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 everyone, I'm here. Let's get started.
A lot of potential in this league. Which school do you think has the best chance of winning a National Championship first?
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Kyle, Ohio State has been the only Big Ten team to reach the national title game in the BCS era, and you could argue the Buckeyes have the best chance to get back there with Urban Meyer taking over. But Michigan is moving in that direction, and teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State are on the rise. It will be interesting to see if Nebraska can get to that level again.
Why the assumption that Wisconsin would have beaten MSU if not for the hail mary? The game was tied when it happened and it took 2 exceptional plays from Wilson to get to that point in the first place. MSU scored a TD in the redzone with 2 other 30+ yard TDs in the game while MSU had held Wisconsin to 2 FG attempts and blocked 1 in the process, plus MSU had home field. Big OT advantage to MSU.
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Scott, while I'd agree that we shouldn't assume Wisconsin would have won the game, to say "big OT advantage" is also incorrect. Wisconsin had all the momentum at the end of regulation, having scored two touchdowns to tie the score. Montee Ball was healthy again, and Wisconsin is virtually unstoppable in the red zone. Would give the Badgers the edge in OT, but Michigan State certainly could have won.
Tom (Lincoln Park)
Adam, what is the deal with the lack of ticket sales to the Big 10 title game? Rumor has it that Wisconsin hasn't sold their tickets. Is this a reflection of the rematch, the fan bases, or the fact that this game doesn't have Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State or Nebraska in it?
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Tom, it's a bit surprising Wisconsin didn't sell its allotment like Michigan State did, but I wouldn't be worried about the game selling out. I think some fan bases are deciding whether to spend money on a title game trip and a bowl game. Tough to do both for some folks.
Adam (Austin, TX)
Did Urban Meyer gain any unfair advantage with his Big Ten commentator duties this season? Like many commentators, I'm assuming Meyer had access to many Big Ten team's practices and training facilities.
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
Adam (great name), Bret Bielema joked about this when asked about Meyer's move to Ohio State, as Meyer visited quite a few programs in the spring. I think his ESPN duties will help him to a degree, but watching one practice only tells you so much. It still comes down to recruiting for Ohio State and developing the Buckeyes' players. The schematics are part of it, but it's still all about development.
Adam, Who do you think is in the running for OC under Urban Meyer? (Making the wild assumption that Bollman will not be asked to stick around...)
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
The LSU offensive coordinator has been mentioned as a candidate. Dabo Swinney said he hasn't been contacted about Clemson's OC. The bigger hires, in my opinion, will be on the defensive side.
GBK (Lincoln Park)
Adam, how is it that David Molk can be named Offensive Lineman of the year, yet be 2nd team all Big 10?
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Clearly the votes were fairly split between Molk and Wisconsin center Peter Konz, who was first-team All-Big Ten on the other list. The league lacked many elite tackles, and it's unlikely the award ever would go to a guard. So it came down to Molk and Konz.
Adam, I disagree with Miller being freshman of the year, Michigan had 3 freshman on defense that help Michigan more than Miller helped Ohio, what is your respose
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
You're wrong. Quarterback helps a team more than any other position. Miller won the Wisconsin game with his play-making ability and should have led Ohio State to another win at Purdue if the Buckeyes could convert the PAT. Michigan had some nice freshmen contributors, but honestly, it was between Miller and Michigan State DE Marcus Rush for me.
Bo Pelini (Lincoln NE)
Sounds like my brother is looking at a head coaching job at FAU.... Do you have Mike Stoops phone number? I need to talk to him....
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Ha, I'm pretty sure you have that number, Bo, maybe on speed dial. We'll see what happens with Carl, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Mike Stoops coaching in the Big Ten next year.
Bryan (Wyomissing, PA)
Why would the Insight overlook PSU? Of course the Scandal, but they bring better ratings/fans than any other team in consideration (and much better records)
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
The scandal matters to bowls, which want positive story lines leading up to the game. Also keep in mind that the Insight is part of the Fiesta Bowl group, which has had its share of bad publicity in the last few years. Probably would be a smart move to stay away from PSU.
Marty (Oakland, IA)
Adam, with all of the coaching changes underway across the nation, do you see anymore changes in the Big 10?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
I don't, Marty. We've already seen the job filled at Ohio State. Penn State and Illinois are both open. That should be it unless there's a big surprise or two. Danny Hope will be fine at Purdue for another year, especially with the Boilers becoming bowl-eligible.
