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.
Zac (Ann Arbor MI)
Why are you so confident Ohio will be elite, but less confident Michigan will?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Because Ohio State was elite from 2005-10, and Ohio State has recruited at a higher level than Michigan for most of that span. I'm not saying Michigan can't get to elite status as well, and Brady Hoke's first season both on the field and on the recruiting trail has been encouraging. But as I'll explain in a later post -- and as I have in previous posts -- Michigan has a lot to prove, and the 2012 schedules is the type that erase all doubts about your program or increase them substantially. I'm very encouraged by what I've seen from Michigan, but the 2011 schedule is a cakewalk compared with what Michigan faces in 2012.
Adam: Better gameday experience... Michigan Stadium, The Horseshoe or Notre Dame stadium?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Good question, Cory. I still have a soft spot for Notre Dame Stadium even though I haven't covered a game there since 2007. While I liked very little about covering the Notre Dame football beat, the game days were outstanding. As far as electricity, you can't beat Ohio Stadium at night. That place is hostile. And Michigan Stadium has been getting better. I always enjoy the atmosphere in Ann Arbor on Saturdays.
Kyle (Greensboro )
Who will be the best running back next season in the B10
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Montee Ball enters the season as the league's most decorated back, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone else has a more productive season. Players like Nebraska's Rex Burkhead, Penn State's Silas Redd, Michigan's Fitzgerald Toussaint and Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell all are candidates for big 2012 seasons.
Jeff (Woodridge, IL)
How long until we can put JoePa's name back on the title trophy? Or should it be on a new trophy, highest GPA / graduation rate in the BT?
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
Jeff, I wouldn't expect the Big Ten to put Paterno's name on the trophy any time soon, although I do expect the league to honor him in some way.
Adam: My friends and i argue this question all the time: Who is "America's Team" of College Football? The most loved, and the most hated?
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
It's an interesting question, as the most loved team is usually the one with the biggest fan base. I'd put Texas, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Alabama, Penn State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska and several others in that category. Most hated is probably still Notre Dame.
Obviously good receivers make it easier for a QB, but what kind of improvement can Gopher fans expect from Gray if the Gophers land both Harbison and McDonald?
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Kris, I think it's more about Gray than about the receivers. He had Da'Jon McKnight in 2011, and McKnight is a guy with NFL potential. While it's always good to have multiple talented options, I think it's more about how Gray gets more consistent with his mechanics and his decision-making.
Which conference do you see benefiting from the new partnership---Pac 12 or Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Ryan, both leagues should benefit in different ways. The Pac-12 will have a chance to put games from some of its non-rev sports on the Big Ten Network, which provides incredible exposure. The Pac-12 also will benefit from its teams playing name-brand programs like Michigan and Ohio State. The Big Ten will have more potential upside if it knocks off Pac-12 elite teams like USC and Oregon. The Big Ten gets flack for its OOC schedule, but this will help change the perception.
Chad (Dayton, Ohio)
Adam, I'm a huge Wolverines fan, but with Ohio's bowl ban this season, friends and I have discussed the remote possibility of the Buckeyes going 12-0. If they did, or any school in the country with a bowl ban, do you see the AP giving them a share of a National Title?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Chad, I'd doubt it, but you never know. Ohio State likely will have played two fewer games than the BCS national champion (no league title game and no bowl game for Buckeyes). The only chance for a split national title would be if every other team, including the BCS champion, has at least one loss. And even then it would be hard to award a split title. Don't see it happening.
Isn't a scholarship ban basically meaningless when you see USC and OSU recruiting?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Depends on how large the scholarship reduction is. USC's is significant -- 10 per year. Ohio State's isn't nearly as significant -- 3 per year. The Ohio State reductions likely mean a few more walk-ons won't get scholarships. The impact on recruiting seems negligible.
