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 (4:00 PM)
Hey guys, just finishing up a post about ESPN's new bowl agreements. Will be back in a few minutes, so sit tight.
Adam Rittenberg (4:08 PM)
OK, I'm back and ready for your questions. Thanks for being patient.
I am assuming Rutgers is just the most recent school that isn't really going to join the big ten...Hoping I should say. Please tell me Rutgers has no real shot at joining the league!!!
Adam Rittenberg (4:09 PM)
Rutgers has a shot, JRob, and a fairly realistic one. I'm still not sold on Rutgers as an entire athletic department and as a way to grab the New York market. But if the Big Ten feels it can grab NYC on its own and simply needs a reason to be there more often, adding Rutgers might not be a bad move. This is all about television, and Rutgers is located in a good spot for it.
Gregory (OSU fan in VA)
Hey Adam, How about the article that Coach Tressel did? Just a class act all the way. I for one scratch my head sometimes at the plays he calls up, but as a faithful Buckeye fan, I would not want any other coach. Coach Tressel has to be the one of the most respectful and respected coaches in all of sports, and he also visited our troops over seas this past summer. Great man, Great Coach...and maybe some year he will win Coach of the Year in the Big Ten.
Adam Rittenberg (4:11 PM)
Gregory, I also was impressed with Tressel granting the interview and talking about a topic most coaches avoid like a trip the dentist. I was surprised he was the first major Division I coach to talk with a gay publication, but hopefully his comments create a more accepting environment for gay athletes, because they are out there.
Adam,Wouldn't a 14 team conference for the B10 be a headache for scheduling and really detract from the conference's traditional style? I mean, I know teams skip each other every couple years, but for the most part everybody plays everybody in the B10(11). If they went to 14 teams, to approach that sort of style of scheduling teams would have to give up ooc games for conference games, and I can't see teams giving up that extra home gate. With 12, you can at least do a rotation like the B12 does and preserve more of that feel of everybody playing everybody.
Adam Rittenberg (4:12 PM)
Totally agree with your statement. To me, 12 teams creates a lot fewer headaches than 14. And you don't have the slice the revenue pie three more ways. Also, Jim Delany talked about the intimacy a conference creates, between players, coaches and even fans. You definitely would lose that with a larger league. I like the model with 12 unless we add more regular-season football games.
Aces Malone (Jackson, MS)
How much do you think Tate Forcier will improve next season, and do you think Denard Robinson should be moved to slot receiver?
Adam Rittenberg (4:14 PM)
Aces, I like that Michigan will give Robinson another shot at quarterback this spring. Keep in mind he started well after Tate and still did a few good things as a true freshman. With a full offseason under his belt, he'll be better. But so will Tate. And if Tate locks down the top job this spring, Michigan needs to find way to get Denard on the field. He's too good to waste on the sideline.
Rich Rod (Ann Arbor)
People who are late for their chats need to get lives.
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
Ha, and well-paid coaches need to get to bowl games :-)
David (Chicago, IL)
Rutgers? Seriously? Terrible choice. "The Situation" and "Snookie" will be made sideline reports. But seriously this will be bad for the Big Ten. No tradition, no real fan base, plus it will bring down the level of playing for both football and men's basketball.
Adam Rittenberg (4:17 PM)
Oh, man, what I'd give to get a sideline report from "The Situation." He'd probably want to get in there for a few plays, until he got his head smashed in. As for Snookie, they'd need to give her a booster seat to watch games ... On a serious note, Rutgers is building some new tradition in football under Greg Schiano, and the investment they've made in that program is impressive. But is it enough to warrant Big Ten membership? Remember, the league is extremely healthy at 11. There's no real pressure to expand, but it's something worth exploring.
Robert (Dayton, OH)
The Big Ten says it hasn't contacted any schools and to wait, then the investment firm releases its results right after Delany's comments. Who's to believe and isn't this just a little fast? Also, isn't it a HUGE risk to roll everything on a school "maybe" bringing in a TV market?
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
The investment firm is doing its own independent studies of these schools, and none have been official contacted. So you can believe both the firm's initial (preliminary) report, and Delany. Trust me, the Big Ten isn't going to formally contact a league or a school until the late spring at the earliest.
