Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at noon ET!
Adam Rittenberg (12:00 PM)
Hey everyone, I'm here. Crazy times in the Big Ten. Let's get started.
Adam: While the lenient PSU player tranfer rules inposed by the NCAA seem appropriate for current players, it seems rediculous that programs on probation (namely OSU, USC) can benefit from this. Is the NCAA addressing this possiblity?
Adam Rittenberg (12:01 PM)
The only case where the NCAA could step in is if another team on probation tries to add a player and thus exceeds its scholarship limit imposed by the sanctions. But there are no restrictions on a team like USC trying to add a Penn State player if it can accommodate the scholarship.
Lance (Greensboro, NC)
I know vacated, unlike forfeited, wins don't count as wins for the opponent. But do the losses go away? Is Bielema now 60-17 rather than 60-19 at Wisconsin?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
I'll check on this, but I don't believe it reflects for the opponents.
Eddie (Hoboken, NJ)
I could not wait to post, I am fired up. Penn St broke exactly zero NCAA rules and the NCAA has NO jurisdiction here. Most people are citing the fact that we have to set an example and teach a lesson but where has the NCAA been during other problems? Why the rush to judgment? Why couldn't we wait for the courts, you know the real law, to run their course, and punish the right people? No example needed from the NCAA, first off, going to jail forever is much worse than losing four bowl games, civil and criminal lawsuits is much worse than losing 20 scholarships. The NCAA sent a message saying that this is all about the football program and not about the victims. The WRONG people were implicated today and the NCAA should be ashamed and embarrassed. I hope you post this and give equal weight and equal time to everyone to get their points across. Yesterday it was a very sad day for Penn State. Now it's a very sad day for everyone and the NCAA and the grandstanders have nobody but themselves to thank for it.
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Eddie, some interesting points here. The NCAA would argue that Penn State not only broke NCAA rules, but violated the very core of what the NCAA is supposed to be about. Their message Monday is that they had every right to act in this case. Not saying I agree, but they had no regrets about taking action here.
With PSU being given the death penalty light. Will the Big Ten move to get two more teams. If not, for the next 4-8 years the leaders division will just be OSU and UW. I cant see Ill, Ind, or Minn making any long term run at that division.
Adam Rittenberg (12:05 PM)
It's actually Illinois, Indiana and Purdue. Also, keep in mind Purdue had a very nice run of success between 1997-2004, and Illinois has had some nice seasons as well (2001, 2007). But I agree that if Penn State is down long term, the division could be a race between Ohio State and Wisconsin each year. I still don't think this is a reason for the Big Ten to expand. Again, just going out and "grabbing two teams" isn't the solution. Reshuffling the divisions might be.
I keep hearing commentators say "this is WORSE than the death penalty and it will take 8+ years before PSU competes". In 25 years since SMU got the "death penalty", SMU STILL hasn't recovered. Please explain how 8 years of bad football be worse than 20 years of bad football?
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
Rett, I think people need to separate SMU's death penalty from what Penn State's would have been. Penn State has a much better chance of recovering from a year without football than SMU did. Penn State is a larger school and a historical powerhouse. It has tremendous fan and donor support. SMU was an upstart in a wild conference (Southwest). It went from irrelevant to the top of college football in a matter of years. So SMU, in my mind, is much more vulnerable to a sanction like the death penalty than Penn State would have been. A one-year ban wouldn't have killed Penn State football for 20+ years like it did with SMU.
Zac (Just outside Columbus)
Hey Adam, thanks for the blog; I'm not sure what else i would do to keep occupied during this horrible bio 1010 class if it weren't for you guys. But considering each conference is defined by its big boys- the brand name programs, as the Pac12 is by teams such as USC/Oregon, the Big12 by Texas/Ou and now the Big10 by Michigan/Ohio st/Nebraska/PSU, how much does it hurt the conference that two of its brand name programs have taken major hits both reputation wise and in on the field efficiency? How much does these sanctions take away the conferences chances to reconcile its lost national image as one of the top 2 conferences in the land?
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
Ugh, bio. Not a fan, either, Zac. This is definitely another blow for the Big Ten, which has taken more than a few on the field in recent years. It'll get easier when Ohio State's bowl ban is over, and if Michigan can keep making strides, the league should be OK. But in the long run, having Penn State down for a while increases the importance for teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State to compete at a high level most years. Those teams, along with Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, etc., add overall depth to the league that it desperately needs.
