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 (12:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's get started!
Kyle (Holly, MI)
Do you see the MSU-UM rivalry heating up now that Hoke is in the picture? We know how Dantonio feels about the rivalry. Will it finally take the next step and become known nationally?
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Kyle, while Hoke should stoke the rivalry a bit, it's more about both teams being ranked when they play. The reason Texas-Oklahoma is so big is that both teams typically are ranked in the top 10 or 15 when they meet in Dallas. If both Michigan and Michigan State are competing for Big Ten titles in the same year, the rivalry will only get bigger nationally.
Aaron (Lincoln, NE)
How many wins does Fickell need to stay the head coach?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Hard to put a number on it because there are so many other factors involved, but it's likely a high number (9, 10, 11). A lot depends on whether the potential penalties for Ohio State drive other candidates away. Fickell might need a phenomenal season to beat out candidates like Meyer, Gruden, Pelini, etc., but if those guys aren't interested, it could help his cause for the permanent job.
Chris (Manhattan, KS)
I think what you said about Petrino's comment was wrong. Yes Petrino can't have both, but that doesn't mean he couldn't want both. On one side he wanted the Tat-5 to serve their time immediately and on the other he didn't want it to feel like a hollow victory if they won, so it is fine to express both. But I think the most frustrating thing for Petrino is that if Tressel had told the truth Ohio State would have never made it to the Sugar Bowl and Arkansas could have played an honest opponent.
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
I know what you're saying, Chris, but I still see it as a contradiction. If you want to complain about the NCAA rule, that's fine. But don't say in the next breath that you want to face the best Ohio State team. Bottom line: Arkansas got Ohio State's best and lost.
Aaron (Lincoln, NE)
Is quarterback depth now a concern for the Huskers? Green's exit obviously leaves a big hole in the depth chart, but rumors are floating around that he had slipped to #3 behind Carnes anyway. Spano's exit is unfortunate, but he was practically injured from the day he set foot on campus. Will Bo switch Turner back to QB?
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
Aaron, I think depth has to be a bit of a concern at this point. It's critical for players like Carnes and maybe Ron Kellogg III to continue their development during the summer. If you're Nebraska, you don't want to put yourself in a position where you're relying on Starling, given his opportunities in baseball. Can't see Turner moving back to quarterback after the way he performed this spring and Nebraska's need for more elite receivers.
Adam, What are the odds Dantonio would leave MSu for OSU? I'm hoping its a very small chance but this has me worried that it could be the Nick Satan situation all over again where MSU gets things going in the right direction and our coach bails on us. Also do you know how many more years he has on his contract? Is there a chance MSU sweetens his contract like Neb/Pelini did?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Cory, if Mark Dantonio would leave Michigan State for any job, I think it would be Ohio State. That said, I don't know how he'd feel about the Ohio State job under these circumstances. He's extremely loyal to Jim Tressel, and I can't imagine he's too pleased about how things ended for his mentor. Also, he would be leaving a rising Michigan State program for an Ohio State program that could be facing substantial penalties.
Hey Adam, saw a Rumor in SI today about Jon Gruden taking the job at OSU if offered. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
You can't eliminate any candidates at this stage, especially those not currently coaching teams.
James (State College)
looks like winner of PSU-Wiscy game will win the division.. don't say OSU has a chance.
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
James, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Ohio State. Keep in mind the Buckeyes still have a ton of really good players. And both Wisconsin and Penn State have to visit Columbus, never an easy place to win.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
I keep reading and hearing opinions about Jim Tressel's legacy being "tarnished". Don't you think ultimately in 10-20 yrs he's going to be remembered for winning a national title, outstanding record vs. Michigan and the sweater vest? Though I wasn't alive at the time I heard some stories about how Woody Hayes and how his career ended but he's not remembered primarily for throwing punches at players but his coaching career.
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Chris, while Hayes coached a lot longer at Ohio State than Tressel did, Tressel's legacy will be viewed in a more positive light down the road than it is right now. His incredible success in making BCS bowls, winning Big Ten titles and beating Michigan won't be forgotten. But neither will the way things ended.
Brian (Chicago, IL)
Hey Adam, any news on the Russell Wilson transfer? Would love to see him suit up for the Badgers and run the option with our talented RBs and O-Line. With the OSU drama maybe it makes the B1G a little more enticing?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
Brian, my sense is Wilson's decision will come down to Auburn and Wisconsin. The Badgers still are very much in the mix and they'll have a chance to make their pitch to Wilson. I agree that Wisconsin could be a quarterback away from winning the Big Ten again.
