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)
Good afternoon, everybody. Let's talk some Big East football and whatever else is on your mind.
Brian Meister, Mt. Washington, KY
Brian, If U of L is going to win the South Florida game, Hunter Cantwell needs to stop throwing interceptions. He can't throw two picks on the first two series. You just can't do that against USF and Cantwell just needs to throw it away when nobody's open. If he struggles again, I'd put in Matt Simms if I were Kragthorpe.
Brian Bennett (3:02 PM)
I agree that he made a really bad decision on the first pick, and Cantwell has thrown too many interceptions this year. Let's also remember that A) he's had a really young, inexperience receiving corps, and there's no way for us to know how many times it was his bad throw or a receiver's bad route and B) his ankle has been a problem the last 2 1/2 games. He should be healthy Saturday, and you're right, he needs to avoid turnovers.
Shawn ( Gaithersburg MD)
Brian, I feel like people still are not respecting Pitt. Why is USF ranked ahead of them in the power rankings, the AP poll, and the coaches poll?
Brian Bennett (3:03 PM)
Because they lost to Bowling Green while South Florida beat Kansas
Any chance the Big East can get another high-profile bowl in the near future? With the Gator Bowl going to ND or even Big 12, it's a big drop-off for the Big East after the BCS to the Sun Bowl.
Brian Bennett (3:04 PM)
I know that's one of their main goals going forward. ND is not a lock for the Gator Bowl because the Cotton is a possibility, and if the Big 12 gets two in the BCS as expected, a Big East team could still slip in there. But it's a bad deal overall for the league.
Brian, Does Pitt have the ability to run the table? Also, do you believe they are waiting to run more of their Wildcat formations against other teams? It seems the coaches are finally understanding how to coach college (as opposed to professional) players. Your take? Thank you!
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
The ability? Sure. But I don't think any Big East teams runs the table in the league. As far as the Wildcat, Wannstedt was asked about that recently and said for it to really work, the back needs to have the threat of passing, and McCoy does not excel at that. Their offense has looked pretty good to me the past couple of weeks out of base formations.
Austin Morgatown, Wv
I truly do think that WVU is still the favorite to win the Big East title*. Your thoughts? *Dare to dream
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
I think 'favorite' is too strong of a word. Right now, I'd make Pitt the favorite, just because it has the biggest road win. But West Virginia will have a say in the race, for sure, and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Mountaineers end up on top again.
Brian from Boston
Hi Brian, Thanks for posting my messages to your mail bag. I just wanted to follow up with the direction Uconn needs to go to turn things around before things are to late. I have to say I have been somewhat disappointed with the Uconn offense and even more so with the special teams. What can Uconn do to make things better? I think the Cincy game is a do or die game as if they lose that, they are 1-2 in BE play with West Virginia, pittsburgh and South Florida still looming. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:08 PM)
Well, first and foremost, the Huskies have to get back to playing mistake-free football. They simply can't win with bad special teams play and penalties. Their margin of error is just too small. And then I'd like to see them take the wraps off Frazer just a bit. If he's healthy, I think they'll try that at home. Remember his three career games have all come on the road.
Fo Sheezy, Pittsburgh
Brian, good job on the blogging. My question -- You always say the winner of the Big East is going to finish with a 5-2 record, but I have yet to see you go out on the line and say who that winner is....Also, please tell me what games that team is going to lose. Thanks.
Brian Bennett (3:11 PM)
Well, if you want a limb, here's a shaky one. I see a tie between Pitt and USF at 5-2. USF loses at Cincy but wins the rest. Pitt loses at UConn and and either at Cincy or at home to Louisville in a shocker. I'm 100 percent certain I will be wrong.
Tony (Newport News, VA)
Brian... huge game on Thursday night with the Big East battling the SEC... WVU vs Auburn. How do you see that one panning out..? Any chance WVU returns to glory by running the table..?