MSUSteve280 (Novi, MI)
Long time reader, first time chatter. What are the chances the best two teams in the B1G meet in the conference championship game? Even if I'm being optimist, I would only give it 20-25% or so. This saddens me.
Adam Rittenberg (12:11 PM)
Steve, the nature of division play often makes this case, doesn't it? While last year's title game undoubtedly featured the Big Ten's two best teams, there will be years, and this could be one of them, where the top two squads are in one division. Right now, Michigan State and Michigan look to be the class of the conference. I'd say Wisconsin, Ohio State and Nebraska aren't far behind. I don't think Penn State was one of the top two teams before Monday's sanctions. While I understand your disappointment on this issue, I'd also suggest you get used to it because it'll happen again in years where no one is serving NCAA penalties.
Football question here - What kind of coverage will you guys be doing for training camps and when does coverage of that kick off?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Much like in past seasons, we'll be covering all the key news taking place during training camps, most of which kick off the week of Aug. 6. We'll also have features and larger preview pieces for the Big Ten as a whole. Brian and I likely will be making a few stops at camps, although not as many as we did in the spring.
Hey Adam, The media's knee jerk reaction to the Michigan/Toussaint situation is by going off of last year?s carry total and think Smith will have to step in. IMO, Michigan has to be successful to some degree at running between the tackles (pound and run some clock). Smith is elusive but on the outside where DR will do enough damage there to spread the D. Do you agree or disagree that by the end of that game if Michigan is the winner that Rawls will end up with the most carries (if there is no Fitz)?
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Steve, I think it comes down to what Al Borges wants to do. If he wants to run a more pro-style, downhill type offense, he should go with a guy like Rawls at running back over Vincent Smith. If he wants to run more of a spread-type offense, I have no issue with Smith being the guy. Smith is a really smart football player who can help in several areas. His problem: he's probably about 5-5. So that hurts. My guess is Borges will go with a guy like Rawls, but it depends on how he wants to attack Bama.
Will the NCAA still allow the B1G to have champonship game? The reason I ask is because with PSU banned next 4 years the B1G will have 11 teams? (even though this year we have 10 teams fighting for B1G Champ Game)
Adam Rittenberg (12:15 PM)
Yes. As long as you have 12 teams competing in a league and two divisions, you can have a championship game.
Adam, what recourse if any does Penn St. have now that they accepted the NCAA sanctions? I am surprised Penn St. didn't challenge the NCAA sanctions based totally upon the Freeh report which many experts claims is not accurate and makes too many assumptions.
Adam Rittenberg (12:18 PM)
Scott, I think the thing to remember is Penn State commissioned the Freeh report itself and accepted the findings. The NCAA viewed the Freeh report as more comprehensive than any investigation it could have conducted. There's some disagreement on whether Penn State took a deal because it would have faced the "death penalty" if not. I know that the NCAA wanted to issue penalties that Penn State would agree to. Still, it would have been an interesting appeals process because the NCAA basically shelved its typical infractions/enforcement procedure .
Antoine (Ann Arbor)
If the B1G gets rid of the intra-conference transfer restrictions, could you see other B1G programs going in and getting PSU's best players? And do you think there's a possibility of Michigan going in and getting some of their best O or D linemen?
Adam Rittenberg (12:19 PM)
Antoine, I fully expect some Big Ten schools to pursue Penn State transfers. For players who don't want to move far away, Big Ten schools could offer a good situation. I don't know if Big Ten coaches will be as aggressive as, say, SEC coaches, but if a Penn State player expresses interest, why would you turn him away?
Austin (Cheeseburger West Side)
If you were a star player at Penn State, would you transfer? If you were an average player at Penn State, would you do transfer?
Adam Rittenberg (12:21 PM)
The better question might be, if I'm a young player at Penn State, would I transfer? My sense is the younger players -- incoming freshmen, redshirt freshmen, sophomores -- are much more likely to move than the older guys. Silas Redd is a unique case because of his NFL potential and his ability to move to another program and fit in very quickly. But I don't expect too many Lions juniors or seniors to be making jumps. We'll see.
Hey Adam, Why is it that Wisconsin has such a hard time recruiting some top players? I know they don't have the history that schools such as OSU, PSU, and MU have but Wisconsin has a pretty good coach, great fans, great campus, are starting to get some national attention, and play a pro style offense. Bielema has had tremendous success with the program for the past 4 years but it seems like they haven't been able to bring in the "Big" recruits that they need to become a powerhouse.
