Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com's Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg will stop by to talk college football.
Rittenberg joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four years at the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald, where he covered sports at Notre Dame, Northwestern, DePaul and several other colleges. He lives in Chicago.
Send your questions now and join Rittenberg Wednesday at noon ET!
Adam Rittenberg (12:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here, let's get started!
Jimmy T. (Hiding in Columbus)
Adam, how long until the NCAA drops the hammer on me/tOSU?
Adam Rittenberg (12:00 PM)
Well, Jim, provided nothing changes with the schedule, you'll meet with the Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12, and they'll deliver a decision 6-10 weeks later. So expect to hear something the middle to late part of the season.
matt (frisco, tx)
Hi Adam, love your work. While Iowa has had tons of success on the defensive side of the ball under Norm Parker, they have been exposed against spread offenses. This was very evident last year against teams like Northwestern, Arizona, and Missouri. Do you think Norm will finally look to make some minor changes to counter the problems we faced especially last year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Matt, Norm knows what he's doing, but you bring up some good points. I couldn't believe the lack of schematic adjustments against Missouri, which sliced up Iowa's defense in the final three quarters. I think the Hawkeyes coaches had a ton of faith in the D-line to generate pressure, even when it wasn't necessarily warranted. The D-line couldn't do enough to prevent the linebackers from being exposed. I think Iowa will be better at LB this fall, which might lead to a similar scheme, but I'd hope they would show more flexibility against the spread.
Jeff ((Bloomington, IL))
As an Illini fan, I obviously would feel better if Liuget, Wilson, and Leshoure were returning to Champaign in the fall but am I crazy for leaning towards Illinois improving on last year's 7-6 record? I'm feeling optimistic that a favorable schedule with 8 home games and the 2nd year in the offensive and defensive systems will help offset the early entries. What are your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Jeff, I'm cautiously optimistic as well, although the losses of Liuget and Wilson will really sting on defense. I didn't get a sense enough players were stepping up on D this spring, despite a good performance in the spring game. If Illinois can fill the gaps on D, it absolutely can improve upon the eight wins. I love the potential at O-line and with Nathan Scheelhaase, and Paul Petrino's scheme is fun to watch when its clicking.
Dan (Small Town, B1G country)
Hey Adam, I don't know if you've already gone over this, but who do you think will be a bargain grab in the draft this year? Who do you think will turn out to be a great decision?
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
Dan, good question, and I might do a post on this. I would definitely draft Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher if I had a mid-round pick and he was still available. Dane will be a very solid pro, despite his size. I also think Evan Royster has a chance to be a good NFL back. He didn't have the best senior season, but he displays good vision and could be a Matt Forte-like steal.
Austin (Kansas City)
Last night I dreamt of my beloved Big Red Coach coach, Bo Pelini, gloriously celebrating a national championship. It was 2016, and he stood on the podium surrounded by dozens of future NFL Stallions. But then I saw the Buckeye on his chest, and I woke screaming into the darkness. Please, Adam, tell me this nightmare is unfounded. Please.
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
Haha, Austin, I doubt you're the only Huskers fan who feels this week. Listen, Pelini's name will come up the next time the Ohio State job opens, and I'm sure he at least has to listen. But Nebraska has made a commitment to him, and as I wrote earlier today, the revised contract comes at a good time given what's happening in Columbus. I think you can sleep easy for a little while longer knowing Bo is committed to Big Red.
Jerry Kill (Bronco Nagurski complex)
Adam you better show up and check out my Gophers. We are one of the most storied programs in BT history and yet you skipped spring ball again! I ain't Brew and you best show up or I won't give you a post game interview after we stroke the post!
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Easy, Jerry. You seemed so nice when we talked last week. Listen, I had planned to make it up there this spring, but a few plans got changed around. I did enjoy visiting with you, your coordinators and several players to get a sense of how things went. I hope to make it up there soon!
Jack (Jacksonville, FL)
Adam, what is the tentative release date for this season's prime time games. I'm eager to see what games are going to be showcased under the lights.
