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 3 p.m. ET!
Adam Rittenberg (3:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's chat!
David Mac (Indy)
What are your thoughts on what the inevitable impact of Notre Dame heading to the ACC has on the B1G. Can you see their TV deal with the NBC having anything to do with their choice?
Adam Rittenberg (3:01 PM)
I'm sure it was a big consideration, David, but as far as the Big Ten goes, the big impact is on the annual series with Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. Hard to see Notre Dame playing all three teams every year. We've seen a few breaks already with Michigan and MSU. Most interesting part could be Purdue and what happens there. Purdue wants to keep playing Irish every year.
Do you see Northwestern knocking off any conference powerhouses this year?
Adam Rittenberg (3:02 PM)
It seems like the Wildcats pull off an upset every year. Northwestern's toughest stretch comes against Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State. Tough to see Northwestern winning in East Lansing, but I wouldn't be shocked with the Wildcats won either of the other games.
Adam...what is going on with the Ohio State D-Line? Is it the scheme, players, or are the other teams just commiting that much more to shutting them down? Definitely have not play up to expectations so far!
Adam Rittenberg (3:03 PM)
I agree it has been a bit of a disappointment so far. To be fair, Ohio State hasn't been at full strength very much up front should be better when Williams and Bennett get back into the rotation. But the Buckeyes need Simon and Hankins to be difference makers and others to step up around them. This is a big week for the D-Line as Urban really challenged them coming out of the UCF game.
Waffles (Southern California)
Hi Adam. If change is needed, change must come, and fast. Thoughts on Bielema firing the offensive line coach after two games?
Adam Rittenberg (3:05 PM)
That's definitely Bielema's approach, Waffles. I'm still surprised by the move, especially since Markuson isn't some coach off of the scrap heap. He brought a lot of experience to Madison. But the move signifies a bad hire by Bielema, who had to make a lot of additions after the season. Clearly something was wrong in the O-line meeting room, and Bielema feels this move can get Wisconsin back to its traditional ways on the line. We should find out a lot Saturday night.
Skeptcial (Barbershops everywhere)
I am eagerly anticipating your sanctimonious article damning Hoke for playing Clark while awaiting sentencing for a FELONY. You were almost tripping over yourself to call out Dantonio for similar and LESS EGREGIOUS situations (http://es.pn/dypafp) (http://es.pn/b0gtLI)
Adam Rittenberg (3:07 PM)
You guys never forget anything, do you? Wolverine Nation will be handling our reaction, but here's mind: one game isn't long enough for Clark's suspension. His situation doesn't equate to Toussaint, who received a one-game suspension and deserved one. Clark's situation is more serious and merits a longer suspension. ... That said, the MSU-Dantonio situation was different. It was the second time a Spartans player went from jail immediately back to the team. I still strongly disagree with that move.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
It's good that Martinez has improved to help provide balance to the Husker offense, but are the Huskers trying to throw the ball too much,and not playing enough to his strength as much as they should?
Adam Rittenberg (3:08 PM)
Tony, that's a fair point, and I'd like to see Taylor run a little more, especially since he says he's fully healthy for the first time since the middle of the 2010 season. But Nebraska doesn't want to take too many chances with him, and the Huskers have enough ball-carrying options at RB, even without Burkhead.
Doesn't the Big 10 need to take some action? Their footprint to expand is getting smaller and they risk becoming a regional (midwest) conference with little national attraction, especially with the PSU situation. Where would (could) they look to expand?
Adam Rittenberg (3:09 PM)
What exactly do you want the Big Ten to do? Too many fans make this argument without actually thinking it through. The Big Ten was never, ever going to take Notre Dame as a partial member, and it shouldn't have. ND wouldn't have joined as a full member (football included). So where does the Big Ten turn? I don't think you expand just to expand, and most of what's out there -- Big East teams -- isn't exactly appealing to me.
Eric (Bloomington, IN)
What will it take for Indiana to finally jump 0-2 Penn State in the power rankings?
Adam Rittenberg (3:11 PM)
Eric, understand your criticism on that one. A victory this week against Ball State would help Indiana's cause, as the Cardinals are the first real FBS opponent IU has faced (UMass is terrible). If Indiana wins and Iowa and/or Penn State struggles, I'll promise you the Hoosiers move up in the power rankings.