Adam Rittenberg (12:23 PM)
Ryan, while Madison is a great town as you say, the location overall is a drawback. There simply aren't that many elite prospects within the state, or in neighboring states. So Wisconsin has to stretch itself more than other programs (Ohio State, etc). Also, Wisconsin's facilities are terrible, way below those at most comparable programs. The good news is they're doing a massive facilities upgrade that will put them on par with their Big Ten brethren. Think this will really help in recruiting.
I personally don't think the penalties were enough. PSU will be a lesser quality team while they have the scholarship reductions (I think they will be the equivalent of a good MAC team), but as soon as those start to lift, they will be able to recruit at a high level again. The qualities that have made the program strong in the past still remain (except for some of the prestige) and, unlike SMU, they aren't part of a minor/falling apart conference or overshadowed in their home state. I think a TV ban was necessary to truly affect change in the culture.
Adam Rittenberg (12:25 PM)
Fair point, Jon, but wouldn't a TV ban hurt Penn State's opponents as well? If Wisconsin goes to Happy Valley to clinch a division title Nov. 24, don't the Badgers deserve to be on TV? I'm a little surprised the Big Ten didn't cut Penn State out of its TV revenue a little more, but again, the TV ban seems like a highly unrealistic penalty. There's simply too much money there.
Adam please explain to me why people don't feel Wisconsin and Ohio St being in the same division isn't enough now that PSU is basically nothing for 8-10 years? Lets look at UW... B2B B1G champs, B2B Rose Bowl appearences and they win 9-10 games every year for the last decade. Kindof sounds like a powerhouse on the uptick in recruiting fyi. Now Ohio St...Urban Meyer. Sounds like enough to make a interesting leaders division. Am I crazy?
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
Chris, I think it's because of everyone else in the division. Purdue has been down, Illinois is extremely inconsistent and Indiana might the worst major conference program. You want to see more than a two-team race each year. The Legends division has that. The Leaders might not.
Enough of the Penn State stuff; you really have written and talked about it wayyyy too much.My question is, without Calvin McGee, how will Tre Roberson do in his remaining years in Bloomington?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
Tough question, Mike, since Calvin Magee never coached at Indiana. Think you mean Rod Smith. With Smith departing and Seth Littrell coming in from Arizona, Roberson will have to significantly upgrade his passing ability. Littrell loves to throw the ball and will do so a lot with his QBs at IU. Roberson clearly is a great athlete, but he needs to develop as a passing QB because Indiana will sling it around a lot this fall.
Austin (Cheeseburger West Side)
First player drafted from the B1G next year will be....
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
One of the star offensive tackles: Ricky Wagner (Wisconsin) or Taylor Lewan (Michigan).
Adam, who in your opinion has the best chance to win the legends division this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Michigan and Michigan State are right at the top, followed closely by Nebraska. I give MSU a slight edge because of its defense and what will be an improved run game, but Michigan gets the Spartans at home and should be very good in Year 2 under Brady Hoke. Also wouldn't count out Nebraska by any means. Huskers might end up being the most complete team of the three.
It's time for those saying it's not a football/NCAA issue to reassess. Everything Paterno and his cronies did in the coverup were to protect the football interests. The heinous crimes committed by Sandusky were blanketed over allowing more kids to be tortured not only on campus but in the facilities of the football team. Had the coverup not occurred and Paterno acted like the moral man he claimed to be the punishment wouldn't have been needed. Bylaws give the NCAA full authority and they made the right decision. Move on apologists and remember the victim is not Penn State.
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Sean, I agree with much of what you write here. The coverup absolutely was done to protect football, Penn State's rep, Joe Paterno's legacy, etc. The question is whether the NCAA fast-tracked this too much rather than go through the normal enforcement process. There was a ton of faith placed in the Freeh report by both the NCAA and Penn State. It would have been interesting to see the normal process unfold, but Mark Emmert, having the right to act that you outline, felt the need to do so swiftly and sternly.
Bud (Peoria, AZ)
Penn St. Dominated so far, rightly so... but switching gears. Last year Nebraska entered the B1G and was supposed to run away with the Legends. Now, with year under their belt and not having a target on their back, I think that many people are underestimating a very good team in Lincoln. 16 players back, Martinez and Burkhead and some of the best WR in the B1G, I think the Huskers are poised to strike. Probably drinking my own bath water but do you really see this team as the 3rd best team in the Legends...which basically means that they may be the 5th or 6th best in the B1G?