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Jack, this should be coming out any day now. Although I can't really weigh in on these games until they're official because of ESPN's involvement, expect an answer soon.
Speaking of bargain grabs, what about Keith Smith? Granted, he has to show he can come back strong, but do you believe (as I do) he could end up being a very successful receiver in the NFL?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Doc, that's a great call. Smith was a first-team All-Big Ten wideout in 2009 and seemed well on his way to another good season last year before the injury. He's a big target and a great character guy, and he plays at a school that really involves its receivers in the offense. Not a bad late-round pick at all.
Jeff (Frederick, MD)
Adam - love the blog. Do you think that Tressel will come to the realization that he is huring the 'OSU' brand more by staying than any benefit he is bringing to the program? In the Big 10, we try to thumb our noses at the SEC and their 'win at any cost mentality'.
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Jeff, I'm going to touch on the Big Ten-SEC moral ground thing after this chat, but you bring up a good point. It's not up to Tressel to protect the Ohio State brand. It's up to Gene Smith and Gordon Gee. But do they truly have the power to fire Tressel and possibly protect the brand from major repercussions? I'm not sure they do. Tressel has built up a ton of goodwill among top donors and other Buckeye power brokers.
Randy (Los Angeles (wish I was in Iowa))
OK, the spring is behind us. We've seen how teams are starting to address their perceived weaknesses; who's your dark horse in 2011?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
There still are a lot of questions to be answered, Randy, but I like Iowa in the Legends and Illinois in the Leaders as potential dark horses. Not sure I'd call Penn State a dark horse, but the Lions have a chance to compete for the division if several things go right.
MarQueis Gray (the Film Room)
I'm predicting a 4-2 lifetime record in rivalry games as a starting QB (real rivalry games not that victory bell nonsense). You can take that to the Bank! Care to dispute my prediction?
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Ha, I like your confidence, No. 5. Minnesota has to regain the axe at some point.
Tressel resigns/gets fired and the NCAA bans him from coaching the 2011 season. Paterno finally hangs it up after this season and come 2012, 'The Vest' turns blue and white. He may not have Paterno's mentality, but alumni want championships. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Wow, I haven't heard that one, Randy. It would certainly qualify as a shocking move, but it wouldn't be the first we've seen in college football. I'd expect Penn State to pursue a younger coach with more ties to the program, and Tressel's recent transgressions likely would turn off a school like PSU.
Adam, I know this won't happen, but... if the NCAA vacates OSUs wins from 2010 and strips them of the B1G championship, this would leave MSU and Wisc tied for 1st... see where I'm going with this? As MSU beat Wisc, in theory MSU earned the B1G championship outright! Any shot at a re-do of the Rose Bowl, MSU v TCU?! Since the NFL is messed up right now anyway, I don't think Greg Jones and the other seniors would mind suiting up the green and white one more time. Not sure the Horned Frogs would care for this too much. I can dream though right?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Ha, I'm sure you'd love it, AtWork, and there are more than a few folks in East Lansing who are miffed about the Ohio State situation, given what happened to Michigan State and the BCS. But no, you won't see a Rose Bowl redux. As you say, it's a nice dream.
Hey Adam, do you think it's possible that Ohio State loses some of their recruits because of what has happened?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Chris, this is an interesting topic and one I'll explore more with help from our recruiting staff. The Buckeyes just added another recruit earlier this week for 2012, so things look good for now. Luke Fickell told me he doesn't expect a major backlash at first, although he admits negative recruiting does go on and likely will against Ohio State.
Does Nebraska's speed and lack of size at certain positions help or hurt them going into the big 10 next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
Charlie, I don't think Nebraska's speed is a problem. It's an asset in a league that has been criticized for not having enough. The size thing will be interesting. Does Nebraska have enough size at LB to stop bigger running backs? I think the Huskers do. The offensive line is one area I'm curious about, not from a size perspective but whether it can handle better pass rushers in the Big Ten.
