Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Adam Rittenberg (2:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's get started.
HawkeyePapyrus (Schenectady, NY)
Hey Adam, Great to have you back. First some condolences to the Steinbrenner clan. Love him or hate him Big Stein changed baseball.My question is Where do you put Iowa's D-line in the pre-season rankings? I think they are definitely top 5 and may finish the season as THE BEST d-line in the country. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (2:01 PM)
When it comes to just the starting four, I don't think there's a better line in the country than Iowa's. Certain defenses like North Carolina are getting a ton of preseason pub, but Iowa's front four is rock solid. Definitely a top 5 group. While depth might be an issue, if Clayborn, Binns, Ballard and Klug stay healthy, look out.
Wade (Newark, Ohio)
Adam, am I the only diehard buckeye that is concerned with all this preseason hype for Pryor? He just needs to not turn the ball over and learn to throw over 10 yards without heaving it as high as he can. At best he is an average QB, and that is all OSU needs. All the accolades put on him by the media worry me that he will try and live up to them and over do it. We just need a consistent QB.
Adam Rittenberg (2:02 PM)
Wade, you're right in that Ohio State doesn't need an All-American at QB to win a national title, and Pryor still has a lot to prove before he's a legit national award candidate. But he showed in the Rose Bowl that he can be a difference maker, and most championship teams need their quarterbacks to win a few tough games during the year. Pryor can't afford games like Purdue and needs to limit mistakes, but he'll also be called upon to make decisive plays this fall.
Matt (Pittsburg, PA)
Adam, what needs to go right for PSU to upset Alabama in the second game of the season, What percent chance do you think they have of pulling it off?
Adam Rittenberg (2:05 PM)
It's not a high percentage, Matt, less than 30 right now. Things could change if Penn State's QB situation works out better than expected, but this would constitute a pretty big upset. That said, I'm not one who thinks Alabama will steamroll Penn State. This should be a closer game. For PSU to win, it needs to keep things low-scoring, contain Ingram and force Alabama to win the game through the air. I have a tough time seeing Penn State win with any turnovers committed, to ball security is paramount.
Hey Adam. Your Big East associate planted a flag at your own 50 by picking UCONN in the opener in AA. Agree or disagree?
Adam Rittenberg (2:06 PM)
I'm not 100 percent sure where I'll go in that game, but I'm leaning toward Michigan. Connecticut will be very tough, but I've got a feeling that Michigan's offense comes out hot and puts up points, no matter who takes the snaps at QB. Rich Rodriguez has shown he can beat the Big East (the Big Ten, on the other hand, has been a challenge).
Can we expect Adam Weber to be much better in his 2nd year in a pro-style offense? Chris Mortensen tweeted that Adam was a surprise at the Mannings camp over the weekend.
Adam Rittenberg (2:08 PM)
I definitely think Weber will improve this fall. He's a smart and talented quarterback who was in over his head last fall, after being recruited to a different type of system. Minnesota needs to get more receivers involved in the passing game, and get much better play from the O-line, but Weber should bounce back in a more familiar, and more simplified, system.
Over/Under 5.5 wins for the Hoosiers this year?
Adam Rittenberg (2:09 PM)
Wow, Eric, that's a tough question. I see Indiana winning at least five. Will the Hoosiers get to six? The schedule certainly sets up well for them, but the chronic woes on defense concern me. Provided IU sweeps the non-con schedule, I see the Hoosiers winning six or more. A nonconference loss might keep them home for the bowls again.
How much can Robert Marve help Purdue? Do you see them making a bowl game this year?
Adam Rittenberg (2:11 PM)
I do, Pat, and Marve can be a real difference maker for Purdue. He's more talented than Joey Elliott and arguably more talented than Curtis Painter, but whether he establishes the consistency and mental toughness that those two displayed remains to be seen. For Marve, it's not about talent, but maturity and the ability to lead a team when things aren't going well. I'm very interested to see how he responds from his first setback this fall. That's when we'll really see whether he has matured.
Kyle (too far from big ten country, SC)
Do you see Ohio State at Wisconsin as a host for college game day and are there any other potential Big Ten matchups that could possibly hhost it?
