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. Lots to talk about in the Big East (Notre Dame questions welcome too). Let's get it on.
Is it just me or is next years head coach in waiting idea a disaster waiting to happen? I already have heard rumors of Mullins and Stew butting heads over play calls in the past season
Brian Bennett (4:02 PM)
This has all-time awkwardness potential, with a head coach in waiting under a head coach who didn't hire him, and perhaps the new guy's offensive assistants working next to old-guard defensive guys. Maybe it works perfectly, but it seems more likely that there will be chemistry problems.
Do you think Bill Stewart was under "pressure" to accept this new coaching arrangement for 2011, otherwise he would have been fired immediately?
Brian Bennett (4:04 PM)
It's pretty obvious that this wasn't Stewart's idea or call.
Is it OK for me to be disgusted by the way WVU fans have treated Bill Stewart? They may have underperformed a little bit, but you have to remember, Noel Devine was not the same after the LSU game, Geno Smith was a first year starter and our O-Line is weak. I expected a couple of stinkers this year offensively. My standard for success is how well we do against Pitt. Last year, we beat them when they were ranked #8. This year we absolutely destroyed them in their own house. I'm also skeptical about the loyalty Holgorsen will show to the program. Can he get the team fired up for the Backyard Brawl if he has no connection to the program whatsoever?
Brian Bennett (4:06 PM)
I don't think it's necessary for the coach to have a "connection to the program" or to pledge loyalty for the next 10 years. But has Stewart been mistreated? Well, he's 27-11 in three years and might win 10 games this year and is still getting squeezed out. So, yeah, definitely.
Jay F. (Pittsburgh, PA)
I'm a Pitt fan, I've had a rough week, and I need someone to tell me that everything's gonna be OK. I'm scared that Mystery Coach X isn't gonna be able to stop Holgorsen and WVU from hanging 65 on us every year for the next decade. Talk me off the ledge.
Brian Bennett (4:07 PM)
Um, there are another 53 minutes left in this chat so let me think about it. I have not been very impressed with Pitt's coaching search to this point
Ray Stinger Jr (Pittsburgh)
Is it too late to bring Wanny back to Pitt? I think Pitt is making a mistake with Haywood.
Brian Bennett (4:09 PM)
All signs point to Mike Haywood at this point, though nothing is finalized or official. Haywood did an amazing job of turning Miami of Ohio around this year, but the fact remains he's 10-15 in two years of coaching. He also lost his playcalling duties at Notre Dame before going to the MAC. You're telling me this guy is better than Wannstedt? Maybe, but there's no proof.
What are the odds Holgorsen, or any other decent coach, would stay in Morgantown more than a couple of years after demonstrating some level of success?
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
That's the case for all but a handful of programs in college football. I'd rather have people coming after my head coach than for no one to want him.
Chuck (Fredericksburg, VA)
I keep hearing Holgorsen is an "odd cat" or "unusual" etc. Can you elaborate?
Brian Bennett (4:12 PM)
Think Mike Leach and Hal Mumme. Has flowing blonde locks, wears flip-flops and lived in a hotel in Stillwater. Also looks like a cross between Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Sounds like a fun guy to cover.
Dave (Cranberry, PA)
You are not impressed with the Pitt coaching search (I'm not saying I disagree), but what would you have done differently?
Brian Bennett (4:13 PM)
If you're going to fire Wannstedt, who just put together three winning seasons, then you'd better have a slam-dunk successor in mind and lined up. So far, it sure doesn't seem like that was the case.
Ben (Las Vegas)
Was Randy Edsall outlooked/bypassed in the coaching hires or was he just not interested? Thanks.
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
He clearly finished behind Al Golden at Miami and wasn't seriously considered at Florida. I don't think he was interested in Minnesota.
What does Schiano have to do to get fired? He has done a lot less then Wannstedt and seemingly faces no real heat to win more.
Brian Bennett (4:17 PM)
It's all about where the program was before Schiano got there compared to now. He's also on a long term contract and owed $2 million per year. He's not going anywhere for a while
Andrew (morgantown, wv)
Hey BB what are the odds that we could still see this whole Dana still fall through since there's still no "official word"?
Brian Bennett (4:18 PM)
Anything can happen until the ink is dry on a contract, but we haven't heard any WVU officials shooting down this story
Mike (Geneva, IL)
Call me crazy, but I think ND should hire Urban Meyer as recruiting coordinator. He's said ND was his dream job, pay him 1 million a year to get kids from the South to ND. No stress, plenty of time off, win win for both right?
