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)
Greetings, everyone. It's championship week. I expect championship-level questions. Let's go ...
Jabber (Des Moines)
Greg Davis is coming back, Adam? Please give Hawkeye fans a reason to believe that a second year of this _____ will be better.
Adam Rittenberg (3:01 PM)
Uh, it can't get any worse? Another full offseason should help Iowa get more comfortable with Davis' system, and I'd hope Davis would look at some of his play-calling patterns and make adjustments. The running back group actually could be really good next year, but there's obviously a lot to improve on that side of the ball.
Jamie (Chicago )
Hey Adam,Know that we are heading into Bowl season I have always wanted to know why are the "Big Games" played in areas that favor the SEC and PAC 12? My guess would simple be becuase of weather, but that sounds childish to me. We have great venues her in the Midwest (Soldier Field, Lucas Oil, Ford Field, Bengals Stadium, etc...) A big part, in my opinion, for the Big Tens struggles in Bowl games is that it's inevitably an away game for us and a home for whoever we are playing. Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg (3:03 PM)
Jamie, while I agree with what you say, you're not going to see a bunch of bowl games in the Midwest. Ever. Bowl games are about tourism and getting fan bases to travel around the holidays. Large groups simply aren't going to travel to Chicago or Detroit or Indy in late December. So yes, the Big Ten has a huge disadvantage. It's not going to change. But the actual bowl matchups can change -- and should change, in my view.
Matt (St. Paul, MN)
I know that Teague has chosen his words carefully and said all the right things publically, but internally there has to be concern about the long term affects on the program in regards to Coach Kill's health, correct? Like Coach Kill, but when his health becomes the lead story after a disappointing Saturday, I'm not sure that's a good thing.
Adam Rittenberg (3:04 PM)
Matt, there's some concern about why it keeps happening. Kill has to change the way he coaches a bit, and spend the offseason getting to the bottom of why this is happening more now. The key thing Teague told me is he's not worried about recruiting, and that if Kill's health were impacting recruiting, he'd be really worried. That's the area you have to watch, whether recruiting is hurt by all of this.
Pavlov's Dog (Mother Russia)
Is it just me or was Ohio State snubbed a bit in First Team All B1G voting?
Adam Rittenberg (3:05 PM)
A little bit, Pavlov, but Ohio State also had John Simon win Defensive Player of the Year when most folks thought it should be Mauti (or maybe Ryan Shazier). I don't know how Braxton Miller isn't consensus first-team QB, or how Shazier isn't consensus first-team LB. Also think Ohio State should have had more linemen on the list.
Jonathan (Greenville, NC)
Any updates on the Purdue Coaching search? Heard Hazell is out now and that Butch Jones is the clear front runner...
Adam Rittenberg (3:06 PM)
There's definitely interest in Jones, Jonathan, and he'd be a great hire for Purdue. Brian and I both think Jones can hold out for a better job, but with the recent realignment news, Cincinnati is in a bad spot. Maybe he'll jump now and take a Big Ten job. Would be a coup for Purdue.
Is there any chance that Ball wins the Doak Walker award he should have won last year? It seems like that award often is a career acheivement award and, as good as Barner's been, Ball should win.
Adam Rittenberg (3:08 PM)
Jon, it'll be interesting. Oregon also had LaMichael James win it two years ago, which could be a factor. I'd love to see Montee get some recognition for a career that hasn't been fully appreciated at the national level.
Danny Hope (In transition)
You told me I would be safe at 6-6? I even guided us away from Detroit in December. You lied to me.
Adam Rittenberg (3:08 PM)
Sorry, Danny. Best of luck in your next stop. Love the 'stache!
Trey (Nebraska )
Does playing in a dome stadium at Lucas Oil Stadium gain advantage to the Skers? I mean that fast, high tempo offense inside a climate controlled dome...that's like peanut butter and jelly. Also, do you think that Bo will leave Lincoln for any of those coveted SEC jobs?
Adam Rittenberg (3:09 PM)
It's a plus, Trey. We saw how bad the Huskers offense looked last week in poor weather at Kinnick Stadium. So the ideal conditions should help the offense get into a better flow. ... As for Pelini, keep an eye on the Auburn job, but he also seems to be getting more comfortable in Nebraska. A Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl appearance could have him staying put for a little longer.
The goat (Texas)
Why isn't there more content of the CCG this Saturday?