Brian Bennett (3:12 PM)
It looks to be a hard-hitting, low-scoring game with the way these two offenses are going. I like that Pat White is back and apparently at full speed. We still haven't seen a full game of what White and Brown in the same backfield can do. My gut says WVU pulls this one off at home.
Justin York, Pa
Tom Luicci writes in The Star-Ledger. Next up: LeSean McCoy is a comment from one of the links you wrote earlier do you really believe this is going to happen? McCoy seems more focused and Wanstache has said he is becoming more of a leader now then earlier in the season. Whats your prediction on the game too?
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
I really believe McCoy is the next running back Rutgers will face, yes. That's all the sentence meant. I think it's going to be closer than people think.
Austin Morgatown, Wv
A few random questions... What is your favorite Big East stadium? and Is the Big East a football or basketball conference first?
Brian Bennett (3:14 PM)
For sheer comfort, Ray Jay and Heinz. For best college atmosphere, Milan Puskar. And it's definitely a hoops league first.
Fo Sheezy, Pittsburgh
If Cincy beats USF and Pitt, as you have predicted, I can't imagine a scenario in which Cincy somehow loses 3 of the other 4 games they play. Is the Big East really just this much of a jumbled mess going forward? Is this good for the league, or is a 9-3 team going to a BCS bowl bad? My honest opinion is that there are 6 above average teams in the conference, and only 1 really bad team. I know you are on our side, but the Big East is easily better than the ACC and the Pac-10 (minus USC).
Brian Bennett (3:16 PM)
It is a jumbled mess. I do think the top teams, like Pitt, USF, Cincinnati, WVU, should get better as the season goes along, and I think they'll put up a good fight in their bowl games. That would help more than anything.
Andrew (Storrs, Ct)
I know UConn pretty much has to win the rest of their games to win the big east, but with the more difficult games at home down the stretch. Do you believe they still have a shot at it?
Brian Bennett (3:17 PM)
I have a hard time seeing them win at South Florida, and I'd be worried this weekend if Frazer can't go.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
Did you forgett th what ever else is on your mind part of this blog? Your only answering big east questions.
Brian Bennett (3:17 PM)
Big East questions first, Blake.
Kirk (Pittsburgh, PA)
Why did Dave Wannstedt ruin Pat Bostick's redshirt this year for three snaps in last weeks game?
Brian Bennett (3:18 PM)
That's a very good question. He said he wanted Bostick to get some time tin case he needed to be Stull's backup down the line. But if that's the case, why didn't he come in earlier in the game, which was 35-14 at the half? The only possible way it makes sense to me is if the coaching staff simply doesn't feel Bostick is their QB of the future.
Brian- Thanks for taking the question. I see 2 things standing in Pitt's way of winning the BE at this point: Turnovers and a return to bad coaching decisions. What do you think are the things standing in their way?
Brian Bennett (3:20 PM)
Some of the game-management skills still leave you shaking your head. If you saw the end of the first half at Navy, when Pitt forgot to call a timeout right away after stopping a Navy third down and then almost didn't get the punt team on the field. I'd also add injuries, because there's not a ton of depth, especially at some of the key defensive positions like LB
Jared, Panama City, FL
Brian if Richrod stays at WVU, Raynaud, JohnnyDingle, and Slaton stay. On top of that, if you remember correctly Tyrelle Pryor was locked up to come. The off would have stayed exactly the same, Terrance Kearns would be further along because Richrod pushes everyone harder and by the third game of the season the def would have been stupid good. DingleBerry up front, that huge Okky off line couldnt handle it, you think Colorado or ECU could. Im gonna guess no. Richrod leaving was the worse thing that could have happened to the entire Big East
Brian Bennett (3:21 PM)
And if I hadn't left college, I'd still be sleeping til 11 am and partying o Tuesday nights. Time to get over it and move on.