Adam Rittenberg (2:12 PM)
Kyle, I haven't looked at the other big games around the country that weekend, but Ohio State-Wisconsin definitely will get consideration, especially since it's a night game in Madison, one of the rowdiest settings for college football. It's perfect for Gameday, but I don't make those decisions. Other possibilities include Penn State-Iowa (Oct. 2) and Ohio State-Iowa (Nov. 20).
Hey Adam, it looks like wisconsin finally has a team that can make it to a BCS game this year. what is one of your concerns that wisconsin has that might stop that from happening?
Adam Rittenberg (2:14 PM)
The secondary concerns me a bit, Andy, because Chris Maragos is a pretty big loss back there. If Aaron Henry bounces back after his position switch to safety and Wisconsin gets good coverage from its corners, the defense should be very good. I also expect a big year from Jay Valai, aside from just the big hits he always delivers.
Will (Cambridge, MA)
In honour of your return, and free ice cream day at my work, should every Big Ten school send you a campus favorite food? You could get grilled stickies topped with creamery ice cream from Penn State.
Adam Rittenberg (2:15 PM)
Yes, Will, make this happen, please.
Luke (Williamsport, PA)
Hey, Adam. I'm not too worried about PSUs QB situation. I think Alabama did a great job last year showing that if you have a good running game, good defense, and a QB who doesn't turn the ball over, you have a good chance at winning. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (2:17 PM)
That's an interesting take, Luke. Penn State certainly wants to follow the Alabama model this year, but Greg McElroy came in with a lot more experience and maturity than the Penn State QBs have coming into 2010. Now maybe they'll surprise me, but Alabama was in a more secure situation with McElroy last year.
Dan (Springfield OH)
Seriously, Chris Low picked Vandy to "shock the world" and beat Northwestern? Exactly how delusional is he?
Adam Rittenberg (2:19 PM)
That Tennessee heat must be getting to my man C-Low. While Northwestern is certainly the better team in that matchup, the Wildcats have a habit of losing nonconference games to terrible teams (Syracuse in 2009, Duke in 2007). It has kept NU from bowl appearances in 2007 and 2004. I think if this game goes the way Chris thinks it will, it will be Northwestern losing more than Vanderbilt winning. Vandy has some nice pieces, but Northwestern is a much better program right now.
Travis C. (Lake Highlands)
Texas fan here who was bitterly disappointed that we didn't move to the Big 10. Can you see any scenario that would lead Texas to the Big 10 in the next five years? What would it take, on both sides?
Adam Rittenberg (2:21 PM)
Wow, Travis, I'm sure you're in the minority, but thanks for the Big Ten love. Texas has to drop its desire for its own television network and agree to share revenue equally, because the Big Ten won't compromise its structure (Big Ten Network, equal sharing) just for Texas. If Texas can get what it wants from the Pac-10, I see a move there being much more likely than one to the Big Ten.
Bjorne (outstate Minnesota)
Love the blog Adam,I think this is the year Brew's team turns the corner. What do you think the odds are the Gophers win 7 or 8 games including a rivalry win over Iowa, Wisconsin, or Penn State?
Adam Rittenberg (2:23 PM)
Thanks, Bjorne. It's possible, but Minnesota needs to perform well in a very tough nonconference slate. Everyone knows about USC, but Middle Tennessee will be very tough on the road, and Northern Illinois is one of the favorites to win the MAC. Anything less than a 3-1 outcome, and it'll be tough to see Minnesota getting to eight wins. The Big Ten schedule doesn't do the Gophers many favors, as their home schedule features Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa and Northwestern.
End of Season - OSU - 12 and 0; Terrell Pryor - 62% completion, 2860 yds and 22 TD passes, 640 yds and 10 TDs rushing, 3 INTs. Heisman worthy, especially with other QBs around the country?
Adam Rittenberg (2:25 PM)
Yep, Hank, I'd say so, especially with 32 overall TDs and only three picks. People want to see the high completion percentage, the strong decision-making, the distribution of passes among several targets and few mistakes. Pryor won't be in the Heisman mix unless he's a reason why Ohio State is winning. Last year, Ohio State won several games with Pryor in no-mistakes mode. That won't cut it.
Drew (New York)
Any news on John Clay's health?
Adam Rittenberg (2:26 PM)
Drew, I'm checking on Clay this week and hope to have an update. Interested to see how he's running after the surgeries, and where his weight will be going into camp. Clay needs to be in that 240-250 range, not north of it.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Do you expect to see Joe Pa and Galen Hall using either Evan Royster or Stephfon Green as slot receivers in certain offensive sets this season?
