Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at noon ET!
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's get started!
A lot of talk has been focused on the QB controversy for Penn State this year. I find their biggest concern being the O-line. Whoever starts won't matter if he doesn't have time to throw the ball. You agree?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
I agree, Dustin, but I think the Lions will be better up front. Wisniewski is an All-America candidate who can play both inside spots, and while Eliades hasn't played much tackle before, he brings good experience to the spot. Quinn Barham is a huge player for Penn State. Barham needs a big season. And Penn State will try to establish the run first to help its young QB.
Is there any news on Wegher leaving the hawkeyes and if there is any chance for him being back in the future?
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
KC, Iowa is moving forward without Brandon Wegher. There has been no communication between him and the coaching staff for at least a week. Could Wegher rediscover his desire to play and return to the team? Sure. But I wouldn't expect him to be a major factor this year. It's too bad. Enjoyed watching him run the ball as a true frosh, particularly in the Orange Bowl.
Even though you said you won't speculate on divisions on twitter. Who do you think comes away the happiest and who gets some unhappy news. (likely one of the Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin trio) ?
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
Seth, it's safe to say one of those fan bases won't be thrilled with what they decide. As I wrote a few months ago, the Minnesota-Wisconsin-Iowa bloc is tricky for the Big Ten. You want to preserve those rivalries because they mean a lot to the fan bases. But none of those games really moves the needle nationally. Plus, Nebraska entering the fold changes things because those teams want to face the Huskers, too. I know the easy solution is an East-West split, but it doesn't serve the Big Ten's best interests. I'm pretty sure o ne of those games won't be played every year.
RichRod (Ann Arbor, MI)
Adam--How do you see my team faring this weekend against UCONN?
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
Rich! Didn't you see my blogger debate with colleague Brian Bennett? I picked you guys to win, 28-27, in a very good ballgame. I think the offense comes out hot and the defense does just enough to win.
Scott (New York)
Where does Northwestern's O-line rank in the B-10 this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
In terms of experience, the Wildcats rank at or near the top. But until the line consistently show they can run-block and create room for those backs, I can't put it among the league's truly elite units. Northwestern used to produce 1,000-yard rushers every year. Not so much under Pat Fitzgerald, one of few knocks against Fitz
That omaha newspaper article you posted yesterday was very interesting. If nothing more with how secretive that meeting was. I can just picture that meeting happening in a barn in a middle of corn fields. Makes you realize how backdoor these meetings were and makes me wondering who else had these type of meetings.
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Phil, totally agree. That was by far my favorite part of the story, picturing all these big wigs out in the woods at some secret log cabin in Wyoming or somewhere. But given the interest in the topic, you couldn't really blame them for making sure no one knew.
You seem to be fired up about SEC vs BT issues. I am all for it but will we ever see you and C Low face off head to head in a BT vs SEC debate?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
The Big Ten-SEC rivalry is a great topic, especially for our blogs. Not to give too much away, but you'll probably see some type of debate between CLow and I next week regarding Penn State-Bama
B.G. (Kenosha WI)
1. Can Kerrigan, Short, and Gooden cause enough pressure on Crist to "cover" the lack of experience in the Purdue defensive backfield?2. Will Marve be the leading rusher againist the Irish?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
Ha, I hope the answer to No. 2 is no. Talked with Purdue coach Danny Hope this morning and he really likes the way the Boilers match up. But the front seven, led by Kerrigan, really has to have a good performance. Michael Floyd vs. an untested Purdue secondary isn't a good recipe for the guys in gold and black. I'm pretty sure Marve will put up points, but the game likely comes down to Purdue's defensive front seven vs. Notre Dame's offensive line/run game
Adam, How do you see the UNLV game going for the badgers ? I'm just a little worried about starting out the season with an 11 PM ET start.
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
What time will that game kick off in India, PJ? Late afternoon? ... I wouldn't be too worried about this game, although UNLV will be fired up as a new coach steps in. I just look at Wisconsin's run game against a defense that ranked 112th nationally against the run in 2009 and can't see how the Badgers don't win convincingly.
How does Iowa's Center getting injured effect (or is it affect) their offensive line? I also wish that kid all the best.
