Chat with Adam Rittenberg
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's Big Ten reporter 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 Thursday at noon ET!
Adam Rittenberg (12:00 PM)
Hey everyone, I'm here. Let's chat!
With OSU's latest recruiting movements, where do you see them starting off next season as long as Braxton returns?
Adam Rittenberg (12:02 PM)
Alex, the recruiting gains, while impressive, have less to do with next year's success than Braxton coming back. Those players still will be young. Braxton's decision will be huge. Same goes for Ryan Shazier's, as the Buckeyes aren't very deep at linebacker. Keep in mind Ohio State loses four of five starting offensive linemen no matter what, and if line coach Ed Warinner takes another job, that leaves a big void. Ohio State still will be very good entering next year, but I don't think the Buckeyes will be as big of a favorite as they were heading into this season.
dino galella (PA)
will we see Penn States bowl ban lifted next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:03 PM)
Hard to predict, but I think there's a decent chance. Penn State has consistently received strong reports from George Mitchell, and the NCAA already has reduced the scholarship sanctions. Two years is still a heavy penalty, and the hubbub that existed in July 2012 isn't there any more. We'll see.
Pleaaaaassssseeeee tell me the Illini are addressing their woeful defense in this next recruiting class???
Adam Rittenberg (12:04 PM)
They certainly are, especially through the junior-college ranks, which can be a quick fix. Illinois is very young on that side of the ball and needs more playmakers along the defensive line. I'm a little surprised Tim Beckman is keeping his entire defensive staff together, but I understand his point about wanting continuity after replacing six of nine assistants after the 2012 season.
Charlie (Chilhowie, VA)
Hi Adam! Enjoy the blog daily. Michigan seems to be losing momentum with some previously committed recruits, i.e. George Campbell. Does a loss to K State in the bowls fragment what was once a very strong recruiting class?
Adam Rittenberg (12:07 PM)
Hmmm, I don't know if the bowl outcome matters that much, Charlie, as Michigan's season kind of is what it is. The bigger thing is whether Hoke keeps his staff intact, which he wants to do but might not be able to do with a poor showing in Arizona. Recruits are fickle and Michigan had a disappointing season, so some attrition is to be expected.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What College Football Bowl Game will you be Attending at?
Adam Rittenberg (12:08 PM)
Rose. Can't wait.
What is your take on the twitter bashing going on with DJK, I cannot see any substance to this and find it very disturbing.
Adam Rittenberg (12:09 PM)
The timing strikes me as a bit odd, Ron, but Derrell feels strongly about what happened to him at the end of his career. I don't doubt that some of it is true, but I don't expect Iowa to say much if anything about it.
David (Ottawa, Canada)
The Badgers has persistent problems with special teams this year and there was little improvement as the season went on. Do you see the coaching staff taking any steps to improve in this area?
Adam Rittenberg (12:10 PM)
It's a good question, David. Wisconsin's issues in the kicking game aren't new, as Bret Bielema's teams had similar problems. We saw Andersen make a decision at the kicker position, going with Russell for the future. But I agree he needs to do more there as it has cost Wisconsin for a while now.
Will Connor Cook go in the first round next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:12 PM)
Whoa now, let's hold on a sec. Cook had a great year, especially in Big Ten play, and could become a good pro prospect, but he also got away with quite a few bad throws that were nearly picked off. He still needs some work in my view to get where Kirk Cousins was, and Cousins was only a fourth-round pick.
Any word on Allen Robinson?
Adam Rittenberg (12:13 PM)
Nothing yet, Gunner. When we talked to him in Indianapolis, he said he was undecided. If he gets a strong-enough grade, I can't fault him for going pro. But another year with Hackenberg in O'Brien's offense could help him even more. He might also be waiting to see what happens with O'Brien.
Jake (State Farm)
Do you really think Bill O'Brien would be willing to move his family at this point, having just moved 2 years ago? Seems a little rough on the kids.
Adam Rittenberg (12:14 PM)
Speaking of O'Brien ... it is rough on your family, but coaches do it all the time, and O'Brien's kids are young, not in high school or anything. I doubt Bill wants to move several times, so the next move for him likely will be to an NFL job he really wants.
