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)
It's only Week 2, but I'm in midseason chatting form. Bring your best Big East or Notre Dame questions now.
Chris (Canaan Valley, West Virginia)
Well week one came and went and once again the Big East bashing begins. I feel that week one did no more to define the Big East than it did for any other conference. I am encouraged that we shall have 11 more weeks to define ourselves. Please o please BB tell me that you are not going to say the world has ended for the conference. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:02 PM)
The world has not ended. Look, there were three incredibly tough road games that league teams lost, and that's why most teams don't schedule difficult road games in the opener. I would have liked to see Pitt, Cincinnati and UConn play better in those losses, but there is ample time for each to rebound.
Does Cincinnati have the Mick Cronin of Football with Butch Jones? Jones failed to make any adjustments against Fresno and seemed to be full of excuses after the next day.
Brian Bennett (4:03 PM)
Butch Jones has coached one game at Cincinnati, and it was a difficult assignment. Let's give him some time, shall we?
I don't understand why Pitt dropped out of the top 25. Yes they lost, yes they played horribly, but they also went on the road to a place that visiting teams hardly ever win at, played a tough Utah team, and still only lost by 3 in OT. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:06 PM)
I can only speak for my own vote. I dropped everyone out who had a loss except for Va Tech, which dropped a good seven or eight spots. Just feel like after Week 1 it's tough to have many 0-1 teams in there. Pitt can get right back into good position with a win over Miami.
Chris Lambert (Wild, Wonderful WV)
Why all this hype about Marshall having the best shot to beat WVU ever just because Doc and his entire staff have WVU roots? I mean gosh isn't WVU head and shoulders above MooU in talent? Why do WVU fans disrespect our team more than anybody?
Brian Bennett (4:07 PM)
I haven't heard many people pick Marshall. Holliday will know the Mountaineers players and schemes, but the bad news for the Herd is their players aren't as good
So nice to see the Irish tackle, run the ball, not waste timouts, and not wear down in the 4th quarter. Isn't it amazing what a difference a coach can make?
Brian Bennett (4:09 PM)
Absolutely. The Irish weren't spectacular against Purdue, but they looked like a well-rounded, well-coached team in all areas for the first time in a long time.
Brian, if Syracuse pulled off the upset in Washington, would it more likely be due to a well executed game by Cuse or a choke job by Washington?
Brian Bennett (4:10 PM)
I think Syracuse can do some things defensively to slow down Washington and Jake Locker. They really get after the quarterback, and the secondary is pretty good. It's not like the Huskies are world-beaters anyway.
Alan (north jersey)
why do you have rutgers so low on you power rankings...i like your blogs but take it easy on the rutgers hate.
Brian Bennett (4:12 PM)
There's no hate. Rutgers didn't do much in the Norfolk game to convince me they're one of the top four teams in the league right now.
Brian, did the bulls play better on saturday than you expected?
Brian Bennett (4:14 PM)
Not really. It was Stony Brook. Exhibition season is over now.
James (Stamford, CT)
Brian - what happened to UConn against Michigan??? I can't believe how mediocre the Huskies looked.
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
Yep, it was very disappointing. Michigan's offensive line dominated UConn's smaller defensive front, and the Huskies made too many mistakes on offense. Remember, if Shoemate doesn't fumble, it could have been 24-17 and a different game.
In the sea of bad... did you see anything encouraging about UC in their opener?
Brian Bennett (4:16 PM)
The defense looked pretty good most of the first half. The offensive struggles put them in bad spots the rest of the game and it was really hot out there. Reaching for straws now.
Last week you seemed to think I was crazy when I asked why you didn't have B.J. Danials as one of youf BE offensive player of the year race, and after one game v. a D2 school, you have him at number 2??
Brian Bennett (4:18 PM)
Didn't think you were crazy, just thought there were better candidates. But after Lewis, Baldwin, Binns and others didn't have big weeks, he moves up. For now.
