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 (12:06 PM)
Hey guys, sorry for the delay. Here for your questions. Let's get started!
Any chance you think Denard goes to the coaches and ASKS to be played at WR more snaps next year to make himself more NFL desirable?
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
Haha, something tells me that definitely won't happen. Denard might play WR at the next level, but he considers himself a QB right now and wants to remain at QB in his final season.
GBK (Lincoln Park)
Adam, is there any place that needs to embrace the saying "seen and not heard" than the administration at OSU? Gee should never have said anything about Bieliema, and Gene Smith thinks OSU got punished too much, even though most of America thinks they got off easy - especially considering both their previous football and basketball coaches knowingly violated NCAA rules.
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Yeah, GBK, while The Bowtie is entertaining for media types like myself, he's not helping Ohio State by saying those things. While Gene Smith is defending the school, I know folks around the Big Ten weren't nearly as surprised by the bowl ban as he was. You can't have a coach lie to the NCAA.
How devastating is Ohio States D line going to be with the new additions?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Very. The combination of this year's class with some emerging players like Hankins and Bennett, and some proven ones like John Simon should make Ohio State a much better D-line in 2012. It'll be interesting to see how Luke Fickell and Everett Withers call the defense, and how it's different from Jim Heacock.
Hey Adam! Who would have guessed that Kirk would go vanilla on his DC hire? Ha...can't wait for more "bend but don't break (but actually break)" defense!
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Jason, you're not alone in this belief. I don't think Iowa fans would have been upset had Kirk promoted Phil Parker back in December. But there was more to this search and outside candidates were contacted, I'm told. Ultimately, Iowa went with Phil Parker, who will maintain the defensive structure we've seen under Norm. The bigger issue in my mind is Reese Morgan moving from O-line to D-line. Morgan is a veteran coach who has seen it all, but he hasn't coached offense at Iowa. The defensive line, in my view, is the most critical area on the team in 2012 because of all the inexperience.
T-Mart is not the answer. Will we see anymore Brion Carnes in the next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Bo has been pretty loyal to T-Mart, who did some good things in his first year in Tim Beck's offense. That said, I think it'd be wise if Nebraska gets another quarterback ready, and ideally Carnes could see some action during nonconference play. It'd be nice to see what he can do during game situations a little more.
Any potential names out there to fill the rest of IOWA's coaching staff?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
George, I think you'll see LeVar Woods hired as linebackers coach, filling out the defensive staff. It's a pretty good bet Erik Campbell gets promoted to offensive coordinator. Also a lot of chatter that Brian Ferentz will be returning as O-line coach. Should be interesting to see what Kirk has to say later today.
Adam, what is the big advantage that PAC-12/SEC/Big 12(ie warm weather teams) get when the bowls are played in their area? Please keep in mind that 1. Fan are pretty even in the bowls and noise advantage isnt much of an issue because Big Ten fans travel so well. 2. Teams show up almost a week before the actaul game so travel isnt much of an issue. Its more an issue during the regular season when teams show up just the day before the actaul game. 3. The games are in more ideal weather/conditions and dont really favor one team or the other. However, if a bowl game were played in the snow in Columbus in late December then that would be a huge advantage to the cold weather teams.
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Daniel, you bring up some good points. The thing to remember is that Big Ten teams often play half of their season, and the most critical games, in cold weather. They're built to win games in less-than ideal conditions. It does change a bit when you're playing in 70 degrees again. I also think facing USC at the Rose Bowl Stadium is a disadvantage, no matter the fan breakdown. Same goes for facing LSU in New Orleans, as Ohio State and Illinois have done.
When are you guys going to have the schedules for each team up? I like being able to see who's playing who.
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
The Big Ten is always late in announcing its complete schedule, David. Most teams already have their games finalized, so you can do to their sites to check those out. We've posted the Big Ten schedule for 2012 already, but some teams still have some non-con games to finalize.
Adam how much more improvement do you think Michigan will have have with there D with the recruits they are bringing in this year.
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Robert, you saw several young players start for Michigan on defense in 2011 (Countess, Ryan, Morgan). I think Michigan's coaches aren't afraid to play younger players if they're ready. There are some holes to fill on defense, particularly up front. While it's tough to see freshmen play right away on the line, keep an eye on a guy like Ondre Pipkins, who fills a need at defensive tackle.
Scott K. (Buckeye Nation)
Adam, OSU is in the running for both davonte neal and stephon diggs, what do you think their chances are of landing one (or both) of these recruits? also if they do land one or both how significantly will it effect their recruiting class ranking?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Scott, if I answer, will you stop flooding the feed over and over? Not cool at all. I think the Buckeyes have a better chance at Diggs than Neal. Diggs announces his choice Friday night. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said last week that the team has one more scholarship before hitting its limit of 82.