Brian (Portland, Ore)
Hey Adam - the Nittany Lions have two more "pre-season" games left to solve their defensive issues around 3rd downs. Do you think it is fixable and if so, can they still compete in the Leaders division?
Adam Rittenberg (3:12 PM)
Brian, I think the Penn State pass rush will continue to get better. Absolutely love Deion Barnes' potential at DE. Still, I think teams that have spread offenses and can get the ball out quickly will have success against Penn State. The secondary remains average at best. Think PSU does a lot better defending pro-style offenses than the spread this season.
msualum2002 (South Lyon, Michigan)
I really like MSU playing Notre Dame every year, but if the series is discontinued how tough would it be to schedule another Top 30 team every year for MSU to replace ND?
Adam Rittenberg (3:13 PM)
Michigan State is one step ahead of you, actually. The Spartans have added games with teams like Oregon and Alabama to future schedules. Mark Hollis is always looking for branding opportunities to help MSU. So as long as MSU plays the likes of Alabama and Oregon, the Notre Dame game isn't as critical, especially in a playoff environment where schedule strength matters more.
How massive has Braxton Miller been? He must be on track to be the first 2000/2000 guy ever!
Adam Rittenberg (3:15 PM)
Very, very impressed so far, Pancakes. But I agree with Urban Meyer that Miller can't have 27 carries a game going forward. That's asking for a major injury. Ohio State needs other weapons to emerge, and the running back situation obviously will improve a lot when Jordan Hall returns. The Buckeyes shouldn't need or want Miller to be rushing for 2,000 yards because that's an insane amount of carries and hits he'll endure.
Michael (Los Feliz, CA)
Hey Adam love the blog!Anyway, I have been pleasantly surprised by the way the Gophers are developing early in the season. The Defensive line and secondary both look great, and while the O has been inconsistent, the scheme has also been Vanilla to the extreme. Do you expect Coach Limegrover to open up the scheme and pass a little more, and maybe do some more pin and pull stuff in the run game now that the next two games feature tougher opposition (W. Mich & Cuse)?
Adam Rittenberg (3:16 PM)
Michael, I think Limegrover is trying to build confidence in the unit, especially with so many young/unproven players at receiver. I liked how he got MarQueis Gray going in the run game against New Hampshire after momentum appeared to turn away from the Gophers. I'd like to see a little more passing as the competition improves, but it's important to see Minnesota keep growing with the run game. That used to be a program hallmark that went away under Tim Brewster.
Adam (Adams, Adamstan)
Have you noticed how Brian tries to answer all of the questions from guys ostensibly named "Brian"? Kind of vain, don't you think?
Adam Rittenberg (3:17 PM)
How many losses are my Huskers going to get this season?
Adam Rittenberg (3:18 PM)
Three or four. I had Nebraska beating UCLA and dropping two or three Big Ten games. Again, the Huskers haven't recorded a really impressive road win in a while. They get their first chance Oct. 6 at Ohio State. Most important game of the season for Nebraska, in my view.
Why don't you ever answer my questions? I feel so unloved. Is it because you're still upset that Tresselgate made you miss Memorial Day? I really think it's time to move on. :(
Adam Rittenberg (3:19 PM)
Let's move on, NuttyBuckeyes. No hard feelings. You got a question in there?
Jules P Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Adam, what do you think of the B1G's 5th place ranking, according to the ESPN Stats & Information College Football Conference Power Rankings? http://espn.go.com/blog/big12/post/_/id/55237/league-rankings-big-12-starts-at-no-1
Adam Rittenberg (3:20 PM)
The Big Ten shouldn't be below the ACC, but when you lose as many games as the B1G did on one Saturday, you get pounded in these types of rankings. Can't argue the Big Ten is better than the SEC, Big 12 or Pac-12.
Mike (Davenport, IA)
Adam, I never thought I'd say this but, Ken O'Keefe was a more attractive option than Greg Davis has been through 2 games. Iowa has not opened up their play calling at all. I know that Iowa's receivers havent been stellar, but GD needs to turn Vandenberg loose if he wants a chance to salvage the season. Do you see KF and GD reverting back to the no huddle or making some kind of drastic change if this keeps up?
Adam Rittenberg (3:22 PM)
Man, I never thought I'd see this email. The O'Keefe love returns! Davis hasn't been impressive so far, and these types of play calls are what drove him out of Texas and angered so many fans. He doesn't have many weapons at his disposal, but he has to do something to switch it up. Increasing the tempo might not be a bad approach. He also has to take a few more chances.