Any idea when us Hawk fans can expect a defensive coordinator? Whos names are out there?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Devon, I can't see this dragging on too much longer. Several NFL names have come up as potential candidates (Del Rio). The possibility of promoting Phil Parker is still out there. Tom Bradley name was mentioned a few weeks ago, but it looks like he might take some time off from coaching. It'll be interesting to see how this ends up.
Adam, how do you see Northwestern's QB derby playing out in 2012? I love me some Kain Colter but I feel the Kain Train should stick to his QB/RB/WR role with Siemian or Oliver taking the snaps on passing downs and drop-back snaps. I feel Kain's too inaccurate to be a true NU QB.
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Tom, you might be right, but if Colter improves his accuracy and arm strength, he could be the best Northwestern quarterback of the bunch because of his running ability. He has to make some strides in the offseason, but after talking with Kain and OC Mick McCall in recent days, it's clear Kain needs to improve his arm strength and his overall strength. He's already put on about 10 pounds since the end of the regular season. While he says his shoulder might never be back to where it was before his injury in high school, he feels the zip is there at times. Should be an interesting spring.
Adam, I am a devoted Husker fan. Do you think that Taylor Martinez was under utilized as a rusher this year? I understand he needs to be protected some so that he remains healthy throughout the season but I think it would put a lot more pressure on defenses if he ran the ball more. Especially since Rex Burkhead has become a dangerous threat this last year.
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
John, I hear you, but you saw in 2010 that Martinez can't be an effective player when he's not at or near 100 percent. Burkhead showed he's more than capable of carrying the load at RB, and Nebraska has some young RBs who should help in that regard. While Martinez has breakaway ability, you need to strike a delicate balance with how much he runs the ball.
After Feb 1st, will you guys be covering each teams recruting class to let us know where they stand?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
David, we will be posting the classes for each Big Ten team when they become available on signing day and providing some analysis. But if you really want major recruiting coverage, check out ESPN Recruiting. Those guys cover recruiting year-round and know exactly what's going on with your teams. While Brian and I have a good handle on the guys already in the league, we're not as focused on recruiting as our colleagues in the recruiting section.
How would you feel about a bowl game being played outdoors at Soldier Field (or some other outdoor Midwestern NFL stadium)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
I think there's a decent chance we see another bowl in Big Ten territory. Whether it's in an outdoor stadium or not remains to be seen. Soldier Field has a long way to go to host these types of events, as we saw during the Big Ten title game bidding process. But if Yankee Stadium can host a bowl game, outdoor venues in the Midwest could be good options going forward.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
I actually feel badly focusing on the future of PSU right now (hard to believe JoePa's really gone), but do you think a lot of tight ends are going to come rushing to PSU now that Coach O'Brien has said he's going to run the "Patriots offense"?
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Lou, that's a great point. Anyone who has seen Rob Gronkowski's emergence with the Patriots has to be excited about the potential with Penn State's tight ends, a group that has been underwhelming in recent years. You can bet O'Brien will sell what he's done with Gronkowski to tight end recruits. Should be an interesting position group to watch in 2012 and beyond.
Indiana's OOC schedule is super weak (Indiana St, UMass, Ball St, and Navy). Do you see them sweeping the OOC, getting two B1G wins and going bowling?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Indiana should fare better in the non-con than it did a year ago (1-3), but a sweep might be asking a lot, even if the slate is weak. Indiana has a lot to fix on the defensive side and questions to answer throughout the roster before we can start talking about going bowling.
Any Big Ten players standing out in the Senior Bowl or hurting themselves?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Posted about this Tuesday and will have more today. Seems like Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins is having a good week. Same goes for Michigan DT Mike Martin. Have heard some mixed reviews on Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard, Iowa WR Marvin McNutt and Ohio State C Mike Brewster.
