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February 26, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Adam Rittenberg

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:00 PM)

Spring football in the Big Ten is barely two weeks away. What's on your mind today?

Logan (Columbus)

Adam, do you think Tressel will throw more to his TE this year with Jake Stoneburner being the first string? I've heard reports that his blocking isn't the best, so if he's in there you'd have to imagine they would be looking to capitalize on his speed.Thanks, great blog, and keep it up!

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:01 PM)

Logan, interesting question. Tressel was talking up Stoneburner even last spring, but they didn't feature the tight ends too much in 2009. If Terrelle Pryor continues to build off of the Rose Bowl and Ohio State achieves more balance in the offense, you'd have to think the tight ends will be featured more. You have two good WRs in Posey and Sanzenbacher, but a third option in Stoneburner would help.

Josh (Chicago)

What can we expect out of Greg Robinson and the Wolverine defense this year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:03 PM)

Michigan needs to be more cohesive on defense. A lot of players talked about the improved communication heading into 2009, but I didn't see it. Way to many breakdowns, particularly among the back seven. There's no Brandon Graham or Donovan Warren, so Michigan's defenders need to work better together and try to limit explosion plays.

Mike (Iowa City)

Adam, Hawkeyes vs. OSU...is that the likely scenario for the Big Ten title this upcoming season?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:04 PM)

Mike, I wouldn't count out Wisconsin. The Badgers return more starters than both OSU and Iowa, and like Iowa, they get the Buckeyes on their home field. I think you'll see the Big Ten title be decided from the following games: OSU at Wisconsin, OSU at Iowa, Wisconsin at Iowa.

Peter (Atlanta, GA)

Will anything major actually come out of these NCAA violations by Michigan?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:05 PM)

Peter, it depends what you define as major. Is probation likely? Yes. Are scholarship losses likely? Yes. Is the loss of an assistant coach or fewer assistants being allowed to recruit likely? Maybe. But Michigan isn't going to be hit with postseason probation or anything that would cripple the program. This isn't what USC is accused of. This isn't academic fraud (Florida State, Memphis) or paying players.

Mike (Iowa City)

Kirk Ferentz wasnt named on the coaches of the Decade list....is that a snub or fair that hes not on there?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:07 PM)

Mike, Ferentz has enjoyed two very good periods during the decade (2002-04) and (2008-09), but Iowa was mediocre to bad in those other years. To make a list like that one, you really need your "down" years to be 8-4 or 9-3, not 6-6.

Adam (Orlando)

Is there a specific reason why people take so much offense to someone's list ranking anything? It's just someone's opinion and not a slight.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:07 PM)

Adam, you're my hero. Preach on, brother.

Brandon (Buffalo, NY)

With the departure of Jared Odrick to the NFL, do you see the Penn State defensive line tacking a step back in 2010?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:08 PM)

I know better than to question Penn State's ability to reload along the defensive line. Larry Johnson will find some way to field a very good front four. Does Penn State have another player as dominant as Odrick in the middle? No. But if guys like Jack Crawford continue to develop, the line should be fine. I'm not worried about that group at all. Too much evidence to the contrary.

Hilary (Boston)

There are a ton of running backs at Ohio State (maybe 6), and they all can play. Will this lead to Terrelle Pryor running less, especially since he hurt his knee this past season?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:10 PM)

Hilary, Pryor's knee injury and subsequent surgery wasn't major, and I expect him to be fully healthy for spring ball. But he could run less in 2010 if Ohio State continues to show more balance in its offense. I would be hesitant to reduce Pryor's carries because he's such a weapon, but he also showed in the Rose Bowl that he can be a decent passer.

Ben (Cleveland)

Adam - Delaney says to the public that the Big Ten isn't contacting anyone yet because its the right thing to do and will do so only after notifying the respective conferences (I believe it is the right way to do it); however, with the Pac 10 talking expansion too, don't you have to get some interest from some teams before the Pac 10 does? The major player that both conferences want (and unfortunately, I don't think is gonna get) is Texas, you'd think you almost have to go talk to them before the other guy beats you to it (which means ASAP). All the sudden this professional way of doing things can get ugly real quick with everyone being called a liar. Your Thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:12 PM)

If Texas is off the table, which seems very likely, there aren't many schools that both the Big Ten and the Pac-10 would covet. The Big Ten likely will look to the Big 12 North or the Big East (or Notre Dame) for expansion, while the Pac-10 more likely will focus on Utah and BYU. Colorado has been mentioned for the Pac-10 but likely won't be high on the Big Ten's list. The Big Ten has a stronger overall profile than the Pac-10 (population, media agreements, etc.) and can afford to be picky.

