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.
After signing four quarterbacks in 2012 (and having at least four more on the current roster), I just read that Danny Hope has offered scholarships to four more QBs in the class of 2013. What is he doing?
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
Dave, I haven't seen that, but it would be an interesting approach. One thing to remember is that a lot of times, a team's best player is its quarterback. And these days, guys who play quarterback in high school can play several positions, including wide receiver, running back and defensive back. I can't imagine Purdue wants eight or nine QBs on the roster. Danny Hope wants speed, and I'm guessing he sees several of these QBs playing different positions.
india (ann arbor, michigan)
A couple months ago I sent in a mailbag question (to no avail) that I think is a fun one. I saw brady hoke on campus driving a chevy avalanche and laughed that it fit him perfectly. based on personalities what cars would you imagine other B1G coaches driving?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
That's a fun question, India. I'll have to give it some more thought. Kirk Ferentz would drive something not flashy and durable. Urban Meyer would drive something that would win awards but probably only last 3-4 years. I'll try to think of some more.
Golden (Philadelphia, pa)
What do you make of PSU's new media approach?
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
Love it, Golden. It has been refreshing to see how Bill O'Brien "gets it" as far as the media, especially after everything that happened at PSU. Penn State has some great stories to tell, and for too long the program has operated behind closed doors. I used to remark how little news there would be about Penn State football from January-March, and from May-July. Arguably no other "major" program received less coverage during those months because of the archaic media policies.
Tom (Waterloo, IA)
Hey Adam, in honor of valentine's day yesterday. Can you do a poll of the most liked Big Ten Coach? Assume it is only fair since you do the most disliked.
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
Haha, we'll see, Tom. You might be in the minority, as most of your fellow blog readers love to hate more than they love to love. But it would be interesting to see the results.
Adam, even taking into account the question mark at QB and the turnover with the high number of assistant coaches leaving, is UW still the favorite to win the division?
Adam Rittenberg (12:06 PM)
I would say so, Jordan. Wisconsin is undoubtedly the biggest beneficiary of Ohio State's bowl ban. The Badgers could win the division with a 9-3 or 8-4 record, depending on how things go elsewhere. Penn State and Illinois both are replacing head coaches, and Purdue has been inconsistent at best under Danny Hope. Indiana is coming off of a 1-11 season. So the Badgers, despite all their changes, look like the team to beat.
Ben (Iowa City)
Brian agreed with the idea that the most hated coach meant the most successful coach, because jealousy was involved, but I could not disagree more. Nobody hated Joe Paterno, and he is arguably the most successful college coach ever.
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Ben, I think Paterno was an exception because of his longevity and the many good things he did off the field during his time at Penn State. But honestly, fans didn't look at Paterno as a threatening or divisive figure in his later years. Most people wondered if he even coached the team. He wasn't a recruiting "threat," like Urban Meyer. He didn't run up the score, like Bielema did against Minnesota. He wasn't fiery in the way Dantonio has been. But for the most part, the most disliked players or teams in sports are the more successful ones.
Dean (Atlanta, GA)
Excited about NU's recruiting class - can we expect the trend to continue under Fitz? And, more importantly, how long before this class makes an impact on the field?
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
Hey guys, sorry about the technical difficulties ...
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Northwestern is recruiting a higher-caliber player now than it did when Fitzgerald took over. It's important that the Wildcats get more impact defensive recruits like the Odenigbo kid from Ohio. He should be able to impact the team right away. I also see players like RB Malin Jones being potential impact players early in their careers.
JB (Ann Arbor)
In the latest mailblog you said that "no team is a "lock" for the Rose Bowl. Especially a team that opens against Alabama and plays Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State on the road" For Michigan, how much does Alabama, Notre Dame, and Ohio State stand in their way of getting to the Rose Bowl? Ohio State may factor if there is a tie in the division, but if Michigan handles Nebraska, MSU, and the rest of the division then those other games really don't matter. Or do I have something wrong?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
JB, that's a good point and I'm glad you're grasping the importance of division games. My general statement is that it's foolish for fans to think their team is a "lock" for the Rose Bowl in almost any year. Michigan State has beaten Michigan four straight years and returns a very strong team. Winning at Nebraska will be very tough. Same with Ohio State, even though it's a cross-division game. If Michigan beats MSU and Nebraska but loses to Ohio State, it should be in good shape as long as it doesn't stumble against a team like Iowa.