Concerned Citizen (The Cloud)
Adam, I'm sorry you didn't get to enjoy Memorial Day, though your well-timed comment that this "blog would be dark" was unintentionally hilarious in light of subsequent events. I was wondering though-- did someone at least bring you a beer and hot dog as you were furiously writing? That is what I wished for you.
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Yes, I know everyone got a laugh out of my first post that day. Boy, was I wrong. I'm not going to lie: Memorial Day stunk this year. No beer, no brats, no rest. Hoping for a quieter day next year.
Adam, if you were Luke Fickell, would you suspend the players involved in this whole mess for the rest of the season? I would. I'd rather lose with winners than win with losers.
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Steve, for now, we're only looking at allegations. Fickell needs to assess the allegations for himself and make a determination. But I'd imagine that unless a suspension comes down from the school or from the NCAA, he'll play the guys he's got.
Adam, Would Jon Gruden have the WOW factor in recruiting if he would become the next OSU coach, or would it not make much of a difference because college is different than the NFL?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Gregory, I think Gruden would be an outstanding recruiter at the college level. He has won a Super Bowl, and he's extremely recognizable around the country for both his coaching and his broadcasting. He'd be able to connect with elite recruits around the country, particularly the quarterbacks. So from a recruiting standpoint, he'd be a great hire.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Adam, have you heard anything at all on the PSU QB situation? Been way too quiet. Now that the semester's over, I would've thought we'd have heard something.
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Lou, I agree that it's been quiet. Hoping to find out something soon on Bolden's future. My sense is that he'll stay at Penn State and continue to compete for the starting job in fall camp, but as we know with young players, things are always subject to change.
Adam, do you really think Pelini would jump ship for the OSU job just a year after coming to the B1G? I don't know a ton about him, but it seems like he's a good fit at Nebraska. It would certainly make for some interesting drama around the league.
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Mike, you're right about Bo being a good fit at Nebraska. Huskers fans seem to love him. And it's not like Nebraska is a second-tier program. The Huskers have shown they can compete for and win national titles. I really think the next Ohio State coach has to have a burning desire to restore the Buckeyes to glory. The next coach also likely will need to have some patience. It comes down to whether Bo has those qualities, but he's certainly in a good spot right now.
Adam - what do you realistically think of Purdue's chances of a winning season this year, and if not, how much longer does Danny Hope get to stay on as the head coach?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Stan, it comes down to consistency, which has been a problem the past few seasons at Purdue. The Boilers obviously need better luck on the health front, and it's hard to imagine them enduring another stretch of injuries like the one in 2010. I really think the talent is there at Purdue, but the Boilers need to put it all together for an extended period. Another bowl-less season will turn up the heat on Hope, who must show he can win consistently at this level.
I told you in a chat a month or so ago that it would be best for Tressel to resign and the school and team to move on. I feel that way now more than ever. Tressel was an unbelievably great football coach at OSU, a sure fire hall of famer. However, no one is bigger than the program and that OSU job will be highly sought after. I don't foresee "Ohio" having to turn to a small school D-1 coach like some team up North.
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Jim, thanks for the perspective. I agree that no one is bigger than the Ohio State program. While I agree the job will attract significant interest, the potential for significant penalties could drive some candidates away. It'll be interesting to see how the search goes when it commences.
Joshua (East Lansing)
Any insight into why, after an 11-2 season, that the Spartan coaching staff if getting run over by Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison for in-state recruits?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
I know a lot of Michigan State fans are concerned, and I'd urge them to be patient. Recruiting goes in cycles and Michigan seems to be on a roll right now. Michigan also can offer the chance to play right away, especially on defense. Mattison and Hoke have a clear vision for what they want on defense, and, to their credit, they're going out and getting the players. But Michigan State still has recruited well the past few years. The key is to keep getting it done on the field and developing talent.
Hey Adam. What kind of impact do you think young defensive players on Penn State's defensive front 7 will play this year? Players like Daquan Jones, Mike Hull, and Dakota Royer. Do you think they can step up and make an impact like what Khairi Fortt has done. I hope they can add a bit of depth to the defense.
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
John, they might have to in order for Penn State to have success this fall. The Lions are extremely thin at defensive end and moved Jones to the 5-technique this spring to get another body on the field. The season presents a tremendous opportunity for the young guys in the front seven. They really could be a huge key to the season.
