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 (4:01 PM)
Hello, everybody. Bowl season is heating up now. Fire away with any questions you have about the Big East or Notre Dame
WOW---talk about excitement for the transition at WVU! Add that to the Cardinals impressive win last night, TCU coming in 2013, new directions at USF and Cuse...is it just me, or is the future of the Big East looking great? Also, IMO, the future of the Big East championships will be through WV or TX. Merry Christmas to ALL :)
Brian Bennett (4:02 PM)
Well, we'll see I certainly think things will be better than they were this year. TCU will help a great deal, and if Holgorsen works out, West Virginia could be very strong. Louisville, USF and Syracuse are on the rise. Big East still has a lot of work to do, but better days seem ahead
Brian -- Dana Holgerson was introduced here today. What do YOU think are realistic expectations for 2011 given the somewhat awkward coaching arrangement?
Brian Bennett (4:04 PM)
Not only the transition, but the loss of a ton of talent -- Devine, Sanders, Neild, Berry, Hogan, Thomas, Glover, probably Sands .. just to name a few. There's still a lot to work with, particularly on the offensive side. And the league still doesn't look very imposing. I would say competing for the league title again is realistic.
BB cpl comments and questions. Why the post about the BE traveling and not a mention about the system and the Bowl CEOS who are the ones who make all the money, You make it sound as though the fan should feel bad for not being able to attend when they cant afford to. You could have brought up the system and the need to fix it as a whole, The CEO's making a killling the schools getting stuck, maybe just a different angle I suppose.Next question is why all the Louisville homerism,(Strong blog) I get you live and root for them but shouldnt you seperated your personal feelings when blogging about a conference as a whole ?Happy Holidays btw and lets go BE
Brian Bennett (4:06 PM)
Doug, Doug, Doug. I've written before that the bowls pretty much are a scam when it comes to ticket sales. I also wrote that I understand why fans can't shell out all that money. I'm just pointing out the fact that ticket sales are way down for the Big East, even over the last couple of years. So something is going on here.
Brian Bennett (4:07 PM)
As for Louisville "homerism," that's just ridiculous. The Cardinals played a bowl last night and I covered it. I had one post out of nine about Louisville today. Every other team in a bowl will get the same level of coverage
Brian - any news on staff yet for Pitt? I know there's been rumors here or there....
Brian Bennett (4:07 PM)
Looks like there will be no holdovers and a bunch of Haywood's guys from Miami of Ohio are coming over.
With the BCS contract renegociations in 2012 for the 2014-2017 games, I highly doubt the Big East will lose its AQ bid, however, do you see provisions being put in place so that a team at least has to be ranked (let alone in the top 10 or 15) to be in a BCS game?
Brian Bennett (4:10 PM)
I could definitely see some changes, perhaps when it comes to rankings or to regional matchups to prevent this silly setup where Stanford and UConn are both being shipped across the country. The only problem with a ranking ceiling, as good an idea as it sounds, is that it puts more power in the hands of the voters. And the Big East isn't real popular with some of them
Tim (Dora`, Missouri)
Hi BB , Was wondering if Dana Holgorsen would have any kind of offensive input for the mountaineers the BOWL game or is he not allowed to begin until the 2011 season do to his or other assistants contracts ? Thanks h
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
No, he'll coach Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl and then come over to West Virginia.
The Jim (Tampa, Florida)
When do you think I can get a job?
Brian Bennett (4:12 PM)
I don't know that anyone is rushing to hire Jim Leavitt. But if Mike Leach is going to get a second chance at Maryland, there's no reason why Leavitt needs to remain in exile.
Dave M (Wilton, CT)
You've reported that UConn has only sold 4,500 of its 17,500 tickets. What happens to all of those unsold tickets that UConn bought? Are they given away? Will the seats be empty if they're unsold?
Brian Bennett (4:13 PM)
UConn will have to pay for them all. After that, the school can decide to give them away or start a fire so they can make s'mores.
