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, I'm here. Let's get started.
Daniel (Springfield, OH)
More expansion talk today with Mizzou's Chancellor not giving any assureances to the Big 12. Is this more of a reason to believe that Missouri sounds more interested in joining the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (4:01 PM)
Missouri seems like it's simply waiting for the call from the Big Ten. I highly doubt Mizzou would say no to Jim Delany and his millions. Maybe the Big 12 sweetens the deal to stay, but with no equal revenue sharing on the horizon, according to colleague David Ubben, I don't see how that league stays together.
I have to ask this because I'm afraid the answer is no, but do you have even one gopher in your top 25?
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
Sam, you'll just have to wait ... and wait ... and wait ... I will say this. Only nine Big Ten teams are represented in the top 25 player rankings. Going from 30 to 25 really narrows the pool.
Daniel (Springfield, OH)
I get that Terrelle Pryor is important to the Buckeyes. How many wins do you see them ending up with if he goes down early in the season? I still see the Buckeyes contending for a Big Ten championship without him. Look at the last 3 games of the regular season last year. Your thought?
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
Daniel, that's a good point. Pryor was essentially absent for those last three games, as Ohio State took the ball out of his hands as much as possible. Still, the offense is shaped around his many skills, and I don't have a ton of confidence that Joe Bauserman and Kenny Guiton can avoid the mistakes that can kill Ohio State. Jim Tressel doesn't tolerate turnovers, and Pryor has done a decent job of limiting them in his career, aside from the Purdue debacle. Ohio State would still win nine or 10 games w/o Pryor, but they wouldn't run the table.
Ryan Ransom (Okoboji, Iowa)
Today on your lunch links, there was link for the "games to watch" in the Big 10 this year. Not only due to the fact I bleed black and gold and think that Iowa has a schedule that is going to be amazing to be a part of, but I really think the Big 10 schedule this year is going to product some very exciting match ups. I really think this year people around the country are going to be more interested in Big 10 football than in years past, and possibly more than any other conference this year. What are your thoughts on this? And if you could pick one game to attend for any Big 10 game this year, what one would you go to?
Adam Rittenberg (4:06 PM)
Ryan, totally agree. The combination of more preseason hype -- three potential top 10 teams -- and some intriguing matchups should get the country more interested in the Big Ten. Also, the league has been in the national spotlight b/c of expansion, which can't hurt when the games begin. Wow, only one game to pick? I'd pick Ohio State-Wisconsin or Ohio State-Iowa. Nonconference, I'll go with Miami-Ohio State.
How soon do you think the Huskers will win a National Championship? I know it would be a lot easier to go undefeated through the Big Ten than the Big Twelve, but I hope not to have to suffer through watching Indiana, Northwestern, Illinois, and the rest of a boring Big Ten schedule.
Adam Rittenberg (4:08 PM)
Nebraska could be in the title mix in the next 2-3 years. ... Have you watched those three teams play? Northwestern has been one of the nation's most exciting teams the last 10 years, while both Indiana and Illinois typically put up a lot of points. And how are those three any different than Iowa State or Baylor or Colorado right now?
I realize that Braxton Miller will have every opportunity to succeed Terrelle Pryor, but are some jumping the gun a little and overlooking the experience of Joe Bauserman and the competition of both Kenny Guiton and Taylor Graham?
Adam Rittenberg (4:09 PM)
That's a great point, Sara. Nothing is guaranteed, and Miller will have to beat out those three players to succeed Pryor. People are excited because he's a big-time recruit, but he's got to get it down after he gets to Columbus. Taking a wait-and-see approach with Miller is certainly understandable.
expansion expansion expansion, the first round of expansion starts with us getting 3 teams, Mizzou, Nebraska, & Rutgers. Then everyone else expands and we get the overrated school in Indiana and either Uconn or Pitt. Is that what you think will happen?
Adam Rittenberg (4:11 PM)
Kasey, I've been told that Notre Dame has no idea what it wants to do right now, but I'd be somewhat surprised if ND joins a league. I think a three-team expansion with the schools you mention is the likeliest scenario. If the Big Ten goes to 16, Pitt is probably one of the two. Beyond that, it's tough to say.
Nebraska did lose to Iowa State last year.
