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 (3:58 PM)
I can't wait till 4. So much to talk about. Let's get started!
Matt (Troy, NY)
If ND won't come to the Big Ten, Delaney should force their hand by going after a Big East Team like Pitt, Cuse, or Rutgers, ensuring the collapse of ND's conference. Don't put ND in the driver's seat...
Adam Rittenberg (3:59 PM)
Not sure one Big East team would do it. You might need to take three. And would taking three Big East teams dilute the league, even if Notre Dame was forced to be team No. 16? Probably not, but it's worth thinking about.
Dylan (Des Moines)
Is it a virtual certainty that Texas will join the Pac 10? Also could you see the Big Ten snatching up Texas or Oklahoma? Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (4:00 PM)
It's certainly looking like Texas is heading to the Pac-10, but nothing is final until the official annoucements come. The Big Ten would love Texas, but I doubt the league would want Texas' baggage (A&M, Tech, maybe Baylor).
Chad (Chicago, IL)
Adam, isn't the best example of why Jim Delany is a genius the quality of his "back up" schools? In other words, now that we've got Nebraska, and if we can't land Notre Dame or Texas, the Big Ten is still sitting pretty with Mizzou, Kansas, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt, Maryland, and UVA as expansion possibilities (to varying degrees of possibility). No other conference can boast that (the Pac 10, for instance, is about to take TTech and OkSU...)
Adam Rittenberg (4:02 PM)
Chad, from a pure athletics/national impact perspective, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State aren't way below Missouri, Kansas and the Big East/ACC schools. From an overall institutional standpoint, which includes academics, the Big Ten has some better options. All of the schools you mention are strong academically.
Josh (Toledo, OH)
Adam,I was listening to the Herd earlier, and had the same question as Colin. Why would Nebraska (and now Colorado) leaving the Big 12 dissolve the conference? As Colin mentioned, the Big 12 is driven by the state of Texas (Texas, A&M, Tech, Baylor). You also can't forget Oklahoma. Why can't the Big 12 pick up TCU and either someone like Utah or BYU which could save the league, rather than everyone bolting for the Pac 10.
Adam Rittenberg (4:04 PM)
Josh, I had the same question as well. It shows that as much as Texas drives the Big 12, Texas and the conference still needs a power program in the North. Without Nebraska, the North gives the league next to nothing, and along with the potential severed relationship with Missouri, it's tough for those schools to see the Big 12 surviving. But I'm with you on some of this. Why not add TCU and Utah/BYU?
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Adam, you have access to these guys. Tell them to stop now. 12's enough. Welcome Nebraska. Let's move on... please. 16 teams seems more like a loose association than a conference.
Adam Rittenberg (4:06 PM)
Haha. I can try, Lou, but I doubt they'll listen to me. I was told by a source that the Big Ten would be comfortable at 12 right now, but there are still plenty of possibilities beyond Nebraska. As of Wednesday night, Nebraska was the only imminent addition, but things can change in a matter of hours. This is crazy stuff right now.
Why couldn't you stick Penn State in the west division of an West-East Big Ten? They fly to all their games already, plus on the final weekend of the Big Ten regular season you could have a Mich vs. Ohio State AND a Penn State vs. Neb. And with a rivalry starting up with Iowa it seems to solve alot of the problems with splitting up into 2 divisions.
Adam Rittenberg (4:07 PM)
Thank you, Nate! I totally agree with putting Penn State in the opposite division from Michigan and Ohio State. I don't want to create another Big 12 South type situation, although a "West" division with Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa and others wouldn't be too shabby. I just think it's in the Big Ten's best interests to split up OSU/Mich/PSU.
Tim (Atlanta, GA)
I grew up a Big-10 fan (Purdue) before moving down to Georgia, eventually graduating from GaTech. Any possibility GaTech with its strong academics and pretty darn good sports record slips in as a dark horse candidate for Big 10 Expansion?
Adam Rittenberg (4:08 PM)
Tim, it's all still possible, but I wonder if the Big Ten would be willing to extend itself so far outside its footprint for Georgia Tech. Yes, it puts you in SEC country, but it's hard to compete with that league down there. Georgia Tech is a fine academic institution, but it doesn't make a huge splash and brings some added risk. Would Big Ten football really work in Atlanta? Maybe, maybe not.
