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.
Ben (Iowa City)
How on earth is Marvin McNutt not a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award? I'd take him before half of those other guys, and you can't make the argument that it's because of Iowa's down year because AJ Jenkins plays for a fading fast Illinois team and Jordan White plays for Western Michigan...
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Ben, I'm just as surprised as you are. Marvin has been outstanding this season, as has A.J. Jenkins. The only thing is Jenkins made a big splash early in the year to put himself on the radar, while Marvin has been more consistent. I don't get it. But I often don't get how the awards are decided.
Tony D (Castle Rock, CO)
Is there any award for assistant coaches? If so I think Greg Mattison gets it hands down, what he has done at Michigan is pretty amazing.
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
The Broyles Award goes to the nation's top assistant coach. Would have to think Mattison is in the mix. He has been outstanding this year for Michigan.
Jake (Columbus, OH)
Hey Adam, how soon will Ohio State make an announcement about a coaching change? The good thing about the loss to Purdue is it makes the decision--and acceptance--that we need a new head coach even easier, and I can't help but think it is merely a matter of time until Urban Meyer is officially announced the new head coach.
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Jake, wouldn't be so sure about Urban Meyer, but I agree that the Purdue loss probably moves Ohio State closer toward a full-blown coaching search. Typically, these searches take place in early December, but the timing of Ohio State's second infractions committee hearing and the impending ruling make things interesting. Any coach would want to know what he's dealing with, infractions-wise, before taking the job.
I know you like Wisconsin in a potential rematch with Michigan State, but I like the Spartans in that game. They will have Will Gholston, unlike in the first meeting, and State has ben the running the ball better, so I think Wisconsin's defense will have problems with our ofense. Also, Peter Konz will probably be out, so will Wisc be able to stop Jerel Worthy? I'll take the Spartans.
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
Kevin, you bring up some really good points. Jerel Worthy going against a backup center could be big for Michigan State, as would Will Gholston's ability to play. I think Wisconsin would perform a bit better at a neutral site than on the road, where the Badgers totally fell apart in the second quarter. It would be a good game, and while most folks would lean toward Wisconsin, Michigan State absolutely could win.
not necessarily a football question i apologize... im really confused at what mcquery saw. i keep hearing and reading that 1) he physically saw the sexual act w the kid and reported that to jopa 2) he just saw the kid and sandusky 'messing around' and that's what he reported to jopa 3) he didnt actually see much but only heard what sounded like sodomy and that's what he reported to jopa 4) he saw the act and stopped it and went to the police. im confused. not only has none of these victims spoken up but the only witness i know about seems... i dont know. what if what ends up happening is sandusky is ACQUITTED because the victims say none of that happened and stuff. THEN what do you do with a fired 46 year coach who didnt actually do anything wrong? not saying that's what will happen but did they fire joepa too early?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Gary, I agree that many more details need to be ironed out. We need the full story from Mike McQueary, and we might not get it until a trial. But the fact that Paterno knew something odd had happened and didn't follow up further is hard to dispute. I tend to think it's a generational thing of how to handle sensitive situations and not Joe being out of touch because of his age. He knew what was going on in his program. But from a legal standpoint, yes, there are elements that need to come into focus more.
You answered an Iowa fans question yesterday regarding the number of players injured for MSU in the 4th quarter. You stated that you found it extremely questionable but NEVER stated that it was the 4th quarter and the clock continued to stop every time a player went down. Why did you forget to mention this key point? Being down 2 scores in the 4th and the clock continuing to stop would favor Iowa more than MSU. But you decided to leave this out. Instead you cited other games where players legitimately faked injuries.
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Jared, the issue wasn't necessarily the score but whether the injured players took Iowa out of its offensive rhythm. I'm not accusing Michigan State players of faking injuries. There were a lot of them, but that's football. It happens. The Cal players intentionally faking injuries was done to slow down Oregon's pace and allow its defense to regroup. Sure, the clock didn't favor Iowa at that point, but an offense in rhythm can score quickly against a defense that can't get set. The injuries allowed Michigan State's defense to regroup.
What exactly does it take for NU to make it to the Fiesta?Just a Houston Loss
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
Anthony, a second Stanford loss would be more beneficial. Nebraska should be rooting against the Cardinal the rest of the way. That way, the possibility of a Nebraska-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl would increase. I could see Nebraska getting picked ahead of Stanford if both win out, but it would be a lot easier Stanford loses another game.