Will (Worthington, OH)
Adam, what is the difference between Luke Fickell taking the job now at 37 or 38 versus coaching at a mid-major and coming back in 10 years? I mean, if he eventually is going to be the coach, why not just give him the job after 2011 and everything with the NCAA is done? Will Muschamp got the Florida job with ZERO experience. So Florida is more forward-thinking than Ohio State?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Will, I understand your point, but every situation is different. Nothing against Fickell, but Muschamp had some more impressive accomplishments before being named Florida's coach. And let's see how he does in Gainesville before branding Florida more forward-thinking than Ohio State. I just think that in most situations, schools like to see how a guy conducts himself as a head coach before handing him the top job. Fickell has a great opportunity to showcase his ability this season, and he can help his cause for the permanent position by guiding Ohio State through some tough waters.
Robert (Palo Alto, CA)
Hello Adam, I honestly think that Gene Smith's job at Ohio State may be in trouble due to the entirety of the situation and how it was handled by the school. I know my opinion is perhaps not in the minority right now. But if Smith is the AD, doesn't that make a coaching search doubly hard without an AD in place? With that said, wouldn't that give the advantage to the interim coach?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Robert, that's a very interesting point. Ohio State has some time before it begins the formal search for an AD, so you would think Smith's fate would be decided much sooner. Either he'll be the AD or a new AD will be in place before the search begins. But I agree these are unsettling days for both Smith and Ohio State's compliance department. If some of these allegations are true, there will be a lot of questions about how Ohio State didn't monitor the situation better.
Don't you think the whole "play right away" angle is a little over-emphasized as it relates to Hoke/Mattison? I bet there isn't a recruiter in the country that doesn't tell the kids that the best players will play and that if they are the best, they'll play. Michigan may have been historically bad last year, but they return almost all starters, who have to have improved somewhat. And they return almost every offensive player. I don't think the chances to play right away are as strong as others say.
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Colin, we're talking more about the 2012 class, which is the first full class under Hoke and his staff. Looking at the defense, there will be holes to fill along the defensive line and in the secondary for sure. Players know they have the opportunity to play, even if the coaches aren't stressing it. But this pertains more to 2012 than 2011.
Phillip (A stadium near you)
Adam,with a new AD coming to Illinois,should coach Zook be worried about job security in the near future?
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
He should be more concerned than he had been while working under Ron Guenther. Zook received a tremendous amount of support from Guenther, the man who brought the Zooker to Champaign. Like any coach getting a new AD, Zook will have to prove he's the right guy for Illinois going forward.
Adam, does Pryor suit up this year for OSU or bolt to NFL?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Josh, we'll see what happens, but my sense is that Pryor won't play again for Ohio State. He's already sidelined five games, and the new investigation could bring additional penalties. At some point, Pryor has to evaluate whether it's worth it to stay at Ohio State this season when he could enter the NFL's supplemental draft in July.
Eve (Seattle, WA)
Can't you get a normal vacation or holiday, Adam? I mean, you go on vacation and the March story broke and Jim Tressel resigns on Memorial Day. Can we just blame Ohio State for ruining your holidays? Should you worry about Christmas (when HC decision is announced on Dec. 25)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
Haha. Let's just say this story hasn't been the most convenient thing to cover. But it's not about me or my vacation. The nice thing about working for ESPN is we have a lot of great reporters who can help on stories such as this one.
Tyler (Lake Odessa, MI)
Adam, love the blog, read it every day. My question is, if you could pick one freshman to make an impact this year in the B1G, who would it be? That and as a Spartan, give me someone to watch on Michigan State's squad that is new, other than Tony Lippett
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
Tyler, with the possibility of Terrelle Pryor facing additional penalties, I'd have to put Ohio State QB Braxton Miller as an impact freshman in the Big Ten. I'm also interested to see how RB Aaron Green does at Nebraska. ... As for Michigan State, I'd keep an eye on the young offensive tackles, Skyler Schofner and Dan France. These guys really could make or break the offense this fall.
Any chance Ohio State is banned from TV this fall?
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
No. Can say that rather confidently. The era of the TV ban is over. Too much money on the table.
I'm tired of looking back. Time to look forward. No more tresselball? Afterall, he did call the plays. Does Fickel hire an offensive coordinator?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Phil, with Tressel gone, Ohio State can and seemingly will add another coach to the staff. The Buckeyes already have an offensive coordinator in Jim Bollman, and I'd think with Tressel gone, Bollman will have a more direct role in all play-calling. It's too late to scrap the offensive plan, but I'll be interested to see how the play-calling process goes.
