Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com's Big East blogger Brian Bennett will stop by to talk some football.
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 Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Good afternoon, everybody. The season might be over, but it's always football season. So let's talk about what might be on your mind.
George (Danbury, CT)
Do you think Randy Edsall is at UConn for the foreseeable future or is he possibly holding out for another big time vacancy like Penn State when JoePa is done? Do you see him as a candidate for Tennessee?
Brian Bennett (4:03 PM)
I think if the past few weeks have taught us anything, it's that there won't be a situation like JoePa maybe ever again. Coaches come and go. Edsall will be an attractive candidate every year. But I don't know how good of a fit he would be at Tennessee. I don't know if Edsall would want to handle some of the nonsense that goes on in the SEC for 365 days a year
BOB ELLISON (DATAW ISLAND,SC)
I THINK THAT ITS TIME TO INVITE NOVA INTO BIG EAST FOOT BALL.WHAT DO YOU YHINK?
Brian Bennett (4:04 PM)
Bob, I'm sure there's an open invitation for the FCS champs. But someone needs to foot the bill. Villanova is still a small private school without an FBS level stadium. And it failed to draw many fans this year despite being the best team at its level.
USF Fan (Jupiter, FL)
I know it is emotional to lose your only coach ever, but this isnt like breaking up with a girl, we need a replacement ASAP, especially to hold on to some 4star recruits, why are they taking so long
Brian Bennett (4:05 PM)
Leavitt was fired Friday. It's only Wednesday. Don't panic. I'd bet there's a hire by the end of the week, or Monday at the latest. Better to take your time than rush the decision and make a mistake, even if it costs you a couple of recruits.
What do you think of the report that states that USF has contacted Leach about the head coaching job at USF? Does that not seem hypocritical, since they fired Leavitt over abuse allegations?
Brian Bennett (4:06 PM)
I don't know how accurate that is, but if USF were to hire Leach, it would have a lot of explaining and reasoning to do.
Good afternoon Brian! Is it me or does it seem that recruiting is not going well for the Bearcats? Do you believe that Coach Jones and his staff will be able to recruit well enough to continue winning at Cincy?
Brian Bennett (4:08 PM)
I don't know why you would say that, Harold. This year's class was basically finished by the end of last summer, so all Jones had to do was keep it together. There may be a defection or two, but I don't think you can say things aren't going well.
Brian, I just read that Doug Marrone is one of the rumored Tenn candidates - please tell me there is no chance he will leave the Cuse!!??
Brian Bennett (4:10 PM)
Most of that speculation has to do with Marrone's previous ties to Tennessee as an assistant. But I would be absolutely floored if he even considered it, given how much Marrone has talked about Syracuse being the only job he ever wanted.
Chris (Stamford, CT)
Brian, are there any 2010 big out of conference games involving the Big East you're looking forward too? Doesn't Louisville play Georgia next year??
Brian Bennett (4:13 PM)
West Virginia is at LSU. South Florida is at Florida. Oklahoma at Cincinnati (at Paul Brown). UConn at Michigan. Miami at Pitt. Those do anything for ya?
Brian Bennett (4:14 PM)
Oh, and Louisville at Georgia is in 2011.
USF Fan (Jupiter, FL)
If Leavitt had been fired a few weeks ago, do you think that Strong would have remained in the state of FL where he has strong ties
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
I think Strong would have been a prime candidate and may have wanted the USF job more, He may also have been a candidate at Tennessee, not to mention a possible interim/longterm replacement for Urban Meyer. But you have to jump at a good opportunity, and Strong did so with Louisville.
What are your thoughts about Charlie Strong and his recruiting at Louisville already?
Brian Bennett (4:16 PM)
By all indications, he's doing a bang-up job. He got a player to decommit from Georgia and pledge to Louisville, as well as some players from Miami. A lot of well-regarded kids seem eager to play for him, which I can't really say was the case with Steve Kragthorpe.