I enjoyed listening to you on "The Ride with JMV" last week. With the recent struggles in the Big Ten, what do you think it will take for the conference to be on the same level as the SEC? Is it simply about national championships?
Adam Rittenberg (3:24 PM)
Thanks, Logan. It's all about winning national championships, but Big Ten programs have to take steps to get there. It starts with recruiting, of course, and maybe putting greater emphasis on certain skills at certain positions. It's all about speed and athleticism -- even more so than power -- and teams like Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan are going in that direction with their recruiting.
Hey Adam! Love the name! Is Pelini on the hot seat after that awful loss to UCLA?
Adam Rittenberg (3:26 PM)
It is a great name, Adam. Pelini isn't on the hot seat yet, and Tom Osborne isn't the type to pull the plug on a guy easily. But Pelini has to get Nebraska back to playing the type of defense it did in 2009. The unit hasn't been the same since Suh departed. He also needs his teams to play more consistently away from home. Every road game is tough, but Nebraska seems to cave more than it should away from Lincoln. That's why the Ohio State and Michigan State games are so important for Big Red.
Hey Adam, what game do you see as Michigan State's biggest challenge down the stretch? Do you think they have a shot and running the table?
Adam Rittenberg (3:27 PM)
Charlie, it's really hard to run the table, especially with a new starting quarterback. But I think Wisconsin's loss increases Michigan State's chances to go undefeated. It's very hard to win in Camp Randall, but this Wisconsin team isn't as tough as the past two. Michigan State has to show it can survive that brutal stretch: at Michigan, at Wisconsin, Nebraska. The Spartans also still have Notre Dame and Ohio State at home. It'll be very tough to get through all that without a loss.
Mochila (Grand Rapids, MI)
What can we expect from the Notre Dame run game this weekend? What we saw against Navy (295 yds), against Purdue (52 yds), or somewhere in between? Will Cierre Wood make a difference? (I'd really like to know what their run game will bring.)
Adam Rittenberg (3:28 PM)
I think Wood makes a difference, Mochila, but Notre Dame isn't running for 200 yards on Michigan State. The Spartans are very, very solid on defense, but the one spot that looks iffy right now is defensive tackle. MSU needs big performances from White, Reynolds, Hoover and the others, as I expect Notre Dame to attack the middle. The Irish can't outrun the Spartans on the edges.
Zach (Moraga, CA)
I'm heading to Columbus for the CAL-OSU game. Looking forward to experiencing a game in Ohio Stadium but I've heard UCF's coach and local Bay-area media say it isn't very loud. Is this really true? What can I expect for the game? Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (3:30 PM)
It's not as loud for noon kickoffs as it is for night games, Zach, and it might not be Autzen Stadium, but Ohio Stadium remains an extremely intimidating place to play. Cal really sees nothing quite like it in the Pac-12. It's a lot of folks wearing red right on top of the field. Should be a fun atmosphere for you.
Crepes (Green Bay)
Hey Adam. Indiana QB was recently hurt and I was wondering how good their second string quarterback Cameron Coffman is? With him at the helm, what are the chances Indiana wins 6 games and makes it to a bowl game?
Adam Rittenberg (3:32 PM)
Coffman is a solid addition for Indiana, which really had no quarterback depth after the season. He's definitely a pass-first QB, which works well as Kevin Wilson wants to throw the ball more and brought in new coordinator Seth Littrell to do just that. It'll be interesting to watch him make his first start and play a whole game against Ball State. Indiana likes its receivers and tight end Ted Bolser, so I expect Coffman to air it out quite a bit. Indiana has to sweep non-league play to have a chance at a bowl, in my view, so Saturday night is critical.
BWG (Kenosha WI)
Am I putting to much stock in Purdue's performance in South Bend? Can I even dream of a New Year's Day bowl, or even a trip to Indy?
Adam Rittenberg (3:35 PM)
I think you can, BWG, although Robert Marve's injury could hurt if TerBush doesn't improve his game during the course of the season. Purdue's defense is legit, and with the Leaders division so wide open, the Boilers certainly could reach Indianapolis. They have to start Big Ten play strong as they face Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State. Purdue needs a minimum of one win (preferrably against Wisocnsin) and ideally two to stay in the chase. An 0-3 start seals the Boilers' fate.
BC or Northwestern who wins?
