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 (12:01 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Fire away.
Illini Mike (Chicago)
Is the freshman of the year really over at this point? I still hoping that Scheelhaase could win it. Especially with his play this last half of the season. Did LaShoure's offensive dominance last Saturday, hurt Scheelhaase's chances?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
It was more the fact that Scheelhaase had a poor day passing the ball (not that Illinois needed him to do much). The race is over not because Scheelhaase hasn't done a great job, because he has. But Wisconsin's James White has been better. What a huge lift White has provided for the Badgers this year. Still excited to see what Scheelhaase does the rest of this season and especially in 2011.
Mike (Atlanta, GA)
I'm expecting a lop-sided Ohio State victory based on this season's defensive showing (or lack thereof) from Michigan. The bigger question is how often the OSU defense can contain Denard Robinson to keep them from scoring. Do you expect big yardage for Robinson against OSU?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Mike, I think he'll make some plays like he always does, but Ohio State has some sound tacklers at linebacker and safety who should prevent explosion plays. The big thing for Ohio State is to avoid a slow start. Michigan's offense hasn't started fast in its losses this year, but when the Wolverines get going early, they usually do well.
Rich Rodriquez (Ann Arbor)
So, after the season do I need to make some defensive coordinator shake ups.
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
I think you need to consider it, Rich. You could always just appoint the stuffed animal as defensive coordinator and see how it goes. Can't get any worse, right?
Jerod (Baltimore, MD)
I know Gordon Gee is a smart man, but what about those comments directed at BSU and TCU? He has to know how much play those are going get over the weekend. Is he trying to push the BCS Bowls into scheduling Ohio State against one of the non-AQ schools? And if that's his angle, is really a good idea to start off with that much bulletin board material?
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
It probably wasn't the smartest move by President Gee, typically a smart guy. He's just tempting Congress to get involved, and then the BCS presidents and the conference commissioners will be rendered powerless. I don't think he's sending a message to BCS bowls, though.
rob (cedar rapids)
adam, Iowa hasnt been able to finish off anyone defensively this year. Even the Indiana game was only won because of a dropped pass. As i look back to alst year the same thing happened but Iowa got bailed out by great special teams plays ( UNI) and offensive drives ( MSU). Is it time for a change schematically or coordinator wise in iowa City.
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
I don't think it's that drastic, Rob, but Iowa should take a hard look at what's happening at the end of games. I know the coaches don't want to admit it, but maybe there's a conditioning issue? Those players looked visibly gassed at the end of the Northwestern game, and their repeated letdowns is a concern.
Adam - Is there any chance a bowl picks MSU over OSU for an at-large bid? And if you were Mark Hollis/Dantonio, what would your argument be to the Orange/Sugar/Fiesta bowls?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Very little chance, Derek, because bowls like sure things, and Ohio State is a sure thing. If I'm Dantonio or Hollis, I point out the fact that Michigan State hasn't been to a BCS bowl since 1988. I point out how exciting Michigan State has been to watch with all the wild plays. I really emphasize the Wisconsin win. Still, it's a very tough sell.
After they lose to Ohio State, how long do you think it will take the school up north to fire RR? Will they do what ND did last year and skip a bowl game to find a coach?
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Here's my theory on Michigan. You only fire Rodriguez if you know that Harbaugh will take the job. This isn't a situation where you make a change and then do a national search. It has to be a targeted search, and Harbaugh is the only guy who makes a lot of sense right now. The timing here is important. Harbaugh's stock might never be higher. If there's no guarantee, don't make a change.
Godfrey (Lowell, AR )
Happy T-giving!! If Zook gets the axe this year, What future do u see for Paul Petrino?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Ha, same to you, Godfrey! The Zooker will be back, though, after doubling his win total (at least) from last season. I'd expect to see Paul Petrino back as well unless he gets a shot to be a head coach, which seems unlikely.
Carson (Fullerton, CA)
He has earned the right to retire when he wants, but when do you believe the Penn State administration will step in regarding Joe Paterno? Will it be a case of just not renewing his contract (next year)? Really, the Big Ten is changing, wouldn't next year for a new coach be the perfect time (with a new Big Ten)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
Carson, there is no ideal time to make this move, but Penn State should be a better team next year. The administration can try to force Joe out again, but I don't see that happening. Paterno is and always will be Penn State football. They could simply not renew his contract, but I think it's best to see how things go next year and then formulate a plan in early November or so.