Andy (Cbus)

Hey Adam, what does a blogger do in the offseason winter months? Besides play Call of Duty.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:13 PM)

Uh, Andy, have you checked my blog? We don't have an offseason, as we continue to crank out content even in late February.

JL (Warrenton, VA)

Adam: If you are right about the final judgments against Michigan, the question is what would be crippling? The program under RR isn't in condition to withstand much. The things you mention might not hurt a healthy program much, but Michigan isn't that healthy right now it seems to me.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:14 PM)

JL, that's actually a really good point. These penalties might not be major to most programs, but Michigan needs all the help it can get. One key thing was the most recent recruiting class, a large group that addresses a lot of needs. If this class and the 2009 group pan out, Michigan should be in a better position to absorb a few scholarship losses (likely self imposed).

Kip (State College, PA)

I see you're not putting Penn State up with Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin in the run for Big Ten champ. You think Penn State will have a chance for it with having to replace some big players?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:15 PM)

Penn State certainly can contend for a Big Ten title, but the Lions are going to need to prove it to us. A lot of questions at key positions, namely quarterback. Can they get it done? Absolutely. But one of those QBs must grow up in a hurry this spring/summer.

Mike (Iowa City)

Whats going on with Jewel Hampton in Iowa? he was supposed to be the starter after the great Shonn Greene left...but his injury took him away all season...he is supposed to be fast and explosive...is he comin back as the #1 RB for the Hawks or is Wegher and Robinson fighting for that position?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:17 PM)

Mike, they are all in the mix for what should be one of the more competitive positions in the Big Ten this spring/summer. Hampton might have what it takes to become a featured back, but you can't dismiss Robinson and Wegher after what they did last year and in the Orange Bowl. I would call Robinson one of Iowa's offensive MVPs for filling in for Hampton and playing through pain. Very gutsy effort by A-Rob.

Peter (Atlanta, GA)

Would Mark D'Antonio potentially be in hot water if MSU has another off the field incident like they did last fall? It seems to me that MSU's biggest problem is themselves and that they cannot control their players and if a good coach does show up at their doorstep (Nick Saban), he eventually leaves because MSU, despite being projected to make a leap into the upper echelon of the Big Ten almost every year, never does. Thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:19 PM)

The residence hall incident and the Glenn Winston fight last year are two huge stains for Dantonio. I still believe he can enforce discipline at MSU, but I think you're right: he will be in hot water if something else happens. Having 11 players plead guilty to assault is extremely embarrassing, especially when the player reportedly at the center of it (Winston) was let on the team the day he got out of jail for another assault. I like Mark and think MSU has some good leaders in Greg Jones and Kirk Cousins. But another incident could really cause problems for that whole program.

Colleen (Seattle)

You wrote a blog post about overall athletic department strength being a factor in expansion. Rutgers men's basketball is 122 in the RPI, right behind that powerhouse of San Jose State. Please say Delaney and Co. take department strength into account (and not just TV market that may/may not be garnered)?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:21 PM)

Basketball RPI might not be the best indicator, Colleen, as several Big Ten teams are way down in the ratings this year. But the more damaging argument against Rutgers was its most recent Directors' Cup ranking (in the 120s). I'm not as sold on Rutgers as some folks, though RU has a good football program and a strong academic reputation, which the Big Ten wants if it adds a new member.

Nick (Columbus)

Adam: If Rich Rod does not make a bowl this year, will we see a coaching change at Michigan next year.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:23 PM)

Nick, I think the answer is yes. No matter the obstacles Rodriguez faced when he arrived at U-M, there's no excuse for missing a bowl in three consecutive years at Michigan. A 6-win Michigan team makes a bowl, so find a way to win six games at the very least. That's not asking too much at all.

john (cincinnati)

hey adam.what are your feelings on ooc scheduling in the big ten? if you are not in the sec (and all the sec schools should be scheduling atleast 1 legit game from bcs conf.), shouldn't you have to schedule more than 1 legit game from bcs conference...not picking on osu...the u is legit but the other games on osu ooc schedule are a joke.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:25 PM)

John, I understand the fans' desire to see better non-league matchups every year, but there are some things everyone needs to realize. College football is big business and when you have big stadiums, you need to fill them for the revenue. Giving up home games on a regular basis simply isn't a sound economic choice for many Big Ten teams, and in order to play the better squads, you need to play away games. I will say, however, that non-con scheduling as a whole is getting better in the Big Ten. Teams like Michigan State and Minnesota are beefing things up during the next few years.