Thanks for the scheduling info! Stemming from Daniel's question, if they did adopt this playoff system wouldn't the semi final round be played basically after each conferences championship game? If that's the case wouldn't both parts 1 and 2 of the question be invalid? I highly doubt they would have the teams there for a week before the game and obviously the home team will have the crowd advantage.
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
David, my understanding is that the semis would be played closer to Christmas, maybe between Christmas and New Year's. One issue that comes up, and fans don't like to hear it, is final exams. Schools on the quarter system typically have them between Dec. 5-10. Semester schools usually have them between Dec. 17-23. So that's something to consider when looking at the schedule.
YOU'RE SLOW!!!!! (SLOWVILLE)
SLAM AN ENERGY DRINK. GET SOME COFFEE IN YOU. DO SOMETHING. YOU'RE LIKE A TURTLE
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
OK, I'll try to be faster and therefore respond with dumber answers. I learn from the best.
What do you think about Urban's "we dont redshirt at OSU" comment?
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
It's interesting. Definitely a message to recruits that you can play right away at Ohio State. And from the looks of his first class, Urban has brought in players who can contribute immediately.
Nastradamus (Los Feliz)
Adam, I bleed Maroon and Gold and I thought that Jerry Kill did a good job recruiting in state and JUCO talent in the 2012 class. However, the out of state recruiting was extremely weak (most guys didn't have multiple BCS offers). I believe Jerry Kill needs 7 to 8 wins this fall in order to recruit better out of state in the future. What say you?
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
That's part of it, Nastradamus, but give Kill credit for keeping some of the top in-state players at home. That's the way you build a program, and that's what he's doing at Minnesota. Think about all the good in-state prospects who have gone elsewhere, whether it's Michael Floyd to Notre Dame or Seantrel Henderson to USC and then Miami. So keeping good players at home is a good start. But I agree that in the long run, Kill and his staff need to do better outside the area. The WR from North Carolina was a nice get.
Adam, you are in rare form today... I like it! Do you think Bo will be able to put it all together in the next few years or stay at the 9 win total? New coaches or better caliber players? Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
NGK, this will be a pivotal year for Pelini's crew. Nebraska returns a lot on offense and could have one of the league's more potent units. The key will be on defense, which is Pelini's specialty. Can Nebraska replaced Dennard and David and build better depth at LB? How will Papuchis fare as the new coordinator? I think the offense will be OK, but Nebraska needs more overall consistency as a team to get over that 9-win hump.
Personally, I think that Delany releasing a B1G playoff proposal is a masterstroke, and here's why: over the years, most fans and conferences have seen us as the main roadblock to a playoff (for good reason) because of our relationship with the Rose Bowl. Delany saw that these times were a changin, so, rather than being forced into a corner and have to accept a proposal which would have a less-than-ideal setup for us, he pre-emptively put out a proposal which could favor us.
Adam Rittenberg (12:27 PM)
I agree, Chris. And it's not just Jim Delany but the Big Ten athletic directors as a whole. The Big Ten realizes what's coming, so why should it be closed off? The league's ADs and Delany have an open mind to consider options, and they've put a model on the table. Will this be the model that ultimately gets used? We'll see. A lot of things need to be figured out, but it's an encouraging sign for Big Ten fans who have heard for years how their league is blocking a playoff.
Addison (East Lansing)
What does Andrew Maxwell have to do as a QB for MSU to repeat their success from the past two seasons? Our running game should be much improved and I would like to think our defense will be better as well. So, he should not have to put up Kirk Cousins' numbers for our team to be successful correct?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Agree on your last point, Addison. Maxwell doesn't have to pass for 3,200 yards in 2012. He has to execute the system and display poise against good opponents, starting from the opener against Boise State. Obviously, limiting turnovers is huge. He has to gain the trust of the players and coaches, and there's no better way than to perform under pressure.
Jon (Columbus, OH)
Adam, I for one think that Bret Bielma isn't as dumb as he looks. Couldn't it be that this rift that he's created with Urban Meyer is more about heating up the rivalry with OSU, as opposed to just whining? He tried and failed to add Nebraska as a rival last year and Minn has been an unsatisfying rival of late.
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
I'm not sure about that, Jon. Bret is very tied-in to recruiting, whether it's rules or trends around the country. He made similar claims last year about other conferences and has said he doesn't want the Big Ten environment to change too much. Whether the Big Ten needs to change or not to catch the SEC is up for debate. But I think Ohio State-Wisconsin already is a pretty spicy rivalry. In hindsight, Bielema would have been better off not using words like "illegal."