Brian Bennett (4:19 PM)
OK. You're crazy.
Joe (Las Vegas)
When TCU joins the Big East, it probably won't be the same team it is now. Are you saying that no matter how good or bad TCU will be then, they are that much better than anybody else the Big East has now?
Brian Bennett (4:20 PM)
I've never said that. I have no idea how good any team will be in two years. But TCU has a strong track record under Gary Patterson
Evan (Rochester, NY)
After Wannstedt and Stewart, who's next in line for the Big East coaches hot seat?
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
Well, everyone except Schiano and Edsall will be in their first, second or third year. If Schiano can't get things turned around, there will be some heat. But as I said, he's got a big, big contract. Butch Jones could be under pressure if Cincinnati doesn't rebound next year, but I can't imagine he'd get less than three years.
Do you think Ivan McCartney can fill the role of the big time reciever Holgorsen's offense needs to be at it's best or will Holgorsen need to recruit a stud reciever?
Brian Bennett (4:23 PM)
You needs lots of receivers in a system like that. Haven't seen enough of McCartney to anoint him yet, though he had the high school credentials. I would think a lot of receiver recruits will be looking toward Morgantown now.
Brian (Southbury, CT)
I'm jumping the gun a bit, but if Todman comes back for 2011 season, do you think UConn will be favored to win the Big East? Their returning a lot.
Brian Bennett (4:25 PM)
They really only lose Frazer and a handful of starters. Breaking in a new QB will be an issue, but no reason the Huskies can't compete again in 2011.
Beano Cook just mentioned that BC made a mistake in leaving the Big East for the ACC. Money certainly talks (it did in this case), but I tend to agree. Miami's move is still debatable, as they haven't competed in the conference since they joined the ACC. VT is pretty happy, I think. People around here tend to think that WV would have made a lot more sense than BC, and the sense is that WV would have gone - and probably still would go -- in a heartbeat. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:27 PM)
BC doesn't regret a thing from a financial standpoint. But the school clearly lost something in rivalries and exposure in the Northeast. And its ACC affiliation has not helped it get to better bowls.
I am tired of all the people being disgusted with Oliver Luck, Brian Bennet, would you agree that he handled the situation as best he could all the while trying not to hurt Stew as well as let the seems bust loose on the Athletic Dept.? I mean, we've lost donors as well as season ticket sales, Luck is a business man and did the best he couldve done to keep everyone happy, agree or disagree?
Brian Bennett (4:28 PM)
Luck can bring in his own guy if he wants because that's his job. There would be no easy way to get rid of Stewart. I'd prefer it, however, if he just fired Stewart now and made the change rather than go on with this head-coach-in-waiting exercise that seems to serve very little purpose.
Kevin (Granville, Ohio)
Urban Meyer returns to his roots where he learned the college game, is hired at the University of Cincinnati in 2015, he sticks around for 4 years after winning two BCS games and getting snubed after a National Championship run. He then takes the job opening at Notre Dame.
Brian Bennett (4:29 PM)
OK. You're crazy too.
David (Baltimore, MD)
Can Pitt fire Steve Pederson? He cannot conduct a football coaching search to save his life...
Brian Bennett (4:30 PM)
Certainly this hire will be a major part of his legacy. If it doesn't work out, then the same fate he suffered at Nebraska may repeat itself.
David Brooks (Chicago)
I worked with Dana Holgorsen at Mississippi College, he is one of the hardest working coaches you will ever find, I learned alot of football from him in my 3 years there, and there have been times when I have run across some of his players who he has coached at Summer Camps and they noticed some of my words, phases and techniques that I learned from Dana that he still uses today. WVU is a very lucky institution right now. I would be his janitor at WVU if Coach Holgorsen asked!!
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
Thanks for checking in.
I'm sure you'll get a lot of questions on the topics of Dana Holgerson and Michael Haywood, I have a ton of them myself. But I'll settle with asking you, understanding it's premature, but I'm I wrong to be a little excited about Haywood's potential? He's a Backs and Blocking coach foremost (it seems) and coming into Pitt he'd have great tools to work with out of the gate. Could this coach be a steal for Pitt? I was never too high on Holgerson (a little cognative dissonence might have something to do with that now, him heading off with the 'eers) and I think Haywood might be a much better fit the more I learn about him. I hope you'll give us a profile or an interview when you get the chance! Thanks.