Adam Rittenberg (3:11 PM)
We'll have plenty more in the next few days, and we're talking with commissioner Jim Delany on this week's podcast -- in part about the championship game. But honestly, this championship game doesn't resonate as much as one that has national title implications. Hard to get too geeked about a matchup featuring a 5-loss team.
Scott (Knoxville, TN)
With two new teams in the league, wouldn't it be better if the "east" was made up of the two new teams, PSU, OSU, MSU, UM and either IU or PU? and the "west" with the other seven?
Adam Rittenberg (3:12 PM)
Scott, I think geography will be a bigger factor in the division alignments when they're ultimately decided. The keys will be whether Wisconsin stays in the "east," whether Illinois moves to the Legends and whether Michigan/MSU switch as well.
I'm not so sure that Purdue was justified in firing Hope. Who do they think they can get that is better? I don't mean that as a knock on Purdue (ok, maybe a small one) but it seems like there are schools that are a little out of touch with what they can reasonably get. A bowl season for under a million in a major conference? That's really kind of a bargain.
Adam Rittenberg (3:14 PM)
BRT, you make some good points. But Danny Hope raised the bar this season by saying this would be his best team, and then the Boilers get blown out in four of their first five Big Ten games. Fans had totally lost faith in Hope and in the program, and had stopped showing up. You can't ignore that if you're an AD. But you also have to aim higher with the next hire and devote more financial resources to the next coaching staff. You get what you pay for in college football.
Illini Mike (Chicago)
Well Tim Beckman is safe for now. Any word on the rest of the coaching staff?
Adam Rittenberg (3:15 PM)
Mike, I'd definitely expect some changes. Have heard at least two assistants are likely out, but we'll see. The entire staff is out recruiting now, and will be for the next week as well. But I can't imagine Beckman going forward with the exact same staff, which clearly didn't work this year.
How can Wisconsin players say they deserve to be in the CCG? Now if they said we have a chance to win the CCG, that is okay. But in my opinion and probably most peoples opinion Wisconsin players should not say they deserve to be their.
Adam Rittenberg (3:16 PM)
Cole, I think fans are making way too much out of the "deserve to be there" comments, whether it's from Wisconsin players or Bo Pelini. Wisconsin is there. We all knew the deal when Ohio State got its bowl ban. The Badgers don't have to acknowledge Ohio State and lament why they're not in the game. Let's get over it and move on.
Dave. Delafield, Wisconsin [via mobile]
Will Dave Doeren get to choose between Purdue abd Minnesota? (Kill had done a great job, but I would think his health has to come first)
Adam Rittenberg (3:17 PM)
No. Purdue made it clear it wants an offensive-minded coach (Doeren is a defense guy), and Jerry Kill is coming back to Minnesota barring some more health issues. So I'd expect Doeren to stay at NIU for another year, unless another team comes calling. It'll be interesting.
Not excited about the ccg? I guess this whole deciding who goes to the Rose bowl must not be as big of a deal as you BIG folks make it.
Adam Rittenberg (3:18 PM)
It's a big deal, Joel, and we're doing several feature posts and other items on the championship game. But if you're asking whether this championship game is generating as much coverage/hype as, say, a Nebraska-Ohio State game or a matchup that has national title implications, I can tell you it doesn't.
Which teams at the top of your head return the most talent and players next year?
Adam Rittenberg (3:20 PM)
Most of the Legends division teams should be just as good or better in 2013. Northwestern brings back almost everyone -- Wildcats should be very good. Nebraska brings back most of its key offensive players but loses some key pieces on D. Michigan State also brings back most of its key pieces. Ohio State returns most of its offense but could have a lot to replace on D. Michigan is still in the depth-building stage on both sides.
Lou (Gaithersburg, MD)
East-West alignment is easy: East: Rutgers, PSU, UMD, OSU, Mich, IU, PU. West: MSU, ILL, NW, WIS, IA, NEB, MINN. MSU-Mich can be crossovers. Could even flip-flop them if they insist on splitting up PSU/OSU/MICH/NEB like now. Regional rivalries and the Land Grant Trophy restored!
Adam Rittenberg (3:21 PM)
Like it, Lou. My opinion has changed on this. I think you can have Ohio state and Michigan in the same division. And besides, we can't possibly go much longer without the Land Grant series starting up again.
Adam, do you see Michigan playing Texas A&M in a bowl game?
Adam Rittenberg (3:22 PM)
Doubtful, CJK. Expect A&M to go to the Cotton Bowl, which would love to have a home-state team and Johnny Football.