Brian, don't you agree that we need a playoff ASAP? I haven't heard your opinion on this yet. I say take the 6 BCS conference champs and 6 at larage teams and play it off. This would immediately improve OOC schedules because teams would only have to win their conference to get in. Basically, it would be the best month of sports EVER.
Brian Bennett (3:23 PM)
I'm a plus-one guy. I think it preserves the importance of the regular season (the best in all of sports) while also keeping the bowl structure.
Brian K (Cincinnatti)
Do you think I should jump ship to Clemson or Auburn this offseason, before everyone realizes I have been winning with Mark Dantonio's formula and players?
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
I'll say this: Kelly's name will be brought up a lot in the next few months. Don't be surprised to see him thrown in at Tennessee and Penn State if those jobs come open, either. It is true that most of the players he's winning with were recruited by Dantonio. But if you think they're using the same formula, you clearly never saw Cincinnati play before Kelly got there. They used to be defense first, almost no offense. That's what's so impressive about what he's done, completely changing the system and winning even more.
Technically, isn't the worst thing that happened to the Big East not landing Penn St.?
Brian Bennett (3:26 PM)
I'd say it was losing Miami, BC and Va Tech, but that's just me.
Should every conference require a conference championship game? Better for CFB?
Brian Bennett (3:27 PM)
I'm not a fan of conference championship games, personally. Especially when you have rematches from earlier in the season.
Carl (Tampa, FL)
Besides the 2nd half against SU, USF's run D has been torched in the last 2 games. With some good RB's still ahead on the schedule, will that be what prevents them from running the table?
Brian Bennett (3:28 PM)
We'll see. You know, USF had good numbers defensively against the run before the last two weeks, but they didn't play anybody who really wanted to run. And then Selvie and McClain were hurt, so it's hard to judge. But if they let Victor Anderson and Noel Devine go off like McCoy did, they're in for some trouble
Fo Sheezy, Pittsburgh
Brian, don't you agree if Johnny Majors had never left Pitt in 1976, they would still be a top-5 program nationally, still be playing in pitt stadium, still wearing the pitt script jerseys with the mustard pants, still playing disco music, Dan Marino would still have an Afro, etc. (toungue in cheek)? Honestly, don't you think WVU fans should move on past the RichRod saga?
Brian Bennett (3:29 PM)
My answer to that is your name.
I know you have gone out on a limb and picked USF and Pitt. to finish 5-2. Do you feel Louisville has what it takes to win the conference? If not, why?
Brian Bennett (3:30 PM)
No. They're just too young and inconsistent and seem to make too many mistakes at the wrong times. Add in that they can't make a field goal. The home loss to UConn was really damaging, too. But I see this team going bowling, which is a step back in the right direction.
Gary, North Las Vegas, NV
Brian, I know that everyone is thinking that there is going to be a low scoring game in Morgantown Thursday, but usually when everyone proclaims this it turns into a shoot out. Was just wondering what your thoughts are on this conclusion.
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
I haven't seen anything out of either offense all season that would lead me to believe that's possible
my top 8 texas texas tech boise st penn st boston college georgia usc ohio st in that order agree
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
Texas Tech No. 2? No chance. Where the heck is Alabama?
Brent (Columbus, OH)
How do you see next weeks ND/Pitt game playing out?
Brian Bennett (3:32 PM)
Good question. I think that's a very interesting matchup all of a sudden and a good showcase game for the Big East. I like Pitt's D against that offense if the Panthers can keep improving.
I am a huge college football fan in Big 12 country. Can you give me 3 reasons why I should turn on a Big East game the rest of this season?
Brian Bennett (3:33 PM)
Sure, Elliot. 1. Total parity and unpredictability. 2. Exciting players like McCoy, White, Selvie, Grothe, Devine. 3. So you can feel superior.
To include Boise St or BC in a top 8 is delusional. WHy even post a response?
Brian Bennett (3:34 PM)
Because it made me laugh.