This weekend's Michigan/Nebraska game is big not only because of possible title game implications and BCS at large bowl bids. It's also big because of the split 1997 national championship. My uncle lives in Omaha, and I get dirty looks whenever I wear my Michigan hat. And of course all of us up north here know they only split it because Osborne was retiring!
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
It will be fun to finally see the teams play, albeit 14 years after the fact. Lloyd Carr will be honored at the game for his College Football Hall of Fame selection, and Tom Osborne also will be on hand.
Bucky (Washington DC)
Who will replace Ron Zook at Illinois?
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Well, Zook still has a chance to turn things around, but it doesn't look good. New AD Mike Thomas hired Brian Kelly and Butch Jones at Cincinnati, so he might look to bring in another spread-offense guy. Would love to see a Big Ten team pursue Kevin Sumlin from Houston.
Why are you and Brian Bennett so sure that Ohio State will receive a bowl ban and the NCAA will not accept Ohio State's self-imposed infractions (if not add a tiny bit more)? Is this wishful thinking from ESPN again? If the NCAA nails Ohio State, why would anyone self-report again?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
When did either of us assert Ohio State will get a bowl ban? Sure, it could happen. It's more likely now that the failure to monitor charge has been imposed. But Brian and I never have written it definitely will happen. The self-reporting element undoubtedly will help Ohio State to a degree. But to expect the NCAA to "accept" all the penalties Ohio State imposed and move on is delusional. There will be additional penalties, most likely more lost scholarships. But a bowl ban is not a guarantee.
Ted (Amarillo, TX)
With the B1G knocking each other around this season there is obviously some depth in the conference, even though we are missing a nationally elite team. I know it's hard to say who they'll play right now, but how do you see the conference fairing in the post season this year? A winning record? 5-6 wins? More?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Ted, like you wrote, it's hard to say without seeing the bowl matchups. The Big Ten could have up to 10 bowl-eligible teams. I do think the overall depth is a bit better. While it might be tough to win the BCS games this year, I'd expect a stronger overall performance, around the .500 mark or maybe above. Remember, a .500 record with the Big Ten's bowl lineup is very good.
Stephanie (Washington, DC)
If there was a university-wide coverup regarding the Penn State football program, how is that not Lack of Institutional Control? Is the reason why the NCAA cannot punish PSU b/c A) They didn't gain on-field advantage and B) They didn't break NCAA rules?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Notice how quiet the NCAA has been on this whole issue? Mark Emmert issued a short statement and that has been in. I think the NCAA is letting things play out both internally at Penn State and externally, but the NCAA will have to look at the situation eventually. Now whether what happened or didn't happen qualifies for NCAA violations remains to be seen. This isn't a recruiting situation or a paying players situation. It's unlike anything we've seen.
Joe (San Antonio, TX)
Is Gus Malzahn a viable option for any jobs in the Big10? He has strong ties to the Southeast a region the conference hasn't really been able to get into.
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Joe, Malzahn would be a great get, but a school has to be willing to pay big bucks for him. I'd be really surprised if his first head-coaching job isn't in the SEC, though.
Adam - Don't you think Delaney and the Big Ten get a bit of egg on their faces in taking Paterno's name off of the championship trophy because they were premature in adding his name to the trophy to begin with? I remember thinking when the names of the trophies were announced that it was a bit premature to add the name of an active coach to one of these trophies, and now JoePa's termination, in disgrace, shows that the league jumped the gun and is paying for that mistake. Doesn't it seem like the Big 10 is paying for that error now?
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
Adam, you're not the only one who has made this argument since Monday's announcement. I agree there's a risk in having active coaches or players on a trophy. While the Big Ten certainly didn't see this coming with Paterno and Penn State, there's always a risk involved. Paterno has done wonders for the college game, but having his name on the championship trophy raised some eyebrows from the start because he didn't spend most of his career in the Big Ten. It's not like there's a shortage of legendary coaches who spent most of their careers in the league.
Any chance PSU declines a bowl invite (assuming someone offers) so they can start to clean house the minute PSU's last game ends, or is there too much money on the table?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Interim coach Tom Bradley said Tuesday that he has heard of no plans to turn down a bowl invite. Penn State did name a new acting athletic director (David Joyner) today, so we'll see what he has to say. This is a tough issue. While Penn State would benefit from moving forward and starting fresh, these players, who did nothing wrong, shouldn't be penalized and deprived of a bowl experience.