Adam Rittenberg (3:35 PM)
Check in at 9 a.m. ET tomorrow and find out. Sorry.
What will Morgan Burke do if Purdue can't continue to schedule ND? I like the idea of another out of conference big name opponent, but also am realistic that big names arn't beating down the door to do home and homes with us.
Adam Rittenberg (3:37 PM)
Gregg, I think Burke will be so upset he'll immediately install permanent lights at Ross-Ade. I kid, I kid. I think he'll look for a big-name opponent and should be able to get a decent home-and-home. Not sure he'll get Oregon again like Purdue had in 2008-09, but he could get a decent Pac-12, Big 12 or ACC school.
Lance (Grand Rapids, MI)
Adam, your piece on Coach Dantonio was excellent. Did he tip you off on any movies the team has been watching and what we can expect the next trick play to be named after on Saturday?
Adam Rittenberg (3:37 PM)
Thanks, Lance. He didn't mention any movies. Do you have any guesses? What's the latest Disney flick?
Alex (Kansas City)
What do you think the biggest concern for Nebraska is on the defensive side of the ball? D-Line or Linebackers?
Adam Rittenberg (3:39 PM)
It's still the linebackers, Alex. I realize the line hasn't been up to standard, but you really sink or swim with your linebackers, especially against spread teams with speed everywhere. Nebraska's linebackers have been so-so for a while now, and depth has been an issue. It looks like we'll see some others players get more field time this week against Arkansas State, as Bo Pelini and John Papuchis try to find the right combination before Big Ten play kicks off.
You covered MSU running the table, if they do (big if) do they get a shot at the Crystal Football or with the current state of the big ten is it pretty much SEC and SEC#2/USC
Adam Rittenberg (3:40 PM)
Jed, it would be a real shame if an undefeated Big Ten team that challenged itself out of conference (Boise State, ND) was left out of the title game. But if Alabama or LSU and USC run the table, I can definitely see the Spartans being left out. Could happen if Florida State runs the table, too.
Adam, I know this is NOT an ACC or Notre Dame blog/chat.....too lowly for you. ;-) But do you think that the Big East made the "join the Big East in football or else we'll kick all of your sports out" threat one too many times? The Irish just laughed and walked away.
Adam Rittenberg (3:42 PM)
Jason, I think it was more the greater concern with the Big East's future and an opportunity to have a greater presence in the southeast with the ACC. It's definitely a win for most Notre Dame sports, namely men's and women's basketball, and while I won't get excited for a Notre Dame-Wake Forest matchup, the Irish will benefit from facing some ACC teams (Florida State, Clemson, Miami) more often.
Chris (Charleston, SC)
Hey Adam, can we really use the first two games as a real measuring stick for the Wolverines? I realize they were overrated going into the season, but they played a juggernaut in what was basically a road game and got manhandled, and then played against Air Force and their spread option. Neither team is similar to the rest of the teams Michigan will face from here on out. Is A2 panicking too soon?
Adam Rittenberg (3:44 PM)
Chris, some good points here, and it's too soon to panic. But it's also fair to admit Michigan has some significant question marks with depth. There are a lot of young players out there, and they will make mistakes from time to time. The defense isn't nearly as stingy as it was last season. I think the offense will finish among the Big Ten's best -- if not the best -- but Michigan has a lot to fix if it wants to get back to 10 wins this fall.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
Are you making it to the Shoe for the OSU v. Cal game?
Adam Rittenberg (3:45 PM)
I won't be there, but Mr. Bennett will. I'll be in East Lansing.
Hi Adam, how is my favorite Michigan homer doing? You have to admit that we Buckeyes are the favorites to win the leaders division. Sure we cannot represent the leaders in the CCG, but we can still win the division.
Adam Rittenberg (3:46 PM)
That's hilarious, Jack. Ask most Michigan fans about me being a homer. They'll laugh in your face. They think I hate U-M (which I don't). ... As for Ohio State, the Buckeyes definitely look like the top Leaders division team right now. They need to tighten up the defense and get a few more weapons to emerge on offense, but Ohio State is a young team that should get better as the season progresses.
At what point do BIG fans like myself throw my hands in the air and simply give up defending the conference. I grew up in Ohio watching Woody and Bo battle for the title every year. I love Ohio State and always will, but living in SEC country I am tired of defending the BIG after last weekend. Enough is Enough.