HAWK FAN (Des Moines, Iowa)
Hey Adam, Just wondering what you would think about using Brandon Wegher more as a slot reciever, or safety. There are way to many backs at Iowa, and not enough plays to keep everyone happy. Wegher had some pretty amazing swing pass plays that went for quite a few yards.
Adam Rittenberg (4:20 PM)
Not a bad idea, Hawk Fan. Wegher doesn't scream "feature back" to me, at least not as much as Jewel Hampton and Adam Robinson do. But as he showed in the Orange Bowl, Wegher has breakaway speed. Putting him out wide as a slot receiver might be beneficial. Not so sure about moving him to defense, though.
Adam, I just read your post about the bowl games. Its good to have a bunch of New Years Day games, but they are all at the same time. Isn't that somewhat counter-productive in terms of exposure for the conference?
Adam Rittenberg (4:22 PM)
From talking with Big Ten folks, they really want to dominate the day. And for a league that thrives on tradition, there's still nothing that says tradition and college football like New Year's Day. The Big Ten wants its product featured throughout the biggest college football day of the year, and the new lineup certainly satisfies that.
Regardless if Terrelle Pryor had surgery or not, wouldn't he be no contact anyways in the Spring? Also, does the surgery curb any thoughts of mass improvement in his delivery?
Adam Rittenberg (4:23 PM)
Ohio State fans need to accept the following fact: Terrelle Pryor will never be an elite passer. Does that mean he can't be an elite quarterback in college? Absolutely not. He can be elite because of his unique skill set. If TP continues to make smart decisions in the passing game and maintain his effectiveness as a runner, he'll be awfully tough to stop. I don't think the knee is a huge deal, but his biggest improvement must/will come from the neck up, not from the waist down.
I did not realize that Notre Dame would make more money on TV through the Big Ten than with NBC...Is the only thing keeping them away the fear of not geting the benefit of the doubt for bowl games and rankings?!!
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
I'm sure that has something to do with it, JRob, and Notre Dame might lose some of its traditional rivalries in football. Plus, there's a fear the program would lose prestige as a member of a conference. But the financial gains from television revenue are obvious. And with Notre Dame in the league, the Big Ten would be the main attraction in college football, surpassing the SEC. More households, more TVs, more interest.
Garth Algar (Aurora, IL)
Why the hell can't DePaul have a football program? They have the Chicago market and are less than 2 miles away from Soldier Field.
Adam Rittenberg (4:26 PM)
They're having a tough enough time fielding a decent men's basketball program, which I covered for a number of years. But DePaul football would be pretty cool. Party on, Garth!
Adam, I'm really excited for Spring ball to start in Minnesota. Brooks and Michel dominated last year, and with a RS year behind them are ready to dominate on the O-line. I'm curious as to what you think about the QB competition in Minneapolis? I appreciate what Adam Weber has done here under some tough circumstances, but I think MarQueis Gray is the guy who can vault the Gophers back into the Big Ten's upper echelon.Ok Rittenberg, earn your cash and predict who will be the Gophers' starting QB for 2010?
Adam Rittenberg (4:28 PM)
Tough call, Billy, but I still think Adam Weber walks out there first this fall. He's still a very smart player, and if he can get a better understanding of the system in Year 2, you've got to give the nod to the experienced guy. Now it wouldn't shock me if Gray wins the job, but Weber can't be much worse than he was last year. Plus, new OC Jeff Horton won't throw as much information Weber's way as Jedd Fisch did.
You're missing Steve's point. Why do all 3 Big 10/SEC games have to be on at the exact same time? There would be enough time to stagger each game at least an hour or so.
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
How, Andrew? They're not going to play the Rose Bowl at night. Just ain't gonna happen. So you play one game at 9 a.m. ET? No one watches it. I know having three games on at once is unique -- and it will create quite a stressful few hours for the Big Ten blogger -- but I understand the intent. You switch on any of the three channels, and you see a Big Ten (and an SEC) product.
Brian (Springfield, Ohio)
Leaving money out of the picture, what does Rutgers or Syracuse bring to the table? How will they strengthen the B10?