Hey Adam, last week was a tough one for the NU faithful. What gameplan gives the cats the best, albeit slim, chance to win in Madison? Should they bring the Kain?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
John, it's tough because Northwestern is at its best when using an up-tempo pace on offense. The problem is you run the risk of quick three-and-outs, which gives the ball back to Wisconsin's surging offense. Northwestern needs to try and shorten the game without abandoning its philosophy on offense. I'd definitely use Kain Colter more now that you've burned his redshirt.
The Big Ten favorites win this week, what Bowl does Ohio State end up in? Sugar Bowl vs. the SEC or Orange vs. VT?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
It'll be interesting, Jerry. Sugar could take TCU and set up a TCU-LSU matchup. But if the Orange has a shot at Ohio State, it takes Ohio State, no doubt about it. The Orange Bowl needs to be relevant.
Doug Lesmerises link was accidently replaced with the one you have in a MSU link by John Niyo. Could you fix it or is Niyo paying you to run is column twice?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Ha, good catch. I'll fix it ASAP. Doug's my guy, he'll understand.
All this talk about firing RR.... if Donovan Warren (draft, foolishly) and Troy Woolfolk (injury) don't go down (neither of which is RR's fault), the defense doesn't look nearly so bad (Floyd is now the nickelback, James Rogers in dime, possibly no freshmen play) and UM possibly wins against PSU or Iowa. Would there still be talk of firing RR with UM at 8-4 or 9-3? Are losses to Wisc, MSU, OSU (all of whom might be Big10 champ) really that flagrant that the guy can't get one more year? Harbaugh would want a pro offense, so there's more rebuilding years.... let the Ty Will lesson take hold -- firing a coach after 3 years is bad luck.
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Dave, all good points here, especially the part about more rebuilding under Harbaugh, which would happen. I know that Dave Brandon doesn't like Rodriguez to keep making the youth excuse, but there's certainly some validity. I'd just like to see more improvement from the guys Michigan has out there. Some of these freshmen have played more than other teams' juniors by now.
The past few weeks, Purdue has lost it later in the game while either winning or being very competitive early. Would you say this is due to offensive inexperience, or coaching? And would you say a coordinator change is a good option in WL (especially special teams)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
Doc, I think it's all of the above. While QB Rob Henry looked really good for three quarters at Michigan State, his inexperience showed late. Still, I think OC Gary Nord has done a good job in a disastrous situation this year. The bigger issue is special teams, which has been an issue for Purdue under Danny Hope.
Hey Adam, do you think Wisco, MSU or Ohio State could beat Boise State in a BCS bowl?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
I think they could, but I'm not going to hand the win to a Big Ten team just because I cover the league. Boise is more than capable of beating any one of those squads in January. Right now, Wisconsin is the hottest team of the three, and I'd take my chances with the Badgers against Boise in what would be a shootout.
Luke (Clear Lake, WI)
Hey Adam, Live on the blog. I'm curious on your thoughts on Terrell Prior as acutally growing up. Yes, he has played well the last two weeks and everyone attributes this to his "maturity" level, but the week after Wisci dominated them in Madison he said everyone in the country knows Ohio State is better, and said no disrespect to Wisconsin. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Good question, Luke. While Pryor might be maturing on the field, he still has a way to go off of it. I'm entertained by him, but I'm not his coach. I think he's a tremendous competitor and showed great poise last week at Iowa City, but some of the things he says or tweets make you scratch your head.
Since Chicago is the geographic center of the conference now with Nebraska being added, would you expect Soldier Field hosting the Big Ten Championship Game in the future? Also, do you think a permanent site will be the plan and how close are we to naming a site (beyond Indy)? Would Delany commit to the outside thing for multiple years?
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Oliver, I would expect Soldier Field to host a Big Ten championship game, but I don't think there will be a permanent site. It's more likely we see a rotation, but I wouldn't expect that announcement until spring at the earliest.
Dan Joels (NYC)
Everyone keeps on talking about Harbaugh to replace Rich Rod. What about Les Miles?? - also a Michigan man, and was considered last time around
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
While it'd be fun as a reporter, I'd stay away from The Hat. He's had a nice year at LSU, but there are too many red flags with him.
Kurt Easterday (Chesapeake, VA)
Adam, could Frank Solich (the Ohio football coach) get a look at from Minnesota and/or Indiana? He was a good coach at Nebraska and has done well at Ohio.
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
Kurt, that's an interesting name you bring up. I don't think he'll get a look at Minnesota, but the Indiana search, if it happens, could look to Solich. He has done a nice job with an Ohio program that had fallen on hard times, and he has experience coaching in a big-time league (Big 12).
