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. Happy national signing day. Let's get started.
Who are the suprise signings in the Big Ten?
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Not too many surprises so far, Al. Dennis Norfleet flipping from Cincinnati to Michigan surprised some folks. Also Dinero Moss tweeted he's heading to Iowa rather than Minnesota.
Dan (Washington DC)
Any word on Alex Kozan switching from Iowa to Michigan? It's being talked about on the Michigan boards...
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
I heard earlier this week Kozan was iffy on Iowa. He'd be a big addition for the Hawkeyes, but no word yet on where he's signing.
Chris (Santa Monica, CA)
Can you explain how tOSU can stilll sign 25+ players? Did the reduction in schollies not do anything?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Chris, Ohio State has to get to 82 scholarships by August -- that's the key. You'll likely see some additional player departures, but the recruiting class likely will be in the 24- or 25-man range.
Matt (Pittsburgh, PA)
What are the chances OSU gets both Neal and Diggs? Also any news on dodson and/or diamond?
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Both of those guys are announcing after signing day. Dodson about to announce, and Diamond looking like Michigan.
Nebraska looks like they are going to have a solid class. If Peat inks with the Huskers do you see them moving in the top 25?
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
Austin, this could be a very big day for Big Red. Peat would be a significant addition. The only thing that likely will keep Nebraska out of the rankings is numbers. This won't be a particularly large class. But in terms of quality, it should be a solid group for Bo Pelini's team.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Adam, unfortunate that PSU couldn't keep Mornhinweg, but what's the word on this guy Bench that they signed for QB?
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
Lou, he flew under the radar a bit in recruiting and comes from a unique offensive system in Georgia. Our recruiting crew likes his arm strength, and he has run quite a bit of play-action. I think he's more of a project, but he's got some good skills.
I might be biased, but it feels like the B1G has lower graded recruiting classes than some/most of their AQ counter-parts and yet puts out as many if not more NFL caliber players. Do we do a better job preparing players for an NFL career or am I delusional?
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Kris, I was out at the Big Ten office Tuesday, and we were discussing this very topic. The Big Ten, SEC and ACC typically send the most players to the NFL, but the SEC and ACC consistently draw "higher-rated" recruiting classes than the Big Ten. I think the Big Ten coaching has a lot to do with why you see the NFL numbers remaining steady.
garrett hennis (east stroudsburg, pa)
how does coach O'brian fit with penn state? will a lot of big recruits come to psu next year bec of obrian? and how will psu fair in the big ten this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Year 1 will be significant, and Bill O'Brien deserves a chance to establish himself before we start evaluating him as a recruiter. His NFL background should help, especially if he wins a Super Bowl. I think certain position groups like tight end and quarterback can really make strides under O'Brien, and you should see it reflected in recruiting.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Do any of the Big Ten teams have a signing class of the caliber to win a National Title?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
I don't think you win a national title because of a signing class, but Ohio State's class and Michigan's class can help those teams toward the goal. People say defensive line depth is one of the biggest keys to winning national titles. Ohio State might have the best group of D-line recruits in the country this year, and Michigan has things headed in the right direction along the D-line.
FFXlion (Washington, DC)
What reaction, if any, are you hearing from Penn State about Skyler Morningweg's decision to go to Florida instead of PSU?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
I think there's some disappointment, but Penn State has seen several top prospects head elsewhere after all the turmoil in recent months. Obviously, Mornhinweg would have been a big get because of Penn State's QB situation.
Adam (Ann Arbor)
Who wins this year, OSU or Michigan?
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Adam, it should be a great game. I think for the first time since 2007, both teams will be very strong entering the game. You had Ohio State being much stronger from 2008-10, and Michigan clearly was the better team in 2011 despite a close result against the Buckeyes. This year's game should be excellent, and while Ohio State won't be going to a bowl, The Game will serve as the Buckeyes' bowl game.
Will the Hawkeyes have a defensive coordinator by spring ball?
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Let's hope so! It's surprising how long it has taken for Iowa to fill the spot, but I can't imagine we'll be waiting too much longer for a hire.
Scott Bennett (marlette mi)
Any chance MSU brings in a top 25 recruiting class?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Scott, Michigan State is one of those teams on the cusp of the class rankings. The Spartans have made a nice late push with Cox and Monty Madaris. Not sure they'll crack the top 25, but they won't be too far outside.