Bruce (Columbus, Georgia)

Isn't it possible that the Big 10 is in danger of making a short-sighted mistake in not taking Syracuse (NY) or Rutgers (NJ) as expansion teams? The TV, etc., markets in both states are not great now but both have enormous potential. The Big 10 won't get Texas or Notre Dame, so wouldn't Syracuse or Rutgers be the best long-term solutions if the Big 10 spent time, money, and effort to develop the NY and NJ markets?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:27 PM)

Bruce, if the Big Ten wants to capture the New York market, taking both Syracuse and Rutgers as well as Connecticut could be an excellent move. I'm pretty leery of a 14-team mega conference because some teams would never play each other (the intimacy of a conference would be lost), but from a pure business standpoint, cornering the New York/New Jersey market with Rutgers, Syracuse and UConn makes sense.

Larry (Glendale, CA)

If you were the commissioner of the Big XII, which teams would you acquire if Colorado left for the Pac-10 and Mizzou left for the Big Ten?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:29 PM)

TCU would have to be at the top of my list, though I would need to take a look at the overall athletic department to see if it matches what the Big 12 desires. But certainly from a football standpoint, TCU makes sense. I would also look at Utah as a possibility. Utah has enjoyed success in both major sports (football, men's hoops) and brings in another major market (Salt Lake City).

big m (st. louis)

what would u say are some bright spots for michigan st.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:31 PM)

I really like the two young running backs, Larry Caper and Edwin Baker. Michigan State certainly can build around those guys. And until the last two games, Kirk Cousins put together a really nice season at quarterback. Kirk is one of my favorite people to cover in the Big Ten, and if anyone can establish the leadership MSU sorely needs, it's him. You also have to love the linebacking corps, led by Greg Jones.

John (CT)

Looking over PSU's home schedule, I'm not seeing too many opportunities for a night game--Illinois and Michigan are the only two conference home games before November. Any chance we'll see the lions under the lights this year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:32 PM)

The Big Ten's primetime schedule won't be out for a few more weeks, and I probably need more time to see what other games are being played those days, but Penn State-Michigan always has the potential to be at night. Penn State certainly wants as many home night games as possible. It's one of the best atmospheres in all of college football.

Mike (Iowa City)

Whats Adrian Clayborn's status? is his off the field problems going to effect his playing time at all?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:34 PM)

After talking to Kirk Ferentz last week, I get the impression Clayborn won't face any major penalties from the team. Unless he gets hit with a tough sentence from the court (unlikely), he should be out there this spring.

Mike (Cali)

Does Rich Rod really pull the wool over your eyes as well? He's not a man of integrity. Compare Richrod with KF or JT!

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:36 PM)

It's not about wool being pulled over my eyes, Mike. Rich Rodriguez is a football coach, not a saint. So are Ferentz and Tressel, both of whom have received criticism for their handling of off-field incidence involving players. In big-time football, there are going to be problems. It's whether you can survive them and win enough games to keep your job. Rich Rodriguez will ultimately be judged by wins and losses. That's it.

Pete (Chicago )

Actually, taking UConn, Rutgers and Syracuse doesn't make any sense at all , looking at it from a Football marketing standpoint. The NYC metro area is so fragmented that none of those schools bring much to the table, even in concert.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:38 PM)

Pete, well if the market is as fragmented as you say, the Big Ten most likely will know it. And if it's true, the league won't bother with those teams. I'm no marketing expert, but if you add those three teams to a league that already is pretty popular in New York, you enhance your profile in the area.

John (CT)

The Big Ten loses a lot of its best LBs from this season. Who should we be watching out for in 2010? As a PSU fan, I can't wait to see Mauti back on the field.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:40 PM)

Yes, Mauti is an exciting prospect, and I'm sorry I neglected to include him in my what to watch post earlier. Stupar is a guy who played some last year and could be even better. I'm also interested to see if any of the incoming freshmen will be in the mix there.

john (pennsylvania)

adam, do you think tate forcier will be the starting quarterback come Michigan's opener with UConn?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:41 PM)

John, I do. Tate did a lot of good things last year, and another full offseason should really help him. He needs to take fewer chances and get better at making throws inside the pocket, but in terms of system knowledge, he's way ahead of both Robinson and Garder.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:41 PM)

Gardner, I meant.