There seem to be some very stong connections between Zook and Weber...Will Weber join Zook as an Illinois casualty?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Really? Strong connections? They seem pretty different to me. Zook was known for his recruiting, while Weber was seen as a great coach who couldn't maintain the recruiting Illinois had under Bill Self. They seem like very different personalities, too. Now could they both end up fired from Illinois? Sure. Especially if the hoops team struggles during a tough closing stretch. But most coaches ended up getting fired eventually.
Love the blog. I read the Pelini interview with the Omaha World Herald (which I thought was a great read) and one thing that stood out to me was when Pelini was talking about his yelling and intensity and said ""If you watch, people blow it out of proportion. If you watch Brian Kelly, Nick Saban, Bob Stoops, down the list. There are guys who are way worse than me." I agree that Pelini gets too much attention for his anger, but are there that many coaches who are "way worse" than he is?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Brian, that quote stood out to me, too. I think Brian Kelly is about as bad as it gets in terms of sideline blowups. I don't think Saban and Stoops are at that level, but both men have been fiery at times. The Texas A&M game will haunt Bo for some time, even though it's a bit unfair. I actually felt he was a lot calmer during games this season. But until he shows he's a fiery coach who can win at the highest levels, he'll be seen by many as just a fiery coach.
Why is there so much confidence that MSU's running game/o-line will be so improved next year? That was supposed to be the strength of the offense last season and we all know how that turned out. They lose their best offensive lineman and I don't think the returning starters would start for a lot of other Big Ten teams. What exactly is causing the confidence that you and Bennett both seem to have? I think Maxwell will need to be exceptional (close to Cousins) for their offense to be in the same ballpark as last year's team.
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Jon, who said the offensive line was supposed to be a strength in 2011? Anyone who did doesn't study Michigan State, which lost its starting offensive tackles and its starting center. Any time you're replacing those three linemen, you're probably in trouble. I think the Spartans will have fewer issues on the line because more players saw the field in 2011. Foreman is a big loss, but you can replace a guard easier than a tackle or a center. And I like Le'Veon Bell's potential, which he showed in games like Iowa.
Who do you see starting at both D-end spots next year for Purdue? With Short and Gaston that line has the potential to carry the team to wins.
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
I agree, Gregg. Purdue might have the best defensive tackle tandem in the Big Ten. Short has definite first-round potential, and I really like Gaston, too. Russell likely will start at one end spot, but there should be competition at that position with Maci and others. Purdue definitely will be looking for some folks to step up in the pass rush.
Based on past years with Zeke and Jeremy I have to believe Northwestern will have a breakout wide receiver in 2012. Who?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Mark, you're right. Northwestern has had a nice run of wideouts. Christian Jones is a guy with star potential. He could take a big step as a sophomore. Demetrius Fields has been a solid player, and I'd keep an eye on Tony Jones, who returns from injury.
Is Tommy Bradley "toxic" right now? He would make a great head coach
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
I agree, Pete. But I do think Tom is "toxic" at this very moment. While I'd love to see him in coaching for 2012, it makes some sense for him to sit out a year and then get back in the game. A school would have a tough time, from a p.r. standpoint, hiring Tom as its head coach at this very moment. A year from now, the PSU investigation should be complete and it should be easier for a school to make a move.
Tuoni (State College)
There are some talented recruits in 2013 in the Pennsylvania, Maryland pipeline. Do you think O'Brien will be able to haul these recruits in. 5 stars like the TE Brennamen would fit his system great and he should be able to attract a top qb
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
The QB spot is paramount, Tuoni, although I agree with you that tight end could be a position that thrives in O'Brien's offense. You can't expect Rob Gronkowskis every year, but Penn State should have some weapons there in this system. I also expect the PSU staff to focus heavily on Pennsylvania, Maryland and DC. Retaining Larry Johnson on staff was key to that aim.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
Hey, Adam the SEC guys didn't want to answer this question in their chat sessions, but perhaps you can. Which conference had the most players on the rosters of the 2 superbowl teams, the Big 10 or the SEC?
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Bren, I'm shocked the SEC guys wouldn't jump at a chance to trumpet the greatness of the SEC. The SEC had the largest Super Bowl contingent with 23 players, followed by the Big Ten at 22. No other conference had more than 17 players in Super Bowl XLVI.
Adam, if the Rose Bowl can't be protected, and is sort of left to twist in the wind, what sort of scenario do you see happening? Does it limp on with No. 2 teams from conferences, or does it fold up shop?
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
It doesn't fold up shop, Patrick. The Rose Bowl is the one major bowl that, in my view, still would be celebrated even in a playoff environment. And I think the access points are pretty clear. If the Big Ten and Pac-12 champs aren't in the top four, they play in Pasadena. If one is and one isn't, the champion plays the No. 2 team from the other league. If both champions are in the top 4, which likely will be pretty rare, you could see No. 2 vs. No. 2.
