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. Lot of news at Ohio State and around the Big Ten. Let's get started!
Will Pryor leaving really have any effect on the NCAA's investigation into Ohio State? There are a lot of allegations and probably more to come. I assume the NCAA will continue to do its due dilligence and look into it and still heavily penalize the university.
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Shawn, I don't think it has much effect. The NCAA will continue to investigate Pryor and other players as well. A relevant question to ask is whether the NCAA can wrap up everything before Aug. 12 or whether Ohio State's hearing before the COI will be pushed back. It's definitely a possibility.
Hey Adam, what time can we expect the new ESPN U 150 to come out today?
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Any minute now, Jared. Excited to check it out!
kyle (Lucas Oil Stadium)
Who will be here at seasons end to fight for the B10 champioship?I say Nebraska vs. Wisconsin, NU winning
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Kyle, you could be right about the Huskers and Badgers. Wisconsin will be viewed by many as the new favorite in the Leaders division after what has happened to Ohio State. Nebraska has to contend with Michigan State, Iowa, Northwestern and possibly Michigan, but the Huskers should be tabbed the favorite in the Legends division.
How much does it effect the Blackshirts to go from the Peso to a more traditional 4-3? Do 'tweeners fill a new role like Hagg and play LB/safety or maybe a OLB/DE perhaps Martin or Ankrah to try and get the best players on the field and fill a need. That need being run stop support because its obvious that most teams cant throw on the secondary.
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Zach, good question. I think you'll see fewer DB/LB hybrids and potentially more DL/LB hybrids with the Huskers. Martin seems like a guy who can play defensive end or outside linebacker. And by all accounts he had a strong spring. While I wouldn't dismiss Big Ten passing attacks so easily, you have to stop the run first in this league.
Ken (Charlotte, NC)
Adam, If the NCAA imposes a postseason ban on Ohio State football will this also include a potential appearance in the BIG TEN championship game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
Ken, the Big Ten hasn't confirmed this and probably won't until it has to (read: when the NCAA issues its penalties), but there's no way a team that can't compete in a bowl game will be allowed in the Big Ten title game.
Alex (East Lansing)
Do you think Kirk Cousins and the three headed rushing attack of MSU will be able to overcome a mediocre offensive line? Or will that ultimately be their downfall
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
Alex, the O-line is undoubtedly the biggest question mark for Michigan State. As I mentioned in a recent video post, it's crucial for the line to build chemistry this summer and continue to grow as a group. I know the coaches like the athleticism up front, especially with a few players moving over from defense, but you can't substitute for experience at O-line. It's never easy when you have to replace both starting tackles and the starting center.
Buckeye Nation (USA)
How sad will we be on August 12th?
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
It'll be a tough day, but the committee likely won't make a decision on penalties for 6-8 weeks after the hearing. And the hearing might be pushed back from Aug. 12, for all we know.
Which story has kept you more busy?Last year's conference realignment or the tatO5U scandal?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Good question, Jerome. I would say the Ohio State story has been a larger inconvenience for me because there has been more breaking news. But I probably blogged more about expansion/realignment than any other topic. Both stories have certainly kept the blog busy in a usually quiet time of year.
Hey Adam, With the SEC ruling that grad students can no longer play only one year of football at SEC schools, does this increase Russel Wilsons chance of coming to Madison??
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
No, it doesn't. The SEC's new rule doesn't go into effect until October, so Wilson still can attempt to transfer to Auburn. It looks like he'll decide between Wisconsin and Auburn, but Auburn is still in the mix.
I have a great feeling about the Hawkeyes competing for a Big10 title this year with them being under the radar and all of the media attention being on OSU right now. What do you think?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Tom, I think you can make a case that being under the radar will help the Hawkeyes, as it has in the past. But it's hard to connect Ohio State's situation to Iowa for a couple of reasons. First, Iowa doesn't play in Ohio State's division, so it needs to worry about Nebraska, MSU, Northwestern, etc. And the Hawkeyes don't play Ohio State this year, so they really won't directly benefit from any potential Buckeye backslide.
Mike (Shreveport, LA)
The Big Ten doesn't really change a lot of things and when it does it takes time. The conference is tradition-rich. With that said, if the conference establishes Indianapolis as the site of the B1G championship game, do you think it will change to Chicago in the future? As I said, the conference changes very slowly.
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Well, we know the title game will be in Indy for the first five years. Any site change would be made in 2016, at the earliest. While I was a little surprised the Big Ten made such a long commitment to Indy right off the bat, the idea is to establish the event, get it off the ground and do it in a proven city like Indy. I would hope the Big Ten continues to consider Chicago and other cities, but Indy has a chance to establish itself as the permanent host.
