Chat with Brian Bennett
Bennett joined ESPN.com in August 2008 after nine years at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered college sports and the University of Louisville beat. He lives in Louisville.
Send your questions now and join Bennett in The Show at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday!
Brian Bennett (3:00 PM)
OK, it's time to talk Big East football. Rough weekend for the conference, but there's always Week 2.
Hey Brian. Do you think West Virginia will roll over very good ECU team this weekend? Or will ECU still be running high from their upset victory over Virginia Tech to the point that WVU can't handle it?
Brian Bennett (3:01 PM)
I think East Carolina is legit, and I expect a close game. I suspect West Virginia has a little too much offensive firepower, though, unlike Virginia Tech.
Can the Bearcats pull off the upset of the Sooners in Norman this weekend? Would a close loss gain them any more respect because there doesn't seem to be much for Cincinnati this year...?
Brian Bennett (3:02 PM)
I just got back from Cincinnati, and the Bearcats seem confident in their chances. It's a great opportunity, but they'll have to play to their highest potential. I think they'll score some points, at least. And not only Cincinnati, but the Big East could use a big performance.
Mike (Beckley, WV)
Pat White was near-perfect against Villanova with 208 yards and 5 TDs, breaking Marc Bulger's career offensive production in the process. If White performs like this all season and stays healthy, would you consider it a crime for him not to be invited to New York in December?
Brian Bennett (3:03 PM)
If Pat White plays like that all year, they should build a statue of him. Seriously, he's right in the thick of the Heisman discussion, but you know how this goes. The team has to keep winning, and he has to have big games in the Mountaineers' spotlight games against Auburn and Colorado.
Scott T. Knoxville, TN
Hey Brian, hey why doesn't WVU get more resp--just kidding. I know we're officially one week into football season 2008 and we're still dealing with verbal commitments, but how are next year's recruiting classes shaping up? Have Wannstedt's recruits already been anointed as the best in the Big East or can we expect WVU's new coaches, and USF's recent success to bring in some competitive talent to the Big East? As a Mountaineer fan I'm already drooling over Boyd and Heastie.
Brian Bennett (3:04 PM)
I'm not extremely well-versed on recruiting but I know that Rutgers and West Virginia have created a buzz with some of their early commitments.
Bill (Unionville, CT)
Your opinion on the weekend's biggest disappointment and most pleasant surprise?
Brian Bennett (3:05 PM)
I assume you mean just in the Big East. Biggest disappointment was far and away Pittsburgh. Just an awful loss for the Panthers. Most pleasant surprise? Probably Pat White's passing ability.
Post Bowling Green, don't you feel a little foolish lavishing so much praise on Pitt for the last few weeks? Is Whiney safe if he can't put together a winning season?
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
Yes, I do. I bought into the talent and perhaps disregarded the coaching track record. I think Wannstedt is safe for now, but if they don't at least make a bowl, watch out.
How does the Big East compare talent wise this year compared to previous years?
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
Well, if the first weekend is any indication, it's a down year. I think there's a lot of talent in the league, but at a lot of places, it's young in key spots.
What are your thoughts on Pitt? Can they recover or is Wanny on the way out?
Brian Bennett (3:08 PM)
You're asking the guy who said they'd win at least 8 games for another prediction? Seriously, one loss is not the end of the world. Pitt can still start out 3-1 if it turns things around quickly. But the offense needs to get more imaginative, and the defense needs to play more up to its potential. I'm thinking more like 6-6 or 7-5 now if things go well.
Can Noel Devine become one of the best in the country?
Brian Bennett (3:09 PM)
Remains to be seen. He didn't do a whole lot in the Villanova game. Granted, Villanova was stacking the box to keep him from going crazy, but you still would have liked to see more from Devine against FCS/I-AA competition.
UC Student George
Brian, I am sitting in my apartment on campus at UC and can hear the team using fake crowd noises at practice! Thought you might like the live update... Many of these guys have played in these environments and I don't think they will be intimidated.
Brian Bennett (3:10 PM)
Nice. Thanks, George. Yeah, remember that a lot of UC players have played at Ohio State, so this is not the first huge crowd they'll have seen.
