get pretty boring sometimes.
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
I wouldn't be opposed, Dave! John L is a hoot. But I think Michigan State fans probably don't want him back in the league -- or maybe they do and want to beat his team.
Do you ever frequent any school's message boards or read the comments on your articles to get a gauge of fan reactions? Or are they too much of a cesspool?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
I watch reality TV to get stupid. That fulfills my need. But thanks for asking.
Tom (Fairfax, VA)
You confirmed that 15/16 schedules have been approved. Do you know any details, for example, will Iowa and Illinois finally play each other?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Tom, I don't have more details at this time, although I'll certainly check. I would be absolutely stunned if Iowa and Illinois don't play in 2015-16. It would completely go against the Big Ten's desire to have its teams play more often, not less often.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
Adam, just say the facts. The SEC loses sleep at night at simple thought of playing in snow. You heard the stats in the NFL about southern team's records after Dec 7th. when playing in the north. You think Mike Slive for one second wants the fragile perception of his conference burst...?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
I don't know if the SEC loses much sleep at night these days, Bren. But you're right -- of course the SEC doesn't want its teams to play in the north. The difference is, the SEC has support from other leagues in this aim (ACC, Pac-12, etc.). The fact is the most significant college games never have been played in the Big Ten footprint. Why the other leagues would want that to change makes no sense.
I'm sure Delaney has his expansion names hidden under glass in case of emergency. What's your guess on those - Rutgers and Maryland?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Those two wouldn't surprise me, Dave. There was some affinity for Rutgers in Big Ten circles during the last expansion push, and in my mind Maryland, despite its recent athletic dept troubles, is a better fit for the Big Ten. But honestly, is the Big Ten really a better league with Rutgers and Maryland? There's no need to expand for the sake of expanding. Big Ten is fine at 12.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
OK, last one for the day ...
Steven (Newport Beach, CA)
Clearly the B1G is aligned with the PAC12. Do you see the two getting exactly what they want since they are banded together. Can they force other AQ Conferences to toughen their schedules (like the SEC) and play only other AQ Conferences?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Good question, Steven. I think both leagues will push hard for schedule strength to be a key component in determining the final rankings (and the selections). The Pac-12 already is ahead of the curve here, and the Big Ten has been gradually beefing up its non-league schedules. I think the two leagues will have some success in pushing the importance of SOS.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, guys, excellent chat today. Really enjoyed it. Talk to you again soon!