UofL Alum here. I'm excited about Charlie Strong. Teddy Bridgeport coming to town. If UofL keeps Strong long enough to take advantage of the Florida recruiting, doesn't UofL become the team to beat in the Big East for the next 5 years?
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
You should be excited. Blue chip players + an excellent staff = good times ahead for Louisville. Here's a thought: What if Tom Jurich had hired Strong instead of Kragthorpe in January 2007?
I'm still a Daniels hold out. I understand that he's the QB and they get the blame, but I still think a lot of the criticism of BJ has been unfair. My question for you is who would you start against Clemson? Eveld or BJ?
Brian Bennett (4:17 PM)
Daniels clearly has more potential athletically than any other QB on the roster. But he needs to harness it and become a true quarterback. If he's totally healthy and practicing well, he might be the better option against Clemson, because USF may need his mobility against Bowers and Co.
What do you make of Cincy stealing one of Pitt's best recruits today, Poteat. Especially from their own backyard?
Brian Bennett (4:19 PM)
I make that it's what happens when you make a coaching change. A whole bunch of prospects have bolted Pitt. That's not necessarily bad, as they may or may not fit Haywood's system. This was going to be a small class anyway with only 12 seniors.
Yo Mr BB. If the Maryland vs WVU series stays in tact, imagine a Mike Leach vs. Dana Holgorsen match-up? Now THAT would sell tickets AND draw fans to watch it on T.V....BAM!!
Brian Bennett (4:20 PM)
Game might take five hours.
Jason (Clarksburg, WV)
Do you think coach Stew is comfortable with next year's coaching situation at WVU?
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
Well, how would you feel if your boss came up to you and said, "Jason, meet Bob. He's going to sit next to you for the next year and I want you to teach him everything you know. Then he's replacing you." To his credit, Stewart has handled this very well in public thus far.
I think bringing UCF into the Big East would be a good move and make for a natural I-4 Rivalry with USF. I understand USF's reasons for not wanting them (Big-4, Tougher Recruiting competition as if they don't have enough with UF, FSU, and The U) but it's a big media market and would bring a competitor closer to Tampa. Some other teams to consider that might be closer are ECU, Memphis, Alabama-Birmingham.
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
Remember that markets are a HUGE part of this, which is why UCF is attractive. That and the fact that they have brand new facilities and are getting better. USF may just have to deal with it for the betterment of the league as a whole
Dave (Rockville, Md)
Regarding expansion, if the Big East is getting 6 teams into Bowls out of 8, when TCU joins will they link to a another bowl? The way I see it, splitting the same amount of money 9 ways instead of 8 means that the bowl money per team will be less. Sorry for the math question. And if they are getting less money from the Bowls, will the new TV deal compensate for that?
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
From what I've been told, adding another guaranteed tie-in is unlikely at first. Six out of eight is a high percentage already. But with so many bowls, there should be a home for everybody if seven (or more) make it.
UConn to a BCS bowl next year? Only losing 14 players total...
Brian Bennett (4:27 PM)
The Huskies have to be among the favorites. They will be breaking in a new QB and lose two key linebackers but bring a lot back. Will Todman return?
I like the coaching changes that have happened over the last few years. I feel as if the BE is getting a lot of quality coaches but as always how long can they hold on to them. It is like we are a Big Five feeder program. I saw the salaries for other HC and unless the BE steps up the pay how can they ever hope to compete with the other schools
Brian Bennett (4:29 PM)
There's a lot of truth to that. As usual, it comes down to money. Leagues like the SEC and Big Ten have a lot more of it. A better TV contract can help, but there are always going to be tiers in college football. Even some teams in the bigger conferences serve as feeder systems for coaches.
Brian, Do you think Nova will make the move up in football? And if not, what's the rush to add a team like UCF, who just seems like the desperate girl, that just wants the cute guys to show her some attention? it's not like they're going to get snatched up by the ACC or SEC.