The other 11 (Big Ten Country)
Whats up with the "Wolverine Nation" section on the blog, how about a little equal love, I didn't realize OSU, PSU, NEB, WISC, MSU, IOWA, etc weren't as important?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Can't believe I still get asked about this. We have a team site that covers Michigan. We don't have team sites for any other Big Ten schools right now. We will promote our Michigan site, just like we promote our Georgia site on the SEC blog and our Oklahoma site on the Big 12 blog. If and when we add more team sites for Big Ten teams, we'll include links for them, too.
A lot of my IU brother's are excited about Tre at QB, but to be honest, he didn't win a game with him last year. I am more excited about Coffman and Sudfield as pocket passers playing for my Hoosiers. Who's in the right here? Me or my friends?
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Gregory, I talked with Kevin Wilson last week and he had a lot of good things to say about Tre Roberson. Yes, the Hoosiers didn't win a game with him at QB, but the team's woeful defense was a bigger cause for the losing than Roberson, who provided a nice spark late in the season. While I like the fact that Indiana has increased the competition at QB with Coffman and Sudfield, Roberson will have every chance to remain the starter. Kevin Wilson really likes Roberson's potential to be a more complete QB.
Lou (Gaithersburg, MD)
Adam, do you think Bench (horrible name for a QB, btw) will get a legitimate look in pre-season, considering PSU's QB situation?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Lou, I think Bill O'Brien and his staff need to give the quarterbacks a clean slate. Matthew McGloin and Rob Bolden have played a lot, but neither has done enough to be penciled in as the starter right now. Will Paul Jones finally be a factor? While I'd be surprised if Penn State goes with a true freshman, it all depends on how McGloin, Bolden and Jones progress during the spring and summer.
Erik (E Lansing)
Not sure what car Bret B would be driving, but I bet the clock would be wrong in it/
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Ouch! But funny. He also would have an odometer that would increase by 2s rather than 1s.
Greetings from Clark Key (well, my hotel nearby). Though I'm a wisconsin fan, I want Minnesota to do well so that we have a legitimate rival. What will it take for UM to take the next step and actually compete with us?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Jake, I was at Clark Quay with my wife in March. Awesome place. Have you been to the bar where you can sit in a wheelchair and get hooked up to an IV of your favorite beverage? Good times. ... Minnesota needs to develop a pass rush, for starters. Hasn't happened since 2008. The Gophers also need a lot of help in the secondary and should benefit from getting Troy Stoudermire back for another year. Also, Minnesota needs to truly return to its roots as a program with great offensive linemen and great running backs. So there's a lot of work to do.
Does seem likely that the B1G will 2 BCS bowls this year?Would love to see UW in Fiesta,Orange or Sugar to win won of those?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
David, we have this conversation every year, and every year the Big Ten sends two teams to BCS bowls. Ohio State's bowl ban might decrease the likelihood of the trend continuing, but I'd expect to see two Big Ten teams in BCS bowls again. The Legends division has three primary contenders -- Michigan, MSU and Nebraska. Add in Wisconsin, and there are four BCS bowl contenders.
Tre (East Lansing)
As a diehard Wolverine in Sparta, i constantly hear how much MSU got "robbed" in the bowls because MSU was a clearly a better team than U-M.. but is it that clear? MSU lost big @ N.D. who lost at U-M. MSU lost big @ Nebraska who lost big @U-M. and the head to head was a 4th and inches while driving to tie it up late. Is it really that clear?
