Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 20, 6:25 AM ET
Chat with Adam Rittenberg

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:00 PM)

Let's get chatty, people. Fire away.

Joe (Long Island)

I hear completely different things about Terrelle Pryor. I remember an early spring Dispatch article saying that Pryor's passes still did not look very good however, in today's article people are saying he has grown tremendously. What did you think with what you saw? I also see he had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in a exhibition with his own teammates. is this something I as a Buckeye fan will have to deal with again like his comments prior to the Illinois game?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:02 PM)

I wasn't overly impressed with Pryor at Thursday's practice, but he did seem more comfortable on the short to intermediate throws. I doubt he'll ever throw a great deep ball, but if he can complete the high-percentage passes, Ohio State will be OK. As for the penalty in the exhibition, I wouldn't be too concerned. Pryor plays with a bit of an attitude, but it might help Ohio State in the long run. This team will have much more of an edge to it than its predecessor.

Dee (Columbus, Ohio)

In terms of facilities of the college campuses you've visited, which school (in the Big Ten or outside of it) have the best athletic facilities? And does this matter to recruits or is it winning and sending players to the NFL?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:03 PM)

It definitely matters to recruits, since the facilities are where they'll be spending most of their time at a school. I was very impressed with both Ohio State and Penn State after stopping by last week. I didn't get to see much of Iowa's facilities, but the football offices are decent.

Travis (Phoenix, AZ)

Hey Adam, great job covering the big ten. Do you think Evan Royster will be as effective as last year with a new O-line?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:04 PM)

Thanks, Travis. I love Royster because unlike a lot of college backs, he always lets his linemen do their job. He's a very patient runner, doesn't do a lot of dancing in the backfield, and hits the hole when there's an opening. His numbers might be down a bit early on, but he'll have another strong season if he stays healthy.

Mark (Chicago, IL)

Adam- Are you planning on making some trips this fall to any games? Do you have a preliminary list of games you probably will attend? Or will your trips be decided as the season pprogress?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:05 PM)

Good questions, Mark. Our game assignments are usually determined the Sunday of game week, so I don't have any games set in stone at this point. I'd be surprised if I wasn't in Columbus on Sept. 12, but other than Ohio State-USC, it's to be determined.

Aaron Champaign, IL

Has Joey Elliott locked down the starting QB position at purdue? I have heard a ton about terbush but not as much as late. What information do you have Adam?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:07 PM)

The coaches really like TerBush, but it would take a major shake-up for Joey Elliott not to start the season at QB. Offensive coordinator Gary Nord recently told me he considers Elliott the starter at this point. Elliott seemed to have a decent spring and was named a team captain on Sunday. After several years of waiting, he'll get his shot with TerBush as the backup.

Aaron Toledo

After watching michigans spring game where do you see for optimism and then where do u think they need to improve?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:08 PM)

I think Michigan will be much better up front this year. An improved O-line will take pressure off whoever wins the QB job, and the running game, led by Brandon Minor, should be solid. My main concerns are on defense, particularly the secondary. I'd like to see more depth develop there, particularly at safety.

Eric, Varnville, SC

Adam, on your trip through the Big Ten this spring have any of the Big Ten teams mentioned a change in weight room philosophy to counter the obvious speed disadvantages they have when matching up with the elite teams in other conferences? Or is there still a resistance to change in the air?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:09 PM)

Wisconsin made some changes to its weight program, and I'm sure other programs have tweaked things here or there. But the main difference you've seen is in recruiting, not weight training. Purdue signed 14 players from Florida, and teams like Michigan and Illinois are looking more and more to the south for players.

Colin (NY)

With no real front running distinguishing himself from MSU's running back stable, how likely is it recruits Caper or Baker will excel to take the starting spot?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:10 PM)

Mark Dantonio really likes Edwin Baker and Larry Caper, so both of them will get a good shot to compete. It seems like Ashton Leggett is creating a bit of separation at running back late this spring. I'm excited to get out to East Lansing tomorrow and watch those three backs practice.

Alex (Iowa City, IA)

What do you think about the Hawkeyes' running game coming out of the spring? Do you like what you see from Jewel Hampton and Jeff Brinson, and do you see incoming Iowa stand-out Branden Wegher getting any PT? The O-line should be very solid and should be able to open up some big holes for these young guys.

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:12 PM)

Well, I didn't get to watch practice in Iowa City (they were in shorts that day any way). But Kirk Ferentz and some of the players I spoke with seemed to like what Hampton can do. Paki O'Meara continues to do good things in practice, and Brinson will also contribute if healthy. Wegher certainly is a guy who could help, but my guess is Iowa will try to get by with the three backs they already have for 2009.

Bill (Philly)

Adam, As someone who has covered the Big 10 for a while now and is in the middle of going from spring practice to spring practice, give us the lowdown. Who are the most media savvy Big 10 football coaches? Hard salesmen like R-Rod, a young gun like Fitzgerald, a warm old timer like JoePa, or a bland but steady Tressel that plays his cards close to his vest (literally).