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
Sure, and Iowa has lost to Northwestern each of the last two years. And Illinois went to the Rose Bowl in 2007. All I'm saying is don't dismiss teams as boring without studying the history. Illinois and Indiana have for the most part struggled the last 20 years. Northwestern has been a solid middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team since 2000. A lot of people would look at Colorado and A&M as boring, bottom-feeding teams right now, but history says they'll bounce back.
Adam, its well publicized that Michigan State needs its secondary and defensive unit as a whole to improve for MSU to take that next step and go to a big time bowl. Do you feel that this offense is so powerful and stacked they can just outscore most all of there opponents this year and win 9-10 games? The tight ends and WR's are endless, with two up and coming RB studs in Baker and Caper. Depth won't be an issue for the foreseeable future.
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
Corey, while I agree that the Spartans offense should be very dynamic, you still win with defense in the Big Ten. And if that unit doesn't improve, especially against the pass, you're looking at another mediocre season in East Lansing. Remember that the offensive line loses quite a bit from '09, so there likely will be some growing pains there. Am I worried about MSU's offense? No. But the Spartans can't expect to outscore people every game, especially with some of the defenses they'll be facing this fall (Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State).
Daniel (Springfield, OH)
What type of effect do you see NCAA sanctions having on a program as far as recruiting? Do you see more highly touted recruits shying away from the likes of Michigan and USC if post season and television bans are placed on them?
Adam Rittenberg (4:18 PM)
Postseason bans certainly can cripple recruiting, but in Michigan's case, I'd be shocked if the NCAA comes down that hard. The allegations against USC, on the other hand, are much more serious. Michigan could be hurt by the perception that Rich Rodriguez will be fired after the 2009 season, but not by concerns about postseason or TV bans from the NCAA.
Jim Delaney (Chicago)
I can only take one team in the expansion and Texas and ND have turned me down already. Of the remaining contenders, who should it be and why?
Adam Rittenberg (4:20 PM)
First off, it's Delany, with no 'e.' ... Take Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are the best available candidate. They move the needle in football and would create must-see matchups with Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan. They're located close enough to the Big Ten region and have Big Ten type fans. Nebraska makes the most sense on several levels, if they want to join.
Is the Big East going to get swallowed up by the Big Ten and the ACC or are they going to add teams like the Tigers and UCF and try to stay relevant?
Adam Rittenberg (4:21 PM)
Fred, I think the Big East can lose two teams and survive. Memphis is an obvious choice, and UCF or maybe East Carolina could work as the eighth school. Lose three teams, and it could be awfully tough to survive. In that case, the remaining schools likely would go to the Big Ten or ACC.
Jordan (Maquoketa, IA)
Adam, How good of a team do you think Arizona is? I believe that game may hold the key to how well Iowa's season will be. Do you think it may be a trap game of some sort. What's your opinion on Iowa's season outlook, and do you see any incoming freshmen (Class of 2010) making an immediate impact on the team?
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
Arizona should be good, Jordan, particularly on offense. Iowa didn't face Nick Foles last year, and the former Michigan State QB has looked good so far. He's got weapons at running back and wide receiver. I definitely see this is a trap game for Iowa, which needs to handle the heat and the time change and keep its composure. Iowa's season could go either way -- Big Ten title or 7-5 -- as the margin of error isn't great for the Hawkeyes. As far as 2010 freshmen, I see tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz stepping in right away.
Ryan (Milwaukee, WI)
The Buckeyes can win without Pryor (see last season), Iowa can win without Stanzi (barely but they can). Is the health of Scott Tolzien the most influential QB situation on the Big Ten title picture this year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
Good points, Ryan. And you might be right. Wisconsin really can't afford an injury to Tolzien, especially with Phillips getting hurt this spring. Jon Budmayr will be a good college QB, but I worry about him playing this season. Tolzien has been durable thus far and has the Big Ten's top offensive line blocking for him. His health is absolutely crucial if Wisconsin wants to make a Big Ten title push.
Paul T. (New York)
What exactly is the Big Least paying me for? They aren't going to lose many teams in at least the first round of expansion and if they lose only one they can take Memphis and become an even better basketball conference. Is the ACC going to take a few more of our teams, we don't have anything attractive enough for the SEC.
Adam Rittenberg (4:27 PM)
You're a big name and you can take on the Big Ten and other leagues through the media. Other than that, I'm not sure. But keep collecting those checks, Paul!