Adam Rittenberg (2:28 PM)
I know Royster wanted to play a bigger role as a receiver last year, and had 16 receptions and two touchdowns. This might be a good way to get the young QBs comfortable, by throwing high-percentage passes to the backs in the flat, allowing Royster and Green to make plays in space. I think both guys could be effective in this way, and I'm sure Penn State is exploring it.
J-mac (Columbus, OH)
If you had to look into your Crystal Ball (or Crystal Vuvuzela) and predict the next Ohio State coach, who do you think is the best option: current OSU asst coach/wr coach Hazell (sp?), Luke Fickell, or is Bo Pelini a possibility? Things he said recently while speaking at an OSU coach clinic makes it seem like he still feels something for his alma mater.
Adam Rittenberg (2:30 PM)
J-mac, while I think both Fickell and Hazell have great potential as head coaches, Ohio State is too good of a job not to open up to the outside. So many elite college coaches hail from Ohio, and you'd be surprised at some of the names that would be interested when Tressel moves on. Pelini is certainly one who might be talked about, along with Bob Stoops and maybe even Urban Meyer.
Matt (Madison, WI)
All rumors from Madtown are that Clay is currently well north of that 250 mark. This worries me
Adam Rittenberg (2:31 PM)
Yeah, I've heard that, too. Don't want to see P.J. Hill, Part II. Isn't there a Whole Foods in Madison?
Billy Goat (Chicago)
Have you heard anything regarding when will Big Ten announce the divisional layout and 2011 schedule?
Adam Rittenberg (2:32 PM)
Billy, nothing will happen until after the ADs meet in Chicago on Aug. 2-3. These issues will be discussed, and the Big Ten will make its presentation to the group. Several ADs have told me the divisions and future schedules including Nebraska will be announced by Sept. 1.
Great to have you back, Adam. Last week was utterly boring without the usual content. What do you think the chances are that Paterno calls it quits after the season? I'm almost certain he's not interested in a farewell tour of any sorts, but it's possible he may want to go that route due to recruiting concerns. then again, he may be 90 before it happens anyway. What's your take on it all?
Adam Rittenberg (2:34 PM)
Thanks, Gary. Are these recruiting concerns among fans or among the coaches? Penn State just signed the Big Ten's top recruiting class, and while 2011 recruiting has been slow, I'm not overly concerned. Will this be Joe's last year? It's always a possibility, but as long as he's healthy, I'd expect him to go at least one more year after this. Penn State has really stabilized itself since the 2000-04 struggles.
Chuck (Galapagos Islands)
If you were the comissioner of the Big Ten(12), which 4 teams would you poach to make it into a 16-team super conference? Don't fear Darwinism in college football, embrace it.
Adam Rittenberg (2:36 PM)
Absolutely, Chuck. How's the weather out there right now? I'd go Texas and Notre Dame for sure. The other two schools wouldn't matter nearly as much, but I'd probably add Missouri and a Big East school (Rutgers, Pitt or Syracuse).
Ok, Adam, putting you on the line here. You've stated you believe Weber will have a good year this year.What are the odds he regains 2nd team Big Ten status, as he did his sophomore year?
Adam Rittenberg (2:38 PM)
Not great, Aaron, but that has more to do with his iffy supporting cast and the fact that there are other Big Ten quarterbacks with more hype. Pryor will be on the first or second team unless Ohio State falls apart, and Ricky Stanzi, Scott Tolzien and Kirk Cousins are all ahead of Weber on the pecking order. So it'll take a really good season from A-Web to make All-Big Ten again.
Bob Stoops (Norman, Ok)
Adam, simply stated, a move from OU to OSU is a lateral move at best.
Adam Rittenberg (2:40 PM)
Bob, I'd invite you to take a look at Ohio State's athletic budget. Your opinion probably will change. Also, at Ohio State, unlike Oklahoma, you can actually make moves independent of what your archrival does. It was comical to me how Oklahoma was willing to follow Texas no matter what, as if it couldn't survive without UT. Imagine Ohio State doing that.
Adam Rittenberg (2:40 PM)
Hold on a sec, brb
Adam Rittenberg (2:42 PM)
OK, I'm back.
