Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 4 p.m. ET!
Adam Rittenberg (3:59 PM)
A lot of questions to answer today, so let's get started.
Jason (Martinsville, IN)
Adam, I was writing to you about Matt Mayberry. I dont quite understand why he isnt getting more national and even conference attention for his great season!? He is having a unbelievable year and no matter how bad the team is doing he dominated all year long and I think the coaches could see that as most teams lately been trying to run away from him. Should definately be All Big Ten! Can you PLEASE explain to me?
Adam Rittenberg (4:01 PM)
Jason, Mayberry plays for a bad defense and quite frankly doesn't have the numbers that several other linebackers boast. I'm not trying to take anything away from him because he's had an outstanding senior year, but don't be surprised if he doesn't make All-Big Ten. Michigan State's Greg Jones and Iowa's Pat Angerer look like locks for first-team All-Big Ten, along with Penn State's Navorro Bowman.
Anybody ever told you that you sound exactly like Phil Mickelson?
Adam Rittenberg (4:01 PM)
No, that's a first. I wish my short game was as good as his.
You predicted Wisconsin to lose to Northwestern, if Tolzien plays as well as he did last week in Madison do you still think they will lose?
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
If Tolzien duplicates his performance from last week, Wisconsin definitely wins this game, Renee. But Tolzien hasn't been nearly as good on the road, and neither has Wisconsin. The Badgers have dropped two in a row in Evanston and face their former D coordinator (Mike Hankwitz). Should be a very exciting game Saturday.
Why did you get rid of the Hello Kitty statue in your video blog? I thought it added character!
Adam Rittenberg (4:03 PM)
Haha! I'm trying to save whatever masculinity I have left. In truth, my wife is a huge Hello Kitty fan. She stocked up on merchandise when we went to Japan two years ago, and that piece slipped into my video blog post. Who knows, maybe I'll bring it back.
Yo Adam, dig your blog and writing. Keep it up! Saw your video pick for PSU over MSU, but what needs to happen for MSU to win? Pass rush and pressure on Clark? Run the ball better? I think this game has more on the line than it seems - PSU has a shot at a BCS at-large, and MSU could play itself into a better bowl like the Alamo bowl.
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
Armon, definitely agree that there's a lot on the line for both teams. And you're right in saying the Spartans must put pressure on Clark. I just don't trust their secondary to keep Penn State's wideouts in check all game. So Greg Jones, Trevor Anderson and Jerel Worthy need to get in the backfield and disrupt Clark's rhythm. Also important for MSU to start fast, especially since the Lions usually start slow.
Ryan (Dubuque, IA)
Adam, why are there still people saying that if both Iowa and Penn St. win out, that PSU would get the nod for a BCS game over Iowa. Doesn't all the signs point to Iowa? Even if it is a question of fan following....I am confused on how in the world PSU would jump Iowa when PSU isn't really that good of a team this year.
Adam Rittenberg (4:06 PM)
The BCS is a weird deal, Ryan, so even when all signs point one way, things could go another way. Penn State would get the nod over Iowa purely based on its national fan following, its better potential for TV ratings (can't argue here) and the Joe Paterno factor. If the berths were passed out purely based on what happens on the field, Iowa would get the nod if it wins Saturday.
Jeff (Elyria, OH)
Adam:You forgot the best LB in the Big Ten Ross Hollman.
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
Good call, Jeff. Homan has had an outstanding year for Ohio State, especially in pass coverage. It'll be very competitive for the other first-team All-Big Ten LB spots next to Greg Jones, a lock.
Hey Adam - it looks like it might be OSU vs Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Will my Buckeyes finally get a BCS bowl win?? And how many TDs will OSU be up on Michigan by the half?
Adam Rittenberg (4:08 PM)
Mike, the Pac-10 race is still pretty crazy, so I wouldn't assume the Ducks get to Pasadena just yet. If I were you, I'd be rooting for Oregon State, Arizona or Stanford. Ohio State doesn't match up well with Oregon. ... As for Saturday, I think Ohio State will be up 7-10 pts at half.
With Devin Gardner coming in, would you expect both Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson to stay at Michigan?
Adam Rittenberg (4:09 PM)
Vince, I don't like to speculate too much on these things, but it wouldn't surprise me to see one of those guys depart. But Gardner will have to earn his playing time next fall, or redshirt.
jadailyTCU (Little Rock)
Also, Penn State vs. Pittsburgh seems like a possibility in the Fiesta Bowl if the cards fall right. Sounds pretty interesting, no?