Joe (Chicago, IL)
How do you feel about Iowa pulling a schollie ON SIGNING DAY from a recruit by saying they were now full?
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Joe, I saw that story in the New Jersey paper. I'm interested to see if Kirk Ferentz will address the situation, as Iowa has made some late additions to the recruiting class, including a wide receiver reportedly offered a scholarship this morning.
Bernard (Philadelphia, PA)
When the OSU violations were uncovered and sanctions were pending, I don't remember fellow Big Ten coaches laying off OSU recruits. Now Urban Meyer is at OSU and all these Big Ten fans and coaches are crying about OSU's aggressive recruting and strong class. Seriously, put on your big boy pants Big Ten, especially Coach narduzzi.
Adam Rittenberg (12:20 PM)
Bernard, I think Narduzzi was talking more about the Tressel-Dantonio relationship and how things have changed with Urban. But I don't buy that Big Ten coaches have some unwritten rule about not poaching each other's recruits. It has happened time and time again the past few seasons. It might not have involved so many high-profile players, but it happens a lot.
JP (Cleveland, OH)
Michigan seems to have have a good presence in Northeast ohio this year. Does the success of Jake Ryan have anything to do with that or do you think they are just trying to re-establish some connections biffed by rich rod?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
JP, while Jake Ryan's success doesn't hurt, I think it's more about the coaching staff devoting a lot of energy to the region. You've also seen Michigan recruit in-state a lot better under Hoke. Rodriguez, to be fair, did well in South Florida and other regions.
Chad (Chicago, IL)
Is this Northwestern's best class....ever? Lots of talent on both sides of the ball (especially defense), with more 4-star/top talent than normal (Odenigbo, Malin Jones, Greg Kuhar, Adam DiPietro, Dean Lowry). Has Fitz become a top-level recruiter?
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Chad, from a rankings standpoint, this might be Northwestern's top class. The 2005 with Tyrell Sutton was pretty good, too. The key is Odenigbo. Northwestern hasn't had enough difference-makers on defense, and Odenigbo gives the Wildcats a play-maker on the edge. I also think Malin Jones will be the team's top running back as soon as he steps on campus.
Nick (Ann Arbor)
Adam, I tried getting Brian to answer this so let's see if you will try. How is a team's out of division schedule created? Are there any rules in place to ensure a team plays everyone in the opposite division at least once every 3 years? Michigan plays Purdue and Illinois twice in 3 years, yet not once will they play Wisconsin in that same 3 year span. What gives?
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Nick, the issue you cite stems from the Big Ten blending two different scheduling models -- the one before Nebraska joined and the one after Nebraska joined. It's why certain teams aren't playing one another for four years. But in the future, as long as the model doesn't change, you won't see such long gaps. So you'll see the cross-division games rotate.
Gray (Bloomington, IN)
Do you think IU's 7 JUCO commits will be able to help out right away? Especially on defense? Also, Will Sudfeld of Coffman ever start over Roberson?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Gray, I definitely think the juco influx will help Indiana's defense right away. You don't bring in those players to sit on the bench, and IU needs a lot of help. I also like the increased competition at QB. Although Roberson really impressed me at times last year, he should be pushed and will be by these two recruits.
Any love for the Boilers recruiting class?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Purdue's class has earned some solid reviews, Ted. Obviously a lot of speed as usual, but also some nice offensive line prospects. I'm interested to see how the guys who played QB in high school will pan out in West Lafayette (Appleby, Gray, etc.).
What impact will the proposed change to 7 wins to qualify for a bowl have on recruiting? Are going to lesser bowls and winning those bowls (I am not including big bowls at all) that much of a recruiting magnet that the change would have a noticable impact?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Good question, Kris. I don't think you sell recruits on going to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, but fewer programs will be able to say, "We've been to four straight bowl games" during the recruiting process. So teams will be making fewer postseason appearances. But overall, I don't think it'll make too big of a difference.
Do you think that there will be a QB competition at Nebraska this year between Tommy Armstrong, Brion Carnes, and Martinez?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Joshua, it's possible, but Martinez did some good things last year, which was only his first in the new system. He'll get every opportunity to be the starter again, and Bo Pelini has repeatedly supported him.
