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)
I'm here, let's do this! I might type slower today as I do curls with my Dan Persa Heisman dumbbells.
John (Newlexington Oh)
Who do you think is most likley to be the starter at running back for TOSU for the first five games.
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
John, I've heard Jaamal Berry will be the guy, but we'll have to see how camp goes. Hearing Jordan Hall will be used more as a split end, which isn't a bad idea given the major depth problems at receiver for the first five games. Interested to see how Rod Smith fits into the mix.
Rick (Adel, Ga.)
Adam: Do you see Michigan's offense helping their defense by playing a more time-of-possession type game? Do you think that they will let the play clock wind down more than they did last year where everything was hurry up? Im sure the play-calling wont be any less aggressive but it seems to me that it will help if they took their time to the line of scrimmage instead of the no-huddle last year.
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Rick, from a macro sense, getting away from the spread offense should help the defense. I remember the late Randy Walker always telling me how the way Northwestern played offense (spread, hurry-up) did the defense no favors. That said, I don't think Michigan will actively try to bleed the clock with the new offense, and playing at a quick pace with a guy like Denard Robinson can work to a team's advantage and put the defense on its heels.
Adam I have to say I know why you put Iowas key stretch as MSU, Michigan, @ Purdue and @ Nebraska but I think the first 4 games in the B10 are more important. @ PSU, NW, Indiana and @ Minnesota. Iowa is a relatively young team and needs to get off to a good start in league play and needs to go at least 3-1 in this stretch or the last 4 games wont really matter. The road game at PSU will be a great barometer for how far along this team is and the home game against NW gives us a chance to purge some demons.
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Rob, in a way we're both right. Any stretch can be called "key" for different reasons. That said, your stretch includes two crossover games (PSU, Indiana) and two games where Iowa should be favored, possibly by a lot (Indiana, Minnesota). While the Penn State and Northwestern games are important to gain confidence, Iowa has to take care of business down the stretch with three division opponents.
What do you think of Pelini saying the refs in the A&M game last year said they were going to give Nebraska bad calls?
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
It's interesting, Jake, but I'd like to hear a little more from Bo and others on the topic. The Big 12 will flatly deny these accusations, so is there more evidence? I found it a notable comment, but I'd like to see more.
Kurt E. (Chesapeake, Virginia)
Adam,With it looking like the Big Ten will move to a 9 game conference schedule, do you think that it could soon become the same across College Football?...after all, the Big 12 is doing it starting this season. I think it would take the "Big Ten will have 6 more losses than other conferences" out of the equation if all of the major conferences had a 9 game conference schedule.
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Kurt, this is an interesting point. I wonder if the SEC ever would go to a 9-game conference schedule. There doesn't seem to be too much momentum to do so at the moment, but things could change. There certainly are pros and cons to each setup, but with the Big 12, Pac-12 and (eventually) Big Ten going to nine games, the trend is building.
Hey Adam, which team(s) do you think will surprise everyone in the Big Ten this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Chris, I'd watch out for Illinois. The Illini bring back a nice nucleus and might have the most favorable schedule in the conference with eight home games, including both Ohio State and Wisconsin coming to Champaign. Illinois must plug some holes on defense, but talent rarely has been the issue under Ron Zook. Keep an eye on the Orange and Blue.
Jeremy (Marshalltown, IA)
I love watching JoePa's press conferences. His press conference at Big Ten media days is no different. He has the respect matched by no coach and has the loyalty that will probably never be seen again. Do you think there should be a coaching award named after him? And what should coaches need to do to earn the award?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Jeremy, there actually is an award named for Paterno, which started in 2010. The Joseph V. Paterno award recognizes a coach who reflects Paterno's dedication to student-athletes and his work to advance universities beyond athletics.
Adam, when you're done curling those Persa dumbells can you mention who you think the other top Heisman candidates are right now in the B1G?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
Ha, I'll never stop, Ted! You have to include Denard Robinson, who has national name recognition. Also would include Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins, who helped his cause with the media last week in Chicago. Wisconsin RBs Montee Ball and James White, and possibly Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez could be in the mix as well.
Illini Mike (Chicago)
Adam, William's suspension really hurts Illinois at a position they can't afford to loose depth at. Any word on who VicK will be looking at to step up, maybe even change positions?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Mike, it's definitely a blow losing Williams to suspension. I would look at the two sophomore LBs, Johnathan Brown and Houston Bates. Brown played a lot last year and Bates seemed to come on during spring ball. Both players should see the field a lot in camp.
