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)
Greetings, everybody. I'm keeping half an eye on the final inning of the Cards-Reds game, hopinh my beloved Redbirds finish off this sweep. Pretend you're a Cardinals fan and you'll probably get a question answered today.
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Just kidding -- sort of. Anyway, bring on your questions about the Big East and/or Notre Dame.
It seems everyone is picking Pitt to win the BE b/c of their talent, which is great but what about the fact they havent proven they can win a big game? I still say its UC's title until someone can prove they can knock them off. Am I wrong to think this way?
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
You're not wrong at all. The title still goes through Nippert Stadium. And Pitt has to win there in the last week.
Ralph (Lanark WV)
Hey Brian, How can ESPN's blue ribbon bunch pick WV as their preseason #1 but leave them out of the power rankings? I know their's some question as to our quarterback situation, but when you look at the strength of the rest of the team and our record the the past 4 years, some could see our being left out of the first power rankings as an insult.Go Eeers & Beat Pitt !!!
Brian Bennett (4:02 PM)
Two separate groups of people doing those votes. That said, I was surprised West Virginia wasn't in the Top 25. Gator Bowl loss likely hurt perception.
Alan (South Carolina)
Question, looking at UCONN's schedule, which looks fairly easy, the Huskies have a great opportunity to be 7-0 going into the West Va game, right? That Michigan game is a slam dunk, isn't it?
Brian Bennett (4:03 PM)
Definitely not a slam dunk, and the Temple road game could be tricky. But if the Huskies manage both of those, they'll be in great shape.
How many wins for Louisville this season? What's their ceiling?
Brian Bennett (4:05 PM)
I think 6-6 is the ceiling. If Charlie Strong goes 5-7 or better, he's done a great coaching job in Year One.
Having covered the Big East and being around Brian Kelly the last couple years do you think Brian Kelly will turn it around at ND and how quickly? What record do you see them having this year?
Brian Bennett (4:06 PM)
The guy just oozes confidence and he's won everywhere he's been. I'm leaning toward 8-4 with better things on the horizon.
Michael (Bristol, UK)
Brian - the Cardinal is the State Bird of WV ;)How many games into the season will it take before we know is Geno has got everything straight in his head (and his foot). Presumably Coastal Carolina won't tell us much - will it take 2? 3? more games before we can know?
Brian Bennett (4:07 PM)
Redbird reference and from England. I love it. I would say the Maryland game will be a strong test before LSU. I know Maryland was terrible last year, but it's still an ACC defense. West Virginia will have to take the reins off him for that game.
Nick (Keyser, WV)
Hey Brian. As we all know, WVU has gotten hit hard with violations this past week. The Mountaineers radio play by play broadcaster said that he spoke with a lawyer that has been well represented in these types of hearings, and the lawyer told him that WVU is looking at a minimum of 2-3 years probation, a cut in practice times, and loss of scholarships. How bad do you think things end up in Morgantown by the time this is all said and done?
Brian Bennett (4:09 PM)
I agree with all of that except scholarship losses. Maybe one or two, but I doubt it will be that severe. Of course, the NCAA is unpredictable and secretive. Watch closely what happens with Michigan, which meets with the infractions committee this weekend. The penalties should be about the same for both.
Hey Brian,The Big East sucks and you are the worst ESPN College Football columnist. Get a life.
Brian Bennett (4:10 PM)
OK, but if that is true, what kind of life must you have to be not only reading but posting on a Big East chat hosted by me?
andres zambrano (new york)
how do you think noel devine will fair this season? 1500 yards??
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
I think that's a solid over/under number for Devine. Had 1,465 yards last year and should get more carries this year. Health will be key.
If you had to guess, which of the Big East coaches is on the hottest seat right now, and which is most likely to be the next one "poached" by another BCS team?
Brian Bennett (4:12 PM)
I don't think anybody is on the hot seat right now, but Bill Stewart needs to have a good year to avoid that distinction for 2011. Edsall probably has the most chance of being poached, as you say, if UConn has a breakthrough. But he's been there 11 years.
