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January 2, 11:44 AM ET
Chat with Adam Rittenberg

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:00 PM)

Greetings from Arizona, where the sun is out again and I just did a short hike near the resort. Good times. Let's get started.

Joe (Columbus)

Whether the Buckeyes win or lose tonight, do you think Senator Sweater Vest will make any off season moves with his asst. coaches?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:01 PM)

It's hard to tell, Joe. I think he should, but Tressel is extremely loyal to his assistants. And he really controls the play-calling more than Jim Bollman. He might face some pressure to bring in a more dynamic offensive coordinator, but I don't see many changes. Perhaps a position coach will leave.

Kyle Whittingham (SLC, UT)

Do you think it's fair that my team can dominate the higher class of the SEC in Alabama and not get an opportunity at the National Championship? Do you see changes coming in the future so that this travesty doesn't happen again?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:02 PM)

As an advocate of non-BCS teams and a playoff system, I hope there's some change in the future, Kyle. I don't know that a non-BCS team could do more than Utah did. It's not the Utes' fault Michigan stinks. Otherwise, they would have had a murderous non-league schedule combined with a very competitive league slate. I'm convinced Utah can compete with anyone.

Nick, Hartford

Now, c'mon, the way Maryland played on the blue turf, they deserved a BCS bid, right?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:03 PM)

If only Ralph's guys had been a little better on the green stuff this fall ...

Jason (Iowa)

Hey Adam. I love the blog, just have one question. What's your prediction for Iowa in 2009?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:04 PM)

I really, really like Iowa in 2009, especially on defense. But keep in mind the schedule gets much harder with road trips to Penn State and Ohio State. Iowa likely will be back in the Outback Bowl, or maybe move up to Cap One.

Mike (Paris, OH)

Adam... what do you think is the Big Ten's biggest problem right now. To me it is quarterback play. Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, MSU all suffered from horrible QB play.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:05 PM)

You're absolutely right, Mike. The quarterback play in the Big Ten has really suffered the last few years, while other leagues have seen upgrades. Penn State hadn't seen a QB like Sanchez until the Rose Bowl, and he totally exposed a year-long weakness (the secondary). For the Big Ten to improve, it has to start under center.

joe, new orleans, la

when the texas speed overwhelms ohio state for the THIRD straight year in a BCS game, will fans finally be sick of seeing the buckeyes in these games?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:06 PM)

They might, Joe, but the bowl selection folks probably won't. Ohio State still brings prestige, a strong tradition and most important, a lot of fans who spend a lot of money. The Buckeyes will always be a top draw for a bowl.

Tom (D.C.)

I am familiar with my Buckeyes' stumblings this year... Surely UT has some weakness... Any thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:07 PM)

The Texas secondary can get exposed if -- and it's a big "if" -- Ohio State's offensive line comes to play and establishes the run game. Ohio State certainly has big-play potential in the passing game, and Pryor will hit some shots down the field if Texas has to respect the run.

Dave (Seattle)

Adam, who is your pick to win the 2nd-place game on Thursday?...we all know USC is the best team in the country, despite the media's bias against the West Coast.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:08 PM)

I think if Texas beats Ohio State by 10 or more points, the Longhorns finish second. If it's a closer game, USC could move into that slot.

MidvaleDave, Kenosha, Wisconsin

Hey Adam, great job on the blog this year, as an NU fan, I really appreciate the love you show us here and then. Thanks! Do you see Dan Persa having any chance competing for QB next year for the 'Cats?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:10 PM)

Hey Midvale, good to hear from you. It's definitely Mike Kafka's job to lose. Fitz has really liked Kafka ever since the kid arrived on campus, and Kafka's performance in Minneapolis was one of the biggest of the season for NU. Persa will have his shot, but most likely not until 2010 when he has to beat out Evan Watkins.

Tim (Orlando)

If Ohio State beats Texas, is it a start to silencing the critics or will it take a national championship? And aren't some of these fans more/less jealous their teams didn't make the title game?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:11 PM)

It will take a little more from Ohio State and a lot more from the rest of the Big Ten to silence critics. Ohio State certainly has an opportunity with this game and an early season home test against a young-ish USC team this September.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:11 PM)

And yes, those other teams are a bit jealous of the Buckeyes.

Jason (KC, MO)

Charlie Weis and the Irish play in a New Year's Day Bowl or better next year. True or False.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:12 PM)

I'm going to say true, because it doesn't take much for Notre Dame to play on New Year's Day (seven or eight wins). If Weis can't get there with such a cake schedule, he'll be fired. But I see Notre Dame winning eight or nine and playing in the Gator Bowl.