Fredo (Staten Island)
What are your thoughts on the possibility of Jim Tressell being named the Colts Head Coach?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Fredo, I think it would be fascinating. Tressel is undoubtedly a "college guy" whose style worked extremely well at multiple levels of the college game. He also has coached a lot of NFL-caliber players at Ohio State. On the flip side, his quarterbacks haven't really panned out at the next level. But unlike some guys getting NFL jobs, he knows how to be a head coach and he knows how to handle the pressure in an extremely scrutinized job. In that respect, I don't think he'd be intimidated.
ok Censorship selective to protect espn . You just spoke volumes without saying a word! I hope Todd is not thrown under the bus by ESPN . I understand . Your job could be at risk by addressing my Question!
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Lynn, your question is one of about 500 I get at once, so just relax. Not sure where that video went but we have a bunch of Paterno tribute videos available to watch.
David (south beloit)
had russell wilson been a 4 yr starter at wisconsin? would they have won a bcs champ?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Not if the defense wasn't better, David. We saw in the Rose Bowl against Oregon and in the two games against Michigan State that Wisconsin lacks elite athletes on defense that make it tough to win a national title. Plus, Wisconsin got Russell at his best, as a seasoned senior who was near-flawless on the field.
Who do you think will have the best record next year in the B1G? Wondering if you have the conference champ having the best record or a team who couldn't get into the game...
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Ha, that's a loaded question, David. Right now, I think Ohio State certainly could have the best record in the Leaders division (and not make the title game because of the bowl ban). But I believe the Big Ten champion will come out of the Legends division, whether it's Michigan State (my pick right now), Michigan or Nebraska.
With all this talk about a plus one, has anyone proposed reducing the number of bowl games? I don't see anyone benefiting when a 6-6 team goes to the CrapShoot.com bowl. A lot of people think it's just to make money, but I've read several accounts of smaller schools losing money by making a trip to a mediocre bowl game due to travel expenses and being forced into buying a block of tickets which they can't re-sell. Minnesota is a B1G school that was linked to one of the articles.
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Chad, this issue is definitely being discussed right now. As CBSsports.com reported earlier today, there's a push to increase the bowl-eligibility requirement from six wins to seven wins. This would prevent teams from making bowls but still finishing with losing records, as Northwestern did this year. It would reduce the number of bowl teams but likely enhance the quality of the matchups.
University of Iowa student body (Iowa City (gods country))
Do you think it is unfair that the school is not letting anyone in on what really happened with Marcus Coker, and what the situation with our defensive hirings are? I will bleed black and gold until I die, but i'm really frustrated with how things are being handled in Iowa City. Oh and do you think we will get Alex Kozan this week?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
I understand the secrecy regarding the hiring process, which is not complete. That's not unique to Iowa. But it would have been helpful for Iowa to provide a more detailed explanation about Coker's departure. He was a very high-profile player, and there are a lot of questions about his exit. Universities hide behind privacy laws whenever they can, but I think Iowa fans deserve a better explanation in this case.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Regarding the PAC-12/B1G alliance, are there "safeguards" in place to prevent a Rose Bowl rematch? I think that would really undermine that arrangement at least in terms of football.
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Lou, I think a lot depends on what happens with the BCS, whether there's a plus-one and whether the Rose Bowl is involved with any plus-one system. If the eventual Pac 12 and Big Ten champ play during the regular season and then win the leagues outright and don't reach the national championship or the national semifinals, you'll see them in the Rose Bowl. If there's a year where one champion advances to a semifinal game that isn't the Rose and the Rose can choose from a list of available teams, you could see the Rose take the rematch factor into account. So while you likely will see some Rose rematches some years, it will be the exception rather than the rule.
IU has been racking up the JUCO recruits late, for obvious reasons. Have any specific details on any of them and if any will make an immediate impact?
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Greg, good question. It's not surprising that six of the seven players Indiana already has signed play defense. You don't bring in juco players to sit on the bench. Players like Antonio Marshall and Jacarri Alexander will have opportunities to contribute right away. Indiana's defense should have a pretty different look in 2012.
How likely do you think next year could be the year sparty gets back to the roses?