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Can you believe that video? Unreal that he wasn't hurt a lot worse (and fortunate). James Ferentz likely would have been the starting center no matter what, but Koeppel's situation makes the team a little thinner for the opener. It doesn't sound like Koeppel will be sidelined for very long, so not a big deal, thankfully.
Randy (Cleveland, OH)
Why does the Big Ten have these Thursday night kickoff games this week? Not to harp on about tradition, but I love waking up on Saturday morning, watching College Gameday, then switching right over to the noon matchups. Is this another stunt to increase revenue or just a novelty to try out?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
The Big Ten does it a lot less than other leagues, Randy, and quite frankly, I wish we'd see more Thursday night games in the Big Ten. Teams like Minnesota, Purdue, Northwestern and Indiana really could use the national exposure Thursday games provide. Trust me, there always will be enough games on Saturday, but Thursday games provide something a little different. I like it.
Josh (Madison, WI)
Adam, what makes this year's Wisconsin Badgers team any different than the team with high expectations in 2008 that was a huge disappointment?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
The fact that the current veterans went through the 2008 season and know what went wrong can really help this year's team handle the expectations. Also, you've got a much better fit at QB in Scott Tolzien, and more overall playmakers on both sides of the ball. I really like Wisconsin's mix of veterans and promising younger players like Chris Borland and Montee Ball.
Adam, am I an absolute homer for thinking Indiana could go 8-4 this year? They have the easiest four non-conference games imaginable and easier potential wins against Illinois (away), Northwestern (home), and Michigan (home). Throw in an upset against Iowa at home, and eight wins take the Hoosiers to their best bowl game in twenty years. Am I insane? Maybe a little sick in the head?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Nope, not insane at all. The defense has to improve significantly from recent years. While the offense should score more, Indiana has shown that good offensive players don't translate to bowl appearances. The schedule is extremely favorable, though, and six or seven wins is certainly a reasonable expectation.
IF you like Thursday night games then what is your take on moving the OSU, Michigan game to Thursday night?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Yeah, I wouldn't go that far.
Joe (Michigan State)
Not much mention of MSU. With our best recruiting class in many years and some great individual players...and now a coach...what do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Joe, I think people are hesitant to buy in after the struggles last season. But Michigan State is a team that could win nine or 10 games this fall, especially because of a favorable overall schedule. The secondary should be better and if the two lines hold up, I really like the potential in East Lansing.
Adam, which is more important....UM-OSU playing the last weekend or keeping the possible B10 title matchup?..Isnt them playing for the title more often than not what made the rivalry so great?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Are you sure this isn't Jim D. from Park Ridge, Ill.? Delany and others have made this argument, and they're right about Ohio State and Michigan playing for a direct berth in the Rose Bowl. But I just think The Game needs to stay where it is. Too much tradition. Teams have always built toward that game.
Tim Brewster (Minnesota)
Adam, I know my boys will be tremendous tomorrow night, so I'm not worried about the game. Rather, I'm concerned about my Gophers rivalry games. It is absolutely essential for the Gopher program that we play for Floyd of Rosedale and Paul Bunyan's Axe every year. These are some of the most historic rivalries in CFB, and the tv ratings for these games every year is outstanding.Should I be worried?
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Are the TV ratings outstanding, Brew? I'd have to check on it. From what I'm hearing, both games will continue to be played.
Rob (San Francisco)
Adam,i read your notes on Iowa practice - am a bit worried about what you wrote about Stanzi having an "ok" practice - you think we have something to worry about or maybe his head was just not in it like on game day
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
I think it's a bit worrisome that he's still making ill-advised throws, even in practice. Ricky Stanzi needs to decide what he'll be: the guy who makes mistakes and digs himself out of holes with the help of a great defense, or the guy who matures over time and corrects bad habits
Al (Columbus, OH)
Adam, what happened to sabino starting at the vacant LB slot at Ohio State? He was talked up a lot during the spring and now he has been moved to back up. This kid was pretty highly recruited out of high school and, other than being a special teams master along with fellow LB back up storm klein, he hasn't seen much of the field.
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Sabino certainly looked like the third starter coming out of the spring, but Andrew Sweat really came on strong in camp and outshone Sabino. I still think there's some competition there, but Sweat will get the first shot as the starter against Marshall.