Do you think the Big East is weaker this year than last year?
Brian Bennett (4:19 PM)
Far too early to tell. League didn't have as many tough Week 1 openers last season as it did this year
Tom (Morgantown, WV)
noel devine had a pretty off week last week, even though he ran for 111 yards and a TD. do you expect him to turn it around against marshal when the lights are bright this friday on espn?
Brian Bennett (4:20 PM)
WVU was keeping things pretty vanilla in the opener, and the right side couldn't open a lot of holes. Things will improve.
John (New Jersey)
Even with all of the talented players that are suspended for North Carolina, does Rutgers have much a chance against them?
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
UNC is such a mess right now it's hard to now where the Heels' heads -- or roster -- will be in two weeks. Rutgers has the defense to slow down T.J. Yates and Co. The Scarlet Knights need to get better on offense these next two weeks.
Hello Brian, I am a soldier deployed to Iraq, is there anyway you know of that I would be able to watch the USF-UF game online?
Brian Bennett (4:23 PM)
Hey, Brandon. The game is on ESPN3.com, if you can access that where you are. Good luck and stay safe.
Brian, do you still think that the UF vs USF game isn't bigger for the league than the RU vs UNC game?
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
Never said it wasn't bigger. This summer I did a list of games the Big East could win to gain respect. At the time, I didn't think it was credible to think USF wins that game. I've softened a little on that, but I still think it's a steep, steep challenge.
Chuck (The Hot AZ)
Let's say the 'Cuse goes 4-0 (of course Maine and Colgate won't help), do you think they get any votes for the top 25? What if they take out USF for 5-0? I think we can all agree a 6-0 start beating Pitt yields at least a thought of the top 25. I think with a win this Sat., Su has a legit chance at 5-0 minimum.
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
I like to see Syracuse fans getting feisty! 4-0 with that sked is not going to equal Top 25. But it beats a Big East team or two, that would happen. Let's not get carried away just yet. Baby steps.
Bearcatvol (Daltot, GA)
I read a stat in your blog that really has me miffed. In three years Brian Kelly and his staff only brought in 9 offensive lineman that are on the roster. Should we be PO'd that Coach Jones to a certain degree is working with his hands tied behind his back?
Brian Bennett (4:28 PM)
It certainly seems like Kelly was recruiting like a guy who knew he wasn't sticking around too long. Same thing happened to an extent with Petrino at Louisville. But how are you going to argue with Kelly's record?
Chase (Harrisonburg, Va)
Hey Brian, keep up the great work with the blog as always... how excited are you for the LSU-WVU game? Does either team's opening weekend performance influence your preseason thoughts on the outcome of the game?
Brian Bennett (4:29 PM)
Can't wait. Been lobbying to cover that one since the spring. But WVU better not look past Maryland.
Do you think the SU wash game will come down to how well Nassib can throw on the wash D. That is the only area that I see that I have a big ? on. If we can pass we can win, if not then I hope DC3 has a monster day but we will most likely lose.
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
Unless the Washington defense has gotten a whole lot better from when I saw it in person last year, Syracuse should have some areas it can exploit. Soften it up with the run game and then Nassib has to hit some passes. Van Chew looked pretty good in Week 1.
With a 1-4 record against FBS teams week 1, has the Big East dropped below the Mountain West in the conference rankings?
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
After the way Utah, BYU and TCU came through, you'd be hard-pressed to argue the point. Though the MWC's best got to play at home (or close to home, in TCU's case).
Brian (Columbus, OH)
I admit being a horrible Big East fan Brian, can you forgive me? I was rooting for Utah against Pitt cause as a WVU fan its hard to cheer for Pitt and who doesnt like rooting for an underdog? Also I LOVED watching Denard Robinson, again as a WVU fan everyone hates Rich Rod but he has the most interesting offenses to watch in college. Forgiven? or what must I do to regain your trust?