Michigan seems to be headed in the right direction. Alabama is going to be strong again next year, but is losing a lot of very talented players. If it's not too early, what is your prediction on the 2012 Michigan vs. Alabama game?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
Mike, it should be a really fun game. Michigan will need to reload on the defensive line after losing Martin and Van Bergen. But I'd expect the Wolverines' D to continue to improve under Greg Mattison. The game will come down to Denard Robinson and his effectiveness against an always fast and athletic Alabama D. VERY interested to see how Michigan's offense looks next year, if it's still spread-y or more West Coast.
John (Harrisburg, pa)
Adam, I thought the Big 10 had a rule that any team with 2 or more loss than Penn State could not jump ahead of them in the bowl selection
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
John, that rule only applies for the Capital One and Outback bowls. The other rule for selection applies to the Big Ten title game loser, which can't fall below the Insight or Gator, depending on how many teams are in BCS games. But after that, there aren't hard-and-fast rules on which teams can be selected.
Mike (LV, NV)
You guys gonna do a wrap on each team? I'm curious what your thoughts are on NE in year 1. Pelini wouldn't admit it coming in but the B1G is a tuff slate top to bottom (hello Northwestern). Big 12 may be top heavy but they had weeks off in that conf. What is your take? I think what we found is in NE you have another upper level team, but no way were they going to come in and dominate
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Mike, we'll be doing our season wrap-ups soon, so keep checking the blog. I agree with you on Nebraska -- good program with some nice ingredients but needs to take the next step. Year 1 in a new league is always challenging, and Nebraska had two really bad days and another shaky one against Northwestern. Next year will come down to developing the defense after losing stars Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard.
Adam, although you said you weren't concerned about the B1G title game selling out, what do you think about this Craigslist Ad posted on MGoBlog recruiting seat-fillers and the report that there are 9000 tickets for sale on Stubhub for $10? Doesn't sound like the inaugral championship game is a big hit so far, does it?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Only going to address this once. Craig's List ad is not from the Big Ten. It's bogus and shouldn't have been reported by some who should know better. While there are some seats available, I think the event will still be a sellout or close to it.
Gary (Washington DC)
Adam, Dan Mullen or Tim Murphy at PSU. I'm not assuming either is seriously considering (or being considered), but if you were PSU, who's better for the big picture?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Gary, think Mullen is interested and so is Penn State. Murphy is an intriguing name, and I've heard great things about him (though I don't know him). He's certainly be the high-character hire many believe Penn State needs. Mullen also an interesting choice -- good offensive mind, young guy.
Why do we hear the excuse about Urban Meyer "only winning with Ron Zook's recruits" at Florida but Brady Hoke is some sort of genius for doing the exact same thing at Michigan? (winning with Rich Rod's recruits)
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Brian, I see your point, but we're talking about different levels. Urban won a national championship in 2006. Michigan has had a nice turnaround season under Hoke. I personally think coaches should get credit for winning with the players they have, no matter who recruits them. But people will always look to build up some coaches and tear down others.
Pete (Chicago )
Do you think that Mike Leach is in the running for Illinois HC?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
Pete, we'll see, but I think the search would be focused more on Big Ten coordinators (Chryst and Narduzzi) and others with coaching ties to the Midwest (Tim Beckman, etc.)
Any reason Chryst's name hasn't been thrown around in the PSU coach search?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Steven, I think it's more likely Penn State brings in a guy with head-coaching experience. Different type of job, different circumstances. Would help to have a guy who has overseen a program before.
Mike (New Jersey)
Did you read John U. Bacon's "Three and Out" chronicling Michigan under Rich Rodriguez? If so, thoughts? I believe Rich Rod got a raw deal in Ann Arbor and was clearly sabotaged by certain folks from the start. That said, it would have certainly helped if he was able to convince Jeff Casteel to come along.
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
Mike, I did read the book and there were some interesting elements for sure. Definitely think Rodriguez had his obstacles in Ann Arbor. Then again, he made several missteps and clearly could have done better with the defense. Agree on the Casteel point.
Sparty would be VERY wise to write Narduzzi a large check...
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
I think it's coming, Blair, but it might not matter if he's offered some head-coaching jobs.
Urban Meyer (CBus)
Adam sine you see the Buckeyes play alot oor than me this year who should be my starting tailback?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Very interesting question, Urban. Jordan Hall seems like the type of back you have used in the past -- smaller, fast, versatile. I'm interested to see where Carlos Hyde would fit into your offense. Might be more of a pro-style back.
Ted (Amarillo, TX)
Don't want to lose him, but any chance Ken O'Keefe gets some interest from Illinois? I know his name came up for the Indiana job.
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
Ted, not sure if you're an Iowa fan who just wants to be rid of O'Keefe (there are plenty). But no, I don't think he'll be seriously considered at Illinois.