Brian Bennett (4:33 PM)
It's entirely possible that Haywood will do a great job. Everyone I know who has come into contact with him really likes him. We won't really know until about this time next year. If Pitt was looking to make a splash, this won't accomplish that in terms of hype. But it will all be about how Haywood gets Pitt to perform on the field.
I will not allow this chat to be dominated by Morgantown and Pittsburgh. Can we all agree that 17 points is way too big of a spread for UConn-Oklahomo? I've always seen Randy as a coach who somehow wills his team to play at the level of competition.
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
It's a big, big number, especially given the way Oklahoma played against Cincinnati. I think UConn can keep it within two touchdowns.
Kevin (Granville, Ohio)
Do you think Cincinnati's defense will benefit form a year of experience and coaching, or are they just a bad defense that will be a year older?
Brian Bennett (4:35 PM)
It's the old joke about the good news being that everyone is coming back, but the bad news is everyone is coming back. Experience usually makes a huge difference in college football. The Bearcats need to get stronger this offseason, too. Their linebackers just don't match up physically with the best in the conference.
Evan (Rochester, NY)
Do you think the Syracuse offense will improve in 2011 despite losing a lot at the RB position?
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
The Orange lose Delone Carter, but Ryan Nassib will be a year older and the receivers should get better. It has to improve.
Darelle (Pittsburgh, PA)
How important is it that if Mike Haywood does get hired that he is the first African-American Pitt head coach. Along with another African-American in Mike Tomlin in the same office. Is this a step forward in Racial equality in sports?
Brian Bennett (4:38 PM)
Pitt's record in hiring African-Americans for high-profile coaching jobs hasn't been good, and I believe before Louisville hired Charlie Strong that the Big East had only one African-American head coach in its history. So I'd call this a good thing.
What do you see the chances that Stewart decides to step down after the Bowl Game, even though it is set up for him to continue being WVU's coach? There are still some rumblings that he's not ok with having his successor on staff.
Brian Bennett (4:39 PM)
I still think that's very possible. He'll be coaching with one arm tied behind his back next year in some ways.
Kennith (Louisville, KY.)
Was Coach Strong ever offered the Florida's gig? And, how are the coaches doing recruitment wise at Louisville?
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
We may never know how much contact there was, if any, between Florida and Strong, but Strong made some very bold comments about staying at Louisville this week.
Randy Edsall seems to be conservative in general in regards to play calling. Do you see him throwing in some new wrinkles with more emphasis on passing against Oklahoma?
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
With a month to get ready, I'd fully expect UConn to have some new wrinkles. Don't think the Huskies will be flinging it around the field because the run is still their bread and butter. But after the way USF played them defensively, I expect they'll try some things to loosen up the Sooners D.
Jason (Martinsburg, WV)
What do you think will happen, if Bill Stewart and WVU wins the National Championship next year? What would Oliver Luck do then?
Brian Bennett (4:43 PM)
Not that it's terribly likely, but another odd twist in this situation. What if he wins 10 games and a Big East title in 2011? Then you're forcing retirement on a guy with potentially 20 wins and two league championships his last two years. Just strange all around.
Frank (Williamstown, WV)
Any other news about further Big East expansion? After the TCU announcement, news has tapered off for the most part.
Brian Bennett (4:45 PM)
Well, the Big East wanted to move quickly on TCU, and now it is waiting on Villanova. But the league isn't going to wait a whole lot longer and may ened up moving on to Central Florida.
mike leonard (harrisburg, pa)
No idea if the miami ohio guy is a good hire or not, but i defy any pittsburgh fan to truly and honestly tell me that getting rid of wannie was a bad thing. he makes EVERY game a lose'able one, regardless of talent on the field....and it's NEVER his fault, it's always "execution" by the players. letting uconn steal the BCS bid after they lost BADLY to michigan, temple & louisville is just embarrassing. ANYBODY other than wannie, i'm ok with. seriously, ANYBODY.
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
I totally see where you're coming from. The grass isn't always greener, however.
Brian, even though Pitt will never admit it, it seems like Holgorson may have turned them down so he could come here.. which is obviously going to create even more bad blood between the two schools.. what are the odds that they go after Rich Rod *IF* he gets canned from Michigan?