How will the presence of the Big Ten Network factor into whether Ohio State is given a television ban?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Jim, while I can't say for sure what the NCAA penalties will be, the likelihood of a TV ban seems slim to none. The TV ban, in my mind, is a penalty of the past. It won't surface again, in my view. There's too much money to be made with TV revenue. Ohio State should worry about a bowl pan, scholarship losses, vacating wins and other penalties. A TV ban? I'd be shocked if it happened.
With all this talk about Ohio State what does this mean for the league in general? Can the Big 10 get its image back after having one of its major programs take a big hit like this?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Will, it all depends on whether other programs can step up. You've heard me say it before: Ohio State has been the only Big Ten program equipped to compete for national titles every single season. If the Buckeyes take a step back, who fills that role? Can Nebraska? Can Wisconsin? Can Penn State or Iowa? Will Michigan get back to prominence? If not, the Big Ten image will take a hit.
Tate (Ann Arbor Mich)
Hey Adam. With all of this recruiting success on the defensive side of the ball for Michigan lately, is it possible we can see a reverse reaction as last year? What if the defense becomes great in 2-3 years but we struggle to move the ball on O? Would that be just as bad as what happened this year (great O but couldn't stop ANYBODY?) Is this a legit concern? Or are they recruiting D purely because of current needs?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Tate, they're recruiting defense because they need defensive help ASAP and both Hoke and Mattison have a clear vision for what they want on D. But you bring up a good point about a potential reverse reaction. Michigan's defense will be better in 2011. Not exactly going out on a limb with that prediction. How much? Tough to tell. But I think it's important for the defensive surge to offset what could be a step back on offense. It's just hard to see Michigan's offensive production remaining so high after a scheme change.
Randy (St. Paul)
The Gophers didn't get to play Michigan while they were down, and now they won't get to play Ohio State while they are down. We have no luck!
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
Yeah, that's the breaks. Although I doubt too many Minnesota fans will miss seeing Ohio State the next few years. I'm happy to see the Minnesota-Michigan series on the schedule every year from here on out. The Gophers need to win a Jug pretty soon, though.
Hey Adam, Rumor is the lights were on at Camp Randall last night and the jumbotron was playing a replay of the win over OSU. Sounds like Bret B. and Paul C. are making a great pitch to Russell Wilson. Do you have any idea of the time frame we are looking at here for his decision?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Interesting, Brian. I'm sure Wisconsin is making quite a pitch for Wilson. I'd expect him to make a decision by the end of the month. He'll obviously need to consult with the Rockies, who want him to finish out the season in the minors. Can't see that happening, as I expect Wilson to be playing college football somewhere by early August.
Ben Ford (Arlington, VA)
Hey AdamSorry to keep bugging you and Brian about this, but if you answer this, I'll leave you alone. What if Urban Meyer took the OC job at OSU for a couple years to go back into football, mentor Fickell, get paid big bucks to run an exciting offense (for once), and let himself rest from the overall head coaching position? With him running the offense and Fickell the defense, they would be great. What do you think?Thanks Adam.
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Yes, Ben, I'm glad you asked and sorry for missing this question earlier. While it's an interesting idea, I can't see Urban Meyer wanting to be a coordinator, especially on Luke Fickell's staff. Meyer can be picky if and when he wants to return to coaching, and being a coordinator and a mentor for Fickell at Ohio State won't be his most attractive option. I think if Meyer ends up at Ohio State in the near future, he'll be in the head coach's office.
Charles (Phoenix, AZ)
Hi Adam, if Russel Wilson does choose Wisconsin, does that make the Badgers the team to beat in the Leaders division? Isn't he supposed to be in Madison today? Love all the Modern Family references by the way...
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Thanks, Charles. You could argue Wisconsin is the favorite in the Leaders division even without Wilson. If he does choose UW, he gives the Badgers a chance -- not a guarantee, but a chance -- to stabilize the quarterback position. Let's not forget that it won't be easy for Wilson to show up at a school weeks before the season, learn the system and then become an all-conference QB. The transition will be tough. But quarterback is the big question mark with Wisconsin, and Wilson would give the Badgers another option.
Aaron (Lincoln, NE)
Adam, with Brian on the beat now, will both of you be traveling to games each week this fall, or will one of you be at the game of the week while the other monitors all the action from home?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
You'll probably see a bit of both. We'll definitely both be covering games, but certain weeks where the schedule isn't that great, you could see one or both of us at home. It all depends on how the season goes.