Dave Wannstedt (Oakland, Pittburgh)
Romeous is coming back, Dion Lewis is amazing, Baldwin can catch anything within 20 yards of him, oh, and our OC Frank Cignetti turned my Boy Billy into a competent QB, Now he gets a whole offseason to work with QB's that have better arms and far more athletic. Life is good no?
Brian Bennett (4:17 PM)
Life is pretty good. Like I wrote earlier today, there are still questions on the offensive line (though that should be fine) and maybe most importantly at cornerback. And whichever QB starts will have to prove himself. But you have to make Pitt one of the real favorites for 2010, no doubt about it.
Chris (Charlotte, NC)
Halfway through the "review" of the MWC for addition to the BCS are people in the Big East as worried as they should be about losing their automatic BCS status?
Brian Bennett (4:19 PM)
Absolutely not. Remember the Big East had a team finish No. 3 in the final BCS standings and had three top 25 teams. Its overall rankings for every league member was better than the MWC. The MWC might be able to gain a seventh auto bid, but the Big East will not lose its status
Brian ((Southbury, CT))
Considering UConn lost all 5 games by a combine 15 points and has a 4 game winning streak going into next year, and with the large bulk of starters and guys on the two-deep back, should UConn be ranked within the top 25 to start the season? If so, where would you put them?
Brian Bennett (4:21 PM)
I've said I think UConn is a Top 25 team to start next year, and I will rank them somewhere in the 20-to-25 range. I don't know if the Huskies will get enough votes to actually make the Top 25 though, because they still struggle with name recognition nationally.
Jason (Charleston, WV)
Have all the bowls for next season with Big East tie-ins officially been set? I thought I read that we lost the International Bowl, along with the Gator Bowl obviously. What bowl replaces the International Bowl?
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
Yes, Jason. The new Yankee Bowl (at Yankee Stadium) replaces the International Bowl. Champs Sports will be the new No. 2. And let's hope the Citrus Bowl replaces that awful field between now and next December.
Hayden (Logan, Utah)
whats with all of these pansie kids ratting on their coaches? If I were a player, Id woop some rat butt!!
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
I don't know about all that, but it is an interesting trend with Leach, Mangino and Leavitt. I believe some of it is a generational thing. Kids today (and their parents) aren't as apt to stand for being bullied or treated harshly by coaches who practice tough love methods. And with the explosion of media attention, they have more avenues to air their grievances. I'm not so sure this is a bad thing, either. You can instill toughness without being a jerk.
Jim Leavitt (Tampa)
Do you think USF was looking for an excuse to get rid of me?
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
As I've written, it would be naive to think that Leavitt's failure to win big in the Big East or his large contract didn't play a major role in his ouster. If he was winning 10 games a year and had a Big East title under his belt, he's probably still the coach today.
Do you think with Noel coming back and a young QB that Bill S may finally just ride Noel to a BE title and maybe a heisman trophey?
Brian Bennett (4:28 PM)
I'm not convinced Devine is coming back and won't be until the deadline passes on Friday. This team may be two years away, given that Geno Smith will be a first-year starting QB and very green still next season.
Do you think Frazer will hold onto the starting spot in Storrs? Who would you prefer, Endres or Frazer? I'm a Frazer guy myself.
Brian Bennett (4:29 PM)
I think Frazer really grew and improved as the season went along and will likely be the starter in '10. But Endres played well when he was in there, and it's nice to have two QBs you can trust. As we saw with a lot of teams this year, even in the BCS title game, you often need more than one.
Terry (the 'Burgh)
Hypothetical: Pitt makes the extra point to force OT, beats Cincy, thus brings a much more stable program (coach) and much better defense to face Florida. All else being equal, does the BEast make a better showing with Pitt in the Sugar Bowl?
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
I heard some sentiment to that regard in New Orleans. Pitt may have been a better physical matchup with Florida, given the strength of their lines and more rugged style of play. But I don't think Pitt could have beaten the Gators either.