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
The more I read about all of Villanova's issues, the more I think the school will decide not to do it. But we'll find out by April. The only rush to add UCF or anybody else is the Big East has stated its goal of getting to 10 teams.
Brian Bennett (4:33 PM)
Wilson is clearly the best QB West Virginia will have faced this year. Losing Hogan is a big blow. I think they will have to compensate by trying to get a little more pressure or mixing up coverages a bit. The defense still has enough to get it done, but the job will be a lot harder now.
LG (Cbus, Oh)
Sorry just joined the chat but have you predicted / given your thoughts on the ND vs. That Team from Southern Florida??? Thx BB always have great coverage! Happy Holidays
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
No prediction until the day of the game, but Notre Dame certainly has more stability and momentum heading to El Paso. Kelly seems to be very happy with the way they've prepared, and getting guys like Ian Williams and Theo Riddick back should be a big boost. Really looking forward to that matchup.
Is Van Chew going to play for 'Cuse in the Pinstripe Bowl? I think part of the Syracuse offense's troubles started when he went down
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
As far as I know, he's good to go. I talked to Marrone today, and he said his guys were really worn down physically and mentally at the end of the season. Syracuse didn't have the benefit of the double bye and played a lot of teams who had extra rest. So the pre-bowl layoff should help.
steve (charleston, wv)
Brian,Obviously we will have to wait and see how it works out in reality, but on paper is their a better set of coordinators in the country than Holgorsen and Casteel?
Brian Bennett (4:37 PM)
That's awfully strong. Question will be, how good of a head coach is Holgorsen? Totally different job than just being a playcaller.
You may have answered this in previous chats. Is TCU really the "fix" for the Big East..or are they more of a bandaid of recent rankings in order to keep meeting the BCS qualifier status alive...In other words, do you think the BE really wanted TCU or just felt they needed their numbers....
Brian Bennett (4:39 PM)
The numbers don't really matter, because the Big East is safe until the next round of BCS negotiations. I look at it as TCU was the best available option, and it's a low-risk, high-upside move worth making
Greg P (Staten Island,NY)
Brian, how have the ticket sales been for the Pinstripe bowl? How many tickets is Cuse obligated to sell?
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
Ticket sales have been decent. Syracuse got 10k and at last count had sold about 8k. Doubt it will be a sellout, but there should be a good crowd on hand.
Is Skip Holz trying to set some sort of record for most amount of mediocre recruits signed in a single year? Any chance he's going to bring in someone to get excited over like Mitchell, Chandler, Giddens of recent (Levitt) recruiting classes?
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
Yawn. A) It's December, not signing day. B) Who cares about recruiting star rankings? Just show me if the kid can play.
BB-with Holgorsen at WVU next year, I can see Geno Smith putting up gaudy numbers and running away with the Big East POY honors. Then, his senior season? Look out.
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
If Brandon Weeden and Case Keenum can do it, no reason that a guy as talented as Geno Smith can't.
Tyler (Tampa, FL)
Has the Big East tried to grab a school already in a AQ conference? I know we don't have a lot to offer, like the Big 10 did for Nebraska, but is there a school (maybe an ACC team) that isn't satisfied with it's league and might jump ship?
Brian Bennett (4:43 PM)
And what, exactly, would the Big East use as bait? Cash is the only effective method, and the league doesn't have it.
Brian, have you ever been in a twitter fight?
Brian Bennett (4:44 PM)
I studiously avoid such things.
Steve (Chapel Hill TN)
BB do you think that Dana Holgerson will have any impact on this years recruiting class for WVU?
Brian Bennett (4:45 PM)
It's getting late in the process and he won't start until after the bowl. But if you're a receiver or a QB, aren't you dying to play for this guy?
DAVID E (RALEIGH, NC)
With Coach Dana in place, what style do you the WVU offense playing. Rich Rod, coach Stew, or in between.