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
You're always entitled to root against your rivals. But RichRod? That's questionable.
Regarding the offensive lineman at Cinci, wouldn't you expect 3-4 lineman a year in a recruiting class so 9 isn't really that bad a number especially since he likes to convert some of his big skill/power guys to Off/def lineman. This seems more like an excuse to me.
Brian Bennett (4:35 PM)
I'd like a little more than three a year. But the story also said four guys who were recruited weren't on the team any more. So it might be more an issue of guys not panning out than not being recruited in the first place. Again, hard to argue with Kelly's results.
The BE stinks and does not deserve a BCS bowl.
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
Thanks for checking in, Bill. Don't see a question in there.
Seth (Ridgeley, WV)
If you had to wage a prediction on which Big East team that will improve the most from week one to bowl week, who'd you put your money on?
Brian Bennett (4:37 PM)
I'll go with UConn. I just think the Huskies are a whole lot better than what they showed on Saturday in the Big House.
Mark (Katy, TX)
Brian, How do you feel USF stacks up against UF as individual players in the categories of experience, athletic ability, and talent?
Brian Bennett (4:38 PM)
Florida is pretty young, but USF is younger. Obviously, Florida has more highly-regarded athletes, not just more than USF but more than just about any team in the country.
Mike (Tampa, FL)
Do you still have USF ranked 6 in the league - BJ Daniels looks really comfortable to me
Brian Bennett (4:39 PM)
He should be comfortable against Stony Brook
What's the story on Sanu's eligibility? Is he able to go pro after this year because of his age?
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
It's not age but the year your high school class should have graduated. I know he was held back when he moved from Sierre Leone because of the language issue, but I don't remember if that was in high school. Will have to check on that one.
Brian Bennett (4:41 PM)
None. But Pitt has the toughest test. Check my latest blog post comparing this week's FCS games.
Eric (Wyoming, Ohio)
Obviously UC is playing an overmatched Indiana State team this Saturday. Can we learn anything from this scrimage about if we are progressing after the loss in Cali?
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
The only way we learn much is if Cincinnati plays poorly and the game is close. Then it's panic time. Indiana State is as awful a team as you can schedule.
After watching the WVU I was a little concerned with the accurancy of Geno's arm. He had some nice balls but let some 3rd downs ones get away. All in all it was a good showing but do you think it was nerves or just him throwing on the move
Brian Bennett (4:43 PM)
First game, so I wouldn't get nervous about it. Smith has always thrown a nice ball as far as I've seen. And he's really smart.
John B (Gainesville)
Yeah well UF should have been comfortable against Miami Ohio, but obviously from the stat sheet you can say that is not the case. Why are you still so sure the UF that great of a team this year?
Brian Bennett (4:44 PM)
I'm not, but if you seriously want to compare a MAC team to Stony Brook ...
The OSU destroyed Marshal (45-6 I think). Do you think WVU can do the same? What kind of point spread would WVU need to get some good publicity for the league?
Brian Bennett (4:45 PM)
That's the kind of game where the only kind of notice you really get is playing poorly. WVU is expected to beat Marshall soundly, and it should
Brian, I feel like a lot of people are criticizing Cincinnati for a terrible performance. How is it that when other power schools do poorly against them they credit fresno and don't downplay the bigger teams? I feel that with having brand new starters, a brand new coach, playing an extremely hostile opponent that knows how to play big teams, and being 3 time zones over shows why there was a breakdown. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
I'd agree to a point, because it was a tough game. But there was no excuse for the O-line to turn into Swiss cheese and for the offense to be completely impotent for the second half. Bottom line, it was a bad performance.
Is ND looking better/what you expected/worse after seeing them play Purdue?
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
Defense and special teams a little better, offense a little worse. But I expect more from that side in Week 2.
Villanova and Temple played a tight game for the second year in a row. A lot of people think Temple is a good team. How good are these teams compared to the Big East?