What's the best/worst case scenario for Purdue this year? What will is take for Hope to keep his job?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Doc, I'll do a more extensive best case/worst case breakdown for each team as we get closer to the season, but Purdue's best case would be 8-9 wins and the worst case is probably 3-4 and a potential coaching change. Hope needs to show that he's a Big Ten-caliber coach on game days and his team needs to cut down on its major mistakes and play complete games. I think Purdue has enough playmakers to get it done this year, but we'll see what happens.
Grinnin' Glen Mason (BTN couch)
See Adam? I told you Ohio State should've hired me instead of Tressel. Sure, OSU's vaunted D wouldn't exist, but I run a clean ship with a nifty running game. Woulda been great right?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
It could have been, Glen. Not sure you would have liked a tough nonconference game every year, though. And you and I both know 7-5 records (3-5 Big Ten) don't hold up in Columbus.
How good of chance does Michigan State have to reach a rose bowl? Do you think back up QB Andrew Maxwell is better than Kirk Cousins
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
I like Maxwell's potential, but no way is he better than Cousins, one of the nation's most experienced quarterbacks. Michigan State's Rose Bowl chances hinge on its ability to play well on the road. The Spartans haven't notched a truly signature road win under Mark Dantonio. They'll have to do so this year as they visit Columbus, Lincoln, Evanston and Iowa City, not to mention South Bend in non-league play.
Hawkeye Steve (Council Bluffs)
Why do you think Nebraska fans are so sure they are going to come in the Big Ten and dominate it in their first year? This isn't the Big XII North!!!
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
That's a good point, Hawkeye, but Nebraska fans see a league with several good teams but few great ones. Plus, they see the Big Ten's flagship program facing unprecedented challenges because of the suspensions and the ongoing situation with Jim Tressel. They also see the other top teams in the Legends division -- Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern -- all visiting Lincoln.
Mark (Ann Arbor)
Deepest condolences for Jim Mandich and Vada Murray. Do you think Devin Gardner will compete for the starting position for Michigan this fall? The coaches are firm in Denard, but it seems like Devin might be better suited for the offense.
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Echo the condolences to the Mandich and Murray families ... The coaches are going to give Robinson some time to settle in. I'd be really surprised if you saw Gardner on the field at critical times during nonconference play, unless Denard gets hurt. Again, don't make judgments based solely off of the spring game. There's a lot more too it than that. But Garnder is a talented guy who could push for time if things go south with No. 16.
Josh (Lincoln, NE)
What makes you think the pass rushers are so much better in the Big Ten? Nebraska has played guys like Gerald McCoy, Sam Acho, Aldon Smith, Jeremy Beal, and Sergio Kindle the last few years.
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Josh, while the Big 12 has produced some nice pass rushers, the Big Ten has produced more, and the overall quality of defensive lines is superior in the Big Ten. Look at this year's draft. I count five Big Ten defensive linemen -- Watt, Liuget, Kerrigan, Clayborn and Heyward -- as potential first-round picks. That's tough to beat.
Brandon (Buffalo, NY)
In 1999, Penn State relied on two quarterbacks (Thompson and Casey) to get off to a great start to the season. Do you see Penn State implementing this system with Bolden and McGloin or do you see them sticking with one guy?
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
Brandon, while both QBs performed well this spring, I'd expect Penn State to settle on one guy either before or during preseason camp. Players want a clear leader, and it's tough when you have two signal callers, including one who nearly transferred after the Outback Bowl. So while a 2-QB system isn't totally off the table, I'd be surprised to see it this year.
Ryan (Traverse City, MI)
Adam, how is Michigan State going to split time between three running backs, Larry Caper, Edwin Baker, and LeVeon Bell?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Ryan, I'd be surprised if Baker doesn't begin the season as the starter, but watch out for Le'Veon Bell. He was a monster in the first half of the 2010 season, and he boasts the size to be a true power back. I'd expect Bell to push Baker and share carries at times, while Caper could enter the mix but right now looks like the No. 3 option.
Any chance Budmyr isn't the starter for the Badgers in the fall? See 2009....