The MGoBlog chat has about 7,000 participants. I know Eleven Warriors also has a NSD live chat going on. Do you notice a dip in attendance today due to the team blog chats?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
Ha, it's great to see those guys are doing well. Both excellent blogs in the Big Ten, so definitely check 'em out. I don't have our chat numbers, but I'm not exactly worried about the Big Ten blog not getting enough hits.
Any chance we will see a 4 qb rotation out of Purdue? (A new qb each quarter)
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Haha, Danny Hope likes to keep his options open, but he also saw the benefit of continuity at quarterback with Caleb TerBush last fall. The competition in spring and fall should be very interesting, but I'd expect Purdue to have a clear-cut starter by September.
Do you think Urban Meyer had a recruiting advantage once OSU announced he would be the next head coach? Its like he was able to do in person visits months ahead of all the other coaches that were preparing for bowl games. Do you think that was fair?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
I think he benefited from being able to recruit for Ohio State in December, but he's not the only coach to take advantage of an NCAA rule that has been granted to others (even other schools this season). There's a lot of attention on Urban because of who he is, where he works and who he recruited, but the practice isn't exactly new.
Gray (Bloomington, IN)
Arizona and IU flipped OC's, who got the better coach?
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Tough question, Gray. I'm a big Rod Smith fan and like what he did at both Michigan and Indiana. I also like Littrell's background, and he seems to fit well with head coach Kevin Wilson. I'd probably give Smith a slight edge, but both teams ended up with good coaches.
FFXlion (Washington, DC)
You got a question about future schedules. Do we know when the B1G will come out with the '15 and '16 schedules? I'd be interested in seeing how they will design the schedule around rotating crossovers that year.
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
I'll check with the league office about 2015 and 2016 schedules, FFX. I know from being there yesterday that they're working on the primetime schedule for 2012. Primetime football is definitely catching on in the Big Ten, as we saw a record number of games under the lights in 2011. It'll be interesting to see which games are selected for 2012.
Tom (Northern Virginia)
With all the turmoil at OSU, Wisc, and PSU, how likely do you see a team like Purdue surprise and actually win Leaders in 2012?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Tom, I think Purdue has a great opportunity in 2012. The Boilers have talent on both sides and experience at some key positions. The key is consistency and eliminating the major mistakes that have surfaced too often during Danny Hope's tenure. Purdue will have to visit Ohio State, which will want to avenge last year's loss. But the overall schedule sets up pretty well for the Boilers, who could surprise some folks.
A lot of talk has been about Wisconsin needing to upgrade the defensive athleticism. I think the D-Line (especially DE) is the area that needs the most improvement in that respect, but they aren't signing any DEs this year. Are the coaches that high on the young guys in the program? I know they recruited a lot the last couple of years, but there hasn't been any impact yet.
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Jon, you bring up a good point. I think the coaches like the guys in the system, and remember that David Gilbert returns from injury. He's an experienced player, and Charlie Partridge said earlier today that he was on the brink of big things before the injury. But your overall point is a valid one. Wisconsin can't expect JJ Watts every year, but overall defensive athleticism and play-making ability needs to be upgraded.
How do you believe Nebraska's defense will be after last year's performance and the loss of Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard?
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Joshua, Nebraska will have to overcome the loss of star power with greater depth. The defensive line must lead the way with players like Steinkuhler and Meredith. Nebraska must build better depth particularly at linebacker but also in the secondary. I like some of the additions in this recruiting class, particularly the juco cornerback Seisay.
Adam, even though I wish it didn't, signing day DOES matter. It matters what the perception of the program is. That's all it seems college football is anymore. PERCEPTION. A program is judged to be doing well by the recruiting ranking, which feeds into its poll ranking, which of course feeds into its BCS ranking. Am I wrong? Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Patrick, you're right to an extent, but if signing day were really that important, wouldn't the ACC be a great conference? We always hear how great ACC recruiting is, but the results simply aren't there on the field. Bowl performances and national championships ultimately shape a league's perception more than recruiting rankings, but recruiting rankings can affect polls and such.