Adam, all we've heard from the beginning about Big 10 expansion from the media guys (including you) was that is was all about the Big 10 Network and academic fits. It doesn't seem like Nebraska fits either bill - Lincoln, NE is not a big media center and Nebraska is not going to get confused with Harvard any time soon. I'm not really sure how many more people on the east coast are going to watch Nebraska vs Iowa/Wisc/Minny/Illinois/Purdue/etc. Are they done expanding - are they really content not adding new markets?
Adam Rittenberg (4:10 PM)
This might be only Phase 1, Dave, as my most recent blog post indicates. But give Nebraska a little more credit. The Huskers football program still moves the needle in this country. Put Nebraska against Ohio State or Penn State and that's a Saturday night nationally televised game, provided the teams are good. Nebraska also has fans just about everywhere. So while the local market doesn't give you that much, you would get some national reach with the Huskers.
If Notre Dame said to the Big Ten we'll join but it has to be 12 (not 16 or 14), would the Big Ten tell Nebraska and others that the conference is no longer interested (even if the process w/ Nebraska has started)?
Adam Rittenberg (4:11 PM)
Wow, that would be pretty cold, Sarah! I guess anything is possible, but Jim Delany has talked a lot about not embarrassing the Big Ten or any institutions. He'd certainly embarrass Nebraska by pulling back now. Notre Dame has had its chance to be No. 12. The Big Ten, from what I've been told, is willing to move ahead with or without the Irish.
With the likely formation of the Pac 16, is it that much more likely that the Big Ten goes to 16 to: 1) keep up with the Joneses, 2) Grab 2-3 Big East teams, to try to force ND's hand, since 3) Looks like Nebraska is #12, not ND, which seemed to be the initial preference?
Adam Rittenberg (4:13 PM)
I think if the Big Ten goes 16, it will be to try and get Notre Dame in the conference. Notre Dame is a home-run addition. Nebraska is probably a ground-rule double. The other schools that have been mentioned are singles because they don't make as big a splash and carry risks, whether it's location, alumni base, etc.
Scott Milslagle (New Jersey via Wisconsin)
I just don't comprehend the addition of a middle American team to the Big Ten. I understand the logistics but to be honest, transportation costs for the cash heavy B10 should not be an issue. To expand to the East Coast as has been discussed (Rutgers) would provide an enormous boost to their fan base as well as expand into a relatively untapped recruiting market for the league. I understand the history of bringing in a Nebraska football program but in terms of benefitting the conference, I feel they would have been better served going East.
Adam Rittenberg (4:15 PM)
Scott, with all due respect, think about the first sentence you wrote. Seriously, dude? This has been and will always be a middle American conference. That said, you make some better points at the end about moving into new markets and improving recruiting. Besides being close to New York, Rutgers is in a very fertile state for high school football talent (New Jersey). Bringing in New Jersey could help the Big Ten in a number of ways and remains a possibility.
Zach (Toledo, OH)
ADAM! Very simple question but one I'm sure a few people are curious about. Assuming Nebraska joins the B10 this week. What is in store for next football season? The Big 10 isnt going to change their entire schedule and realign all of the teams in a few months. Does Nebraska (and colorado) sit out season? Or does the Big 12 stay together for one last ride? Thanks Adam!
Adam Rittenberg (4:16 PM)
Zach, it depends on what happens with the Big 12, but you wouldn't see Nebraska in the Big Ten until at least 2011, if not 2012. Just too many logistics to change at this stage.
What about Mizzou? They have to be pretty upset about all this, no? I don't hear their name being mentioned at all. And will you please tell the Clones out there that they have NO SHOT at joining the Big Te...leven..elve..ixteen.
Adam Rittenberg (4:18 PM)
I'm not dumb enough to rule out anyone, Mike, but it does seem like Missouri's stock has dropped in recent days. Nebraska clearly seems like a more attractive option for the Big Ten. And if the Big Ten doesn't invite Missouri to apply and Missouri ends up looking for a home, you can bet people will be upset.
So what's phase 2 if you're Jim Delaney?
Adam Rittenberg (4:19 PM)
You have to make sure Texas wouldn't come to the Big Ten. You might be willing to add A&M, too. If the door is closed there, you keep talking to Notre Dame. Notre Dame remains the one that most Big Ten folks want.