Matt Rob (Pittsburgh, PA)
If Cincinnati experiences steady success (say, consistently above .500 for the next decade), do you think there will be motivation for them to upgrade to a new football stadium?I think it would make sense for them to play all of their home games at Paul Brown Stadium -- following the path the Pittsburgh Panthers take in using Heinz Field. Do you think this is a possibility in the long run for the Bearcats?
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
Cincinnati wants to upgrade Nippert Stadium and stay on campus, but obviously there are some issues there. If that doesn't work out, I could see them heading downtown. But Nippert is the first choice still by far.
Is Connecticut for real? I ask this as a Big Ten and UM fan currently living in Misery(MO). Seems the prediction is across conference lines with the Big Ten saying Michigan should win and the Big East calling it a blow out for UCONN. It seems like both UCONN and UM are similar in that everyone is afraid to predict how they'll do. I'd love a Big East point of view/prediction if you're daring enough. Also sorry for raiding your chat, I'll try to keep Delany from raiding your conference ;)
Brian Bennett (4:17 PM)
Visitors always welcome here. I think that opening game will be great. UConn is for real and is on the rise, while Michigan still has a lot of talent and is desperate for a win. I like the Huskies to win that game but it'll be very close.
Brian, David is from Iowa. He knows a lot about not having a life.
Saimon (Brooklyn NY)
Brian - Everyone's saying Rutgers will be a team to watch next year, with a lot of their star players only being sophomores. Do you think that's true, and what other Big East teams seem like they might not peak until the 2011 season? If any.
Brian Bennett (4:18 PM)
I do think that's true, though Rutgers could arrive ahead of schedule if the young guys figure it out. 2011-12 seems to be a real window of opportunity for them, though. The other team I see in that boat is South Florida.
Pete (Tupelo, Ms)
I know the ND db's are suppose to have a great returning core, but now since EJ Banks is leaving and Badger gone what does the ND db's look like after this year or if someone gets hurt this year how thin are they.
Brian Bennett (4:20 PM)
Very thin. Starters and backups and that's about it. They've already moved Barry Gallup from offense to the secondary, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if another player or two follows that same path.
Brian Bennett (4:20 PM)
Philip from Boise has pretty much guaranteed that I'll never answer a question from him.
Brian,Which team has the best shot at pulling off the upset this year: Cincy over Oklahoma, WVU over LSU or USF over Florida? Can you rank them 1-3 (1 being the most likely)?
Brian Bennett (4:21 PM)
1. WVU2. Cincy3. USF
Matt (Greensboro, NC)
Go Cards! Any chance you make it down to the Bulls camp in Vero? Would love to get your take on the "Holtz New Era" and a comparison to Cincy's similar camp last season.
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
Yes, the sweep is complete. I won't be making it to Vero, which is a shame because that wouldn't be a bad trip at all. Hearing good things from down there, though. Only a matter of time before Holtz gets that program going on a higher level.
With training camp in full swing down in the Southside, have you been able to see or get any idea of how the interior of the o-line is coming along? You also posted a link that Romeous had been carted off and I nearly had a heart attack. Is everything ok?
Brian Bennett (4:23 PM)
Romeus missed three days of practice but was supposed to be back today. We'll see. It's odd. I saw Pitt in the spring and it was obvious that center and right guard were a concern. Could be a lingering one all year.
If the Cincy vs Pitt game becomes the DeFacto Big East Championship game again, do you see that game being moved to Paul Brown Stadium?
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
Definitely not. Cincy has been unbeatable at Nippert last two years
Can you tell me why the Pinstripe Bowl will fare better than the defunct Gotham Bowl? The weather will still be less than warm.
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
There's a whole lot more interest in college football now than there was in the '60s. Having a Big East team, especially if it's a Northeast team, will help
Corey (Hurricane, WV)
With three years to put a system in place and a boatload of offensive talent, do you think Jeff Mullen gets the boot if the WVU doesn't produce points this year?
Brian Bennett (4:27 PM)
If this team doesn't score a lot of points, there will be a whole lot of questions that need to be asked (barring injuries, especially to the QB, of course).
Speaking of bowls, since you are predicting Notre Dame to finish 8-4, what big east bowls do they have agreements to steal. Is it just the champs or can they unseat anyone for any bowl?