Adam's Twin (Chicago)
Any thoughts on the Gophers class?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
I have a twin? Wow. I think my colleague Craig Haubert made some good points about Minnesota when we talked earlier this week. The top of the class is strong, and Minnesota kept several good in-state prospects at home. The overall depth of the class isn't great, but you wouldn't expect that with the recent struggles. I like what Minnesota did at the wide receiver position. And the jucos should help on defense immediately.
Scott Bennett (marlette mi)
Is it possible michigan state has the best defense in the country next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
Scott, I think the Spartans are up there. Tremendous athleticism, especially with guys like Will Gholston at defensive end. I also like the potential of the secondary, and young linebackers like Allen and Bullough have bright futures. Really, really like the unit, even despite the loss of Worthy.
Nick (Dayton OH)
Thats Right Dodson is in Buckeye bound. Now just need to get Neal or Diggs and top 5 class
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
I would think so, Nick. This is Ohio State's best class since 2008, but remember it's also about developing the players and getting the most out of your talent. If recruiting rankings equaled titles, Clemson would be a national powerhouse and Florida State wouldn't still be "on the way back."
I keep seeing people asking about how the losses of dennard and david will hurt the huskers, isn't crick (i know he was injured this year) gone too? or did i miss something? Or do people just not care about the impact that he made since he missed time with the injury?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Jon, Crick does depart, but he missed more than half the season with injury, so Nebraska has started the process of replacing him. David was the heart and soul of the defense in 2011, and he plays a position where Nebraska doesn't have a whole lot of depth. Dennard was a true shut-down corner, and he'll be missed. Crick shouldn't be forgotten, but he's not exactly a new loss for Nebraska.
FFXlion (Washington, DC)
You said the B1G is working on the prime time schedule. Do you think that O'Brien's B1G coaching debut will make prime time? (I believe it is PSU at Illinois).
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Don't have the entire schedule in front of me, FFX, but I doubt it. You have Wisconsin at Nebraska that day, and also Ohio State and Michigan State. Think both of those games are more appealing for prime time, but we'll see.
Adam, Which recruiting class will have the biggest impact this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Mike, I think it's Ohio State's and Michigan's. The Buckeyes should get several of their D-line recruits on the field immediately, and a guy like Joe Bolden should be able to help Michigan right away.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Do you think PSU's recruiting still suffers next year as a result of the scandal? Or do you think O'Brien will be able to counter those effects with his background and hopeful (as a Penn State fan) Super Bowl victory?
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Cosmo, I think it all depends on if the Big Ten or NCAA levels sanctions against Penn State. If so, Penn State's recruiting could suffer for some time. If not, a full year with O'Brien and his staff should help the Nittany Lions with the 2013 class.
hey Adam.....any word on where deanthony arnett may be going in michigan to finish college. It was a big lost for the state and with him going back, any word.....hopefully UofM......Go Blue...
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Mark, where ya been, buddy? Arnett announced weeks ago he's heading to Michigan State. Hate to break the bad news to you.
JR Ackerman (Cloumbus Ohio)
When it comes to Ohio State, is there any position we needed to fill that we did'nt with this recruting class. Like CB or S in your eyes?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
I think the Buckeyes will be OK at CB going forward with players like Roby. The safety spot is a bit of a question mark, but it was more important to address positions like defensive line.
ADam, I am sick of hearing about RANKINGS of classes when they are so based on sheer SIZE. What is your take on schools like Wiscy and MSU that dont have alot of schollies to give this year because of massive amounts of redshirting? I think that is more helpful than large classes.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Paul, I'd add Nebraska to that group. And it's not just recruiting experts who undervalue smaller classes -- it's fans, too. I can't tell you how many complaints I hear from fans of teams who are signing smaller classes. Quality is better than quantity.
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, last one ...
Brett (Conshohocken, PA)
Adam,Isn't it a slippery slope for the NCAA to go after PSU for lack of institutional control at this point considering the BOT has already axed anyone involved in the situation, and the event in question occurred ten years ago now?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
I think it is, Brett, but there's an ongoing investigation at Penn State about who knew what and when they knew it. Depending on the findings, the Big Ten and/or NCAA could act, but I agree it's unchartered territory.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
OK guys, time's up. Enjoy the rest of national signing day!