Littlejohn (Manhattan, KS)
Adam - Did Kirk Ferentz give any thought to hiring Mike Stoops as DC? He would have commanded a high price. Would he have been worth it to Iowa? Thanks.
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
I'm sure it crossed Kirk's mind, Littlejohn, given Stoops' ties to Iowa. But it seemed pretty set by the bowl game that Stoops was headed back to OU. While Kirk considered some outside candidates, it doesn't seem like Stoops was in the running that long.
Any chance Beckman comes in and really puts a stamp on the program and turns the QB position over to O'Toole? Seems like NS is the fan favorite but I think we all would have liked better results.
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
I think Beckman, like any new coach, creates a competitive situation right away in his first spring practice. Illinois' offensive struggles shouldn't be placed squarely on Scheelhaase, but he struggled a lot late last season. There's a need for him to prove himself again to the new staff and execute their system. O'Toole should be given an opportunity as well. Let the best man win.
Hi Adam, I really like this years opening weekend in College Football, not sure about the other Big 10 teams but Michigan vs Alabama and Michigan State vs Boise State should be pretty competitive. Which game will you be at and how do you see the match ups?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Jeff, I'm in full agreement. We don't get our game assignments for months and months, but I'd love to be in both East Lansing and Arlington, Texas, if possible. Michigan will be the underdog against Bama, but the Wolverines will have more veterans returning than the Tide. MSU and Boise State both are replacing great quarterbacks and other key personnel. I think the Spartans defense will determine the outcome.
Adam, Bennett wouldn't answer this question the other day, but do you think college athletes should be allowed to earn endorsement money? A music student on scholarship can sign recording deals and earn royalties. What's the difference?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Patrick, we don't have enough time to fully delve into this issue, but the difference is the music student probably isn't part of a team that has licensing deals and contracts of its own, and operates, at least in principle, under the umbrella of amateurism. It would be an interesting case study if Denard Robinson could line up his own endorsement deals at Michigan. How would the other players react? Would the money need to be regulated in any way? A lot of questions out there.
Since Bo has taken over as head coach of the Huskers, he has won 38 games. The only B1G team that has won more games since 2008 is Wisconsin, with 39. Plus there is recent talk of Pelini's seat getting warm if he doesn't get over the 9 or 10 win hump. How can the perception that he isn't doing well enough improve when he is already a consistent winner?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Tony, you bring up some good points. But he needs to win a conference championship. He's been so close -- 1 second away in 2009 -- but hasn't gotten it done. Nebraska expects to win Big Ten championships, and so does coach Pelini. He realizes, as the recent interview shows, that the team has to get more consistent and have fewer games like Wisconsin and Michigan (and the second half of the bowl). So there is a step for Pelini to take. A very tough step.
Adam, what does Jerry Kill have to do next year to make the Gophers the Big Ten's surprise team? The front of the schedule looks like the more manageable section. Any chance he wins the OOC, and then beats Northwestern and Iowa (again) to get to 6-0? Am I crazy?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Yeah, that's a little crazy, Bob. But Minnesota has a chance to start stronger than it did this past season. The big keys are upgrading the defense, especially the pass rush and the secondary, and getting greater consistency out of MarQueis Gray at QB. The Gophers also must establish the run outside of Gray. So there's a lot of work ahead, but I'd expect Minnesota to pull off a surprise or two.
Let's say Ohio St plays Oklahoma in Orlando for a bowl game.Which team has the advantage based on weather?
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
I'd still say Oklahoma because the Sooners play fewer truly cold-weather games than Ohio State. The Sooners haven't adjusted their style of play, or their practices, to weather as much as the Buckeyes have. I'm not saying there's a huge difference, but there's a difference. It's why I like rewarding the top-rated teams with a home game in the playoff.
Is there going to be a difference in blocking scheme between Markuson and Bostad? I know they underwent changes from Alvarez's tenure and I'm curious if there will be another transition
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
I doubt it, Jon, but I'm anxious to visit with Markuson and Matt Canada to find out. There should be some tweaks, as there would be with any new coach.
For that Rose bowl scenario, if the BIG champ goes to the 4 team playoff, I like the idea of the BIG runner up getting an automatic invite to the Rose Bowl. This year MSU would have gone to the next best bowl instead of Michigan. This rewards teams who actually make a league championship game. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Ryan, from talking to some folks around the league, this scenario likely wouldn't happen. The bowls like to have their teams in place much earlier in order to promote the game, have site visits, etc. It also helps fans planning trips to have more lead time. So while I wouldn't rule anything out, I don't see this happening.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Last one for the day ...
Alex Kozan (pondering)
Should I play for Iowa or Michigan?
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
Can't tell you what to do. Just don't play for Auburn!
Adam Rittenberg (1:00 PM)
OK, time's up. Thanks for your patience today. Let's do it again next week.