Mike (State College)
Adam, what do you see as the biggest challenge for Penn State this upcoming season? Do you see them being able to compete in their division? I know the last 3 weeks on the schedule are killer, but if they win even one of those games, don't you think they'd have a shot at the B1G title?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
If Penn State sweeps its final three games, it very well could be headed to Indy for the title game. I think the Leaders division is becoming increasingly wide open, and Penn State is a team that could be in the mix. The two big challenges are sorting out the QB position and getting consistent play from both lines. I'm not sold on either line right now, but I also think Penn State can be much improved up front.
Johnnie (Phoenix, Arizona)
Bo Pelini's name has come up for every coaching vacancy in the last 2 years including some such as LSU in which the current coach would have had to take a job elsewhere before the position became available. Why is that? Do you press folks know something Husker fans don't, such as that he is unhappy in Lincoln?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Johnnie, I don't think it's a commentary on Pelini being unhappy in Lincoln. He seems very happy there. But when you're dealing with big schools that can offer big money, it's hard to eliminate any coach from a particular job, at least at first. We've seen a lot of "happy" coaches leave jobs for others that provide more money, resources, etc.
Adam, will you and Brian each have a chat each week?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Yes, eventually we will. Right now it's just me, but we will keep you posted on Brian's upcoming chats.
John (Los Angeles)
My prediction for next seaon: Minnesota 41 - Bucky 38. I just can't get new coach Kill and that Minn-Iowa game under their interim coach last year out of my head. Am I nuts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
You might be, John :-) While the Iowa win was nice, let's not forget that the Hawkeyes seemed to be falling apart after a series of second-half collapses. Minnesota, meanwhile, played loose and with nothing to lose. Although Jerry Kill will have his guys ready to play, especially for rivalry games, Wisconsin looks like the far better team right now. We'll see what happens between now and when the teams meet.
Re: Russel Wilson- If he makes it to UW, I believe it helps with more with instant depth at QB, more than an advantage of him being our starter, perhaps even opening up a two headed QB situation.
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Yes, this is an excellent way to look at the situation. A lot of Badger fans will assume Wilson becomes the starter and turns in an All-Big Ten caliber season. While that could happen, a better way to view this -- if it happens -- is a boost for Wisconsin's QB depth. Right now, the Badgers have no proven depth after Jon Budmayr. That would change if Russell Wilson comes aboard.
Bernard (Princeton, NJ)
What do you think of Joe Paterno using Skype to meet with recruits? Who would have thought???
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
I love it! If Joe isn't going to visit recruits off campus, this seems like the next best thing. If he's comfortable with Skype, it makes total sense to have him do it. The recruits seem to love seeing him on their screens.
Cosmo Kramer (Anytown, USA)
With Pryor leaving before getting run out of C-Bus, what impact does this have on the investigation. Obviously he's no longer bound to talk to the NCAA as he's not a student...and if anyone's learned anything from the Reggie Bush scandal, paying Pryor to keep quiet might occur.Does this keep the ban-hammer from dropping?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
I guess it could, Kramer, but I think there's enough evidence out there for the NCAA to chase even without Pryor. We know he already has talked to NCAA officials. Does he have incentive to slam Ohio State? Hard to say. But I think there are other leads with other players the NCAA must spend its time investigating now.
Jon (St Louis)
Will Soldier Field ever get artificial field turf? I think the big 10 shouldn't play there until they do.
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
Jon, I certainly hope so! And I'm saying that more as a Bears fan who has to watch that slop at least eight times a year. Jim Delany said the field condition didn't factor into the Big Ten's decision, but I really hope the next time the league makes a decision on its championship site, Soldier Field will have FieldTurf. It's definitely the right decision, and a necessary one.
UM Alum here. Terrelle Pryor = Biggest. Dodged. Bullet. Ever.
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Blair, you're not alone in that belief. I know a lot of folks are playing the what-if game, especially at Michigan. The one argument I don't like is that Pryor going to Michigan might have saved RichRod's job. Rodgriguez wasn't fired because he didn't have a star QB; he was fired because he never had a defense.
Adam, I love the new trend of later games in the B1G and I know you do too. Here's the question, you can only attend one night game this year...which campus is it at? As well, your coworker Scott Van P. has often deemed Madison as the best sports town in the country, do you concur?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Ha, well, SVP is a very smart man. And I love Madison, day game or night game. My pick this year would be either Nebraska-Wisconsin or Ohio State-Nebraska. The OSU-Nebraska game loses a bit of luster now that both Tressel and Pryor won't be returning from suspension, but it's still a very intriguing contest.
Why won't Ohio State have a press conference and at least try to control this situation from an athletic department or university standpoint? It's already spiraled out of control, but some leadership is needed here. The message is completely gone from the university.
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Well, to be fair, Luke Fickell has a lot on his plate right now. And he's bound to be asked a lot of uncomfortable questions at a news conference. But I think Ohio State fans deserve to hear from the new coach. It's important to get the fan base fired up again, and Fickell can do that, even in an opening statement. So I would like to see this happen sooner rather than later.