Coray S (Morristown)
Brian. Thoughts on Rutgers chances of being preseason Top 25? 2 All-Freshmen, longest tenured coach in the BE, won a bowl game going away?
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
I don't think so. Don't forget that Rutgers also loses a lot of very productive seniors and star left tackle Anthony Davis to the NFL. This is going to be a very young team next year. It could surprise, but I wouldn't put in the Top 25 to start the year.
John (Tampa, Florida)
If you were the athletic director at USF, who would you hire? Leach, Holtz, Fulmer, The coach from Mid Tenn, or reinstate Jim?
Brian Bennett (4:33 PM)
Of those candidates you mention, I think Holtz is the best hire. He has name recognition, a track record and no baggage.
James (Garwood, NJ)
How far is the Big East behind the top conferences? Many people are discounting the blowout Cincy loss because their coach quit, but they didn't fare so well the year before either, and that was only an ACC team..
Brian Bennett (4:35 PM)
I think that, top to bottom, the Big East can hold its own with most major leagues. The problem has been at the very top the past couple of years. The Big East hasn't had teams as good as Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama. But how many teams are at that level? Not many. The ACC has the same problem.
Mike (Columbus Ohio)
What about Pat White's brother. Could he compete for the starting position?
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
Coley White will get a chance, but the coaches really like Smith. And Brunetti is coming in. I expect to see White tried at a different position.
What are the things the Big East needs to accomplish next year to take a step forward in the court of public opinion?
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
I think the league did a good job this year. The next step is winning some of those big games. And if you look at my earlier answer about some of the major nonconference opponents, you'll see that the opportunity is there.
Will the BIG EAST have any teams to start in the Top 25 this coming season?
Brian Bennett (4:37 PM)
I believe Pitt and Cincinnati will be ranked. As I said earlier, I'll rank UConn and will have to consider West Virginia as well.
Matt (New York, NY)
BB, Who is going to be the QB for the Orange next year?
Brian Bennett (4:39 PM)
I would expect it to be Ryan Nassib, unless Jonny Miller really blows the coaching staff away when he arrives on campus
Jim (Fort Drum, NY)
I was rather impressed with how Doug Marrone coached this Syracuse team this year with a relatively bare cupboard. With the new coaching Additions, full class of recruits, and 15 returning starters, I feel this team will finally make the push next year and become a player in the Big East Again. I know Syracuse will get to a bowl next year, What do you think?
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
I still think there's a significant talent gap that may take another year to truly fix. But if the Orange can get a few breaks and stay healthy unlike this year, they could make a run at 6-6 and a bottom-tier bowl. I feel like it's more likely for 2011, though.
WHo's the best coach in the Big East? I've vote Wandstedt
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
There's only one coach in the league who's won a Big East title, and that's Randy Edsall (co-champs in '07)
Who do you think the Big East will match up at the end of the season for their 'de facto' championship game(s)?
Brian Bennett (4:43 PM)
I wouldn't be surprised to see Cincinnati and Pitt playing on the final weekend once again.
So? Other than the Int Bowl and Rutgers game, Jerome Murphey didnt seem that great of a year, how did he get a combine invite and have a decent draft outlook
Brian Bennett (4:43 PM)
I agree with you, Bobby. Murphy has a lot of physical ability that intrigues scouts. But he doesn't always play like an NFL-caliber corner.
Terry (the 'Burgh)
If Scout.com is right, Pitt's on the cusp of landing a near top-10 recruiting class. No other BEast team is in top-20. Is Pitt "back" as Wanny said after the Meineke Bowl? Are we on the verge of Golden Years II for Pitt football?
Brian Bennett (4:45 PM)
The recruiting has been good for years. And I don't get caught up in rankings. Heck, look at Dion Lewis. Nobody wanted him, and he can play a little, huh? The next step for Pitt is winning some of the big, close games and finishing out a season strong.