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
No, I can't see Brennan or Stave bypassing Budmayr at this stage. Phillips being out for the season reinforces Wisconsin's need to see what it can from from Bud in games. He clearly needs to have a better fall camp than he did this spring, but he should have Nick Toon and other starters back with the offense.
Sevan (Gainesville, FL)
Adam, first off, your blog is terrific and mandatory reading for me at lunchtime. Second, as a long-suffering Hoosier football fan, I've lamented the LB play on the defense for over a decade and a half. Despite some very good players, that position hasn't gelled as a unit. From spring practice reports, it appears that we've got two good LBs in Jeff Thomas and Leon Beckum. Any idea who has the best shot to complement them in the third spot?
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
Thanks, Sevan. You're spot on about the LB play as an area that must be upgraded for Indiana to take the next step. I really like Thomas' potential, not only with on-field production but as a leader. Chad Sherer made three starts last year and is a good bet to be the No. 3 backer. Griffen Dahlstrom made some plays this spring and should be in the mix, too.
AdamWith Cullen Christian the latest attrition in the UM secondary, can you see another defensive year like 2010 for Michigan? They're essentially one injury (Floyd or Woolfolk, already injury history there) from having almost no experience in the secondary. As much as Mattison can improve the front seven, all teams would have to do it throw it over the top, right?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Chris, you're right about secondary depth being a concern, even though neither Christian nor Vinopal are huge losses individually. This underscores the need for Michigan to be MUCH better up front. The Wolverines have to pressure quarterbacks, stuff the run and get home on third-and-long, a situation that killed this defense time and again in 2011. The issues in the secondary won't be solved overnight, but Michigan has the chance to be better in the front seven.
Who are some of the best kickers in the Big Ten for 2011?
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Illinois' Derek Dimke returns after a fabulous junior season. You might not find a college kicker with a stronger leg than Purdue's Carson Wiggs, who can connect from 60 yards plus. Wisconsin's Philip Welch boasts a ton of experience and Michigan State's Dan Conroy had a solid 2010 season. I also like the potential from Indiana's Mitch Ewald.
Adam--Forget replaying the Rose Bowl game, how about re-PAYING the Spartans the difference between the BCS payout and the Capital One payout?!?! Seems to me MSU got financially shafted as well, or do all payouts get split evenly amongst conference members? If not, Columbus should send a check to EL.
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
Oden, will check on this to make sure, but the Big Ten shares revenue equally, so I don't think it makes a difference. Obviously, Michigan State would have benefited from going to a BCS bowl, though.
Any potential out-of-program candidates if Paterno hangs it up after this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
There's a lot of buzz that Penn State will pursue Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, but I can't see Fitz leaving his alma mater or the Chicago area. ... Not sure if you consider Al Golden an "out-of-program candidate," but if he does well at Miami this fall, he'll definitely be in the mix at Penn State.
Any chance Ohio State fires Tressel before August. The NCAA doesn't like schools that don't take them seriously. ie-USC.
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Steve, unless something else surfaces between now and August, I don't see Ohio State making a change. The school already is investing in outside counsel to help prepare a case for the COI, and Tressel has received support from his AD and president. The way this story is going, don't be surprised if something else comes out, but if it doesn't, I see Ohio State moving forward with The Vest.
Who in your opinion is the best offensive coordinator and best defensive coordinator in the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
Jerome, good questions. Tough to pick one, but I'd go with Wisconsin's Paul Chryst for offensive coordinator and either Ohio State's Jim Heacock or Nebraska's Carl Pelini for defensive coordinator. I think Heacock is extremely underrated for what he has been able to do in Columbus.
Bob Stoops and Mack Brown (the good life)
We think Nebraska is gonna get pounded in the Big Ten. No Iowa State, Kansas, or Baylor to pad the schedule anymore. Whaddya think?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
We'll see, guys, but you might be pleased not to be seeing the Huskers any more in the Big 12 title games. They came pretty close to beating each of your teams the past two seasons. And Mack, you're back in the good life already? That was quick!
