Chat with Adam Rittenberg
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 in The Show at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday!
Adam Rittenberg (3:01 PM)
Let's get started.
Adam (Flemington, NJ)
Aaron Maybin did have an amazing year and I saw "draft expert" Todd McShay say he was a top 5 pick... Do you think it would be smart for Maybin to come back for another year (or two)?
Adam Rittenberg (3:02 PM)
My only concern with Maybin is his size (240 pounds or so). I would think he'll be looked at as a linebacker in the NFL, but he's such a great pass rusher that he might benefit from another year in school and 20 extra pounds.
Andrew (Chicago, Illinois)
Any early word on Wooten's knee injury? Had he been considering a jump to the NFL?
Adam Rittenberg (3:03 PM)
Andrew, I'm still waiting for an answer from Northwestern. It certainly didn't look good, and if he needs surgery, I think he'll come back for 2009. It was a strong possibility anyway.
Matt (Cedar Falls, IA)
Which New Year's bowl game is a must watch?
Adam Rittenberg (3:03 PM)
I like 'em all, but the Rose Bowl has so many interesting subplots with the coaches, two balanced teams, dynamic athletes on both sides of the ball. I'm especially interested in that game.
Brian Goebel (New York, NY)
If Texas and Oklahoma both lose their BCS games (similar to how Ohio State and Michigan both lost two years ago), will the Big 12 finally replace the Big 10 as the most overrated conference in the eyes of those who only know how to speak in hyperbole? Maybe I'm the only one who seems to remember Oklahoma losing their last 4 BCS games (including 2 title games)
Adam Rittenberg (3:05 PM)
If Oklahoma gets torched by Florida, the Sooners totally deserve the same treatment as Ohio State. OU's big-game struggles will be just as bad, with the exception of a few Big 12 title game wins. It's interesting to look at Oklahoma and Texas and compare them with Ohio State and Michigan from 2006. My sense is the Big 12 goes 1-1, but you never know.
Nate ( SC )
Where do you think the Big Ten will be in the pre-season rankings 2009
Adam Rittenberg (3:06 PM)
As far as a conference? I would guess third or fourth, behind the SEC and Big 12. Penn State will enter the season as a Top 10 team, and Ohio State will be Top 15, along with Iowa in the top 20
Will the B10 more than 1-2 bowl games? Iowa should win, PSU has a good chance of upsetting SC, Minny is suspect based on the late season meltdown, O$U defense may be enough to hold UT down, and MSU is too one-dimensional to beat a decent UGA defense.
Adam Rittenberg (3:07 PM)
Iowa is by far the best bet to win. A win by Northwestern would have certainly helped the league, and the Wildcats had a great shot. But I don't see more than two Big Ten victories. This is just one of those years where the matchups didn't work out well and the league isn't strong top to bottom.
Do you think that Northwestern will be able to return to a bowl game next year?
Adam Rittenberg (3:09 PM)
There's no reason why the Wildcats won't be bowling again in 2009. The nonconference schedule features four teams with first-year coaches, and Ohio State is off the Big Ten slate. There are some holes to fill at QB, WR and RB, but Mike Kafka looks solid under center and the offensive line should be much improved. Northwestern will be in 6- to 9-win range again.
Adam Rittenberg (3:10 PM)
Just got word from Northwestern that Corey Wootton flew home to New Jersey to have an MRI.
Mike (LA, CA)
Mizzou did not look impresive against N'western last night. Should we expect a similar dropoff from the other supposedly great BigXII teams in bowl play?
Adam Rittenberg (3:11 PM)
I'm not sure, Mike. I'm very interested to see Oklahoma State tonight against Oregon. I love Dez Bryant, and Oregon's defense could be in for a long night. A lot rides on the two BCS teams (Texas and OU), but I wouldn't use Missouri as a Big 12 barometer.
Clay (Oakland, CA)
Were you surprised with the performance of Northwestern's defense against Mizzou? I know it is not a moral victory, but.....
Adam Rittenberg (3:12 PM)
Having seen Northwestern evolve from a defensive joke to the current product, last night's result wasn't a huge surprise. Northwestern has turned a corner defensively and started to reflect Pat Fitzgerald. You can't have a College Football Hall of Fame linebacker as your head coach and be one of the Big Ten's worst defensive teams. Northwestern has moved out of that category this year.
Would an 0-7 bowl season set the Big 10 even further back from a national perspective? I know that's jumping ahead a lot, but 4 of the 5 remaining teams are heavy underdogs.
Adam Rittenberg (3:14 PM)
It would really sting, especially with two more BCS losses, extending the BCS losing streak to six games. The Big Ten really needs Penn State to perform well, and perhaps Ohio State will reach its peak against Texas and pull an upset. But this next week is absolutely critical.