Adam Rittenberg (4:10 PM)
That would be pretty cool, though I think Iowa or Oklahoma State likely will head to the Fiesta, maybe against Boise State.
Will Jed Fisch be MN's offensive coordinator next year, and if not, what does that do to our current pool of committed recruits?
Adam Rittenberg (4:11 PM)
As long as Brewster is back, Fisch will be back. Minnesota can't keep shuffling its coaching staff and expect to reach the next level. It's been very inconsistent for Fisch on offense this year, but he brought in a dramatically different system from what Minnesota ran under Mike Dunbar.
Homan is not the best LB in the Big 10. Solid, but not the best. What are your thoughts on the All-Big Ten Secondary. Are Sash and Coleman locks?
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
Those two are solid bets for first-team safeties. The cornerback spots will be interesting, with Michigan's Donovan Warren, Iowa's Amari Spievey, Purdue's David Pender and Minnesota's Traye Simmons all in the mix.
Hey, Adam. Love your work, even if you can't. Did you leave the Penn State-Michigan State game off your Big 10 picks this week for the same reason I did--because you just don't care?
Adam Rittenberg (4:14 PM)
I care a lot, Evan, and my MSU-PSU pick is there, on video. Check it out and tell me how I should get a haircut (everyone else does).
Did you find it as interesting as I did that Iowa got more respect out of the analysts in their loss to OSU than all of their 9 wins and OSU gets no criticism for having to go to OT to beat an Iowa team not consider as good as their 9 wins?
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
Cole, Ohio State took A TON of criticism for that win, more than most teams ever will after a victory. Go back and check out the columns written around the country about the Buckeyes after that game.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Adam: Wanted to take this idea to the Big Ten expert. I know this won't happen but what would be more interesting? Big Ten adding Cincinnati OR Big Ten adding Missouri and then Big XII picking up TCU? I would really love to see a Big Ten title game played in either Indy or Detroit before I die.
Adam Rittenberg (4:16 PM)
J.B., I'll continue to advocate Missouri to the Big Ten. It makes by far the most sense to me. And TCU to the Big 12 would be great, at least for football. The Horns would need to make upgrades elsewhere in athletics, but they'd bring a lot to the gridiron. Cincinnati is never joining the Big Ten. Not gonna happen.
Hayden Fry (Iowa)
Are you sure you weren't leaving in that Hello Kitty to passify your readers?
Adam Rittenberg (4:17 PM)
It didn't work, Hayden. Maybe I'll paint my condo pink and see how that works. Any thoughts?
Blue Sparty (CT)
Hey Adam.I know its early but, How does the near future (like next season) look for MSU? Thanks love the blog!
Adam Rittenberg (4:18 PM)
Blue Sparty? Do you have an identity crisis? ... Michigan State remains a very young team in several key spots (QB, RB), so the future is bright for 2010. The Spartans MUST get better in the secondary, and they might need to replace Greg Jones at LB. He'd be a major loss.
Chad (Chicago, IL)
Adam -- no love for Sherrick McManis of NU at corner? His injury arguably cost NU 2 games this season....
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
Good call, Chad. Sherrick definitely deserves All-Big Ten consideration. Northwestern definitely beats Syracuse if he plays, and maybe Minnesota. It'll be interesting to see if McManis gets some love.
jadailyTCU (Little Rock)
We're not the Horns, we're the Horned Frogs! 'Horns refers to the Texas Longhorns!!!!!
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
My apologies there, good call.
What are your thoghts on Bulaga, Spivey, and Clayborne declaring for the NFL draft? Who do you think is most likely to bail for the NFL?
Adam Rittenberg (4:20 PM)
From what I've been told, Clayborn should be coming back. The other two could be headed out the door, especially Spievey. If Bulaga didn't hurt his draft stock too much this year with missing some time, he could go as well. I think two of the three return for 2010.
If Iowa wins this week, how many votes does Kirk Ferentz get for National Coach of the Year? Or does playing it conservative last week kill any consideration from the voters?
Adam Rittenberg (4:21 PM)
I would hope Ferentz would be recognized for his fantastic coaching job this year. He's a lock for Big Ten Coach of the Year. But I think the national award should go to Brian Kelly. He does wonders with the UC program.
Chad (Chicago, IL)
While stating vehemently his intent to stay at Northwestern, Fitz mentioned planned upgrades to facilities. 2 questions: 1) When will people stop mentioning Fitz jumping to other schools (he's never leaving), and 2) what have you heard about planned facilities upgrades at NU?