Ryan (hartford CT)
Did the big east's stock go up or down this year in the eyes of the national media?
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
I can't speak for everybody, but it had to go up. From no Top 25 teams in the preseason to two Top 10 teams in November and three ranked teams at the end. Sounds like an upward trend to me.
Joe B (Indianapolis)
One of the teams from the Big East - probably Rutgers or UConn because of the New York market - is clearly in the Big Ten's radar of potential new membership. Is there anything the Big East can do to defend itself? It does not seem like any of the schools in the Champion division are ready to make a move to the Bowl division and there doesn't seem to be any other teams that would fit well elsewhere. It seems like I remember back when the ACC raided the BE, the remaining schools agreed to raise the cost of leaving dramatically. Is that accurate?
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
There is a stiffer penalty, but at the end of the day if a school wants to leave it's going to leave. All the Big East can do is make sure it's as strong as possible, and trying to add another top-notch member should be a priority. But is the Big East going to be able to offer as much money as the Big Ten? Not in the foreseeable future.
Sean (Santa Ana, Cali)
Hey Brian, Big East transplant here. I know teams recruit to their needs but how can Big East teams complete with other BCS conferences when teams like Florida, USC, Bama, Texas, etc. just take their pick? Seems like we get a few good players but nothing like those pickings.
Brian Bennett (4:49 PM)
That's always going to happen and has for a long time. That doesn't mean you can't compete with good player development and coaching. Look at how Boise State has done, and the Broncos aren't exactly pulling in five-star caliber guys every day.
Pete (Tupelo, Ms)
BB what is ND's biggest concern besides the QB postion?
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
Defense, defense, defense. I think Brian Kelly will get a quarterback ready and put out a strong offense. His track record proves that. The Irish just have to be able to stop people, which they couldn't do last year, and it's not like a whole bunch of new defensive studs are coming in.
Jim (Highland park, nj)
Brian,you have said that Rutgers is year away from contending with all the young talent they have. I agree. 2011 will most likely be their best chance at winning the big east. Can you give us your way too early 2010 big east prediction?
Brian Bennett (4:51 PM)
It is way too early, especially since we don't know if Devine is going pro yet. But if I had to give you a top four today (and this could change drastically) it would be: 1. Pitt. 2. Cincinnati. 3 UConn. 4. WVU. Again, remember this is Jan. 13.
Is it simply the ACC name that gives them the upper hand in perception vs the Big East? We get no love in football, but hold our own during the reg season and bowl games. We get no love in basketball but dominate the tourney. What is it about the ACC?
Brian Bennett (4:52 PM)
If you find the answer, let me know. Because the ACC might have bigger name recognition with schools like Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech, but in terms of performance it hasn't been better than the Big East
Of all the coaching hires so far this offseason which do you like the best?
Brian Bennett (4:53 PM)
I may be biased on this, but I think Brian Kelly is a terrific fit at Notre Dame. Great, great match.
What kind of success will the next coach at USF need to attain? Big East champ within 4-5 years?
Brian Bennett (4:55 PM)
That seems very doable, given the advantages the Bulls have in recruiting.
Rob (Big Easy)
Brian, since you're in th e"know", please give us next years NC pick. Thanks.
Brian Bennett (4:56 PM)
If I were that much in the "know," I'd live in Vegas. But I have to think Alabama is the obvious preseason choice, especially given the turmoil at Florida and USC.
Jim (Highland park, nj)
If you had your choice, which QB would be your starter? Savage or daniels?
Brian Bennett (4:57 PM)
It really would depend on what type of system you were running. Daniels is perfect for the spread where he can run around and make plays, while Savage is a pocket guy. Savage is more polished, Daniels more exciting. This is going to be a fun debate for the next three years.
Brian Bennett (4:59 PM)
OK, guys, I've got to run. Thanks for all the great questions today. Try to survive without college football this weekend.