Jay Birmingham, Alabama
Is there any reason why UofL fans should continue to believe that Kragthorpe can turn things around at Louisville? He couldn't win with talent last year. After the Kentucky game, it doesn't appear that they have speed or talent left this year. And his recruiting is not exactly turning any heads. thanks
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
The No. 1 reason is because you don't have another choice. Tom Jurich will give Kragthorpe every opportunity to succeed. It was easy to see on Sunday that Kragthorpe wasn't left with a ton of young talent to work with, and it's going to be an uphill battle. But he's supposed to be a great coaching mind, so let's see what he can do the rest of the year.
Do you think Rutgers took a step backwards yesterday? You can't expect them to win everygame and I relaize Fresno St. is a good program, but you can't get beat by 20 on your home field to a non-BCS school! Agree???
Brian Bennett (3:14 PM)
That was a tough loss, no question. Rutgers seemingly had control of that game most of the way but just couldn't finish off drives. The good news is the Knights now have a week off before playing North Carolina and can correct some problems. I still think they'll end up being a factor in the Big East.
In my opinion it will not be a down year for the BE. Instead of 6 decent teams, the conference should have 3 top teams in WVU, USF, and Cinn. Do you buy that argument?
Brian Bennett (3:15 PM)
That's quite possible, Jeff, although the league was touting its depth all the way up to Week 1. Perhaps those three you mentioned (and maybe UConn) will be the four heavyweights. But none of the four have played major-college competition yet, so we don't really know. We'll have a better idea this week, after games like WVU-ECU, South Florida-Central Florida and of course, Cincinnati-Oklahoma.
John (Charlotte, NC)
How would you compare the top three Big East teams with the top three Mountain West teams?
Brian Bennett (3:17 PM)
Very interesting question, John. Utah and BYU are good enough to play with anyone. Who's the third best in that league? TCU? I'd give a slight edge to the Big East because I think West Virginia and South Florida have more skill players, but on neutral sites I think it would be a coin-flip.
I know you probably won't answer, seeing as this is a Big East Q&A...but...with all of the attacks the ACC is getting, why is no one attacking the Big East for going winless vs. D-1 (yeah, yeah, FBS) teams?
Brian Bennett (3:18 PM)
I pointed that out already several times on my blog. It was a bad, bad weekend for the Big East. The only saving grace is that its top two teams didn't lose, as Clemson and Va Tech did. But they didn't play anybody, either.
Ted (Hartford, CT)
Who would you rather have coaching your team a guy like Randy Edsal who finds ways to win with little talent or a guy like Dave Wandstedt who gets a lot of talent but can never win?
Brian Bennett (3:19 PM)
Well, I think Randy Edsall is one of the most underappreciated coaches in America. I'd love to see what he could do with a huge recruiting pipeline.
Going to Norman this weekend, have any suggestions on places to eat or to go see?
Brian Bennett (3:20 PM)
It's my first time to Norman, too, Chris. I've heard the Library is a good spot for an adult beverage.
Craig H (CT)
Who will have a better record by the end of the year, Rutgers or Pitt?
Brian Bennett (3:20 PM)
Can't believe I'm going back to this well again, but I'll stick with Pittsburgh. Better schedule.
jason (louisville, KY)
You have louisville replacing SU in the power rankings cellar. Who wins the SU/Louisville rematch in november? Will anybody care?
Brian Bennett (3:21 PM)
Who knows what either team will look like in November, or if Syracuse will even still have its coach. If the line opened today, I'd call it a pick 'em.
Chris go to the Mont and try the Queso. Best stuff ever.... Try 747 for an adult beverage.
what is your prediction in the UC-OU game? Spread opened at 20
Brian Bennett (3:22 PM)
Still thinking about that for my prediction on Thursday. I think Cincinnati keeps it close for three quarters and then OU pulls away. But I may change my mind before then.
Michael (Charleston, WV)
What are the changes WVU makes the National Championship Game? They are a proven winner and have won 3-consecutive BCS Games. Georgia and Oklahoma Included.
Brian Bennett (3:22 PM)
The past has no influence on this season. Their chances are good if they run the table. But that defense has to improve. 21 points to Villanova at home was a bad start.
Samuel: Frankfort, KY
Brian, Isn't life grand! One day you are writing articles for a newspaper in KY and now you are chatting to the Nation over the Internet on the most popular Sports website in the World!