Mike (Cleveland, OH)

Adam, any insight on whether Big Will Campbell will be on the offensive or defensive line for Michigan next year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:13 PM)

I haven't heard anything yet on Campbell, but I'd imagine they'll want him on the D-line after losing both tackles and at least three starters from this year's team. Michigan could lose the entire line if rush end Brandon Graham opts to enter the NFL draft. He says he's staying, but I'd hold my breath until Jan. 15.

Caroline, Louisville, KY

Florida or Oklahoma?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:15 PM)

I really like Florida, but more because of its special teams and defense. No one can hold down Bradford and the offense for 60 minutes, but I don't see Oklahoma putting up 40 points on the Gators. Florida wins 34-27.

John, Texas

Hey Adam, I see 2 one dimensional teams here. From your point of view, which defense has the better chance at stopping the others bread and butter? As well as which offense has the best chance at balancing the attack?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:16 PM)

Texas is a little more balanced on offense, and though Ohio State's defensive line has really improved, I'm not completely sold. That said, Ohio State still has several future pros in the back seven on defense (Laurinaitis, Jenkins, Coleman, Russell). If those guys come to play, they could force some mistakes from McCoy.

Josh (Orlando, FL)

If USC wants to have more National TV time, why don't they schedule some non-Conference games on the East Coast? That way we wouldn't have to wait til the early hours of the morning to watch if it's even on TV. They claim to be able to beat anyone, so why not travel and show us?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:18 PM)

You're getting your wish Josh. After traveling to Virginia this year, USC visits both Ohio State and Notre Dame in 2009. I agree the Pac-10 doesn't get nearly enough national exposure (bad commissioner), but that will change soon enough.

Colt McKoy (Austin, TX)

Hi Adam, the real McKoy here. Everyone always talks about a playoff. Do they not realize there are many problems associated with one? Less money for teams in conferences, Each fan would have to travel to each game (semifinal quarter final etc), meaning attendance would fall, and other things of the like. Thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:19 PM)

Somehow, I think fans would find a way to attend playoff games most of them have wanted for some time. It might be tough initially with the economy, but if and when things pick up, those games will be well attended.

Will J (Portland, OR)

What's your opinion on Oklahoma's Dominique Franks comments about Tebow? So where would you rank Tebow among the Big XII QB's if he were in that league?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:20 PM)

It's tough, Will, because Tebow is so different from the QBs in the Big 12 in style. He's the best leader in the country, without question. But if I'm an NFL team, I'm taking Sam Bradford.

Magus, Columbus OH

Short answer: Who's your 2009 Big Ten sleeper?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:21 PM)

Good question. I'm tempted to say Minnesota, though the decline on defense at the end of the season really concerns me. Northwestern could once again be in the mix for a Jan. 1 bowl, and if Illinois can figure things out chemistry-wise, the Illini certainly have the talent to make a run.

Cosmo (Anytown, USA)

Do you foresee a time when the Big Ten gets back to being the best conference in the country? It seems to me that the southern schools/conferences have several inherent advantages to the Big Ten - and now with the stigma of being a weaker league, these disadvantages would be very difficult for the Big Ten to overcome.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:23 PM)

The Big Ten won't be this bad for much longer, but I don't see the league returning to the top any time soon. Those built-in advantages you mention really help warm-weather schools in recruiting. Though I think the coaching in the Big Ten is still very strong, the league will struggle to get to the top in this environment.

Isaiah, Detroit

Why is it that every year when USC wins a bowl game everyone tries to demean every other bowl game by saying USC my be the best team even though most of the other top teams haven't played yet? Sure USC looked good but lets not forget that they only looked dominant like that against ONE good team all year agianst OSU. Lets see what OU, UF and UT do before we anoint USC.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:25 PM)

That's a great point, Isaiah. I like the wait-and-see approach before anointing USC as the best. USC always shows up in big games and deserves a lot of credit for making a very good Penn State team look terrible for a good stretch of the Rose Bowl. But if Florida or Texas wins big, those teams certainly deserve to be in the discussion.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

Just make the quarterfinal games at the schools (home field to the higher seed). Fans would have to travel to the semifinal games and fans of two teams would travel to the national championship. That would likely leave only 3 "big" bowl games, but it's not like anyone pays much attention to more than that anyway. I mean, who really cares to watch the ACC-Big East matchup or see the Big 10 get smoked by USC again or pretty much all the non-BCS bowls?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:26 PM)

You're discounting the value of the bowl experience to the players. These guys work their butts off all year and really deserve these trips. The only playoff scenario that makes sense would be to have the bowls as the first sites and then schedule games into January. You don't want the No. 8 team in the country getting no bowl trip and ending its season on the road Dec. 20.

JJ (Columbus, OH)

Based on the bowl game results so far, can the big 12 really be considered the best conference in the country? Ok St. and Tech both fell, and Missouri really SHOULD have fallen. I think USC would kill any team in the big 12 and I believe Florida will and hopefully OSU can pull one out too. Thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:27 PM)

The Big 12 has two opportunities to cement itself as the nation's strongest conference. To this point, the league has not done so. I would still rank the SEC at No. 1, followed by the Big 12 and Pac-10. Should the Big 12 stumble in BCS games, the Pac-10 moves into the No. 2 spot.