Lou (Bethesda, MD)
Adam, with all the talk of PSU's "burden" in representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl, I have this feeling that even if the Lions win, it's a no-win situation because everyone will say/write that USC didn't really care about this game. Or does it all depend on the outcome of both the Rose AND Fiesta bowls?
Adam Rittenberg (3:15 PM)
Some people might talk about USC's motivation, but anyone that beats the Trojans in the Rose Bowl deserves a ton of credit. Obviously a sweep of the BCS bowls would signal that the Big Ten elite can compete with anyone, but a Penn State win would be huge for the league and that program.
JoePa (Happy Valley)
Adam: What do you think of my 3 year contract extension? Smart move to solidify recruiting and I still have it (see this year and 2005), or it's time for a change at PSU?
Adam Rittenberg (3:17 PM)
JoePa, I think you would agree that just having three years as the contract length sends a positive message to recruits, even though I don't think you'll serve out the entire term (sorry, man). You have the right to come back and coach in 2009 after the results this season, but it's important to have an idea of a succession plan. No one lives forever (not even you) and the program needs some direction after you step down.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
What is your opinion of the current trend of teams announcing their 'coach-in-waiting'? Do you think Penn State has done something similar wwith Bradley, but kept it in house?
Adam Rittenberg (3:19 PM)
I personally like it because you avoid the nuttiness of a coaching search and create an image of stability and continuity around a program. It also rewards assistant coaches who have earned top jobs. From what I've been told, Penn State has no secret succession plan with Bradley. He's waiting to see what happens with Joe, just like the rest of us.
Aaron (Carlisle, PA)
Andy, despite the Big Ten being 0-2 to start bowl season, was last night's loss a step in the right direction? The Big 12 has been considered the best conference all season, and Northwestern proved the Big Ten could go toe to toe with them. Everyone outside the Big Ten was expecting a blowout, were they all suprised and perhaps now respect the Big Ten a little more heading into the New Year's matchups?
Adam Rittenberg (3:20 PM)
A Northwestern win would have been huge for the league, though last night was a nice step. The big thing is to have a Michigan State or even a Minnesota pull off an upset in their bowls. If the Big Ten continues to fall short, it won't get any more respect.
New York , New York
Adam, why do Sports Analysts, especially at ESPN (Mark May) continue to not give Penn State a shot at the Rose Bowl? Further why do they not remember the last time we were in a bowl game? It seems that over the past few years Penn State has won more BCS bowl games than Oklahoma.
Adam Rittenberg (3:22 PM)
The Big Ten's last four BCS performances have stained the league's reputation, and it's hard for people to look beyond that and examine this Penn State team in this season. That's why I wrote that Penn State, for better or for worse, is chained to the Big Ten heading into this matchup. Looking at what the Lions have done independently of the league this season, it's impossible not to give them a decent shot against USC.
Jason (Fairfax, VA)
If you had to choose, which Conference USA team would you choose to add to the Big East if they were looking to expand their division?
Adam Rittenberg (3:23 PM)
Hmmm, interesting question, Jason. East Carolina has looked pretty competitive in football, and I'm sure the Big East wouldn't mind another Florida presence (UCF) to go along with South Florida. Memphis would be a nice fit for basketball but could struggle big time on the gridiron.
Jeff ( Harrisburg )
Adam, If OSU falls to Texas, do you think sweater vest Jim will be on the chopping block because of his "BIG GAME" Blunders
Adam Rittenberg (3:24 PM)
No, but he might be forced to make changes on his coaching staff, specifically offensive coordinator. Tressel is far too successful in Big Ten play to be in trouble at Ohio State, but the Buckeyes might need to shake up the schemes if they struggle again in a big game.
I love your blog Andy. I get on it everyday, and I'm glad that you are going to keep this going after bowl season. I have to ask though, why are you going to the Fiesta Bowl instead of the Rose Bowl? Does Ohio State really deserve to be the center of the Big Ten even after the way they have ruined the conference's rep the past couple seasons? Penn State deserves all the credit this season.
Adam Rittenberg (3:26 PM)
I'll tell Andy you like his blog (just kidding). I go where I'm sent, and trust me, we will have excellent Rose Bowl coverage this week from Ivan Maisel and Ted Miller. Because the Big Ten had two BCS entries, I wasn't locked in to Pasadena. We will have all the BCS games covered.
Any word from Minnesota coaches on how much their new stadium is impacting recruiting?
Adam Rittenberg (3:27 PM)
Tim Brewster doesn't need a stadium to recruit top talent, but it certainly doesn't hurt. And once the recruits see the home locker room -- biggest one I've ever been in -- they'll be impressed. Having a real on-campus stadium will serve Minnesota well in the long term.