Adam Rittenberg (4:31 PM)
Both schools provide a chance -- a chance, not a guarantee -- to bring in a new TV market for the Big Ten. Both schools are strong academic fits for the Big Ten, which matters in this process. Both schools also have some tradition in football and, in Syracuse's case, a powerhouse program in men's basketball. Both give the Big Ten a stronger presence in the eastern region of the country, and provide a natural rival for Penn State.
Act fast: Preseason offensive and defensive POYs
Adam Rittenberg (4:32 PM)
Pryor will get preseason offensive POY because of the Rose Bowl performance (I'd vote for John Clay). Adrian Clayborn or Greg Jones will be your preseason defensive POY.
Philip J. Fry (New New York)
Have you heard anything good/bad about the Iowa players' performances at the combine besides Bulaga? It looks like Moeki performed pretty well but other than those two I haven't heard much about them.
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
I have to take a closer look, but Moeaki definitely helped himself in Indy and finished as one of the top tight end performers in several categories. I heard A.J. Edds' name mentioned once or twice, and Amari Spievey generated a good deal of interest despite a deep crop of cornerbacks this year.
Wayne Campbell (Aurora, IL)
Better chance of happening, you winning the Mega Millions and Powerball or Notre Dame joining a conference in football?
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
I wish I could say the first thing, but Notre Dame joining a conference isn't out of the question. The Big Ten is a more attractive conference now than when it approached Notre Dame the last time, specifically because of the Big Ten Network. Given how close ND was to joining several years ago, I'd think ND would have to listen again.
Justin (Cleveland, OH)
Do basketball coaches have any input on expansion, because their schedule would be very unbalanced with expansion (more than now)? Add to that, there are some pretty big-time coaches on the basketball side.
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
Their voices will be heard, Justin, but this decision ultimately comes down to the presidents and ADs. The scheduling issues certainly will be discussed as the process goes on. I know some Big Ten basketball coaches aren't pleased with the schedule right now, and more teams could certainly change things even more.
Brian (Springfield, Ohio)
FOLLOW UP!! FOLLOW UP!!! When you say TV market, do you mean for recruiting purposes? Thanks Adam. Great job.
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
Yes, for recruiting purposes, but also having more people watching your product. You want the Big Ten brand transmitted to as many folks as possible. That's why adding a market like Ames, Iowa, doesn't make any sense to me.
Tran (Providence, RI)
How serious is the chance of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Syracuse leaving the Big East for the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
There's a 1.6 percent chance all four of those teams join the Big Ten. Sorry, Tran, it ain't happening, especially Cincinnati.
On campus, there is a large MarQueis Gray following that blames all of the offensive failures on Weber. While he made a lot of mistakes, shouldn't some of the blame be on the O-line? It seemed to me that whoever was under center (Gray or Weber) was under fire way more than they should have. Please tell me that the line will give more protection this year!
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
Totally agree, Evan. And Tim Brewster has been candid about the fact that Minnesota isn't nearly as strong as it needs to be on the O-line. To successful execute this type of scheme, you need big, tough, physical offensive linemen. Minnesota hasn't had enough of those guys the last two years. That's why they've ranked last in the Big Ten in rushing.
Pete (Madison WI)
Will we see a repeat of an OSU Wisconsin night game in the fall?
Adam Rittenberg (4:43 PM)
You'll have to wait a little longer, Pete, as the night-game schedule doesn't come out for a little while. But I'm sure a matchup like that one will be strongly considered.
Do you believe the conference will reach out to the respective schools to find out demographics in terms of their alumni base before expanding? For example, I know there are a ton of OSU alumni in New York...perhaps outnumbering Rutger fans (I'm serious).
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
Tom, I think the Big Ten is well aware of where its alumni bases are located. And that's part of the intrigue with Rutgers. The Big Ten might believe it can capture a good chunk of New York on its own merits, with alumni from Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, etc., already living there. Rutgers would provide a reason to bring your product to New York/New Jersey multiple times a year. It could strengthen a connection with fans that's already there.
Sora Aoi (Tokyo, Japan)
Better fit for the Big Ten, Iowa State or Cincinnati?