Chuck (Flushing, MI)
Did ND chicken out of playing Purdue? I can understand them wanting to get away from Michigan, but it seems like Purdue would be good for ND. They get to play a power conference team, and the kudos that go along with that, and chances are Purdue won't be that good.
Adam Rittenberg (12:16 PM)
Chuck, I hear you, but Notre Dame doesn't really get much from playing Purdue. The Irish want to play teams that bring some national attention and could help them in recruiting. That's what the ACC move is all about. Purdue really satisfies neither objective. It's too bad as the teams have met every year since 1946, but I'm not surprised at all.
Jim Delaney (Big Ten Country)
Adam,If the B1G goes 1-1 in BCS bowls and ends up with a winning record in the bowl season can we say this at least this puts us in the top 3 toughest conferences or has everyone already put Big 12, Pac 12, and ACC ahead of us?
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Jim, stop misspelling your own name (it's Delany). Big Ten is better than the Big 12 no matter what.
Adam Rittenberg (12:17 PM)
Hold on one sec. Phone call ...
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
Sorry for the interruption. When Chris Borland calls, you have to answer!
Adam Rittenberg (12:22 PM)
One more interview coming up ...
Adam Rittenberg (12:26 PM)
OK, now I'm back for good. Thanks for your patience.
Adam, Dantonio's salary is 9th in the B1G right now, at $1.9M. How much more will he get after this season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:28 PM)
He deserves to be at least in the top 3-4 in the league in terms of salary. I don't think Dantonio is as motivated by money as some coaches, and it's more important to him that his assistants are taken care of, but he's due a substantial raise. Michigan State needs to step up.
Jabber (Des Moines)
Your ND-Purdue comments sound a little bit like what many Hawkeye fans question...how does it benefit Iowa to play Iowa State each and every year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:29 PM)
Again, it's great for the state and the two fan bases, but it restricts Iowa from other opportunities that matter more nationally. Iowa will never get much credit for beating Iowa State -- just the way it is. I'd like to see Iowa schedule some non-conference opponents with better perception payoff. It'd also be nice for Iowa to play in different locations.
Jabber (Des Moines)
Istanbul or Constantinople?
Adam Rittenberg (12:30 PM)
Istanbul. Visited there in the spring of 2012. Awesome city. And got a sense of what things were like when it was Constantinople.
Word was that Braxton said he is "ready" to play on Sundays. Give me your odds on Braxton going pro and what round he will go if he jumps the Buckeye ship?
Adam Rittenberg (12:31 PM)
I say it's 65-35 he stays. Even if he has a big game against Clemson, the draft advisory board likely won't give him better than a third- or fourth-round grade. He can still improve as a passer with one more year in Meyer's offense.
Hackenberg had a great freshman year for Penn State. This is looking way into the future but sure looks like he has Heisman potential. Your thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg (12:32 PM)
Right now, he's the best young pro prospect at QB that the Big Ten has had in quite some time (Russell Wilson came into the league as almost a finished product). If BIll O'Brien stays at PSU and continues to surround Hackenberg with top weapons, Hackenberg will contend for national honors by his junior year at the latest. The one thing that could hold him back is if Penn State isn't an elite team or still has a bowl ban, which naturally makes people look away.
Any word on MSU giving DC Narduzzi a raise to keep him in the fold for another season?
Adam Rittenberg (12:33 PM)
It's coming, Pete. Would expect Narduzzi to be one of the 3-4 highest-paid coordinators in the Big Ten. And if the Texas coaching situation doesn't set off a crazy domino effect, I think he'll stay at MSU for another year and wait for potentially better jobs to open after the 2014 season.
David (Alpharetta, GA)
More of a general college football question. Why does a player get invited to/choose to attend the Senior Bowl vs East/West Shrine etc? Is there a difference?
Adam Rittenberg (12:35 PM)
Good question, David. The Senior Bowl is considered the premier all-star game, so the top senior prospects typically head to Mobile. The next group then goes to the Shrine Game. There have been some cases where players appear in both contests, but it's usually one or the other. NFL teams pay attention to both, but every head coach and GM goes to the Senior Bowl.