Adam, would you agree that if one more state is added to the conference footprint, the name Big Ten works beautifully? You do realize they have to change the name of a network, right?
Adam Rittenberg (4:21 PM)
Good point, Marissa. I've heard this from a number of folks. A 10-state conference can still be called the Big Ten, right? Honestly, I just can't see the league changing its name, especially after the whole Big Ten Network business. But Jim Delany is open to the possibility.
Braden (Columbus, OH)
Hypothetically, if ND comes to the Big 10 along with Nebraska, how do they round out the conference at 14 or 16? Mizzou, Rutgers, etc.)Also, please provide a third generation Buckeye fan with assurance that the OSU-Michigan rivalry is untouchable, no matter the result of the expansion storm.
Adam Rittenberg (4:23 PM)
Don't worry about the Ohio State-Michigan game. Delany knows how valuable it is to the league, just the Rose Bowl relationship ... If you want to stop at 14, Rutgers intrigues me because of the potential to grow east and bring in a good recruiting state in New Jersey.
If the Big 10 decided to change its name, what would the process be? Would there have to be a vote like adding a member?
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
Yes, exactly. The Big Ten presidents would have to approve a name change.
How far away is too far away for a school to be for the Big Ten to add them?
Adam Rittenberg (4:24 PM)
What happens to the Big 12 teams that are not picked up by the PAC 10 or the Big 10. If they go to the MWC, does it become an AQ conference?
Adam Rittenberg (4:25 PM)
It will be very interesting, Martin. Could go Mountain West, could go Big East. I've got to think MWC commish Craig Thompson likes his position right now, especially with Boise State poised to join the league.
What is the most important criteria the Big Ten looks at in these potential additions to the conference?
Adam Rittenberg (4:27 PM)
Academics do matter, trust me on that one. And while Nebraska might not be an academic powerhouse, it is an AAU member and a solid public institution. Other criteria would be competitiveness on the field, location/market and ability to generate money for the league.
adam, everyones talking about adding teams ,dont you think maybe subtracting a team like northwestern and adding someone else ,would be the time to do it now
Adam Rittenberg (4:28 PM)
No one is getting subtracted. You guys can keep wondering about this, but let me save you some time. It's not happening. Additions can/will happen, but no subtractions.
Hi Adam. Love the blog. What do you think of Pitt's chances to join the Big 10? I'm just hoping my Panthers will land on their feet in a viable BCS conference. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (4:30 PM)
There's still a chance, but probably not a great one unless the Big Ten goes to 16. Pitt's location unfortunately is the major drawback. They're already located in the Big Ten's footprint, and Penn State remains the dominant program in the state.
Tim (Westerville, OH)
With the rumors that Demar Dorsey did qualify for admission to Michigan, was this Michigan telling Rich Rodriguez that some lines need to be drawn in terms of character and recruiting? Was this a sign to Rodriguez that his leash is very short (and win now)?
Adam Rittenberg (4:31 PM)
Well, I think the last part was obvious, Tim, and didn't need to be reinforced at the expense of a recruit who would have found a home elsewhere. The message to Rodriguez was: the way you've recruited in the past won't cut it here, so change it up. I just wish the admissions folks would have relayed the message back in February.
John (Columbia, S.C.)
Is the Big Ten's expansion plans really separate from the Pac-10's or is the Pac-10 forcing their hand?
Adam Rittenberg (4:33 PM)
Good question, John. The Big Ten didn't want to act this quickly, but the Pac-10/Big 12 situation with the whole ultimatum forced some action a little earlier than expected. I believe the Pac-10 is in a different position than the Big Ten regarding expansion. The Pac-10 seems more willing to take some average academic schools because of the overall splash it would make. Don't think the Big Ten has the same plan/luxury.
I see a non-expansion question. I didn't know that was possible.
Adam Rittenberg (4:33 PM)
It's amazing, right?
When Nebraska joins the conference who will be their end of season game? Will the Big Ten try to construct an artificial rivalry like they did with Penn State vs. Michigan State?
Adam Rittenberg (4:34 PM)
Good question, Chip, was thinking about this earlier today. Would Nebraska still play Colorado every year? Would that game move to September? I think Nebraska-Penn State at the end of the year would be pretty cool.