Adam Rittenberg (4:22 PM)
Chad, you and I both know that as long as Northwestern keeps winning, Fitz will be mentioned as a candidate elsewhere. Northwestern still isn't viewed as a destination job, though Fitz sees it that way. ... As far as facilities upgrades, nothing is imminent, but there are some plans being discussed for ways to improve Ryan Field.
Adam,You must have a huge expense budget at ESPN with those helmet props you have. Must be running at about what $10/month?
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
I actually bought those years ago. I wish I could get $10/month from Bristol. Maybe I'll convince them to spring for the larger mini helmets. My neighbor has an Ohio State one that she'll let me use, but I need the other 10.
Is Rich-Rod's job safe? Or does he HAVE to beat OSU?
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
His job is most likely safe no matter what happens Saturday. Michigan doesn't want to make a change after only two years, especially after all the baggage the school absorbed after hiring Rich. He'll get a third year barring major, major violations found by the NCAA's investigation.
WSPhawkeye (Iowa, bra)
heard Ferentz's name thrown around for the N.D. job if Weis is fired. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (4:26 PM)
I really don't see it. Ferentz has got a great gig at Iowa. He gets paid like the top coaches around the country, but he doesn't need to go 11-1 every year. I don't think he needs the Notre Dame job to feed his ego, like other coaches do. Plus, his son still has some time left at Iowa. I can't see him seriously considering ND.
Spartygirl (East Lansing)
Hey Adam - let a chick in for once on the conversation huh?! Love the blog - check it daily. I'm curious, let's say NW and MSU both end up 7-5, i.e. Sparty beats the Lions and NW loses to Wisconsin which is what I'm predicting. Do you see MSU jumping NW in bowl selection? i.e. Champs bowl over Alamo? Or do you really think the bowls would rather have different teams than the past year or two. I'm thinking they don't care if Idaho State is there as long as the seats are filled with ticket sales!
Adam Rittenberg (4:28 PM)
Welcome, Spartygirl! I've been told that the Champs Sports is very interested in Northwestern no matter what happens Saturday. Bowls want variety, and the Alamo Bowl hasn't had Michigan State since 2003. Northwestern went there last year, while MSU went to Champs Sports in 2007 and Capital One last year. My sense is NU to Champs, MSU to Alamo.
Do you have any insight as to whether Donovan Warren is likely to leave early?
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
Warren addressed this situation a few weeks ago. If he's a first-day guy, he'll consider leaving. But if he's mid-round, he'll be back. My prediction: he'll be back.
Which of Ohio State's d-linemen do you think will be all Big-Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (4:30 PM)
Cameron Heyward has to be. He might not be first-team because his numbers don't match Scofield's or Graham's, but he'll be second-team at the very worst. Heyward is an absolute beast. Thad Gibson also will have a shot.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Given the fiascos brewing at Florida State and Maryland, among others, doesn't JoePa look pretty smart for not going the "coach-in-waiting" route?
Adam Rittenberg (4:32 PM)
Lou, I think you're right about this. Florida State's coach-in-waiting situation clearly has created some problems on Bowden's staff. Moreover, Paterno's overall staff stability has put Penn State in a much stronger position than FSU. Penn State continues to recruit at a high level, and even though this season has been a mini disappointment, the Lions could still go 10-2 and win a good bowl.
Joe Paterno (State College)
Will my stud linebacker Navarro Bowman be back next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:33 PM)
I don't think so, Joe. Navorro is ready for the next level, and I think he'll have his degree from Penn State, so he should go pro.
Will you be attending any bowl games this bowl season??
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
I better be, Eric! Need an excuse to leave Chicago in late December/early January. Needless to say, I wouldn't mind the Big Ten getting two teams into BCS bowls, for selfish reasons.
Adam, there is no clear-cut favorites in All-Big Ten QB and RB...who are the favorites in this two awards? Obviously John Clay is getting a lot of talk as the RB, but who else is in there?
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
Mike, I think Clay is an absolute lock for first-team All-Big Ten at running back. And he's the frontrunner for Offensive Player of the Year. The QB race is interesting. I think Daryll Clark will be first-team, but Purdue's Joey Elliott, Northwestern's Mike Kafka and MSU's Kirk Cousins also deserve consideration.
Optimus Prime (Cybertron)
I'm sending an autobot to earth to be a running back for a Big-10 school next year...which one needs him the most?
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
Optimus! How are you? Let's see ... Michigan could use one after losing Minor and Brown. Northwestern still needs a featured back. So does Indiana.
Do you think Justin Boren will face cheap shots by the Wolverines?