Carl (Tampa, FL)
Will the loss of Verpaele, force USF to play more 4-3 instead of the nickel, especially with the run-oriented teams ahead, putting them in a better position to stop the run? I do agree that a healthy Selvie and McClain will help the run D...
Brian Bennett (3:35 PM)
Well, they're going to have to play a lot of nickel against Louisville and Cincinnati, but they can get away with the 4-3 versus Rutgers and Connecticut. Makes you wonder if moving Theo Wilson to offense was the right move.
jace (las vegas, nv)
brian, ive asked you two questions about boise state's future this year? are you hating on the fact that the broncos are considered now one of the best teams in the nation? i've seen bsu beat up on stacked oregon st. teams. why not usc? because bsu now knows how to win and where to win!
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
I'm no sure why you're so adamant to get my opinion on Boise State when obviously I've never seen them play in person. But fine. They have a great chance to run the table, and if Utah drops one, get into the BCS. They're in my top 15, which I think is about right. They've proven themselves many times
Alan (Hurricane, WV)
Is there any reason to smile when looking at Syracuse Football this year?
Brian Bennett (3:38 PM)
Um .. it's more than halfway over? Seriously, one positive is Curtis Brinkley. Kid is playing his heart out right now. Unfortunately, not much to show for it.
Tim: Indianapolis, IN
Where do you think Ball State would finish this year in the Big East?
Brian Bennett (3:39 PM)
Well, Pitt lost to BG and Syracuse lost to Akron, which also nearly beat Cincy, so it's clear the MAC can play with the Big East. I don't think Ball State would go undefeated in this league, but they'd get bowl eligibility for sure.
Ryan (Cincy, OH)
Realistically, what has to happen for the Bearcats to win the Big East Title?
Brian Bennett (3:41 PM)
Get continued health and sharp play from the quarterback spot and create more turnovers on defense. This next stretch of 4 games in 20 days will be the key.
Harry Hutchison (San Diego)
How do you think North Carolina will finish the year? Also do you think they will finish in the top 25 by the end of the year?
Brian Bennett (3:42 PM)
Saw them in person against UConn and was impressed with their effort and defense. Losing Tate hurts, and the ACC is a mad scramble. I say they finish just outside the polls.
Jason (Wichita, KS)
Can you give us your predicition for this weeks big game in Austin between Okie State and Texas. What chance does Okie State have to win the Big XII if they win this game?
Brian Bennett (3:43 PM)
Gotta stay with the Longhorns with the way they've played, especially at home. Though getting up for three straight huge games is tough. If OK State pulls it off, they'll be in great shape, but they still have to go to Texas Tech and beat Oklahoma.
Hirsute Arse (Scotland)
Greetings from across the Pond! Where would Ohio State finish if they played in the Big East?
Brian Bennett (3:44 PM)
First place, but rest of the country would still hate them.
Regarding the Kelly v. Dantonio comparison. NO one in Cincinnati was upset when Dantonio left and took his run and punt offense with him. Good coach but his offense was watching paint dry. Any word on UConns QB situation? If they go to their 3rd string....I'll say 27 - 3 Bearcats.
Brian Bennett (3:45 PM)
I don't think we'll get a definite answer on Frazer much before gametime. I think Edsall wants Cincinnati to prepare for all possibilities
Justin Robinson (Bossier City )
Do you think LSU still has a shot if they win out and beat Florida in the SEC championship game?
Brian Bennett (3:46 PM)
I think anyone who wins the SEC with no more than 1 loss is almost a lock for the title game.
James (Columbia SC)
No Brian. Conference Championships are great, necessary and exciting. Imagine Georgia and Alabama playing again. Wouldn't that be a great game?
Brian Bennett (3:46 PM)
And did we need to see Missouri-Oklahoma twice last year?
Penn State or Ohio State saturday night?
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
I'm taking Ohio State. I think they're back (but hopefully not back in the title picture).
How does a top 10 team (Texas Tech) beat a rival on the road by almost 20 and drop in the polls?