Why do people keep calling you Andy?
Adam Rittenberg (3:27 PM)
I don't know!
Does the Zooker need 7 wins or so next season to save his job?
Adam Rittenberg (3:28 PM)
Illinois isn't an SEC school, last I checked, so I think Ron will be fine even if he doesn't get to seven wins. But it would be a major disappointment, much like this season, to not make a bowl. With Juice Williams, Rejus Benn and some defensive talent, Illinois should be in the 7- to 9-win range.
Matt (Cedar Falls, IA)
Why did Sarkisian take the Washington job? Why not wait for something a little bit better...?
Adam Rittenberg (3:29 PM)
Matt, not sure how old you are, but Washington used to be a national power in the 1990s. Growing up a Cal fan, I absolutely hated the Huskies, especially since they always had great players from California. So I think it's a good move for Sarkisian, other than the fact he shares a league with his former employer (USC). Washington can be a big-time program again, but it has fallen way behind in the Pac-10.
brian, ann arbor MI
Do you think Dantonio will not try to pound it with Ringer and go the air from the shotgun right off the bat? I think that is the only way to do it, Hoyer has a great arm and he has 4 healthy WR's. Will MD abandon the run?
Adam Rittenberg (3:31 PM)
That's an interesting take, Brian, but at this point in the season, teams usually are what they are. And Michigan State has been a running team based around Javon Ringer. Georgia has been vulnerable to the run all season, so I don't see Michigan State deviating from Ringer. A few wrinkles here are there would be nice, but Dantonio seems like the type to stick with what got him to this point.
Steve (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Adam - against Tulane without Andre Smith Alabama managed one offensive TD and less than 200 yards rushing. Utah's defense is much better than Tulane's. Do you think losing Smith is as big of loss for Bama as I think it is?
Adam Rittenberg (3:33 PM)
Smith is definitely a big loss because Alabama might be forced to steer its rushing attack elsewhere. Utah's defense is the key to this game. Though I love Brian Johnson, I don't expect the Utes to score much on Bama. This isn't the 2004 team. But without Smith, the Utes could put pressure on Wilson and force a few mistakes.
Adam, I believe you covered ND football, right? With all their advantages (fame, tv contract etc...) it's unreal to me that they have not a title in 20 years! What has been the problem?
Adam Rittenberg (3:35 PM)
We don't have enough time to go through all the problems, but Notre Dame has been plagued by a lack of continuity at head coach, a schedule that was way too difficult until recently and the fact so many other schools recruit nationally. The problem the last two seasons under Charlie Weis is much simpler: Notre Dame can't rush the football, which is totally inexcusable.
Hey Andrew! Ha ha. Any word on whether or not Shonn Greene will be coming out for the draft this year? Also, do you think it negatively impacts the Hawkeyes chances of winning on Thursday being the only favored Big 10 bowl team? Thanks, Adam.
Adam Rittenberg (3:36 PM)
Oh, boy, I've created a monster here. I would be really surprised if Shonn stays in school. After a season like this, he won't improve his draft stock much more. Plus, he's an older guy, not 20 or 21. I don't think the Hawkeyes are too worried about the other Big Ten teams or where they're favored. They're focused on South Carolina, and they should be fine in that matchup.
JJ - Columbus, OH
I remember the last time OSU played Texas, Colt McCoy and that vaunted Texas offense got dismantled. Colt McCoy was hurt and crying(no exaggeration) on the sideline. Why is this game never brought up though several of the current stars played in it.
Adam Rittenberg (3:38 PM)
That's a good point about several guys appearing in the 2006 game, but I'm sure we'd agree that McCoy has come a long way from his freshman season. So have guys like Malcolm Jenkins and James Laurinaitis. The teams on the field Jan. 5 really don't resemble the ones that met in 2006.
Michael (Columbus, OH)
Hey Adam - Does Nevada and their high flying offense have a chance this afternoon against a mediocre Maryland squad?
Adam Rittenberg (3:39 PM)
Absolutely. In fact, I'd be surprised if Maryland wins that game. The Terps will have no fans there, and they're so inconsistent. Nevada's pistol offense will put up points. Colin Kaepernick is a freaking stud.
Chris (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
Rich Rodriguez is a bum. Disagree or Agree?
Adam Rittenberg (3:39 PM)
Disagree. But I might change my mind a year from now.
Adam--Who do you expect to emerge as the top QB's in the conference next season?