Mac (Huntington, WV)
Hey Adam, you've written about the Big Ten's struggles at the QB position in the past, but this year looks like it could be a pretty good year for signal callers. What position, league wide, do you see as being sub par this season?
Adam Rittenberg (2:44 PM)
Mac, I'm a little worried about the defensive tackle spot and addressed it in a recent video blog post. Iowa tandem of Karl Klug and Christian Ballard is solid, but you lose Jared Odrick, Mike Neal, Doug Worthington, Garrett Brown, Josh Brent, and Cam Heyward and J.J. Watt move from DT to DE. There are some promising players left like Jerel Worthy and Devon Still, but I don't see a ton of star power.
G. Mason (Hoping to move soon)
After Brew loses big this season and blows town, will MN take me back? I promise to be more friendly to the local media! If not me, who's are my competitors for the job opening?
Adam Rittenberg (2:46 PM)
Yeah, I don't see that happening, G. I could see Mike Leach ending up in the Big Ten in 2010, and Minnesota is a potential destination. You've got a major city and a great stadium to sell. It's tough to get some recruits up there, but everyone knows about Leach and his system, which appeals to offensive players for sure. It'll be interesting to see what happens.
There's that popular proposal of an east/west split with Penn State in the west, but if PSU were to have an extended down period after Paterno's gone, will that look like a mistake (more travel without the competitive balance)?
Adam Rittenberg (2:48 PM)
It might, Joe, but you have to believe Penn State won't be down for too long. Programs with great tradition and great fan support don't struggle for decades. The other factor in deciding divisions is teams that move the needle, and Penn State does even when struggling. So I think in the long run, it would still benefit the Big Ten to put the Lions in the division with Nebraska.
Other than Iowa's O-line, whats Iowa's biggest concern?
Adam Rittenberg (2:50 PM)
Good question, Jay. I'd say cornerback for sure. Amari Spievey might be the biggest single loss for Iowa because he took away one side of the field and contained opponents' top WRs. Can Shaun Prater and other fill the void? We'll see, but I'd be a little concerned about that spot in addition to the line.
John "Sandman" Simon (The Ohio State University)
Thanks for the nickname, Adam. I liked it. Do you think Nate Williams and I will fill in for Doug Worthington and Thad Gibson, or will our D-line have a drop-off this season? Answer carefully! I am to go squat a train now. See you soon.
Adam Rittenberg (2:51 PM)
I'm starting to view Ohio State's D-line a lot like Penn State's D-line. Guys come and go, but the product is always top notch. I really like Ohio State's young players up front, and with Cam Heyward leading the way, that group will be fine.
Matt (Madison, WI)
Last season seemed to calm the Bret Bielema haters in Madison, but if the Badgers have another year with high preseason expectations they don't live up to, do you think there will be unrest? Locally for sure, but how about in the athletic department?
Adam Rittenberg (2:54 PM)
Barry Alvarez calls the shots in Madison, and he remains extremely tight with Bret Bielema. It's the reason why I didn't pay much attention to the hot-seat talk last year. Now it would be unsettling if Wisconsin goes 7-6 this fall, like it did in 2008, but even then Bielema would have some more time to get things on track. Wisconsin obviously wants to get back to where it was in the late 1990s, but as long as the team wins nine or 10 games a year, it's hard to complain too much.
grindlbebe (Silver Spring, MD)
What are you hearing about Michigan State's special teams? With Keyshawn Martin and Aaron Bates they have an elite returner and punter, but Brett Swenson was a huge loss. Who's going to kick for MSU?
Adam Rittenberg (2:56 PM)
Great question, and we won't know for a while. You can't just replace a guy like Swenson, one of the steadiest kickers in recent Big Ten history. Dan Conroy and Kevin Muma are the two candidates, and they'll continue to compete this summer.
Ryan (Ferndale, MI)
Can Greg Robinson put together a serviceable defense this year?
Adam Rittenberg (2:57 PM)
We'll see, Ryan. He needs veterans like Troy Woolfolk, Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton to really elevate their play. More important, Michigan has to have several big seasons from young defenders like Craig Roh and Cameron Gordon. The depth on that side of the ball still isn't where it needs to be, so everyone needs to make a contribution.
Adam Rittenberg (2:58 PM)
Hey guys, got to cut out to hop on a Robert Marve teleconference. Will have more on Marve and Lloyd Carr's retirement later today.