You said you think the Big Ten will go to 16 teams. With Nebraska being added and you already mentioning Rutgers and ND as another two you would like to see in the conference, what are the final two in your eyes that would make the perfect fit? Mizzou? Pitt? Syracuse? Others?
Adam Rittenberg (4:36 PM)
I actually agree with my buddy Teddy Greenstein that the Big Ten would be best at 14 with Nebraska, Notre Dame and Rutgers. I know I've stumped for Missouri before and there is some value there, but I'm not as enamored with the Tigers. If it goes 16, I'd take Missouri and Pitt. But I think you'd have a good league at 14.
jersey brian (portland, or)
Adam, when you say Nebraska is a "ground rule double" rather than a HR addition, I assume you're talking about the whole picture (mediocre basketball, small markets, will be lowest-ranked academically in the B10, etc), right? Because if we're talking in purely football terms, you couldn't be more wrong. This is one of the winningest programs in football here, 5 national championships, and they seem to be on their way back with Pellini, with an undeniably great fan base and tradition. Plus, their style of football is a perfect fit for the B10.
Adam Rittenberg (4:37 PM)
Yes, that's exactly how I meant it (whole picture). I'm looking at these schools from a total-profile standpoint, not merely with football. Nebraska is a tradition-rich football program with great fans, a great stadium, etc. Nebraska moves the needle in football. But as an overall addition, it's a ground-rule double.
Sean O'Connell (Chadds Ford, PA)
Do you see the competition between Penn State and Iowa erupting in to a full blown annual rivalry? I, as a PSU alum, would love to see it. I feel like Iowa would be a clear cut rival for us. I always felt like PSU was kind of a third wheel to the Michigan-OSU rivalry.
Adam Rittenberg (4:39 PM)
The Penn State-Ohio State rivalry ain't bad, but I definitely see Penn State-Iowa picking up steam. Iowa fans never forget to remind Penn State fans about the last few years, and Penn State fans would love to knock off the Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Oct. 2. This rivalry has earned my stamp of approval, for whatever that's worth.
Brian (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Why would they artificially construct a Penn State-Nebraska rivalry when Nebraska-Iowa are right next door to each other, there already is a rivalry amongst fans, and Iowa has kicked PSU's butt the past several seasons?
Adam Rittenberg (4:40 PM)
Right, but he's talking about an end-of-year rivalry. You could still have an Iowa-Nebraska rivalry, which would be great, but unless Iowa moves its Minnesota game, Nebraska would need an end-of-year rival (unless it keeps Colorado). I'm totally cool with moving the Minnesota game, but I know a lot of Iowans and Minnesotans want to keep it where it is.
It doesn't seem like UConn is going to be able to get into the Big Ten, even if they go to 16. Is there a possibility the Big Ten, or any conference, would go beyond 16? If the Big Ten did, would UConn be included?
Adam Rittenberg (4:41 PM)
The lack of AAU membership really seems to hurt UConn as far as the Big Ten is concerned. I've been told there is some interest from Big Ten folks, but I have my doubts that the presidents would approve UConn as an addition.
Assuming this all works out and B10 goes to 16 as well as PAC10,what does this mean for SEC/ACC? How many super conferences do you foresee?
Adam Rittenberg (4:43 PM)
You would likely see four or five superconferences (Big Ten, Pac-10, SEC, ACC, Mountain West). Don't know how the BCS bids would be distributed, but it would be pretty interesting.
CY (Ames, IA)
So you're telling me there's no chance for me in the B10? My wrestling program is top notch and we ONLY invented the computer and rice crispy treats....what else do we have to do???
Adam Rittenberg (4:44 PM)
While that's a convincing argument, Cy -- who doesn't love rice crispy treats? -- unless you can steal some of USC's national championships and implant about 700,000 more people into Ames, I don't think you're getting a sniff from the Big Ten.
If the Big 10 takes Rutgers & say Syracuse, which conference do you think will be more aggressive to go after other Big East schools (i.e WVU, Louisville, etc), the ACC or the SEC?
Adam Rittenberg (4:45 PM)
Well, the SEC could go after ACC schools and the ACC could then go after Big East schools. But the Big East could also look to pick up what's left of the Big 12. It's just wild right now, people. So many possibilities.