Dan (detroit, mi)
Adam, the best way for the big ten to gain national respect is to win two bcs bowls and the capital one bowl. What would be the best matchups (for the big ten to win these 3 game.) Lets go under the assumption Oregon is in the Rosebowl, Oklahoma is in the Fiesta bowl and Arkansas is in the capital one bowl.
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Dan, really good question. I think Wisconsin has the best chance to beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl because the Badgers can keep up with the Ducks on the scoreboard. I could see Michigan State or Nebraska beating OU in the Fiesta, although Nebraska has the familiarity factor after facing OU in the Big 12. Arkansas is a really good team, especially on offense, and you need a great defense to slow down the Hogs. Michigan State and Penn State have the top two defenses in the Big Ten. Either would be a good fit in the Cap One.
DeVier Posey (On the Field (Finally!))
Now that I'm finally back on the field what do you think my biggest impact will be? Forcing defenses to focus some attention on me therefore opening up the run; or actually allowing our offense to get into double digit completions?
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
You'll definitely get attention, DeVier, and Braxton Miller will be looking for you Saturday. He hasn't had a receiver with nearly as much experience as you have this entire season. It'll be interesting to see if Ohio State opens things up more with the passing game now that you're back. There are opportunities there.
Iowa goes to Big Ten Title game if.1. We win out (plus)2. Nebraska beats Michigan this week (plus)3. Northwestern upsets Michigan State at Ryan fieldTRUE or FALSE?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Iowa needs Michigan State to lose twice, giving the Spartans three Big Ten losses.
So we are ruling out any possibility that PSU makes it to and wins the B1G title game locking up the Rose Bowl bid, correct?
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
No, we shouldn't rule out the possibility. A win Saturday in Columbus would give Penn State players and coaches something good to celebrate after a really rough few weeks. And if Wisconsin should stumble in Illinois, Penn State would clinch the division with a victory. The issue is if Wisconsin wins in Champaign, it doesn't matter what Penn State does in Columbus. The Leaders division would come down to Penn State-Wisconsin, and it's hard to see the Lions winning that one.
Ted (Amarillo, TX)
Iowa's biggest threat traveling to Purdue this week? Assuming they play well themselves, who will Iowa really need to look out for on offense and defense for Purdue.
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Ted, good question. Purdue's strength on defense is at defensive tackle with Kawann Short, one of the league's top D-linemen, and Bruce Gaston Jr. The Boilers also have a standout CB in Ricardo Allen, who will mark Marvin McNutt much of the game. On offense, the Boilers will use two quarterbacks and multiple ball-carriers. RB Ralph Bolden can attack defenses, but Purdue isn't overly dynamic on offense.
Bucky (Washington DC)
Who wins at the Big House on Saturday? I got Meeeshegan: 28-21. Go Blue!
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
You'll have to wait until Thursday morning for our predictions, but I've been going back and forth on that game all week. Should be a great one at the Big House.
Compared to other leagues, do you believe the Big Ten experiencing a down/rebuilding year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
Nate, when you don't have a team or teams in the national title hunt, the default perception is that the league is down. While I agree the Big Ten isn't that strong at the top, the overall depth is better than it was last year, when you had three good teams and no one else.
You say that Greg Mattison should be mentioned for assistant coach of the year. I am not disagreeing about his nomination. But if he is nominated then Pat Narduzzi deserves mentioning as well. He has continued to dominate at defensive coordinator with a struggling offense at times(same thing with UofM). But MSU has played a much tougher schedule. Not to mention MSU's offensive coordinate, Dan Roushar, has been extremely questionable with his play calling thus far. Yet, MSU continues to win. So Pat Narduzzi deserves the award over Mattison, correct?(if it were between the 2)
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
Totally agree on Narduzzi also deserving the nomination. He has done a phenomenal job with the Spartans' D this year, and could get a head-coaching job for his efforts. While Narduzzi had to replace several key players, Mattison's efforts to transform an absolutely horrible defense into a good one could earn him the nod. But both are great choices.
Do you think any PSU players (e.g. Bolden) will look to transfer after the season, assuming the coaching staff is cleaned out? Would the NCAA lift transfer penalties?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Ryan, I'm sure there will be transfers. There always are in situations like this. And the NCAA would be absolutely heartless if it didn't lift penalties in a situation like the one at Penn State.
Jay (Iowa City)
If Iowa loses its last two (very possible) could we see a repeat of 2007? A 6-6 Iowa team that misses out on a bowl game. If that happened the calls of heads to roll on Iowa's staff would be deafening
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Bowl game or no bowl game, a 6-6 Iowa team will bring some calls for new coaches. But Kirk Ferentz has so much power at that school that he'll do what he wants when it comes to his staff. While it wouldn't surprise me to see a change or two, Ferentz has been big on continuity throughout his tenure.