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:15 PM)

Jim Tressel was actually pretty accommodating when we sat down last week. Really enjoyed my conversation with him. Same with Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, who also keeps things pretty locked down as far as media access. There are certainly some coaches who are more accessible than others in the league, but I enjoy talking football with all 11 guys.

Jon'Tae (Ann Arbor, MI)

Hi Adam, I'm a huge Wolverine fan and it seems to me that they're headed in the right direction. Do you think the Paulus situation cast a negative light on our university? RR seemed to have alot of momentum going for him after the spring game and with the most important people, boosters (I mean recruits haha) but seriously in the national media the only things we've had going for us is debacles lately. Does RR need a PR man or was that an ok move letting it leak out like that?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:17 PM)

Rich Rodriguez wants to win, and he's always looking to improve his team. That's why the Paulus thing came about. But I agree with you, Jon'Tae, about the p.r. side of it. It just doesn't look good when you bring in a basketball player who hasn't played football in four years. I highly doubt Paulus-to-Michigan will actually happen -- there are some reports that the interest has already faded -- but it did turn away some of the attention from what seemed to be a very positive spring game.

Ashley Canton,Oh

Do you Think Lamaar Thomas will finally make an impression in the OSU offense,he seems to have the talent and speed to be a game changer,especially alongside Posey and with Pryor behind the Line.

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:18 PM)

I actually noticed Thomas right away at Thursday's practice. With Dane Sanzenbacher hobbled by an ankle injury, Thomas practiced mostly with the first-team offense and made several impressive plays. He'll be competing for catches with DeVier Posey, Ray Small and others, but I'd think he'll be a bigger factor as a receiver and a return man this fall.

Jason (St. Paul, MN)

Hello Adam - I'd hope you would find your way to TCF Stadium when the Gophers play California. That will be one of the conference's better non-conference games, and it will spotlight a Heisman contender (Jahvid Best) and a possible top 15 team for the second home game at TCF. September in Minnesota = beautiful. Better you show up then than for one of the November games.

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:20 PM)

Jason, I would absolutely love to attend this game. Already circled it on my calendar. Let's hope my bosses agree and send me there! Minnesota has a chance to start 2-0, and Cal should enter the fall ranked. I grew up out west, so I rarely get a chance to see Pac-10 teams in person. Should be an interesting matchup, and the new stadium will provide a great setting.

Dylan (Michigan)

what do you think MSU's chances are at winning the big ten this year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:22 PM)

The defense should be as good or better than it was last fall. The big questions come on the offensive side, at QB and RB. I'm really interested to see how flexible Mark Dantonio will be with the offense this year. There's no more Javon Ringer, and I think Michigan State needs to jazz it up on that side of the ball. If they do, maybe they'll have a shot to push Ohio State (off the schedule) and Penn State (in East Lansing).

Jeremy IL

Why did the Big Ten Make the night game rule?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:23 PM)

It's definitely weather-related, Jeremy. The Big Ten allowed night games in November as long as they were indoors (read: the Metrodome). Now that all 11 Big Ten teams play outside, the weather factor in November will keep all games in the afternoon or late morning.

Stephen (Evansville, IN)

What are your thoughts on this offseason for Indiana? Is the addition of the pistol formation and the move of Kellen Lewis to WR gonna be the boost the Hoosiers need to move from 3-9 into the race for the bowl picture?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:25 PM)

I didn't make it down to Bloomington this spring, but I definitely sensed an attitude change among several IU players I spoke to on the phone. Kellen Lewis sounds genuinely excited about playing wide receiver (a surprise to me), while Matt Mayberry and Greg Middleton have a sense of urgency on defense. Indiana needs to get better luck with injuries after a tough year, but it wouldn't shock me if the Hoosiers finished right around .500.

Kevin (Dexter, MI)

Adam- Do you see any of Michigan's incoming but not early enrolled freshmen making a big impact this season?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:27 PM)

There are still plenty of opportunities for young players to step up. I could see a guy like Craig Roh stepping in this fall, and obviously Denard Robinson will compete at quarterback. I'm also excited to see wideout Je'Ron Stokes.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

As a Big Ten fan, I like the new rule to have the games during the day. It's too hard to make that two and a half hour trip back from State College after an 8:00 PM start.

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:27 PM)

Most sports writers would agree with you, J.B. But most of your fellow Nittany Lions fans want as many night games as possible. Can't blame them. That's a great atmosphere.