Darrell(richmond,VA)

Stafford and Moreno going or staying? Stafford should stay another year to develop consistency,your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:28 PM)

I'd like to see Stafford stay one more year, but the NFL is tempting. Moreno has to be gone. No reason to stay as a running back.

Ryan, St. Augustine, Fl

Adam,Do you think the big ten needs more strong out of conference schedules by its big name schools to get some respect back to the conference or is a successful bowl season the only way?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:30 PM)

I would like to see the Big Ten take a more aggressive approach with non-league scheduling. The league had some chances this year to distinguish itself (Ohio State-USC, Illinois-Missouri, Purdue-Oregon) but only Penn State (Oregon State) and Wisconsin (Fresno State) secure what were, at the time, nice non-league wins. Looking at 2009, the Big Ten will have chances to boost its reputation in September as Ohio State faces USC, Iowa hosts Arizona, Minnesota hosts Cal and so on.

Ted, The SLC

Adam, I know that schools schedule their own non-conference games, but wouldn't it be cool if conferences could put together some inter-conference weekend, similar to basketball's ACC-Big 10 challenge, etc.?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:31 PM)

I believe the Big 12 and Big East already have something going. I would love to see the Big Ten and SEC play more nonconference games, but as Jim Delany told me, stadium size really plays into it as schools really don't want to give up home games.

Tim (NYC)

Did Syracuse make the right move Hiring Doug Marrone

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:33 PM)

I believe so. He seems to have good enthusiasm for the school. I liked the hire of DC Scott Shafer, who was and still is a pretty good coach despite the 2008 season. It will take some time to re-establish recruiting, but Marrone seems like a good choice to me.

Bob, Denver

MWC was 6-2 vs. Pac 10, 2-0 vs. SEC this year. Conference rankings should be SEC, Big 12, MWC, Pac-10...

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:34 PM)

Great year for the MWC, but the bottom of the conference still doesn't impress me. I love Utah, TCU and BYU, but there's a bit of a drop-off and then you have teams like San Diego State and Wyoming. That's not to say other leagues (ahem, Pac-10) are weak at the bottom, but I think the league's overall strength should be considered.

Danny (San Diego)

Are you related to John Clayton?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:35 PM)

Not that I'm aware of, but ya never know.

Ryan (Los Angeles)

No reason for a RB such as Moreno to stay? How bout a chance at the Heisman? He will be a top 5 candidate, no?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:36 PM)

Hey could be a top five pick now, Ryan. And he plays running back, which means his career likely won't last too long. If he thinks he'll be the first back picked, and it seems like he could be, he should definitely go pro.

Jake (SLC)

The Pac-10 has had no interest in expanding recently, but it has a new commissioner. Any chance they will change course in the next few years? Some fans in Utah would love to jump in. Thanks.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:37 PM)

The Pac-10 has such a tidy structure right now, with two teams in five regions. It makes the travel and scheduling really easy, compared with some other conferences. Utah certainly could hold its own in Pac-10 football, but the university has to be the right fit in other sports and in other areas. I don't see expansion on the horizon.

Prince (Falls Church,VA)

Hey Adam, Anything positive I can take from the Rose Bowl for my lions 2009 season? Do you think PSU would have fared any better against other top ten teams or are we just a good 2nd tier team?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:38 PM)

I really didn't think the offense played all that bad, Prince. Daryll Clark looked very composed, even during that disastrous second quarter. The defense clearly needs upgrades in the secondary, but you can feel good about Clark and even Stephfon Green, who showed some flashes despite the costly fumble.

Eric (Milwaukee)

Could next year be a make-or-break season for Bielema? Or is Alvarez going to give him a long leash after all the controversy over his hiring?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:39 PM)

Alvarez will be extremely hesitant to fire Bielema because Bielema was his hand-picked successor. That said, the pressure is definitely on in 2009. The more I think about it, I can't identify many teams that were more disappointing than Wisconsin this fall. Really bad all around, from the coaches on down. So yes, 2009 will be big for Bret.

Ken (Brigantine, NJ)

Do you think Chris Beanie Wells will opt for the draft this year, or will he stay around for another year, and a shot at the Heisman (praying there are no injuries again)

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:41 PM)

I'd be surprised if he stays, especially given his injury history. But if Ohio State loses tonight and he wants another shot at a BCS bowl victory and a Heisman, Wells could be back. I believe him when he says he hasn't accomplished what he wanted to in Columbus. But the pull of the NFL is very strong, particularly for running backs.