Brian Bennett (4:29 PM)
Just the Champs, though they can take the Big 12's spot in the Pinstripe Bowl as well. And anything between 7-5 and 9-3 probably assures the Irish are going to the Champs this year instead of the Big East.
If the stars a-line and Pitt were to go undefeated, do you think there's a scenario in which they don't play for the national title? What are the odds you give the Panthers to accomplish such a feat?
Brian Bennett (4:30 PM)
The scenario would be the same one as last year when a bunch of other teams are undefeated. Boise State and TCU are going to be ahead of all Big East teams to start, so if they finish 12-0 that's a problem. I don't see Pitt going undefeated, though.
Aaron (SLC, UT)
How do you think Pitt's DBs will match up against Utah's WRs?
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
I like Antwuan Reed, but it'll be his first start. Other CB job still up in the air at this point. Tough opening test for Pitt to say the least
Another Kevin (PIttsburgh)
Go Colby Rasmus!
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
Now there's a smart man
Is Running Back the deepest position in the Big East this year?
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
Far and away. Not sure there's a better RB league in the country in '10
Andrew (Storrs, CT)
Looking at where each Big East will likely begin the year in the polls and each team's schedule, is it a safe assumption that the only team with a legit chance to play for the BCS championship is Pitt this year? Or can WVU and Cincy with wins over LSU and Oklahoma have a shot?
Brian Bennett (4:33 PM)
Cincinnati started last year outside the Top 25 and was maybe a second away from the BCS title game. Win all your games and you've got a great chance.
Any early returns on Dayne Crist?
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
He's moving around well, which is the most important part. He needs to improve and learn the system, and Kelly says he needs better footwork. But if he stays healthy, he should be just fine.
Andrew (Storrs, CT)
Can UConn contain the spread better with 2 State Champion sprinters playing DE (Trevardo Williams and Marcus Campbell)? How often do you think we'll see the 2 of them on the field at the same time?
Brian Bennett (4:35 PM)
Joseph is no slouch either. Speed isn't a problem. I just worry when teams like Pitt load up to run at them.
Shawn (Carlisle, PA)
Just curious as to why the QB situation at WVU seems to have been highlighted as a weakness but Pitt's has not.
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
Mostly because of Smith's foot, and probably because Pitt's receivers are a little better. But you're right; it's not that much different, and Smith has actually played more than Sunseri and in high-leverage situations.
Matt (Vienna, Va)
Brian -In your column earlier today, you brought up the topic of "Hybrid" defenders. Word out of Morgantown is that WVU may have a guy that seems to fit that mold exactly. Bruce Irvin, a juco transfer, appears to have the strength and tenacity of a defensive end, but also possesses great speed, agility, and awareness, which are staples of a great outside backer.Have you had a chance to look at Irvin yet? If so, do you see him developing into this kind of player? I know a lot of WVU fans are pretty excited over this guy and hopefully it is for good reason.Love the blog...Thanks!!!
Brian Bennett (4:38 PM)
Haven't seen him since he wasn't there in the spring and don't know how exactly he'll be used. I'm not in the habit of anointing guys who've never played a down of Division I football, but I do hear excitement from the West Virginia coaches about Irvin.
Dean Hood (Bethel Park)
Whats your opinion on the Jaabal Sheard incident? Do you feel he should have been suspended?
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
I don't know what all went into the incident. I just know what was reported by the media and the police. Pitt coaches insisted there was more to it than meets the eye. On the face of it, it sure seems like Delone Carter got a harsher sentence for something not much different. But I don't think of Wannstedt as somebody who's soft on punishment.
Kevin (The NATI)
Hey Brian! How do you think the bearcats match up against the sooners? Unlike two years ago the bearcats D finally has some better play makers and OKLA lost serveral key players from last year. I believe our offense can outscore whatever OKLA manages against our D. I know everyone in the nasty nati is ready to prove the doubters wrong for the third year in a row. Back to back to Back
Brian Bennett (4:41 PM)
It would be a huge win, but I still think Oklahoma has a major size advantage in the trenches that will be tough to overcome.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
If the Cards make it to a bowl game this year, will you shave your head? (Not that there's much left to shave!)