Adam Rittenberg (12:24 PM)
Tre, you can use the common opponent matchups, but I watched the Michigan-MSU game and MSU was the better team that day. Michigan State also crushed Iowa in Iowa City, where Michigan lost. But a 14-point head-to-head victory should be the key factor.
Don't know much about Danny O'brien. Would he be a good fit at Wisconsin? Given the coordinator situation, having an experience quarterback in the mix certaily couldn't hurt right?
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Absolutely not, Drew, especially as both Budmayr and Phillips are coming off of serious injuries. O'Brien thrived in a pro-style system as a redshirt freshman in 2010. He could do well at Wisconsin. And the fact he has two years of eligibility remaining is good, as Wisconsin doesn't want to get into a pattern of one-year starters every year.
Matt (Borculo, MI)
How long of a timetable are we looking at before we'll hear about whether DeAnthony Arnett's hardship waiver gets approved?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Matt, talked to DeAnthony earlier this week and he seemed pretty unsure of a timetable. Would hope to get an answer before the end of the school year. He'll be out there for spring practice either way. Would be a huge addition for Michigan State, which loses its top three WRs.
Richard (Des Moines)
With the turnover in the key coordinator positions at Iowa, what should expectations be for next season? I dont' think anyone wants to hear 7-8 wins, but that seems like the best case scenario. If that's the case, does Ferentz deserve some heat on his seat? Thanks
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Richard, I'm not too optimistic about Iowa right now. You have a lot of coaching transition combined with a very young defensive line, no featured running back and question marks at wide receiver and cornerback. I'd say eight wins would be a good season for this team, but Iowa fans will expect more and arguably should expect more. Kirk Ferentz is completely safe with this administration in place, but it's more than fair for fans to ask whether the program should be in a different place with a coach earning a Top 10 salary.
MSU, Mich and Purdue (South Bend)
With the PAC 10 agreement in 2017, what's the chance we tell ND to find new games? ND hasn't been relivent on the national title level in 20+ years, lets not use the moves the needle excuse, or is it just we enjoy the easier "quality" wins ND gives up
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
I don't think you'll be abandoning Notre Dame any time soon. Especially not Purdue, which often is only in the national spotlight when it plays Purdue. Michigan State has elevated its national profile, but the Spartans always get a little more attention when they face the Irish. Although Michigan has been a bit more creative with scheduling under AD Dave Brandon, I don't see the Wolverines taking more than a two-year break from the Notre Dame series. Facing ND still has some benefits, even if it's not always a high-quality win.
West Virginia decided to move to the Big 12, does this help them or hurt them in football? Lets be honest, the Big East is awful in football. How long will it take them to get up to the curve in the conference?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
From a competitive standpoint, the move definitely helps West Virginia, which is the closest thing the Big East has had to a national power. Will the Mountaineers make as many BCS bowl appearances? Probably not. But being able to compete against Texas and Oklahoma and having the chance to win Big 12 titles should help WVU's national profile and recruiting efforts.
Jalky (Dodgeville MI)
And with two years of eligibility remaining O'Brien would give Bart Houston a redshirt year and another year to learn before being a starter. What is the downside and when can we expect to hear an annoucement?
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
That's certainly a possibility, Jalky. Even if Wisconsin doesn't add O'Brien, it still could redshirt Houston if it feels confident enough in players like Budmayr and Stave. The only downside is the perception that Wisconsin doesn't develop its own QBs and has become a transfer mill. But that's not really the case as Houston comes in as a decorated high school recruit. As far as an announcement, not sure on O'Brien's timetable. Still early in the process.
My favorite thing to point out to Spartan fans regarding the Sugar Bowl last year is that THEY DIDN'T QUALIFY! As one Wolverine said, they had a chance to go the Rose Bowl and blew it.
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
Tom, this is correct. MSU wasn't eligible for BCS at-large selection. It was a different deal in 2010 when the Spartans could have been selected ahead of Ohio State.
What is up with Rutgers stating that the B1G is not finished expanding?