Zach (Columbus, Ohio)
Jim Delaney seems very cool and collected in his responses lately. Does he have something up his sleeve or am I being duped by a great poker face?
Adam Rittenberg (4:47 PM)
Jim always has multiple plans and could do something that might surprise you. Even though at this moment, it seems like the Big Ten would be set with 12 teams, a lot could change in a hurry.
Are you concerned that you're going to receive even more "why don't you give my school more coverage/respect" emails if the Big Ten goes to 16 schools? I mean, seriously, how many posts can you make in one day?
Adam Rittenberg (4:48 PM)
You wouldn't want to see my mailbag, Sara. But don't worry about me. I'll manage.
We always hear that ND not coming to the BIG TEN or any conference is because of money. How big of a difference do you estimate between them being independent and with the B10?
Adam Rittenberg (4:50 PM)
From a TV revenue standpoint, Notre Dame would make more as a Big Ten member. It's just hard to estimate how much they'd lose from donations or other revenue sources. I'm sure they've studied it thoroughly. There would be a backlash from fans, for sure.
My buddy Matt at work already named the Iowa Nebraska rivalry. FARMAGEDDON here we come!
Adam Rittenberg (4:50 PM)
Nice! I like it.
Is there remotely a trump card out there for the Jim Delany and the Big Ten, Adam, or has the conference more/less fired all of the bullets and the Pac-10 won?
Adam Rittenberg (4:51 PM)
Notre Dame would be viewed as that card, William, but I go back to this. Could the Big Ten have added Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech? I just don't see that happening without the league really sacrificing its core principles. The Pac-10 doesn't seem to be as concerned, but keep in mind that the Pac-10, from a revenue standpoint, is in a much weaker position than the Big Ten. In a way, the Pac-10 had to make a big splash more than the Big Ten did.
What about Kansas and Kansas St joining an expanded Big 10 if the league goes to 16? Decent sized market, pretty good rivalry, maybe doesnt help so much in football, but would he a HUGE pickup for basketball.
Adam Rittenberg (4:53 PM)
Again, I just can't see it happening. Kansas maybe, but I don't see what you'd add with Kansas State from a marketing/location standpoint. If I'm Jim Delany and I'm adding schools that aren't home runs, I'd much rather them be in appealing locations like the East Coast.
What impact will all of these changes have on the field in these conferences THIS year?
Adam Rittenberg (4:54 PM)
Probably not much, Jon. Aside from some odd feelings during meetings or even in games. But we're less than three months from the start of the season. You can't shuffle around too much at this late stage.
Why didn't politicians, presidents and donors make a plea to Notre Dame to move rather than asking Nebraska to stay? Do they realize they could have prevented a lot of stuff with Notre Dame moving?
Adam Rittenberg (4:56 PM)
Again, you're asking a private institution to do something, which isn't easy. Notre Dame simply doesn't want to move. I know that's tough for everyone to understand, but it's the truth. And while it could change, know that the best-case scenario for ND would be to remain independent.
Keith (Livonia, MI)
Texas vs. Nebraska in a Pac Ten vs. Big Ten Rose Bowl matchup? What's this world coming to? :)
Adam Rittenberg (4:57 PM)
Gosh, I didn't think of that, Kevin. Pretty brutal, but that's the world we live in.
Adam Rittenberg (4:57 PM)
Got time for two mo' ...
Coray S (New York, NY)
I'm a staunch supporter of Rutgers staying in the Big East. Outsiders may not respect it, but RU's rivalries (UConn, Cuse, WVU, Cin), venues (WVU, Yankees Stadium for the Pinstripe Bowl) and a great underdog story have made it an awesome league to be a fan of. Give me three reasons why Rutgers' fans should be excited about a move to the Big Ten. Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg (4:58 PM)
Can I give you 20 million reasons? How bout that?
Eric (Chicago IL)
Enough about expansion. What are the top five games in September that we can look forward to?
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
With pleasure, Eric! I'll go Ohio State-Miami, Iowa-Arizona, Penn State-Alabama, Michigan-Notre Dame and USC-Minnesota (feels a little different after today).
Adam Rittenberg (4:59 PM)
OK, guys, that's all for today. Next time we chat, we might be talking about the Big Ten(16)