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
Villanova should have won that game for a second year in a row. The Big East would love for the Wildcats to make the jump and join the league in football.
Tom (Morgantown, WV)
Brian i read your BE blog daily... If West Virginia goes undefeated, including beating LSU in baton rouge, what are their chances realistically to play for the national championship?
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
If that were to happen, a great shot. But, and it's a big but (apologies to Sir Mix-A-Lot): the Mountaineers would also need the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and/or Boise State/TCU to lose. Or they could find themselves in a situation like Cincinnati last year
Brian, can ND take advantage of Michigan's beat up secondary and, aside from limiting Robison, what does the Irish defense need to do to win this game?
Brian Bennett (4:49 PM)
They really should be able to exploit it. Remember what Floyd did last year against them? He and Rudolph should have big games. On defense, just contain the big play, make Robinson beat you with his arm and not his legs as much as possible.
Brian, haven't heard any Seinfeld references from you lately...you're slacking...also, does,even though injuries stink, the fact that cole bowers is out, help wvu this week with the right side so they can at least get some continuity there with jeff braun?
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
Newman! Not sure I understand the question. The best five should be playing regardless.
Chris Logue (Titusville)
With Sunseri being relatively new to the starting experience in college and with a few struggles against Utah, is it feasable that Pitt will try to air it out first as opposed to run first against New Hampshire to show the Canes that he can throw it and to give the run game and playaction game a better chance to work during the thursday night game?
Brian Bennett (4:51 PM)
I definitely think they'll give Sunseri more chances to open it up, like they did finally late against Utah. But the play-action will only work if the O-line can create more running room for Lewis.
Paul J. (Fairfeld, CT)
What do you think of Edsall's comments regarding how great the Michigan fans were and how UConn fans can take a lesson from them?
Brian Bennett (4:53 PM)
UConn's always has a bit of a problem getting people into the stadium on time and selling out for lesser opponents, no? It's to be expected. Michigan has just a wee bit more tradition and history on its side.
Having seen both Utah and ND who do you give the edge to when the Utes visit the Irish?
Brian Bennett (4:54 PM)
Fascinating game. The way both teams played, I'd give the edge to Notre Dame. The Irish made fewer mistakes and will have the game at home.
Do you think Pitt bounces back?
Brian Bennett (4:55 PM)
Yes. Too talented not to bounce back
Brian Bennett (4:56 PM)
If by basics you mean having the offensive line actually block somebody, then by all means yes.
Bearcatvol (Dalton, GA)
Is there an agreement for Notre Dame to play all of the Big East football programs in a rotation? Or was that just talk that bubbled up a few years ago.
Brian Bennett (4:57 PM)
There's no rotation. Notre Dame just agreed to play Big East teams to help the league out. Pitt, UConn and Syracuse have been on the schedule most recently, with USF coming up soon.
Hey Brian,Did Syracuse's easy win at Akron surprise you at all? You seemed to think this would be a tricky opener for some reason, then Syracuse dominated the game. Now it appears you flipped and think it was all because Akron just flat out stinks (which they do). So which is it? Do you think Syracuse is for real?
Brian Bennett (4:58 PM)
Any road opener is tough. Look at how close UConn's game at Ohio was last year. And let's be frank: Syracuse isn't exactly known for blowing people out. So it was good to see a convincing win over a team the Orange should have dispatched handily.
Thanks for your time, Brian. Two fast questions. (1) What does the Big East TV package look like? When does it end? (2) Why don't the BE and MWC create a partnership (for media).
Brian Bennett (4:59 PM)
1) Runs through 2010 with ESPN. Numbers are far below what other leagues are now getting. 2) Eh, with time zone differences and different type schools, I don't see it. Plus, Big East wants own network if possible because of its large markets.
Brian Bennett (5:00 PM)
OK, folks, my time is up. Thanks for all the questions and enjoy the Week 2 action