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
Very wishful thinking on the part of the folks at Rutgers. While Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany had interest in Rutgers when the league did its expansion study, the Big Ten presidents are pretty happy with 12 teams.
Adam (Lincoln )
Do you see Nebraska Defense recovering from the loss of our 3 best players? Can Nebraska win BIG?
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
Adam, these two questions go hand in hand. If Nebraska can reload on defense and take the unit to its 2009-2010 level, it absolutely can win the Big Ten. The offense returns a lot and could be dangerous if a few things fall into place. Lavonte David is the biggest loss, in my view, as Nebraska lacked depth at the linebacker spot. It'll be tough to replace No. 4. I'm less concerned about the cornerback spot, as Nebraska typically develops great players there. Up front, the onus is on players like Steinkuhler, Meredith and Martin to take their play to the next level and set the tone in games.
Addison (East Lansing)
While there is no set number of successful seasons that makes your brand power become elite what do you think it will take for MSU to make this happen? Will it be one Rose Bowl berth and victory to make this dream a reality? Is this the season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Addison, this is a great question. When does a team truly increase its national brand? It'll definitely take a BCS bowl appearance, preferably the Rose, for Michigan State to take this step. Another 10-win season certainly would help, but the Spartans need to show they can get to that elite level. A Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl appearance and victory would do wonders for a program that is already on the rise.
Jeff (Marquette, MI)
Hey Adam, you mention a lot on the blog how you try to be as fair with the coverage of each team. So why as a Spartan fan do I have to put up with those annoying Wolverine Nation links when no other team gets special attention? Its bad enough my my boss is a wolverine, now I gotta see them getting special attention here too???!!!
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Jeff, last question on this. It's your choice whether you want to read Wolverine Nation or not. It's one post out of 8-15 we post each day. There's plenty of coverage of other teams, including Michigan State. So if it bothers you, read the other posts. That's the way it's going to be.
Some teams are successful in the 2 major sports of FB and Bball, why are these teams so successful year in and year out like OSU, Wisconsin?
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
David, it has to do with tradition, coaching hires and investment in a given sport. Ohio State has great football tradition but also some basketball tradition. Ohio State also has made great investments in its hoops program. Wisconsin is an example of making really good coaching hires. UW's basketball program was floundering a bit until it hired Bo Ryan, who has brought tremendous consistency. Building the Kohl Center also didn't hurt. Michigan State had great basketball tradition and a great coach in Tom Izzo. It has taken an excellent football coach hire (Mark Dantonio) plus greater investment in facilities to take the football program to the next level.
Have you heard through the grapevine any reaction from the other conference to the Big 10 playoff proposal? Specifically the home field semi-final games?
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
I think other leagues are encouraged, especially those that advocated a four-team playoff several years ago. While I doubt the SEC is thrilled about the possibility of playing semifinal games in the cold, every league is putting together its own proposals. The fact that the Big Ten is open and engaged in the discussion has to be encouraging for most conferences.
Adam: Notre Dame's record vs The Big Ten this year will be?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Interesting question, Corey. I keep hearing that Notre Dame is ready to turn the corner and will be ferocious in the defensive front seven. The Irish play arguably the best two teams in the Big Ten (Michigan and Michigan State) as well as a Purdue team that should be improved from 2011. The safe pick is 2-1 or 1-2, and I see it playing out like that for the Irish.
Jalky (Dodgeville MI)
Point of information -- just looked it up and Russell Wilson didn't announce until late June last year so we may have to wait a while for Danny boy.
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
That's true, but Wilson's situation was a bit different as he was playing minor-league baseball during the spring and early summer.