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
No, I don't think I'd look good with an exposed dome. Plus, 6-6 is reachable, if difficult, for this team.
Do you think that USF has a chance of winning less than 6 games this season? Looking at the schedule, they have Florida, Miami, Cincy and WVU on the road. Not to mention that Pitt and UConn are two Big East favorites this year. And they have not played well against Rutgers at all in the past. I am counting a possible 7 loss season.
Brian Bennett (4:44 PM)
That's an excellent point. USF will have to play really well in order to do better than 6-6 with that schedule.
Brian, can we please, please, please stop spreading this nonsense about how Randy Edsall "does more with less"? That is a backhanded compliment that says the kids stink. Have we really become so obsessed with what some guy who has to sift through thousands and thousands of game tapes thinks about who can play and who can't? How can one guy, or 100 guys for that matter put together a credible list ranking these players across the country? I know there's money to be made in this field, but this "more with less" nonsense has to stop. UConn has done enough to disprove this.
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
I think it just says a lot about Edsall and his staff's ability to evaluate talent and then to develop it.
Hi Brian, Go Cardinals!!! Now that it seems like to dust has settled a little bit on teams switching conferences and the Big East appears intact-Do you think the conference will look to expand or stay pat at 8 teams?
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
The league is in no hurry to expand. Right now, exploring media opportunities (i.e. a Big East Network) is the priority.
Brain, you mentioned earlier that Bill Stewart could be on the "Hot Seat" if he doesn't have a good year. You hear a lot of complaining coming out of the Mt. State and with NCAA sanctions heading our way could another 9 win second place BE finish send "Billy Ball Coach" packing?
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
I don't think you can fire a coach who has won nine games in three straight years. So no.
Brian, do you think this is the year usf beats rutgers?
Brian Bennett (4:52 PM)
It's in Tampa and not until November, so who knows. I do think USF will run a defensive scheme better equipped to deal with Rutgers this year, however.
"I don't think you can fire a coach who has won nine games in three straight years. So no." Ever hear of Loyd Carr?
Brian Bennett (4:53 PM)
Lloyd Carr was 7-5, 11-2 and 9-4. And he'd been the coach there for 13 years. Not comparable.
Hi Brian: Thanks for your time time afternoon. Quick question: Why isn't the Pitt @ Utah game getting more love. It is one of the better games opening weekend. And they open on Thursday. But no buzz?
Brian Bennett (4:54 PM)
I can't control the buzz but I think it's going to be a great game. Lots of people should be watching on that Thursday night.
Shawn (Carlisle, PA)
Geno Smith looks like a much more accurate passer on film than Jarrett Brown. Do you agree with that? Seemed like last season WRs were having to dive all over the place to catch passes, when if they had been able to catch in stride they could have had much bigger gains.
Brian Bennett (4:56 PM)
Jarrett had a huge arm but not a lot of touch. Smith seems a little more polished as a passer. Only think he lacks is experience (and an injury-free foot).
Do you see Delone Carter getting more yards than he did last year? Inching closer to say 1300-1400 perhaps? Where would you rank him out of this years backs?
Brian Bennett (4:57 PM)
No, I see him being about the same. I can see some more carries for Bailey and the freshmen as well. I think this offense will be more multiple than it was last year and spread the wealth more.
Dave (Scott Rolen's Dojo)
Louisville opens with UK. Two "new" HC's. UK 3 point faves. Which team is better equipped to lay down a beating in this first game and get the new program off on a good foot? I fear UL could be in trouble in this game.
Brian Bennett (4:58 PM)
Kentucky has more talent and better lines, but the first game for a new coach in a newly expanded stadium gives Louisville a shot in a rivalry atmosphere.
Is the prognosis for my Orange so bad that you wouldn't answer my first question? Which comes first-Syracuse winning the Big East or JoePa retires?
Brian Bennett (4:59 PM)
Didn't see that question, Andrew. Lots of 'em to scroll through. Well, I don't see Syracuse winning the Big East in the next four years. How much longer can JoePa coach? No more than another 50 years, right?
Brian Bennett (5:00 PM)
OK, folks, that's all my time for this week. Thanks for all the good questions. See you soon.
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