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
Life is indeed grand.
Brent (Morgantown, WV)
Brian, I know you were just in mo-town this past weekend for the game. How did the atmosphere compare to other college games you have been too?
Brian Bennett (3:26 PM)
Very good, Brent. It seemed like the whole state was there tailgating. I say West Virginia has the best atmosphere in the Big East right now. It doesn't quite top some of the places I've been in the SEC, though.
Is this the first time ever that a BCS conference got through the opening week without defeating a single Division IA team?
Brian Bennett (3:27 PM)
That's a good question, and one I don't know the answer to. There were only four games of that nature, however. Remember, it's a small league.
Will Syracuse ever play their true rival Boston College soon,Brian?
Brian Bennett (3:28 PM)
I think it will be a while. Still way too many hard feelings over the split to the ACC.
If you like BBQ try Van's Pig Stand, great place to eat good Ribs...
Alston (cincinnati, oh)
Hey Brian I'm an SEC fan displaced from home for the next three months. I love college football too much to let it stop me. Any recommendations for the best games in conference in driving distance from Cincy?
Brian Bennett (3:29 PM)
I assume you mean Big East games. Check out the Oct. 30 game between USF and Cincy at Nippert. Should be a lot of fun.
I'm an OU graduate and The Mont is a great place after the game for dinner and drinks! Its just down the street from the Stadium
The past does have influence when it is a biased vote.
Brian Bennett (3:30 PM)
If that's true, then I guess that rules out Ohio State this year. I really think most voters look at this year only.
Syracuse and BC actually start a series in 2011,Brian.Notre Dame comes off BC's schedule after 2010.
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
Well, there you go. I guess time heals all wounds.
Jon Morgantown, WV
Colorado vs West Virginia, what are your thoughts on that game with the much improved Colorado team and RB Darell Scott?
Brian Bennett (3:32 PM)
I think it's a very difficult game for West Virginia, especially in the third game of the season. I expect a shootout.
Slick: The Hills, WV
What % of the time to you have to be right to keep your job?
Brian Bennett (3:33 PM)
Well, I went 5-3 in my first week picks, so apparently 62.5 percent is acceptable.
cardfandan (Louisville, KY)
Lost in the offensive debacle in Louisville on Sunday was the apparently vast improvement of the Cardinal defense. Was the D actually THAT improved or is the UK offense just not that good? Is there any hope for the future of Cardinal football?
Brian Bennett (3:34 PM)
The Louisville defense played well and was fundamentally sound, especially against the run. But I don't think Kentucky was trying to do too much with Hartline starting his first college game.
Nathan (Santa Cruz CA)
Native Sooner here. When in Norman, you guys should check out the Deli for great live music. Coach's is a pretty good sports bar that brews it's own beer. It's also home to one of our Heisman trophies (owner Steve Owens' 1969). Good pool tables there. Van's Pig Stand is a must for BBQ lovers. Just up the road in OKC is Bricktown, a great restaurant/bar district with a riverwalk & baseball stadium. Sooners are friendly, have a great time! PS-Before the game, get an O-Club Burger at one of the rolling grills outside the gates.
Eric (Tampa, FL)
Are you going to go the whole chat without fielding a USF question? I know its Tennessee-Martin but you have to admit the Bulls looked awfully good. And if you watched the game and caught a glimpse of freshman BJ Daniels...look out Big East when he runs the show!
Brian Bennett (3:36 PM)
Believe it or not, Eric, yours is the first USF question I've gotten. Yes, the Bulls were absolutely dominant, moreso than any other team in the league. If they take care of business against Central Florida, I'll really be looking forward to my Week 3 trip to Raymond James for the Kansas game
What is your predict W-L for UCONN? Can uconn will repeat Big East Champions again? How good are they this year compare to last year?
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
7-5 or 8-4. And it's too soon to tell.
Do you believe USF should be considered a contender for a BCS bowl this year or are they still growing into that role?
Brian Bennett (3:38 PM)
Sure they're a contender. But they have to keep winning and avoid the mid-season slumps they've endured in the past. They're as good as anyone in the Big East.
Brian Bennett (3:39 PM)
OK, that's all the time I have today. Thanks for all the questions.