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
Charles, a lot depends on replacing the skill losses on the offensive side. Kirk Cousins leaves a major void, and while Andrew Maxwell has been groomed for it, he hasn't been in the fire much. The Spartans also must rush the ball more effectively than they did in 2011. But I really love who's coming back on defense, even though Jerel Worthy departs. So many good athletes on that side. Michigan State will have to win with defense, special teams and running the ball, but the Spartans have a good shot to reach Pasadena..
Joel (Bismarck, ND)
Last year you responded to questions about the Big Ten program with the best combination of football and men's BB. Which programs would you identify right now?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
The Michigan schools and Ohio State top the list. Wisconsin isn't far off.
David (south beloit)
Do you Bart Houston can make an impact and be the starter next year?( PS i would love him to return the favor to the Bucks next year and break their hearts like Braxton did us
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
David, I think it would take a lot for Wisconsin to start a true freshman at quarterback, but if Budmayr and Phillips aren't healthy, you never know. I tend to think Budmayr or Joel Stave will be the guy going into the season, but Houston arrives with a lot of hype and a great opportunity in front of him.
Michigan and Ohio State bringing back the Big 2 little 10? I am not looking forward to rematches every other year. I wonder if they announced the division split this year if there thinking would have changed. With Penn State in turmoil, a Michigan/Ohio State/Penn State division doesn't seem that one sided, does it?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Phil, let's hold off on proclaiming it's the "big 2" and everyone else again. Wisconsin is a darn good football program. So is Michigan State. Nebraska just went through its first year in the league. Iowa has shown the ability to compete for Big Ten championships -- the Hawkeyes also have a nice winning streak against Michigan right now. I think the divisions are fine with Wisconsin and Ohio State on one side and Michigan, MSU and Nebraska on the other. The earliest we'll see a Michigan-OSU meeting in the Big Ten title game is 2013. So let's back off this a bit.
Why did you hate covering ND?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
How much time do you have? The head coach wasn't the easiest guy to deal with, although there were other issues.
Dave (Corner of Melrose and Hawkins)
Adam,The general thought has been that Iowa's recent recruiting classes have been some of Kirk's best...how long until we see that play out on the field?
Adam Rittenberg (12:53 PM)
Dave, you might get a good gauge this coming season, particularly on defense. Iowa has a lot of holes to fill, particularly up front, and younger players could and should work their way into the mix. Iowa also needs playmakers on offense at wide receiver and running back.
Bob (Cary NC)
An undefeated MSU, Nebraska or UM would be a contender for a spot in the title game? What if the SEC and P10 produced undefeated teams? Would the B1G be third?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Bob, it would be interesting it it were between an undefeated USC and an undefeated Big Ten team. USC might be the preseason No. 1, and it seemingly would be tough for a Big Ten team to leapfrog the Trojans. Michigan State and Michigan could be preseason top 10, and both squads have some big-ticket nonconference games, (Bose State, Alabama, Notre Dame). Nebraska would have to be really impressive during the regular season to get in over an undefeated Pac-12 team.
do you see any B10 team making a significant recruiting run in the last couple of days prior to signing day?
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Ohio State and Michigan are in the running for some big-time recruits. Nebraska also is looking to finish strong.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
Can Minnesota go to the Rose Bowl by 2020?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
That's a long time away, Craig, especially in today's college football. Did anyone think TCU would be in the Rose Bowl in 2002? If the right pieces are in place, Minnesota could make a run by then, sure.
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
OK guys, last one for the day ...
If a team has 85 scholarships, how many players are "expendable"? Even a 10 player reduction in scholarships isn't that horrible.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
I think a 10-player reduction makes you have to be much more selective in who you recruit and who you offer. There's a big difference between 10 scholies per year and three. That said, there's some talk about an overall reduction to 80 scholarships across the board in college football. Would be interesting to see how that would affect recruiting.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Talk to you next week!