Going back to PSU and the Insight, if PSU is overlooked, how does that affect other teams looking for bowls? Would it move other teams up, or shift the whole pack down?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Carl, you can check out our bowl projections, but it wouldn't change things too much. The Gator Bowl has expressed interest in Ohio State, and I don't think Penn State would go to a bowl ahead of Wisconsin, Michigan State, Nebraska or Michigan. So the only team that might move up is Iowa.
Ron (Los Angeles)
Will Purdue's head coach return in 2012? I feel he is an average coach at a school who could do better.
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Ron, no indications that Purdue will make a change. Danny Hope should be back for Year 4. He'll need to take things to another level for sure, as you're not the only one who feels that way about him.
Adam, Do you think Norm will be back next year for the Hawkeyes? If he doesnt come back do you think KF will promote from within or go elsewhere.
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
Ron, it will be very interesting. Could see Norm stepping down after the bowl game, but he still loves coaching. If so, I'd expect Ferentz to look to the outside.
You said DC would be a bigger hire at OSU. Is Mike Stoops looking like the favorite at this point?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
His name has been rumored, Brian, but Urban Meyer also said Luke Fickell will have a significant role on staff. Maybe it's assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator, but can't think Fickell wouldn't be a coordinator, if only in title.
John (Ann Arbor)
Do you dislike me or just my question?? What's the problem with keeping the bowl system exactly as is.. except instead of 6 BCS bowls, you have those teams selected go to the BCS tournament??
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
John, and this goes for all of you, if you keep submitting questions over and over, I'm less likely to answer. ... Depends on the tournament. If it's a plus-one, you can keep the bowls in place. If not, would be tough logistically if you don't want to play into mid-January.
Koop (B1G Hanout)
Ball. NFL or Heisman next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Would be really surprised if Ball returns. He's a running back. He has proven himself at this level. Only so many hits you can take. He should go pro.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
I don't think any fan is overly pleased to see the Big 10 championship game in Indianapolis. Do you know why they didn't go to a home-site avenue like the Pac 10 did?
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Chris, I think most Big Ten fans preferred a neutral site, which evens the playing field for a league that lacks a round-robin schedule. The big debate was Chicago vs. Indy, which should continue in the coming years.
What do the Badgers need to do to win this weekend? I'm thinking it is mostly avoid mistakes.
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
Two biggest keys: stop Michigan State more effectively on third down and avoid a breakdown in the kicking game. Those two areas have really hurt Wisconsin in last two losses to the Spartans.
4dorr (B1G Hangout)
Will Ohio State follow through and pay big money for Meyer's assistants? This could help lead to a good trend in the B1G and others may follow, could lead to a better product on the field.
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
I agree, 4dorr. And Ohio State will be opening its wallet to pay Meyer's assistants. No way Meyer takes the job without assurances he can bring in more high-profile assistants than the Buckeyes have had. With Michigan paying Mattison big bucks, it seems like the Big Ten is getting on board with paying assistants more money.
David (Chicago, IL)
Why is it taking SO long for the NCAA to decide on the penalty for OSU? It have nearly been a year since the Tat-gate came to light. Justice delayed is justice not served.
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
While the NCAA investigative process takes way too long, Ohio State shouldn't be given a pass. The Buckeyes had multiple violations that needed to be investigated, and the school took a while in preparing its report to the NCAA on the DiGeronimo violations.
Pat (Albany NY)
What bowl do you really think Michigan will play in-I don't think they will get into top 14 of bcs so where does that leave them?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Pat, before the latest BCS standings, I really thought Michigan looked great for the Sugar Bowl. Now I'm not nearly as certain. The Wolverines definitely need LSU to beat Georgia on Saturday. Michigan also should root for Texas to beat Baylor and Michigan State to beat Wisconsin. I do think if Michigan is in the top 14, even at No. 14, it will receive an at-large berth.
Alan (Los Angeles)
What does Jim Phillips have to do to get the Cats out of Detroit and over to the Kraft Hunger Bowl in San Fran. You know we have the alumni to pack the place.
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
Alan, it's a tricky position for Phillips, who knows Northwestern fans would much rather go to San Francisco. Then again, the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is a Big Ten tie-in. If Detroit wants the Cats, that's where Northwestern goes. In some ways, Northwestern would benefit from the Big Ten getting only one team in the BCS bowls. Could open up more opportunities for at-large bowls.
Mark (Salt Lake City)
Would the conference ever consider a ban on playing non-BCS schools in the OOC schedule, or alternatively, a restriction on number of MAC programs teams could play in a year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Mark, the problem is the Big Ten actually encourages its teams to play MAC opponents. It's basically an agreement between the two leagues. But it absolutely kills the Big Ten in the computer rankings because the MAC has been so weak in recent years.