Hoke (Ann Arbor)
Spurrier reinstated Garcia. Kelly reinstated Floyd. Should I follow suit and reinstate Stonum? Or should I actually set an example to the kids and show that their actions during the off-season is just as damaging to the team as if it were during the season. Im asking advice because im too busy cleaning dishes from our recruiting BBQ this weekend.
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Shouldn't you have a student manager on dish duty, Brady? It does seem like repeat offenders in college football keep getting more chances, especially if they're critical to a team's success. I'd like to see Darryl Stonum on the field at some point this fall, if he's doing what is asked of him right now. But some type of game penalty should be in order, as it should have been with Michael Floyd.
What happens when there are 2) BIG games in the same time slot on the BTN
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Brad, BTN has several spillover channels. Not sure what type of cable setup you have, but if you have satellite, you'll be able to find all the BTN channels so you can see all the games at once.
Coach Dantonio said that Tyler Hoover is up to 290 lbs. Do you see MSU trying some 3-4 defensive sets this season? They tried some last season, but abandoned it pretty quick
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
That's interesting, Michael. Hoover's increased size gives him some flexibility to play inside or as a big defensive end. You could use Worthy as the nose and have Hoover alongside him, creating some size, along with a rush end like William Gholston or Marcus Rush. I would point out that Anthony Rashad White has a really nice spring, and I'd expect to see him alongside Worthy as the other DT quite a bit this season. I think you'll see Worthy and White as the DTs, and Hoover and Gholston as the DEs in the base 4-3.
Since Gunner Kiel committed to Indiana, can we expect decent recruits to go Hoosier?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Indiana should absolutely use Kiel's comment as a way to attract other top recruits. While the Hoosiers typically recruit well at wide receiver and should continue to do so, Kiel's presence also could be attractive for offensive linemen, RBs, TEs, etc. He should help the staff get in with other players considering top programs.
TJ (St. Paul MN)
Adam, The media and other coaches are speaking favorably of Jerry Kill, by the Gophers are still a 3-4 win team at most this year right? There is no talent on that defense.
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
The defense is definitely questionable, TJ. But I like what the Gophers have coming back at linebacker, and there's some talent in the secondary, though not much depth. The big question is whether Minnesota can generate a more consistent pass rush. Tracy Claeys wants to turn his D-linemen loose, so he'll be willing to take some chances. Still, I think Minnesota is probably a year away from a real breakthrough.
Al (New York, NY)
Adam, in selecting questions to put on the chat, do you not put some up because A. Someone submits the Q too much that it's annoying B. The question is not good enough C. you're too bombarded with questions that you have to pick one at random or D. Any combination of the above? I'm just wondering if you reward loyal readers when they value your opinion enough to take time out of their workday to submit numerous questions. Thanks
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Al, for the most part, the answer is C. You wouldn't believe how many questions are filing in at once, and I can't get to them all (not even close). I will say those folks who submit questions 100 times in a row won't get picked. It's annoying and messes up the feed. There are some folks that get questions answered here more often than others, but it's generally because they ask good questions, not because they're more loyal than other users.
Adam, Any word on assignments yet? I have a couch for you for Oct 1 in Madison considering all the hotels are sold out.
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
Haha, I might take you up on that, Brian! No word on assignments yet, not even for Week 1, much less Week 5. But I know if it's up to me, I'm coming to Mad-town for the Huskers-Badgers.
Luke Fickell (Columbus)
Adam,How many wins is it going to take to keep my job? Or, am I the captain aboard a sinking ship?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Ah, a question I'm sure is on your mind a lot these days, Luke. I think if you win 10 games, you make it hard for Ohio State to let you go. Nine wins would make the decision tough, and anything less than that probably means a change at the top. A lot depends on how the team conducts itself, whether there are disciplinary issues, whether Ohio State wins a division title, etc.
Most likely heisman candidate out of State College in the next year or two?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Silas Redd. He has the explosiveness and big-play ability you need to attract national attention. I'm also interested to see how much Rob Bolden has improved from last season.