Adam Rittenberg (12:34 PM)
Bud, entering the season, I place Nebraska fourth or fifth in the league. But I also think things could change. A lot really depends on Martinez and whether he can become more of a complete quarterback. If he improves even a bit, Nebraska's offense should be very strong. The defense will be interesting. Not a lot of stars there, but the overall depth could be better if guys can stay healthy. I'm really interested to see how Bo Pelini and his staff fare in Year 2. Their prep work will be a lot easier this time around.
Unclear on this, but has the NCAA completely stopped investigating Penn State? What if an investigative reporter finds academic fraud under Paterno or extra benefits, since Paterno hasn't been forthright?
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Jon, the NCAA said it reserves the right to investigate further allegations and add more punishments and sanctions, depending on what comes out. So this case certainly isn't closed.
Jack (Parts Unknown)
Do you think Maxwell is "the truth" or something for MSU? I don't really see how you can put them ahead of anybody with a QB who hasen't started a college game.
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
People act like you can't win the league with a first-year starter at quarterback. Daryll Clark was a first-year starter for Penn State in 2008. Todd Boeckman was a first-year starter for Ohio State in 2007. So it has happened before. While Maxwell certainly has to prove himself, he's not exactly a true freshman, either. He has been groomed for this for several years and learned under Cousins.
Any chance of Silas Redd going to Michigan with the arrest of Fitz?
Adam Rittenberg (12:39 PM)
Highly doubt it, Mattson. Think it will be USC or staying at Penn State for Silas, although some SEC teams would love to add him, too.
Stephanie (Westerville, Ohio)
What is your opinion, Adam, on the Big Ten's edict (more/less) to have all Big Ten stadiums have the Big Ten logo on the field/turf/grass starting this season? I've never seen a Big Ten logo on Ohio Stadium's turf (in my life).
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
It's a branding opportunity, Stephanie. And of all the criticism the Big Ten received for Legends/Leaders, etc., the "B1G" mark seems to have resonated very well. So why not include it on the field for a bunch of nationally televised games? They've done so with basketball for years, so it makes sense.
Adam, With Danny O'Brien coming in as a transfer from Maryland do you think that more teams will start looking for transfer QB's? Also O'Brien definitely wasn't all that impressive with Maryland so what makes him such a huge upgrade in many people's minds? Seems a bit overrated but he's definitely better than the other QB's on the Badgers this year.
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Larson, I think it depends on the team. It's never ideal to assume you can add good transfer QBs every year. The better approach is to recruit good ones and develop them over time. I'm sure if Wisconsin found itself in a better situation with quarterback depth, it wouldn't have looked at O'Brien. But it makes total sense to add him -- especially for two seasons, not one -- just as it did with Russell Wilson. O'Brien certainly is not Wilson, but he had a good year in 2010. If he can get back to that form, he'll be able to help a Badgers offense that doesn't need that much from the quarterback position.
David (Chicago, IL)
Adam, I find it interesting that the scholarship reductions call for 15 per recruiting class from 2013 - 2016. However, it calls for no more than 65 on the roster from 2014- 2017. So isn't this basically reductions over 5 years (2013 - 2017), instead of 4? This has not been highlighted much by the media.
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
I actually explained this pretty clearly yesterday. The idea with the staggered penalties is to give Penn State time to get down to the 65 number. Penn State couldn't get there now because it has more than 65 scholies, and the NCAA wasn't about to start kicking Penn State players out of the program. So the idea is, you offer 15 the next two seasons, you should be able to get down to 65 easily by 2014. Each of the penalties -- offering only 15, playing with only 65 -- lasts for four years.
Jason (Columbus, OH)
Adam....Ohio State last year. Penn State this year. Who do you think will rob you and Brian of your spring/summer next year with off-field issues. Look at the bright side, it cannot get any UGLIER than this.....I hope!
Adam Rittenberg (12:45 PM)
Hope so, too, Jason. Lot of people think we live to cover this stuff. I don't. It's part of the job though. Hoping for a much quieter offseason next year.
Corey (Ann Arbor)
With an extremely athletic QB in Kain Colter coming back to make some big plays and the deepest WR core in the B1G, what do you anticipate from Northwestern (as far as W/L) goes? It seems to me that this year is a year for NU to make great strides, given the overall strength of recent recruits and the relative weakness/manageability of the schedule.