Steve (New York)
If McGloin gets the call to start, either Bolden transfers or fans will watch each game and with every McGloin miscue or interception, they'll be calling for Bolden to go in. If Bolden gets the call, he's younger, has more weapons, and will only get better the more he plays, so if he struggles, he'll be given more slack.If these two are neck and neck come the fall, how do you not pick Bolden?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Steve, that's an interesting point about the fan reaction to the starter. I think you're right about McGloin facing criticism for every mistake he'll make, while Bolden probably can afford more growing pains because of his natural ability. McGloin is a tough kid who can handle the heat, of which he has taken plenty since the Outback Bowl. But I tend to agree that if there isn't clear separation, Bolden will be the guy.
Which Coordinators in the B1G do you think will have the best chance at jumping to a Head Coach position somewhere after this season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Paul Chryst from Wisconsin has to get a HC job soon. He's a good guy and an excellent coach. I'd also hope Tom Bradley from Penn State finally gets his shot to lead a program somewhere. It'll be tougher for Bradley after Pitt and Temple filled vacancies, but we'll see. Illinois OC Paul Petrino is another coordinator who likely will land a top job soon.
Bob Stoops (Oklahoma)
Everyone is talking about Urban Meyer as Jim Tressel's replacement. What about me?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Bob, your name will come up, too, but it's a little easier to talk about Urban Meyer because he's not currently coaching a team. While I think you're happy at OU, you will get plenty of love as a candidate at Ohio State if and when that job opens.
No love for Norm Adam?
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
He's a great coach, too, Tom. A lot of great Big Ten defensive coordinators. But he asked me to name the best, and I'd go with Heacock or Pelini. Their defenses have been elite.
Hoping to get this answered before the end ... :)There doesn't seem to be much talk about ohio state's program's questionable history under Jim Tressel. Since 2000, ohio state athletics has reported to the NCAA more than 375 violations -- more than any other FBS school. I'm hearing about Tressel's lack of judgement here and even some fans/pundits claiming that one mistake shouldn't cost him his job or legacy. I'd go as far to say that Tressel is crafty - there's always smoke but Tattoo-gate is the first fire we've found. Maurice Clarett in 2001/02? Troy Smith? AJ Hawk having $3,000 cash "stolen"? Dealership cars for star players? Could you see the NCAA using some of the more circumstantial evidence surrounding the Tressel era into account with the punishment here, even if indirectly (of course they're not going to use these past suspicious events to hit ohio state or Tressel with anything official...)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Chris, while I understand what you're getting at, I can't see the NCAA using circumstantial evidence to make a ruling. It's all about this particular case and what we know. Jim Tressel's actions in this case are enough for the NCAA to drop the hammer, as we've seen in the past. So while a lot of folks see this as the culmination of a pattern for Tressel at Ohio State, the Committee on Infractions can't look at it that way.
Adam, what you think of the chances that Silas Redd wil become the 2nd Heisman Trophy winner at Penn State are? I think he has serious potential to contend not this year, but in 2012.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Mike, I wouldn't put that tag on a player so early in his career, but Redd definitely has a chance to be something special at Penn State. The speed is there, and if he can mature as a running back, he'll be really good this season and beyond.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Last one for the day ....
Adam - If Wisco can get some solid QB play, do you see the OSU mess as being the moment that they left the door ajar for Wisconsin to breakthrough as an elite Big Ten power. Badger Fans were insulted during the realignment when media types kept putting us in the 2nd tier with Iowa, when you could argue that Michigan, PSU, and even Nebraska were no better than equal to Wisconsin in performance.
Adam Rittenberg (1:02 PM)
Mike, that's an interesting point about being included with Iowa rather than Michigan/Penn State/Nebraska. Since the late 1990s, Wisconsin has been just as successful, or more. It'll take continued talent development for Wisconsin to become a powerhouse, but it'll also take more elite recruits coming to Madison. Ultimately, you need the great players to be able to reload like Ohio State has.
Adam Rittenberg (1:02 PM)
OK, guys, enjoyed the chat. Will talk to you again soon!