Matt (SLC)

I know the MWC is weak at the bottom, I won't dispute that. But Washington, Washington State, Duke, Iowa State, Baylor, Syracuse, Indiana, etc. There's a bottom end everywhere.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:42 PM)

I agree, Matt. It's a tough call between the Pac-10 and the Mountain West. The MWC dominated the regular season, the Pac-10 was perfect in the bowl season, both have a BCS win. The bottom line is Craig Thompson and the Mountain West should feel extremely good about this season.

Just answer the question! (NY)

I know you get this question all the time, but humor me . . . when does Michigan compete for the B10 title again? '10?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:43 PM)

Ha, like your name. 2010 will be the critical year for Rich Rodriguez. Provided he doesn't miss another bowl game this fall, he'll need to have a contending team in 2010.

Nick (Dallas)

Beano Cook said in a chat that it would take years for SMU to rebuild their program and won't be in the national picture. What are your thoughts? Can Jones turn them into Hawaii?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:44 PM)

I thought he could and still sort of think he can, but at the same time, SMU might be one of those places that will never recover. I hope it does because I like June and what he does, but you have to wonder if that program can ever get on track again. It's really not that hard to win in C-USA, but I have my doubts.

Ken (Brigantine, NJ)

Another question for you... Do you feel like Ohio State is putting too much pressure on such a young quarterback, this early in his college career? Do you think Pryor is a strong enough leader to do something for the struggling january team? I am a huge Buckeyes fan, and its starting to worry me that we are putting all our eggs in one basket with Pryor. He played well this year, but can he do what it takes for the next 3 years too?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:47 PM)

From what I've seen, Terrelle Pryor thrives on pressure and big moments. What's important to remember, though, is that next year Ohio State will be Pryor's team more than the squad this year. You still have a lot of Todd Boeckman's friends on the two-deep right now. Nothing against those guys, but Pryor will have an easier time leading the next generation of Buckeyes, guys like DeVier Posey and Lamaar Thomas. The offensive line also will be younger and closer to Pryor.

Shingo (Chicago, IL)

ARe you sad to see Tadahito Iguchi is heading back to Japan?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:47 PM)

Shingo! I'm more disappointed to see you and your Frisbee pitch leave the South Side! That was freaking awesome.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:48 PM)

OK, back to football ...

Will J (Portland, OR)

Adam, which has been the most entertaining bowl game thus far? Biggest surprise outcome?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:49 PM)

The two bowls I've enjoyed the most were Meineke Car Care (West Virginia-North Carolina) and Alamo (Northwestern-Missouri). Plenty of drama in both games. As for surprise outcome, I'd say Utah in the Sugar Bowl. Mississippi beating Texas Tech wasn't a surprise to me. Not a Tech believer at all.

Ryan (Fort dodge, Ia)

If Ohio St. loses tonight..will Iowa finish in the top 2 in the Big Ten standings?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:50 PM)

The Hawkeyes might move up. They certainly finished the season playing great. You'll have to wait and see my final rankings ...

Dave (DC)

Should I be worried that Michigan State couldn't score when points were handed to them against UGA and that was with Ringer - what should I expect next year with Ringer gone?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:51 PM)

It was disappointing that Michigan State couldn't capitalize in the first half against Georgia. The offense will be much more dynamic next fall with Cousins or Nichol at QB. The receivers should be better, and I'm extremely excited to see how the young guys do (Fred Smith, Keshawn Martin) with another year. I would, however, be worried about the RB spot. No one got enough playing time behind Javon.

Nick (Dallas)

When do you predict a realignment and/or team shifting among the major and mid-major conferences?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:52 PM)

Good question, Nick. I wouldn't see anything changing for at least two seasons, but you never know. The rise of the Mountain West certainly makes things interesting. I think Boise State should and will join the MWC in the near future.

Cosmo (Anytown, USA)

With the departure of 3 really good WRs, will Penn State revert back into the running team that they have been in the past?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:54 PM)

I think it's really important for Penn State to find a way to maintain balance. The temptation of course is to go back to a run-oriented scheme with Clark, Royster and Green. But the threat of the big pass made that offense truly dynamic. The next crop of wideouts seem a big bigger and maybe a step slower than Williams, Norwood and Butler, but it's important Jay Paterno and Galen Hall continue to emphasize the passing game.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Adam, which school would you say is the hardest to recruit at in the Big Ten? I.e. Washington St. in Pullman is obviously the hardest one in the Pac-10 to recruit at.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:55 PM)

Northwestern is limited by academics, but I would say Purdue and Indiana have a tough sell. It's not a great state for high school talent, and Indiana hasn't had a winning tradition. New Purdue coach Danny Hope should help the Boilers' recruiting big time, but those places would be at the bottom.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:56 PM)

OK guys, that's all the time I've got. Mark Schlabach is up next before we both head over to Glendale for the game. Enjoy the Fiesta Bowl!