Dylan (Philly)

Do you think Penn State bolstering its typical cupcake nonconference schedule with Alabama will help or hurt the young nittany lions this year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:43 PM)

Dylan, the Bama game should, at the very least, provide a teaching tool for those coaches to use. Penn State's young players will be facing a Heisman Trophy winner in Mark Ingram and many players who reached the pinnacle in the sport. The game could be a tough one to swallow, but it should help Penn State's players in the long run, especially since they host Bama in 2011.

john (cincinnati)

adam, shouldn't big ten fans be careful about critiquing the academics of the schools be considered for big ten expansion...the big ten isn't the ivy league. outside of schools known for their academics like northwestern, vandy, duke, stanford, etc...the bcs conferences are mostly filled with large public universities that admit kids that wouldn't normally be admitted if they couldn't run or tackle. your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:46 PM)

While I think you're correct on your last point, John, the Big Ten takes its academic reputation seriously. No Big Ten school ranked lower than 71st nationally in the most recent U.S. News and World report rankings. More than half of the league is in the top 55. I really think the new expansion candidate will need a better-than-average academic profile. Not saying the Big Ten will add Yale or Princeton, but some of the candidates people throw out there don't cut it.

John (CT)

I'm with Pete from Chicago. The Big East has all 3 teams right now, and college football is still meaningless in NYC. In fact, you could have NYU, Fordham, and Columbia all playing BCS-quality football, and the city still wouldn't care. NYC just isn't a college football town, and the Big Ten should look elsewhere.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:47 PM)

John, you might be right, and if so, the Big Ten will stay away. But people say the same thing about Chicago -- it's a pro town, always will be. But I know from covering the Big Ten that there's a huge presence of Big Ten alums and college football fans in Chicago. There are also a ton of Big Ten alums in NYC.

Geoff (Honduras)

Wisconsin's John Clay in the Heisman race?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:49 PM)

Absolutely, Geoff. He has to gain consideration entering the year after what he did in 2009. He'll be running behind a very good offensive line. But Clay needs to put up some big numbers in big games. He struggled against Ohio State last year, and wasn't the same after his injury against Iowa.

Justin (Chicago)

Please comment on the Appleton situation...huge loss for Wisconsin, if he is gone, right?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:50 PM)

I wouldn't call him a huge loss, Justin, especially if the Badgers get more from guys like Isaac Anderson, Kyle Jefferson and David Gilreath this year. Nick Toon will be a star in 2010, and Wisconsin usually needs only two or three capable receivers in its offense.

Greg (Ohio)

Hey Adam! Love the blog. You mention a lot about Newsome and the other QB's for PSU, but doesn't Bolden have the most potential and most likely the best chance to play? If he is going to be the QB of the future, why not start him now? He is already quoted as saying he didn't come to PSU to redshirt.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:52 PM)

Greg, Penn State fans always tell me I mention Bolden too much and overlook Paul Jones! Bolden will have a chance to compete for time, and he certainly is talented, but he'll be a little bit behind Newsome, McGloin and Jones, who enrolled early. I'm not sure Bolden will be ready to start after only going through a few weeks of preseason camp.

Mike (Sacramento)

Adam, the last time expectations seemed so high for Wisconsin heading into the 2008 season, the Badgers really flopped when the regular season came around. Do you see things being different this time around?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:54 PM)

Bret Bielema talked to me about this earlier this week. The Badgers' underclassmen remember the 2008 season and seem to be emphasizing the importance of the journey rather than the destination. Wisconsin will set goals for itself, but the older players want to embrace the process of reaching those goals. This should eliminate any sentiment that reaching those goals is a foregone conclusion. It's a good approach.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:54 PM)

That should be Badgers' upperclassmen, not underclassmen. He meant the juniors and seniors.

Max (Irvine, CA)

When it's all said and done, if expansion isn't in order, would you expect the conference to add another bye week to push the season back another week (two bye weeks)?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:56 PM)

Max, I doubt it. Adding one permanent bye week seemed difficult enough for the Big Ten. What's more likely is teams adding a nonconference game following the Big Ten season, like Illinois has with Fresno State or Wisconsin did with Hawaii last year.

Jim (Minneapolis)

Adam, what is it going to take for the Gophers to finally break into the top half of the Big 10 and stay there?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:58 PM)

Minnesota needs to start winning its rivalry games and winning more in November. The Gophers typically do well in non-league play and start strong in the Big Ten season, but the good teams in this league are ones that show progress over the course of a season. Improving the November record is huge for Minny.

Lonnie (DC)

Adam, What current Big Ten QBs have the best chance to play in the NFL?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:00 PM)

Ricky Stanzi has a shot if he limits his interceptions. Terrelle Pryor will play in the NFL, but at what position remains a bit uncertain. As for the most recent class of QBs, Mike Kafka from Northwestern and Daryll Clark from Penn State have a chance.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:00 PM)

One more for the day ...

James (Harrisburg)

Adam, would you have paid $9,000 for Joe Paterno's glasses?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:00 PM)

Only if I get a big raise from ESPN.com. Hope the bosses are reading!

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:00 PM)

Enjoyed the chat. Let's do it again soon.