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Corey, it's a bit tough because of the schedule, and the concerns on the defensive side. Northwestern is extremely young at some spots, such as the secondary, and hasn't fielded a decent defense since the 2008 season. I have little doubt the Wildcats will rack up yards and points, but if they can't stop people, it won't matter. The start of the season is absolutely huge. Northwestern could start 5-1 or 6-0, or it could be 3-3 or 2-4. The back end of the schedule is much, much tougher.
What's the hold up on Kyle Prater's eligibility?
Adam Rittenberg (12:48 PM)
There was a bit of a delay in getting the NCAA all the paperwork it needed, but I don't understand why there hasn't been a decision yet. It shouldn't take this long, but I'd expect we'll hear something in the next two weeks. Thing is, Prater still can practice with the team either way. So he'll be out there Aug. 6.
spartaninaz (See username)
Adam, why is the media/NCAA/public so quick to cast judgement in a criminal matter when there has not been a criminal investigation of any persons other than Sandusky to date? Shouldn't the legal system run its course first?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Only going to address this once. The NCAA doesn't view this as a criminal matter. It views it as an institutional failure of the highest order. It views it as a violation of the NCAA's core principles. While other Penn State officials will plead their cases in court, the NCAA viewed the Freeh report as a sufficient investigation. It felt waiting for the Curley and Schultz cases to play out wasn't necessary.
What if the NCAA had investigated though? They could have found more than what was reported in the Freeh report and Penn St could be worse off than they are now (hard to believe). Am I wrong?
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
They didn't believe they could. Emmert said the Freeh report was much better than any NCAA investigation could have been.
Haven't your readers ever seen a NCAA investigation before? This isn't a criminal case. The people in charge of the program screwed up so the current team gets punished. Not fair, but no other way to do it.
Adam Rittenberg (12:51 PM)
Yep, thanks, Mac. You're dead on. A little disappointed with the short-sightedness of some chatters today.
Will the NCAA ever change its course and follow what Jay Bilas says and punish or condemn top administrators (presidents and AD's) rather than just coaches and players? Mark Emmert never mentions Graham Spanier or Tim Curley, it seems.
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
They didn't directly mention them, Dan, and that was disappointing. The NCAA seemed too hesitant to assign individual accountability. I hope that changes. But it still doesn't excuse the fact that this was an institutional failure that Penn State acknowledges.
Adam, to David's point: if Penn State adds 15 scholarship players each from 2013 through 2016, and is still capped at 65 for 2017, they can only add 20 scholarship players for 2017, assuming there have been no redshirts, transfers, etc. (The 15 players from 2013 would graduate, leaving Penn State with 15 players from each of 2014, 2015 and 2016 for a total of 45 players). There IS a fifth year to the penalty that no one is discussing. Glad that the NCAA has decided to deprive 45 young men of a scholarship opportunity, since this reduction represents a net loss for all programs.
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Ah, see what you mean. You are correct in that Penn State has to respect the 65-man scholarship limit with its future recruiting classes. Typically, however, there are a few players who transfer or don't return for their fifth year. I agree the scholarship management poses some incredible challenges, and it's why Penn State's roster might not be back to normal until 2019 or 2020 even though the penalties will be done by then.
Adam Rittenberg (12:54 PM)
Guys, I have to cut out a bit early for a call, so this is my last for the day ...
Eddie (Hoboken, NJ)
No disrespect here Adam but I do not believe we are short-sighted. Past investigations that punish current rosters are based off of players on the team committing infractions. No player on Penn St had anything to do with this which is why I stick to my guns that this is a criminal and court matter, NOT an NCAA matter!! Come on Adam!
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Again, Eddie, it was an unprecedented case involving top leaders at an institution. The top leaders failed, so the institution is punished. I know that's hard to comprehend when you see players transferring, no bowls, etc., but this punishment is for the institution. The current players just happen to be there. I'm not saying it's right, but that's how NCAA punishments work. The institution gets punished.
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
OK, one last one for real ...
Ron Powlus (Berwick, PA)
Any chance the B1G renews a push for Notre Dame for added brand value to replace PSU's weakened brand. Keep PSU, but add another team to fill the void created by sanctions
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
Don't believe so, Ron. Notre Dame likely going to ACC or Big 12 if it joins a league. Big Ten won't actively pursue ND. If ND decides it's interested and pursues B1G, that's a different story.
Adam Rittenberg (12:57 PM)
OK, thanks for the chat. Stay with us for Big Ten media days coverage Thursday and Friday!