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
Neither, really. Iowa State has struggled in both major sports and adds nothing from a TV perspective. Academics are the big thing going for ISU. Cincinnati, meanwhile, has tradition in basketball and some new tradition in football but lacks the academic reputation the Big Ten desires.
Hussein (Franklin, MI)
Michigan is obviously headed into a critical year for the program. (Duh). If anyone watched michigan last year it was obvious that the only improvement on the offense was the qb. the o-ine still stunk and a mobile quarterback just masked the problem. Do you think the o-line will be any better this year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:48 PM)
I do, Hussein. David Molk's injury issues really hurt that line, as Molk is one the best centers you'll find. Molk is back for 2010, along with a bunch of experienced linemen. That unit should be better. I'm much less worried about the O-line -- or any offensive group, for that matter -- than I am with the defense.
Andy (North Carolina)
What can you tell me about Freshman Iowa TE Fiedorowicz
Adam Rittenberg (4:50 PM)
For one thing, he can make crazy shots on the basketball court. Might help Todd Lickliter there. But after Allen Reisner, Fiedorowicz is Iowa's best option at tight end. He's a highly rated recruit who likely will contribute as a true freshman. Iowa likes to use two tight ends, so C.J. will be asked to complement Reisner.
I know this is late but try to squeeze it in..... What is the probability that the Big 10 will NOT expand at all, is this going to be just like the last 2 times they looked into expanding, nothing happening
Adam Rittenberg (4:52 PM)
Thank you, Dennis! This is something a lot of fans refuse to accept or acknowledge because 99.8 percent of them want expansion. It's entirely possible the Big Ten doesn't expand. I think there's a greater likelihood after coming out publicly, but the league isn't exactly in dire straits at 11 teams.
Is this the year that Dantonio and MSU finally get over the hump and start winning the close games they've lost in recent years?
Adam Rittenberg (4:54 PM)
Could be, Shu. I was actually thinking about this very topic today, as I want to ask coach D about it when I visit East Lansing in April. What makes the difference for some teams in close games over others? Clutch quarterback play, for one, and stout defense. Michigan State has got to get better on defense, particularly the secondary. And both lines need to get better as well. Those close games often determine whether coaches keep their jobs or not, and MSU must start to consistently get over the hump.
That leads into my question about adding a title game without expansion. is that possible?
Adam Rittenberg (4:55 PM)
Not at 11 teams, Chase, unless the NCAA changes its rules. You need two divisions, with at least six teams per division.
Hello Kitty (Your closet)
Adam, Please bring me back?! I understand that it is hard for men to claim their loyalty to me, but you and I make a great team. It is cold and dark in your closet and your 9 " television doesn't get the Big 10 Network....
Adam Rittenberg (4:56 PM)
I'll think about it, Kitty. And why does everyone care what type of TV I have? And it does have the Big Ten Network, by the way. Watched the Indiana-Purdue hoops game last night.
Troy (Montrose, CA)
Can a school join more than one conference? (i.e. Notre Dame Basketball for the Big East and Notre Dame Football for the Big Ten.)
Adam Rittenberg (4:57 PM)
It happens all the time, especially if a league doesn't offer a sport, like the Big Ten with hockey. But it's highly unlikely a school would be in two separate conferences for the two major revenue sports, football and men's hoops.
adam, the big ten is not the ivy league. not sure the academic considerations are as important as you make them out to be. i think the bt is looking to expand the geographic footprint 1st and foremost...mizzou/rutgerswhy do only 2 big ten teams, mich and iowa, have 2 legit ooc games on their schedules? the rest have only 1 legit ooc if you are lucky.
Adam Rittenberg (5:00 PM)
John, I respectfully disagree with you about the academic considerations. They DO matter. And that's why both Rutgers and Missouri make sense for the Big Ten, as both schools are strong academically. ... As for scheduling, each school does it differently, but some programs schedule to enhance their chances for bowl games. Losing more than one nonconference game really can hurt your chances at a bowl payday, which is critical to sustain some athletic departments. It's unfortunate for us, but it's the way things are.
Adam Rittenberg (5:00 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Talk to you soon!