Mac (Huntington, WV)
Hey Adam, which would be the bigger surprise to you from this season: an 12-1 (bowl win) Michigan State or an 8-5 (bowl loss) Iowa? And more importantly are these programs headed in opposite directions, or is this year just a blip on the radar? Happy Thanksgiving!
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Same to you, Mac. Would have to see the matchups, but I'd really be surprised if Iowa loses five games this season. What a disappointment that would be. Michigan State likely will have a tough draw (Alabama, Arkansas) in the Cap One Bowl. It'll be a challenge for a Spartans team that seemed to peak in early October.
Adam: I'd think the Big Ten title game would be kept among the indoor stadiums near Big Ten sites. Wouldn't they want to take the elements out of deciding the games at all costs?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Why? The elements can decide the games leading up to the title game? Listen, I get the argument for keeping it inside, especially given the injury factor and the fact that the BCS bowls are played in good weather. But Big Ten football is about cold weather, and a game in early December wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. It could be cool.
Rich (Madison, WI)
I know you have touched on this before, but do you see anyway Ohio State jumps Wisconsin in the BCS if there is a three way tie?
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
Not any more, Rich. I thought there was a decent chance a few weeks ago, but Ohio State didn't make up enough ground in the most recent standings. The Miami win simply hasn't helped the Buckeyes all that much. It could be a little closer this Sunday if both win, but the Badgers should remain on top.
Adam: Why is we give give credit to Ferentz when he does so much with so little but not when he has so much and does nothing which seems to always happen?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Casey, I don't know about "always," but it hasn't been Ferentz's best year, especially in late-game situations. His team hasn't shown the poise you'd expect from a veteran squad, and he has made several questionable decisions, especially in the Wisconsin game. Still, Iowa is in MUCH better shape with Kirk Ferentz as its head coach than without him.
JJ Watt (Madison, WI)
I can't believe Denard Robinson tackled me after the INT. He's smaller than the punter.
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Haha, I was disappointed, too. At least you were man enough to admit in our post-game video interview, "Newsflash: I'm not faster than Denard Robinson." Good stuff.
Is Clay being named a finalist for the Doak Walker award aided by the fact that Wisconsin's running game is so well respected this year with Ball, White and that massive line? It seems like Clay (whom I very much enjoy to watch play) hasn't done as much as some other backs who would deserve this award. On Wisconsin!
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Andy, nothing against Clay, but his inclusion as a finalist surprised me. Probably has more to do with his name recognition after the 2009 season. Illinois' Mikel Leshoure has been the Big Ten's best back this season, end of story. But Clay has done some nice things, too. He's just not as flashy as James White.
Jeff (East Lansing)
Hi Adam. Is it just me or have the spartans been more lucky than good this year? Outside of the Wisconsin and Michigan game they really havent been that impressive. They would get blown away by Alabama if it comes to that in the Capital One Bowl
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
You might be right, Jeff, but you make your breaks in this game. Michigan State has made the right calls and executed at the right times. The Spartans aren't nearly as dominant as Wisconsin or Ohio State, but they've earned their 10-1 record just like the Badgers and the Buckeyes.
Jerry (Moline, IL)
Do you think Penn State would hire Ron Zook after Paterno leaves?
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
HA! Let's start the rumor, Jerry. Thanks for brightening my day.
Have to ask this one. Matt McGloin - hidden gem or product of bad defenses?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
J.B., I think McGloin has some ability, and he'll only get better with more experience. While he doesn't have as much talent as Rob Bolden, he has earned the right to be in the mix next spring. It'll be interesting to see how he performs against a Michigan State defense that has been up and down this season.
If the Big Ten has a good bowl record, will people just say their opponents didn't care or were overrated (like they did with Oregon/LSU/Miami last year)? Does the Big Ten need a national title for any respect? Why not bash the Pac-10, ACC or Big 12?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
James, I've bashed the ACC plenty in this blog. That league is perennially overrated by my colleagues in the media who fall in love with individual players. The Big Ten needs a national title to fully regain the respect it lost with Ohio State's defeats in the BCS championship. I think top to bottom, the Big Ten is a better league than the Pac-10 this year. As for the Big 12, the Big Ten needs to start performing better in head-to-head bowl matchups. It hasn't been good for the Big Ten lately.
DeSean (New York)
Adam, Happy Turkey Weekend.You seem to have a man crush on two players, Ryan Kerrigan and J.J. Watt. If you had to invite one of them to Thanksgiving dinner, who would it be?
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Ha, guilty as charged. That's a tough decision, DeSean. Either way, we'd need to stock up on turkey for that meal.