Dave (Aurora, NE)
With the only way for someone to enter the Supplemental Draft being a "change in their eligibility"....beings nothing has "changed" for Prior since before the normal Draft...do you think the NCAA drags it's feet on a decision on Pryor until after the supplemental draft is done?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Dave, I really hope the NCAA wouldn't do this. I know a lot of folks don't like Pryor, but the guy deserves a chance to play football for money if his college eligibility is up. So I hope a decision on whether he can play this fall is made sooner rather than later.
JD (Andover, MA)
Are there lessons for the Penn State AD and administration to learn from the failed RichRod experiment at UM and the current OSU debacle? Would seem that continuity, known quantities (i.e., program insiders) and loyalty would seem to have heightened weight now when factoring in replacements for JoePa. Headline names (Gruden, etc.) certainly have credibility and name recognition, but don't the UM & OSU examples help PSU insiders like Bradley? Thanks, Adam.
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
JD, I'd say the Michigan example could help a guy like Tom Bradley (one of my favorite people in the Big Ten, by the way). ... The Ohio State situation is different. Tressel wasn't a big name when he came to Ohio State, and while he had some ties to the program, he wasn't exactly an insider at that point. And Tressel still worked out extremely well for the Buckeyes.
Nate K (Fleming Island, FL)
Adam, if Pryor doesn't suit up again for OSU this year what are your thoughts on the Nebraska game? Do you think OSU would have a chance against the Huskers? Thank you!
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Nate, the Buckeyes' task in Lincoln would get substantially tougher without Pryor at quarterback. Ohio State would need its early season starter -- whoever he is -- to make some major strides in the first five games before the trip to Lincoln. Ohio State's defense always gives the Buckeyes a chance, and this year will be no different. But the Buckeyes would benefit from having Pryor out there.
Maybe I'm missing something but why has there not been more talk about OSU's administration? For having one of the largest compliance departments in the country you would figure at some point the finger has to get pointed at them. I understand Tressel took the fall, but if people want real change at OSU they shouldn't accept that as the final solution. The problem is that the powers that be are the powers who turned a blind eye. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Jordan, I think this has started among some media members, and it will only intensify with further allegations and investigations. If the NCAA finds that the Sports Illustrated report is true, the compliance department will face additional scrutiny. Same goes if there are wrongdoings found with the car-sales situation. The question many will ask: How did Ohio State not have a better grasp of what was happening? That falls on compliance and the administration.
I do agree with Tressel's outcome but how is it OK for some programs (Penn St comes to mind first) to have so many player arrests for DWU, barfights, D&D, etc. and not get penalized as a program? Isn't that also a sign of lack of institutional control?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Dave, you're talking about different sets of rules. One is NCAA rules, the other is city/state/federal laws. Break the former, and you can get hit with lack of institutional control. Break the latter, and while it's embarrassing, it's not an NCAA issue.
Andrew (Upper Arlington, OH)
Would you expect a press conference from Ohio State and/or Luke Fickell in the very near future, Adam? I personally don't really know if a YouTube video cuts it with this type of announcement. I was there when Andy Geiger had a press conference announcing John Cooper was fired. Seems like a lack of leadership at Ohio State or something (seriously, just a video with no questions)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Andrew, while I'd love to hear from Fickell as soon as possible, I understand why Ohio State is circling the wagons right now. There are other investigations going on, NCAA investigators reportedly on campus, etc. Ohio State needs to be very careful about what it said right now.
Why didn't you answer my question?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
What was it?
Brett (Conshohocken, PA)
Do you expect the NCAA to open the doors to Juniors and Seniors who want to transfer once the two year bowl ban is applied? I don't see how the NCAA can't give Ohio State a bowl ban, do you?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Brett, if a bowl ban is placed on Ohio State, I'd fully expect the NCAA to allow some transfers without penalty. But we're not at that point yet.
What do you think of Cooper saying the compliance department isn't doing their job?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Very interesting, Terry. For him to call out the compliance dept. and compare it to when he coached at Ohio State certainly stood out to me among the reactions Tuesday.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, last one for the day ...
How could Pryor drive the new 350Z to the players meeting last week knowing that there would be media there?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
Andrew, I wish I knew. Pryor has done some things that leave you mystified, and this is certainly one of them. Maybe he knows what's coming down the pike and doesn't care about the consequences.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
OK, fun chat. As always, I apologize for the questions I missed. They are coming rapid fire and I only have so much time. Will do it again soon!