Adam Rittenberg (3:41 PM)
It starts with Daryll Clark, Terrelle Pryor and Juice Williams. I think Adam Weber from Minnesota will have a monster season in '09. Also, Ricky Stanzi should be an All-Big Ten contender if Iowa fills a few gaps on the O-line. Mike Kafka from Northwestern also will be a weapon for a team that really needs a mobile QB.
Jason (Fairfx, VA)
Adam, do you think it will ever be possible for a team in a "Non-BCS Confrence" to ever make it to the National Championship game? Or has it already happened?
Adam Rittenberg (3:43 PM)
Well, BYU won the national championship in 1984, but playing in the Holiday Bowl against a so-so Michigan team doesn't qualify as the national title game. The only way it happens if if a non-BCS team, most likely from the Mountain West, plays an absolutely murderous nonconference schedule (think USC, Florida and Texas) and goes undefeated. Otherwise, it will be hard for one of those teams to get above No. 4.
Eric, Des Moines
How did bowl ticket sales end up going anyway? the only thing I saw was that Iowa was having good sales and everyone else wasn't as hot
Adam Rittenberg (3:44 PM)
I know Northwestern sold its allotment at the Alamo Bowl and outdrew Missouri. Not sure about the other games. Penn State fans will show up at the Rose Bowl, but I've heard Ohio State's turnout might not be as strong as in past seasons.
The more ppl that are focusing on the Buckeye's Matchup for more then 2 seconds are realizing that if the Bucks O-line shows up they will have a real shot at taking down the Fiesta..
Adam Rittenberg (3:45 PM)
That is a great point, Andy. Ohio State's line was a major disappointment for most of the season but has the capability to step up. If the Buckeyes give Terrelle Pryor time, he'll make some plays against the Longhorns.
Mark (State College, PA)
Is it safe to say two problems with the Big Ten in bowl games are 1) we stop playing before Thanksgiving and 2) we put two teams in the BCS every year thereby moving all Big Ten Teams up one spot to play in tougher bowls. For instance instead of Georiga playing Ohio State this year, they're playing Michigan State.
Adam Rittenberg (3:47 PM)
It's a tough call, Mark. As a conference, you always want two teams in BCS games, just for the exposure and the revenue. But you need those teams to perform in those games. Should Penn State and Ohio State win, no one will care if Michigan State gets stomped in the Capital One Bowl.
Adam, I know Rich Rod is a good coach but why didn't he tweak his offense a little to adjust to the type of talent at QB he had? Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg (3:48 PM)
He could have done a better job of shaping parts of the system around Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. But as a coach, you can't overhaul something that has worked brilliantly for you in the past. You can't get away from your identity, even if it seems like the right thing to do.
Ryan (Chicago IL)
Maclin from Mizzou staying or going to the NFL? and why do you support your answer
Adam Rittenberg (3:50 PM)
Oh, I think he's ready for the NFL. He's got the speed and the size to play at the next level right away. Plus, Chase Daniel is gone and Missouri probably won't make a huge jump next year. I'd be surprised if he stays.
manny ( lawton, ok)
Do you think OU's defense will be able to pressure Tebow ? If so, would that be their best chance at a W ?
Adam Rittenberg (3:52 PM)
Putting pressure on Tebow will be critical for Oklahoma. You can't count on just outscoring Florida, so getting a good push from the defensive line will limit Tebow's options as a runner. They can't give him time.
Ben (Macon, GA)
I see Todd McShay projects both Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno to be first round picks, do you see any reason for either of them to return to UGA for another year?
Adam Rittenberg (3:53 PM)
I don't. When you're the top guy at your position like Stafford and possibly the top guy like Moreno (along with Chris "Beanie" Wells), there's no need to stay. I think the Cap One Bowl will be the last game for both players.
Eric, Brandon, & Hayo (Dinkytown, USA)
Adam--What team is going to have the top receiving corp in the Big Ten in 2009?
Adam Rittenberg (3:54 PM)
Interesting question, guys. Illinois returns all its wideouts from the Big Ten's top passing offense. If Brian Hartline stays and Ohio State makes some adjustments on offense, I like the Buckeyes' group. Minnesota also looks solid if Eric Decker stays for his senior year.
Brian (Claremore, OK)
Adam, do you think that Oregan's defense can shut down Oklahoma State's high powered offense tonight and will OSU be able to stop Oregans running game? T Thanks
Adam Rittenberg (3:56 PM)
No and no. And for that reason, it'll be a great, high-scoring game. Oregon has some playmakers on defense, but I love what Oklahoma State brings on offense. These are two of the more creative offensive schemes in the country. Other coaches should definitely take notice of what happens tonight in S.D.
Adam Rittenberg (3:56 PM)
OK, guys, that's all the time I have. Enjoy the rest of the bowls!