Rob (Orange City)
What do you make of Iowa's D this year compared to last? Are teams playing that much better this year against them or has IA just underachieved. Along with that, where has Clayborn been? I know he's getting more double teams and all that stuff, but it's almost as if he's fallen off the face of the earth!
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Rob, you figured Clayborn's production would go down with more double teams, but I didn't expect Iowa to be 110th nationally in tackles for loss. That's truly stunning. The defense definitely is feeling the losses of three players: LBs Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds, and CB Amari Spievey. Iowa never really replace them, especially the two linebackers.
Hank (Iowa City)
Adam, now that JoePa has come out and stated that he intends to be back is there anyway that PSU (assuming they lose to MSU) jumps Iowa in the bowl order?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Hank, good question. I think JoePa's announcement helps Iowa, and maybe even helps Michigan State because it removes some of the drama from Saturday's game. Regarding the bowls, if they know it's not Joe's last game, they could be more inclined to go with the head-to-head winner (Iowa).
Who do you think is going to be Big 10 coach of the year? It has to be Dantonio, right after he took a 6-7 team with a lot of adversity after having all those players suspend to this great of season. Also, with all the great trick plays he's dialed up.
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
Justin, it's definitely between Dantonio and Bielema, and I'd have to give the edge to Dantonio, especially if Michigan State finishes things off Saturday. The Spartans were unranked to begin the season, and now they might be champions. Dantonio would share the award with Don Treadwell, who did a masterful job in his absence.
Andrew (Ann Arbor)
There seems to be a lot of talk about firing Rodriguez, if this scenario did play out do you think a new coach would be able to come in and rectify the defense immediately with the talent that is available to him?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Andrew, I think Michigan's defense will be better in 2010 regardless of whether Rodriguez is fired. Players will be healthier and older, and the depth will be a lot better. The bigger issue could be what happens with the offense if the new coach runs a dramatically different scheme.
Adam, do you see a major power imbalance in the divisions next year? Iowa is losing a ton of talent, Michigan has not been Michigan of late, and who knows about Nebraska. Meanwhile PSU has almost everyone back, OSU will still be OSU, and Wiscy should be solid once again.
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Nebraska should be very good again, Lance. Michigan State returns QB Kirk Cousins and some good skill guys on offense, and Northwestern brings back just about everyone. So I wouldn't be too concerned about that division. Penn State should be a better team, but both Wisconsin and Ohio State lose a lot. On the other hand, Illinois could be very good if Leshoure, Martez Wilson and Liuget all return.
Is Robert Marve Purdue's starter next year, assuming he's healthy enough? Rob Henry has played well this season given the circumstances, and only has room to improve, but the job is Marve's to lose, right?
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Brian, I agree, but a lot depends on Marve's health. He has now had two ACL tears, which likely will affect his mobility. He's clearly the best passer Purdue has, although Caleb TerBush was slinging it around well in spring ball. I'd put my money on Marve retaining the job, but it could be a more interesting race than you think.
The Vest (Columbus)
Adam, why does my team always take the blame from other Big Ten schools and their fans for the conference getting no respect nationally? Last time I checked, we beat them all, over, and over, and over, and won five straight Big Ten titles(about to be six).
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Yep, that's all true, Vest, but your flops on the national stage belong to you, too. You helped the league with a Rose Bowl win and would help it even more with another BCS bowl win this year, maybe against the SEC (Sugar Bowl)?
Chris (Denver, CO)
In a perfect world MSU and OSU would play this week. Who would have more to gain/lose?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Michigan State definitely has more to gain. If the Spartans lose, they're heading to the Capital One Bowl, just like they might be if they beat Penn State on Saturday to finish at 11-1. If Ohio State won, it would still lose the automatic BCS berth to Wisconsin by virtue of its head-to-head loss.
Jimmy D (chicago)
Do you think Mikel leshoure is going to the NFL or coming back next season for my Illini?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Jimmy, he's got a big decision to make. He looks NFL-ready to me, but he also has the chance to return to a pretty good Illini team in 2010. I know maturity has been a gradual process for Leshoure, and he could benefit from another year in Champaign. But I wouldn't fault him for making the jump.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
OK, last one for the day ...
Gee, thanks for the flip-flop Rittenberg, now I know who to blame if we lose by 20.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
That's what I'm here for! I'm the dumpster for Big Ten fans everywhere (at least that's what I'll put on my tombstone).
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, guys, enjoy Week 13. Happy Thanksgiving and I'll talk to you again soon.