Besides the generic statement made yesterday, Urban Meyer seems rather "quiet" RE: the Texas HC job search/clown show. Do you think he is on the radar? Can anything be read into this silence? What about Dantonio? Thanks!!!
Adam Rittenberg (12:36 PM)
I don't think he's going anywhere, Clif. Other than money, Texas is a lateral move for Urban, and he has more ties to Ohio than to Texas. I know a lot of people don't believe anything he says, but I'd be very surprised if he's not at Ohio State in 2014.
wait....did I see the big10 is better than big12?? hahahahaha!!!!!
Adam Rittenberg (12:37 PM)
At the top, it certainly is. The Big Ten has two top-7 teams. Baylor is really good, but Okie State spit the bit and I'm not impressed with OU at all.
Do you see the 2014 season being one of growth and gaining experience for Michigan or will it be there year where Brady Hoke's coaching and recruiting shows on the field?
Adam Rittenberg (12:38 PM)
Mitch, it had better be the latter. You can't blame Rich Rodriguez forever, and Michigan isn't some developmental program. If Michigan never went away, as AD Dave Brandon and others contend, it should be able to contend for a league championship in Brady Hoke's fourth season. Big season for Hoke coming up.
I'm curious about the differing transfer requirements within the B1G. UW recently had to pull an offer from a JUCO due to grade issues, but he was then admitted to Nebraska. My understanding is the admittance requirements are significantly different, at least for transfers...seems a bit unfair. You're thoughts on differences both within the conference and among the conferences, and how this should be factored into expectations?
Adam Rittenberg (12:40 PM)
On the whole, the admissions standards in the Big Ten are higher than those of other leagues except the ACC and Pac-12. There are differences between schools in the Big Ten, and Nebraska has historically accepted more junior-college players than Wisconsin, which only recently has gone to the juco well under Gary Andersen (a former juco player himself). I wonder what Jim Delany thinks about the influx of junior-college players at places like Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois and even Penn State. It hasn't been typical of the Big Ten, if you catch my drift.
over/under 4 1/2 big ten championships won in 14-15 by Maryland Terrapins - I am on the over side
Adam Rittenberg (12:41 PM)
Uh, forgive me for not brushing up on Maryland's non-revenue sports. The women's lacrosse games between Maryland and Northwestern should be pretty fierce. I'll go out on a limb, though, and say one of those Big Ten titles won't be in football.
Big Bob (indiana)
Which of the bottom end of the Big 10 teams do you see making the most improvement next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:42 PM)
Northwestern will be better. The Wildcats had everything go against them this year and return a lot on defense and more experience along the offensive line. I'd be stunned if Northwestern has another losing season. Purdue can't possibly by any worse, and if Indiana simply makes minimal strides on defense, it should be able to get to a bowl game.
Borland Fan (MN)
What'd Borland have to say?
Adam Rittenberg (12:43 PM)
Talked to him about the senior class and playing their last game as a group. Most of them haven't experienced a bowl win, but Borland has, as he played in 2009 when UW won the Champs Sports Bowl. I still remember the Miami players shivering on the sideline as it was like 45 degrees. Wimps.
What, if anything, can the Buckeyes coaching staff do to improve the passing defense b/w now and January 3?
Adam Rittenberg (12:44 PM)
Bernard, it's all about developing the younger players. I don't know if Corey Brown can become something he's not by Jan. 3. Maybe Ohio State can employ a bigger rotation in the secondary with younger guys getting more reps against Clemson's dangerous receivers.
Mark (Westford, Ma)
Great to speak with you at the Rock Bottom on Big Ten Championship eve! How do you see the evolving QB controversy at MSU next year, even if Cook and MSU win the Rose? How does Terry break in?
Adam Rittenberg (12:46 PM)
Great meeting you, too, Mark. I think you were pretty outnumbered that night by Ohio State fans. I'd be very surprised if there's a true QB controversy next year after what Cook has done for the Spartans. It would be wise to get Damion Terry on the field and mix things up a little, but Cook should be the main QB for MSU.