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
There's spin on both sides. Some say Holgorsen turned Pitt down, others say Pitt never seriously considered Pitt. Doesn't matter. It will still add some spice to this rivalry.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
How do you see things playing out at QB for Louisville next year? Is the offense going to be taking a step back with having to adjust to a first time starter, whether its a true freshman or a sophomore with very limited (1 pass thrown so far) QB experience?
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
If DaMarcus Smith can get enrolled early, which he's currently trying to do, then I think he'll be the starter. If not, Will Stein may keep the seat warm for him.
Doug (Morgantown, WV)
I keep hearing the WVU fans have "unrealistic" expectations for their football team. After the 2007 season when we were one win away from playing for a national title, we don't think anything is "unrealistic" any more. And obviously Holgorsen doesn't either or he wouldn't have chosen to come here, am I right?
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
In a weird year where the eventual BCS champion had two losses. Look, there's no reason why WVU can't be competitive nationally. To think nine- and 10-win seasons are beneath you is a little unrealistic, in my opinion.
George (Morgantown, WV)
Everyone acts like O.Luck killed Stews dog. I mean he should feel lucky that we gave him millions over the last few years. If he wanted a better exit he should be playing in a BCS game. WVU and Pitt should be embarassed to let these Conf. USA teams steal our BCS spot.
Brian Bennett (4:52 PM)
I guess technically he made "millions" but Stewart was making $900,000 a year. Hey, coaching is a tough business, no doubt, and Stewart had a great chance with this year's team. But I'll also point out that WVU just touted its 90 percent graduation rate this week, while Stewart was leading a potential 10-win team. Are those causes for termination?
Mark (Katy, TX)
Hey BB, are you doing or have you done bowl predictions for the Big East teams?
Brian Bennett (4:53 PM)
I'll do each one in advance of that game. Hopefully I'll fare better than I did in the regular season.
mike leonard (harrisburg, pa)
I've heard villanova and central florida, but can anybody tell me if memphis is a possibility if villanova doesn't happen? would seem to be a great fit for basketball and their football program has been a winner in the past.
Brian Bennett (4:53 PM)
The very distant past. Memphis is not being considered.
I think that the truly embarrassing part about the Pitt coaching search was Holgerson using the Pitt job as a smokescreen while he was working on WVU behind the scenes. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:54 PM)
You could be very right about that.
regarding your previous comment: consistent nine to ten win seasons are unrealistic in the sec or big 10....but the big east? come on, wvu or another team that steps up should have that in the bag pretty consistently. i hope it's not tcu.
Brian Bennett (4:55 PM)
Maybe, but name me another Big East program that's done it since 2005.
Gotta get a USF question in there. How do you think the offense will be next year with all the transfer talent on the bench that had to sit out this year? Hopefully more productive...
Brian Bennett (4:56 PM)
I think another year will help the young receivers. But I don't think there's a Carlton Mitchell in the wings, and Dontavia Bogan will be gone. Still some issues there
Ryan (Morgantown, WV)
Do you think that Geno Smith will break the 3,000 yard mark in passing yards his first season under Holgerson as we have seen in the past from Holgerson's QB's (Case Keenum, Brandon Weeden, etc). Also, do you think it's possible for Geno to break Marc Bulger's WVU single season passing record of 3,607 yards by the time he graduates?
Brian Bennett (4:57 PM)
If history is any guide, Smith should go well over 3,000 yards.
Chris (North Carolina)
Is Pitt cheap or stupid? Haywood doesn't seem any better than Wanny.
Brian Bennett (4:58 PM)
Money is definitely an issue. The Panthers don't seem willing to pay for a big-time coach.
Little benefit to having HCIW and Stew as HC for a year? Would you not agree that it would be beneficial to Holgersen to get to know the area, the media, the recruiting areas, for Stew to introduce Holgorsen to the head coaches at schools that WVU traditionally recruits? Not be mention being a gatekeeper for the chemistry of the entire staff. Please tell me you were kidding right?
Brian Bennett (5:00 PM)
Is it worth the possibly explosively bad chemistry? Last time I saw a school try to meld two staffs together was at Louisville when Kragthorpe took over. And that was an utter disaster.
Brian Bennett (5:00 PM)
Well, I'm out of time for this week, folks. Thanks for all the questions. Have a great week