After 3 years of me bugging you, you finally mentioned that it's been 33 years since OSU won CotY... hooray! A couple points your article didn't cover: At what point did it stop being an award about the being the best coach in the conference for a given year (back when coaches like Woody or Bo could win it) and start being whatever it is today? Do you think by never acknowledging success the Big Ten is creating a culture of accepting mediocrity that sort of explains why we've had trouble competing nationally?
Adam Rittenberg (3:24 PM)
Yeah, Bart, that's why the Big Ten has stopped winning national title's. C'mon. I agree the award doesn't always acknowledge the most deserving coach. But a lot of people view coaching as who overcame the most challenges, who improved his team the most, etc. That's why it's hard for Ohio State coaches to win -- because the program is so good most seasons. But the Big Ten Coach of the Year voting has absolutely no bearing on how the league performs nationally.
Which SEC team is the best matchup for Northwestern?
Adam Rittenberg (3:25 PM)
Any team outside of the big six: Bama, UGA, Florida, A&M, LSU and South Carolina. So that would be the Gator Bowl matchup against maybe Mississippi State. Vanderbilt also is a possibility and Northwestern beat Vandy in Week 2, but I can't see a bowl putting together a rematch.
Greg (South Bend)
As AAU members, would Vandy and Pitt be the most likely schools for the next expansion? Especially with the ACC coming down on Maryland like it has
Adam Rittenberg (3:28 PM)
No. You guys need to stop stumping for Pitt as a Big Ten addition. It just ain't happening, folks. The Big Ten is already in the market, and Pitt athletics aren't what they used to be. Vanderbilt? It's a new market, but it's a smaller, private school with an awful football history. Seems like a stretch to me. Would Northwestern be admitted into the Big Ten if it weren't a charter member? No way. Feel similarly about Vandy.
I have dubbed you "Resident MAC Blogger", since ESPN has decided they don't need a Non-AQ blogger, and you live in the right part of the country. So who wins the MACCG Friday, and does either team bust the BCS? Surely both are better than the Big East option.
Adam Rittenberg (3:29 PM)
I'm not sure if this is a compliment, but I love MACtion, baby! And I'm fired up for NIU-Kent State in the title game. Dri Archer and Jordan Lynch are two of the best players in college football. Can't wait for that one. I'm going to go with Northern Illinois and Dave Doeren getting the win, but it'll be a great one.
What coaches have the hardest recruiting sells? Indiana and purdue because of each other and Norte dame? Minnesota?
Adam Rittenberg (3:30 PM)
Both Indiana schools have a tough sell because there aren't as many high school prospects in the state than there are in Ohio, Illinois, PA, etc. Minnesota has a tough sell because of the location -- same with Iowa.
I was very surprised to see how little (all things considered) that Purdue was paying Hope. Any chance there will be pressure from the conference office or the Big 10 power teams for Purdue to spend more - especially considering how much TV money is flowing. Or are the top teams happy to have a few lightweights in the conference to pad the win totals?
Adam Rittenberg (3:31 PM)
Todd, Purdue reportedly has put together a much larger revenue package ($4.5 million, according to Rivals.com) to offer its next head coach. So I think the message is sinking in a bit. You have to pay more if you expect to compete better in the Big Ten.
So you don't BO'B deserved coach of the year?
Adam Rittenberg (3:32 PM)
I had no issue with it, Joe. If I had a vote, which I don't, I would have voted for Urban Meyer. He received my endorsement. But Bill did a fabulous job, as well, especially after the sanctions came down.
Any chance Indiana makes any staff changes? Not real impressed with Mallory/Ekeler
Adam Rittenberg (3:34 PM)
It'll be interesting, Steve. I get the sense Kevin Wilson wants to keep his staff together. That said, I don't like the co-coordinators thing. Mike Ekeler came in with a strong reputation and will get another job easily if things don't work out.
when are you and brian going to actually report truth in articles instead of your biased opinions. Reporting is about putting truth out there for the people to decide, not you to give your biased opinion on what you think it should be.
Adam Rittenberg (3:36 PM)
Thanks for the journalism lecture, Fred. I have a degree from a pretty darn good school. Don't need the refresher. This is a BLOG. It's inherently opinionated. It has been that way from the beginning, and it will continue to be that way. We're paid to offer our opinions and to cover the league. Some items will be reported without any opinion, and some won't. But that's a blog. Deal with it.
Ed Warriner (Columbus)
Did I do a great job coaching the OSU offensive line or what?