Am I the only one who's not a fan of the graduation-transfer rule? While I am all for moves like covering the cost of living for players who generate millions of dollars, there's a reason people are calling it the free agent rule. If you're going to be wrong at least be consistently wrong. This seems like a major loophole to me in the whole "players have to sit out a year" transfer ideology. I'm not thrilled by the prospect of Wisconsin having a different 5th year QB every year just because they did it successfully once and now other QBs want to do it and I think the loophole should be closed. What are your thoughts, Adam?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Aaron, it's an interesting debate. Some coaches really don't like the grad transfer rule -- including Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan! He recently sounded off and criticized the grad transfer rule. I wonder if he received a call from Barry Alvarez afterward telling him how much money Russell Wilson made for the athletic department. But it's definitely a controversial issue. I don't have a huge issue with it, actually, as it involves players who actually graduate college and are in good standing. While it's a concern if schools abuse the rule, I thought a guy like Russell Wilson deserved the chance to play football his last year.
Hey Adam. Please tell MSU PUrdue and Mich that playing and beating Notre Dame is still a big deal. Your right, it's been 20 years since ND has been legit NC title contenders.. but you know what? --- despite all that, Notre Dame is still the only National team in College Football. They have their own national TV network etc.. What does MSU, Purdue and U of M have? Thats what I thought. ND will never be irrelevant. Period.
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Corey, I agree with your last statement: Notre Dame will never be irrelevant. And the folks at Purdue, MSU and Michigan realize this about Notre Dame. Purdue AD Morgan Burke will never give up the ND series. And the attention teams get from facing Notre Dame -- whether the Irish are top 10 or trying to make a bowl -- is typically worth it. But as I've always said, a better Notre Dame team is better for the Big Ten.
Brett (Conshohocken, PA)
Nate Stupar really knows how to put the rest of an alumni base to shame on valentine's day, huh?
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Definitely, Brett. Great story about Nate's proposal. Congrats to him and his fiancee.
Bigdaddy (Vienna Austria)
Adam...is there any reason for optimism at all for my Hoosiers? What would be realistic expectations for next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
There are definitely reasons for optimism. Indiana played a ton of young players who should be ready to help more in 2012. Tre Roberson and Stephen Houston form a dynamic young offensive backfield. If the Hoosiers can just be decent on defense -- not great but decent -- they could win some Big Ten games. Realistic expectation should be at least three wins, maybe four or five.
Who do think will be the bigger instant impact for the Huskers, Mo Seisay or Zaire Anderson?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
Good question, Ashley. I think Seisay is ready to be an impact player right away for Nebraska, which needs some help at cornerback. The Huskers also haven't been quiet about their need for more linebackers, and Anderson wasn't brought in to sit on the bench. I see both players seeing the field this fall. I'd give a slight edge to Seisay, but it'll be interesting to see how things unfold.
Jared (San Diego)
I liked your piece on the "percy position" at OSU. I think Meyer's spread offense is a system in which Jordan Hall could thrive, assuming he can learn to hang onto the ball. Will Meyer use all in that way? Or will he tweak his system, because not only can Braxton Miller throw, but he has much more explosive speed and quickness as a runner than any QB at FL ever had under Meyer?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Jared, I really think this could be the offense Jordan Hall has been waiting for. I'd hope Meyer and Tom Herman give him a chance at the "Percy" position because he can be effective in a hybrid role. It'll be interesting to see how Meyer and Herman blend their philosophies. Meyer knows what type of athlete Braxton is, but he has talked a lot about wanting to develop Braxton into a better passer.
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
Last question for the day ...
Pac-12 & Big Ten grad here - with the news that both leagues are softening on the playoff idea, how do you think the traditional rose bowl matchup can possibly be saved and incorporated into a playoff? Could there ever be a rule that if pac-12 and big ten teams would be matched in the rose as part of the playoff (if they both are in the playoff)?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
Tim, this is a great question. If a playoff is seeded 1-4 or 1-8, it would be tough to make a special concession for Pac-12 and Big Ten teams to meet in the Rose Bowl. What's more likely is a four-team playoff and a separate Rose Bowl matchup. In most years, you'd see at least one league champ in Pasadena. In some years, you'd see both. I don't think the Rose Bowl loses too much value if it's not part of a four-team playoff. If there's an eight-team deal, that changes things if the Rose isn't involved.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Thanks for your participation. Talk to you next week.