Brian Bennett (3:48 PM)
Because we've all seen this before from the Red Raiders, who always lose 3-4 games. They didn't play anybody before giving up a lot of points to Nebraska, and A&M is not good
Jeff (San Diego, CA)
What do you think the chances are of us getting to see a rematch in the NAtional Championship game? Texas and OU winning out, Texas getting thru the Big 12 Championship game and Alabama & Penn St. losing, leaving Texas #1 and OU #2 in BCS standings?
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
I think it would extremely hard to justify a team that didn't win its own conference division making the national title game. Though I wouldn't mind that particular rematch
Brian Bennett (3:51 PM)
It didn't hurt South Florida when it went to Morgantown and won at the end of 2006. Don't have my almanac with me, though, so I can't tell you what the temperature was that day
Speaking of Dantonio, how do you think his Spartans will finish this year? I'm thinking 9-3 with a New Years day bowl?
Brian Bennett (3:52 PM)
Well, I don't see them winning at Penn State to close the year. But beating Michigan on the road and Wisconsin and Purdue at home seems highly do-able. Anything less than 9-3 might be disappointing
Jonathan (Kennewick, WA)
Im a huge college football fan but why do they have to ruin it by subdividing everything? I can understand bowl subdivision and playoff subdivision. But then they subdivide the bowl subdivision by bcs conference or non bcs conference. Aren't they all division 1 schools?
Brian Bennett (3:53 PM)
It's the haves and the have-nots, Jonathan. Big schools with tradition want to keep as much of the pie as possible.
i think fsu needs more love on cfl there the best team in the acc.
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
I've been really impressed with the 'Noles' improvement. I still get the sense they're a year away, though
Seen this before? I wasn't alive last time they were 7 - 0, which was 32 years ago, so I don't believe we have all "seen" this before, also you can't vote based on what you think is going to happen in the future!
Brian Bennett (3:55 PM)
Talking about Texas Tech again. The '7' in your 7-0: E. Washington, Nevada, SMU, Massachusetts, Kansas State, Nebraska, A&M. Yawn.
How many teams would you consider as having legit national title hopes?
Brian Bennett (3:57 PM)
Interesting question, John. I'll try to make a full list: Texas, Alabama, Penn State, obviously. Then Oklahoma State, Texas Tech (that's for you, Chris) Oklahoma, USC, Florida, LSU, Georgia and Ohio State. Hope I didn't forget anyone, but I'm sure you'll let me know if I did
Shawn (Hollidaysburg, PA)
Getting back to Big East football. How about that WVU offense? Have we seen the best they are going to offer this season, or will they have a breakout game at some point?
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
If we've seen the best, they're in trouble. They've got to be better than averaging 17 points against FBS opponents
mark (norman, ok)
Brian, you're my favorite espn analyst cause you always answer my questions. people normally complain about a team not winning a conference championship and making it to the national championship game. Wouldn't it be an exception though if you play the winner of your conference in that game? (Georgia didn't win last year but they wouldn't have played LSU)Plus if TCU wins out, it could go to a Bcs game, if cincinnati wins the big east it could be in a bcs game and ou has been both of them, handlely. I think ou's resume would prove they're the second best team assuming alabama and psu both lose, would it be fair to keep the from the game because they're in the same conference as the best team in the nation?
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
With a compliment like that, you'll always get posted, Mark. I'm not saying Oklahoma should be discounted if all those scenarios occur, I'm just telling you what the argument would be. I've currently got Oklahoma still ranked No. 4, so I still think they've got a real shot. But I believe it's going to be SEC champ vs Big 12 champ in the title game.
Is the axe gonna fall on me this bye week?
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
I think it would have happened by now if it was going to happen. Starting to look like G-Rob may make it to November after all.
Brian Bennett (4:02 PM)
OK, my time is up. Thanks for all the questions and enjoy another great weekend of college football!