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
It's the Holgorsen style. Think Mike Leach/Hal Mumme but -- and this is the part I like -- more emphasis on running the ball.
Is Phil Bennett out at Pitt as well?
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
He is. All of Pitt's coaching staff is out.
Since expansion talk will start in a few months. Is the Big East going to 12? And who might be the new teams?
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
Start? When did it stop?
Greg P (Staten Island,NY)
Brian, this might seem like a strange quest. but would UCONN of better off playing in WV bowl game and WV playing in Fiesta due to travel and costs to schools?Uconn doesn't travel well and WV does. Could a school decide that it wouldn't be financially feasible to play in a BCS bowl game and take a lesser bowl game? Has this ever even been discussed?
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
West Virginia isn't even traveling well to the Champs Sports Bowl, so the point is moo. Like a cow's opinion. Just doesn't matter.
Is this league is going to be just as crazy and wide open next year as it was this year?
Brian Bennett (4:49 PM)
Clearly my track record at predicting such things is not good, but this is a league that looks really balanced again next year.
Brian, do you think TCU fans are in for a eye-opener? They seem to think they're going to come in and just run the league.
Brian Bennett (4:51 PM)
There aren't a lot of Wyomings and New Mexicos in the Big East. But who knows where we'll be in two years.
brian, who would you pick:rachel bilsonNatalie Portman
Brian Bennett (4:52 PM)
Toughest question of the day. I'd have to go with Natalie since I think she's winning an Oscar in a couple of months after seeing Black Swan
BB you just posted the league looks really balanced AGAIN next year and further up you write that next year should be exciting ect... yet you say the Big East is down in your blogs? Which one is it?
Brian Bennett (4:53 PM)
Those thoughts aren't mutually exclusive. The league can be balanced and fun to watch without having national championship contenders, can't it?
Chris (Wallingford, CT)
How much longer is bowl ticket sales going to be discussed? It's not just UConn. It's nationwide. VTech sold 3300 tix to the Orange Bowl 2 years ago and nobody said boo about that. Enough already.
Brian Bennett (4:54 PM)
It's definitely worth pointing out. Also, Cincinnati sold its allotment both years in BCS games and took a ton of fans to New Orleans. This is UConn's first BCS game ever, while Va Tech fans are sick of the Orange Bowl. This is the reason the BE gets pick last among BCS at-large selections.
BB, Which player, other than Geno Smith, on the offensive side of the ball, do you see that will put up big numbers with Holgorsen as offensive coordinator?
Brian Bennett (4:55 PM)
I'm very tempted to say Tavon Austin, but Holgorsen has had some big, tall receivers at Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Maybe he gets a lot out of Ivan McCartney.
What do you make of the story about the QB job being wide open for next year? I would be surprised if Crist is not the starter Sept 1.
Brian Bennett (4:57 PM)
I think Kelly will have a competition. But Crist, if healthy, probably is the more talented guy.
Bearcatvol (Dalton, GA)
I can't help it but I'm a little ticked off at UConn fans for not stepping to the plate. I feel like they are hurting the league in a bad way not moving many tickets to the Fiesta.We may not have won our games... but we spent a lot of coin in both Miami and New Orleans.... isn't that what its mostly about to the Bowl people?
Brian Bennett (4:58 PM)
I can understand. On the other hand, flights to Phoenix this time of year are outrageously expensive. I can't blame people if they can't afford it.
do you think greg schaino is on the hot seat next year?
Brian Bennett (4:59 PM)
Seat is getting warmer, and another 4-8 season won't cut it. But I think he's pretty well entrenched up there for at least another year with that contract.
La La La Bearcats!!! (Cancun)
Im on vacation.... just wanted to say Merry Christmas to everyone. Since the 'Cats aren't in a bowl I'm "recruiting honeys for the holidays! Adios Y cervesas for all!!!!!
Brian Bennett (4:59 PM)
Well, now we're all insanely jealous. That's it for my chat. A very merry Christmas to all.