Adam Rittenberg (3:37 PM)
Yes, you did, Ed. You were the best hire Urban Meyer made for his staff (Tom Herman a close second). But you transformed a middling, underachieving line and made it into the Big Ten's best. Very impressive.
Timbro (Champaign, IL)
Yo Fred, it is called a BLOG!! I may not be able to coach, but I at least know that much.
Adam Rittenberg (3:37 PM)
See, even Beckman gets it.
I'm a Pac-12 guy, so sorry to invade your chat. But as it's looking like Nebraska will represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl, can you compare Martinez to the mobile QBs in the Pac-12 (Marcus Mariota at Oregon, Brett Hundley at UCLA, and even Keith Price at U-Dub)? It seems like Martinez is more of a run-first guy, and both Stanford and UCLA have stout run defenses (and Stanford corralled both Mariota and Hundley), so what does Martinez bring to the table that Stanford hasn't seen already?
Adam Rittenberg (3:39 PM)
Welcome, Chris! I'm sure we'll dive into this more if Nebraska wins on Saturday. Martinez definitely is a gifted runner, but he's also much better as a passer this year than in 2011. He's much more accurate and looks more comfortable in the pocket. He's probably most similar to Hundley, although I haven't seen a ton of UCLA this year. I can tell you he plays behind a much better offensive line than Keith Price, who was beaten up more than any QB in the country this season.
I understand why Hoke has the stance he has on recruiting but he's losing top recruites because his no visit policy. If he's confident, why would it be a problem for committed prospects to visit elsewhere? I'm afraid this trend will continue as players often have a hard time making up their mind.
Adam Rittenberg (3:40 PM)
It's an old-school approach, Corey, and it's admirable. Hoke is an old-school guy to the core. But this is a different era, and if Michigan continues to lose top prospects, he might have to reconsider the policy.
I love my Badgers... But it has been a tough year. I cant see Nebraska turning the ball over as much as they did in the first half against us in October. They have the number one offense in the big 10 and the game is being played indoors. All the advantages seem to be in Nebraska's favor. Do you think that this game will get out of hand? Anyway, go Badgers!
Adam Rittenberg (3:41 PM)
Mike, Nebraska gives almost every opponent a chance to win because of the turnovers. I don't expect that to change on Saturday night. Also, Wisconsin has been in every game this season. Is Nebraska the better team? Yes. Is Nebraska the sloppier team? Yes. That, to me, indicates a close game that Wisconsin will have a chance to win.
Has anyone told Rutgers and Maryland they need to start making some outlandish trophies to play for once they join the B1G?
Adam Rittenberg (3:42 PM)
Not yet, but that's a good idea. Any suggestions? A giant turtle shell would be pretty cool for Maryland.
AAWolv (Ann Arbor)
What B1G teams do you see making the largest negative or positive leaps in record next year?
Adam Rittenberg (3:43 PM)
You probably won't like this, AA, but I think Michigan State makes a move next year. The Spartans will be older and deeper on offense and return most of their key defenders. Wisconsin also should win more than 7 regular-season games. Indiana should be able to win 6 or more games with eight home contests. On the negative side, Purdue will have a new coach and could struggle.
Just wondering what SEC team you think would be the best match-up for Michigan in their bowl game? I realize they probably won't be able to compete with the higher level SEC teams, but what team would they have the best shot at beating(of the good ones, not talking about the Kentuckys or Auburns of the SEC)
Adam Rittenberg (3:45 PM)
Alvin, I think Michigan can hang with South Carolina, especially if the Wolverines' defense steps up. LSU is another team that lacks a really dynamic offense. Michigan vs. The Hat would be a lot of fun.
Will Bennett and yourself be doing predictions Thursday morning as usual for this weeks contest and will there be more reasoning behind the picks since only 1 game is being played?
Adam Rittenberg (3:45 PM)
Yes and yes.
Greg (South Bend)
Indiana has to be in the conversation to make the positive gain for next year. Most of the starters back on both sides, Already a very good passing offense and the D can't be any worse
Adam Rittenberg (3:47 PM)
I agree, Greg. Indiana brings back everyone on offense and will have two quarterbacks with starting experience (Roberson, Coffman). The defense, however, has been really bad for a very long time. While it's nice to think it can't get worse, I need to see enough Big Ten-level defenders on that side before really buying into IU. I do think the Hoosiers can at least win 6 games and get to a bowl in Wilson's third year.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
Which players will the Gophers have a hard time replacing in 2013?