With James Vandenberg's stronger arm and apparently quick ability to learn and lead, will he surpass Stanzi's achievments at Iowa?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Ted, it'll be tough to top The Manzi, but Vandenberg has earned the trust of his teammates and coaches despite his limited time on the field in games. Stanzi was a truly exceptional leader who made big plays in clutch situations for much of his career. He really had a very good season in 2010 for the most part, although he struggled late in games. Vandenberg has a chance to be very good, and spending a few years behind Stanzi should serve him well.
AR, when do you think JoaPa makes decision regarding QB? I think practice starts tomorrow right? I believe the sooner the better. your thought?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Todd, I'd expect a decision on the starter by Aug. 20, maybe even sooner. Penn State doesn't want things to drag on too long in camp, and it seemed like the coaches had a pretty good handle on who would emerge as the top guy coming out of the spring. So the wait won't be nearly as long as it was last year.
Adam...what do you think it will take for Roy Roundtree to finally earn the #1 jersey?
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Dave, I was just thinking about this the other day. I'd expect Brady Hoke to bring back the No. 1 jersey this year, and Roundtree is the leading choice to receive it. He has done a lot of good things on the field and has been a solid citizen off of it. He's a legit All-Big Ten candidate. So if he has a productive camp, he should get it. He clearly wants it.
I am a Waffle Av (Wisconsin)
I was looking at some clips of Russell Wilson from last year, and I have to say I am impressed. With some TE, O-Line and WR support, I see no reason why we shouldn't be in NC consideration.Heck Oregon lost the Rose Bowl and made an appearance in the natty the following year, why can't the same happen to the Badgers?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Good point, Waffle. Wilson certainly has talent around him at RB and offensive line, although he could use a few more options to emerge at receiver or tight end. The bottom line is he very well could be the missing piece to put Wisconsin over the top in the Leaders division. His experience also should help when the Badgers visit East Lansing, Columbus and Champaign.
Joe (Omaha, Nebraska)
Hey Adam! What will the atmosphere be like when Ohio State comes to Lincoln? Will it be the loudest stadium they go to all year? Thanks! GO HUSKERS!!!
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
Joe, we here in Big Ten country are used to some raucous environments. I'm sure Lincoln will be crazy on Oct. 8, but this Buckeyes team played at Madison at night in 2010 and at Penn State in the late afternoon/early evening in 2009. Ohio State also won in a very loud Kinnick Stadium last year. So while the Buckeyes will have to keep their composure at Memorial Stadium, the environment won't be totally unfamiliar to them.
Pat Fitzgerald and the wildcats record in 2011 will be.......
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
7-5. The nonconference schedule isn't easy, and I could see Northwestern losing to BC or Army. While having Persa back is big, there are a few question marks on the defensive side. I see Northwestern as a 6- to 9-win team, with 7-5 or 8-4 as the most likely results.
Adam, do you think that PSU will be going to more of a run-first offense? I know that it would be a waste of some very good talent at WR, but I'm not sure of how much trust Galen/Jay have in their qb, whoever that ends up being.
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Tommy, I think Galen and Jay have more trust in their quarterbacks now than they did a year ago, when they tried to spark Evan Royster and the run game and failed to do so. A lot depends on the offensive line, but I'd be surprised if Penn State didn't feature its passing game and arguably the Big Ten's best receiver in Derek Moye, not to mention some exciting players like Brown, Smith, etc.
Teddyrukk (Blue Springs Mo)
Adam, do you think the Huskers could make the BSC title game with one loss due to the strength of their schedule??
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
It would be tough, Teddy. One spot is pretty much reserved for the SEC champion, even with one loss. So Nebraska would need losses from Oregon, Stanford, Oklahoma, Florida State and maybe Boise State to get into the game with one loss. I have a tough time seeing a 1-loss Big Ten team making it to New Orleans.
Steve (Grand Rapids, MI)
Adam, do you think Mark Dantonio has gotten under the skin of Michigan fans or what? I used to hear so much how they didn't even consider MSU a rival, but they sure seem to chirp about him a lot these days.
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
I think it's less about Dantonio and more about the fact Michigan State has won the past three meetings. While I think Brady Hoke will use anything to stoke the rivalry, including any potentially juicy comments from Dantonio, I get the sense Michigan fans are simply annoyed by losing to the Spartans. I don't see Dantonio as a particularly controversial character.
Would you prefer to see a rematch in the BIG Championship Game, or two teams that didn't meet in the regular season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Nick, I have less of a problem with rematches than a lot of college football fans/media members. If Nebraska and Wisconsin play in the title game after meeting on Oct. 1, that's fine by me. Circumstances for both teams will have changed. It's always nice to see unique matchups, but even if Michigan and Ohio State met in back-to-back weeks, it wouldn't be the end of the world. The championship game is its own entity, and it generates its own type of excitement.