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
I'm not sure, Lauren. Aside from Brandon Graham, Michigan's D-line is pretty young, so those guys didn't know Boren all that well before he left. I'm sure he'll deal with something, either from the U-M players or the crowd. It'll be an interesting day for him, that's for sure.
Schnitker (Kinnick East)
What is your favorite Pat Angerer quote of the season?
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
Gosh, there are so many to choose from. I loved the one about how his best friend is his brother's dog. Classic.
Can you give gopher fans an idea about what we have to look forward to in 2010? Wondering what the positives are for this team next year.
Adam Rittenberg (4:41 PM)
Sam, the biggest thing is that Brewster's recruits will be a year older and occupying the key spots throughout the roster. There needs to be a sense of urgency throughout this team, because another ho-hum season likely will result in a regime change. I think you'll see better play from the wide receivers and running backs, but the defense concerns me with who they're losing at LB and CB.
Adam: Assuming UT loses (I'm hoping), what NC matchup would you like to see?
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
I would love to see TCU go up against one of the SEC giants. What an incredible story that'd be. Wouldn't mind seeing Cincinnati, either, though I think Florida or Alabama would stifle the Bearcats.
jadailyTCU (Little Rock)
Wisconsin seems so BCSnakebit. Think they'll ever make one of those marquee games? Always seem to be in range when two different Big Ten teams are in.
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
You're right jadaily, just like 2006, when Wisconsin absolutely deserved a BCS berth but couldn't get one. The Badgers need to hope both Iowa and Penn State lose. If that's the case, they have a real shot.
Who would win in a cage fight? Jim Tressel or Rich Rod? Oh, and Tressel gets to where the sweater vest...
Adam Rittenberg (4:43 PM)
Have you see the way Rich looks on the sidelines during games? I wouldn't want to get anywhere near him in a cage mask. Rodriguez wins easily and rips the sweater vest like Hulk Hogan.
Evan Royster (Happy Valley)
I have to be on of the best kept secrets of the big ten right? Am I a potential first round pick, if I comeback for next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
You could be, Ev. You'll have a better offensive line to run behind, but you'll be working with a very young QB. You'll be the focal point of Penn State's offense, so you need a big year.
Tim (Alexandria, VA)
Who is iowa's starting tailback next year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
Great question, Tim. I think it depends largely on how Jewel Hampton responds from his knee surgery. I still think Hampton has the right skills to be a true featured back. Then again, I absolutely love what Adam Robinson did this year. His ability to return from the ankle sprain last week really impressed me. It'll be Hampton or A-Rob in 2010.
Larry Johnson Sr. (State College)
I am one of the best recruiters in the country fact or fiction!!
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
Fact! But you should know that already.
Cameron Heyward (The Moon)
Can you give me a compelling reason to return to tOSU next year? If so, will I listen?
Adam Rittenberg (4:47 PM)
You'll be on a team that should enter the fall in the top 5 and have its best shot at a national title since 2006. Most of the key players will be back, and you'll be one of the most feared defenders in the Big Ten. ... Will you listen? Not sure. early round money talks.
Sticking on the topic of tailbacks, in the revolving door in MSU's backfield, who is the player you see as the starter? With Ray and Anderson now gone, Caper, Baker and Leggett are the options.
Adam Rittenberg (4:48 PM)
I think Caper or Glenn Winston emerges as the featured back in 2010, but it'll be an interesting competition. Like Iowa, Michigan State has no shortage of capable backs.
Alex (Garden City, MI)
Who would be odd man out if Michigan beats OSU? UM, MSU, MINN?
Adam Rittenberg (4:49 PM)
If the Big Ten gets two teams in BCS bowls, which looks likely, all three teams would make bowls. But if I had to pick one, Minnesota probably doesn't make the cut even though the Gophers beat MSU on Halloween.
Joe Paterno (PSU)
Will I win at least one more big ten title before I retire and ride off into the sunset? If so, when is this title going to be... I am getting a little old
Adam Rittenberg (4:50 PM)
Old? Hardly, Joe. You're the youngest 82-year-old I know. And hey, if you guys beat Michigan State and Ohio State gets upset 70 miles away, you'll win that title.
Brad (Athens, OH)
There are 6 10-0 teams at the top of the BCS standings. There have never been this many undefeated teams atop the BCS this late in the season. What's the chances of an undefeated team being left out of the championship?
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
Very likely, Brad. I can't see TCU or Boise losing again, and one of those teams won't make the title game. Same with Cincinnati.
Adam Rittenberg (4:52 PM)
Hey guys, got a phone call. Had a great time chatting today. We've got Thanksgiving next week, so I'll see you in two weeks!