James (Provo, Utah)
Adam, are we going to be seeing some good games between BYU and Big 10 teams?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Interesting question, James. I'd like to see it, especially if BYU continues to elevate its profile under Mendenhall. The Cougs would have to be willing to come to the Midwest, but they provide a good scheduling option for some Big Ten squads.
I noticed that you left Miami off your power rankings. Does that mean that you think OSU will win easily against Miami?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
That was a total oversight on my part. Meant to have Miami at No. 13, but by the time I realized it, it was too late. No disrespect to the U at all. Next week's game should be very competitive.
Rick (Howell, MI)
Adam...why ON GOD's EARTH would the Big Ten schedule 4 New Years games to be running at the same time? Do you have a secret on how to watch them all?
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
Ha, buy four TVs and set up a man cave in your basement. Jim Delany wants to "own the day" on Jan. 1, and by having his product on four different networks, he believes it increases the Big Ten's presence. I can see both sides to the debate, as it would be nice to have them spaced out a bit more.
Will Illinois ever not be a Big Ten doormat in football under Zook?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Well, the Illini weren't a doormat in 2007, when they went to the Rose Bowl. But Zook needs to start getting the most out of talented players. Coaching needs to be a difference maker for the Illini. I think Zook took steps toward that by hiring Vic Koenning and Paul Petrino, and backing away a bit himself.
How much of Penn States preseason rankings is based on the inexperience at QB? If Bolden turns out to be a stud how far can they go this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Ted, the QB situation is the only reason why Penn State isn't ranked in the top 15. Although there also are some losses on defense, we should know by now that the Lions always reload there, especially in the front seven. Bolden's preseason performance has been encouraging, but you have to expect some mistakes from a true freshman. If he ends up being the guy, he'll get some valuable experience one way or the other.
Greg (Las Vegas)
Adam - Lets say my Buckeyes are in the Rose Bowl in January. Which Pac-10 Team do they NOT want to face, so i know to root against them all season long? Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
The easy answer here used to be USC, but it doesn't apply this year with the bowl ban. If Stanford is as good as everyone says, I might want to avoid the Cardinal because they have a great quarterback and play a Big Ten style. Ohio State really exploited its size edge against a smaller Oregon team last year. Then again, don't know if I'd want to see the Ducks again, either.
If a big ten team doesn't win the national championship this year, is the season considered a failure?
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
I don't think so, Tim. A winning bowl season and some quality wins in BCS games doesn't qualify as a failure in my book. Does the Big Ten need to win a national title fairly soon? Yes, but I don't see things as national title or bust. There is something called the Rose Bowl, too.
Enough dancing around it, Adam. Can we get a comment on the rumored divisions? UM, Nebraska, MSU, Iowa, Northwestern, and Minnesota. OSU, PSU, Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois, and Indiana.
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Anthony, I'll comment when they're no longer rumors. But if that were the case, I like the setup aside from the Ohio State-Michigan split. Wisconsin fans probably aren't happy, but I had Wiscy with Ohio State in my division plan as well. Wisconsin is a victim of its own success a bit here.
What do you think Ad? Can my 'Cats pull off a win against an SEC team on Saturday night?
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Your team should be able to, Fitz. Vandy is technically an SEC team, but didn't look like one for much of last year. It should be a close game, but your players know how to win and theirs really don't.
Bo Pelini (Lincoln)
What do you think about us opening our Big 10 debut as the National Champions against Ohio State after we just beat them in Glendale?
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
I'm sure Jim Delany wouldn't be opposed to that matchup, Bo. But as I've said before, the Big Ten would rather have one of its current teams win the national title than Nebraska, which is still part of the Big 12 for this season.
James Manuel (Minneapolis)
Adam, I'm a true frosh starting at Safety tomorrow night for the Golden Gophers in place of Kyle Theret. Should I be worried? Is my team gonna help me out?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
James, you should hope the offense controls the clock with the power run game. I just watched the BTN preview at Minnesota and was impressed with the running backs and the O-line. The key is to keep you and the other new starters on defense off the field. But when you're out there, prepare for MTSU to go right at you.
Brett (King of Prussia, PA)
What's the latest word on Stephfon Green? Will he be ready for Bama?
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
I think it's 50-50 at this point, Brett. I hate to say it, but Green might be one of those guys who's always injured. I hope not because he's got great potential, but he's got to stay healthy.