Scott (New Jersey)
Adam, we have seen time and time again that teams not named Ohio State do not know how to manage expectations. See Iowa last year. To me I see a very rough go of it for the Spartans this year, and I think as good as Wisky was last year, they lost JJ Watt who was a freak, and are relying a lot on Chris Borland to stay healthy. Am I wrong in thinking that there will be two dissapointed fan bases as for it is a lot easier to fight when no one expects you to win, but when you have a bullseye on your back is when you find out if you are a real team.
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Scott, I think this is an important and relevant question. Iowa failed to meet expectations in 2010, Michigan State fell short in 2009 and Wisconsin fell short in 2008. If any of those programs wants to truly be elite, they have to back up the hype and meet the demands year after year. It'll be an important test for both UW and MSU this year, while Iowa could be especially dangerous because it's under the radar.
Charlie (Turlock Ca)
CM Punk or John Cena?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Ha, I'm out of the WWE loop these days. If you asked me "Superfly" Snuka vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, I'd give you an answer. Will need to defer this question to wrestling fan Kevin Wilson and his Indiana assistants.
Eric (Rhode Island)
Adam, when does Ohio State find out the punishments for their infractions?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
The Committee on Infractions typically takes 8-12 weeks to render a decision. While I'm sure everyone involved wants a decision sooner than that, we probably won't get one until mid to late October.
Adam, how do you foresee Coach Pelini and his QB getting along this season? I know there was some tension there last season and no offense but Bo doesn't seem like the easiest guy to get along with.
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Ted, it seems like both Taylor Martinez and Bo Pelini have grown a bit since their issues last season. Obviously, Martinez's maturing was more important for the Huskers, but I also think Pelini has more respect for Martinez after watching the way he approached the offseason. A lot depends on how Martinez performs in the new offense. Pelini said last week he isn't the type of coach to bite his tongue. He's going to be emotional and players will have to deal with that type of coaching.
If you go through this entire chat without telling me whether you think USC's troubles with mobile QBs and Lane Kiffin's lack of coaching acumen give the Gophers a decent chance at the upset, I'm gonna hold Mark May hostage and force him to watch Penn State games on a loop.
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Haha, now that's a threat, Mike! USC's troubles with mobile quarterbacks has a lot to do with Oregon, and while I love MarQueis Gray's potential, he's no Darron Thomas or Jeremiah Masoli just yet. This is a great opportunity for Minnesota to surprise people, but I can't say I love this matchup as the opener. You're on the road in a tough setting against a team still stocked with elite talent. We'll see what happens, but I'm not overly optimistic about the Gophers in that one.
Brian Bennett (On the Bench)
Put me in coach! Im ready to run my own chat session!
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Patience, Bennett. Where's my lunch?
This one is for your wife:I understand you don't own a suit or know how to tie a tie, but couldn't you at least comb your hair and wear a shirt that fits for B1G media days? With sleeves roughly 17" too long and messy hair, you were an eye patch and some stubble away from a pirate costume.
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
haha! she'll love this note. Can't say you're wrong, and I'll try to do better during the season. She does love pirates, though.
Jackie (Madison, WI)
Do you forsee the badgers making a big heisman push for Montee Ball like NU is doing for Persa? Or will it be too hard for him to get enough attention sharing carries with James White (and probably Russell Wilson)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Jackie, I can't see it because Ball will be sharing carries with White, who also could be a Heisman candidate. I get the sense Wisconsin fans want to see Ball as the featured back more than White, and that may end up being the case, but the Badgers aren't going to promote one back for the Heisman when both backs are potentially elite players.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Last one for the day ...
@Jaymikk (Iowa City, IA)
Mike Daniels had a huge year last season. Do you think he can continue reproducing at this level or will his numbers decline with the departure of Clayborn, Ballard, and Klug?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
Jay, I think Daniels benefited from playing alongside three future NFL draft picks last year, but he also will take his game to another level this year. He's an extremely hard worker, a very serious dude who can make plays at the tackle position. Daniels will have to produce this fall and make his teammates around him better as depth is a concern for Iowa up front.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
That's all the time I have today. Great chat, as always. We'll do it again next week.