Chuck (Iowa City, Iowa)
Can Iowa contend for the division title next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:47 PM)
Absolutely, Chuck. The West division is wide open. Wisconsin loses a huge senior class, Nebraska has some retooling to do, Minnesota still needs to be better on offense and Northwestern is coming off of a 5-7 season. Iowa has its own issues, namely replacing a great group of linebackers, but most of the offense returns and the defensive line took significant steps this year and also returns.
More import for building a team for 2015 Hoosiers getting to a bowl next year, the exposer for possible recruits or the extra practice time it will give young guys on the roster?
Adam Rittenberg (12:49 PM)
They all sort of go together, but simply getting to a bowl game for the first time since 2007 and just the second time since 1993 would be the most significant part for Indiana and head coach Kevin Wilson.
Chuck (Bloomington, IN)
I have to admit, I'm a little worried that we haven't heard anything one way or another about if IU is going with a new DC. Do you think Wilson waiting for the end of the bowl season before making his decision to cut Mallory or not, or is this more indicative that he's going to keep the defensive staff intact for next year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:50 PM)
Back-to-back IU questions. Love it! I think there's still some evaluating to do, as many assistant coach changes are made after the bowls are complete. Wilson backed Mallory during the year, so we'll see, but I don't think anything has been finalized. Indiana has to change the culture on that side of the ball. It has been bad for more than 20 years.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
Adam: pretend that the playoffs were this year and you're the one man selection committee...do you put in Stanford over Bama? To this end, do you think the committee will shy away from setting up rematches? Once it is settled on the field why does it have to be settled twice?
Adam Rittenberg (12:52 PM)
Bren, I would go Bama ahead of Stanford because Stanford lose twice, including once to a bad Utah team. That takes you out of the mix, despite the Cardinal winning a good league (Pac-12). It would be nice to avoid rematches in the semifinals, although some might be inevitable.
Justin (Whiteman AFB)
Nebraska made some strides in recruiting last week, but are starting to slip in the rankings again.....do you expect anymore good commitments to Nebraska this coming year, and who are there top 3 recruits currently?
Adam Rittenberg (12:55 PM)
Didn't forget you, Justin. Nebraska typically makes a nice recruiting push in mid to late January and I'd expect the same this year. As far as top recruits, I really like Terrell Clinkscales, the junior-college defensive tackle. Offensive linemen D.J. Foster and Tanner Farmer are also nice pickups.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
I'm surprised that Jim Heacock has not landed anywhere...is this by his choice. His defenses at Ohio State were dominant.
Adam Rittenberg (12:56 PM)
Yeah, heard it's by choice. Heacock certainly could coach if he wants to, but he's happy helping out Ohio State and still living in the Columbus area. Very good coach, in my view.
Recently UM's OC Borges said that the team looked good during the OSU game because the kids were executing. Seems like a slap to me. But anyway, how much of that do you buy versus he finally called a game with an urgency to win?
Adam Rittenberg (12:58 PM)
I thought Al called a very good game against Ohio State and showed more creativity than he had. The offensive line issues really restrict what he can do. I like Al, but sometimes he comes off like the smartest guy in the room. He's not the only offensive coordinator like that -- cough, Charlie Weis, cough -- but it can be a problem. Sometimes he seems to outsmart himself with play calls instead of going to the strengths of his players. His game plan for Kansas State in the bowl will be fascinating, especially if Devin Gardner is still banged up.
It's me (the cloud)
What was the most fun regular season game that you attended this year?
Adam Rittenberg (12:59 PM)
The Game. After attending three exceedingly boring Ohio State-Michigan games during the RichRod era, this year's exceeded my expectations by a long shot. Terrific drama all the way until the end. I also attended Auburn-Georgia, which had a pretty cool ending, too.
Rob (Rochester, NY)
true or false. Hack will be the best B10 QB next year?
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
It'll be between Hack, Braxton Miller and possibly Connor Cook. In terms of natural pro-style ability, Hack probably tops the list. He's very impressive.
Adam Rittenberg (1:01 PM)
OK, guys, time's up. Thanks for bearing with me today. Talk to you soon!