So who replaces Pryor at QB?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
I think it'll be Joe Bauserman or Braxton Miller. Bauserman is the safer choice, as he has been in the system for four years now. But if Ohio State wants to start planning for the future, Miller might make the most sense, especially if he can build off of the spring.
Oliver (Columbus, OH)
I know Ohio State itself always says "What's best for the conference" (all for one approach). I don't think OSU has ever done this, but wouldn't hiring a football coach from another B1G program create a huge divide? I think it would. Wouldn't that cross off Bo Pelini, Pat Fitzgerald and Mark Dantonio from the list?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Oliver, given Ohio State's current position, it has to do what's best for itself, not the conference. So no, I don't think Ohio State would think twice about pursuing a coach from another Big Ten school. That's the business, and you're not in it to be nice and make friends.
Adam, you're avoiding my question! How many losses now do you see for the Buckeyes? I see a 2-3 start. Maybe a 3-2 start.
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
No I'm not! ... Ohio State still could go 5-0. Call me crazy, but the Buckeyes are still an extremely talented team. I think a 4-1 start is probably most likely, and 3-2 is possible, but unlikely. You won't see Ohio State lose more than two of its first five.
Ok, be honest, Brian's move from BE blogger to B10 co-blogger. Promotion or demotion?
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Promotion, clearly! You know who he gets to work with now, right? And I felt bad for the guy with the Big East blog. He once had to do a post entitled "Big East lunch link." Now he steps into the Big Ten and he's got a ton of stuff to blog about!
Mark (Knoxville, TN)
Adam! Thanks for all your coverage this summer. Excited about the addition to the blog staff and how it will increase the coverage for all of us. Thinking about making a trip to see my hawks play this year...never thought I would be thinking about NORTHWESTERN as my game of choice. But, they have been HAWK killers of late and its in prime time under the lights. I love it and think this game will get some attention nationally...your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Mark, thank you and glad to hear you're excited about Brian's arrival. I think the Northwestern game is an excellent choice. Kinnick at night is always electric, and the fact that Northwestern has won three straight there should only add to the atmosphere. Iowa really, really, really wants to beat Northwestern. Sounds like a good choice for you.
Michael (San Francisco)
It seems to me the OSU violations have gotten a lot more coverage than the USC investigation. Is that true or am I just B10 focused? If they have been covered more, doesn't that bode poorly for OSU. The NCAA hates to look publically weak (especially after allowing the players to play in the Sugar Bowl)
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Michael, I really think if you looked back at USC, you'd see a lot of coverage there. One difference is that the USC situation dragged on during a long period of time, while the Ohio State story has only been going since December (it feels like years). I don't think the way a story is covered impacts how the NCAA will ultimately rule on a school.
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
OK, time for a few more ...
ADAM! stop ignoring me. If the D is a bit improved and MarQueis Gray puts up 2K in the air, 1K on the ground and 20+ TDs. WHat is the Gophers' ceiling?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Michael, I wish you could see how many questions I get on this chat. A lot of folks are ignored ... The Gophers have a tough schedule, so the defense would have to be significantly improved, especially up front. I could see seven or maybe eight wins if things go smoothly, but it'll take more than a big year from Q.
Bob (Warsaw, IN)
With the delay of releasing his intentions what impact does Rob Bolden holding out into the summer have on the PSU team? It appears that the coaches are not aware as well and at some point they must move on. Paterno has indicated that he will not decide until preseason practice but a lack of committment by Bolden must be affecting his ability to move forward. At what point does PSU say we have to move forward?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
I'd think Penn State will want an answer soon from Bolden. But the fact the Lions didn't name a starter after spring ball doesn't give them much leverage in this situation. Bolden has remained eligible, done what was asked of him in practice and is now back home enjoying the first part of his summer. It's tough to put too many demands on him in this situation. I think we'll learn something soon as players will be coming back to campus for summer session.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, last one ...
Adam, love your blog. I think an overlooked aspect of the Wisconsin defense is Chris Borland. Do you think he will have a big impact this year coming off of an injury all last year? I am assuming he will have a JJ Watt effect on the defense.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
Jeff, Borland is a huge factor for the Badgers. If he gets back to his 2009 form, linebacker could be a major strength for UW. I like the J.J. Watt comparison, only because Borland, like Watt, impacts a game in so many ways. Borland really fills up the stat sheet, much like Watt did in his career.
Adam Rittenberg (1:02 PM)
OK, guys, great participation today! Sorry to those who didn't get their questions posted. There are hundreds coming at me at once. Talk to you again next week!