Adam Rittenberg (3:48 PM)
Understand your position, Vinnie. There's nothing to defend right now. And there won't be until certain Big Ten teams take the step and become nationally elite again. Ohio State should be there in 2013, and Michigan won't be too far behind. But right now, the league is a major disappointment.
Kevin (Miami, FL)
Do you think Delaney will ever promote the whole conference or is he just going to stick with promoting um and osu until he retires/gets fired?
Adam Rittenberg (3:49 PM)
Yes, Kevin, he only promotes Ohio State and Michigan. He has nothing to do with the record revenue every Big Ten school receives (evenly, by the way). He has nothing to do with the Big Ten Network or a good expansion move with Nebraska. This argument is so tired.
Fitz ((Evanston, IL))
I know you live in Chicago, but when's the earliest we can expect you or Brian to attend a Northwestern game?
Adam Rittenberg (3:50 PM)
I was there last week. You didn't see me? Even got rained on a bit. Good times.
Jed (Mustache Country)
Well, I think so far in the season Coach Hope has taken himself off the hot seat. Solid offense and defense seen in the first couple of games. A few questionable calls saved ND from OT. What are your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (3:51 PM)
Way too early to say that, Jed. Purdue looks improved from 2011, but we'll know a lot more about the Boilers after the first three Big Ten games. That's when we'll get a better gauage of whether or not Hope is on the hot seat.
Brady Hoke (AA)
Hi Adam, I a BIG fan. Do you think our Lack of depth at DL is the major factor in my decision on Frank Clark or am I truly doing whats better for the young man?
Adam Rittenberg (3:52 PM)
Not going to speak for you, Brady, as you feel Clark has done enough to get back on the field. I just disagree with Clark's suspension being the same length as Toussaint's. They committed different offenses and deserved different punishments (longer suspension for Clark).
Adam, were you at the NDvMSU game 2 years ago under the lights when "Little Giants" occurred? If so I'm hoping you being there again will result in a similar result for MSU.
Adam Rittenberg (3:53 PM)
Ben, I wasn't there (at Wisconsin-Arizona State that weekend, I believe). But I will be there this Saturday. And I attended Michigan State's win against ND in 2008. So there's that.
Genghis Khan (Mongolia)
What's the benefit of scheduling an FCS school?
Adam Rittenberg (3:53 PM)
Another home gate. A chance to rest your starters. That's it.
You actually think Iowa will make a bowl game? Call me a pessimist, but I don't see more than 4 games left that they even have a chance of winning. The spread for the game this weekend against FCS UNI is even at home!
Adam Rittenberg (3:54 PM)
Yeah, not impressed with these Hawkeyes at all. The schedule isn't too difficult, but if the offense doesn't turn around soon, Iowa's streak of winning seasons could be in jeopardy. My pick of 8-4 for Iowa isn't looking good at all.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will LeVeon Bell develop into the best Spartan running back since Lorenzo White by season's end with the workload he'll receive? Or would he need to come back another season?
Adam Rittenberg (3:56 PM)
He'd defintiely need to return to come anywhere near White's career numbers, Tony. White was a true workhorse, much like Javon Ringer in his Spartans career. Bell certainly fills that role right now, but he'd have to return in 2013. And if he keeps this up, I'd be absolutely stunned if he returns. He's got the best NFL potential of any Big Ten back -- and maybe any back in the country.
We play 3 BCS level OOC oppopnents this year. Do you think this helps us going into conference play? I am really hoping the Cats can step it up and go 5-3 this year in conference, especially if they manage to beat BC this weekend.
Adam Rittenberg (3:58 PM)
The short answer is it helps. Obviously, if there are a bunch of serious injuries, you question it a bit. But Northwestern has stayed relatively healthy through the first two games. Boston College is an interesting game. Vandy definitely is more talented and athletic, but BC is physical and should attack Northwestern's secondary more than Vandy did. It'll be a tough challenge for Northwestern, but the Wildcats are the better team this week.
Adam Rittenberg (3:58 PM)
Last one ...
Andrew Maxwell (East Lansing)
Should I watch Rudy before the game this weekend?
Adam Rittenberg (3:59 PM)
Uh, no. And your coach wouldn't touch that DVD with a 10-foot pole. Dantonio loves kid movies, anyway (Little Giants, Mousetrap).
Adam Rittenberg (4:00 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Enjoyed the chat. Let's do it again next week!