Steve (Chicago)

How do you think NU's 2009 season will compare to the 2008 one? Better, same, or worse?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:29 PM)

Another 9-3 season would be an excellent sign for Fitzgerald and Northwestern. The schedule certainly favors the Wildcats, but I would expect some offensive struggles. I'd put Northwestern between 7-9 wins at this point. The defense will be among the Big Ten's best, but the offense worries me.

chris (columbus oh)

don't u think the gators are the overall favs to win the whole thing since they have 90% of there team back?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:30 PM)

Florida definitely enters the fall as the favorite. Even if the Gators had Tim Tebow and a couple of walk-ons, some folks would pick them to win it all. They'll definitely be challenged in the SEC by LSU, Ole Miss and others, but Florida certainly looks like the team to beat.

joe

give it to me straight- will notre dame ever be good again?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:32 PM)

I think so, but it needs to happen this year. Notre Dame has to win eight or more games. There's no excuse for anything less than that. The talent is there, especially at the skill spots. If Notre Dame goes 7-5 or worse, there's something wrong with the coaching staff, and they've got to go.

john (cincinnati)

adam, where do you rank the big ten in conference strength after the awful bowl season and continued losses (some blowouts ie osu & penn st) in non conference to top 10 programs???

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:33 PM)

Definitely behind the SEC, probably behind the Big 12 (though I really wasn't impressed with that league). The Big Ten in somewhere on par with the Pac-10 and ACC. Those three leagues are pretty interchangeable to me. But the bottom line is the Big Ten needs to do better in showcase games, starting Sept. 12 in Columbus.

Bobby (Pittsburgh )

Can Pitt win the Big East this year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:34 PM)

Absolutely. Almost anyone can. Very wide open league this year.

Joe (NJ)

Is greg paulus going to be any good at Michigan?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:34 PM)

I don't think he'll play there, to be honest with you. Syracuse is a likelier destination for Greg P.

emmit (boston)

the previous 2 3-9 teams with historic lineage go toe to toe again this year. ND/UM, who wins?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:36 PM)

Really interesting matchup, Emmit. Most people will pick Notre Dame because of all it returns and the questions Michigan still has at QB. But I'm not sold on Notre Dame's ability to run the ball. The Irish simply aren't a tough team until proven otherwise. Michigan obviously needs to improve a lot, but this will be a tough game for Notre Dame.

Nick (St. Paul)

Hey Adam- What do you think about Minnesota? They've got some players, but how close are they to having the overall talent and depth to actually play with and occasionally beat the better teams in the conference?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:37 PM)

I'm pretty torn on the Gophers, Nick. The talent is there, but Brewster has done a lot of shuffling with his coaching staff, and it might take some time for everything to fully sink in. Throw in a much tougher schedule this fall, and Minnesota could have the same record (or worse) despite a better overall team.

Matt (Madison, WI)

Badgers-Pleasant surprise or mediocre season? What happens if we see another mediocre season and bowl loss this year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:38 PM)

I've got Wisconsin anywhere from 6-9 wins. The quarterback situation is huge after last year's struggles, and I'm a little concerned about the defensive front seven. The schedule sets up decently for a stronger season. A repeat of 2008 probably won't cost Bielema his job, but he'd enter 2010 on the hot seat.

Nate (York)

Hey Adam! What are your honest thoughts about Penn State's DB's and their offensive line? Word has it both a much improved since the coach's clinic scrimmage.Do you think they'll be able to hold up in time for the rough "around the edges" schedule of the big ten this year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:39 PM)

Joe Paterno sounded really down on this group when we talked last week. I think it helps that Penn State starts off with such an easy slate. Hopefully for the Lions, those players can get some confidence. I like Drew Astorino at safety, and Stefen Wisniewski will eventually be a solid center, but the left side of the O-line really worries me.

Tyler Propst (Maroa Illionis)

what do you think about Illiois's chances in the big ten this year

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:41 PM)

Another team that remains a bit of a mystery to me. Illinois has arguably more talent on offense than any other Big Ten team: a veteran QB, the league's top WR corps, two improved backs in Ford and LeShoure. I'm not sold on the defensive front, but if guys like Martez Wilson and Corey Liuget take a step forward, Illinois should be solid. A very tough schedule doesn't help, though.

Steve (Madison, WI)

Adam -- Heard any whispers about any night games in Madison? This will be my first fall away as an alum, and I'm trying to figure out the best weekend to get back.

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:42 PM)

Posted the Big Ten night-game schedule last week, and Wisconsin has only one home game under the lights, the Sept. 5 opener against Northern Illinois.

Jackson (IA)

What's the deal with the Hawkeyes players? If he's not the coaches son, is Ferentz booted permanently? Is it ridiculous that he's not already? Should they change their name to the Bengals?

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:44 PM)

We'll see what happens with James Ferentz, but I could see things working out just the opposite -- he gets booted because he's the coach's son. Kirk Ferentz needs to come down hard on these players, given the team's string of incidents in 2007 and the early part of 2008. Iowa players clearly are under a microscope in Iowa City, but it can't be that hard to stay out of the blotter.

Doug (Amherst, MA)

Can you break down Michigan's schedule for us? I see maybe 6-7 wins but I can see us being competitive in every game this year.

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:45 PM)

I agree with you, Doug. The big swing games will be the opener against Western Michigan, Notre Dame, at Illinois, at Wisconsin, at Michigan State. If Michigan gets three or four wins there, it should be in good shape for a decent bowl.

Adam Rittenberg
  (3:46 PM)

OK guys, that's all the time I've got today. Enjoyed the chat. Let's do it again sometime soon.