Kurt (Saginaw, MI)
Last season Kirk Cousins would have (arguably) been the best QB in the Big Ten if it weren't for his two huge INTs. Numbers were great and he throws a great ball. Has he improved to the point where he might be among the Big Tens best this season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Kurt, I totally agree with your first point. Cousins' interceptions came at the wrong time, but he didn't throw many of them. Ricky Stanzi, on the other hand, threw a ton of interceptions but got away with them. I really like Cousins' potential this year, especially with the WRs and TEs he'll have at his disposal. Expect big things from Kirk.
Adam...while I know you're concerned about the defense, the optimism from RR is about 180 degrees different than the last two years. Maybe he knows more than we do? Would you be surpised if Michigan won 9?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
Jason, a lot of folks have brought this up about Rodriguez's demeanor. I think there's something to it. The guy knows what he's doing, and he has been honest about Michigan's personnel challenges in the past. I don't think he expects a shut-down defense, but Michigan has the athletes to win at least seven games.
Matt (Laramie, WY)
Does an injury to Pryor mean an end to Ohio States Big Ten and National Tittle hopes ?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
It would be tough, Matt, although I have a lot of faith in Jim Heacock's defense. They'd have to get great performances from the O-line and the stable of running backs, too.
Kurt (Saginaw, MI)
It's probably not fair to get two of my questions answered, but I'll try. You aren't actually that excited for college football to begin are you? I mean, it's only been like 3/4 of a year.
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Are you freaking serious, Kurt? I'm very excited. You think it's fun getting asked thousands of questions about divisions and expansion possibilities for nine months? Let's bring on the games already!
David (Minneapolis, MN)
Are they really announcing the divisions today, or is it possibly just an internet rumor?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
David, I'd expect something official by the end of the day/night.
Mike (Philadelphia, PA)
What is with the absurd amount of disrespect that Penn State is getting for the Alabama game and Mark Ingrams injury? I get that they're the underdogs, but every single news source is saying Alabama's real schedule starts with Arkansas, your ESPN colleagues included. Is it really that much of a lopsided game to completely overlook Penn State like that?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
It's just hard for people to envision Penn State's new QB playing well in that type of an environment, particularly since it's his first road start. But I don't think Alabama wins this game by 30. Penn State will keep things competitive in Tuscaloosa.
Adam (Gilbert, AZ)
Adam, as a Nebraska and Iowa fan who graduated from Iowa State and attended Iowa, what are the chances Iowa plays Nebraska for the National Championship down here in Arizona?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Adam (great name), anything is possible, and if Iowa holds serve at home, it could go undefeated. The Hawkeyes also have to get through their first trip to Arizona (Sept. 18) to stay alive for a return visit. I also think there's a chance these teams meet in the Fiesta Bowl.
Oh admit it Adam... you'll miss the countless expansion rumors and division questions.
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Nope. Even I have a breaking point :-)
Gophers--win or lose?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Joe, you'll have to wait a few more hours for my official pick, but let's just say Dwight Dasher's situation changed my mind quite a bit on this game.
Is Tandon Doss' injury anything to be concerned about for the Fighting Heather Diniches? Are they just playing it safe with an FCS team, Bye, and WKU the first 3 weeks?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Ha! Fighting Heather Diniches! Love it!!! I wouldn't be too concerned, Matt. With a bye week after the opener, IU is just playing it safe with Doss. You don't want to rush a groin injury. I'd be very surprised not to see him out there Sept. 18 at Western Kentucky.
Robert (Toledo, OH)
So are we going to be looking at a OSU, PSU, and Wisc. division and a Iowa, Neb., and Mich. division?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Again, nothing official, but that very well could be the case.
What do you make of the news that Penn State's Evan Royster is overweight, and Sephfon Green has a neck injury? Should PSU be worried about depth at RB?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Royster definitely looked bigger to me at Big Ten media days, but he also expected to lose 5-6 pounds in training camp. The guy needed to get bigger to become a true featured back. I think he'll be fine. Green, on the other hand, is a wait-and-see situation. I like the potential of freshman RB Silas Redd, so there's some depth there.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Can't wait for the season!!! And be sure to check the Big Ten blog for reaction on the likely Big Ten division announcement later today/tonight.