Ron (Los Angeles)
Great 2010 and 2011 seasons from Michigan State, but with the team losing their underrated QB plus perhaps some assistant coaches, what are their chances of remaining this strong, especially now that Ohio State and Michigan have hired such prominent coaches?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Ron, this is an interesting question. The thing to remember, as Mark Dantonio pointed out this week, is that Michigan State has recruited really well the last few years. I only see the Spartans getting better and better on defense, and they feel good about the QBs behind Cousins. While there could be a drop-off next year, I think Michigan State is here to stay.
Adam, what needs to happen this weekend to get Ball the Heisman?
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
Jarrod, he'd need to have a ridiculous performance (300+ yards, 4-5 TDs), but even then it would be tough. Ball is hurt by the fact the top two candidates, Richardson and Luck, aren't playing this weekend. So they can't hurt their cases, which are already very strong.
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
I would expect, however, for Ball to get an invite to New York if he has a big game against MSU.
Ron (Los Angeles)
Given your comment below, I feel Ohio State (and certainly Penn State) should sit out this bowl season. Wouldn't that be the right thing to do (see Miami Fla)?While the NCAA investigative process takes way too long, Ohio State shouldn't be given a pass. The Buckeyes had multiple violations that needed to be investigated, and the school took a while in preparing its report to the NCAA on the DiGeronimo violations.
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
Ron, you have to weigh whether a bowl ban is coming from the NCAA. There's little doubt Miami is looking at a bowl ban for its alleged violations. Ohio State, meanwhile, has maintained all along that its violations don't merit a bowl ban. The only reason to change now is that the team is 6-6. Penn State's situation is truly unique, and the NCAA's involvement seems a bit confusing and hard to predict. While there could be sanctions, I think Penn State should play in a bowl game because its players, who did nothing wrong, deserve the chance.
Who is your pick for the IL job?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
John, I'd really like Paul Chryst to get the job. He's ready to be a head coach and has a proven system on offense that succeeds in college and gets guys to the NFL. While he'd have to grow into a head-coaching role, I think he can do really well.
So it gets really old when you say Montee Ball totally deserves Heisman consideration, yet when you vote you don't give him a first or second place vote. Hypocrite much?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
He's my third choice, what can I say? I have a Heisman vote and I might move him up after this weekend. Heisman consideration in my mind means top 5 and an invitation to New York. Unfortunately for Montee, Trent Richardson is having a phenomenal season, and I believe Richardson should be No. 1 right now.
I would think Fickle would be better off taking a head coaching job at a mid major (MAC, WAC etc) and polishing up his game management than staying at OSU and being at best a DC (or your words co-DC), wouldn't you?
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Floyd, it's an interesting question. What would be best for Fickell is to take his first head-coaching job at a major-conference program. I don't think going to the MAC is a good route for him. He should be able to skip that step and start off in a major league, perhaps even another Big Ten program.
Assuming PSU doesn't keep Bradley and the rest of the staff, do you think any of their defensive coaches end up at OSU?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Doubt it, Mike, but we'll see. Don't think those guys have any connections to Meyer. But I'd think Penn State's assistants will be in high demand. Northwestern, for example, should take a very hard look at making some defensive staff changes after this season. Penn State would be a good place to look.
Were do you think nebraska will be at this time next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Vern, it will be interesting. Think Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State are the top three teams in the Legends division next year. Nebraska's overall schedule seems a bit more favorable than it was this year, but the Huskers might have the weakest defense of the three squads. Wouldn't surprise me to see Nebraska in Indy next year, but the defense will be the key for Bo Pelini's crew.
Last Chance at this question I guess... Any chance that Kirk Herbstreit leaves ESPN to take the Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach job at Ohio State with Urban? They are really close friends and Herbie is a Natural Fit with the program.
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Nope, not happening. Herbie already has said he's staying put. And why wouldn't be? Guy has a great job and does phenomenal work.
Aaron (Grand Rapids, MI)
With Michigans recruiting of top Ofennsive Lineman, how do you feel about the potential of Michigan running back Fitz Toussaint and his chances at potentially winning the heisman in the next two years?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
We'll have to see, Aaron, but Fitz really impressed me down the stretch. His best chance might come when Denard Robinson departs as he could be the focal point of the offense, the big name everyone's talking about. I'm interested to see how Fitz fares when Michigan goes more toward the offense Al Borges ran at SDSU.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
OK, last one for the day ...
Jared (San Diego)
Who wins the B1G this year? Wisconsin or MSU? Got a bold prediction for next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
You'll have to wait until tomorrow for our predictions, but it should be an excellent football game. Very excited. Next year should be interesting, too. Ohio State could be the favorite in the Leaders division. Legends division once again should be very competitive with MSU, Michigan, Nebraska and maybe Iowa.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Thanks for the chat.