Tom (Washington, DC)
Do you think there is any chance that Illinois would knock off Wisconsin?
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
There's always a chance, Tom, especially when a team is playing at home. Illinois has talent and a pretty good defense facing a Wisconsin team without star center Peter Konz. But if Illinois' offense doesn't make significant strikes -- scoring in the first half might be nice -- the Illini won't win in this game. Wisconsin can't be held down for four quarters.
Will mark D'antonio bolt MSU for OSU, if offered the job?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
I think he'd consider it, Josh, but I don't see it happening. Don't think Ohio State would want to bring in a coach so closely associated with Jim Tressel. Also, Dantonio is really happy at Michigan State, where he has built an excellent foundation. He has tremendous support in East Lansing and would be taking a risk if he left.
Where does Montee Ball rank in terms of Badgers all time backs. I go Dayne, Ameche, Ball, Moss. What do ya think?
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
Wow, that's an impressive list, Bryant. The thing with Dayne and Ameche is they contributed for many years. Ball has been a ridiculously good running back for the past year and a half. His Wisconsin legacy could depend on whether he returns next year, which I'd highly doubt.
Illini Mike (Chicago)
You're killing me Smalls! Every time I come up with a new Illinois-based question you answer a similar one. Blargh!Here's one you aren't going to get. Any chance that Illinois would consider Petrino or Koenning for the head coaching position if it becomes available.
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
Haha, sorry, Mike. You're my guy. I highly doubt either coordinator would be considered. Petrino's offense hasn't scored a first-half point in the past four games. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. While Koenning has done a great job as a defensive coordinator, he didn't pan out as a head coach before. Illinois would love to keep him, but I'd be stunned if he was promoted.
Joe (San Antonio, TX)
Could you really see Coach Fitz leaving Northwestern for another Big Ten job?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Highly doubtful, Joe. It's certainly not as likely as many media members who don't know Fitz would leave you to believe. Northwestern has to continue to show support for Fitz and upgrade the facilities, but he wants to remain in Evanston for the foreseeable future. He'll be mentioned for Penn State, but I don't know why he'd leave a comfortable situation for such an unsettled one.
If Nebraska/Michigan makes a BCS bowl as the second Big 10 team, and Illinois/Northwestern and Purdue all finish 6-6...which team is most likely not to make a Big 10 bowl game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Interesting question, Mike. Illinois would be on a six-game slide at that point, so the Illini would have less appeal than Northwestern and Purdue, two teams that would have finished strong. Then again, Illinois has the largest fan base of the three. But would Illini fans want to travel if their team totally collapsed?
Tony D (Castle Rock, CO)
Does Pat Narduzzi have a shot at head coach anywhere next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Absolutely. I'd expect Pat's phone to start ringing soon, if it hasn't already. He's an East Coast guy, so it'll be interesting to see what openings there are back East (Boston College?).
What fans(during the game)have impressed you the most this year?(what game). I was at the Wisconsin at MSU game and it was the most exciting game I have ever seen. The crowd was spectacular. I obviously can not speak for other teams but what is your opinion on this?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Jared, the fans at Spartan Stadium were outstanding. The following week, the fans at Ohio Stadium were awesome, too. I'd definitely say those were the two most exciting and electric games I attended.
pookybear (Des Moines)
What will you eat for lunch. I realize that it isn't Tuesday, but I'm thinking tacos here.
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Great question. Was thinking Mexican myself, although I might switch it up and go to Potbelly's. So good.
Mike (LV, NV)
How would you rate Bennett's progress in his 1st year covering a real conference?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
He's doing pretty good for a redhead.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Assuming that Penn State was consider a nationally relevant program 2 weeks ago, how long do you think it will take for them to get back to that level (if ever)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Penn State has great tradition, great facilities and great fan support. So it shouldn't take as long as it would at other programs. On the other hand, we don't have a precedent for this situation before. There are still so many things to be worked out at Penn State. But I don't see this program totally falling apart, although the next few years could be tough.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
OK, last one for the day ...
Jason (Iowa )
You started a team and had to pick 1 B1G team logo, mascot, stadium, and campus. Who would you pick?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
Team logo: Penn State (despite recent events, still a great logo). Mascot: Sparty (who else?). Stadium: Camp Randall. Campus: Indiana or Northwestern
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
OK, guys. Time's up. Enjoy the games this week!