Tate Forcier (San Diego)
If denard really learned how to throw this offseason, I'm screwed arent I?
Adam Rittenberg (4:29 PM)
Ha, not necessarily, Tate. You still have a major edge in experience, and if you can cut down on the crazy freelancing stuff -- yes, I know it worked early in the year against garbage defenses -- you can keep the starting job. You're still a good runner who can make plays on the move, and your passing skills remain superior to Robinson's. Hang in there and compete this August. We'll be watching.
Minnesota has been lauded, but has also taken some heat, for scheduling USC non-conference, as it's most likely a loss when the Gophs need to garner some wins where possible this year. But having an early season, mid-afternoon game against a consistent powerhouse has to look good for recruits in attendance (imagine if they pull the upset). It means warm weather and great atmosphere against a storied program. So I guess my question is this - How should teams like Minnesota, that will probably need non-conference wins to assure a bowl game, look at scheduling these tougher opponents? Is it better for recruiting to schedule these teams even if it's a loss? Or is it more beneficial to get a better shot at a bowl berth? Sorry, lots of thoughts there.
Adam Rittenberg (4:31 PM)
Sam, those are fantastic questions. It's really a Catch-22. If you beat teams like USC and Cal, it's huge for the program. If you don't, it makes getting bowl eligible that much harder. I think Minnesota fans prefer Tim Brewster's scheduling philosophy versus Glen Mason's, because it puts the team in the spotlight with a chance to do big things. On the other hand, you need to win one or two of those games to make it truly worthwhile. I like Brewster's approach, which includes one or two tough non-league games a year. It's certainly more fun than Mason's way.
The advantage that Notre Dame holds, and the key obstacle preventing the Big10 from enticing them into the conference, has nothing to do with revenue and scheduling independence, imo. Instead, it's the sweet deal they enjoy into the BCS. Perhaps necessary when the BCS was initially formed, but no longer deserved or required. Your thoughts on whether the Big10 can create the leverage to overcome that obstacle, and will their BCS deal ever be revised/dropped?
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
Scott, while I don't think the BCS deal will be revised any time soon, Notre Dame's path to a BCS game isn't as lucrative as it once was. I remember covering the team in 2005 when it received a full BCS share (I believe $14.5 million) for reaching the Fiesta Bowl. Now Notre Dame only gets $4.5 million, a nice chunk of change but certainly not what it used to get. You're right about the path to the BCS being easier for Notre Dame, which probably wouldn't be the case in the Big Ten. But I can't see the BCS changing its ways toward Notre Dame, which makes a ton of money for the big bowls.
Trever (Denver, CO)
How important can a bowl game victory be to a coach who is on the hot seat? In the case of Rich Rod at Michigan, it has been speculated that he would probably need 8 wins to see a 4th year. Is there a big difference between a 7-6 season with a bowl victory or an 8-5 season with a bowl loss?
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
Hmmmm, interesting question. Most firing decisions are made before bowl games, so Michigan likely will decide whether RichRod stays or go before Dec. 15. He can't worry about winning bowl games. He simply needs to get Michigan back to the postseason and ideally win eight or more games with some signature wins. I'm not sure an Insight Bowl victory would save him or not.
Jaxon (Double A)
sup adam. whos the startin runnin back for the wolvies this year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
Sup. I'm going to say Michael Shaw emerges when all is said and done. If he's healthy, he's got a lot of ability and pretty decent size and speed. But I also see Michigan using several backs, including Vincent Smith and Michael Cox.
Adam what is your favorite non conference game coming up in the next few years?
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
I really like the Penn State-Alabama series. There are too few Big Ten-SEC matchups, and this is a good one. I wish Penn State had an experienced QB going to Tuscaloosa, but the games should be really entertaining. A ton of history with those two programs.
Daniel (East Lansing)
In the spirit of Best/Worse case scenario, what is best/worst case scenario for big ten expansion?
Adam Rittenberg (4:42 PM)
Ha, good one. Let's see ... Best case: Add Texas or Notre Dame and call it a day. Or, if you can, add Texas, Notre Dame and Nebraska and conquer the world. Worst case: Any combination that doesn't include Texas, Notre Dame or Nebraska. You need a name program to do this right. I would be disappointed with a watered-down five-team expansion.