Adam Rittenberg (3:48 PM)
Michael Carter is a big loss at CB -- played at an All-Big Ten level this year. Hageman will be a big loss if he turns pro. Wilhite will be missed on the edge. The linebackers aren't elite, but the overall losses there could be tough to replace.
Bill O'Brien (on the recruiting trail)
Who do you think was my best hire for the coaching staff at PSU?
Adam Rittenberg (3:49 PM)
Bill, Ted Roof turned out to be surprisingly good, but I actually think your decision to retain both Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden paid off the most. While I like some of the offensive hires as well, keeping the continuity with Johnson and Vanderlinden was really smart.
Herkey turkey (IA)
How did Micah Hyde win the best DB in the conference?
Adam Rittenberg (3:50 PM)
No idea whatsoever. Nothing against Micah, a good player who will play at the next level, but I don't know if he'd make my All-Big Ten second team.
Decker (Midway, NC)
During the 2nd half of the season did the Wisconsin O-Line get better, or did Ball just do that much better, or a combination?
Adam Rittenberg (3:51 PM)
Decker, it's always a combination. Wisconsin's line got better, although it still had inconsistent performances (Michigan State). Ball also has been really good in the second half of the season throughout his career, and this year is no exception.
Does the addition of Louisville into the ACC at all threaten Delany by the ACC coming ever closer to Big country? You mentioned Penn St was on an island and needed protection with the new ACC schools. Does Louisville add to this?
Adam Rittenberg (3:52 PM)
Vinnie, if you're asking whether the Big Ten should be concerned about losing a member or its market share to the ACC, I'd say no. But the addition of Louisville could solidify the ACC and make it harder for the Big Ten to add ACC teams like North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia Tech.
Rank the running backs from 4 to 1 on who you would want to carry the ball in the B10 Championship game if you were the coach. Rex, Ameer, Montee, and James?
Adam Rittenberg (3:53 PM)
Jake, those are four great options. I don't think Rex is 100 percent, but he's close, so I'd put him No. 2 behind Ball. I'd go with Ameer Abdullah at No. 3 and James White at No. 4, although those two are extremely close and both will be featured backs in 2013.
I know without looking at matchups it's difficult but Over/Under 2 B1G bowl wins?
Adam Rittenberg (3:54 PM)
It's going to be tough to get more than two wins, I think. Big Ten teams could be double-digit underdogs in four or five of these games. Could be very ugly.
McGloin was right after the Nebraska game that PSU would never get those calls now based on the bias officials and much of the nation has against Penn State, even though these kids had nothing to do with anything.... Would there be ANYTHING Emmert could do now if McGloin just came right out and said as much...called a spade a spade... I mean what can he do... suspend a player for a bowl game he won;t them them play in anyway?
Adam Rittenberg (3:55 PM)
Matt can say what he wants. His college career is over. I would hope, however, that he takes the high road. The season is over. Penn State had a great season and ended with a great win in overtime. What's the point of rehashing the Nebraska game?
D (Big O)
Who's your All Big Ten selection for Guy Who Accompanies You Through a Dark and Dangerous Alley (GWAYTDDA)?
Adam Rittenberg (3:56 PM)
Oooh, that's a good one. Ra'Shede Hageman might be my pick -- no one's messing with that guy. John Simon also would be good in that situation.
Brian Bennet (Cheaptown)
Any chance that steak you order will only be a country-fried steak?
Adam Rittenberg (3:58 PM)
Nice try, Bennett. I hope you have a high credit limit. Going big Friday night at St. Elmo.
This time next year we will be talking about _____ vs _____ in the B1G Championship Game?
Adam Rittenberg (3:58 PM)
I think Ohio State will get there. Who the Buckeyes fans will be interesting -- could see Nebraska, Northwestern, Michigan or Michigan State winning the Legends. Should be another great race.
Adam Rittenberg (3:58 PM)
OK, last one for the day ...
Gary (Lincoln, NE)
Back in the old Big 8 days, Husker fans would throw frozen oranges onto the field when we would clinch our trip to the Orange Bowl. How do you get good distance throwing a rose?
Adam Rittenberg (3:59 PM)
Hmmm, good question. Maybe attach some weight to it? Or just get really close to the field.
Adam Rittenberg (3:59 PM)
OK, one more for real ...
Decker (Midway, NC)
Do you think Devin Gardner should and/or will get his Medical redshirt from 2010 granted?
Adam Rittenberg (4:00 PM)
I think he should and I think he will. Barely played in 2010.
Adam Rittenberg (4:00 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Enjoyed it. Let's do it again next week.