Pizza Guy (Ann Arbor)
I used to run a few pizza places that guaranteed delivery in a half hour or less. I am now the AD at an un-named school that has the most wins in NCAA history. I look at our schedule and see at least 7 wins, would that be enough to keep the coach or does he need 8-9 or 7 with a win over the school to the south? Do you think Les Miles would be a good choice if Harbaugh wants to go to the NFL or stay at Stanford?
Adam Rittenberg (4:46 PM)
Seven wins probably isn't enough. I think eight wins that include at least one of following four teams (Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State) is a must. Beating Ohio State would be absolutely huge, obviously. ... I wouldn't get too geeked about Les Miles. Too many game-management problems.
Phillip (I Live in NYC)
Wouldn't the worst case be Rutgers and that's all, Adam? Oh wait, the pipe dream of the New York market...
Adam Rittenberg (4:48 PM)
Just Rutgers wouldn't get many people excited, that's for sure. But I'm not as down on RU as a lot of folks. You have to look at Rutgers as a way to get your product in the New York market, nothing more. Trust that your product -- tradition-rich programs with tons of alums -- will sell itself in a big market. Rutgers just gives you a reason to be there.
H Meal (McDonaldland)
What is your favorite side item and drink with your subway sandwich?
Adam Rittenberg (4:50 PM)
I prefer the Baked Lays. Wonder if Jarred needs a stunt double. I'd certainly take his salary.
Kelly (Upper Arlington, OH)
Adam, why don't you show more commitment to the Big Ten and get a Big Ten logo tattooed on you like Braxton Miller and Terrelle Pryor did with the O logo?
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
Good idea, Kelly. But what if I get traded to the Pac-10 blog? I guess it worked for Bret Bielema.
Too few Big 10-SEC matchups? Have you watched a bowl game on New Years Day?
Adam Rittenberg (4:52 PM)
Regular-season matchups, my friend. When you have two leagues with huge stadiums, no one wants to give up home games. But nonconference games between these two leagues need to happen a lot more often. Fans would love it.
Could the Big Ten just change the "G" to a "6" and go to 16 teams? It would work, wouldn't it? And would you agree it would be insane to kill a brand name that's been around since 1896?
Adam Rittenberg (4:54 PM)
Eric, I'd prefer not to see the Big Ten change its name, but I'm not dead-set against it. I like your suggestion, though. I'll pass it along to Jim Delany on Sunday. Delany, by the way, is open to changing the name, but it's not his decision.
pookybear (Des Moines)
What are the chances of Indiana (or any other Big 10 school) selling away any more of their home games?
Adam Rittenberg (4:56 PM)
I would hope it doesn't become a regular pattern, but I can't blame Fred Glass for doing it every once in a while. Gotta make money to keep up in the Big Ten.
Bill (Plowville, PA)
Unless ESPN wants an uprising of fans to rival that of the French Revolution, I think your job security as B10 blogger is quite safe. You should totally get the tattoo.
Adam Rittenberg (4:58 PM)
I'll pass this along to my bosses ... thanks
Galen (Columbus, OH)
Hey Adam, love the blog. Read it every chance I get. I was wondering about why nobody talks about Navy joining the Big Ten. Isn't there a national appeal there? Annapolis also goes east AND below the Mason-Dixon. Academics might be a little different in motive, but still very good. I think they'd be a great addition, especially if they might come in a package with ND and possibly Army.
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
Thanks, Galen. I think it comes down to competitiveness. Can Navy compete, both on the field and financially, in all sports with Big Ten teams? Can Navy handle the travel costs and be flexible enough with schedules? There's certainly national appeal there, but I have serious questions about whether Navy could stay afloat (pun intended) across the board in the Big Ten.
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
Last one ...
pookybear (Des Moines)
If Nebraska and Missouri end up in the Big Ten, what do you think will happen to Iowa State? With the domino effect, would they end up in the WAC? The MAC? The MWC?
Adam Rittenberg (5:01 PM)
Interesting question, Pooky. If there's no more Big 12, I could see Iowa State trying to get into the Mountain West. The MAC would be a major step down, but you've got to play somewhere, right? It would be interesting for sure.
Adam Rittenberg (5:01 PM)
That's all folks. See ya around ...